Four days before our Honduras Mission team was to leave for our annual mission trip, the team’s leader, Frank Welch, faced a heart-wrenching decision. Since Honduras reelected President Juan Orlando Hernandez in November, tensions have been rising between the people who supported the elected president and those who believe the election was stolen by a corrupt election process. As the time for our team’s trip drew near, Frank learned that protests were being organized to take place in Tegucigalpa, the capital city and the location of the airport our team must use for the return flight. These protests, planned for the day of the presidential inauguration, are intended to express disapproval of the election results and to call for a new election.
In assessing this tense situation, Frank Welch consulted with numerous missionaries in Honduras and friends he has in government. Each time he called, his sources were more concerned about the scope and potential hostility of the protests. Planned demonstrations will now take place from the day our team planned to arrive in Honduras until at least the day they were scheduled to leave. The airport has become a target of the protests, knowing that tying up the airport would interfere with dignitaries arriving for the presidential inauguration. Protesters plan to block as many major roads around the capital city as possible, making transportation from the airport to the team’s mission site difficult and dangerous, if not impossible.
In light of these developments, realizing that he did not feel confident the mission team could travel to its work site and return safely and on schedule, on Tuesday evening, Welch made the decision to cancel the trip.
Commenting on the decision, Pastor Dee Vaughan said, “Our team is very disappointed that we cannot go. We feel very sorry for the people we planned to serve. But we are blessed to have a team leader who has the experience and connections to know the right thing to do. His concern for the safety of his team makes me confident that we are well cared for every time we go to Honduras. We look forward to our next opportunity to serve there.”