JRLC Missions - Nicaragua, by Erin Locke
We departed for Nicaragua on the morning of March 2nd - a morning we had thought might never arrive. After all of our efforts: writing support letters, spreading the word, praying for God's favor, and raising the funds, the big day had finally come! We were so eager to get to Nicaragua to see what God would do! We woke up at the crack of dawn that amazing morning, and three flights later, we landed in the capital city of Managua. For many students on the team, it was not their first time out of the country; but it was my first step on foreign soil.
JRLC's mission, with the aid of the Project H.O.P.E. staff, was to serve a small village of refugees by planting gardens for each house. Every morning, we would begin our day with a time of worship and a quick devotional - then, the digging would begin. Although planting gardens sounds easy enough, it was much harder than any of us thought. Dig, dig, dig, water, plant tomato, water, dig, dig, dig, water, plant flower, water, dig... At times, it seemed monotonous; the hot sun evaporated every ounce of energy from our bodies. Even though it was extremely challenging, God supernaturally helped us to finish every garden in the village and more! Our hearts were so willing to serve, and not only to plant gardens, but also to plant spiritual seeds in their hearts as well. Children and some of the adults would come alongside us and help in any way they could. One of the highlights of our week was being able to fellowship with the people. We played a game of soccer and held a children's program for them! Even though we did not speak the same language, it was an opportunity to get to know the people personally through laughter and games.
Ultimately, our time in the village had to come to a bittersweet end. Saying goodbye to the children who had become our new friends was extremely difficult. For our last two days in Nicaragua, we were blessed with the opportunity to spend time experiencing the culture. We went to Suyapa beach, Masaya volcano, and stopped by a few markets. We also had some great food! It was an amazing time to relax and reflect on what God had done in our lives. I could not escape the memories of the extreme poverty that the village had faced. Through those experiences, God revealed to me how he still provides for his people. It was humbling to see the soft, patient hearts of the people in the village. My eyes were opened to so many new passions and forms of love. Nicaragua had given me something much greater than anything I could have ever given to the people. For me, the trip did not end when we got on the plane back to the states; it was more of a new beginning - a genesis for better things to come.