I’ve been back in the country for a week now, and am rested up, nearly caught up on everything, and finally ready to blog a little bit about the trip. It was really an incredible time. We had an amazing group of 16 adults and youth from Messiah’s House. Out of the 3 trips there I’ve taken, I think it was the most powerful one we’ve had. I think a lot of that had to do our previous trips there: we had relationships already established with the teachers and students of Oasis de Esperanza, the incredible school in the dumpground of Managua where we spent most of our time.
This is me and several of the 4th and 5th graders who became my good friends last year. We were quite happy to see each other again!
We spent the week talking about the armor of God, and were able to give all the kids (400+) t-shirts saying La Armadura de Dios with a picture of a soldier in armor. The spent the week coloring their shirt in however they wanted. This was really cool because most of the kids only have a few shirts in their posession. So these new shirts meant so much to the kids.
I also got to do 2 of my favorite things at the school. 1) I did a mini-magic show for 4 group assemblies a day (and told a Bible story, but I think the kids preferred the magic). And 2) we played the older boys in soccer after school let out every afternoon. I generally made a fool out of myself, because the boys are awesome and I am terrible. I did score a couple of goals on Thursday, and I will hold that over their heads every year I come back from now on.
That’s one of our interpretors, Jorge, to my right. He’s an awesome guy with an amazing, heartbreaking story about growing up amid the violence of Nicaragua’s civil war in the ’80s. Crazy stuff, really, that makes me so grateful to have grown up in America.
We also spent a day at the House of Hope, a rescue ministry for women and girls trapped in the horrible world of human trafficing. It’s not my favorite place to be – it’s just so hard to be there and be around young girls my daughters’ ages who had been forced into prostitution. Just terrible. I’m thankful those girls are now safe. We got to spend an afternoon playing with those girls along with several other children whose mother’s were rescued from the industry and now live on the compound. This is me and Moises. He lives there with his grandmother. April, who runs the ministry, has asked that we not share specifics of the kids’ stories. I’ll just say his family has seen horrible tragedy and violence. I met him last year, and I continue pray for him and his siblings to know the love of the Heavenly Father.
We had a great time with the kids, and even had a chance to do a little ministry and prayer time. I talked to them about being safe in the arms of the Heavenly Father. We spent time in prayer, sitting with Jesus. I talked about how Jesus was always there. One of the little girls, at the end of the prayer time, raised her hand and said (in Spanish, obviously), “I didn’t know Jesus was there with us in the darkness…” Wow. I can’t imagine what she’s seen and experienced in the darkness. I can’t imagine the nightmares and fears that come flooding into her mind at night. But I’m grateful that she knows Jesus is there, in the darkness. That she is safe.
The last day in Nicaragua was the best day. We spent Friday morning ministering to the teachers – the kids were out that day for what we would call here in the states an “in-service day” for the teachers. The teachers at Oasis de Esperanza are incredible people and have one of the toughest jobs you can find. Working in the heat every day with kids with all kinds of physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional problems due to a life spent in the dumpgrounds with bad water and bad food. The teachers get very little recognition or appreciation. And they deserve it. So we gave it to them. We spent the morning washing their feet and praying for them. It was a powerful, emotional experience for everyone. I’ll never forget it.
We wrapped up the week with a visit to quite possibly, apart from my own home, my favorite place in the whole world – the Hosanna Orphanage. It’s a place of incredible peace, hope, love, and feeling for nearly 40 kids who have been rescued from painful lives and shown the love of Jesus. We played soccer (of course) swang, ran, laughed, rested and enjoyed the company of the kids. I got to do my magic for them, and they are quite honestly the best audience in the world. They laugh harder and applaud more than anyone, and they’ve seen a good chunk of my tricks 3 times now. They were requesting tricks that I did 2 years ago. It was a blast. The neatest thing is that when it’s time to leave, after we pray for them, one by one many of the kids stand up and encourage us, quote scripture, and thank us for spending time with them. It’s extremely humbling. It’s such a beautiful place that gives me great hope for the future of that country.
So that’s the trip in a nutshell. I can’t quite fully put words to all we did and saw, but that should give you some idea. I love Nicaragua. I love Wayne and Elaine MaGouirk and what they’re doing the Savior’s Tear and Oasis de Esperanza. It’s a place near and dear to my heart, and I can’t wait to go back…