It was such an honor to once again be able to walk with women through the streets of Rubén Darío today and be invited into their homes so we could share with them this gift of clean water. But I cannot help but feel a deep sense of humility that in every home into which we were invited, we saw tears of joy for the gifts that we brought. We were doing what we were called her to do, and the gift itself, in the scope of our lives, is a small one. But to them it was potentially life-changing. We stood in these humble homes having the residents look at us through tears and, without exception, when asked what they wanted us to pray for them, they said they prayed for us – that we should be blessed as we have blessed them. That they would ask for blessings for US, when they themselves have so little was overwhelming to me. It showed me again that their priorities are in the right place, as they don’t quantify their blessings by the things they have. And at one home a small boy appeared at the door just as we were about to pray for the family. We invited him in to join us and, as he took our hands, he closed his eyes and tilted his head to the side with the most peaceful expression I had ever seen. I had no doubt that he was filled with the Spirit as his faced glowed like the face of God.
After delivering many filters within the community, we returned to Dr. Medina’s clinic to deliver one more. As we were standing on the porch, a bunch of children appeared in the street, clearly returning from school. They saw us standing there and came running over to say hello and we recognized them as children from the HCN at El Ayudante. They said hello and giggled and then ran off to play. A few moments later we all circled around the woman who was to receive the filter and started to hold hands. The children saw this and came running back to join in prayer with us. As we prayed in English, Oliver translated what we said into Spanish, and these sweet young children of God repeated everything he said. It was truly one of the best moments our day.
We are truly made to feel like family here. This is evidenced from the comfort of El Ayudante, to the homes in the barrios, to the community in which we have built a new house. While we bring grapes to share with the children, they provided our workers with Coke and homemade sweet bread. With a slightly crispy, sugary outside, these treats are like communion between friends – made with love, by love and for love.
This year our construction team was tasked with building a home for Estebana, a grandmother in her 70’s who will share her home with her daughter and two grandchildren. One of the first lessons our team had to learn, however, was not how to dig a hole or wield a hammer, but how to pronounce the name of the community in which they will be working this week. Much to the delight of the residents (and with much amusing frustration amongst ourselves each evening), we are still not sure that any of us correctly pronounce Marañonal (and my guess is that most of you readers just made a valiant attempt to do so!)
Our first contribution to the construction involved moving dirt. With no wheel barrows available, dirt was moved one bucketful at a time until the hole created became a playground for the children. What child can resist jumping into a big hole and then climbing out just to repeat – over and over again. To the amazement of our team, not only did they enjoy climbing in and out of the hole, one boy also climbed a near-by tree. It was not the climbing that was amazing, but the fact that he used the barbed-wire fence for assistance – and he did it all bare footed!
Often the local Nicaraguan men did the house building while our missioners, in the interest of building relationships, spent time playing with the children. Kicking a ball around the street and sitting on a man’s large foot, riding along as he walks, are both universally enjoyable to kids. And like kids everywhere, they were delighted to don the baseball caps we had carried with us.
We have just one day left to finish this house, but we know it will get done, as the entire project has been accomplished so far with the barest of supplies, efficiency not being in great supply this week. Not only was there no wheelbarrow, there were only three buckets and two trowels (which are used to place the mortar between the blocks). Yesterday’s work had to end early as they didn’t have enough cinder blocks, and the roof was just delivered at the end of the day today. In a place that we affectionately say “runs on Nica-time”, we have yet to have a house not be completed on time. So we have complete faith that, by tomorrow this house, a simple 16 by 16 one-room structure with two doors and two windows, will be completed so that tomorrow afternoon we can dedicate the house and present to Estebana and her family our housewarming gift – a new Bible that bears the signature of each member of this team.
This evening we ended our day at the Pacific Ocean. Although the surf was pounding making it too risky for swimming in the waning sunlight, this was our opportunity to enjoy a meal at a Nicaraguan restaurant while also enjoying a spectacular view from a black sand beach. In such a setting, as in all the lush landscape of this country, it is easy to feel the presence of God.