In a single span of 8 days, my entire perspective on life had changed. Not in the crazy, become-one-with-yourself way, but the there’s-a-completely-different-world-out-there way. When I took my first trip to Managua, Nicaragua this February, I never expected to see such rural communities only 10-20 miles away from the airport where our plane had landed just two short days prior.
To say that it was an eye opener is an understatement; looking at American and Nicaraguan lives, how they live and differ from one another is shocking. The poverty that these people face every day hardly compares to the minute problems we seem to face in our everyday lives.
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The first day was in Los Romeros, a small village about thirty miles from Managua. When we setup clinic, our nurse and director, Elizabeth Buzbee, told us that if we saw only 20 people that day, we’d be fine. As it turned out, we saw over a 120 people, ranging from small children to old men and women. There was one kid there that I still remember. He was the only one with sandy-brown hair and pale skin. I asked one of our doctors why he looked so different, he looked at him, than at me, and said it was the amount of parasites in his intestines.
We saw numerous amounts of people with conditions such as that. Some had problems that could be easily remedied with some Tylenol or Scabies’ Cream; others had heart murmurs and cases of Pneumonia so bad that their entire chest heaved when they breathed in and out. There was one little girl who had a fever so high that the parents had to take a 30-mile trip into the city to get to the hospital for the antibiotics we lacked.
Even after finishing our four-day clinic in a village a few miles off of the main highway called Monte Fresco, we ended up handing out the rest of our supplies. Sometimes we lacked the proper antibiotic or pain reliever, and had to settle with handing out liquid Tylenol instead. It was hard not being able to give everything away that you wanted, not having the precise amount of funds, and not knowing who exactly would come with a case of Pneumonia, or a 105F fever. We gave them our best, and in the end, I felt like we had truly helped some of these people out.
On our first full day in Managua, Michael Buzbee, the Missionary down there with Open Hearts (www.ohearts.org) took us in his van through the dump. Despite the recent help that the Queen of Spain had done in assisting them with hundreds of tons of dirt that had been piled over the trash mounds, the squalor and foulness was still prevalent. And not just a remnant, regardless of the change; people still lived in moldy, rusted, lean-tos. Children walked around half-naked, and barefoot. Hogs rolled about in putrid filth, flies buzzed angrily in our ears, and women and children still searched through fresh trash for food.
Nicaragua really opened up my eyes to the outside world; it made me realize that what we have in America isn’t necessarily what other people have in the world. Even in our poorest slums, who of us has to live in a dump just to get enough food to survive? World Missions are one of the attributes that make our country so amazing. We can give what we were blessed with to others who need it more, and in-turn, be blessed by them.
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