Category: International Trips

Honduras Day 6

Sam Smith, Patsy Bane, MaKenzie Firek, and Emerald Lupari

Today is the last day of the trip and I couldn’t be more thankful to be able to serve on the mission trip this week. The day started off at the clinic site with the most gorgeous view of the mountain. Between the view and the people of the community, I had an overwhelming sense of gratefulness, peace, and gratitude.

While working in the pharmacy, we were asked if anyone would like to deliver a food bag to a family in need. I felt very compelled to be apart of delivering the food bag and praying with the family. After delivering the food bag, Kirio, the preacher and pastor of the community, asked if we would do a house visit to a local woman who was home ill and was unable to come to the clinic. Upon arrival, we met an older woman, Julia, in bed. Julia was in extreme pain to a huge mass that was discovered in her colon. There wasn’t much we could do, but when we asked if there was anything we could do they asked for prayer. We prayed for/with Julia and left with the promise of coming back to deliver some medication to help her find relief as well as bring back a doctor. The family gifted us with a bundle of plantains as a thank you gift for coming to see them. I was speechless and kept thinking that we didn’t do anything except pray. I couldn’t comprehend that this family, who just got these plantains from the field and was going to be using them as their dinner, had just gifted us with their meal. I had so many emotions running through my mind that I was having trouble processing it. When we returned with the medications and the doctor, we found out the unfortunate news that Julia had colon cancer.  Palliative care is her only option at this time. I was beyond heartbroken to hear the news and as a group, we continued to pray for her well being. We also prayed for God to help her find some relief. As we were leaving, I leaned down to say my goodbye while Julia continued praying and thanking God for sending us to help her. I was brought to tears but was able to take away how selfless, grateful, and appreciative Julia was. I was able to leave knowing that Julia was going to find some relief and was beyond blessed to have been able to pray with her as she fights this awful disease.

Overall, I get to leave this trip with so much love, new memories, and lasting relationships. I am already counting down the days until I can serve with God once again to love and serve my neighbor.

— Emmy Lupari, College of Pharmacy student

Honduras Day 5

(Ali Gean, Emily Wilcox, and Lisa Marie Harris)

I’ve learned more in 5 days on this trip than what feels like a whole semester of school. Also life will never be same after discovering my love for granitas. During this trip my perspective has completely changed and my story has a new page to be added. Today we went to a remote community in the mountains a couple hours away from Jovenes. I started out counseling, filling and handing out food bags. I had help with interpreting by the sweetest boy named Daniel. He is a young man from Jovenes en Camino and, despite his situation, he is not bitter or resentful towards others. He is beyond generous and has been invaluable to our efforts along with the other interpreters. I couldn’t have triaged patients without the help of Louise, Marvin, and Emmanuel. They get up at 5am to do chores for two hours before they work with us all day long. Daniel never missed a beat. He was always ready to help me counsel. Today he told me he wants to be a pilot when he grows up because he likes to be up high above the world. I could hear the passion and determination in his voice. I can easily relate to that in my story to become a healthcare provider. I am beyond thankful that God put me here this week to meet Daniel. We have gotten really close over the past few days even to the point where Daniel says he misses me between riding to different clinics. Daniel taught me three things in just one day: to be generous no matter the obstacle, dream big knowing that God will provide and love when world hasn’t given you a reason to love.

(Daniel and Lisa Marie on the far right)

— Ali Gean, College of Pharmacy Student


Honduras Day 4

(Emerald Lupari, Patsy Bane, and Mackenzie Firek)

Our time in Honduras is coming to an end. However, each day presents an experience completely different fromthe last days. Today, we spent time in Las Delicias, a small village in the Honduran mountains. This trip has given me time to reflect on how God intertwined my story with all the people I meet and those who came with me. At the beginning of the day, I worked in triage and one of the patients was an elderly lady. She sat down with tears in her eyes and immediately started speaking in Spanish. Although the language barrier prevents me from comprehending what she was saying, I could understand what she was trying to tell me. The interpreter then informed me that the lady had lost her son recently and was having trouble sleeping at night since. Listening to her story, I was in awe to think about how God had orchestrated our lives to meet at this moment. Everything I had done from choosing a profession in pharmacy to choosing to go to Belmont brought me to this one moment were our stories intertwined. This trip has taught me to cherish every moment and know there is a reason my paths cross with certain people in life. When I return back to America, I do not want to put the lesson I have learned here in a box and set it on the self. However, I want to remember to be grateful and know there is a perfect plan for every story mine is interwoven with.

