by Trish Krider
What a contrast in sounds from last night to this morning. Our evening ended, as it often does, with peals of laughter as we enjoyed some friendly competition. When enjoying a group game it is often hard to hear your teammates as the decibel levels rise quickly as the clock starts ticking faster. This morning, however, each of us is silent as we commune with God. Whether sitting quietly on the rockers, writing in a journal, reading His word, or walking the grounds of the mission house, each of us uses this time of day to connect in our own way. The air is alive with the sounds of His creatures as if to say, “This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it!”
We knew we were headed to some challenging terrain for church this morning when, to the absolute shock of some of our first-timers, the “rhino rally” showed up as our transportation. This open air truck, affectionately named after a ride at an amusement park, has a tin roof and bench seats and is familiar to most of us as the vehicle used when the roads conditions are expected to be a bit rugged. As we came down the final stretch of dirt road approaching the church we had to stop short as the trees hung too low for the vehicle to pass. The primitive dwellings we passed, with wells for water and outhouses made of plastic sheets were a stark contrast to the immaculately clean yards which, although they bore no grass, were swept clean and clearly well maintained. We climbed gingerly through a crude gate and made our way carefully through this property, cautioning the men in our group of above average height to beware of the string of barbed wire.
The church for this community of 200 families is nothing more than a roof over a dirt floor with plastic chairs lined up for seating. We were escorted to the front rows which had been saved for our group and felt the Spirit all around us. The charismatic and enthusiastic pastor reminded us of God’s calling to go out in the world and share His word – and thanked us for being willing to do so. This community, clearly impoverished, is rich in faith as they sang and clapped and shouted and jumped with their joy for the Lord – as did we, right along with them. The pastor proudly introduced us to the community leaders, all of whom are his siblings. It is clear that the people in this community are more than just neighbors – they are family and care for each other as such. And we were honored today to be welcomed among them. As Pastor Wilbur emphasized, we may be from different countries and different backgrounds, but we are one as Brothers and Sisters in Christ.
We started the afternoon with some relaxation as we headed to downtown Leon to shop, see the sights, and cool off with a scoop of Nicaraguan ice cream. A refreshing break from the heat of the day, this stop has become a traditional part of our visit here. Returning back to El Ayudante we didn’t mind that the open walls of our transport meant we were not fully protected from the rain. Rather we were grateful for the momentary relief it provided from the heat.
We know our real work starts tomorrow and that requires some preparation. Of course, many hands make light work, so we pitched in to assist the pregnancy education group with putting together the booklets for their presentation. What in the past has been a daunting task for one person was accomplished in a fraction of the time. We ended the work for the day with our annual assembly line to fill food bags for distribution this week. With 14 people, 40 bags, and a bit or coordination, the task was completed in short order. We are now prepared to head out into the community tomorrow to accomplish the tasks we have committed to do.