A worthwhile trip

Published 9:12 am Thursday, December 2, 2010

Jenna Long, a senior at United South Central High School, is pictured with a boy in Honduras. Long was one of 15 locals who returned Wednesday from a mission trip with St. Casimir’s Catholic Parish of Wells. -- photo submitted

WELLS — Although Jenna Long didn’t get home until 1:30 a.m. Wednesday, she was still in class at United South Central High School in Wells bright and early that same morning.

But, the high school senior wasn’t the only one a little weary for the day ahead.

Long and seven of her classmates, along with eight adults, returned home at that early hour from a two-week mission trip to Honduras through St. Casimir’s Catholic Parish in Wells.

“I’m not even Catholic, I just went with some friends,” Long said.

The trip was through APUFRAM International, a nonprofit agency that strives to help the poor help themselves through Christ-centered education at sites in Honduras and the Dominican Republic.

Long and her friends left for the trip on Nov. 17. She said the experience was eye-opening, even before the plane landed.

“Their cities don’t build up like ours, they sprawl out,” she said. “When we flew in, it was so spread out you couldn’t see where the town ended. That was crazy.”

She said they stayed in a visitor center just down the hill from the work site and spent each morning working at a local orphanage, women’s shelter and school.

“We painted all of their school buildings for them for graduation, which was yesterday,” Long said.

They also fixed screens on windows and constructed, painted and installed new shelves at the library, which had been eaten up by termites.

She said the work time was from 9 a.m. until noon each day, followed by lunch and siesta time until 2:30 p.m.

After that, they spent time playing with local children and going to markets in local towns, including Comayagua.

“We went to La Paz on Sundays — they had a really good Sunday market where people set up their tents and sold their wares,” she said. “It was kind of like a farmers market but with tons of people yelling and traffic going through. It was really busy but a lot of fun.”

Long said probably the biggest surprise to her was the unsanitary conditions.

“There was garbage everywhere,” she said. “People just throw trash in the streets.”

“Traffic laws are also kind of nonexistent,” she added. “People are going really fast and their biggest form of communication is honking at each other.”

Long and her friends were on this trip during the Thanksgiving holiday. While they were thankful to be able to spread faith and hard work to these people in need, they were also thankful for a “normal” turkey dinner with mashed potatoes, fresh green beans and pie.

“It was a good change. We had been eating rice, beans and tortillas every day,” she said.

Long said it was a life changing experience and it’s definitely something she would like to do again. She especially enjoyed the children, and learned more than one important lesson.

“You couldn’t really talk to them because they spoke Spanish and we spoke English, but you could tell that they appreciated everything,” she said. “They’re so happy with so little and appreciated everything. That made it worthwhile to go on the trip.”