Click on thumbnails to see larger images. Many additional pictures from Nicaragua are available here.
[NOTE: This post was originally included in the Winn’s Baptist Church newsletter. I’ve edited it just slightly to post here.]
Every Christian should have a chance to go on a mission trip to Nicaragua. One word of caution, though. That experience is apt to be life-changing.
Using the Internet to learn facts about Nicaragua, the second poorest country in Central America, is one thing; seeing poverty like that in person is something else. But the enthusiasm and dedication of the local pastors as they minister to the physical as well as to the spiritual needs of their communities is uplifting beyond description.
I went to Nicaragua on March 5—we returned on the 10th—with fellow Winn’s members Bruce & Renee Bingham, Richard & Leslie Gray, and Jason Harris. Although Leslie had been to Nicaragua before, the rest of us had not.
In order to check six large duffel bags of baseball equipment, used clothing, and other mission-related items, each of us packed our personal things in our carry-on bags. Our back packs accompanied us every day, as did bottled water, hand sanitizer, and cameras. Most of the group wore shorts or capris except on Sunday morning. Temps were in the 90s.
Pastor Carlos Garcia and his wife, Luisa, were our hosts for the week. Carlos had served as the translator on past trips and ended up feeling called to the ministry. In addition to pastoring a church, he also works for the Asociación de Iglesias Evangélicas La Gran Cosecha de Nicaragua. We participated in activities at most of the churches in that association of churches.
We hit the deck running soon after our arrival…a trip to the station where Carlos has a radio ministry. He interviewed Bruce, and Luisa interpreted.
Renee makes jewelry, and she presented each pastor with a bracelet made of fishing tackle—appropriate for “fishers of men.” She gave their wives an angel necklace. At two of the churches we visited, she also did crafts with large groups of children and let them blow bubbles.
We spent two afternoons taking food and Bibles to needy people and seeing their homes up close. The average “house” was probably no bigger than a single-car garage. Although we saw electric cords strewn all over, no one had an actual kitchen—or anything more than a simple outhouse, if they even had that much of a bathroom.
The better homes were cinderblock. The poorer ones were constructed from whatever sheet metal scraps the resident could scrounge up. Many of the homes didn’t have doors. Many were incomplete. Heavy rocks held the metal down on a number of roofs.
Probably our most meaningful activity took place on Thursday, when we washed the feet of a hundred needy children and put new socks and shoes on them. As reminiscent as that was of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet, I sincerely hope he didn’t have the problem of dropping the towel in the basin of water.
We stopped at Pastor Leon’s church, much of which Winn’s helped to build, and enjoyed fellowship with him and his wife.
Sunday was special. We worshipped at Carlos’ church—a two-hour service that didn’t seem nearly that long. Luisa led the singing with her guitar, and I was permitted to share one of my songs. Richard and Leslie participated in the service as well. Carlos’ preaching was dynamic.
That afternoon, everyone but me went zip-lining. Even Carlos’ and Luisa’s three kids. Okay, so I’m scared of heights. But it gave me a chance to take pictures.
Although Monday was a long day of travel—thanks to lengthy layovers—we all got home safely.
You often hear volunteer missionaries say that they went to their place of service hoping to be a blessing, but came away feeling that they had received more of a blessing than they had rendered. I suspect all of our group felt that way.
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By the way, “Aging Gracelessly” isn’t my only blog. On “As I Come Singing” I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years. Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. Check here to see the list.
Because I’ve already posted all of my songs, I revise and repost a previous post each Wednesday. If you’re interested, please check that blog out here.