Nicaragua

Last summer was an amazing experience I will never forget. I got to visit the beautiful country of Nicaragua while on a mission trip with Sheo International. Lately I have been in kind of a funk, praying and asking God to ignite in my the desire and passion I once had. Well, sure enough. God shows up. He is so good. He always provides exactly what we need, and He is always on time. He might not answer our prayers in the way we expect or want, but He always answers. Tonight as I was writing in an old journal I found my journal entries from when I went on this mission trip. Reading back on my old journal entries did something to my soul. It ignited the fire and rebuilt that desire to serve that I had been lacking for a few months. And isn’t that what our God does? Uses things as simple as a journal entry to remind us of exactly who He is and no matter how off track we get or how our emotions change or how unfaithful we are, He is ALWAYS WORKING, and He is ALWAYS FAITHFUL.

Enjoy! & hashtag don’t laugh at me, hashtag don’t judge me

These were my personal journal entries, which I did not think I would be sharing.

06/21/16- 3:53 am

We’re at Shreveport Airport and I think it really hasn’t hit me yet, but it’s the first time I’ve ever gotten on a plane. We’re off to Houston. Lots running through my mind. I think I could’ve prepared way better. I miss my kids already. What will this mission trip do for my spiritual life and how will I bring the gospel in such a way that will impact people? I’m really excited about meeting others. I honestly can’t wait to love on the kids. My desire is to grow in my love for Christ and intimacy with Him and also be able to show that love to others. God please fill me with your love.  Thank you for your perfect timing and your plan for my life. It all lead to this very moment.

06/21/16- 9:57 am

I’m on the flight from Houston to Nicaragua.I’m pretty sleepy, yet so nervous/excited. I can barely sleep. I’m thinking about my kids back home but also about how I don’t really feel equipped to serve in Nicaragua. I get on the flight and sit next to a stranger without saying a word. This is so not like me. I make friends pretty easily. Ok, honestly if you put a box in front of me I’d probably talk to it. I love to talk to people. So this guy finally says hi and I feel guilty for sitting there in silence for so long. Look at me, on this Nicaragua mission trip and I can’t even talk to the guy next to me on the plane. Really? How am I supposed to bring Jesus to Nicaragua when I can’t even be like Jesus to this guy next to  me. I feel ridiculous. Maybe I’m being too hard on myself. Maybe I’m just tired. He’s a really nice guy and was super friendly. Talking to him helped put my nerves at ease. We ended up talking about so many different things and it made me realize how NOT cultured I am. There’s so many places I haven’t been to, places I haven’t seen, people I haven’t met. We haven’t arrived in Nicaragua yet God is already teaching me so much. I’m so comfortable in my home town and in my Christianity. It’s so easy to be a Christian when you stay in your comfort zone. I tell God “Here I am God, send me” yet I can’t even talk to the guy next to me on the plane.  I need to work harder at being more intentional and not seeing things as “coincidences”. Christianity looks different at times. Sometimes it looks like church on a Sunday morning, or today, it looks like stepping out of my comfort zone by sharing Jesus with the stranger next to me on the plane. So thankful for that. Ok Jesus. I hear ya.

6/22/16- 5:15 pm

We just made it back from San Rafael and I showered and got ready to go minister to a group of ladies. I believe with all my heart my God put me at the right place at the right time. Tonight they are talking on the topic of: Relationship Abuse. How more perfect could that be? Me being a survivor and all. Oh gosh, here we go. I know I’m gonna cry, dang it. I had a blast in San Rafael. I helped with VBS with a girl names Sara who is from the other church here. She’s the best. I love how fearless she is, singing to the kids and leading them in worship in Spanish. She’s stepping out of her comfort zone. I need to be more like that. Everyone from the other church is so sweet. I feel like I have known them forever. We did songs, puppet shows, bible stories, and played games with the kids. The kids are so precious and my kids would love it here. Everyone is so grateful and kind. Some people worked on the construction of a house today and others worked in the medical clinic. It was a long day, but it was amazing. Got to meet so many kids and people. The people seem so happy, so content, so grateful.

