by Emmie Martin
As soon as Susan Peterson heard that Liberty Foundation was planning a missions trip to Tegucigalpa, Honduras, she knew she had to be there.
Not only had Peterson, a member of Liberty Church’s Brooklyn community, dreamed of going on a missions trip her entire life, but her Children’s Cup sponsor child, Alison, lived in Tegucigalpa.
“When I found out that this was a possibility, not only to go on the missions trip, but be able to see her, it was a no-brainer,” Peterson says.
Once there, the 10-day trip, which ran from March 6 to March 15, consisted of visits to two of Children’s Cup’s care points in Los Pinos and Teupasenti, as well as home visits with families that attend the care points and prayer walks throughout the city.
But despite the flurry of activity, one instance in particular stands out to Peterson: The moment she met Alison, the 12-year-old girl she has been sponsoring through Children’s Cup since October 2016.
“When I got there, I didn’t know what I should say, what I should do, what she’d be expecting of me,” Peterson says. “All of my questions were all over the place.”
Children attend the Los Pinos care point in two sections. The first half of the children go to school in the morning and the care point in the afternoon; the rest do the reverse.
On their first day in Los Pinos, Peterson eagerly awaited Alison’s arrival. She met the girl’s sister during the morning session – who hugged her and sang for her – and knew Alison would be there in the afternoon.
As soon as Alison arrived, Peterson locked eyes with her, and the two immediately grasped each other in a hug, as easily as sisters.
“It was instantaneous that we embraced each other, and we did not let go for a good five to ten minutes,” Peterson says. “Tears on both ends.”
She had no words. Every single question evaporated in the moment as she breathed in the happy, living child she had been sponsoring for months.
Later, Peterson would get to meet Alison’s parents and four younger siblings, as well as visit their home. She learned Alison dreams of becoming an engineer one day – a recent pivot from wanting to be a teacher.
“Setting her standards high and I love it!” Peterson says. “Children’s Cup makes it possible. They give them the tools to be able to have these dreams.”
Throughout the trip, Peterson saw God move and work firsthand, not only in the lives of those in Honduras, but in herself as well.
Before leaving New York, Peterson worried that she’d struggle to articulate prayers and share her faith with the people of Tegucigalpa. But while out praying in the community one day, she could immediately sense the spiritual hunger in a group of men she met – some were drunk, others on drugs – and she knew she needed to pray over them.
“It was difficult for me to put aside ‘I don’t know how to preach, I don’t know how to pray with people,’ and that was one of the things that I was worried about on this trip, because as much as I have faith and I want to spread God’s word, it’s hard for me to put it into words,” she explains.
But despite her fears, the words came easily to Peterson in that moment.
“That was one of the hardest moments on the trip for me, but also one of the most rewarding because I broke through that barrier and I was able to be there for those men and pray for what they needed prayer for,” she says. “I saw the gratitude in some of their faces and the breakthroughs that happened.”
For Peterson, the trip not only exceeded her expectations, but changed her mindset of what a missions trip “should” look like.
“It was hard for me to leave the missions trip, because I was like ‘There’s so much more we could have done!’” she says. “[But] when I started thinking about all we accomplished on the spiritual side of things, how much we brought God into the world and into their lives, it was amazing how much we got done in such a short period of time, and to see what a small group of people can accomplish in a huge city at so many different care points.”
To all those like her who have dreamed of going on a missions trip, but never made it a reality, Peterson offers her advice: “Go and experience it at least once in your life. Don’t ever think that you can’t, because you can. You’re capable of doing anything that you set your mind to, especially in doing something like this. It’s a life changing experience, not only for yourself, but for the people that you’re going to help.”