The sharp cry of a rooster and the howling of Don woke all of us up at 0600 sharp. The words, “Wake up Gringos, time to go and be missionaries!” penetrated every wall. All of us proceeded to gather for a devotional about faith by Jackson Niketas. Jackson referenced Hebrews 11 and God’s ability to call each and every one of us to be His workers.
As the sun stretched higher into the clear, crisp Nicaraguan sky, a group of us all went to the radio station. Molly, Beau, David, Sierra, and Alex rode in the back of Don’s truck in order to share their testimonies with a large portion of Nicaragua. Jordan and Andrew came along as well to sing live; they both did a fantastic job!
Our group was then divided into Team Alpha, Team Bravo, and Team Charlie. Team Alpha had a delightful time in the sunshine digging trenches at the ministry headquarters in order to make room for a pump. Stories were shared, roots and rocks were uprooted, and blisters were formed. Water was certainly a necessity for all!
Team Bravo went with a dump truck to a nearby riverbed to gather gravel. There was no shade to find at the dig site, so they enjoyed the breeze driving to and from the dig site. They used shovels and buckets to fill up the dump truck while locals did the laundry in the river and their horses ate the grass growing near the riverbed. It was great to see progress made via heaping piles of gravel.
Charlie platoon advanced through a local neighborhood in Somotillo. Along the way the members, with the help of a local pastor and several translators, spoke with the residents door to door. Every person that was visited listened intently to what we had to say. They listened to the testimonies of the missionaries, and heard the gospel from Pastor Ronaldo, a local pastor in Somotillo. The greatest moment for Charlie platoon was when a group of young women accepted Christ as their savior! The young girls, as well as most of the town folk, knew about Jesus, but did not have a personal relationship with Him. It was a wonderful encouragement to see be truly desire a close relationship with Jesus!
The three teams returned to Casa de Shelly (the compound that houses the missionaries) for some much needed rest and food. Donation bags were meanwhile stuffed with items such as shoes, shirts, hats, toys, and candy to throw out to the hundreds of Nicaraguan people waiting on the side of the road. Smiles, frowns, and looks of desperation were all tattooed on each of their faces. Unclothed children walked through the streets and ran when they saw our mission trucks approaching. We all yelled “Christo te amo!” (Christ loves you!) with every item that we threw at them. One of the most encouraging things to see was the respect that the people had for young children and the elderly. Mothers were ecstatic to receive small shirts because they knew that one of their children or other children needed it. Adolescent boys were equally excited to receive dolls because they equally knew that somewhere there was a sister, daughter, or friend that needed the doll. The lack of greed demonstrated by all of the people was heartwarming.
Our trucks pulled into the El Laredo Village and were quickly surrounded by smiling and giggling faces. The villagers knew that a hot meal and abundant love was going to be given to them by all of the missionaries. Nails were painted, games were played, and Bible stories were shared. Most importantly, though, Christ’s love was exemplified through all of our actions. Concepts of poverty, hunger, and desperation were replaced with compassion, friendship, and kindness. We spent three hours in the village and then had to return to Casa de Shelly. On our way back, hundreds of people again lined the streets begging for the items we were throwing out of our trucks. As the sun started to lessen its intensity in the sky, we looked back at the frowns that we had the privilege to turn into smiles, even if they were only for a short while. Items can satisfy for a moment, but the love of Christ and memories made will stay in all of our hearts forever.