Hey WB folks – I drove away this weekend thinking how incredibly thankful I am for our church. People who are committed to becoming people of compassion…to subjecting themselves to eating like the world’s poor, packing meals for those who are starving and for extended discussions about going to Nicaragua to love on orphans. Amazing!
This last August – I was in Nicaragua and am headed back this June and I’m taking 30 people with me. The video that was shot of Bob this weekend at church in Nicaragua ranks as one of my favorite video’s we’ve ever done. So amazing. This blog is a story of one of my experiences in Nicaragua that I had written this last September after I got back. I thought I’d “re-surface” it so you could see the video I made at the bottom. The places we will go this June are seen in the 2nd half of the video. Here ya go…
PS – I wrote one other story if you want to scroll back in my blog to last September to find it…
Hello Friends of WB – If you don’t have time to read, skip down to the bottom for my Nic Video. It’s taken awhile to get it edited and onto the web but I finally think I got it done.
I wish I had more time to pound out the many stories of Nicaragua. I’d love to tell the story of how Tyler Gregory hit a small girl in the back of a head with a softball, tell stories of the sweat, moisture and digestive disturbance, and of course, the story about how Barb Knutson commented on beautiful someone’s “home” was before she realized she was actually located on a toxic pond of gu (quite the gift of positivity). Anywho – In order to keep it readable, I’ll narrow it down to one more story.
On our last morning in Managua, we drove into a place that I will never forget. We drove a bit to get out of the hustle of the city of Managua (which is a large metro area). Slowly we made a turn onto a beat-up dirt road. As we moved onto this road, our leaders clearly elevated their sense of concern as they told us to close all the windows (which had been open the whole trip) and then asked us to take off any jewelry and put it out of sight. We drove along this winding road and began to see black smoke hovering this area while the stench of burning garbage quickly invaded our van. We had entered an area called La Chureca. Some refer to it as the city garbage dump and about 1500 refer to it as their home. Most of those people comb the garbage to identify anything edible, to look for recyclable products that they can sell off and dig for any other “keepables.” The guides we were with told us that what happens here is the worst kind of poverty in the whole world. Even in terrible 3rd world countries, at least most communities know to separate the animals from the people. In La Chureca there are cattle that roam and graze through the garbage, wild dogs that scavenge through the piles and people that are there trying to make it through another day. Therefore, the combination of garbage, animals, people (including children) and water makes for an incredibly toxic and unhealthy environment.
About 5 minutes down the road, our van came to a stop. We got out and in front of us was a large red rickety steel gate with triangle shaped shards of metal on top – to offer greater protection. The door eventually opened and we walked into a mob of elementary kids. These were kids who found their way to a Christian school that is offered free to the Chureca community. As we walked in we got pummeled by kids grabbing on our legs, insisting to be carried and climbing on our backs. After I spent some time hanging out with kids, I noticed that our team was talking with someone. I made my way over to the team and found that in the middle of the circle stood a 22 year old white female American wearing her blue jeans and polo-type shirt. She is the coordinator of this school. Her presence was a total shock to me. Here, in the middle of this awful poverty, surrounded with rabies infested dogs, endless garbage, toxic conditions and dirty, desperate people stood this girl who looks like she could be a Bethel student.
It was a great reminder to me about how bright a light can be in a dark place. This place that we were in probably was one of the darkest environments I’ve ever been in…and here stood this woman, standing as a beacon of light.
The rest of our time in the dump was spent meeting with people who actually host Bible Studies in their “homes” – go figure! We also met with a couple who had earned a sewing machine through the risk of some micro-finance lender and stopped by a feeding center where one of the leaders said they feed about 100 kids every day and turn away about…100 kids every day.
Here’s the challenge I took away and leave with you. Are you a light? When you walk into rooms, do people think…here come’s some light? When someone receives an email from you or gets off the phone with you, do they feel illuminated? And…are you operating at full wattage potential? You don’t need to go to Nicaragua to find dark places to shine a light. Find a way to shine your light where you are today. (Matthew 5:14-16)