As an elementary school teacher, I have many opportunities to help my students and fulfill their needs. Between tying shoes, giving permission to use the bathroom, offering small group instruction and learning about students’ home lives, I hope that I make some small difference in their lives.
For Moravians, mission is the goal of fulfilling a fundamental need in the life of another person.
Moravians in mission have been fulfilling needs since 1732 when the first Moravian missionaries, Johann Leonhard Dober and David Nitschman, sailed to the Caribbean island of St. Thomas to bring the gospel to the slaves on the sugar plantations. That first Moravian mission sparked the Moravian passion for mission during the past 284 years.
The region of La Mosquitía in Honduras is an area with many needs, including medical care. In 1946, Moravians established “Clínica Evangélica Morava,” a medical clinic in the village of Ahuas, to serve the medical needs of the people of the region. Last year, Rachel Schachter and I visited the clinic in order to film interviews and footage of the life of the clinic. We were so touched by the work of God that was being done at the clinic that we decided to return this summer with a work crew.
Our eleven-person group was diverse in age, location and gifts. The members included Velma Burcham, Pamela Heisey, Christine Hitzel, Connie Kinsey, Jessica Kinsey, Mary Jordan Johnson, Abby Poindexter, Rachel Schachter, Kim Shollenberger, Pamela Thierolf and me.
Reaching Ahuas isn’t an easy trip. Our group left the airport in Charlotte, N.C. to fly to Houston, then San Pedro Sula, and then drive to La Ceiba. After a quick sleep, we then flew from La Ceiba, briefly landed in Puerto Lempira, and finally arrived in Ahuas, Honduras. It took over two days for many of us to finally reach Ahuas.
Due to the diversity of our group, we had many projects at the clinic. Our veterinarian, Jessica, was able to vaccinate and de-worm many cattle, horses and dogs. This was the first time these animals had contact with a veterinarian. It was a blessing for the people,because they depend on the cattle for milk and beef, and the horses for transportation.
Many members of our group also helped with more immediate needs around the grounds of the clinic. The bathrooms were painted, the tool shed was organized and patient files were alphabetized. Since these projects require a lot of time and effort, much of the work will be continued by other work groups.
The clinic is close to a local high school; since we had a teachers in our group, we were able to teach a few English lessons. When we arrived we realized that the students had a lower level of English than we had anticipated, so we sang many renditions of “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes.” At least they now know a few body parts in English.
While we were in Ahuas, the clinic celebrated its 70th anniversary! The entire community seemed to attend the celebration. There was a special ceremony with singing, speeches and scripture. Our group sang “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” Rachel shared a song that she had composed and I read a letter from Nora Adams. Nora worked at the clinic in the 1970s with her husband, the late Rev. Lorez Adams. After the service, we ate a meal together with the community. It was a blessing to share such a special experience.
When we left Ahuas a week after we began our journey, we were sad to leave, but many members of our group were filled with a desire to return. There is a definite need in La Mosquitía for material items, but also for a sense of connection with the global Moravian community. While we were working in Ahuas, we began many meaningful relationships with the people doing God’s work. We are excited to return.
Jamie Lynne Dease is a member of Macedonia Moravian Church in Advance, N.C.