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After thoughts…

March 18, 2010

It is now almost a week since coming back from Nicaragua and I am still amazed how the Lord has blessed me with that experience. I have been blessed to go on many mission efforts all over the world in my life but something was different about this one. I have loved every experience I have had on mission trips but I came back with something more from Nicaragua. I have a desire to continue what we did there.. a real longing.  Usually coming back from trips I am encouraged and glad I went but I have never seriously thought about planning another trip so soon after coming back. I find myself thinking more and more how I would rather be in a foreign country just “being with the people” than here at school. Don’t get me wrong though, I am so blessed to be at this school because that is how I got this opportunity in the first place. So for now I will be content in continuing to work hard in classes and jobs placed before me. I can only pray that this is a true desire from the Lord and not my selfish human self.  I will continue to pray that God will guide me to where He wants me.. but I cannot just sit and do nothing. I will seek until I find. I will keep knocking until the right door opens..

Aldrin:

Aldrin is the 36 year old man I meant when walking about with Philip and a few others on Monday afternoon. He was playing dominos with a buddy in front of a little store in the market. He knew english quite well because he had actually grown up in the United States.

Well, on Tuesday afternoon, a few girls and I happened to be walking by the same place where we meant Aldrin the day before. I stopped and asked if he remembered me and he did! I introduced him to the others that were with me and then we chatted for a little longer. He said he had been deported from the states and had been back since November. He was now living with and taking care of his 90 year old grandmother. He asked what we were doing in Nicaragua and I tried to explain as well as I could. I then mentioned the Mision and asked if he knew anything about it, he did not. I told him that we were having a church service that night at six and offered him to come. He said he would.

I really enjoyed talking with him and getting to know someone a little better. He was very kind and wanted to talk. I was glad we invited him to come to church but I wasn’t certain he would actually show up. I was totally wrong though!

I walked into church that night and the first person I saw was Aldrin! I was shocked. He had also brought his grandmother and his cousin. I went straight up to him because I was excited he had actually come. He seemed very happy and glad to be there too. I sat down and began to talk with him and his grandmother. He started to share a lot with me. I kept saying he wanted to be back to be with his grandmother because he knew she didn’t have that many years left. He started out by telling me that he was on his own by the age of 12. He went on saying that he got into the wrong crowd and got caught up in some pretty bad stuff. He ended up in jail.

While sitting listening to him I felt for him. I could see that he regretted a lot that he did in the states. I could tell that he was trying to change and I believe that him coming back to Nicaragua gave him that chance to start over.

He kept talking about how glad he was to be taking care of his grandmother. You could see the love he had for her, in his words and actions. I asked him what he did everyday and he said he wakes up early with his grandmother and makes her breakfast. He also makes her lunch and dinner and cares for her throughout the day. She owns a little shop that sells cheese. I asked what he was going to do when she passed away and with a smile and little laugh be said that he was going to take over the shop. It was almost like I had asked a dumb question because he said he had to of course, it was his grandmother’s and he had to keep it going. It was his duty to do so.

He told me that his grandmother loved going to church. They actually attended church every Sunday at the Nazarene church down the road. Once our service started I could tell the love Aldrin had for his grandmother, ever once in a while he would lean over and give her a kiss on the head. About the fourth kiss on the head she turned and gave him a look like that was enough. It made me giggle inside because it was so cute.

After the service it was dark so they left pretty quickly but he did keep offering that if I or the group ever came back down we could stay at his house. He said that we would not have to pay or anything. He was so genuine and kind. He did not have a big house, he actually lived in the back room of their little store, yet he was still willing to host us if we ever needed it.

I realized after that day that God had really blessed me. He gave me a chance to reach out to someone and get to know him. It was not just saying hi to someone on the side of the road but actually stopping and talking, caring enough about people to get to know who they are. I don’t know if Aldrin will ever go back to the Mision or even think about what he heard in the service but all I have been asked to do by God is reach out.

I loved this experience because it was not anything big or exciting to the world but it was simple. Stopping and talking to someone, inviting them to church, sitting and listening, simply caring enough about someone to take time out of your day to talk. I believe that is what will change the world, but if not world… maybe that one person you take the time to get to know.

Camera Down:

Wednesday afternoon at Casa Materna: Going into this day I figured I would take a lot of pictures, hopefully capturing the serving moment in a photo. I thought maybe I would paint some lady’s nails and talk a little, but never expected for this little time to be so impacting.

