Our drive to church that morning took about an hour. We weaved our way through the mountains, eventually reaching over the clouds. As we pulled off the side of the road and got out of the car, we were met with crisp mountain air. We walked down the steep path to reveal a new pavilion, its clean floor beginning to be caked with muddy footprints. Here we were greeted with the sounds of chickens, children giggling, and wrinkled men saying “pasen, pasen.” Then we worshipped. We sang songs that I was familiar with such as Mighty to Save and 10,000 Reasons. Natán delivered a message that echoed down the mountainside. We fellowshipped with women cooking tamales in the rain and some of the best coffee I have ever had. Mud clung to my hiking boots and into the pavilion. Cars got stuck after and we pushed them out in our Sunday best. And it was beautiful.
Moments like this cause me to re-think my perspective of church and faith. I remember asking Kristen that morning, “Is it okay if I wear hiking boots with my dress for church?” I didn’t want to stand out even more than I already did. When I go to church here in America, I always make sure my outfits match. I like to blend in with the crowd and not cause a scene, especially at church. I would never wear blue hiking boots with a long blue dress. I’m not sure people would say anything to me, but I may get some sideways glances. However, in Honduras, I am so glad that I wore them because they were not only practical but became a symbol for the faith that I strive to have.
I think for many of us, a life of true freedom and bliss looks like a life where nothing is muddy. The house is always clean, white picket fences line the neighborhood, kids are riding on their bikes while clutching melting ice cream, and the skies are always blue. The town church would have beautiful stained glass, wooden pews, a worship pastor with unmovable hair, and the most updated technology. But then I think about the neighborhood that Jesus would live in and the church He would attend. I think about how Jesus washed the disciples’ feet that had walked through sand and mud in sandals. He was having his last meal on earth and yet took time and effort to get down in the mud and make sure his best friends had clean feet. He didn’t care that they were smelly. He didn’t care that he was dirtying his robes. Is this not how we should be too? The church in Honduras didn’t have all the luxuries that we seek. There weren’t lights and screens. The temperature wasn’t just right. The floors weren’t vacuumed. But it was worship.
In the past few months, I’ve been reflecting on my version of bliss and freedom. I used to think that it would be a simple, “clean” life. Now I realize that we’re all muddy, no matter where we call home. Serving one another with muddy boots and dirt-stained clothes is exactly what Jesus did. So, let’s put on our boots and look a little more like the mud-stained Jesus and serve others, no matter where they’ve walked.
Anna recently worked at a middle school as an interpreter where she fell in love with Hondurans and their culture. She was able to serve with VER International this past summer and had a great experience. She is in graduate school following her dream to be an ESL teacher.