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OC students make safe return from Honduras mission trip

A few weeks ago, Oklahoma Christian University students were sitting idly, refreshing their phones for updates and thinking how the coronavirus might affect their spring break plans. 

Bound for a missionary trip to Honduras during the time frame, a small group of Eagles embarked on their journey despite the looming threat of a COVID-19 outbreak.

Merideth Langley, a senior who took part in the excursion, discussed the initial state of the mission trip and the reasoning behind their original lack of alarm. 

“Things had kind of started to get weird here in the U.S., and OC had just decided to do two weeks of online classes,” Langley said. “We figured things both here and there would eventually start to close, but we thought it would not be throughout our trip.”

After the group arrived in Honduras, the coronavirus began to spread quickly across North America. As governments and airlines responded, Langley said it became difficult to return home to the United States due to consistent flight cancellations.  

“On Sunday, March 16, the president of Honduras closed the borders of the country to national and international travel starting at midnight,” Langley said. “Our trip to Roatán was canceled, and we got our plane tickets moved to fly out of Tegucigalpa the Monday after the week-long border closure that started the 23rd. That flight also ended up being canceled, so we booked another flight and our parents started contacting our senators in concern.” 

Despite the inconsistent departures, the group was able to make a United Airlines flight four days after their initial departure date and went into minor self-isolation after returning.

Langley discussed the state of the Honduras airport and the precautions taken by Honduras and international customs. 

“I’m pretty familiar with the process, and it was strange to see the airport empty,” Langley said. “When we landed in Honduras we waited in customs for nearly four hours to get our temperatures checked before we were permitted to enter the country. We would have gotten through faster, but a woman was symptomatic so everyone from her flight was asked to go through immediately. It was a little alarming to see people running through the airport in hazmat suits.”

Despite the short stay and nationwide restrictions, sophomore Jakobee Holloway noted how camaraderie bolstered morale and reminded everyone who is really in control.  

“We were able to build relationships at the campus we were staying at, so that helped boost our spirits quite a bit,” Holloway said. “I learned that things like this can get serious fast, staying positive about things makes all the difference and God’s plan is always greater.”

Langley echoed Holloway’s statement, listing two key takeaways from her experience. 

“Throughout all of this there were a few things that stuck out to me—the first was the phrase, ‘even if,’” Langley said. “There were so many things on this trip that we could not control or predict, and this phrase helped our group to remember the positives of our situation and the authority of our God amid so many unknowns. The second was how universal God is. This trip was a wonderful reminder that none of us are alone in this life and that we serve a God who is far greater than our biggest worries and fears, COVID-19 included.”

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