by Lily Mae Easterbrook
This year over spring term, many of the high schoolers were fortunate enough to go to Nicaragua to minister to the people. After a three hour flight on March third to Managua, we took a bus ride through Nicaragua to Los Rayos de Esperanza.
On the first morning, we had a short preparation time before we went to our morning activity. For the activity, we were separated into teams and went on a scavenger hunt in Diriomo for items we would use later in the week. After the teams collected the items and took pictures at the specified sites, we gathered at the bus and went back to Los Rayos for lunch. Later, we went to Candelaria to serve through a children’s club. Everybody was put into a team for the clubs such as English lessons, games, and Bible stories. The kids were extremely welcoming with a ready smile and a hug for everyone. By the end of the afternoon every adult, teenager and kid had a blast experiencing God’s love. That evening, went to Maranatha church and met some of the youth, which ended with getting ice cream and watching “futsal” (a form of soccer) in the park.
On the second and third day, our schedules were very similar. All of the students were split up into four levels of Spanish where we learned immersion style. Following Spanish lessons, we went to a sports outreach. The first day we played soccer on a field in Diriomo, and the second day we played basketball in Diriomo’s Central Park. It was truly amazing to see Arborbrook students and local children connect through sports even with the language barrier. After the sports outreach, we grabbed lunch and headed back out to the kid’s clubs at Valles de Granada and Paz y Reconciliación. The kids were very different at each barrio, but, overall they loved to be taught and happily received the materials we were able to share with them. We finished off the second day by walking around, exploring, and getting pizza in Granada. At the end of Sunday, we attended church at Maranatha.
On the fourth and fifth days, we went to Spanish class but instead of sports outreach afterward, we all went to separate barrios and served a specific family there. There we built outdoor kitchens for the families and helped out around the house with cooking, cleaning and childcare. Wherever they needed assistance, we gladly helped them. Since many of the outdoor kitchens were done in the first day of construction, many of the girls decided to visit a special needs community. The community was a truly beautiful experience. The children there found delight in the smallest things. When we finally left, there was not a dry eye among us. We all had been touched by God through those adorable children. At the end of the fourth day, we all went to Maranatha church where we practiced the drama for the Evangelistic Festival. The fifth evening was the Evangelistic Festival. We served ice cream, danced, and played with the children in the park before the skit. It was magical to see so many peoples’ hearts touched. We also had the opportunity to give out lollipops and Bibles to the people in the park that night. The experience was truly incredible. We all went back to Los Rayos in awe of the night’s events.
On the last day in Nicaragua, we started out with a team building exercise. The exercise sounded deceivingly simple. The objective was to tap 101 numbered plates in order. While it sounds easy, it took a lot of leadership, teamwork and patience to complete it. We eventually got our completion time down to 9 seconds! After that, we headed out to go zip-lining and shopping in Catarina. Catarina is built around the crater of a volcano. We shopped, took pictures, and enjoyed the last moments in Nicaragua. On our way back to Los Rayos, we stopped by a pottery shop where the owner illustrated the Christian faith through the forming of pottery. It was really interesting to see the parallels between the two. That evening, we discussed everything we had seen and experienced that week. We also shared our highs and lows of the week. We unanimously agreed that leaving was a massive low.
Early the next morning, we climbed on the bus and drove to the airport. We all struggled with saying goodbye to Nicaragua. When we finally reached Charlotte Douglas Airport, it was surreal. It still did not feel like we were home. After experiencing so much it was hard to find the “normal” that we had left behind. One thing that I learned is that blessings come in every size, shape and form. They can come in the form of a thought, a present, or a smile and to one person, they can mean the absolute world.
Thank you so much for your prayers and support. I would also like to give a special thank-you to the chaperones: Mrs. Peaseley, Mrs. Mowbray, Mr. LeSuer, and Dr. Hagler. They took incredible care of all of us and made sure to connect with everyone individually. Also, thank you so much to Mrs. Heidorn for letting us use her facility and resources and for the opportunity to serve. Thank you again and again.