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Mission group reflects on trip that left them stranded during start of pandemic

Posted at 5:52 PM, Mar 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-15 17:52:10-04

CEDAR SPRINGS, Mich — A mission group out of Cedar Springs is reflecting on a trip to Honduras exactly one year ago. It was a trip that left them stranded as the pandemic was starting to get out of control.

Two of the churches outreach leaders say the experience changed them for the better and is pushing them to do more for their community.

“I can’t believe looking back that it’s actually been a year,” said Jonathan Bergsma the Director of City Impact Church Outreach.

“We are people of faith and we went there on a mission,” he said.

Jonathan and Kelley Bergsma set out on a mission trip to Honduras March 12th, 2020 with more than a dozen volunteers, back when the U.S had just 19 cases of COVID-19.

Jonathan Bergsma said, “We just went and we were doing what we are called to do and they had given some warning that possibly travel could get restricted, but nothing had been for surely shut down, it was all just hearsay, and we ended up getting stranded there.”

The team was stuck in a foreign country for 2 weeks.

Kelley Bergsma said, “You could tell things were getting more and more serious as the days went on. At the hotel, we were pretty much confined to our rooms.”

Prior to that, the team was able to do the outreach they’d planned.

“We were still able to go out and visit. There was one day when we went to the dump in Honduras and just seeing the kids and being able to bring smiles or ice cream or whatever we had,” Kelly Bergsma recalled.

Jonathan Bergsma added, “Everything that we went to, they were saying was not going to be available to us, but as we went, they opened up and we did everything we set out to do.”

When the Bergsma’s finally arrived home, they carried that goodwill right back into their own community.

Kelley Bergsma said, “We did a lot of grocery deliveries probably about 150 families a week.”

That system later evolved into the churches Grocery Garage in August, that gives people the option to shop for themselves.

“We get drop-off here every day of food and essential items and one of my most favorite things is the Grocery Garage; just welcoming people in. We have a line that starts at 8 am, people come outside it’s freezing out, they wait in line,” said Kelley Bergsma.

The Bergsma’s are promising more creative community support in the months to come as the pandemic starts to improve. They said they’re grateful for the lessons they’ve learned from worlds away and here at home.

“Cedar Springs is an amazing community that pulls together whenever there’s a need,” said Kelly Bergsma.

The church is already working on a plan to send nearly 20 volunteers back to Honduras at the end of April to help build houses in the wake of hurricanes and extreme flooding.