The Central American country of Honduras sees, on average, over 880,000 visitors per year. Out of this number, thousands are travelling on a mission trip, and out of those thousands, one is Allie Coogler. During spring break of 2018, Allie, an Alpha Chi Omega junior, chose to travel 1,246 miles away from Tuscaloosa to Valle de Los Angeles, Honduras. Allie travelled with the intention to make an impact on the lives of the Honduran people, and in the end left feeling changed by the very people she went there to serve. Allie’s heart for the people and country of Honduras was beyond evident when we sat down with her to ask her a few questions about her trip. Keep reading to learn about her trip, the Honduran orphans she served, and her spring break trip that was anything but a break!
How did you decide to go to Honduras for Spring Break?
I went to Honduras for the first time two summers ago and absolutely fell in love with the place and its people. Ever since, I have been dying to go back! Spring break ended up being the perfect time for my family and me to make another trip.
So, this wasn’t your first trip to Honduras; what specifically called you to go back?
Before I boarded the plane to leave Honduras on my first trip, I was trying to make plans to return. During our first trip, we had the opportunity to spend time at an orphanage called “La Finca de Los Niño’s” in Valle de Los Ángeles. While we were there, our main priority was just loving on the kids. We did crafts with them, served them meals each day, and even put on a field day for them. However, we knew that we wanted to do much more. Our immediate concern was that the kids had no place to play. The one and two-year-olds were playing on concrete areas with large drop offs. While we were there, we witnessed a child get severely hurt from these conditions. After returning home, we kept in contact with the orphanage and worked to better conditions from afar. It was so exciting to return and see everything that had been accomplished! The kids had a new, safe play area. This trip, we did some more manual labor around the orphanage. However, my favorite thing will always be just loving on the kids!
What was it like to be on a mission trip over break, versus other more traditional Spring Break vacations?
Honestly, I would recommend a mission trip to anyone for spring break. I came back from the trip more refreshed physically, emotionally, spiritually than I could have ever imagined. Each time that we travel for a mission trip, we intend on sharing the love of Jesus. However, it never fails that the people of Honduras have way more to teach us than we could ever teach them. Although I do love laying on the beach, I would have to say that a mission trip is the most refreshing and rewarding way to spend the break!
What challenges did you encounter while serving?
I always worry about the language barrier when I go to Honduras because I am not fluent in Spanish; however, God always seems to make a way for us to connect with people! Everyone is always extremely patient with us, especially the kids at the orphanage (even though they get a laugh out of our attempts to say certain things!). So, if anyone is worried about going to a country that speaks a foreign language, I highly encourage you to go even if cannot speak at all. The Lord can use you in any form. Sometimes a hug is all that people need!
Did you experience anything different on this trip that you didn’t last time?
Something that was so special for both my family and the kids at the orphanage was that we were able to make a second trip. It brought tears to our eyes as we pulled up and saw the same babies, now two years older, running up to hug us. Although it had been two years, the kids remembered us and were so thankful that we remembered them and had returned. With this being said, we were able to form even deeper relationships with the kids this time. By the end of the trip, the girls were calling me their “Hermana por siempre,” or “sister for life.” Since we keep in touch with them throughout the year, it truly is like a piece of our heart that is in Honduras. Whether we are there, or back in the US, they are constantly in our hearts and prayers.
What is something you wish everyone could know about the people of Honduras?
I wish that everyone could experience the happiness that they possess. For having relatively nothing, the kids are always smiling. For having so much, it is too easy for us to get caught up in the things that we lack. However, reflecting back on their smiling faces helps put whatever situation that I may face back into perspective and reminds me how blessed I truly am.
Written By: Kate Thompson