Two weeks ago, I invited you to go with me to Honduras in 2019 to create children’s libraries through my daughter’s nonprofit, Chispa Project. So often, those in mission work will talk about the differences we can make in the lives of others. But as I’ve discovered, the experience of working in Honduras changed more than “others.” It changed me.
You needn’t take my word for it. Read today the journal of my friend, Joseph Torres. “Joey” is a pastor and third-year Ph.D. student at the University of California, Davis. He is currently spending two months volunteering with Chispa Project. Read his touching account of what God can do with an open and willing heart:
“All week, I awoke to roosters crowing and children giggling as they ran past my window and down the dirt road to school. These noises were distant cries from the echoes of gunshots and broken windows that I once feared would be keeping me awake.
“I’m staying in El Sauce, a tiny community in the countryside of Honduras, where I help deliver books to a library established through Chispa Project. Chispa builds community-run libraries with the goal of creating a spark, a 'chispa,' of inspiration for reading and educating for a lifetime.
“And please do not be mistaken. The news of violence you have likely heard is real and true for many people here in Honduras. Extreme poverty creates desperate situations that, in turn, birth unfair systems of wealth and greed. That greed spawns cycles of gangs, corruption and very poor infrastructure for the rest of the country.
“However, these are not the only stories that should be told about the people of Honduras. Catrachos, as Hondurans call themselves, are also loving, family-centered, honest, hard-working people who are remarkably generous with what little they have.
“Hondurans, like all people, are complex. They are the living, breathing culmination of many different stories at once. They remind me that I feel closest to God when I see, hear, and experience the complexity of God’s creation through stories.
“Jesus, as I understand him, was an engaging storyteller. His stories helped his followers see that people are more than just sick, more than just poor, more than just 'bad hombres.' He shed light into the spirit of God that exists in all of humanity. That spirit is love. I’m certain that the many stories I’ve heard here will permanently change my life.
“Roger, my host in El Sauce, shared his experience in welcoming extranjeros, guests from outside his country. He told me, in Spanish, 'God blessed me with this house because this is my way of showing God’s love to people like you.'
“Roger’s house is humble by any measure. It has dirt floors and no hot water. Everything has been constructed by his own two hands. Despite these limitations, I’ve been shown more love and hospitality in his home than any home I have ever entered in the U.S. That is because Roger gave from what little he has.
“In my attempts to be like Jesus, I feel a responsibility to listen and understand the intricate stories I hear from people who are different than me. That’s why my time here is invaluable.
“Chispa’s motto is that ‘books change the story.’ Not only are the lives of these young Hondurans changing with every page, the story I will now tell of them will be more beautifully intricate because of what they have shared with me.”
Joey’s words tell me he is being transformed by his journey. If you’re open to having your story changed, please come with me to Honduras March 10-17. Visit chispaproject.org/volunteertrip for more information.
Contact Norris at firstname.lastname@example.org or @chaplain or 843-608-9715. We have raised 80 percent for a new library. Learn more at chispaproject.org/thechaplain