Today was our final day of ministry here in Nicaragua. We will depart in the morning for a very long route home that will take us through Costa Rica, Guatemala, Los Angeles, Kansas City and finally into Springfield. We will be traveling by car, airplane, and bus. It’s over two days of travel to get home. Wow!
However, I couldn’t have asked for a better day of service to end our mission trip here. God had a purpose for us being here. We have been inconvenienced by the delay getting home. We miss our families, but it is all worth it. Project HOPE didn’t have a team scheduled to come and help with this project today, but God did.
Today we served at the Center of Hope, which is the ministry center that Project HOPE facilitates at the dump in Managua. This service today is a project that has been in the planning and had been envisioned for years. Today it happened. Today we delivered cook stoves to over 100 families.
When we visited their houses, which is a term I use loosely, you quickly see how simply these people live. There are no kitchens, no appliances and no modern conveniences. Many people cook over an open flame or on improvised surfaces with firewood. The result is multiple burn injuries, especially to young children. The family is also at risk from the smoke inhalation. Many people set up these make-shift stoves right inside their homes. As we placed these new stoves into their homes, we watched their quality of life increase exponentially. For $55 dollars US, lives were changed.
We were the first team to enter the homes of the people in this location. In the past, this area had been considered too dangerous, and the locals are very private. As I entered house after house, God gave me the opportunity to pray with families. I am so humbled by the experience of today, and by the requests for prayer that I heard. They did not ask God to change their circumstance. Their prayers were focused on what they knew to be important, the salvation of unsaved friends and family. Their prayers were for sick children. They did not ask God for wealth or happiness, because they know they are blessed.
What I figured out today was that even though we thought we were delivering stoves, we were really delivering hope and love. We got to be the hands and feet of Christ today. We got to be the answers to prayer. We thought we were visiting ramshackle housing, but we were being invited into homes. The homes of our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Now we turn our eyes to the future. Tonight, we will pack to head home. I don’t want to miss this moment. I want to appreciate what God has done for me, and what He continues to do here for these beautiful people. I want to hold onto what I have seen, heard and felt. I want to bring this home to my church and my local community. I want to remember the lessons of joy and humility that these people taught to me. I thought I was coming here to change lives, but it is my life that has been changed.