— Mackenzie Firek, College of Pharmacy Student

Day 3 in Honduras

One thing I keep trying to remind myself is “Hey. You’re here. In Honduras. Don’t miss it.” I think it can be so easy to wake up, go to these places, and forget that you’re in the middle of it — forgot why you gave up the resources, time, and more to travel across the world and help people you don’t even know. However, with each passing moment, I believe it’s becoming more apparent of why. And that we’re here. And that it matters.

Trisha McHugh and Emerald Lupari

There was so much that we could have been missed today, if we hadn’t been looking. We started the day off by grabbing the perfect coffee on the road to the clinic. Truly, it cannot be expressed the perfection of this particular type of caffeine. Honduran coffee really puts the rest of the world’s coffee to shame.

From the God-sent coffee, the group split in half, and went to two various clinics in the area. The clinic I ended up in was a government-run clinic that needed extra hands, as it was the weekend, and they only had one provider. We prepared a triage center, an add on to their current pharmacy, and 3 different clinic rooms. From there, we immediately started seeing patients from the community. There were men and women off all ages from the area and we treated all that came through our doors. Every single smile, hug, and “gracias” only reaffirmed that what we were doing mattered.

We provided fluids for someone in severe dehydration. Medication was given to families who were struggling with infections. Prayer was spoken over parents dealing with loss of loved ones. Every single moment worthy of our full time and devotion.

The team God assembled here in Honduras could not have been more anointed, with every single man and woman contributing valuable skills and information to the clinic. We would not be where we are today without the absolute crucial help of every single person here. It is our hope and desire that we continue to fix our eyes on Christ and reveal to our patients here, His love with the services we can provide. We are striving to give grace and compassion to those that we serve, all the while we do the same for each other. We are in here in Honduras to serve and expand the Kingdom — and we aren’t going to miss it.

Trisha McHugh – Belmont College of Pharmacy Student

Days 1-2 in Honduras

The first day in Honduras was a full one. Yesterday we landed in Tegucigalpa and met up with our host partners from Jovenes. Ronald, the one who runs the boys home, met up with us, loaded up the luggage, and we were on our way to El Zamorano. This group is a unique one, with 11-12 Pharmacy students from both Belmont and Lipscomb Universities.

The 45-minute drive is a beautiful, winding, journey down into the valley of El Zamorano. Surrounded by mountains on all sides, Jovenes en Camino (or “Children on the Way”) is home and school to over 50 young boys of all ages. The campus includes three residence buildings, dining hall, carpentry shop, a store, farm, offices, guest house, space for recreation, a tutoring center and a clinic that is open to the El Zamorano community.

Once settled at our hotel, we enjoyed an authentic Honduran dinner and then headed off to bed.

The next morning started with a bang as the whole group began preparing for the first day of the clinic at Jovenes. The students, supervised by the Pharmacy faculty, saw over 100 people from the community and gave them health consultation along with medication for various issues they were dealing with. Additionally, our group packed 40+ food bags that will provide basic food supplies for entire families for 2 weeks during the holidays.

Later, we shared dinner with the Jovenes community and then had spirited games of kickball and futbol (spoiler – we lost).

With all the new sights and sounds, the group is just getting acclimated and settling in. We’re looking forward to a week of hard work and new friendships as we serve and receive from the community of Jovenes and from El Zamorano. In the coming days, you’ll hear more from the students on the trip as well, so keep following along for more updates!

