Words cannot describe what I have experienced on this mission trip. As I sit here and reflect on the experience and the beauty of the people of Nicaragua, I struggle to find words that could give the experience justice. This was the first time I have ever gone on an international mission trip to a Third World country, so I really had no idea what to expect.
During the trip, I assisted with the community’s continued development of a chapel. The work involved a number of different physical activities, including moving rocks, leveling ground, digging up tree stumps, and knocking down concrete walls. I was amazed at the love shown to us by the people of Nicaragua. The community came out each day to work with us, feed us, and pray with us. Even though I am not fluent in Spanish (have not taken Spanish classes since high school), it did not prevent me from building life-long relationships with my new Nicaraguan brothers and sisters. The Nicaraguan workers enjoyed working with a “gringo” that knew how to work with a shovel/sledge hammer (thanks dad!).
Today, we played a soccer game in the rain after our work day—USA vs. Nicaragua. At our worksite, we only had 8 missionary participants for the game. The community had about 15-20 participants, ranging from ages of 8 to 50 (clearly the odds were stacked against us from the start). That game was beautiful because the love we had for each other really showed. Even in the torrential downpour, we had a blast. Reflecting on this game, I felt God’s presence and began to understand more fully that we really are one body in Christ.
This day was also tough because I had to say goodbye to a friend that I made on the trip. Her name is Rayna (Raynita), and she is the six year old daughter of one of the Nicaraguan cooks at our sleep site. I saw her almost every morning and evening since arriving at the community. Rayna enjoys playing games and dancing (with an emphasis on dancing). Every morning and evening, she would find me during meals so we could dance and play together. Feeling God’s unconditional love through a child is such an amazing gift, and she is someone that I will always keep in my thoughts and prayers.
I took so much away from this trip. I felt God’s presence here in such a deep and profound way. It was a truly life-changing experience. I received so much more from the people of Nicaragua than I could have ever possibly given them. The relationships built with the people of Nicaragua and my fellow missionaries are something that I will cherish the rest of my life.