Political Unrest Ends Mission Trip in Honduras

Thursday, July 2nd 2009, 12:29 pm
By: News 9

By Colleen Chen, NEWS 9

EDMOND, Oklahoma -- Political unrest in Honduras caused a group of volunteers to pack up their annual mission trip early.

The political turmoil has continued to escalate in the country after President Manuel Zelaya's ousting, resulting in a stronger military presence and demonstrations in and around the country's capitol.

Twenty-eight people from the New Hope Church of Christ in Edmond were volunteering at the Predisan Mission in Honduras.

Alex Harris, 18, and her dad Jeff were just getting into their work building latrines and teaching the local children at the mission, when they were told to get back to the United States due to safety concerns.

New Hope Honduras Mission Trip

"We had to go through herds of cattle and rivers, about five checkpoints and there were soldiers surrounding our bus with huge guns. It'll make you nervous," Alex Harris said.

"The main roads had been closed. We were told there was a lot of protesting on the road, people marching towards the capitol," Jeff Harris said.

While the location of the mission was not in danger, there was worry that airlines would stop running flights as political unrest grew in the region.

"The last couple of days have been stressful. It took a lot of coordination and $19,000 to bring them home. It's a lot of money, but there was no question. Safety comes first," the church's administrator Kelly Graham said.

The Edmond group arrived home Wednesday on four different flights. They are working with Delta to try and get at least some of the $19,000 refunded.

While world leaders have been condemning the way President Zelaya was ousted, the founder of the Predisan mission, Dr. Amanda Madrid, said many Hondurans, including herself, are frustrated with the judgement.

"I think it's the first time a country this poor has stood up and told the president you cannot do whatever you want, that there has to be checks and balance," Dr. Amanda Madrid said. 

Dr. Madrid, who left Oklahoma City for Honduras Thursday morning, said Hondurans are peaceful people and she's not worried about violence escalating in the country.