Pray for Tyler

Tyler is a member from my church, The Rock. He went to Choluteca, Honduras shortly after I returned. He has been there for the past 6 months working with the same programs I was able to work with. He was supposed to leave Honduras last Sunday, but due to the unrest in Honduras with the Honduran President he is unable to leave the country.


Please keep him in your prayers as he is trying to make it home. This article was written by the Columbia Tribune yesterday.

Student stranded by unrest

Coup prolongs his Honduras mission.

University of Missouri student Tyler Shields poses with Luz in a recent image from Honduras, where a government-closed airport has stranded Shields, who has spent six months doing mission work with HIV-positive patients.

If everything had gone according to plan, Tyler Shields would be home by now. Last week, the University of Missouri senior was scheduled to complete a six-month mission to Honduras.

Based in the southern river city of Choluteca, Shields has been helping run a clinic for malnourished children, working with AIDS victims and teaching English and history at a bilingual school. He said it’s been a life-changing experience.

“You really completely forget that you are working with people with HIV, AIDS or children that are malnourished,” he wrote in an e-mail to the Tribune. “They become just another person to you, and I believe that’s the point. We are trying to destroy a huge stigma that exists in this country.”

But just as Shields was saying his goodbyes last week, there was a rumble of unrest in the capital. On June 28, Honduran soldiers hauled President Manuel Zelaya from his presidential palace at gunpoint, exiled him to Costa Rica and declared a new government.

The coup was bloodless, and most people Shields spoke to were in favor of the change, but things haven’t been the same since. Tanks and soldiers are stationed all over Choluteca at checkpoints, and a nightly curfew has been instituted. Rumors were circulating that neighboring Nicaragua was massing troops on the border, preparing for an invasion.

“I’ve never felt in imminent danger, but there is a slight scariness in being trapped in another country,” Shields wrote. “The serious tone, as well, to the curfews invoke a little fear as you see everyone rushing to their homes to not get caught out late.”

With only a week left in his mission sponsored by The Rock, a nondenominational Christian church at MU, Shields’ parents tried to convince him to cut the trip short and come home.

“His father and I said, ‘Let’s try to see if he’ll come back,’ ” his mother, Lisa Mision of Columbia, said. “And he was, like, ‘No.’ He wasn’t budging. He was staying up until the last day because he was there for a reason.”

Shields’ flight was to return Sunday, but the continued unrest made that impossible. Sunday was the same day that Zelaya, the ousted president, boarded a private jet and began circling the international airport in the Honduran capital, attempting to land and return to power.

Soldiers crowded the runway to prevent the plane from landing, and the attempt was aborted. Shields said authorities recently announced the airport will remain closed at least another week.

So Shields is stuck. His visa expires today, and he is contemplating crossing into El Salvador to catch a flight there. That plan, needless to say, gives his mother heartburn. “Ever since the text came that the airport was closed, we’ve just been on pins and needles,” Mision said.

But far from being frightened, the experience has reaffirmed Shields’ commitment to missionary work in that part of the world after he graduates. He wrote that it’s impossible to forget the feeling he gets by putting a sound roof over a family of 13 in a one-room shack with a mud floor or the feeling of providing emotional and spiritual strength to a woman whose body is ravaged by AIDS-related illnesses.

“I originally wanted to work in the United States at a church there, but after my time here, I feel like I might be leaning towards coming back to Honduras to do more work,” Shields wrote.

“I would definitely say my life has changed, my view is different and the world is a bigger place.”

Reach T.J. Greaney at 573-815-1719 or e-mail tjgreaney@columbiatribune.com.

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