The Lord sent IC13 my way at a divinely perfect time. When I first heard of this organization, I was in what I consider to be the darkest time of my life thus far. My then-boyfriend of nearly 5 years had just ended things and left me feeling so incredibly broken and lost, cancelling a wedding and scrambling to make sense of my life. One day my dad shared some life-changing advice to throw my aching heart into volunteer work, so I scrambled to do just that. A few months previously, a friend at work had sent out an email about a group she travelled to Honduras with. At the time I didn’t think much of it, but now I felt a strange pull to learn more. After talking with her and connecting with Ty and IC13, I quickly found myself signed up to go on a medical trip to a country I had never been with a group of complete strangers. I have to admit, I was a little nervous! But when I arrived to the Nashville Airport one February morning a few months later, I was overcome with peace. I ran into Ty and his wife Lisa in the ticket line and they were so welcoming and warm. We later met up with the rest of our team in Atlanta and again I felt so welcomed and loved! We spent the next week serving in 4 different struggling villages, providing much needed medical care with our diverse group of nurses, doctors, dentists, and pharmacists.
I wish I could accurately articulate what happened in my heart that week. I was immersed in this beautiful new culture and surrounded by some of the most humble, hardworking, and kind people I had ever encountered. Each time we entered a new village we were greeted with smiling faces and a multitude of “Gracias!” shouted about. It was astounding to imagine why these people were thanking us, when I felt that I had so much to thank them for! I remember one little girl in particular that truly changed my perspective on life. I was assessing her mother’s blood pressure when I had my translator Roberto share that I thought she had a very pretty necklace on. Before I knew it, this shy little girl was offering me her necklace to keep, brandishing a huge grin. I was blown away! This sweet girl had so little to claim as her own and couldn’t even afford adequate healthcare, and yet she was overjoyed to give.
Driving back to the hotel that evening, I was overcome with joy! The people of Honduras and the gorgeous landscape had inched their way into my heart and filled the gaping holes my broken relationship had left. The extraordinary and warmhearted people were so beautifully juxtaposed beside such impoverished, careworn villages. Before I even packed up to leave from that first week in Honduras, I was already signed up for a second trip a few months later! I couldn’t wait to be back with this country and its people that had stolen my heart.
My second trip to Honduras was only a few weeks ago. This trip, although not medical as my first one had been, was equally as transformative! Once again I was immersed in a group of loving, joyous volunteers. One thing I love so much about IC13 is the relationships it creates. Although many of the volunteers were still new to me, so many of them had volunteered with the organization multiple times before. Each one of us felt a special call back to this beautiful land and a deep desire to help its people. I also loved seeing familiar, sweet Honduran faces on this second trip, from both our amazing translators and several of the precious kids from our many village visits.
Before finding IC13, I was adamant about volunteering with an organization that did more than simply hand out goods to a struggling people. In my opinion, these types of establishments do little in the long-term to truly help a community. IC13 holds such value in my heart in how it cares for the people of Honduras. They return multiple times a year to the same villages and build lasting relationships with the people. Many projects that IC13 completes, like the water filtration system my group helped with during my second trip, fulfill a true need in the community. It is also so extraordinary to me how IC13 partners with the locals and warmly welcomes their help. The Lord’s work is truly a group effort and I think IC13 echoes this beautifully! This organization sincerely resonates the beautiful truths of 1 Corinthians 13: to have faith, to hope, and to love. Love is the greatest gift we can give to one another, no matter the language barriers or economic differences and I am so thankful to volunteer with a group that holds this at such high value.
A year ago, Honduras was a country I never gave much thought to. Fast forward a few short months and my heart is now full to the brim with love for this warm and loving people group. Praise God for Honduras, and praise God for IC13!