When I stepped out of the airport and onto Nicaraguan soil the first thing I noticed was the smell. It wasn’t anything overwhelming – it was merely the smell of another country. Soon after I noticed the humidity. My clothes stuck to my skin even though the sun had set hours before. We piled into a van and drove for a while; I stared out the window and was reminded of my first moments in India. My first impression of India was vastly different than this first impression I had of Nicaragua, yet for some reason I found myself experiencing similar feelings. Those “oh shoot, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore” kind of feelings.
Even so, Nicaragua doesn’t seem that different of a place. There’s no squatty potties or driving on the other side of the road or roaming goats or chickens – at least where I am. They even have the same outlets and we’re in the same time zone. Where we are – 3000 feet above sea level – it’s not overwhelmingly hot or humid. People don’t stare at me any differently – they’re not too intrigued by my white skin.
But then I experience those moments that remind me I’m not in the United States. Like when I order a cookies&cream milkshake and find myself slurping up banana chunks (…I’d best work on my Spanish.) When my ankles are stained with dirt and the bottom of my feet are filthy at the end of the day. When I brush my teeth using a water bottle and wash my clothes by hand and take cold showers. When I don’t really know if I’m in or outside – it all blends together because there’s no air conditioning and I’m in a constant flow of transitioning between the two worlds. When I have to walk a mile to get Internet. When “football” really means soccer. When I walk through a market that sells everything from fish and veggies to soap and sandals. When I shove a wad of toilet paper in my pocket before leaving for someplace new – just in case (…it’s already come in handy.)
We’ve only been here three days but it already feels like weeks, of course. We’ve gone on house visits in the nearby poor community, where we gave rice&beans to those in need and prayed healing for those who were sick. We’ve entertained crowds of kids. Tomorrow I will preach at church.
Sometimes I get overwhelmed when I think about spending four months here. It’s been pretty hard for me since we arrived – I’ve suffered from a nagging headache that comes and goes as it pleases and I’m tired almost all the time. I’m not entirely surprised – often when we actively pursue the kingdom of heaven we are met with an opposing force. That and maybe I need to drink more water.
Though being here may be hard at times, I know that it is GOOD. I know I can get through anything with my team by my side. I was so starved for deep, authentic community before this trip, and now I am blessed with eight beautiful women in my life. At the time I’m writing this it’s only been a week since we met each other. I knew we were meant to be when we had a photo shoot in the Atlanta airport barely an hour after introducing ourselves.
Our first night together we rapped with a homeless man. We ventured to and prayed over a strip club. In the days that followed we shed tears about our fears and past hurts. We laughed and listened to Taylor Swift. We prayed and prayed and prayed – holding hands each time. We’ve eaten every meal together – we always wait for everyone to be served and seated before beginning. We wake each other up in the morning and workout together. We share nail polish and bug spray and computers. We believe that each and every one of us is meant to be here and we are soooooo happy we are all girls.
We don’t call ourselves a team; instead we call ourselves a sisterhood.
These girls are amazing. No really, I don’t know why God appointed me to lead them – I have already learned so much from them. They are eager and willing and hungry to serve. To change. To grow. They are kind and compassionate, bold and wise, humble and hardworking. Seriously, every single girl. I’m like…how can this be?
It’s only been a week, but I can already so clearly see the individual gifts God has given them. On our sisterhood we have a voice of wisdom, a voice of power, a voice of compassion, a voice of strength, a voice of healing, a voice of service, a voice of justice, a voice of joy, a voice of influence. Just thinking about these girls gives me the chills. I don’t know what’s going to happen over the next few months but I do know that as long as we are united God us going to use us in some crazy ways. And Nicaragua will never be the same.
Until next time…