6/22/16

I’m exhausted. I hurt my ankle today, haha. Of course. This fat girl would. I was running, playing a game with the kids they called “Mama Chenchona”. I miss my kids so much. My heart aches a little, and I haven’t talked to them in 2 days. I’m really trying not to cry right now, especially because mi amigo Justin (from the other church here) is staring at me with his crazy eyes. HaHa. I told the kids at the village where we were today all about my kids. I showed them pictures. I got back from “Noche de Chicas” or “Girls Nite” in the city. It was so much fn. Those girls are so full of life, I love them, they kept me laughing. We talked about relationship abuse and how as young ladies we need to value ourselves and know we are worthy. And YES I cried. Thankfully I wasn’t the only one. I heard sniffles all over the room when Mrs. Eva gave her testimony and I thought oh good, everyone is crying. They need to come to my church because I feel like I’m the only one who cries there. Where they been all my life, though? I love the people here. God, thank you. thank you so much. Help me be a light to them for the rest of my week here. I want them to know you. Thank you for your love, your grace. Forgive me for every single thing I take for granted. For being so ungrateful. For idolizing so many things in my life that are not you. I just want you in my life. All the time. Like this. Like I see you and feel you here.

6/23/26- 7:23

Just finished humanitarian bags. Talked to a sweet friend and my sweet babies today. YAY. Of course.. I cried. Like, ugly cried. I miss them like crazy. Today was a lot of fun even though my ankle bothered me all day. I am really feeling a mix of emotions. Part of me feels horrible that I had to say bye to some kids who I don’t know I will ever see again. There was a little girl named Jolis, and a little boy named David. David was 8 years old. He was in 2nd grade. He has beautiful brown eyes and long lashes. He was short with spikes hair and a sneaky little smile. So cute. I instantly fell in love with him. These kids amaze me. How independent they are and how they help take care of their family at such a young age. They walk blocks or even miles to school every day all by themselves while their parents work. And I thought my kids were independent. I thought about how different life is back home. How much time we spend on electronics, our phone, TV, etc. People here are always outside, they talk to each other, the kids are always playing. I’ve been thinking a lot today, mostly about how different the cultures are, yet how we are so much alike. Could I be crazy for thinking I would want to do this full time? Crazy, I know. But my kids are almost teenagers, I’ll be like 33 when they graduate and go off to college. Maybe I could wait till then. It might be possible. It’s a lot of hard work I know. It looks like people give so much of themselves in this type of missionary work. I met an awesome couple, Dean and Stephanie from the states who have lived here for the past few months on the SHEO Farm. A couple and their two boys. They are amazing! How do they just get up and leave their whole life to go serve in Nicaragua. That’s amazing faith. The people work so hard here, from sun-up to sun-down. Life seems more simple here, less distractions in  a way.

6/23/16- 9:15 pm

We just finished watching the video for SHEO and how it got started. I watched how brother Sunny Holland went around spreading the gospel and passing out food and medical supplies. Helping churches and helping people who were lost and hurting. It was such an amazing video. It definitely stirred up something inside of me. I felt like my heart wanted to jump out of my chest. Seeing someone who gave up their whole life in order to serve God and others, just blew me away. It makes me want to go home and just love people, my church, my community, my friends, and my family. I want to love them well.

6/25/16

I can’t believe it’s already Saturday. Today was nice. This morning  the message was about trials and tribulations, it was awesome. Just the fact that we got to gather in front of the volcano outside is crazy. After chapel we ate breakfast and started helping with medical supplies, construction at the back of the farm, and then we fed the community. There was an older gentleman who needed shoes and he reminded me so much of my grandpa. I just hugged him and as I bent down to help him try on his new shoes I just felt overwhelmed. Overwhelmed with compassion for this old man. My heart shook in my chest and in that moment knew what Chucho meant when he preached the night before about Paul feeling “in debt” to the people and owing them the gospel to the point where his heart was moved with compassion as he saw they were lost. I didn’t know this man. I only knew he had so little yet he was so grateful. But beyond his physical needs I wondered if He knew Jesus. I wondered if I had been a light to him at all. He hugged me and said “thank you for always remembering us, the poorest and the least of all the people. Thank you for not forgetting about us. Even when our own people do.” There are just things I don’t understand. Why some people get to be born into privilege where they never have to suffer, yet some people are born into poverty. But this is who Christ died for. For people like Him, for people like me. After we fed the community we walked to a local church and played baseball with the youth and water baseball with the kids. This fat girl running is probably the funniest thing those kids saw all day. I had a lot of fun, though. The girls and kids nicknamed me “leona” which means “lioness”. I have no idea why. I just rolled with it. I translated a story for Brother Gary, and the kids loved it. After we got done we walked back to the farm. My ankle was really swollen so I laid down and I guess I fell asleep. I woke up for dinner and my brotha from anotha motha brought me some coffee so my night got a whole lot better. We’re about to show a movie and have the kids come over and watch it outside. I miss my kids so much. Wish they were here. I tried to call them yesterday but they were swimming with grandma. Guess they miss me a whole lot haha. I am so grateful for my mom and family back home helping me out with them. Don’t know what I would do without them.

