I knew what I wanted for my 40th birthday a year in advance. Several months before my celebration, I was elated to receive the gift I had asked of family and friends, and embraced it with wonder and joy. Together, many of the people closest to me sent me on a mission trip to Honduras. What I gained through that gift was so much more than an experience or a cool trip, but a new perspective on life, a view of the world beyond my own.
So now, on the eve of the “big 4-0,” I’m left remembering where I was a year ago, emotionally and spiritually. I had never traveled to a third world country, never faced immeasurable poverty up close and personal. I had never wrapped my arms around an orphan. I was celebrating my 39th, never thinking I would soon be attacked by fire-ants while playing frisbee, cook rice and beans for dozens of hungry children, and fall in love with an unwanted, abandoned child.
When I received the gift, I slowly, carefully peered inside. Throughout the months following, I’ve checked back inside from time to time, toying with and chatting about the memories, but keeping it all locked where it is safe. It’s only now, that the real value is beginning to show.
My husband is taking his own journey and traveling to Honduras next month! I am thrilled to share the places, smells, sights, and faces with my partner in life. I know what he will experience, and I can’t wait to hear about it from his perspective. (I’m guessing fewer tears and less hugging.) Most of all, I am excited for him, for the impact these children will have on his heart, for the love and compassion I know he will feel for the nationals.
When I landed in Honduras, I immediately realized the second 40 years of my life would be very different than the first 40. The first proof of that is finally coming to fruition. My crazy college boyfriend, my adventurous backpacking-across-Europe pal, my stuffy business-suit-wearing husband … he’s going on a mission trip. And that is the greatest gift of all!