Each night of our mission, our team would come together to pray and process the day. One of the standard questions became, “Where did you see Jesus today?” It not only got me thinking about where in fact, did I see Jesus – it made me actually start looking for Jesus throughout the day. It’s amazing what can happen when you slow down and pay attention long enough to actually “look” for Jesus. What’s even more amazing is where I found Him.
One of the first villages we visited, and the one I visited the most was Bethel. Bethel is a small village closest to the mission house. On the first day when I took a walking tour of the village, I was in shock. Seeing photos of what dwelling conditions can look like in a third world country and actually being there are two totally different things. Honestly, it was some of the worst conditions I have ever seen, and yet the people were some of the most gracious. They welcomed a group of foreign strangers, who showed up unannounced, with hugs and open arms. The pulled out their best (and often only) chairs and encouraged us to sit. Cony, a woman whose kitchen we worked on all week, actually unplugged her small refrigerator so she could plug in a fan to keep us cool. That’s where I found Jesus.
On Monday afternoon, I visited Ensayo, another small village for women’s Bible study. The Bible study took place in a small clearing, underneath some fruit trees, off of the main dirt road. The women walked in the heat to get there and were taught by two young women from the village, who had been working closely with another missionary. While the women were having Bible study, we entertained the children, and they entertained us. They sang us songs and we did our best to pick up the words and clap to the beat. We blew them bubbles and they shrieked in delight as they chased after them. That’s where I found Jesus.
On Tuesday afternoon, we bagged up 90 7lb bags of rice and 90 7lb bags of beans to distribute to families in Nuevo Amanecer (New Dawn). When we drove up, we were surprised at the number of people who came out to greet us. It ended up being a great day. Pastor Antonio said a few words, followed by our team leader, Ron. We wanted to stress that the blessings did not come from us, but from Jesus. We were working for Him! After the distribution of food, one of my group members read the story of Jesus walking on the water in Spanish. Imagine 60+ kids sitting in the dirt, listening to Bible stories. We smiled as we saw some of the parents move in closer so they could hear as well. We followed the story with a piñata and activities for the kids. My activity was making little beaded bracelets. The kids crowded around us so much I thought someone was in danger of being trampled. I thought a lot about American kids that day, as I watched the Nicaragua kids scramble to take part in making paper airplanes, tissue paper flowers and the bracelets. Something so simple brought so much joy – to us and to them. That’s where I found Jesus.
This trip made me realize that Jesus isn’t found in fancy churches with stained glass windows. Jesus doesn’t care about you wearing your Sunday best. I am here to testify that I found Jesus on a dirt path, in a small village underneath a fruit tree. I’m sure if you look hard enough, you can find Jesus too in places you never thought you would.