Paola joined the team in 2023. As a social worker, she loves thinking about systems and impact evaluation, and she is passionate about telling stories of transformation, connection, and inspiration.

The Proper time

It’s the summer of 2017, and my time as an intern for Amigos for Christ is hurtling to a close. These final days are bittersweet, full of lasts and sweeping declarations about how much this place means to us.

These are also days of questions, most notably: When will you be back?

“Hopefully soon,” I typically respond, with a watery smile – always on the brink of tears these days, it seems. The conversation usually ends there, punctuated by a hug or a pat on the back.

There is one person who is unsatisfied with this answer:  Ivette, who is my friend and has served as my leader throughout my internship. We have spent the summer together visiting communities, proofreading and translating each other’s work, crafting stories that tell of the amazing transformation taking place in Nicaragua.

“You’re going to be back here,” she tells me confidently one day in the comedor. “You’re going to work here.”

“Yeah?” I ask, nudging her shoulder with my own. “How do you know?” I’m about to enter my senior year of college and I have no idea what’s next. The future to me is this shadowy, mysterious thing, and Ivette’s certainty is like a flash of light.

“God told me,” she says, and she’s smiling but she’s serious. It startles a laugh out of me.

“Well, if God told you,” I say, trailing off. How do you respond to such a bold declaration of faith?

It’s the summer of 2023 and......

 Ivette was right. I’m back in Nicaragua for a week of learning to prepare me for my new role with Amigos for Christ. My focus for this week is to be a sponge: to absorb as much information and wisdom and encouragement as I can from the Nicaraguan team so that I can support their work from our U.S. office. I’m thinking of Ivette’s promise to me six years ago as I join a group of promoters headed to El Pedregal on my first day of work.

The last time I was in El Pedregal was in 2017, when I joined the leadership team at one of their very first assemblies of the community. They had gathered the community to explain the clean water system they hoped to build in El Pedregal. The families I met that day were hopeful but uncertain about the project. In a story I wrote about that first visit, I quoted Baca’s encouragement: “This is your project, just as this is your community. We at Amigos for Christ are here to walk beside you as you work for a better future for your families.”

El Pedregal, 2017
Imagine my joy, then, when I get to bear witness to that better future six years later. El Pedregal is several years into Plan 7, Amigos for Christ’s community development model for rural Chinandega. A key component of Plan 7 is the promoters, a team of community advocates who visit with families and work with them on their dreams. Plan 7 tracks families’ progress in the areas of leadership, water & sanitation, health, education, and economic development. The promoter team I join on my first day visit El Pedregal twice a week to continue the work of walking alongside the community towards that better future.
Every family has 24/7 access to clean water.
Families receive financial education to grow their businesses and manage their finances.
Leaders are equipped with the tools to create a better future for their community.
I join the promoters on their house visits and meet a small portion of the families who make up El Pedregal. I learn that over 100 families in El Pedregal now have access to potable water and modern bathrooms, and many have clear air kitchens or are in the process of building them. The leadership committees here are active and engaged; workshops are well-attended. At every home, we are welcomed warmly, with immense generosity and trust. This transformation is the fruit of many years of committed partnership between Amigos for Christ and El Pedregal.

Reaping the harvest

Paul writes in Galatians, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” How do you respond to such a bold declaration of faith? How do we trust in the proper time when the future seems scary and unknowable?

The answer is in El Pedregal, where an entire community came together to imagine and to build a better life for themselves.
The answer is in Ivette, my friend and now my coworker, who said all those years ago, “God told me.”

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