Long before going on this trip, I realized that needed to prepare more for it than the year before. Yes, I needed to pack better and get to know the people on my trip, but I focused most on preparing spiritually. For months before the trip, I began to pray and ask God for team unity and to create a connection between God, the Nicaraguans, and my team while on our mission. I realized that we were going to Nicaragua to be the light of the earth and show love like Jesus did. The light represents spreading God’s word to everyone rather than just keeping it within the church. Matthew chapter 5 says “let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven,” so I prayed for the opportunity to be a source of light and spread the news and love of the Holy Spirit as I served throughout the country of Nicaragua.
When arriving in Nicaragua, we immediately started serving. Everyone brought an essential aspect to the team, and throughout the trip each person would be crucial at one time or another. The first day we were able to take our sponsor children out, and the rest of the week was spent going out into the schools and communities. We spent most of our time at a school named Jehova Jireh, where I was fully immersed in the Nicaraguan classroom setting. Though I come from a very different background from the students, I realized that these children were just like me, wanting to learn and get an education. When I asked a young girl why she liked going to school, she said: “because no one in my family has ever been able to go before.” Grasping the concept that not everyone receives the opportunity to learn how to read and write makes me appreciate the education I am getting a great deal more, especially because I often take it for granted.
Though our schedule varied day to day, most mornings we would wake up around 7 o’clock, eat an amazing Nicaraguan breakfast full of fresh fruit and eggs, then set out for the school to teach a class, do activities with the students, or just simply play soccer. The pure happiness in the children is so evident everywhere I went in Nicaragua that it was easy to see God’s provision and love everywhere I went. Many days consisted of food distribution, where we would bring families food to their homes and offer to pray for them. On these days is when I most felt like God’s light of the earth, because we were directly bringing the good news of Jesus into the homes of the Nicaraguans. At one house, a woman explained to us that she had run out of food for her and her family that day, and had prayed the night before for a sign that everything would be okay. Bringing the physical food alone was a pure example of God’s provision, but what was even more beautiful was that we were also able to bring an eternal gift of the Lord’s light into homes and communities in Nicaragua where it had never before been reached.
God spoke to me most in the joy of the people I met. When we were able to go into the homes of the Nicaraguans, I was surprised to see how content they were with how little they had. Then, they explained to me that they did not care what earthly possessions, because they knew it would not matter once they were able to meet God in Heaven. All they wanted was to be His light on earth. The amount of devotion and adoration they had for the Lord truly amazed me and I left immediately wondering when I could return. A person could travel anywhere in the world, or meet anyone on the planet, and they would still not be as touched as they would be by the people of Nicaragua. They do not experience materialism or jealousy like we do in the United States, because they know that God only cares about what is in their hearts. Since returning, I have been able to see things from a different perspective. While I am grateful for my physical belongings, I have come to appreciate more of what is on the inside of myself and others. Getting to know people and making relationships that stem out of the light of God has allowed me to change my intentions to be more faith based, letting God allow me to truly be a light that shares His love and word on earth.