by John Parrish
This past Sunday, last year's Nicaraguan Mission Team presented a powerful presentation of how Hyde Park United Methodist is helping reveal God's love in one of the poorest places in our hemisphere. The goal of the presentation was to demystify the experience and reveal the amazing transformational impact mission work has in the lives of those who participate.
This past year's group grew to 28 strong. There was talk of the mission's daily experiences. Morning and evening devotional readings. Quiet evenings to play games. Available WiFi, not only for team members to send email updates to loved ones, but also for Trish Krider to send daily blog postings like these to keep the congregation informed. There was even talk of sightseeing – from the town of Leon in the shadow of seven volcanoes to the shimmering waters of the Pacific Ocean.
Mission participants stay and work on the campus of El Ayudante, and can participate in your choice of construction, medical, and educational teams ... and more. As was shared in the presentation, the poverty experienced pulls at your heart, and yet the joy of the Nicaraguan people shines through in smiling children's faces and appreciative adults.
One poignant moment of the presentation for me was when Martha Chamberlain shared a story. Here it is, in her own words:
A visit to the barrio that is home to the poorest of Nicaragua’s poor is often the most powerful experience of our mission trip. Residents live in makeshift shelters like you’ve seen on TV reports from Haiti--but here it is permanent. Homes are built with scraps of wood, sheet metal, whatever they can find—or simply plastic sheeting stretched over sticks. We carry discreetly in our backpacks care packages containing beans, rice, sugar, coffee, cooking oil—enough for a few meals. When we visit with a family, we pray with them and offer the bag of food in Christ’s name.
This November, at one house—so to speak—we are invited inside by an older woman. Her chair is an upside down milk crate on the mud floor, her one-year-old granddaughter hugs her knee. Distraught, sobbing, she tells us, through our translator, that she has cancer. She has had surgery but needs more treatment, and has no way to pay for it. It seems hopeless. What will become of her granddaughter, she asks.
She has a letter from the El Ayudante clinic about her condition, and written instructions she is helpless to follow. Our translator reads but can’t understand the medical terms. But wait! In our group is Dr. Kathy Cunningham. Quickly, Dr. Kathy steps forward to review the papers with the translator. The rest of us watch silently and pray. I hand a tissue to the grandmother to wipe her tears.
And then it happens! The papers do say she had a tumor removed, Kathy explains, but the letter says the tumor was benign, NOT cancer. The instructions are prescriptions for follow-up lab work, she says. That will cost just $5 at the clinic, our translator adds. Instantly a $5 bill comes out of one pocket, and is handed forward. Then one more $5 bill is added to it. Now the tears change to relief and joy. She’s not dying of cancer today.
And together in the barrio, all of us thank God.
Feeling the call? Please read the following from a recent email sent by Vicki Walker:
We are looking for people who want to be servants and join us on our 2010 Nicaraguan trip, Nov. 6 - 13. We will be having our first informational meeting on Monday, April 19 from 6:00 - 7:30 in Knox Hall 150. Dinner is served for $6.00. Attendance at the first few meetings doesn't commit you to going, only to learning more about it. If you are at all interested, we'd love to have you. Feel free to invite others who you think might be interested as well. We have ongoing team meetings on the 3rd Monday of the month in preparation for the trip, so if you know you are interested you can mark your calendars now. We'll take July off, so will meet April - June and August - Oct