Larkin Briley – Trip Leader


Testimony Tuesday: Corey Rhoades

Corey Rhoades served as one of the adult leaders for this year’s Birmingham Plunge trip, and in the spring he will serve as an adult leader for the Nicaragua Casas por Cristo trip.  Today, Corey is sharing with us how his past work on Mission has shaped his mindset.  Corey’s missions testimony encourages us to question our place in God’s story.

Growing up in Southern California, just a couple hours drive away from Mexico, I was always involved in short-term, international mission trips. At least three times a year, I traveled with my church family to serve at an orphanage in Ensenada or to build a house with my youth group in San Felipe. These were formative years, in which I developed a love for the Spanish language, which would eventually become my college major. 

Corey is a Graduate Assistant and Bridges to Belmont faculty at Belmont

As a teenager, it was easy to neglect the reasons why we went on these trips. Mostly, I saw it as a road trip with my best friends. But my youth minister made us write essays before every summer Mexico trip—yes, written essays like in school, but this time not for a grade! And after much whining and complaining to our parents, we all begrudgingly complied. Only in retrospect do I appreciate the motives behind those dreaded essays. It compelled us to ask questions: Why are we going? Who are we helping? Are we actually helping? These essays forced us to contemplate our own blessings and privileges as citizens of the U.S., to discern our individual gifts and skills that we contribute to the team, and to wrestle through our relationship with God.

Group photo of one of Corey’s past missions.

These essays were a start, but college forced me to ask even more questions. What do I want to do with my life? How can I make a positive impact on the world? Does my career fit into all this? Additional opportunities to study abroad and participate in short-term mission trips led me to Honduras, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay. I began to realize that Mexico is just one small part of the greater panoply of countries that make up Latin America. As I worked toward fluency in Spanish, I began to wonder what the point was. Every new place I traveled was like discovering and opening another can of worms. How could I, just one person, possibly make a difference?

Corey working construction on mission

During Spring Break 2020, I will be leading a group of Belmont students to Nicaragua to build a house with Casas Por Cristo. It will be yet another small attempt to help a family in need—another house that will not reverse cycles of poverty, not displace corrupt government leaders, and not make much of any difference in the scope of world history. But I still believe this trip will be important and worthwhile. If you are considering a Belmont Spring Break Mission Trip but are hesitant to commit, I would encourage you to shift your mindset away from answer-seeking questions and toward growth & trajectory questions. Rather than asking, “Should I go? Will I know anyone? Will it actually make a difference?” instead ask yourself, “What made me interested in the first place? Who might I meet? What might I learn?” Going on an international mission trip may raise more questions than it answers, and that’s okay.”

If you have any questions about the Nicaragua Casas por Cristo trip, or any other spring break mission trip, check out  If you have any questions about Belmont on Mission events, reach out and follow us on social media @BelmontOnMission

Transforming Lives with Caring Hearts Ministries

Some of the International Missions trips offered are more immersive in nature than project based. This means that, the trip itself is a chance to be immersed in a local culture outside the U.S., to grow in one’s understanding of the cares and concerns of those communities, and to promote fellowship and mutuality in your interactions with others. In other words, while there are opportunities to serve and complete projects, the emphasis is on learning and relationship. While some international missions trips have a really clear objective, some have more of a projected outcome that teams likely will not see manifested within the short period of time that they are there.

A child from Oasis Boy’s Home

This spring break, a team of students and Fit Rec faculty will travel to San Luis Mexico to partner with Caring hearts ministries in a community development initiative.  Caring Hearts Ministry is an interdenominational non-profit whose mission is to be a blessing to the people in the extremely poor border town of San Luis Rio Colorado in Sonora, Mexico. Currently, this is being accomplished through short term missions trips and a permanent local Church. This local church partners with our other ministries such as  Oasis Boys’ HomeMedical Outreaches, A Soup Kitchen, Drug Rehab Center, and Blind Center. In these really amazing partnerships, a variety of special needs arise for programming.

