English II H, 4th period
7 October 2008
English II H, 4th period
7 October 2008
A Journey Much Further Than Nicaragua
Going to Nicaragua in my seventh grade year changed my life forever. After seeing the poverty-stricken people that still readily embraced joy and love, my life, and the very fiber of my being was transformed. Never again would I go a day in my life without thinking about those people, and so many others that consistently love and serve their God and one another, while struggling simply to survive. However, even more that that, my heart goes out to those who do not have faith in Jesus Christ to hold onto; day after day they have no hope and no purpose, but only to continue to exist.
When I stepped off the plane, though I did not know it at the time, my life would never be the same again. The ride to the mission house was seemingly endless. As the rain pounded on the windows, and the lightning lit the sky, my eyes were opened to a world different than anything I’d ever seen. At every stoplight, children would be banging on the windows, shouting, trying to sell everything from food to watches to birds and turtles. These little children had been driven by desperation to earn what little money they could to avoid the shame of having to return to their parents empty-handed, and, here I am, complaining if my parents give me too many chores. The streets were full of people simply walking around in the chaos of their everyday lives. When we finally arrived at the mission house, we quickly unloaded and had a brief orientation from Guillermo. The room that I was staying in had no air conditioning, but we did have the luxury of fans unlike some of the men. It was there, in the hot humid bedroom, that my eyes first began to overflow. How could a child, younger than me, be forced to go and sell tings on the street, just so that their families can afford a meal? Why couldn’t they just be kids? Why were there countless people in the streets that appeared to be homeless? I could not understand how this was not even that traumatic, and these people were blessed compared to millions of others around the world, but I had only barely had a glimpse.
The following day, after a church service in Managua, we embarked on a journey to Juigalpa. On this three hour trip, I saw many average Nicaraguan homes. Most consisted of about a 12x12 building made out of scrap metal. I stared in astonishment when a boy, who could not have been more than six years old, was outside wielding a machete in order to “mow the lawn.” Just like the kids in the city, this boy had much more responsibility than any child I’d ever met. Not thirty minutes later, I noticed a group of boys playing baseball with a piece of wood and a rolled up pair of socks. They appeared to be having the most fun ever. I could not understand how anyone could be aware of this kind of poverty, where little boys could not even have a real ball and bat, and not do anything about it.
The most influential experience I had while in Nicaragua was on the fifth day when we visited a rural village. As we drove through the dirt roads, towards the local church, my heart grew heavy and my eyes filled with tears. As far as I could see, small, concrete, two-roomed homes lined the streets. Children with inadequate clothing, some too small, most too big, were running after the bus playing. After we arrived at the open air church building, our team split up into groups and filled the streets. We each had an interpreter with us. We went from one doorless house to the next, inviting their residents to a service that evening at the local church. Many people invited us into their homes. All of the houses were the same: two 10x10 rooms, a bedroom, and a sitting room. All the cooking and, in reality, living, was done outside. Families as large as seven or eight would share a single bedroom. The image was almost embarrassing to me. The thought that these people lived like this their whole lives, not even thinking twice, and I, in my lavish American lifestyle, always seem to find something to complain about. I realized how self-centered, selfish, and materialistic I was.
The few weeks I have spent in Nicaragua have made a massive impact on my life. I can not be satisfied living my comfortable life, after seeing firsthand what so many people live through. The fact that I had so much, and wanted even more, while there are children, that cannot even afford clothes that fit them and are lucky if they get a meal, are all over this world, put me to shame. Ever since that trip, I cannot stop thinking about the poor in this word, physically and spiritually. I pray that I never let myself forget them, but even more than that, I pray that I allow my life to be used by God, now and in the future, to help change. Knowing about that pain in the world and ignoring it or doing nothing but talk about it is far worse that not knowing at all.