We arrived in Zimbabwe in 2009. Learning the culture was the most difficult. They say you can learn a new culture, but you will never truly be a part of it. By 2013 we were comfortable and felt like we were a part of the community. 2013 was a year of transition for Maryjane and me After several months of waiting, we were reassigned to Tegucigalpa, Honduras. We moved from a bush community in Africa to a city of 2 million people in Central America. We arrived in June and set up housekeeping.
We arrived in Zimbabwe in 2009. Learning the culture was the most difficult. They say you can learn a new culture, but you will never truly be a part of it. By 2013 we were comfortable and felt like we were a part of the community.
2013 was a year of transition for Maryjane and me
After several months of waiting, we were reassigned to Tegucigalpa, Honduras. We moved from a bush community in Africa to a city of 2 million people in Central America. We arrived in June and set up housekeeping.
Our assignment is to work with a Non-Governmental Organization called Christian Commission for Development (CCD). CCD’s mission is continuing education for pastors as well as vocational education for youth at risk. They have small educational settings in various areas of the city. By holding classes in the neighborhoods the students do not have to walk far to go to school. Many of these neighborhoods are controlled by gangs who are always looking for recruits. Honduras has around 40% unemployment primarily due to an unskilled workforce. CCD has recently applied for a grant for vocational education for women who have been victims of violence.
Our office was waiting for us when we arrived. We were welcomed and introduced around. The first order of business was to find someplace to live.
Then there was the issue of furniture. Global Ministries supplied us with a refrigerator and stove. We bought or scrounged up the rest. Next we had to find a Spanish language school. Thank you Internet.
We settled into a work routine and began to learn what our new ecumenical organization was all about. After six months we are still learning the ins and outs of CCD’s mission.
Agency and project sustainability are foremost in our minds here as it was in Zimbabwe. The difference between the 2 assignments is primarily the difference between the cultures. One culture does not have an advantage over another, they are just different. Moving to a new country simply means that we accept a new set of cultural norms.
I’ve never prided myself on my patience. I was positive that the second time around the process would move much faster. Especially in light of our vast experience of one time before. It appears that we are following the same progression at the same rate of speed as in our first assignment. Relationship building is the first and most important priority that we have. Everything else will follow in its own time. As North Americans we often focus on the doing instead of the being. The doing will not happen if the being is not allowed to come first.
One of our primary tasks in Honduras will be to facilitate visiting groups to our ecumenical organization and act as hosts. It will be interesting for us to meet new people from many places and show them what Honduras and CCD is all about. In the past CCD has hosted 20 to 30 groups per year. Many of those groups have visited Honduras through the People to People program at Global Ministries. The groups have come for reasons varying from relationship building tours to working on schools and painting everything that doesn’t move. The opportunities for service are many.
Remember Honduras is right around the corner compared to Zimbabwe. Form a group in your church or community, and then contact Lorna Hernandez at Global Ministries to see what suggestions she has for your team. We will do all we can to make your trip memorable.
Don Westra serves in Honduras assigned to the Christian Commission for Development (CCD).