Members of the Gehlen Catholic High School mission trip to Honduras left from Le Mars Tuesday with a crowd of friends and family waving goodbye.
Since 2001, over 600 people have taken part in the annual mission trip.
This year, 19 high school students from Gehlen Catholic High School and Spalding Catholic High School, along with 13 adult chaperones are making the trip.
They are scheduled to return March 27.
Their mission while in Honduras will be to build three homes, work on English with elementary students, visit a children’s feeding center, build 10 bunks for 10 families, build three tables for a school and, if possible, help with other projects.
Dave Klein, a chaperone on the trip, said this is his fourth year to take part in the mission.
“It’s just an amazing experience to see how many things we have up here compared to a Third-World country, like Honduras,” Klein said.
Past trips have changed his outlook and perception of the world, Klein said.
“The people down there are just amazing and will teach you what’s really important in life,” he said.
During Tuesday’s send off, members of the community gathered in the gym at Gehlen.
The missioners listened as different speakers thanked them for their services to the impoverished people of Honduras.
Then, three students took turns reading statements written by those traveling to Honduras as the missioners lit a candle in reflection of their dedication to the trip.
Some lit a candle to call focus to the poor, while others did so to honor family members.
Abigail Chagolla, a missioner, wrote, “I wanted to make a difference in other people’s lives and in my own life. I want to enjoy the simplicities in life and remind myself to be happy with what I have.”
This will be the second mission trip to Honduras for Alex Kellen, who said his candle was to honor his parents.
“When I went to Honduras last year, I saw firsthand the impact the missioners had on the Hondurans’ lives, and how grateful they are for the smallest things,” Kellen wrote.
He is going back again to continue that positive impact, according to Kellen’s statement.
Following the send-off ceremony, students, families and friends lined the sidewalks outside of the school to say their final goodbyes.
Hugs were exchanged as parents wiped away tears to watch the missioners board the yellow school bus.
The emotions seemed to be a mixture of pride and anxiety.
The pride appeared to come from watching the missioners commit to the selfless act of the mission.
The anxiety seemed to be felt by parents as they watched their once children, now young adults, make their way to a foreign country.
But all agreed, the tears were an acceptable sacrifice when weighed against the importance of their mission.
More about Volunteering in Honduras
More about Honduras