Monday, January 24, 2011

"I wanna set the world on fire, till it's burning bright for You."

Maybe it was the coffee, but this morning I felt so led to write about Nicaragua that I couldn't wait to get home from where I was driving.

Yesterday I had the priviledge of being able to tell our small group of 6th & 7th graders about why people live in a dump, what life is like for them, and the girls at the Villa. Their interest and maturity amazed me. It inspires me to think how the girls I mainly spent time with at the Villa are the same age, and their stories are so much different, but they all love to pray to our Father and thank Him for everything. They are sisters though they've never met.

I remember playing with the two smallest girls at the beach, whose older sister is also at the Villa. When a big wave came, they would climb into one of our arms for protection. I didn't want to let go. I felt the same way exiting La Chureca one day when I saw a teenage girl on a cart with two men (probably going to work in the landfill). I saw ache in her eyes. I don't know if she knew Jesus. I wanted to reach through the window and hold her hand.

Last year I was so excited to finally see La Chureca in real life after a few years of watching news clips and seeing pictures. It's dirtier than anything you could ever imagine. The residents are looked down upon by the outside world, and sometimes even inside the dump.

John 16 says that grief will turn to joy and that we will have trouble, but to take heart because He has overcome the world.

I enjoy being at the dump because that's where I feel God's presence the most. I see Him in little boys playing soccer in the landfill, in a man who devotes his time to serving children and the church. I want to give more hope to more readers and missionaries. I think La Chureca exists to show people that Jesus cares about his people. He used to wash the feet of the downtrodden and touch the untouchables. People can find pure joy in Him whatever their circumstances. We must draw closer to Him when we have nothing else, and even when we do have a lot, to break for those nearest His heart. God created places like La Chureca to humble the proud and bless the righteous so that they may enter His kingdom and sing.

Thoughts for the day. So many more I can't put into words.

- AD

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Renewing a School

Babies . . .
Praying for people in the dump

and more babies

Painting the school

Using machetes

Meeting Parents of the girls

Touring the dump

Today we spent back in the dump renewing the school for a new school year. The kids are out of school for the month of January and start back up soon so the school in the dump needed some painting and cleaning done to get ready for the next year. Working in this little oasis of hope is such a blessing. It gave our team a new perspective on the work being done in the dump. It was almost easy to forget there was a dump outside, just feet from where we were working. Some of the girls from the Villa took the opportunity to come with us and spend some time working in the school. We had a lot of fun painting and enjoying each other as a team. Once back at the Villa we cleaned up, had dinner, and then spent our evening with the girls in their youth group that Katie and Dwight McGrew, missionaries here, facilitate for them every Tuesday night. We so appreciated how Ana, one of the younger girls living at the Villa, shared with us from Psalms 6 and how God has saved her and is changing her. We love seeing God work.

Monday, January 17, 2011

You've seen the photos. And yes, the slip 'n slide was as awesome as it looked. Rick and some of the hombres at the Villa worked on it while the rest of the team went to El Faro church yesterday. It was amazing to worship together with people of a completely different culture and language, but to the same God. The hearts of Pastor Ramon and his wife Miriam are amazing. It's one thing to go serve the people of the dump for a week, knowing you are going home to your soft bed and warm shower, but these amazing servants minister in the dump day in and day out.

Last night we had a blast just hangin' with the girls. They learned a phrase from the last group that they love to repeat over and over... "oh, wow." They are such a blessing to us. From the get go, they accepted us, wanted to play with us, teach us their games and learn about our lives. They are so patient with us and our lack of Spanish skills. Seriously, we may have come to serve them but their smiles and extended hands have probably meant more to us than what we have been able to give to them. It's so awesome that it's only Monday and we still have four days left to spend more time with them.

Garbage everywhere. A stink that makes you want to hold your breath. Mutts and muddy feet walking around. Smoke rising from combusting garbage. Dust, dust and more dust. Homes made of tin and garbage sacks. Honestly, this does not even give and accurate picture of the experience of La Chureca. It is so much more than what could be typed or spoken. You just have to see. The poorest of the poor, it's mind-blowing. And yet the smiles of the children are some of the most beautiful sights you will ever see. Fear was the enemy, at least for me. The lice scared me away at first, but I kept saying to myself... "Jesus would touch them, Jesus would hold them." Once you let go of the fear and dive in like Jesus would, the joy overflows. Instantly, you are their best friend, even their hermano or hermana (brother or sister). We became their horses and their jungle gyms. We would chase them and they would chase us. Some of us simply got to say to them, "Jesus te ama" and watch the hope well up in their eyes. We gave them a meal: rice, a slice of banana and little slice of chicken. Their only meal of the day and they were glad for it. Can't wait to see them again tomorrow.

Later today we did some work projects around El Faro, painting, raking, pulling weeds and sweeping. Some of us got to use a machete, which was pretty cool. Tonight we got to play with the girls again and they were a blast. We played kijabe can can and spoons, both fun games that can easily overcome the language barrier. They made us fall in love all over again. Have a feeling we better get used to that. They really are wonderful.

Friends and family, we cannot tell you of the emotional roller coaster we've found ourselves in. So much heartbreak. And yet, so much joy. We can only imagine the emotions of our Father. We've been here two days. He's always been here.

"ohh wow!"

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Slip and Slide Nica Style

The Team

Spencer and a clown from El Faro church. I know that sounds wrong but they were there for the pastor's birthday The slip and slide that was planned and mapped out by Rick for months
Add soap and you have instant fun

Our good friend and translator, Mario, gives it two thumbs up

War wounds on Natalie, a missionary that came to play with us

As you can see the girls had lots of fun and so did we.

We are Here

We arrived yesterday afternoon after a smooth flight to Nicaragua. We enjoyed church at El Faro today with the girls and look forward to an afternoon of playing on the slip and slide Rick and the McGrew family spent the morning building. Don't worry pictures will soon follow.