Thursday, August 11, 2011

Perla, mi amiga y mi hermana.

Another life changing experience for the books.

I love the company I work for. I was blessed with an amazing job. I do admin and it obviously gets tedious but recently I had the opportunity to go to Nicaragua with one of the mission teams. This trip was extra special because not only did I need it in my personal life, but I also needed it in my job. I am now better at my job because I went. I know about being on location and I was refreshed in knowing that the tedious tasks I do in the office actually have a purpose.

The organization I work for sends short-term mission teams to developing countries and have local partnerships all over the world.  I work in the teams department and specifically work with group leaders, team facilitators and our field staff. I assist all of our Team coordinators and help get teams out the door and to location.

I had the opportunity to go to Managua and Leon Nicaragua. I went with one of our repeat teams that annually go on a specialty trip. They go north to an area called Leon, a poor more rural area where they serve at a local church and in the community. We camped for 5 days in the hottest region of Nicaragua during rainy season. It was um… challenging, but also an amazing experience that definitely took me out of my comfort zone. 

That is the thing about comfort zones though. Doesn't God want us outside our comfort zones all the time? If we are truly serving the Lord shouldn't we always be required to be a little uncomfortable? If there is no feeling of uncertainty how are we really trusting God with our lives?

Anyway, back to Leon.
Note: Rain in Nicaragua is not as friendly as it is here in Oregon.  Yes, it is hot as it rains in Nicaragua, but the rain also comes down in sheets.  These aren't just big drops. If it started raining while we were trying to have a discussion we would have to give up. Seriously buckets of rain ricocheting off of the tin roofs.

Some awesome camping stories came out of this trip.  I am not the strongest of campers… to say the least.  I am used to fluffy camping in the NW where there are bathrooms and showers, and if not showers at least a lake or river to feel clean (and NW camping is sometimes a struggle for me).  I was pushed and God used it to help me bond with other team members who were in the same boat.  I don’t like being smelly… but at least we all smelled. I was forced to become familiar with, what we like to call, “baby-wipe bathing.” Basically we all smelled like B.O., baby butts, sunscreen and bug spray.

Our camp
One of our work sites
The kitchen where our AMAZING food was cooked. How they made those delicious meals over a fire is beyond me.

The team was fantastic! They have been coming to this community for a number of years and members of the community couldn’t wait to greet their old friends. We did a medical clinic, VBS, and one of our team members, Patricia, taught a quilting class to the women of the church. The women were captivated by Patricia. I will just let the pictures speak for themselves.
Cuddles with the kiddos.
FEI Staff hanging out in the medical clinic.
The kids just wanted to hang out. No effort needed. But a game or two always helps.
Patricia with her dear friend in Leon.
Patricia and her quilting class.
This woman and her husband have been married for over 60 years.

Leaving Leon with tearful goodbyes.
As amazing as my time in Leon was, my time in Managua was even more impactful.

In Managua we serve in the city dump. There is an entire community within the city dump, La Chureca. We have a home for girls in Managua called Villa Esperanza. This home is a safe haven for girls that God has rescued from the Dump through FEI. In La Chureca teenage girls are at risk. They are threatened by the garbage truck drivers, abuse, drug use etc. Many parents encourage their daughters as young as 12 and 13 to sell their bodies to the drivers for money or for the first pick of garbage.

Recently we had a photographer (Marianne Bach) take photos of La Chureca. Here are a few.

A home in the dump.
Heading to work to collect trash.
The girls that we house in the Villa Esperanza (village of hope) are the most amazing girls I have ever met. They have so much spirit and joy, yet they come from dyer circumstances. (Shameless plug: Click to sponsor a child!)
Lindsay, our child sponsorship director, with all of the girls living at the Villa.

The most meaningful relationship I built was with Perla. Perla is the oldest girl living at the Villa. Knowing her story, spending time with her, and developing a true friendship with her changed me. I have gone on mission trips before. Never on those trips did I connect with another individual near my age as an equal and sister. We talked (with difficulty due to the language barrier) like I would talk with any of my friends, or how I talk to my cheerleaders. It wasn’t a kid at VBS or a woman my senior. It was a teenager who could be my younger sister.
A portrait of Perla. (Taken by Marianne)

On the last night in Managua we had dinner with the girls. At the end of dinner Gloria, the Villa director, welcomed us to go pray for the girls and shared that the girls may pray for us as well. Immediately, Perla stood up and walked over to me. She came over and began praying for me in Spanish. I immediately burst into tears. It was so incredibly powerful. I then tearfully prayed for her. (I mean ugly cry) We sat there crying, hugging and holding hands until the girls were excused to go back to their houses.
Right after all of the praying and crying. I love her!

My trip to Nicaragua was wonderful and there are a lot of things I am leaving out. Actually, I pretty much left out all of the funny things because the serious ones just seemed more important. I have no idea what my future holds. It is easy for me to want to be in control and need to know what is next. But that’s not my job it’s His.

Does the clay say to a potter, "What are you making?" Isaiah 45:9


I love hearing from you all! Your comments regularly make my day.

Thanks for stopping by!