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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Life lesson #3 learned on my trip to Honduras

Relevant Ministry Blog Schedule:
Tuesday - "About Spiritual Health in Life and Ministry"

Thursday - "About Relevant Women

by Pam Roth
For an extravert, this may be one of the most difficult blog articles that I will ever write.  While I was experiencing it, this lesson was both challenging and beneficial. 

Jokingly, I said to my husband the other day - “Well, I’ve only written two blog articles about my trip to Honduras and the life lessons that I wrote about happened in the first two days.”  Then, I followed that comment up with this thought, “And my next blog article is about life lesson number three; which also happened in day two.”  It was at that very moment that I realized that the Lord was with me right from the get go of our trip and he had a divine plan in mind.  Two days and three life lessons...I must have needed this trip.

Flash back…immediately, upon deciding to go to Honduras, I began to say to myself and others that not knowing the language - Garifuna and specifically, Spanish - would be the biggest hurdle to overcome.  For me, open communication is so important because it is one of the keys to a good relationship and especially for an extravert because we are all about being in relationship with people. 

So, leading up to the trip, anyone and everyone that I talked to assured me that it would all work out and I would be fine.  After hearing this message repeatedly, I had convinced myself, that not only would I be with Luisa; but more than likely, most of the children and younger adults would speak English, so I would surely have someone to talk to while I was there. 

On the plane, I shared my concern with Luisa because I wanted her to be free to enjoy her time in Honduras with her friends and family, so I didn’t want her to feel like she had to interpret for me all of the time.  When we arrived in Honduras, I had an opportunity to express my concern to Mark and Monica Voss, a missionary couple from the United States, that we stayed with overnight in San Pedro.  Then it happened….the next day at the airport in the midst of my financial dilemma with the ATM machine, I apprehensively said to Monica, “I feel so handicapped not being able to speak Spanish.  What am I going to do for the next two weeks?”  I have to be honest with you, as I look back on this scene, I believe I was experiencing a little bit of separation anxiety.  You know, that feeling when you are leaving everyone and everything that you know.  At that very moment, I realized that as soon as Monica got in her car and drove away, it would be up to me to find ways to communicate with those that I came in contact with without necessarily speaking a word.  This trip to Honduras had separated me from my English speaking world.  A world that I was comfortable in...a world that I could freely communicate my needs...a world where I knew someone else would be able to fully engage and communicate back to me. 

While all of these thoughts were swirling around in my head, I heard Monica say, “Pam, relax.  You may not know Spanish; but, I have found when we are not able to communicate, we can sit back and learn something from the conversation that we might miss if we are talking.  In your silence, be observant.”  Wow!  This was a challenging thought for me...not to be able to freely communicate and interact with people over the next two weeks. 

And then, I remembered a poster that we have hanging at the Relevant Ministry Center that says, “Always share the gospel and if necessary use words.”  This is a motto that our mission teams use when they are working in settings where they are not allowed to actually share the gospel with words.  They have to become creative and use other avenues to minister and carry the message of God’s hope and love to those that they are working with that week.  For me, I needed to rely on God’s power and his love to shine through me without words. 

You remember my preconceived idea that more than likely most of the children and young adults would speak English?  Well, that was completely wrong; however,  Monica was absolutely right and I learned a whole new way of communicating.  It was invaluable for me to learn how to sit back, relax, and learn from what I observed. The greatest challenge for me was finding a balance.  Sometimes, I would find myself withdrawing either figuratively or literally because I couldn’t communicate and then there were times when I was looking in on the conversation, struggling to figure out what they were talking about and yet trying to observe, so God could speak to me.  And then, there were times when I felt reconnected again through a conversation with Luisa or someone else who happened to speak English. 

In the process, the more I observed, I realized that we do not have to be in a foreign country or unable to speak a foreign language to feel a disconnect of some sort.  We can feel that way in any cultural setting, with any group of people.  What I experienced can happen right here in the United States to a person attending a church service for the first time or someone being invited to any small group or intimate setting where they do not know the group’s culture or the language they speak - even if it is English.

I’m so grateful that God gave me this opportunity to peek in on what it is like to experience the feeling of trying to relate and connect to a group that has already formed.  This life lesson has helped me to see the importance of making others feel included and to be sure that I don’t assume that they speak the same language that I do. This allows me an opportunity to clarify unspoken rules of a group that I am a part of and ask important questions to help that person feel like they are genuinely a part. 

What happens to you when you feel like you are on the outside looking in?

How observant are you to the needs of others?

What are some things that you do to include others?

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For more about Relevant Women -

The purpose of Relevant Women:
Relevant Women exists to train women to minister relevantly, to discover and grow in God’s call in their lives and to serve in their churches as godly leaders.

RW accomplishes this by:
•Teaching life changing truth
•Building significant relationships
•Practicing spiritual disciplines
•Defining our personal stories
•Developing our personal ministry

At Relevant Ministry, our vision is to equip leaders to minister relevantly in churches that will be healthy and thriving.

Our mission, to fulfill this vision, is training future leaders - building healthy ministries - and serving on the Gulf Coast. 


  1. Pam, you and I are both extraverts.. I remember learning this about you when you and Nelson walked us through personality tests as part of team building/training. This is such a good reminder for me! Sometimes I need to sit back and give a chance for others to talk. Also I need to remember that not everyone can communicate as easily as I can, so I need to be sensitive to that. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks, Mandy for your affirmation. The exciting thing is we have the opportunity to continue to grow in our relationship with others as well as grow in our listening skills.


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