Volunteer Story: Kelsey Bryceson

We are excited for you all to meet Kelsey today! She works with our Admin Team by handling all of our trip details. Once you sign up for a trip, she’ll be the one you’ll send all your flight info and forms to - we are grateful for her help in this area!

How she learned about Humanity and Hope is a story you don’t want to miss.

How did you hear about Humanity and Hope?

The story in which I heard about Humanity and Hope is a long one…but I shall try to tell the short version! A little over a year ago my mom found and met her biological father, which opened the doors to an entirely new family. My Grandfather’s sister, my mom’s Aunt, and her husband happened to be snow birds who reside in Florida during the winter months, and as I moved to Florida nearly two years ago from Spokane, Washington, they were the only connection to family I had. So, nearly once a month I would drive down and spend the weekends with them. My discovery of the H&H Foundation came about in March 2018 when I had the opportunity to meet my mom’s cousin, Jennifer. I’m not sure how we got onto the subject, but as Jennifer and I got to know each other, she mentioned a non-profit organization, whose founders she attended church with in Indiana, called Humanity and Hope. The more we spoke, the more interested I became in their mission. Little did I know, that conversation would lead me to Honduras on a trip with the H&H Foundation.

Picture1 - Kelsey Bryceson.png

Why did you choose to come with us?

I decided to go on a trip with Humanity and Hope to see and experience life from a different perspective, or so I thought. I think it’s easy to stay in our comfort zone, and in that we can sometimes become complacent and selfish. That’s where my walk was headed and I knew I didn’t want to go down the path. For months I wrestled with God on whether or not I was being called to go, as well as making sure I was going for his reasons and not my own.

Prior to my decision to go, I dove deeper into researching the H&H foundation. I began to watch their videos, read their stories, schedule phone meetings with their team and followed their social media. However, I was still one foot in and one foot out in committing to a trip. I had a list of little fears that I couldn’t relinquish control over, such as finances. Working full time while trying to balance full time school isn’t an easy or affordable task. But, God took care of those burdens too until there was nothing standing in my way of going. So, I signed up for the November 2018 trip.

What was the most eye-opening thing you saw or experienced in Honduras?

I don’t know if I am able to pick one favorite part because there is too much seen and experienced to really narrow it down. The entire trip was filled with many moments inspired by a group of people so different from the culture I grew up in. At every turn God was opening my eyes and ears to stories of strength, perseverance and courage. However, it wasn't until I met Leibin that I truly understood how similar we all are to the people of Honduras.

Leibin is a 24 year old woman with a story that still brings me to tears. On our last afternoon, we sat at her home in the community of La Coroza. We talked and asked questions about boys, love and family. She touched on her family background and for her own privacy and the hope that those of you reading this will have the chance to hear her to tell it yourselves, I will not go into the details. However, I remember thinking, how could a woman who has been through such hardship be full of joy and trust in God?

Maybe it was because she and I are the same age, or that we bonded over a topic every woman can relate to, or simply because God knew exactly what I needed and who I needed to meet in order to truly understand my purpose in Honduras. I’m not different from Leibin, none of us are. My story isn't grand nor is it deserved. But, by God’s grace he gave me this life. He gave me my family and friends. He created every fiber of my personality and appearance. He created me and by his grace and his glory I have the life that I do. Yet, it could have been so very different. My life, and yours, could've been Leibin’s. That moment was the most eye-opening experience I had in Honduras, one I hope others will have as well. One that has changed my perspective on life.

What was your favorite part?

Although there were many parts to my trip which were amazing, there was one moment inparticular which was my favorite. On our last full day, we headed back to the community of La Coroza to tear down a house! Yes, our entire team used a sledgehammer as I came to the conclusion I’m stronger in mind than I am in body compared to some strong and dedication individuals. Luckily, I had a lot of help!

