This week, a postcard came in the mail with a picture of Angeli, the girl who we think of as our friend in Nicaragua. We used to call her “our sponsored child”, but that was before we met her. Now she is a friend.
It’s also the weekend of Worldwide Communion. We celebrate communion this weekend as a remembrance of the death, resurrection and 2nd coming of Jesus. But we also take communion, a remembrance of the broken body of Jesus, to remember that we are apart of the worldwide body of Jesus. Even though there is an ocean between us, they are our brothers and sisters.
So it’s in that spirit, the Holy Spirit of unity, that I again pulled out my journal to share more notes from Nicaragua…
It’s already day #3! I can’t believe the time is flying by so fast. Yesterday, VBS went really well. As we told the story of the Good Samaritan, the kids loved Tom Shepherd’s fast costume changes from priest to levite to the Good Samaritan and then my small role as the Samaritan’s silly donkey.
Today, in addition to visiting Angeli, our sponsored child, we are doing a construction project, buying jewelry made by women in the community from recycled trash from the dump and leading both singing and the storytelling for VBS.
I don’t know what to expect when we meet Angeli and her family. But then again, I don’t think anyone knows what to expect…
July 2, 15
Kenneth, our FH Sponsored Family Coordinator, was trying to work out the visit schedule. He dropped off one couple from our group with a translator and told them, “Someone will be back in 45 min to pick you up!” Then he jumped back in the small taxi and drove the bumpy roads to pick us up. My favorite moment in the taxi was the driver exclaiming, “AH!” after hitting an especially deep pothole…I laughed out loud! He saw me in the rear-view mirror and laughed too.
Angeli’s house is set back from the road among the trees and across a small ditch so we over-shot it in the taxi and had to back-up. We got out of the car and Kenneth went over a few basics about what was going to happen. We walked across the bridge to meet them. Eliana was freaked out by the noise made by walking on the sheet metal nailed to the logs that made up the bridge. Both times we crossed, she squealed, almost as loud as the bridge itself.
I know it’s part of the dynamic in families, but Angeli seemed quiet and reserved while Claudio, her mother, did most of the talking. Angeli was in a purple shirt, stood most of the time so that it was hard to get her to smile until she gave us a tour of their home. She has dark hair and is tall and slender at 10 years old. Between her answering questions with short, clipped answers and her mom elaborating, we learned that she loves literature. And while she says she wants to be a doctor, she dreams of becoming a teacher. Actually, when she said she wanted to be a doctor, Claudia, her mother, laughed and told us that she only said that because that’s what her parents want for her. Whatever she studies, they have promised her a gold ring when she finishes school and goes to university. Angeli is like lots of little girls. She has two dogs, a cat and a turtle. The family has taken the plot of land that the father, Daniel, inherited and built a plantain farm. They also are in the process of digging a hole in the back yard lined with brick that they hope to turn into a swimming pool!
So there we stood in front of the house, under the trees, talking and getting to know each other. I assumed that we would meet a family without a father or one who was disconnected and a home that was…I don’t know, was made of plastic sheets and cardboard. Instead, we met a strong family unit of believers who work hard, love their kids, love Jesus and serve in their local church. In fact, towards the end of our hour long visit, Daniel, the husband and father of the family, got home on his bike and then Claudia asked if she could pray for us. We had planned on praying for them! But she started praying out loud in Spanish while Daniel raised his hand and prayed out loud too in agreement. Our translator, Kenneth, could barely get an English word in to translate as these two followers of Jesus prayed for an American family they had just met. Afterwards, we prayed for them too and the Holy Spirit was there with us. For me, it was a small glimpse of heaven where we will worship around the throne. And at the same time, I was saddened that while this family works hard, they are limited by a world out of their control. I have been given so much simply because of where I was born and live. But then again, they don’t wallow in their limitations. They are building a life and the church there in Nicaragua. The whole experience was bitter-sweet. It was like the kingdom of God was here and yet not yet…
…that’s how it is for all of us. This weekend as we take communion I will remember this: the Kingdom of God is here with us now…and yet it’s coming…come quickly, Lord.