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Central America Study Abroad - Week 3

Week number three of COBA Study Abroad in Central America found us in Honduras, staying in the facilities of Mission Lazarus. We saw and learned so much during our time there. At Mission Lazarus, we saw the refuge and the San Lazaro Estate coffee farm. We also took some trips into the surrounding cities and saw countless farms, a fishing village, and Isla de Tigre, Tiger Island. Thinking back on what we experienced there, two lessons have stuck with me. I will never forget them. The first is about entrepreneurship. We learned that entrepreneurship never looks the same for everyone. Wherever we visited, the culture was different. At one facility, a shrimp farm, the managers and some employees had a decent education. One was even studying English and preparing to get a Masters. The company was well established, exporting a large amount of product and working with local farmers to improve their methods. In addition, the processing plant, while it was in a poor area, was a clean establishment, a different world altogether. Yet, another farm we visited, a watermelon farm, was run by a family, none of whom had a formal education. They only sold locally, and, after many years of business, were just deciding to attempt exporting. Their offices were being updated, and they still had several certifications to acquire in order to export. It became clear that every business’s culture was much different. The second lesson is about Christianity. We, as believers, have a responsibility to be humble and make other’s’ struggles our own. We saw very different lifestyles than the one we are familiar with, here, in the U.S. One experience that stands out in my mind is our visit to a small fishing village. All they knew and all they did was fish, and it is not enough to satisfy the many needs they have there. They lived in homes built from wood and scraps, I assume, from the island. While they have a school, it is very small and was donated to them by Mission Lazarus. They even expressed their struggles in keeping teachers there because they are unable to pay them enough. The irony of all this is that they have opportunities to make their situation better, yet they are so comfortable with their way of life that they choose not to take advantage of these opportunities. This is just one of many unusual dilemmas that exist in Honduras. It is these kinds of issues that we, as Christians, must dedicate ourselves to solving. Whether we literally work with the poor or not, there is a general truth to learn from this experience. It is our call, as followers of Christ, to be thankful for what we have and, also, to walk alongside those who are hurting. We are thankful for COBA and our opportunity to learn in Honduras. I hope these lessons stay with you, as they have stayed with us.