August 9, 2019
My father isn’t a Christian, but he is a man of faith. And as a man of faith, he raised my sister and I to have service in our hearts. He has led by example- volunteering at local nursing homes, teaching computer science classes for free to anyone who was interested in learning, donating food and clothes to charities, the list goes on. This wasn’t just a crafty parenting technique. He genuinely fills his life with that which gives him joy: family, faith, service, and traveling. Everything else takes a backseat.
Twelve years ago, his employer presented him with the opportunity to combine three of his joys. He and a few colleagues went on a company trip to Nicaragua where they worked alongside Amigos to build a school and cafeteria for the local children. Eight days later, he returned invigorated. What followed was inevitable: a three hour long recap of his experience (with accompanying photos) to his 15- and 21-year-old daughters. My sister and I were astonished to see our non-Christian father so impassioned about an organization called Amigos for Christ.
Dad, ever the optimist, campaigned with his company to allow his daughters to join him in Nicaragua in the future, but was denied. So he reached out to John Bland for guidance, and John introduced him to an Austin church that visited annually. My dad returned to Nicaragua with the Austin group. Eventually my sister tagged along to his annual trip, as did her (now) husband and some extended family. I was the last to join; my first trip with Amigos was after I graduated from college. The experience with Amigos was enthralling, so I signed up to return with my dad the following year… and the year after that… and the year after that.
Our visits to Nicaragua have strengthened us individually and as a family. Together we’ve helped in providing fresh water to multiple communities, establishing schools, building latrines, designing and constructing a computer lab, and many more projects through Amigos. We’ve gained so much in return. We get to work alongside the locals and see the results of our joined efforts. We are reminded that the world is much bigger than we think and that there’s still more work to be done. And we are able to exemplify how love breaks barriers, and how faith connects us to each other.