So our work here is done and we have headed to Managua to begin our journey home to our loved ones. We will spend one more evening enjoying, breaking bread, having devotions and recapping this week which has flown by way too fast.
We have learned so much here, about ourselves, about each other, about working as a team, and about the people here. We know that family is so much more than blood relatives. We are all part of the greater family of God and we are so grateful. We appreciate that having things is not what defines happiness and that living in a home with dirt floors doesn’t mean you don’t sweep daily. We have learned to take a good look at what we take for granted – clean water, enough healthy food for your family, access to good health care and social services, the importance of an education. And that tears can’t fix anything – only hard work and continued dedication can do that.
So many things have sent us into peals of laughter. When foul weather headed towards the construction site they joked that they would all be safe since they had Glenn with them – tall enough to be a human lightening rod. At one point on the Rhino Rally – our primary means of transportation with an open back and bench seating along the side – a sudden, unexpected stop meant Stephanie was thrown forward and we had a four human pile, where we remained for quite a few minutes because we were laughing too hard to recover. But that was just indicative of this entire week – we were always there to catch each other.
We have memories etched in our minds. People doing their first-ever devotional – and hitting it out of the park! Watching people step out of their comfort zone and pray aloud for the first time. The generosity of the Nicaraguan people with whom we worked who, having so little, still shared their food with us. The infectious smiles of the children and their joy in singing their hearts out. Seeing families be almost as excited for the gift of the box it came in as they were about the filters inside. The young mothers nodding their head as we shared new information. And Dr. Medina thanking us, time and time again, for the time we spend working for and with his people. The pride in the voice of the little boy who shouted out to us as we walked the barrio, “Hello, my friends. How are you.” We believe we are making a difference in Marañonal – it feels like a hand up, not a hand out.
We made rubber glove balloons and have a new appreciation for Miss Hawaiian Punch and Bozo the Clown. We know how to adapt – while one group has no basketball, they used a soccer ball instead, another had no soccer ball, and used a basketball. And we can tell you that what has been said for years is true, the chicken crossed the road just to get to the other side.
Goodbyes were sad because we know that the workers of El Ayudante are our family now. We will miss so much – we already do. The morning quiet time, the love we have felt here, the new friends we have made, both on the team and on the ground, and recapping the day together in the dim lights of the ranchero – with our quiet voices somehow always being audible even over the blaring music of the nearby Pentecostals.
Sometimes our tasks mean pushing ourselves through the uncomfortableness, doing the unfamiliar, and participating when we would rather not, because we are here not as individuals. We came as a team who help and encourage each other through the tough times. We were there to lighten each other’s load. We shed tears together – but we shed as many tears for joy as for sadness. We had crazy moments together, and we laughed when we felt moved – even if we were in the midst of praying. And we leave here as family.
Since this country has an election this Sunday, there were often times when trucks would drive through the streets, blaring music and shouting through bull horns. Each time we heard music some of us danced down the street – much to the amusement of the local residents. I would like to think they were laughing joyfully with us, and not at us, as we adopted the attitude of “Why walk when you can dance!” But there was one time when the tune was a familiar one. We were standing in the courtyard area of a home, having just delivered a filter to the homeowner. She said she is all alone and asked that we pray for her health as she is not well. Then Vicki called our attention to the song in the distance, Chris Tomlins’s “God of This City” – Greater things are yet to come, Greater things area still to be done in this city….. We believe that to be so.
I wish all of you could have been with us every night to hear our stories. This blog could have gone on daily for pages and pages, but even then it would be impossible to capture everything, and it shouldn’t try to. This is so much more than a trip – it is part of our spiritual journey, and can’t be fully captured in words. And it’s sometimes hard for us to put into words what this week has meant to, and done to, each of us. For me, the answer to “How was your trip?” is always, “Life changing”, for it affects me profoundly each year. Many of us will be back next year, and anyone who feels called can do this. Is God calling you?