I had the great privilege to service a 47 year old lady about to have her eighth baby by painting her toe nails. You could see how weary she was. She looked as though she just wanted to be back at home with her family. When I saw her I suddenly didn’t care about the getting the perfect picture, I just wanted to serve her. So when it was time to sit and wash the ladies feet I went straight to her and with care started washing her feet. I was never once disgusted by her old dusty wrinkly feet but I was happy to be caring for her. I washed them with gentleness and then I painted her toes a little purple she had picked out.

After finishing I started rubbing her feet and didn’t stop until we had to leave. I know she had probably had a long hard life and now being without her family until she had her baby, I know had to be hard for her. I figured I would love on her the best way I knew how for as long as we were there.

Again this seemed so simple but so meaningful. This was the first time on the trip I truly felt at peace. I had put aside the camera and focused totally on the person. We didn’t talk much but that was okay, not much needed to be said. I hope and pray that she felt cared for in that moment.

I then understood how important my mission was to truly care for people and not just getting a photo. I learned that yes, use my talent, but first and foremost make sure that my motive and mission is always the people.

Using what I have:

I learned something else on this trip. I learned to use what I have to communicate, for example, my camera. At times I was worried that people just thought I saw them as objects to take a picture of so I thought I would show them that I wasn’t. I would take a picture of someone then I would make sure  to show them. I wanted them to feel included in their own picture..if you know what I mean. It would always bring a smile to their face. I felt like I could then show them that I wasn’t seeing them as just another photo. It gave me away to laugh and have fun with people, especially the kids. They seemed to love the camera. Many of the kids would want me to keep taking pictures of them and showing them, but others got embarrassed. But it was a cute embarrassed, they would usually turn and giggle with their friends. Whatever the reaction was you could see the joy in their faces.  It was so precious to see them reach to what they saw.  Something so simple seemed to mean so much.


Nicaragua Thursday 3/11

March 13, 2010

God has certainly blessed me again today. This morning when I got up I didn’t really know what I was going to do, all I knew was that I was going to tag along with Philip. I was very excited about this because I knew it would give me more opportunities to talk to him and get some good insight. He is such a Godly man and I look up to him.

We ended up going with a few others to get an interview with someone that was in charge of the Minister of Family. I’m glad I got to experience it but it was definitely not the most fun thing I did all day. After that Philip, Franklin (our translator) and I went to the store to buy rice, beans and chicken for the dinner we were going to eat with Frankie’s family. Philip and I really got to talk and I loved listening to him and soaking in some of his wisdom.

After lunch Blake, Franklin, Philip and I went to Frankie’s house to set up a time we could have dinner with them later in the day. We talked a little with his mother and then went out to the lake to try and find Frankie. Frankie is a young boy who is a rancher. We saw him at a distance but by the time we got to where he was he had ridden off on his horse to round up the cattle. We then headed back to the Mision. With still at couple of hours left before we were to go to dinner, Blake and I headed out into town to take some pictures, we were trying to capture the every day life of the town.

It came time to head to Frankie’s for dinner. About ten of us went to his house. When we got there we went to their backyard and saw the cattle they had. We stood around and talked a bit. Frankie’s mother gave us some homemade sweet bread to eat, it was delicious. We then went in to eat. We ended up feeding around 28 people (some of the neighbors had come over). It was great fun! We got to just sit and relax with the people.

Nicaragua Wednesday 3/10

March 11, 2010

What a day… God has certainly blessed me with a lot today. This morning we went the special school. I could not get over how precious the children were. They are an amazing creation of God. They were so accepting and loving. They just wanted to be with you all the time. Watching these children play, I didn’t feel bad for them because they had some sort of handicap but I just felt love for them. They didn’t feel bad for themselves, they seemed completely happy with everything. They were so joyful and lighthearted. The innocents of those kids was so apparent. I am so glad we had the opportunity to spend time with them.

After lunch, we went to Casa Materna. It is a place where pregnant women live until they give birth.  Yesterday another group went and gave them manicures so today we gave them pedicures. I actually loved this experience. I was blessed to be able to wash the feet of a 47 year old woman about to give birth to her eighth child. She looked worn out and weary. I was never disgusted by her feet, I touched them with caring hands. After painting her toe nails, I couldn’t keep my hands off her feet. I wanted to love on her so much and rubbing her feet seemed like the only thing I could do at the time. This whole experience was so peaceful and fulfilling.

