Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Like Stars in the Sky

I haven't shared much about my experience in Nicaragua since I've been back.  Honestly, it's just that I don't even know where to start.  I feel like so much happened, and I experienced so much in one week that I don't know how to share it all.  Even when someone asks me "How was Nicaragua?", I don't even know how to begin, or what else to say other than "It was great!".  Maybe that's what everyone's first mission trip experience is like, and maybe it feels like this each time...

As we set off on the bus ride from Managua to San Ramon on Friday night, I was sitting in a single seat alone preparing my iPod with Brooke Fraser's "Flags" album to keep me company while others chit-chatted around me.  Not long after we took off, a young boy named Johnny (from Florida) came up and sat in my seat next to me and said "Can I sit with you?"  I had met him and his family after arriving to the hotel that Thursday night.  "Of course you can", I replied.  He then let out a big sigh and said "I'm tired".  The next thing I know, his head is laying against my arm while the bumpy bus ride jostled his head around like a bobble-head doll.  He eventually found himself curled into a little ball with his head in my lap.  It was not conducive to a comfortable 2.5 hour bus ride for me, but I feel God sent my little friend to keep me company.

The sky became darker and the stars became brighter as we drove further away from the city.  I'm sure Brooke's voice singing Flags into my ears intensified the moment, but I couldn't help but cry as I gazed at the stars with the anticipation of the week before me.  I knew I was about to have a life-changing experience, yet not quite sure what that was going to look like.  I remember an overwhelming feeling of connection coming over me as I saw those stars...the same stars I see at home in the U.S.  I felt SO incredibly blessed in that moment, and not just because of where I was born.  Yes, I am very blessed to have been born in a part of the world full of so much opportunity and freedom, but I felt even more blessed in that moment to be able to share a piece of my heart with Nicaragua.  Because I was able to go to school and enter into a good career, I am now able to travel to where the hands and feet of God are needed and to share not only my knowledge but a piece of my heart as well. 
Four days later we had a small Bible study at the Quinta led by Pastor Chuck from Colorado.  I was stunned when we turned to Philippians 2:3-4 and Philippians 2:14-18.  Philippians 2:3-4 is one of my favorite pieces of scripture and I also used it in my support letter...

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others."

Then came Philippians 2:14-18...

"Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation. Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. So you too should be glad and rejoice with me. "

I was so thankful for that Bible study and for Pastor Chuck delivering that message.  I really feel God was confirming my decision to go to Nicaragua.  I thanked Pastor Chuck afterword (and cried yet again...I was just a mess that week!).  Now that I've been home, I think of Nicaragua each time I see the stars; I think of Wendy and Juan Manuel, and all other the other men, women and children I met while there.  I promise I will share in more detail with events of the week.  I just wanted to prelude the with this...stay tuned...

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