I just returned from my first mission trip. My family and I went to Masatepe, Nicaragua. Our church and a few other American churches are helping to plant a church there. This was my first visit to a third world country. Here are few of my observations.
The people there were hard-working and happy. They worried about the health of their children. They kept their houses as clean as possible. They showed us unconditional love. All of this while tolerating living conditions that would be intolerable to most Americans. Few had running water, doors, or windows. They lived in concrete block buildings about 10 ft. square with dirt floors and tin roofs. They did have electricity, but few had any appliances.
There are a few stories that stood out from our trip that I would like to share.
The first night we were there our team gathered in a circle to discuss the plan for the next few days. We each took our turn to speak what was on our mind. Reagan, a 17 year old, who was there with her sister, but not her parents. Her parents are good friends of ours and we, among others there, had promised to look after the girls. Reagan talked about how thankful she was the we would agree to look after them. She teared up talking about not having her Dad there. It was very moving! I was very thankful that I got the chance to be there and that Reagan felt safe with us. I was really touched by a teen-aged daughter who loves her family that much. Peter and Lisa have done something right.
The next evening we went out to dinner at a local restaurant. We had a blast hanging out together. Unfortunately for Paige, she made an comment out load that she was surprised that there were bones in her chicken. This struck all of us funny and we laughed until we cried. By the end of the trip she had earned to nickname, McNugget. She took the teasing amazing well and was probably more mature than the rest of us teasing her about it.
We had a shared negative experience the first hour we were there. We were on a bus with all our luggage and a rogue horse walked out in front of the bus. He almost got out of the way. The bus hit his hind quarters and knocked him down. The few that could see swore he got up. We were all stunned. There was a team from a California church on the same bus that we had just met. This bonded us for the rest of the trip.
The people from California were from Rolondo’s church. It was really awesome how quickly we bonded with them. We quickly saw them as brothers and sisters. In fact, some of us have adopted there habit of greeting each other as brother and sister. I’m glad to call each of them hermona and hermono.
Jen Blake felt called before we left to do something for the women there. She prepared a Bible study for them. We weren’t sure of the response, because the is foreign territory for Nicaraguan women. There are treated as second class citizens. The response was overwhelming. Over 50 women showed up the first afternoon! At least two prayed to accept Christ! The next afternoon was equally amazing. One of the other women that went with us told her story. The Nicaraguan women ended up coming around her a praying for her! We were they to serve them, but they couldn’t help giving back.
The kids were so similar to ours in many ways, but different in others. You could quickly pick out who the princesses were and the stinkers and we didn’t even speak the language. The biggest difference was the love they showed for us. It seemed in an instant they we hugging and hanging all over us. They loved us not for what we brought to give them, but because we were there to love them. It was a beautiful example of unconditional love.
Another of my favorite stories was on the very last night. Trevor had made friends with a little boy there his age. The didn’t speak the same language, but that didn’t matter. They played hard and looked forward to seeing each other every day. On that last day Trevor wanted to give him the tennis shoes he brought. This was very difficult for Trevor. With a little encouragement he tearfully gave away his shoes to this boy who had only flip flops that were well worn. God work on Trevor’s heart and through Trevor in a powerful way in that moment. God calls us to give sacrificially. Trevor did something that is incredibly difficult for most of us adults to do.
I’m sure there are many more stories, but these are the ones that stick out in my mind.
I would go back tomorrow!