At five, some of the communication group went to a nearby school to listen to their band. We had heard that they were one of the best in town. It was a real fun experience! It was just their drum line that played for us. They were so energetic and fun to watch!

Back at the Mision there was a birthday party going on. It was for Mary Ella Baker but it was really something for all the children in the church to come and have a fun party. Some of the kids had never been to a party like this or even ever had cake. I could see the joy on their faces and feel the excitement in the room. They played games, ate sloppy joes and chips, broke a pinata, ate cake and then went home with a goody bag in hand.

At the party, there was a little girl named Evelyn, I knew of her because of Philip. I have heard him talk about her story a lot. So when I heard that he was driving her home after the party I asked if I could go too. I am so glad I did. We went up to her house and got to talk with her family a little while. I wish we could have stayed longer but we still had to drop off a few more people.

On the way to drop off the last few people we say a working prize machine on the side of the road. (it was the toy machine that has a three pronged claw that you control over a toy then press a button and it drops on the toy.. then raises and hopefully the toy stays on so you win the prize) We pulled over and got out to get a picture of it. It was so weird and funny because it was in such a random place! We let the little kids play it a few times and then we continued on our way.

Today was a great blessing! I loved all that I did and I can’t wait to see what God has in store for me tomorrow!


Nicaragua Tuesday 3/09

March 11, 2010

Oh man, I definitely got sun burnt today but it was worth it. Today a group went up in the mountains to a school and played with the children. When we first got there we sang fun songs with them. Then we read or colored with them. I was so hard to communicate because they didn’t understand english and I didn’t understand spanish. But the smiles on their faces said a lot… I also couldn’t stop smiling when I looked at them.

I loved photographing the kids. After taking the picture I would show them and they would giggle and get all shy. It was so precious to watch. I could see the innocents in their eyes. I loved how I could have fun and bring a little joy to their faces with my camera.

In the afternoon, a group of about five girls wanted to walk to the cathedral and through the market. I loved getting out and just wandering. On the way back through the market we stopped to look at a blanket hanging in a shop, that’s when I saw Aldrin again. (I had meant him yesterday when walking around with Philip) He knew english very well because he had actually grown up in America. Long story short, we ended up inviting him to church tonight. And surprisingly he came! I learned a lot about him and the day was definitely a blessing. (what I learned about him and my thoughts will come at a later time, I am still putting it together)

Side note: So the bathroom in our room only locks on the outside.. so if you want to lock the door you have to get someone on the outside to lock you in. Well, I was taking a shower tonight and I asked Alicia Tinkle to lock me in but I said to come back in 10 minutes.  Ummm.. that didn’t happen because I got out of the shower and ready to come out so I knocked.. and knocked.. and knocked.. and yelled.. and knocked.. etc. for about 10 minutes (and thats not exaggerating). I could hear everyone in the big room but obviously they could not hear me. I honestly found the whole thing to be quite humorous so I yelled some pretty funny things. After a little while I kind of figured no one was going to come so I started  to think of other ways to get out. I thought… maybe if I jiggle the door enough the latch will slid out.. so I did.  And to my surprise it worked! The door came open.. and I actually looked around the room to see if someone had unlocked it for me because I could not believe my plan of jiggling it open worked.  I went and found Alicia and the second I found her she remembered that she forgot to come unlock the door for me. She felt SO bad but I thought it was really funny!


Nicaragua Sunday 3/08

March 10, 2010

God has certainly shown himself to me today. We started the day off by going to the cathedral and taking pictures. The communication group then met at a cafe and had a meeting. We discussed what we were wanting to get out of this week. We are going a documentary but with a twist. We are trying to get real personable with people and really get to know who they are. We want to make a connection.

After lunch we headed out to the market across the street. Philip introduced us to some of his friends and we got to hear a few stories about what they do. I felt awkward many times because I felt like we were crowding the people with a ton of cameras. But after a little while we spilt into smaller groups. I had the privilege to walk around with Philip and see how he works. It was interesting to learn how he interacted with the locals.

I struggled with knowing when to take a picture or just be there with the people.  I didn’t want it to come across that I saw them as just another shot because I didn’t feel that way. I wish to tell the story through pictures. I believe faces can say so much.