Our Mission here in the town of Muelle de los Buelles and in the community of La Gorra in the Church Perpectuo Socorro is coming to an end. Spending these past 5 days with the community has been a true blessing. Coming up to them as complete strangers but ending the week with tears in their eyes is astonishing. Seeing how close one can become to a community with simply helping in the renovation of their church, listening to their thoughts and their day can really make a difference. In between the laughs from joking around, nicknames to each other and the different slangs between the same language. We also worked together, digging trenches around the new walls and the demolition of old walls. Bonding together, not just as Latinos but as brother and sisters in Christ. Together building the walls of our universal church, literal and spiritual. As well as with my fellow missioners, bonding with them through breakfast after mass every morning to playing soccer with the kids from the block in the afternoons. I came with a personal mission on this trip, to make a couple of smiles, and thanks to God’s Love that was a complete success. I take this back to Dallas and so much. Memories I will keep in my heart and soul forever. As well as the certainty that one day I will come back with my friends to say hello and go to mass in their new church.
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.
The pursuit of happiness. Estoy muy feliz aque en Nicaragua… I am very happy here in Nicaragua and the reason is because we encountered real human love and God’s unconditional love with complete strangers. If you haven’t figured out what the definition of true happiness is, it is this: True happiness is found in the mutual exchange of love from one another. Simple, yes? The ability of loving one another is one side and the other is through the receiving of love. Things or a profession can never love you back as great as a real human person with a soul can. The Beatles were definitely right when they said, “all you need is love” because these Nicaraguan locals almost literally have nothing, but they give so much to us both in relationships and small earthly goods. Even if I never come back, I will forever remember the faces etched in my minds and the love these strangers have shown. I love these strangers infinitely more than any stranger I have ever encountered before because of this, and may I add that my Spanish is horrible haha, so you can do it too!
Anything is possible with God’s love in your heart. It is a universal language that everyone can comprehend, and the question that you need to ask yourself is: “Do I know and use this universal language of love?” You who are reading this are strangers to me, but I love you. I love you. I love you… For the Father himself commanded us to love as he has loved us.
Thank you and God Bless!
Greetings Friends! So, day 2 at our worksite in Gorra and so far our site team has been getting down and dirty – from building trenches to playing a soggy, muddy and fierce game of volleyball – while also chatting with some of the members of our community about everything from pumas to their family lineage in Nicaragua. It’s been a very insightful past few days, and one of the most notable places where I’ve seen God is in the ease and simplicity of human connection here. In Nicaragua, the communities know each other; they say hello to each other and to newcomers and welcome them with unconditional hospitality and kindness. I think the most powerful take away from this very basic and simple observation is just that – you don’t need anything except a great sense of openness to create connections. Today, a few of my mission teammates and I taught some of the locals who were working with us how to play volleyball. Without hesitation they joined in, and despite some language barriers we were able to laugh, joke around and have a really great time together. Another great connection that I made today was with a lady named Maria. Even though I could only understand about half of our conversation (since it takes me about 5 minutes to translate a sentence in my head) she was so patient with me and was so eager and excited to talk. I loved how happy she was to show me a picture of a conejo (bunny) that Erin drew for her. I guess to sum this all up – all we need is respect and love for one another in order to build connections on the most basic human level, and that’s really beautiful.
During our first few days abroad, I have had the pleasure of building relationships with the local people of the Muelle de los Bueyes community. Particularly, with the gentlemen who are assisting us with the labor at our work site. After we had finished today, we were sitting down and chatting in Spanish. Spanish is not my first language; however I studied the language for almost 8 years in school, and seized the opportunity to practice my skills. We talked about all sorts of subjects, ranging from sloths or “cucalas” to how the road conditions in Nicaragua are better than some of the roads in Dallas. This was a great moment to fine-tune my Spanish, but also to connect with some of the individuals with whom we will work alongside over the next few days. This connection allows us to build trust and camaraderie amongst each other, which in turn, enhances everyone’s experience. The missionary experience has been great thus far, and I ask `everyone to continue to pray for the health and safety of the missionary team and the people of the Nicaragua.
Today, I saw The Lord through my team. I loved the way that we all worked together and got a lot done while having fun by telling funny stories and getting to know one another better! This trip has been a humbling and an amazing experience! I am truly blessed and thankful for this wonderful opportunity! The local people are very nice and welcoming! They are all truly my brothers and sisters in Christ! Love and Prayers!
Today I was really struck by the faith and the willingness of the people here in Nicaragua to shine Christ’s love in each moment. Their passion and love for the Lord was very evident in their determination to encounter Jesus in the liturgy, even when they had to come from far away or bring their own chairs because they recognized the importance of carving out time for the Lord. Also as they begin the process of building their own church, you can see the carving of the windows and the simplicity of the structure. That’s how our faith should be. It reminds us that our faith isn’t about a beautiful, fancy structure, but a community that comes together to love and worship the Lord. That’s what Church is.
Through this experience, it really reminded me of the walls or the barriers we put up to be Christ to one another. We say through our words that we love each other, but our actions say that our love is conditional on external things. When we remove everything and see beyond our material possessions and our backgrounds, we can see clearly that we are all brothers and sisters of Christ. Whether we live in Nicaragua or Dallas, we all have the capacity to love each other as Christ loves. The beauty of this Mission Trip has been being able to get rid of those things that divide us and limit us from connecting with one another and let us worship and love as Christ calls us, just as I witnessed today as we worshipped with their community in the Cathedral and were filled by their love.