Today is Saturday (March 11th) and it is my father’s birthday. Oh how I wish my family could experience this country. How I wish they could be with me right now as I experience this treasure. Unfortunately, I am behind on my writing but Oy Dios mío (oh my goodness)! God is so amazing. He has blessed me with so much. Spiritually and materialisticly- we have SO MUCH in America. I am not sure that is such a good thing. I absolutely love it here. The country is beyond beautiful, the people are so loving, and the spirit is most definitely present. I can NOT wait to come back again. I would really like it if God granted me the opportunity to come back and submerge myself in the culture. Maybe I could do something with engage and work on another degree..I’m not sure but it is certainly in my heart to be here again, for a much longer time period.
The country is filled with so much depth. There are honestly so many untold stories. I have no idea how I would go about it, but I would love to write about people’s lives. Maybe write a book? I am certainly turning to God on this one, as this is something that needs to be put in his hands. I want it to inspire people and make a difference which is something that God placed on my heart long ago. I am quite confident that God will make it happen.
Every day I just find myself stopping and starring at God’s beauty. It is amazing to know I’m actually here! There is tropical trees, the weather is MUCH warmer, and the culture is different but it doesn’t fully feel like I am here. I just want to live here and experience things. I am not sure why I feel this way and I don’t know what God’s plan is for me but, I have a feeling my heart is being drawn here. Drawn to these people, drawn to this country, drawn to this culture. I am not sure if this is a part of God’s plan or my plan. That is what makes thoughts like this so hard.
I had a vision a few days ago when Ken was praying over us. It was a bit odd because I have no idea what it means. I’m not sure exactly what we were talking about but I had this vision about a pathway, two cliffs, and an arch. The cliffs were ridged as if it were a valley below. It was so beautiful with some grass still. The white arch kinda sorta looked like a wedding style arch and then a gray cobblestone walkway. There is only one area where the cliffs look JUST like my vision. I saw it today but no cobblestone and no arch. Maybe it’s nothing, but I’m going to keep that moment as a reminder of all that God has planned for this country.
There is so much love here. The kids are so beautiful. I was incredibly nervous today. So nervous. I don’t know why but then I just took a deep breath. I guess I was feeling a bit emotional for some unknown reason but then we went in the feeding center and I saw the kids. Literally as soon as my eyes laid on los niños pequeños I lost it. My eyes weld up with tears. They were just so precious. I was looking at Nicaragua’s next generation. These little ones were created by God and they each have their own purpose in this world. I have no clue how people could hate children after staring at their little faces. They are so innocent and see the world so much differently than we do. Plus these children are so little and yet they have already seen more than some of us may ever witness. There was so much energy. So much of God’s enormous love. We were able to see the rooms that they use for school upstairs which was nice too. The kids were just truly truly beautiful. It felt like they were God’s next disciples. I don’t know why but there was just that image in my mind. It will happen!
My favorite part was when we got to go inside people’s houses. I was paired up with Marty, Megan, April, Dominic and Efrain. Dominic and Efrain are a part of the engage staff. Dominic is one of the students from the states taking part in the mission related study abroad program through engage. Efrain is a Nicaraguan who used to be a camper but is now working along side the engage staff while they minister to his country. The second house we visited has such an amazing story behind the memory. We approached the house, “Buenos Días!” A few seconds later a woman and her son greeted us at their door. Dominic and Efrain began to explain who we were and why we were at the feeding center that day. The family looked a bit guarded so after they were finished explaining things in spanish, we introduced ourselves. “Hola! Me llamo Hannah…Hola! Me llamo Marty… Hola! Me llama Megan… Hola! Me llamo April..uh..Abril!” As soon as April said her name we heard the woman talking to Dominic. The only context I picked up was that a relative had the same name as her and it sparked an interested in conversation. Dominic turned to us and said she is inviting us into her home! What an honor it was to be invited into this woman’s home. As she was unlocking the door, Dominic explained that her baby daughter’s name is Abril. We all turned to April, and thanked her for being the bridge between us and this family.
After walking inside, I noticed the family had 3 rooms. The front was more like a hallway to the middle room. Then one more hallway to the back. The son was a little fidgety but his mother was very full of the spirit. She kept smiling while we talked with her. It took us ladies a moment after seeing the daughter to gain our composure. Little Abril was so beautiful. Such a precious little being. She wasn’t even crying, just coeing and talking to us. Her big eyes kept looking at us probably thinking who are these people, why are they so infatuated with me and why are they so white??
Dominic began saying more things to the mother in spanish which we didn’t fully understand, but he said that if there was anything we wanted to add we should do it now. I immediately opened my mouth, “Tell her that this house is filled with God’s love. He is present here.” April added something, and then Marty and Megan. She continued to smile and nod as Dominic translated what was said.We asked if we could pray for her family and if there was anything specific we could pray for. She asked for prayers regarding good health for her family, that God would continue to bless them, and that her husband would find Jesus.
We started to pray for her and it was so overwhelming. I started speaking in tongues (not my first time) and lost it. My emotions took over and I couldn’t stop the tears! My heart began to break. I do not know what was even said or why, but my soul was just so intertwined with the spirit inside the room. After praying, I still had tears trickling down my face. The entire room was crying- we were just so moved! I looked up at the women and I asked “abrazo?” She nodded and I put my arms out for a hug. We all needed one. As she was wiping her eyes, she told Dominic let us know that we brought so much of God’s love with us and we were so full of the Holy Spirit. That was so heartwarming.
