We have all stood outside with our heads thrown back and watched as birds of all sizes filled the skies, flocking, flying and headed south.
Why am I reminded of this image? It’s 6 a.m., and the Tulsa airport is bubbling with travelers headed out on escapes.
It’s spring break, the average age holding a boarding pass has dropped about three decades from frequent flier to families. The security line snakes down the hallway.
I’m guessing there are those that didn’t read my travel column last week and now they are paying the price with holding up the lines as bags are pulled and pilfered. Might have been a waffle iron or cattle prod that held up the show.
Our flight to Dallas is completely full and the airline is offering a sizable voucher if two folks will give up their seats. That’s always tempting, but I’m a group traveler this trip and I don’t think my leader would appreciate it if I start the trip off by getting separated from the group.
There are 17 of us headed south to Roatan, Honduras for a mission trip with First United Methodist Church of Grove. We have packed supplies and a positive attitude not knowing exactly what our jobs will be once we arrive.
We know what our job isn’t. We can’t show up, stay a few days and disappear and expect a cultural change.
We can show up. We can expect. And we can show a concern for others. We have a good leader who has made this trip several times and she is very organized and prepared for whatever happens.
Day One: We had the opportunity to attend church with the locals at Flower Bay. The little white church sits on the coastline where it has called people to worship for over 175 years. The church elders on this Sunday were all women.
I was visiting with the “head usher” before another matronly lady, also wearing a hat and Sunday best attire, quickly hijacked the conversation by declaring she was the head usher.
There were songs, sermon and lots of joyful noise. The windows and doors were open with that beautiful view of the sea. I suppose if you don’t have an ocean view from your chapel, that’s when a stained glass window is needed.
Day Two: Our work begins with a construction team at the orphanage and the medical team at the school.
Our volunteer mission doctor and nurses saw around 50 people with a variety of issues. Medicine is dispensed, diagnoses are made, and help is given. The children’s home runs on donations alone.
There is only one “mother” for the 14 boys that live there. Most are there after being abandoned by drug using parents. There is room for 30 children, but we sadly note that conditions are very destitute.
Our job this week is to do some clean-up, painting and replace very damaged screens on the windows.
Day Three: We pray a lot. That we don’t fall off the roof. That we don’t run out of paint. That the really sick ones will be able to get more medicine after we leave.
Our jobs continue and the bright little smiles make it a joy. We joke with each other about what first world problems we would be dealing with if we were home.
We have headed south but already gone farther than some of the group thought they would go.
Patti Beth Anderson has more than 20 years of experience in the group travel industry taking people all over the world. Her motto is "I return with the same number of people I left with… not necessarily the same people, but the same number nevertheless. So no 'crankpots' allowed" She may be reached at 918-786-3318 or firstname.lastname@example.org.