GUIDE FOR SHORT TERM MISSIONARIES COMING TO HONDURAS
1. PASSPORTS – Please double check your passport to be sure you have at least six months before it expires. You will not be allowed to travel if it is too close to the expiration date. Make two good quality color copies of your passport. Give one to your team leader to bring with him (her) and leave on at home in a safe place. This will be of great help in case of loss or theft.
2. PHONE NUMBERS – The team leader should carry the phone numbers and email of the host missionary so they can be contacted in case a flight is delayed, cancelled or for any kind of emergency.
3. CUSTOMS AND IMMIGRATION – On the airplane you will be given customs/immigration papers to fill out. Your purpose of travel is: tourism; foreseen address should be obtained from the host missionary before departure from the US and filled out in the space provided on this form. Immigration will staple the green or yellow copy of your immigration form into your passport. This is your approval to enter and remain in the country during your visit. Do not remove it or lose it! If and when asked about the purpose of your visit to Honduras, simply state that you are coming as a volunteer with a missionary group.
4. LUGGAGE – It is a good idea to pack a carry-on with at least one change of clothes, five pieces of underwear, as well as any prescription medicine you need to take regularly. This will be of great help should your regular luggage not arrive when you do.
At the airport, do not let the baggage handlers help you or they will expect a nice tip. If you do use one, you can tip them with $5.00 US dollars, to give them less is not acceptable to them. You are better off just doing it yourself to avoid any awkwardness.
5. MONEY – Honduras currency is the Lempira (L.). Consult with the host missionary about exchanging Dollars to Lempiras for spending money.
In most places you can pay for things in $US dollars, but you will get your change in Lempiras. No one accepts US bills larger than $20.00 or less than $5.00 – Traveler’s checks are not accepted here. Credit cards are fine; just make sure you call your credit card company and let them know that you will be travelling to Honduras, so that they will not block your account for security reasons. You will also need to show a photo ID whenever you charge to your credit card.
6. SHOTS – None are required to enter Honduras. We strongly suggest a current tetanus shot. You may check into “HEP A” if you have enough time (it requires a booster).
7. CLOTHING – It is hot here most of the time. Shorts may be worn but we insist it be mid thigh to knee length for men. Knee length or capris for the ladies. No tank tops or spaghetti straps. No sandals or flip flops are allowed on the work site, only closed toed shoes. We suggest light weight fabrics. Do pack a sweater, jacket or long sleeved shirt, just in case.
Do pack a swimsuit/swim trunks and a towel in case you have access to a pool where you are staying. If you like to bathe with a wash cloth, bring your own. They do not use them here and most hotels do not provide them.
Clothes donations are accepted. If you would like to donate, simply leave your dirty clothes, shoes, towels, toiletries, suitcases, etc. We will wash them and give them a new home with someone in need.
8. OTHER – We suggest you pack a flash light; power outages are quite common; a battery operated alarm clock would be a good idea, though the roosters will have you up very early in the morning. If you are a light sleeper, pack some earplugs, you may share rooms with someone who snores and/or the roosters will wake you up (they start before daylight).
9. DEHYDRATION/SUNSCREEN/REPELLENT – It is strongly suggested you start drinking water at least a week before your arrival. For sunscreen it is better to use a SPF 45. Wide brim hats are also a good idea to bring. Those with less hair need to be extra careful. Honduras is very close to the equator (Only 15 parallels away). The sun is very intense and direct.
Mosquitoes are also a problem depending on the location you are, so bring a repellent with you. Taking vitamin B6 for a couple of weeks prior to your arrival is a good idea.
10. VALUABLES – We suggest you leave at home anything of value, or anything you cannot easily replace. While we go to great lengths to keep you as safe as possible, Honduras is a country with high risk security issues and we do not take anything for granted. Please do not bring diamonds nor other jewels, fancy watches, electronics, etc. Consider carefully bringing your laptop. Be careful where you leave you cameras and other media devices should you bring them. Items such as these can easily disappear.
11. JUST BE CAREFUL – Avoid going anywhere unaccompanied, watch your wallet, purse and personal belongings at all times. Don’t count money nor fumble through your wallet or purse where others can see you. Pay attention to what is going on around you.
Pay attention to what you say because more Hondurans than what you are aware of understand at least some English and might be offended. You will observe different things here, becareful with how you react, Americans are known for being loud and rude at times; let’s try to have fun within balance. You are like a fish in a fish bowl; all eyes will be on the gringos. Let your Jesus shine!
12. GIFTS – If you are led to give a gift of any sort to a Honduran, please talk to your host missionary about it first. We want to protect our Honduran brothers and sisters as best we can. For example, publicly presenting a Pastor of the church with a gift of $500 (whether intended for his family or the church) can cause problems among the congregation and may endanger the Pastor’s life as well as his family’s. Please go to your host missionary first to be advised of the best way to go about presenting a gift to anyone.
13. TOILET PAPER – You will notice that in Honduras there is a trash can next to every toilet, this is because they do not flush toilet paper here. The plumbing and septic systems cannot handle toilet paper. Program yourself mentally not to flush toilet paper.
14. WATER – All water that comes out of the faucet is good for bathing, washing and shaving with; DO NOT DRINK IT. Drink only bottled water and use it for brushing your teeth as well. Don’t gargle water in the shower. Canned and bottled sodas, juices, etc are safe, but use a straw. Consult your host missionary concerning the safety of ice cubes at any establishment you eat.
15. FOOD – Generally the menu should be worked out with the host missionary before the trip.
You will probably have the opportunity to stop and buy snacks, or bring your own from the US. Do not buy anything from street vendors, only buy factory made products.
16. EXPECTATIONS – The best effort possible will be made to make this mission experience an awesome one for each team. Whether this is your first or tenth, no two mission trips are ever the same. We ask that you come with no expectations, but that you do come with a servant’s heart. Flexibility is a must!
Have a great time working for the Lord. God is so good! Thank you for coming to and blessing the nation of Honduras. It will change your life.