There are so many things that I want to share and I don't know where to begin. Beware, there will be many blog posts forthcoming! I guess the best place to start is the beginning.
There is a family in Diriamba who have been ministering to the people there for many many years. They are the Baltodano family. The parents are Papa Arturo (who went to be with the Lord three years ago), Mama Newbia and their eleven children, and countless grandchildren. Papa Arturo was a pastor and helped start over 50 churches during his tenure here on earth. Mama Newbia always dreamed of starting a Christian school where the children could get an education and learn God's word all at the same time. Students from the poorest villages in Diriamba are able to go to school there because of sponsorships given by others. I got to visit the school and it blessed me so. More on that later.
The Nicaraguan Christian Outreach mission is where we stayed for the week. It is a two acre compound inside a guarded gated wall. Daniela Baltodano lives in the compound in a house with her husband and three children and her sister Claudia stays with her while Claudia's house is being built. These two are the backbone of NCO. They set up all our work to do while we are there and they minister to the families in these villages with such love and care I was moved every day. And did I mention how fun they are? Kept us in stitches the whole time. This is Daniela and Claudia and Daniela's three children, Stephen, Cloudita, and Kevin.
They served as our translators for the week also. There are two very poor villages that we worked in- La Palmera and Kilombo. When the lunch is prepared at Mama Newbia's school for the students, they prepare enough to go and feed the smaller children in these two villages for 5 days out of the week. When the bus pulls up at those villages all these little kids come running out with their bowls to line up and get a scoop.
Over and over God commands us through His word to help the needy and the poor. I just finished a bible study on James and am now in Nehemiah and helping the poor was a major theme we focused on in each. Not an accident or coincidence as God was preparing me for what He was going to show me.
Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?
On the first day we were there I watched as others fed the children. It broke my heart but warmed it all at the same time. Then, the next day it was my turn. I almost had to throw the ladle down and run off but I kept remembering my sweet man telling me " don't lose it over there! Remember your purpose and keep yourself composed." He knows me too well. And himself too well. If he had gone with us there would have been a bunch of Nicaraguan children smuggled back to the States! :)
As I looked up each time to give them their bowl, the most precious and beautiful faces would look back at me with enormous smiles and say,"Gracias!" It was more than I could bear. And only a few of them had very sad eyes and didn't look like they had ever smiled. They are the ones I wanted to bring home. Such a simple thing yet such gratitude. These people, these children are some of the most loving and thankful people I have met in my life.
Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward them for what they have done.
I thought about the scripture above over and over when I got home. Before my trip I probably would have thought that my reward was something different. I know now my reward was seeing the love of God in those darling faces that looked at me and said, "Gracias!" My reward was in the millions of hugs I received every day. My reward was being shown more love and receiving thanks from people who have nothing. At least by the world's standards they have nothing. In my eyes and forever in my heart I will remember what they had - a lesson to teach me on the beauty of God's blessings. Those children did much more for me than I ever did for them.
How great is our God!!!