Years ago if someone had asked me where Nicaragua was located I would have drawn a blank. I might have responded by saying, “South America?” However, my answer has changed due to the summer of 2008 when I had the experience of going to Nicaragua on a missions trip. My current answer to the previous question is, “It is a beautiful, poverty-stricken country located in Central America.”
My youth group and I started this journey on a quick flight to Georgia, then a three-hour flight to Managua, Nicaragua. When we were two hours into the latter of our flights, suddenly our plane dropped. Screams sounded from passengers all around me as the plane continued to fall, then abruptly stopped and began shaking. Looking around at my peers, several sets of wide-eyes met my worried gaze. After one more hour, in which we met no more turbulence, we arrived safely in Nicaragua.
Waking up the next morning at Chosen Children’s Ministry campsite, our breakfast (and most other meals of the trip) consisted of banana chips, beans, and rice. Green, lush plants and flowers of all colors were everywhere, making this tropical country one of visible beauty.
Over the next few days we travelled around Managua spending time with people of two, poor communities. The first two days we visited Xiloa and put on a Vacation Bible School and a Sports Camp for the children. I had the joy of teaching the kids songs and hand motions. Above all other hardships, the fact that I could not speak Spanish fluently was the biggest barrier. Working around the language issue, I had to communicate with the children through mostly dancing and singing. What struck me the most when I was in Nicaragua was the reality of poverty. The family’s homes were made of nothing more than cardboard and blankets. The kids had only a few articles of clothing. The baby’s faces were covered in dirt. And yet, every person in that community had a smile plastered on his/her face every second of the two days we were there. Seeing how content they were encouraged me and made me realize how much I have as an American. I came home to my family and friends with a different attitude. No longer did I want to spend my money on material things, I wanted to support a child overseas. With my youth group I now contribute financially to two children in Nicaragua.
Of all of the trips I have taken, my trip to Nicaragua was the most rewarding. Not only did I get to visit a beautiful country, I also had the privilege of meeting and interacting with dozens of smiling, encouraging children. In going on this missions trip I learned more about myself, the beauty of our world, and how important it is to be content in all circumstances.
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