In the spring of 2011, I went on an unforgettable mission trip with my school to the impoverished, yet beautiful, country of Nicaragua. I was a Junior in high school and could not even begin to fathom the things I would see on this trip. The impact the people of Nicaragua had on my life is indescribable. The trip has forever changed me and the way I live my life.
Flying into Managua, the capitol city, I saw beautiful landscapes with lush vegetation and large lakes. Justoposed against the lanscape were small dilapidated shacks; rusted, ruined cars; and liter all over the streets and sidewalks. Trash was everywhere! There were one-room structures with dirt floors and housing families of eight. Animals so skinny you could count their ribs wandered the streets. The sights were so different from anything I had ever seen, I knew right away it was going to be a life changing week!
The day we ministered to the city dump in Managua was my most and least favorite day. Traveling by van to the dump, we lowered all of our windows and when we stopped at redlights, children would jump on the van asking for money and food. One little boy blew me kisses even though I had nothing to give him. I will never forget the feeling of driving away in the van with a little boy hanging onto my window, begging me for food and having no way of helping him. It broke my heart. There is an entire town that lives within the dump, including a school for the children. The people who live in the dump make a living sorting trash and selling it to recycling companies. The people in the dump actually fight to go through the trash first. My team and I were not allowed very far back into the dump due to the dangerous conditions and residents. It was thrilling to be in a dangerous place, but it was also heart breaking to know that people were so desperate they would resort to attacking those who were there to help. The most shocking and disturbing fact was that families will sell their children to earn the right of going through the trash first. I can not imagine anyone selling their children for trash. I was and am horrified at these circumstances. At the school in the dump we played with the children and hosted a dance camp with the girls. The children were thrilled to have our attention and to be cared for. It made me feel accomplished to know that I had gone into a dangerous, undesirable place and I had helped little children experience some happiness on that day.
Throughout my week in Nicaragua I learned many lessons. I realized how extraordinarily blessed I am to live in America and to have a family that loves me. I was reminded material things really are not important, but it is how you live your life that truly matters. I realized God created beautiful people all over the world and it is my job as a Christian to spread his love to those who are hurting and in need. Finally, I realized I love helping people. I miss Nicaragua and one day I hope to return. But whether I am in a third world country or in my hometown, there will always be people in need and I feel it is my duty to help them in anyway I can.
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