If you’ve spent much time with me at all, you’ve probably heard me talk about at least one of my trips to Asia or Latin America. I tend to talk about these trips because they were paradigm shifting for me. Certain pictures are burned into my brain. A refugee camp in eastern Nepal. Tea fields of Darjeeling, India. Mountain villages in Mexico. Slums in Lima, Peru. The streets of Buenos Aires. Masses of uniformed school children in South Korea. These pictures both haunt and inspire me. The world is a big place with overwhelming needs and great beauty. My latest journey was to visit friends in Nicaragua.
Nicaragua is in the heart of Central America between Honduras and Costa Rica. My friends work with an organization called Youth With A Mission in a small city called Diriamba. The living conditions are difficult (have you ever bathed from a five gallon bucket?) and the food isn’t that great (rice and beans more than once a day) but the work they do is really cool. There in Diriamba, they have a K-6th grade school which is free for the students, a Bible School, and a variety of outreaches in their neighborhood. While I was there, I was able to teach in a course called Discipleship Training School. The course was attended by not only locals, but college-age students from around the world (Nicaragua, EL Salvador, Mexico, USA, Canada, Costa Rica). It’s always exciting to teach to students who really want to learn, and this was no exception.
The morning before I left, one of the guys took me on a walk through the neighborhood. About halfway through our walk he pointed out a shack made of corrugated steel and said ‘thats a house.’ The neighborhood was obviously poor, but I expected this dirt floored shack to be something besides a residence. It was too small. It was too crude. The door was wired shut and an old tire kept the roof panels from moving when the wind blew. Someone lived there. I try to think about what it would be like to have grown up in a home like this, but I know I’ll never really understand.
I’m glad my friends are there. I hope I can go back.