A group praying with the shut in ministry

The Belmont team will invest in San Luis Mexico by practically applying health and wellness knowledge to empowering those in need physically and spiritually with the following ministry opportunities.  Students will implement a food garden at the Caring Hearts Soup Kitchen where 150 kids come daily for meals and tutoring.  Further, the team will teach the basics of nutrition and meal preparation at the church and in the community, that are culturally accurate and in line with the available resources in San Luis, Mexico.  The team will also lead a 5-day exercise course for the kids at a soup kitchen, men at a rehab center, churches in the community, and the Oasis Boys Home.  Some unique ministry opportunities include visiting the individuals in the community who live at the Garbage Dump and the sick families in the shut-in ministry.  The team will also conduct a small work project for a family in need (painting, fixing a roof, etc), which will provide some basic assistance to allow the community members to access and harness their opportunities to thrive.

An image from “The Lord’s Watering Hole”

This trip will provide students with a really real look at the beauty of communities unlike the ones that we are used to.  If you have any questions about Caring Hearts Ministries or other Belmont on Mission Trips, check out and reach out!

Student Take: Abby Connolly Practicing a Discipline on Mission


Abby Connolly is a sophomore Experiential Design major.  Over the summer, Abby participated in the Athentikos trip to Guatemala! Today, she is sharing with us a little bit about her experience serving on a discipline specific trip.


“Coming to Belmont, I was amazed with how this community serves others. I knew I wanted to contribute in sharing my gifts to benefit others. Last year, during my fall semester, I met with Dr. Meaghan Brady Nelson so we could talk about the possibility of me going to Guatemala with Belmont on a Mission in partnership with Athentikos. If you have never met Dr. Meaghan Brady Nelson, she is one of the most wonderful and spunky professors I have gotten to know since my time here at Belmont. She is so passionate about art and has such a servant’s heart. She gave me a run down of what the trip would be like explaining that we would we doing art therapy with at risk youth. Immediately after leaving her office I called my mom and told her that I needed to seize this amazing opportunity that Belmont was offering. 



Fast forward six months later I began this life changing journey to Guatemala. I got to work with an older group of boys ages 14-16 who came from a very tough part of Guatemala. Having the chance to help them heal using art was an experience that I will never forget. One thing that I learned from the journey was that language is no barrier for love. It was so interesting to see the transformation of these boys through just one week at camp. They came in putting up walls, but by the end they opened up so that I could really get to know them and meet them in their suffering. As one of my boys Miguel said, “The memories will last a lifetime.” Belmont on a mission allowed God to not only transform my life but also the lives of the kids I served. The program also enabled me to meet so many new people from Belmont that I would not have gotten to know otherwise. If you are considering doing service whether it is here in our backyard of Nashville, or on another continent I would highly encourage you to do so and Belmont on a mission is an incredible place to start.”

If you have any questions about this trip, or any other Belmont on Mission trips, please reach out!

Casas Por Cristo: Building Relationships

In the field of missions, there is a much needed push to support the effort of relationships over projects.  This idea stems from the bigger break away from the “Savior Complex” often found in short-term missions.  The Savior Complex speaks to the idea that an outside group must come into a new place to fix the problems that the community has developed.  In breaking this down, groups and individuals engaging in the Savior Complex also take on the role of deciding what the individuals in the communities they step into need.

Belmont Mission Trip in Acuña, Mexico on March 11, 2019.

Belmont on Mission challenges this phenomenon by partnering with host organizations that are well established in the communities in which we serve, and who know the needs of their own community.  Through partnering with well established, effective host organizations, the mission seamlessly shifts from projects to people.

Belmont Mission Trip in Acuña, Mexico on March 11, 2019.

Casas por Cristo is our Host Organization for the Acuna, Mexico and Chinandega, Nicaragua spring break International Trips.  For the past few years, students have been traveling to Acuna to build a house with Casas por Cristo.  The organization has been in Acuna for over 25 years, and the people working for Casas por Cristo have developed longstanding relationships with the people living in the community.  As a result of these longstanding relationships, Casas por Cristo was able to develop a building floor plan that matched the needs of the community, work with local faith leaders to connect with individuals who could be served, and cultivate long lasting change in the community by meeting the need of stable housing.  In spending time with those who are served, Casas por Cristo could learn from them what they need, and use that knowledge to shape the ways in which they serve.