As the house came down, Rya, an encouraging volunteer on the trip with me and now friend, rode on the back of a rusty wagon together to “dispose” of the cement blocks. We rolled down the lane with three kids on our laps (Kevin, Almir and Belinda) as they mimicked us in English and us in their Spanish. We counted to 20, helping them pronounce our foreign words, but their favorite saying of all was when Rya and I laughed out loud repeating, “oh my gosh”. Amer, one of our trip translators, told them that “oh my gosh” was something American’s said when we were surprised or without words. So, this began the saying for the remainder of the day and was the only response we didn’t need translated!

The wagon stopped on the side of the road near a deep mud pit, also known to the States as a pothole. It was then that everyone hopped off and began chucking the broken pieces of cement into the pit. Mud splashed all around us as laughter exuded from the kids. I was in shock at first trying to wrap my head around the lack of government resources. In the States, if there is a pothole the taxpayer’s money meant the government fixes it. But, in rural communities in Honduras, they use their own resources to resolve the issue. There was more to this story than I have room to write, but I will say it’s the story and moment I still cherish today. Life is too precious to waste, so use what resources we have and help aide sustainable change.

Any advice (or encouragement) you'd give to someone who is thinking of joining us on a trip?

The advice I would give to those wanting to attend a trip, or who have already signed up, is to be ready to break the barriers of the American Social Etiquette bubble! The people of Honduras carry so much love and joy in their hearts, that all they want to do is express their gratitude to you as volunteers. And if you’re anything like me, where physical touch is not your love language, then be ready to throw that out the window! So, give hugs (true hugs, not the side “church” hug) and let your smile shine because it will.

Secondly, it’s okay to feel as though you aren’t doing much apart from listening and observing because I promise you, you are doing so SO much more. At times I felt as though I didn’t know my place. Forgetting that my place is what I made of it. So ask more questions and spend more time talking about them than yourself. Spend more time getting sweaty playing soccer with the boys who don’t speak English and know you’re a terrible player, but pass the ball to you anyways…yes this happened to me! But most of all, listen and love like you’ve never done before. You are going to be love and show love.

Lastly, is my encouragement to you. I want to share something my older sister, Danielle, told me when I got back, as the processing time is really hard and fairly emotional, “tears are good sis, it means your growing and changing”. You will grow and you will change if you stick to Humanity and Hope’s mission and not your own. You cannot prepare for the results, only be open to them.

Picture3 - Kelsey Bryceson.png

How has your trip impacted your daily life post trip?

Humanity and Hope has impacted my life in many ways, some of which I still am processing through. I remember we had just ended our day in one of the communities, and as I sat there on the bus I remember turning to our trip leader and saying, “I thought I had 20/20 vision, but God has adjusted my prescription”. This is the best way to describe the impact Honduras has had on my daily walk. Prior to my trip I spent money on material possessions, lived my life with every 1-3 years planned and no room for adjustment. My life was led by me abiding in faith, but really with no room for misdirection.

Humanity and Hope and the people of Honduras, were the misdirection I needed. To open my eyes up to ways I can make a difference with what I have and who I am. And that’s the impact. I look for ways my life can help empower the worth in others and not just for myself. As Leibin showed me, my life could’ve been an entirely altered story. So, I need to make this one chance, this one life count for God’s people and not myself.

If you go on a trip to Honduras, you won’t come back the same person, or maybe you will and that’s okay too. God had a different plan for my life and he may for you as well. Be ready to listen for his words and be willing to walk through the door when his timing opens it.

Tell us about your current involvement with H&H post trip.

I plan to contribute to Generous and Humanity and Hope in many ways. The first way is to give monthly in support of the many men and women who need sustained employment prospects to support their families. Secondly, is to give my time. Not all of us have finances and that’s okay because Humanity and Hope as well as Generous offer numerous opportunities to be a part of their mission (hence, how she got to be our trip coordinator!!). Most of all, I plan to go on another trip! My story with Humanity and Hope is just beginning and by continually going back, I hope to make deeper connections and relationships with the people of Honduras.

Follow along with Kelsey