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Sunday, 30 December 2018

Goodbye for Now, Honduras! I Will See You Again!


This time, next year, I will not be here in Honduras.  But first, let me reminisce over some significant experiences in my life.  I want to give thanks and all glory to God for His ever-present help.

Early 2018 and Walking into My Destiny
I walked into 2018 with a deep assurance that God has called me to move to my next destination – Mexico.  A long time ago, during one of my prayer times, God impressed upon me that He would bring me to more difficult nations than the one I had been before. 

From the little Red Dot to the Middle East to West Africa
So, from comfortable and premium-class Singapore, this island-city dweller moved to a restricted nation in the Middle East where I could not return home at two o’clock in the morning or do some running around the neighbourhood as a form of exercise.  Within one and half years of my stay in the Middle East, my former organisation sent me to start the African base in Ghana.

From West Africa to South Korea
Then, it was to South Korea where the challenge was cultural.  The patriarchal culture was not a shock but a serious challenge for me.  I had grown up with such freedom to question and act independently that the cultural Christianity stifled the use of the talents given to me.  I learnt to work around this but I was miserable in South Korea – I hated the cold winter, the allergies that affected me and finally, it was time to say goodbye.  I was very heart-broken to leave my previous organisation and I was relieved that God had a better plan for me. God had called me to The Americas in 2009 and it was finally going to happen.  His words to me in 2012 were, “Cling onto Me and I will lead you”. 

From Asia to the Americas
Then, it was to Texas - God is good and provided for me through various individuals who cared about His work.  During a visa run from the USA, I had the opportunity to travel to Honduras.  I had never been to this nation.  My friend Debbie connected me to a missionary stationed in Honduras.  As I flew into Honduras in November 2013, I knew that God wanted me to relocate here. Exactly where, Lord? was my question. 

I had booked a week of Spanish class in a little town called La Ceiba. Gloria, the missionary who was stationed in Honduras offered to drive me to La Ceiba.  I had never met her but we had a good ride.  As we entered La Ceiba, I had a sense that this was going to be my next destination.  God confirmed it when He impressed pastors Edgardo and Olguita Lainez to invite me to preach at their little church the same evening of our arrival.  A quick outfit-change at another missionary’s (Pamela) home and we were at church service.

I preached for the first time in Central America at Iglesia de Las Naciones  in La Ceiba, Honduras.  It was a much-needed message for the church. During the final worship, God impressed upon me that La Ceiba was going to be my home.  I did not question why or when but began preparing for my move when I returned to Texas.

In January till February 2014, my best friend Carol came to visit me in Texas and we travelled to Honduras.  We wanted to learn Spanish together as well as see other places in Honduras.  That was when God also showed me the house that He would provide me in Honduras. 

For fifteen years as a fulltime missionary, I had lived out of a suitcase or at a terribly small house/room with exorbitant rents.  Finally, I was being given this grand house with a huge garden.  There are more than 15 fruit trees here.  The owners waited ten months for me and agreed to my twelve little demands.  You see, they knew that God had sent me to their house and they decided not to rent it to anyone else.  I have enjoyed a beautiful friendship with my house-owners.  They are family to me and I can only hope that my house-owners in Mexico will be as kind, friendly and caring.
 
Honduras – land of milk and honey
I relocated to Honduras in September 2014.  During my first week, an Honduran pastor wondered how God would use me since I was a single woman who could not speak the Spanish language and had no friends.  I smiled at the remark but knew that God had His plans to prosper me, never to fail me (Jeremiah 29:11).

I was thrilled that I could get my residency card with the help of the Honduran Fellowship for Missionaries and Ministries in less than a year!

Fast forward to 2018 – Four years on . . .
My Spanish is not that great but I have engaged in conversations lasting three hours and understand hundreds of words.   I am still single but that has not stopped me from climbing mountains, riding mules and horses, with a group of Honduran brothers, to bring the Word to the Hondurans.  The lack of language has not stopped me from negotiating a deal with a vocational institute or from discipling Garifuna ladies in a trauma healing program.  It has not stopped me from creating Facebook pages in Spanish or teaching Honduran pastors and leaders. There was no lack because God poured His grace and favour on the ministry.

I thank God for sending me great translators like pastor Hugo and brother Edgardo.  I thank God for the mountain-church pastor Ernesto who gave me the opportunity to help his church in evangelism. 

In God’s great sense of humor, He allowed me to represent Honduras at a leadership experience at Haggai International in 2017.  It was an identity crisis for me – I represented Honduras but I am Singaporean.  I learnt to depend on my true identity – I am a child of God called to the nations. 

I became a ‘member’ of the Bonilla family – they have helped and participated in the evangelism ministry more than I can expect.  Together, we have reached 1.8 million Hondurans with God’s Word mostly through Surgir para Cristo, Honduras and the reach is still growing.  We have done some personal visits to various areas in Honduras, as well.
 
Towards the end of 2017, I met pastor Mauricio through friends, pastors Donnie and Xiomara.  I remember when all the pastors asked about what I brought to the table, pastor Mauricio asked me to introduce myself more.  We connected and I got to know his wife.  In Sep 2018, we organised a short domestic mission trip to minister at two places.  It was a good trip and I am glad that they will pursue the ministry.
My brother-in-Christ from Costa Rica, pastor Otto, visited me and we had the opportunity to encourage the pastors of La Ceiba. La Ceiba pastors, Mauricio and Marisol were instrumental in organising this event, as they will be in organising a Haggai Honduras event in March 2019.

Goodbye for now, Honduras!
It’s time to say goodbye to Honduras but I know that I will see you again, land of milk and honey.  When I came to Honduras four years ago, I had no plans except to obey God and be present, clinging onto Him.  The desire to disciple and impact Hondurans as well as others globally was and will always be in my heart.

But when I look back at what God has done, I am filled with gratitude.  I find it amazing that God chose one islander and brought her thousands of kilometres away to a place where she had no friends and could not speak the language, and used her to touch Honduran lives.  He is not stopping there – He is bringing it to the region here.

I leave Honduras with the knowledge that friendships and partnerships were established.  There are families that will gladly let me stay with them when I visit.  My prayer for Honduras is:

That God will purify this nation and her people with the blood of Jesus
And grant them the joy of being in His righteousness.
Like the heavy downpour of the December rains
May His glory come upon Honduran mountains, valleys and plains
Soaking every hand raised up and every lip uttering praise to Christ.

I love you Honduras.  Thank you and God bless you.

Rachel