by Trish Krider

We left Ayudante shortly after breakfast headed to our assignments for the week.   While we each felt called by God to serve here, we also each have our unique talents that determine where we will be serving and we have many options to choose from.  By the end of this week we will have built a house, taught children about prayer, led classes on pregnancy and childbirth, assisted a local doctor in his clinic, and delivered water filtration systems to many homes.

There are many serious health problems here that are either caused by or exacerbated by the lack of clean drinking water. In order to address this problem, El Ayudante has worked with community leaders here to identify those in the most need and it is these people to whom we provide the water filtration systems.  Seven of us headed off this morning in the Rhino Rally with ten kits and ten bags of food for these most needy families.  We first dropped our construction team off at Marañonal and then headed off to another community – Los Cocos.  Just as we arrived at our destination we realized that we were supposed to have left half of the filtration kits in Marañonal.  Oh, well.  With so many moving parts things like this occasionally happen!

The water filtration kits are the epitome of simplicity and come in a number of parts that must be assembled. The filter itself is a large clay pot which sits in a large bucket that has a spigot on the bottom.  Our concern about how we were going to manage to carry all of these pieces – enough for 5 families – in our trek through this neighborhood were quickly allayed when a young boy with his bike that is similar to a pedi-cab rode up and offered his assistance.

Piling a few kits at a time on his handy vehicle, we headed to our first house. Situated adjoining a tire store on a very busy road, the woman greeted us at her door and asked if we wanted to meet her son. We accompanied her around to the back of the house where we saw him, swinging in a hammock.  He did not want us to approach him as she explained to us that he has Down Syndrome and lives his life in that hammock.  He eats there, sleeps there, and spends his day swinging there – and she is his sole care giver.  After explaining to her how to filter her water, she asked us to pray for her family.  So we moved as close as was comfortable for her son, leaving an opening in our prayer circle so, in our hearts, he was with us as we prayed for this family.

After darting across a very busy highway to the remaining homes we would visit, we got a message from El Ayudante that they wanted us to share the remaining kits with others in this neighborhood. We were struck by the dire need in this community, illustrated not only by gratitude for the gift we were providing, but by the fact that each family requested to also be allowed to keep the box from which the filter had been taken.  Even used card board boxes are valued here and recycled for many creative uses.

After visiting the home of a woman who was bedridden, and another that was actually the local store run by an elderly, severely arthritic woman who glowed with her faith in the Lord, we made our final stop for the day. In a house that was in far better shape than others we had visited, we met Maria, and instructed her on the use of the filter.  We knew she was a woman of faith as she had said as we approached her that we were sent from God – and she was grateful for this gift that was so unexpected, and yet so appreciated.  But what struck us all was when she began to pray.  And  through her tears she thanked God for all of the blessings in her life.  It was clear she considered herself blessed, despite her station in life, because she is a child of God.  And we knew that it had been no “mistake” that we had not left the last of the filters at Marañanol.

Our final stop this evening was a tour of the child care center here at El Ayudante. The HCN (Hogar Cristiano Nigaragűensa – Nicaragua Children’s Home) is the real center of this place.  El Ayudante was originally started as a home for children who had been taken from their families by the state.  In 2010 the government here decided that all children should be reunited with their families, despite what the home conditions may be.  The people who are the heart of El Ayudante knew they had to find a way to follow this new rule and yet still offer some protection and future for these and so many other needy children here.  In order to address this challenge, the children of El Ayudante no longer live here, but they spend most of their daylight hours either in school or in El Ayudante’s care.   The children arrive here at 6 each morning.  They are fed breakfast and then taken to school. After school they return here and are given lunch, led in devotions, provided assistance with their homework, and offered tutoring and counseling.  El Ayudante is committed to these children until they are self-sufficient.  By not only giving them a God-centered environment in which to grow up, but assisting them through career choices, schooling, and providing homes, El Ayudante is well on the way to fulfilling their new mission – Changing Nicaragua – One Child, One Family, One Community at a Time.

All of the work we do here is funded by the money we provide – whether it is buying construction materials, paying for our food, or providing the filtration kits. But the children’s home is supported solely by sponsorship.  There a number among us who have chosen to be sponsors and it has provided us with a joy that is difficult to explain.  Even across the miles, El Ayudante provides many ways for us to interact with our children.  Yes, if we come on a mission trip we actually get to see “our kids”, but even if we don’t, we skype and exchange cards during the year so the kids get to know us and our families.  We saw these faces and fell in love – and followed God’s call to assist.  With the many levels of sponsorship – from $30-$285 per month – those of us who have made this commitment found a way to do so that was comfortable for us.  If you are reading this and feel called to share in this joy, we would invite you to visit their website – eanicaragua.com.

The thunder clouds are rumbling overhead so it looks like we will get a storm tonight. That won’t stop this group from some game-bonding on the porch.  Even if the lights go out – we’ll just laugh right through it – our game works on batteries!

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