Belmont Mission Trip in Acuña, Mexico on March 12, 2019.

This spring, Belmont on Mission will send another group to Acuna, MX.  Additionally, a new trip to Nicaragua will allow more students to participate in the people over projects model for mission trips!  Check out this video to learn about Casas por Cristo’s introduction into Chinandega!

Rwanda Post – Lauren Weaver


I took a class this past semester surrounding Postmodern American Literature and History, and after we finished each novel, we always asked the question: “Is this novel hopeful?”

Now, if you know ANYTHING about Postmodern literature, you probably know that themes tend to lean towards the brokenness and darkness of our complicated realities, so finding seeds of hope tends to be a difficult task. But, regardless of the novel and its tragic ending, we always concluded that, yes, there is hope. Because something always had to persist, whether it be a character, an idea, a dream, or just the fact that the author chose to write the story in the first place for others to remember—to have the tale endure as to not be forgotten to the oblivion of history—is in itself hopeful. If one thing is able to escape the darkness, it is a victory for humanity, and the Rwandan community has taken that belief and ran with it.

This is what’s been consuming my thoughts as I’ve begun to process the magnitude of what happened 25 years ago—what has persisted and kept affected Rwandans hopeful? Because, you see, the way that the Rwandan Genocide differs from the Holocaust is the distance from violence. The Nazis attempted to remove themselves as far as possible from the conflict, performing mass killings in gas chambers and death camps scattered around countries outside of Germany. In Rwanda, the Hutu people set out to kill their Tutsi neighbors and family members, and they succeeded… to a degree. Yes, one million lives were lost in the most horrific way, but a man whom we spent quite a bit of time with here and who survived the Genocide as a young boy, Edward Makara, made a great point early on in our trip by saying something along the lines of, “They tried to kill us all, the Nazis tried to kill all the Jews, but when will they learn that it never works? It never has worked! We always come back and survive.”

Before visiting any of the genocide memorials, our group visited an organization called ‘Never Again Rwanda.’ NAR’s mission is to work with youth in peace building and reconciliation. We spent over an hour learning about the methods, beliefs, and goals of the organization—how to deal with soon-to-be released perpetrators of the Genocide, educational programs for disadvantaged youth, and mental health initiatives (to name a few). Once we concluded our meeting, the man who we talked with asked what our plans were for the rest of our stay. When we told him of our plans to visit the Nyamata Genocide Memorial—a church where 10,000 people took refuge from the Hutu but were still killed—he then told us that he had been there. He had laid under a broken bench (we realized there was only one upon visiting) as bodies piled up around him and hid him from his persecutors.

He had been around 6 years old.

I don’t think my heart has ever hit the ground faster—and we hadn’t even visited the memorial yet at that point. I don’t know what I found more compelling—the fact that he survived, or the fact that he was dedicating his time and effort to work at preventing future genocides. NAR has plans to work with recently released perpetrators and their families in readjusting to life after their release. How could he forgive them? How could he look them in the eye and equip them with tools and strategies to prosper?

And then I realized that was the humanity. The persistence of a little boy who survived a horrendous massacre, forgiving those who hurt him and countless others, in the hopes of bettering the world and Rwanda for the next generation. So that they would never have to see the horror that he saw.

That’s what it takes. One person, one spark, to inspire hope into a broken nation torn apart from the inside out. And of course it is more complicated than that. This transition to forgiveness didn’t happen overnight or at the snap of his fingers, but IT HAPPENED. And I wish I had the vocabulary to enforce just how powerful and courageous I think that is. What I’ve seen is that when ubumuntu is fostered in just ONE person, it can lead toward the reconciliation of a whole group, or even a whole nation. And I would say that’s pretty hopeful.

We always come back and survive.


Submitted by Lauren Weaver