A mere three and one half hour plane ride to the south of Gainesville Georgia in a different country and a very different culture you will find a country in Central America called Nicaragua located south of Honduras and El Salvador and north of Costa Rica on the map. I spent the last week in the northwest corner of that country based in a town called Chiandega with an organization called Amigos for Christ meeting and working with a group of mostly young Americans working for that organization and local Nicaraguans who have been encouraged and helped with the tasks that comprise their daily lives in a way that most of us here at Grace Church would fine totally alien to the way they grew up and the way they live now.
It was a phenomenal experience. Part of that was because I have never been on a mission trip before so it was certainly new and different from anything I had ever done. But the most important part of Amigos for Christ is that we were there to work side by side with the locals in the community to acquire what they need to make their lives more productive and more meaningful. They welcome the help, but more important they welcome the chance to work with us and to share their lives with us. It is important to them to do this work the way they are accustomed to doing it and for Amigos to foster that.
I can explain this by talking about the basic job of Amigos in any community into which they go to do the work required. The community (no matter the size be it a group of thirty families or two hundred families) must agree upon a leader or group of leaders who will represent them in agreeing to pay the amount of money necessary to acquire a well which will bring much needed water to each family in that village. Once the water is available to each individual home, then a flush toilet must be made available to each home for the purpose of promoting a sanitary lifestyle for everybody so that they may live a longer and healthier lifestyle. The simple feature of having running water available, I believe 100 gallons per home/day, will relieve the necessity of carrying water sometimes up to five or seven hours per day. This task falls primarily to the children as soon as they are old enough to carry a container of approximately five gallons of water. This means that, if they are able to get to a school in their community at all, they probably will have to drop out after second grade because at that age, approximately, they will be strong enough to carry water most of the day.
There is so much more of this journey to share with all of you here at Grace Church. I know that the six of us (Tricia and Doug McDuff, Jennifer Romberg, Julia Padgham, Jay and me) that went to Nicaragua will be willing to share with you their thoughts and reflections of the experiences they had this past week. I would like to do a talk on something I call “the community of faces.” I took numerous pictures of the many different faces, those working for Amigos from the USA, those from Nicaragua working for Amigos, and the local faces in the communities where we spent hours sweating through the digging of ditches for water pipes, painting a school, delivering livestock to families, or providing entertainment and smiles to a home for the elderly founded by a German priest who came to Nicaragua and saw a need for this. The oldest individual there currently was 113 years old.
Please consider joining a group from Grace Church next year because Amigos for Christ really want to keep this going. They have been doing this for fifteen years now I believe. Come and be a part of a truly life changing experience. You will never regret it though you might not want to partake of peanut butter and beans and rice for a while after your return.