6/26/16

Today was probably one of the hardest days for me. We didn’t have chapel and we went to church this morning at a Baptist Church in the City. It was a great service, the message was brought by brother Gary and the worship was awesome. After church we went to go deliver humanitarian bags at the place where they call “the dump” or “el basurero” This was hard for me. People actually live here. There is trash everywhere. People survive and live off of what they find here. We gave out food and some other clothing items and shoes. More than they physical conditions, I really felt a sense of hopelessness in that place. So my mind is racing the whole way back wondering how effective I’m being by feeding these people for a week. A message was preached and bibles were handed out as well. I’m glad organizations like SHEO Exist. Organizations that go far beyond meeting physical needs, but also preach the gospel. Food is a temporary fix, but the gospel is everlasting. I guess I’m just wondering if i’m making any kind of difference at all. I mean, we leave in 2 days, and how many meaningful conversations have I had? How many people have seen Jesus in a more tangible and evident way because of me? Have I loved these people well enough? Have I stepped out of my comfort zone for the sake of the gospel? And if I do it here, am I doing it well at home?

P.S. My so called friends almost left me at the dump that day. I guess I blended in because the bus almost left with out me. Glad I wore my “Jesus loves this hot mess shirt” or they would’ve missed me. Haha. Not cool.

6/26/16- 6:30

Tonight we went to a beautiful restaurant/resort where we had dinner and got in the pool. It was a good time of fellowship with everyone. I’ve had a lot of fun getting to know everyone. I can’t believe tomorrow is our last day, but I’m so excited to go back home and start the mission again in my hometown.

6/27/16

Today was pretty laid back. My bro led this morning at chapel. So amazing to see we are on the same mission as other people from our church. We went to the market and I bought a few things for my family. It was pretty fun. Then we went to a beautiful restaurant right on the lagoon and had a great time. I talked to my family back home which was great too. We grabbed some ice cream and now headed to the volcano. I’m on the bus and these peeps is crazy. They keep me cracking up.

6/28/16 – 5:00

Just made it to the airport in Nica. I don’t really think it’s set in my mind we are leaving. I might never see some of the people I saw this week again. I keep thinking about the kids from Masatepe. I’m sad that I didn’t really get to say goodbye. I wonder if they will think about me or remember any of the bible stories or songs we taught them. I found myself praying asking God to please engrave those stories deep in their minds and hearts for them to use whenever they go through hard times or for Him to use it to stir a desire for God in their hearts. I miss them already. I’m still trying to wrap my head around missions and what it really means to be missional and how I feel about missions in general. It’s a lot to take in. I’m trying to process this experience and I came up with a few things that randomly popped in my head:

If your faith doesn’t make you uncomfortable, you’re doing it wrong.

What does it mean to love people well? What does that look like? And how do you even do that?

Is it really necessary to go overseas to share the gospel when you’re not willing to share it to the people closest to you?

How convicting it was to realize that some things I did with the kids in Nicaragua, I don’t even take the time to do with my own kids at home. Our kids are our largest and most important ministry.

How can we apply what we learned in Nica back home? And what does this look like?

I never want to be that person or church who treat missions like a pat on the back- once a year- mark off my to do list- good deed to make ourselves feel better- type of thing.

Being missional is an everyday, intentional lifestyle.

How truly effective are one week missions? and.. could we possibly be more effective in smaller groups that stay long-term to do bible studies, and build relationships with people instead of larger groups?

Sports are an amazing way to build relationships, and share the gospel.

P.S. I’m really really looking forward to next year 🙂