We’re preparing for another trip to Honduras to partner with Mercy International. Our time will be spent in the Invasion connecting with families, building a house, and playing with the kids.
MEET THE TEAM
Cory & Vicky Brown
Honduras, specifically La Esperanza, is one of our favorite places to be. It's where some of our dear friends live, home to beautiful scenery and a place we can rest in the fact that we are exactly where we need to be. We need to be there — perhaps that is a strange thing to say - but we need to see our friends every year (maybe someday more often!). We need to connect with them, we need to see that they are okay, ask them how they are doing, hear them ask us about our lives, too. We love to remind them and to be reminded that God is with us and has not forgotten us. Honduras is a thin place for us — a place where heaven and earth are not far apart, a place for us to see the face of God and a chance to serve with our whole being. It is emotional, dirty, hard, life-giving, meaningful, deeply spiritual work. In a place where our efforts seem to range from big to small, we are reminded that everything we do matters and that the people of God are everywhere.
I'm excited to embark on my third trip to Honduras to serve the people of the Invasion and the surrounding area. The thing I remember most when reflecting on my past trips is not the eye-opening poverty or the hardships these people have to endure for something as simple as water, but the beaming smiles on so many of the faces I was blessed to encounter, both young and old. In a seemingly hopeless situation, these people radiated so much love and joy and I can only hope to reciprocate, even if just a small amount. Nadia Bolz-Weber put it best when she said, "we get to experience Jesus in that holy place where we meet others' needs and have our own needs met". Honduras is that place for me.
This will be my seventh trip to Honduras this year. There are many different reasons people go on this trip. One of the big reasons for me has been to help do God’s work in a place where many would feel God has no presence. This trip get’s me out of my comfort zone, show’s me how a large part of the world’s population lives, and always leads me to a renewal of my faith and spirituality. I also definitely do see God’s presence in this place. The Honduran people we work with and get to know are amazing people. I’m really quite honored to have gotten to know some of them on my previous trips and hope to see some of them again this year.
Kyle & Katy Endress
We look forward to this trip every year, and we’re pretty sure we always end up benefiting more than the folks we go to serve. Granted, a family in need has a sturdy, new home to call their own by the end of the week, and that’s a huge deal when stable housing is one of your major daily concerns. But we get the privilege of meeting and working alongside the people of the “Ocho de Octubre” community, and they are some of the most amazing embodiments of perseverance, hope, and the Imago Dei that we’ve encountered. We carry their stories with us throughout our time apart, and getting to reconnect with them during our annual visit is like sunshine on our hearts.
*Please note that Bryan was too stubborn to state why he’s returning for the 3rd consecutive year, so one of his fellow travelers wrote this for him.
If you ask Bryan about the Honduras trip, he’ll probably tell you about all of the annoyances you have to deal with to make it to and from La Esperanza (where the team works) and the daily hurdles the team overcomes while trying to get a house built in the span of a week. And that makes sense – If you were an Enneagram 7, being in unavoidable unpleasant situations would probably haunt your thoughts as well.
What Bryan will neglect to tell you is that he’s the best version of himself while he’s there, that he lets the kids use him as a jungle gym, and that he can quickly connect with the adults in the community on a pretty personal level despite the language barrier. He probably wouldn’t mention that pictures of his friends from the “Ocho de Octubre” community serve as his background on the computer that he stares at during every work day, or that he worries about their wellbeing all year long. And he certainly wouldn’t admit that the rest of the team would constantly feel the Bryan-sized hole he’d leave if he didn’t go on the trip.
I'm finally doing it! I am going on a mission trip! This is something I have always wanted to do, but the opportunity or timing wasn't there. I figured I'd better go do this before I get any older!
I am new to Imago Dei Church and to Peoria! I moved here from the Boise, ID area last August. I've moved a lot and I'm hoping this is the last one! I moved 5 times in the 2 years before I came here, and this was the 25th time I've moved in my life!
I married a guy I went to high school with and he joined the Army. He made a career out of it and that explains many of the moves. Then we had a longstanding agreement that when he retired from the military it was time for him to follow my career. I spent 25 years working for chambers of commerce (6 chambers in 4 states – so that explains some more moves!) In 2015 I took a chamber position in Oregon. Shortly thereafter, my husband became ill and I lost him in 2016. We were married for more than 40 years and his loss was so traumatic for me. I lost my job less than a month after his funeral. Then I moved to Boise because my son's family was there.
