I have been blessed with an incredible mom and dad. Because I’m an only child, we have become very tight-knit in the past seventeen years. My parents are my closest friends. Of the many enriching gifts they have given me throughout my life, possibly the most impacting has been the traveling experiences they have afforded me. As I’ve grown up, my family and I have had the opportunity to travel to ten different countries, and a majority of the states in the USA. All our adventures are memorable for different reasons. Our trips have expanded my knowledge of cultures, customs and traditions. However, one reoccurring venture has instilled in me the most valuable lesson: appreciation.
I first had the opportunity to travel to Nicaragua in 2006. A group of individuals from across my great state of Georgia were teaming together for a medical mission trip. After prayer and consideration, my mom, dad and I decided to become a part of the team – a decision that would cultivate friendships, relationships, and inspirational understanding.
The past three summers, I have spent time around the mountains of Matagalpa, Nicaragua as a missionary. Nicaragua is a tropical paradise that unfortunately struggles as the third poorest nation in our hemisphere. Our group transports a temporary medical clinic to rural areas around the northern part of the country. My job, alongside my mom and a few other members of our group, is to conduct Bible School to the Nicaraguan children as their parents are being treated by the medical staff. Of the hundreds of ailing individuals our team encounters in the medical clinic, many have never visited a doctor. Our team has the opportunity to heal their bodies, as we work to impact their spiritual soul.
Although a veteran group of us have been a permanent part of the team, different missionaries have been involved each year. Our second trip, in the summer of 2007, was the most memorable trip for me. Our group this year developed deep, lasting bonds with one another, and it was in our second year we realized the lasting influence of our visit the year before.
An example of this is shown by a beautiful, brown-eyed young girl named Mileydi. The first year we traveled to Nicaragua, mom and I connected with Mileydi over a two day period in a remote village called La Escalera. Throughout the next year, my family prayed for Mileydi’s health and safety, hoping we might see her again. Thus, our hearts were overjoyed when we again embarked to La Escalera the next summer, and were greeted with Mileydi’s bright smile and warm hugs. On this trip, we were able to take pictures of Mileydi, meet her family, and get to know her better through the assistance of a translator. We stay in contact with Mileydi and her family through permanent missionaries in her area, and she affectionately calls me “her sister with yellow hair”. Although she may live thousands of miles away, Mileydi has become a part of my family – I am proud to also call her my sister.
My experiences in Nicaragua have encouraged me to be appreciative of the simple necessities I possess here in the United States, such as education, transportation, and vast opportunity. I look forward to each summer when I spend time in Nicaragua with my family – both my immediate family, and my mission family. My prayer is that I have blessed the lives of the Nicaraguan people as much as they have blessed mine.
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