"Tenemos un dicho aquí en Nicaragua..."
Once teams arrived, "laid back" was a distant memory. I spent my days flying back and forth visiting different ministry sites, checking on teams, dropping off meals, jumping in to translate, and having a blast. The bus ride back and forth to our adopted town of Masatepe every day was a great opportunity to connect with the team members, most of them high school students on their very first mission trip.
So it's no wonder that, a week after returning home, the trip remains impressed upon my imagination as fragments of conversation (many of them in Spanish originally, but translated for your convenience.)
"When we moved to this neighborhood seventeen years ago, it was violent. There were no Christians at all – just me, my wife, and our one-year-old sun, living in that little house [indicating the tin structure leaning against his current home], which only had half a roof. For seven days, they threw rocks at the house. We stayed inside, praying. On the eighth day, I woke up and realized: no rocks! I went outside and a man approached me. He stuck out his hand and said, 'You survived the first seven days. Welcome, Pastor.' " - Pastor Amos, from one of our partner churches
"For seven days, they threw rocks at the house."
"The team you're with, they're all Americans?" overly-friendly mototaxi driver
"Yes – well, one of them is from Russia." - me, trying to be accurate
"Oh, your husband is Russian?" - the driver again, lacking subtlety
"No, no, my husband is American." - me, telling a bald-faced lie
"We all have stories of broken families that have been restored, people who are still coming to our churches, because of the Bibles that were given out last summer." - my Nicaraguan friend Antonieta in a pastors' meeting, as they all nodded agreement
"You speak really good Spanish!" - several Nicaraguans throughout the trip
"Thank you, so do you!" - me getting more mileage out of my favorite Spanish joke
"You know those drunk guys we always see in the parks? I was one of them. I was living in the streets. That's a hard life. My wife kicked me out of the house. My dad did, too. Then he came and found me and brought me to the rehab center." - my friend & bus driver, Dago, telling me his redemption story over lunch one day
"I cried out to God."
"I was living in the streets. That's a hard life."
"Today my son came home after going out with your team to do Bible distribution. He said, 'Mama, I've always said I want to be a doctor. Now I think I want to be a doctor and a missionary.' " - Antonieta
"So, how can I come back to Nicaragua? Because I know I'm not done here." - Aaron, a high school student
"Thank you so much for taking the time to set up this trip and follow God's leading. This has been the greatest experience of my life since I accepted Jesus as my everything." - Brooke, a student on her first mission trip, in a letter she gave me before she flew home
"This has been the greatest experience of my life since I accepted Jesus as my everything."
"We met a woman today who had the Bible we gave her last summer. It was all marked up, because she's been studying it all year. " - me to Norlan, our van driver
"That's the point, isn't it?" - Norlan
560 Bibles given to families who didn't have one. People surrendering their lives to Jesus. Teenagers discovering that God really can use them.
That's definitely the point.