Poverty, it looks the same to me, whether it's West Africa or Central America. It looks like houses cobbled together with anything a person can find, be it scraps of tin or wood, mud bricks or branches. It looks like bare feet covered in dirt, or maybe a pair of too small or too large cast off flip flops or shoes for the lucky ones. It looks like a scruffy plastic bowl with a scoop of rice for a meal, eagerly devoured by a hungry little one. It looks like children having to learn about the harsh cruelties of this world far too soon, far too young. It looks like parents taking any sort of work, doing anything they can, to survive and to provide for their children.
Love, it looks the same to me, all over the world. It looks like little children coming out of their dirt floor shelters, faces washed, hair neatly combed, and hand me down school clothes surprisingly clean and tidy. (It's a wonder how their mamas pull this off, since the clothes are hand washed and hung outside where the wind blows dust and dirt onto the damp clothes they just spent hours washing.) Love, it looks like gathering around your child's little school, and helping strangers from the U.S. paint it and fix it up, because it's your community, it's your child's school, and you care. It's taking a few bites of the lunch these strangers provided for you, and wrapping the rest up in napkins to take home and share with who knows how many other family members. It looks like the body of Christ all over the world serving and loving with their hands and their help and the hope of the simple gospel message that God sent His Son to save us all.
After my trip to Nicaragua last week, I wish I could have come home and put real life on pause. I wish I could have taken some time and marinated in and contemplated what God did in me and what God did through me and the team that I went to Nicaragua with. The reality is that my real life didn't stop to allow me to take my own sweet time to process the emotional or spiritual impact of this trip. What I do know is that Forward Edge and it's ministry at Villa Esperanza is the real deal, and is changing the lives of at risk girls. I came home and sponsored one of them. It feels too small of a thing to do, but it's something. You can help, too. Another thing I know is that it was both refreshing and exhausting to go on a mission's trip where my main task wasn't teaching or preaching, but was physical labor. I felt like one of the team doing what the rest of the team was doing, instead of feeling both the separation and the responsibility that the title 'pastor' carries with it. It felt amazing to be able to see a physical representation of our impact, in the completed task of painting and making repairs to the school in the little village of Berlin.
What I do know, is that I want to go again.