Coup cancels mission trip for local group to Honduras

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 9, 2009

Except for a coup, a team of 30 Vicksburg volunteers would be in Honduras today to start a weeklong mission trip.

But because of continued unrest in the Central American nation — and the airport being closed — the trip was canceled.

“The decisions of certain people in certain places, they have rippling effects,” said Hunter Godsey, the vice president of Baptist Medical & Dental Mission International, the organization that sends teams to provide medical care and practice Christian witnessing in Honduras and Nicaragua.

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This would have been the fifth year for the Vicksburg team, which is made up of members of First Baptist Church, Bovina Baptist Church and Woodlawn Baptist Church, the host church. Teams include doctors, nurses, dentists, veterinarians, teachers, engineers, pharmacists, pastors, college and high school students and citizens.

During their week in a rural village, the team, which had planned to fly from Jackson Tuesday, was planning to perform medical and eye services, host a pharmacy, conduct children’s church services twice a day, give donations and, for the first time, have an eyeglass clinic.

“(And) there’s always evangelism,” said Ann Moore, the Woodlawn Baptist secretary and a four-year veteran on the trip. “That’s always No. 1.”

Team members have been biting their nails since the Honduran president Manuel Zelaya was ousted on June 28 in what some have called a military coup. Questions circulated last week about Zelaya’s return to Honduras, and citizens responded in riots.

“There were people who were for him as well as the protesters that were against him, and they were all around the airport preventing him from landing,” Moore said, adding that the military blocked the runway. “With all the unrest down there and the uncertainty of if he was going to get in (the country), when he was going to get in … it was just too unsafe for teams to travel in and out.”

Ultimately the airport was shut down and the team had no choice.

“The airport was closed down and, obviously, without a way to fly in, there’s no way to get a team in there really without going all the way around the world,” Godsey said. “That was the main factor, whether we could get them in — and if we can get them in, can we get them out?”

Zelaya is set to meet with the coup leaders today in San Jose, Costa Rica. The talk will be mediated by Costa Rican President Oscar Arias.

The team had been planning since January, collecting donations, packing and labeling thousands of pills for the pharmacy, raising money to entirely fund the trip, buying food and making other preparations. All food and supplies had to be shipped to Honduras in May, and the team members were packing the thousands of cookies they had made as recently as Monday night, right before the trip was canceled.

This Sunday the team will meet and discuss the options for rescheduling. Moore said possibilities include finding another date to go or joining another team, though they will have to consider everyone’s work and school schedules.

“We’re more saddened by the people in Honduras that are having to do without the medicines we were going to bring, the clothes we were going to give them and the Bibles we were going to give them,” Moore said. “(And) the encouragement in their little church of what we’re doing.”

About 55 teams and 2,200 volunteer team members are set to take trips through Baptist Medical & Dental Mission International this year. No teams are in Honduras right now — the most recent left Honduras Saturday and another team planning to go this Saturday has canceled its trip.


Contact Andrea Vasquez at