Thursday, November 15, 2012

Gaining a Third-World Perspective

So many people have asked questions about our recent trip to Nicaragua. We are still reeling from the impact that it made on us and trying to recoup from our travels. What a week we had! I have to say, we will never be the same. We met so many new friends, saw some BEAUTIFUL countryside, learned we know NOTHING of the Spanish language, and did a whole lot of "giving back".  The "third-world perspective" that we gained in just a matter of 7 days is something that we've brought home with us and are still mulling over. THANKFUL and BLESSED are a gross understatement of what we feel about our life after seeing so much poverty and need. But also PRIVILEGED to be able to go and help out a country that we have quickly come to love. Because I can't possibly put into adequate words what I feel, I will do my best to describe what we experienced in pictures. Here are the highlights:

This is the town of San Juan del Sur, where we stayed. It's a quaint fishing village and small tourist stop 20 minutes from the border of Costa Rica. The entire town itself is only 5 blocks by 10 blocks. EVERYONE knows everyone else. That's what we found most endearing about it. After only a few days, we were already running into people that we've previously met before. Everyone was so friendly and there was even a small expat community (made up mostly of Americans) that have settled and made SJDS "home".

 Much of the country is ridden with extreme poverty. Despite the beauty that surrounds the bay, there are families and individuals living in desperate situations. We went to visit a family that a friend of ours is helping build a new home for. Most of the homes look like the one here; wood pallets and sheet metal pressed together to try to keep the heat and rain out. No electricity or running water is found in some of the poorest "barrios".

The people all week are what truly made me fall in love with the country. So many in need and in despair on a daily basis, yet all of them HAPPY and CONTENT with their life. They know how to hold on to each other, develop friendships that last lifetimes, and have a magnificent time playing soccer on the beach every night at sunset. It became a nightly ritual of ours to sit outside at dusk in the sand and enjoy the beauty of the people and the landscape.

During the days that we weren't doing "mission work", we explored this new culture. We found out in a quick minute that all the Spanish that we'd studied in highschool didn't quite cut it with the locals. But being immersed in a place where most didn't speak English, we learned to improvise. I can say our "charades" abilities came in handy, and we actually picked up the language a little quicker than expected. FOODS were the first thing that we tried to memorize. Priorities, you know! There were numerous "mercados" and street vendors selling fresh produce that were delicious and homegrown.

On our 3rd day there, we were hanging out with some locals when all of the sudden, one of our friends recieved a call that there had been an earthquake off the coast of Guatemala (a country to the north) and that the entire city was on a "Tsunami Alert". The sirens blared and everyone was told to evacuate to higher ground for precautionary measures. We retreated to a resort overlooking the bay, as you can see here to the left. After about 3 hours of freaking out, we began to wonder if this was some conspiracy that happened every Tuesday to get the tourists to spend more money at the bars. Luckily, no tsunami and we were eventually allowed to return to the bay area.

We were lucky enough to get to do an amazing hike to the statue of Jesus. It is one of only three in the world that sits at the top of the mountain overlooking SJDS bay. After about a 40 min. hike STRAIGHT UP, we finally made it and the views were breathtaking. Mountains, volcanos, blue ocean waves and rainforests as far as the eye could see. We couldn't take enough pictures, but I won't bore you with them all. Here is a photo of my honey, admiring the view.

On our way back down the mountain and onto the beach, we had one of the most amazing views of the sunset.  I cannot convey to you the magnificence of the sunsets in Nicaragua. We'd heard the rumors, but got to experience them first hand. Apparently, everyone who lives there, doesn't take them for granted. People flock to the beaches night after night to watch them as if it were their favorite television program. Soooo much better than any show I can think of!

Here is a photo of me and the hubby on our first night at dusk. We had just gotten to know some of the families who call San Juan del Sur home and they were gushing about the beauty of Nicaragua. We had so much fun getting to know them and their "missions" that they feel called to in SJDS. So many people are here doing such good for the community. There is such a spirit of humanity amongst the expat community. One that I've yet to witness anywhere else in the world. They truly understand and live out the petition to "Love your neighbor as yourself". We are eternally grateful for their generosity this week.

Another amazing thing that we were able to do was get aquainted with a local woman who has recieved a calling from God to feed the community. In a small town called Rivas, a young woman named Anita came across the town's "garbage dump" and discovered hundreds of kids and their families that spent every single day rummaging around in the trash for anything to sell or to eat. Her heart ached for their poverty, so she decided to start feeding as many as she could. What started out as a small act of kindness has led to a ministry of feeding almost 100 children, 7 days a week! Some days, all by herself! This is more than likely, the only meal that these children will eat all day. We were able to come help serve dinner one night alongside her and just to witness her heart for these kids, her hope to educate them and help them break the cycle of poverty was inspiring. You can find out more about this awesome ministry and get involved HERE at Bethel Mission Rivas.

Something else extraordinary happened this week.  I met a celebrity! (Okay, maybe I'm just saying that because I know it will embarrass her!) But this little lady to my right is the main reason why we decided to visit Nicaragua in the first place. The hubs and I settled in to watch a t.v. show called House Hunter's International and saw an episode about a husband and wife and their four children who decided to leave their comfortable lives in behind in the States to pursue a life of simplification and "giving back". We watched as they found a brand new life in a third-world country and realized that we were also feeling the call to "give back" and simplify. We'd never even heard of San Juan del Sur, but watching the show, we felt the call to go and check it out for ourselves. As fate would have it, I was randomly connected to Miss Julie and we hit it off immediately as she is ALSO a mom blogger!  What a pleasure it was to get to know her this week and serve with her. Her amazing blog is one that I ADORE and I know you will too! Check Out Her Website HERE and get connected with her and Her Community of Moms HERE.  I'm so honored to call her "mi amiga".

And there you have it! We had the most life-impacting week in Nicaragua and we are forever changed by what we saw. We are overcome with thankfulness, overwhelmed by love for a people that only months ago, we never knew existed, and completely inspired by what God was able to teach us this week about love and generosity. Words don't do it justice. Photos can only capture a moment in time. But the emotions. . . .the stirring that we felt by what we experienced this week are engrained on our hearts. Thank you, Nicaragua, for attempting to teach us more about ourselves. . .and about life and love. We shall never be the same.


  1. Beautiful post and what an amazing experience. This is something that I have always wanted to do!
    I'm so glad you got to experience this, and what a great time of year to come back with such gratitude and perspective just in time for Thanksgiving!


    1. You are so right, Jessie! It was the perfect time to go to get me in the spirit of thankfulness. I feel blessed to have what I do and so fortunate that I got a chance to share some of it with others. It was an amazing experience. Thanks for the comments!

  2. I am glad you had the opportunity to go and that the trip was nice. Also glad you did not get to see a Tsunami first hand.

    1. I am also glad that we did not get to experience a Tsunami. The alert was enough for me. :)

  3. Sounds like you had an awesoome time! The picture of the food shop is awesome! I love all the colors.

    1. Thanks fugeecat!The food was one of my absolute favorite parts of the trip!