We visited two more houses; at the next house we prayed over a women who was left paralyzed on her entire right side due to a stroke. We also prayed over a family who was making tortillas. It was interesting to watch as they flattened out the dough. Both ladies were so skilled with what they were doing and even the young daughters as well! After that, we we went back to the feeding center and played with the kids until the program began.
I was having a hard time being “normal” Hannah who has no problem interacting with kids. My barrier here: I took six years of Spanish and it all left me as soon as I opened my mouth to speak to kids. I was stressing myself out too much instead of living in the moment with the kids. I did not connect to many kids like some of the other team members. But, I connected a lot with Noella. She was very shy but had a beautiful smile and a beautiful soul. It seemed like she was battling with something. I could see it on her eyes as she started to take everything in. Her eyes were so beautiful. So wide and alive! They were a very pretty blue. As soon as I would grab her hands she would smile and light up. She wouldn’t dance very much but she would beam and look around.
Noella loved my hair and asked me to take it out of the ponytail I had it in so that she could braid it. To be honest, I loved the braid way better than how it was before. We sat and watched the skits together with the many other kids. We all laughed and smiled and sang. The community was able to receive a meal from the Feeding Center and after the skits we continued to love on the kids.
Noella was upset because she was not allowed to come to camp for us. My heart broke for her but I knew they had reasons why certain kids could not attend camp and there were rules that some kids disobeyed. For the kids we would not be seeing at camp, we had to be extra strong. We had to show them that they are still loved by us and we weren’t going to forget about them. This was hard for me to do because Noella was so ready to go to camp. I felt for her because I was getting a vibe that she may be a little lost. A little like me…She just needed someone to push her out of her comfort zone. There was something holding her back. Only God knows what that is. Only God. Noella had ventured off a few times with other friends so I just kept roaming around finding new friends to make. I wasn’t doing so hot. I was at a loss. I didn’t know what to do…how to interact without words! My worries were clouding my ability to be carefree. Luckily after a while some kids came up to me and asked if I wanted to start a game with them. We then began playing games, kicking soccer balls, and taking pictures..just when I was starting to warm up, it was time to leave for lunch.
Lunch which was delicious. I ate with Austin, Megan, and Dominic. We had some cool getting to know you conversation. Typical conversations consisted of, what is your background with the church? Where are you from? What are your plans after college? What brought you to Nicaragua? How many years have you been here? How’s your spanish? Getting to know my fellow team members better was really nice. It’s funny how much more you learn about a person when you’re forced to spend a week outside of school with them.
It is quite evident that I love food because who doesn’t? However LATIN/SPANISH food is just unquestionably amazing. The spices that were used on the arroz con carne was spectacular! I could not stop raving about it so they were all laughing at me until they tried for themselves. Then they were putting the herbs on everything as well.
Our next destination for the day was El Chorizo. El Chorizo meant “the sausage”. We found out the people from El Chorizo were moved from the poor areas like El Camino to the desert as a way for the government to help spread out the poorer population. It was their way of fixing poverty and overcrowding, basically a poor adaption of “the projects”.
All of my nerves that existed previously vanished in El Chorizo. I was determined to make the most of my evening in order to redeem myself from letting nerves get the best of me earlier. We invited kids to come to our presentation and prayed over people. We weren’t as successful in this as we were in El Camino..Plus it was so HOT!! We were in the dry desert area so the humidity was less tolerable. I connected with a few girls here. Carmen and Katherine were some that I remember the names of.
I was so sweaty, dehydrated, and tired but I pressed on. As Ken says, “It’s for the kids, do it for the kids…” And that is just what I did! We played a few games and joked with los ninos. I did much better this time around. It was easier somehow. I’m not sure if it was because I just was myself and forgot about the language barrier or what. I kept remembering what Dom said earlier at lunch, “I didn’t know any spanish when I first came and just kept butchering it. I kept trying even though they didn’t understand me. They know we’re gringos so it’s expected. You don’t have to have perfect spanish but at least you’re trying.”
I ran around the pavilion with Carmen on my back. “Andele, Andele, Rapido!!” she’d scream as I panted around the room. “Do it for the kids…” kept repeating in my mind over and over. After a while I was like ya know, who knows what these kids experience on the daily. Who knows when they’ll see the missionaries next. Maybe this is the highlight of their day. Why should I be the one complaining? So I’d run a little faster, jump a little higher, and smile more and more. Having that mentality made the experience 10x better. Seeing their smiles made it all the more easier too. We sang songs, we danced, we acted out some skits, and then we finished by coloring. It was a hot afternoon, but I’d give anything to just be back there again with those kids.
Later on that night, we had dinner at a nice chain restaurant and I tasted Cacao, which was a chocolate drink. It tasted much like the ones we make at the Genesee Country Museum over the summer with our heritage chocolate. The only difference was cacao is served cold instead of hot. Two words. SO GOOD. Corey, Jacob, Peyton, Dom, and I joked around a lot at dinner, talked about our favorite food and made up our very own language. We had lots of laughs that night it was great!