Category Archives: Honduras

Catholicism in a Honduran Farm Village

For almost one year (from the summer of 2010 until the summer of 2011) I had the opportunity to live and work at a Catholic school in Honduras . During my stay in Honduras , I experienced Catholicism in many ways and on many occasions. Perhaps, my most memorable experience was Holy Week of 2011. I had originally planned to take a trip to different beaches and enjoy the vacation time. When a Catholic friend in Honduras who lived close-by my apartment heard about my plan, she scolded me for my indifferent behavior and told me I should be using Holy Week for God, not for some beach trip.
Once she offered me an alternative option, I immediately changed my mind. The alternative was to go on a mission in the mountains. It would be to a faraway place to preach the Gospel to people who do not get much of a chance to hear it. I decided to seize the opportunity, as it felt totally right in my heart.
Holy Week came, and I was very excited. I went with a team of four other missioners, three Hondurans and one Costa Rican, one Honduran was a young man and the rest of the people were young women. It took several hours riding on an old school bus and then in the back of a pickup truck down and up bumpy and rocky dirt roads. We finally arrived at the church and unloaded our bags.
The church was simple and small. The walls were covered with lime which brushed off onto one’s clothes if one were to rub up against it. Inside there were not too many decorations but just enough to keep the place looking beautiful and focused on God. I would like to call the place quaint.
This was the place in which our mission group did most of our work. We would have one session where we organized fun Catholic activities for children, another one afterwards for young people, and a final one in the evening for adults. I had the opportunity to give one talk to the young people and another to the adults. Everything was conducted in Spanish (which is why I always stress the importance of learning other languages to serve God).
The work inside the church building was only part of our mission. Our mornings were spent going door to door reading from the Bible, explaining the truths of God to people, and praying with the people we met. This was a very adventurous experience for me. Going door to door does not sound very adventurous, but allow me to explain what sort of homes these were.
The simplest way to describe the place where we were is by saying it was a farm village or spread-out town. It was not a typical town. Each house was usually a decent walk from the other. All the houses were very similar in that they were white, just like the church. They were very primitive-looking. Some houses had electricity, but not all. The men would work on the farms with the older boys while the women would cook and take care of the younger children. Many stoves were fueled by wood. Dogs, chickens, roosters, turkeys, cows, and horses were scattered about.
Many of the Catholic people in this place were very open to hearing the Word of God that we were preaching to them. They listened attentively and were interested in what we had to tell them. Some would even participate in our discussions. It is not surprising, either. These people are so far away from society that they rarely get any chance at all to hear the Word of God. They have no priest. A priest only comes once per year to celebrate Mass. They are happy with whatever they can get.
One interesting thing to note about these people is that they were extremely generous. Even though this place had less money than any other place I had been to, I remember eating up to six times in one day and being stuffed the entire day. This was because many of the people to whom we preached would want to reward us for our efforts and so gave us food. It would be impolite to refuse such an offer from someone who did not have much to give, so we accepted nearly every time.
One man, after I asked him where I could buy a machete, gave me his own with a handcrafted sheath. Machetes were carried by all farmers in this place and were not too cheap, so it was a big sacrifice for him to make, but he did it out of generosity and his faith in God. I prayed for him many times and you should, too.
The mission was a physically trying but rewarding experience. I had been to a place I had never thought existed but had been looking for my entire life. In the end, I was glad my friend gave me the push to go. I had experienced Catholicism in a Honduran farm village, and it was one of the best times of my life.

 

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Catholicism in Honduras

Honduras, a small country in Central America , is worth knowing about when it comes to the topic of Catholicism. The third poorest country in the Western hemisphere (behind Haiti and Nicaragua ), Honduras has been a place torn by political corruption, violence, disorganization, poverty, and indifference among the people. Ways to improve the country from within are very limited due to the lack of education, sophistication, and desire to improve. Yet, Catholicism still has a seat in this place.
 
Critics may say, “If Catholicism were so great, how could this country be in such shambles? The country would be better, not worse if Catholicism were truly great.” It is true that Honduras suffers greatly in many ways. For example, one Honduran city, San Pedro Sula , is now considered the most dangerous city in the world because of the overwhelming number of homicides happening there everyday. In Honduras, thieves tend not to discriminate either. Whether one is man or woman, boy or girl, native or foreigner, all should not be surprised if a man in dark clothing riding a bicycle stops, pulls out a knife, and demands one’s cell phone.
 
However, Catholicism is not the cause of these actions and ought not to be blamed. One must take a look at what Catholics have done for Honduras in order to see the true impact of Catholicism on this country. When one does take a look, the contributions the Church has made become ever so obvious.
 
First of all, Honduras has many Catholic schools and universities. Many young people receive an education learning English and acquiring knowledge in science, math, history, religion, and various other subjects. The Church gives them this opportunity if they or their parents so choose it.
 
Second of all, Honduras has many Catholic infirmaries. The sick and injured are given care. Granted, Honduras is a country with limited resources, but something is always better than nothing. Without these infirmaries, there would be much more suffering.
 
Third of all, Honduras has many churches. The majority of the churches are simple but beautiful in their own way. They are designed in a style not seen in the United States . Coming to church gives the people a sense of hope and joy they would not receive otherwise in a place often so desolate. One pleasantly surprising aspect of Honduras is that it seems to contain very few people who would consider themselves atheists, and people are generally not afraid to talk about God in their daily conversations. Whereas most people in the West consider the topic of God to be too sensitive and personal to talk about, Hondurans do not mind talking about what God has done for them in their lives. Sometimes, it takes a poor person to see God’s blessings.
 
Fourth of all, there are many Catholic missions in Honduras . These missions of lay people or religious orders carry out important corporal and spiritual tasks. Some groups may host retreats, Bible studies, and youth group activities, giving young people a community of which to be a part and grow closer to God. Other groups may bring food to the poor, take care of orphans, teach children who are referred to as “children of the street”, and travel to faraway homes to preach the Word of God. All of these actions are crucial for turning Honduras into a better place. When the youth are formed in the right way, in God’s way, then they will hopefully grow up with a selfless mindset instead of a selfish one.
 
Although Honduras has been a difficult place to live, as shown by the large number of emigrants in recent years, Catholicism has done its part in giving the place physical, intellectual, and spiritual help. May the patroness of Honduras , Our Lady of Suyapa, be a constant reminder that God is present in this country and will continue to help, if people start to go to Him.