Every morning in Chinandega, you quite literally feel the hustle and bustle of life around you. From the first glimpses of the sun rising in the wee hours of the morning, the roosters kick-start our days into full-speed motion. As you make your way to work and walk through the doors at Amigos, there are upwards of 160 staff members and 25 volunteers shuffling in and out of the office. By around 8:30 am every morning every bus, ambulance, and truck has peeled out and hit the road to go out and serve.
I find myself in the middle of that hustle and bustle on the daily, and I love it. There are mornings where I don’t even find my desk until it’s nearly lunchtime. I love seeing all the different things that happen at Amigos and finding where I can jump in to support.
As I watch this hustle unfold every day, I sit in awe of what God is doing in and through Amigos. Since I first learned about Amigos in 2016, it has truly been a privilege to watch it grow into what it is today. I’m still shocked by the fact that there are 7+ programs up and running, impacting thousands of Nicaraguans and Americans.
However, I often find myself getting caught up in the clouds, seeing the world of Amigos from a birds-eye view. In conversation, I’m without a doubt excited to tell you a little bit about what each program does, how many families have received clean water this year, and the number of students enrolled in classes at The Amigos Academy, etc. The nature of what I do allows me to see what I would call the “macro” perspective of what’s happening at Amigos. Most of the time it is very number, progress, or big-picture focused.
But that all changed back in April of this year.
I went out with our team in the community of San Marcos to visit families. I sat and watched as our community advocates so gently and purposefully cared for these families and sparked meaningful conversation. There was intention behind each word of encouragement, and tact behind each conversation of challenging families to grow. Our team not only knew their names but so much more. They knew their struggles, occasionally the funny inside jokes within the family, and most importantly, they knew these families’ hopes and dreams.
I sat there, listening with my notebook in hand, hardly even able to write. I was so enthralled with the moment happening right in front of me. All that mattered at that moment was the family right in front of them. At that moment, I felt like if Jesus were here with us in the flesh, that’s exactly what He would be doing. He would pull up a chair and listen as if that person or family were the only one(s) in the room.
One specific visit that day with a student named Elder really impacted me. I sat listening to his story, watching him interact with Hector, one of our community advocates. Elder began to share about how he had stopped going to school. He lost motivation and vision for what education could do in his life.
But one day, after stumbling upon a youth leadership activity in his community, Elder’s perspective changed. As he sat and listened to Hector and our team speak, he started to realize that there was a greater vision for his life. It was simply attending this activity that changed Elder’s view on what his future could become. Hector taking the time to listen and encourage Elder gave him the opportunity to look at his life differently.
It was at that exact moment that God really spoke to me. Looking at Elder and the work Hector was doing with him, I felt like God opened my eyes to the importance of “the one.” In the gospels, we see Jesus model this. He leaves the 99 for the 1, without hesitation. When I looked at Elder that day, I realized that all the work that we do matters for the one–for him. If at the end of the day we walk away and know that Elder’s life is different, that Elder felt loved and encouraged by our team, that’s enough. That’s worth it.
Yeah, it’s great that the “macro big picture” progress happens. It’s truly a gift that thousands of people are served each year, water systems are built, leadership trainings are held, and that crops are harvested. It’s important, it really is – I don’t say that lightly. But when God spoke to me that day back in March, I realized that what really matters is that Elder’s life gets to be different through the work God is doing through Amigos. Our work matters and is enough simply because of “the one” mentality.
My Perspective Now
Now, as I walk through the doors of Amigos every day, I try to look at each day from the perspective of “the one.” Today’s work is meaningful because Elder is encouraged and inspired to continue his education. And the beauty is that it doesn’t end there. Elder isn’t the “only” one.
Today’s work also matters because Lorenzo, a community leader, and grandfather will soon have clean, running water in his home. Today’s work is worthwhile because Doña Esperanza proudly gets to provide for her family through her small business. Today’s work is special because Esteban’s potential was believed in, and he gets the opportunity to study at one of the best private high schools. Today’s work is purposeful because Madeline’s life is forever different after having served a summer in Nicaragua.
There are real people and stories of transformation behind every number or progress measure we publish.
As Amigos continues to grow, and the hustling and bustling revs up even more, my hope and prayer is that in our work we always view it through this lens of “the one.” I hope when people look back on what Amigos has done, they feel like we modeled the love of Jesus to them. That as we pulled up our plastic chairs, we sat and listened, loved, and encouraged them. That we made people feel like the most important person in the room.