Not long after the move to Boise, I started working with National Write Your Congressman (NWYC). God, family, and country have always been important to me and this organization exactly mirrors that. I had been praying to God for guidance for what to do with my life after my husband passed away. Then, like the answer to my prayer, NWYC called me! They found my resume online and thought I would be perfect for what they do.
Shortly before we moved to Oregon, my daughter married someone from Peoria and they moved here. When her dad died, she started encouraging me to move to Peoria. After several visits here, I agreed this was the place I needed to be and I was able to keep my position with NWYC. My daughter, Tamara, and her wife, Jen, introduced me to Imago Dei Church. They are also foster parents, so I have enjoyed being foster grandma to the little ones entrusted to their care. And I think they have enjoyed having me around as backup when needed!
I joined the Hot Mess Sisters Book Club and really enjoyed meeting all the wonderful women in that group. In fact, I have felt so welcomed by everyone at Imago Dei since I started attending there. Living in Peoria, attending Imago Dei – I feel like I am, at last, home!
STEVE & LESLIE HARRIS
It was the winter of 1999. One of our daughters, Amy, had just graduated from high school, was serving in an internship with a missions organization and spent 6 weeks In the capital city, Tegucigalpa. Hurricane Mitch had hit Honduras and brought massive destruction. An estimated 70-80% of transportation networks were destroyed; 20% of the population was left homeless. She and her team worked in the capital city trying to provide comfort, relief, and helping some families rebuild.
Amy returned home and told Les and me her stories of the devastation, stories of the people she had served, and the tremendous needs to be met. Her touching stories served to kindle the initial flame within me to see for myself what it was like there and to see if I could possibly help. Up to this point I had never been out of the country; this decision catapulted me out of my comfort zone.
This was something that Les and I had never considered. Not even on our radar. This seemed so preposterous that this first trip I went without Les to explore the crisis for myself, to ascertain what was needed and to see how I (we?) could be of help. Our daughter connected us with Mercy International, directed by Henry Lowman.
In Feb., 2000, several others and I flew into Tegucigalpa and began working with MI. Here is a journal entry from my first day there, 2/29/2000:
“Beautiful climate. Terrible poverty. I’m nearly overwhelmed by their destitution. It seems so hopeless for them and the prospects for their children. Rock and dirt, filth, no water system, no sewage system, no electricity. Thousands and thousands of people living in these conditions. . . The “houses” we are constructing for them sit on a 10’x14’ pad. THIS will house a family!?!”
The reason I am spending so much time about this initial experience is because it was absolutely pivotal and served to ultimately redirect our lives, our passion and was responsible for birthing the mission focus of our church ten years later.
A day or two after our arrival I was working to complete a house that had already been started for a young mother, Jenny, and her three children who were 2 y.o., 1 y.o., and 7 mo. You need to understand that there were thousands of individuals and families huddled and broken here. Through a translator I wanted to get to know her and wanted her to know something about me. I wanted to tell her about my own family and I pulled a family photo out of my wallet. As soon as she saw it her eyes lit up and she nearly screamed in delight, “Mi amiga, Amy!” I was deeply moved. I cried. Months prior, Amy and her team had begun the construction of Jenny’s house but had to return to the states. Out of those thousands of people surrounding me here I was completing that very house, in particular. You can call it luck, fate, an amazing coincidence; I firmly believe it was God’s providence that brought this about. This served to confirm to me that I was definitely suppose to be there and has also served as an indicator that maybe in terms of the big picture of our lives God was calling us to something more stretching and impactful that we had ever imagined.
Those first two experiences were profoundly transformative in creating a deep compassion for the poor. They also changed the trajectory of our lives in that we have gone to Honduras every year since 2000 and have served with teams from our church in the same local area (La Esperanza) the past 11 years.
We love our teams. We love the people we serve. We are so grateful for the privilege of engaging in this work.
**Online donations are preferred, but if you'd rather write a check — please make it payable to Imago Dei Church, and in the “note section” of the check write the trip member's name, followed by “Trip.” (e.g. John Doe Trip.) Mail the check to: Imago Dei Church, 2221 N. Gale Ave., Peoria, IL. 61604
Any mission contributions made above and beyond the financial need of individual team members will be used for current or future foreign missions of Imago Dei Church.