Archive for July, 2015

Recuerdo

By: Kali Venable

In July of 2013, on my second week-long trip with Amigos, I worked in the community of La Chuscada digging ditches for their water system.

We were one of the first mission groups to work on the system so we spent the week in a part of Chuscada that was directly off the main road. I remember the spot vividly, I remember the people – mainly the children – and I have photos that serve as reminders when I start to forget.

During these past two weeks I got to go back to Chuscada – where the water system has been on for over a year now and each home has a Modern Bathroom – to help build a wall that will surround a large, model public school for northern Nicaragua.

The work site was in a part of Chuscada I remember walking through two years ago and photographing a few desks covered by a tin roof that served as the community school. Today, there is a six-room school in place of it and 10 years from now there will be an even bigger one.

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The extensive progress that’s been made La Chuscada since I last visited made it hard for me to believe that it was the same place.

Last Tuesday I brought two photos of a few boys I’d spent time with on my previous visit with me to the community. I didn’t think I would be able to find them because I had yet to see them, but I thought I might be able to ask some of the community members near our work site if they knew any of them and could take me to them or at least give the boys the photos to keep.

In the morning I showed my photographs to a family I whose house I was visiting and felt discouraged when none of them recognized the kids. Having pretty much given up on reuniting with the boys, I volunteered to go get bags of concrete mix from the Amigos Complex that afternoon.

When we pulled back up to the school in the truck, I was in awe. Two of the boys in my photographs were standing right in front of me talking to some of the Amigos staff members.

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I hoped off the truck, ran to my backpack to retrieve the photos, and returned to the front of the school where the boys stood. I told them that I played with them two years ago when I was here helping install the piping for their water system and handed them the photos I had. They both smiled and said “recuerdo” – I remember.

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Most of the time the work God is doing in my life is hard for me to understand and requires more trust in Him than anything else. But when I pulled back up to the school and saw them standing there that day in La Chuscada it was so apparent He’d placed the boys in front of me, or I in front of them, so that we would meet again.

Our reunion was a reminder that the relationships I build here are not momentary, that when I tell someone “I’ll see you again,” it isn’t just out of comfort, it is out of trust in God and His ability to bring people back to each other despite the odds.

Hallelujah for the Valle Los Morenos Inauguration!

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Affirming, Not Giving

By: Kali Venable

Alberto Parrales, a 76-year-old man from San Pablo/La Grecia, was the first community member I met this summer. During the weeks we’ve spent in San Pablo/La Grecia he has become a close friend, daily digging partner, and big part of God’s plans for me here.

Alberto has lived in the community for 51 years; before Hurricane Mitch in ’98, before the Sandinista Revolution of the 70s, he planted his family’s roots there and never left.

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As a farmer, he gets up every morning at 4 a.m. to attend to his chickens, cows, horse, and seven manzanas (12 acres) of rice and corn before beginning work on the water line at 7 a.m. with a number of other community members.

Alberto took me too his house one day to give me a tour of the farm he’d told me so much about. With pride, he walked me through the yard behind his home where plantain, mango, avocado, and a plethora of other trees were heavy with fruit; each tree was introduced by name,each fruit was plucked for me to sample.

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>We crept under a wire fence when we reached the back of his yard where rows of rice began andcontinued into the distance. He posed for photos with each crop; never had I seen a man hold himself with so much dignity in his work, his life.

A week prior I’d spent a whole day asking him questions about farming, his family, his values, and what it was like to see the piping for water completed in front of his home. In the middle of giving me detailed answers he told me that he appreciated my interest greatly, but didn’t understand why I was so curious about the way he lived. He expressed the same confusion at his house after he’d given me a grand tour.

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It hadn’t occurred to me until then how forgotten people in this community must feel at times. I can’t make the assumption that all Nicaraguans feel like their nation, and maybe even God, has left them in the dust of a few families’ prosperity because the people I’ve met and spent time with here are such a small portion of the whole. But at the same time, I don’t think it would be too unreasonable to make that assumption in a country where the wealth distribution is so bafflingly uneven.

Having Alberto share his life with me and give me the chance to tell him that he not only matters in my eyes, but in the eyes of the Lord, made it clear what I was called here to do which is not to give people dignity, but to affirm it.

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Alberto has shown me that we shouldn’t seek to be anyone’s saver – Jesus already was that person for all of us. Instead, we should seek to show people the love that He has for us by standing beside them, affirming their value and helping them create better lives for themselves, their children, and the many generations of their families to come.


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