The Lady Bisons are spending seven days on a mission trip to Managua, Nicaragua as the team of 13 serves the people there.
Words cannot fully describe what I have experienced thus far on this trip to Nicaragua, but I will attempt to share what I can. On Saturday, July 15th, I turned 21 years old. I always imagined I would spend this landmark birthday with a big party or in a bar sharing a drink with friends, but God had a different and greater plan. Instead, on Saturday night I found myself surrounded by my teammates in a foreign country. There was a half-eaten birthday cake left from the group before us that we decided to eat to celebrate. I sat there, cake in my lap, surrounded by my teammates singing me happy birthday. Shannon lit a match for me to blow out as the less than harmonious singing came to an end. "Make a wish!" They said. My mind drew a blank. It was the first time I couldn't think of a single thing to wish for. I was filled with so much content in that moment, all I could do was smile and blow out the match.
The week has continued to bring me a constant feelings of peace, joy, and contentment. The work hasn't been easy and the kids here sure know how to take the energy out of ya, but I continue to receive just as much as I give. God renews my energy and strength and allows me to continue pouring out love like I quite honestly never have before.
This is what life should always be like! I'm beginning to realize that living for others is so much more rewarding than living for yourself, and I am excited to continue living for others even when I get back home. Before I share with you what we did today, I would like to personally say that each and every woman on this mission team has been such a blessing and inspiration to me. They have welcomed me with open arms as my sisters in Christ and shown me what it feels like to be a part of God's family. At this moment, I am sitting in the corner of a laughter filled room, watching the girls look ridiculous in front of each other playing charades. My heart is full of joy.
Ok now I can finally tell you about today. As we made our journey on the bus this morning, we continued sharing our life stories and testimonies, as we have done so far this week. It's such an honor to learn what makes these girls the amazing women of Christ they are today. I was filled with energy and excitement as I stepped off the bus and saw the kids waiting on us. We were visiting a community we had not yet visited and the curious eyes were unfamiliar to us. It took only a few minutes for this new group of kids to warm up to us. I have kind of taken the role as team photographer this trip, and what I enjoy most about this is that I have to be very intentional about observing what the rest of the team is doing in order to capture those moments. Today as I walked around snapping photos, I learned a lot about my fellow teammates. The talent these girls have at connecting with these children, regardless of the language barrier, is incredible! Everyone used their gifts to the fullest today and it was amazing to observe and be a part of that. An intense game of soccer had begun and I admired the skill the young boys showed. Some of them ran on the concrete court completely barefoot, but it did not stop them from giving it their all. I gave soccer a try for the first time, and I must be honest and admit that I am no good at all, no matter what Ines says to convince me otherwise. She's too kind.
At the second church community we visited, the children were swimming in the fairly large baptism pool. I jumped right into the brown water before anyone could change my mind. Swimming, splashing and being just plain silly with those kids transported me back to childhood, when I didn't have a worry in the world. Laughter was the overwhelming sound in my ears, and a smile was plastered on my face the entire day. By the afternoon we were all exhausted and somewhat sunburnt. I love how we each have truly given all our energy each day to carry out the work God has laid out for us! I'm very proud to be a part of such an amazing family!
Today we also fasted from our phones, and it was amazing to see how much more connected we were with each other. We all agreed we would not have played charades when we got back if we would have had our phones (which would've been a bummer because I'm a pro at charades) Anyway, I hope some of us realized the importance of being in the moment and will strive to live like this more often.
I am excited for what God has in store for us tomorrow, as we go back to the special needs center in San Rafael Del Sur. As you read this, I encourage you to say a prayer that we can accomplish the long list of tasks for tomorrow and can meet the needs of the people we are here to serve. Thank you for your time in reading this, and thank you for allowing me to share my experiences and joy with you!