I truly hope all of you are having a wonderful and joyful Christmas Season.
I would like to take this opportunity to give you all a better idea of my role in Nicaragua by sharing a bit about what I have been doing, and what I will be doing in the coming year.
I am a Commissioned Missionary of the United Methodist Church, serving through the General Board of Global Ministry in a young adult program called the Mission Intern program.
Through this program I have been placed with a Non Governmental Organization in Nicaragua called Accion Medica Christana (Medical Christian Action) or AMC. AMC is involved in a wide range of work in the different areas of community health. My job title in this organization is “ Volunteer Team Facilitator”. I have two basic responsibilities; In Country Logistical Coordination for the Volunteer Teams and Intercultural Communication Support between the North American and Central American cultures during the visits by the volunteer teams to Nicaragua.
To date I have been in Nicaragua for a little more that 90 days. As a matter of fact I just went to the immigration office to extend my visa for another 90 days. I’ll do this though out my time here.
Well, let me catch you up one everything.
My first four weeks were spent in Nicaragua’s capital city, Managua, with the objectives of getting to know Accion Medica Christiana, taking language classes, and going though the general process of immersion into the Nicaraguan culture.
I then left Managua for a small town called La Dalia in the mountains of the department of Matagalpa. There I was introduced to simple living conditions and a community of absolutely wonderful people.
I went there in order to work with the field team in Matagalpa in order to gain a better understanding of the work AMC is doing there. At the same time that I was working with the field team it was also important that I establish relationships with not only the team members of AMC but with the members of the community they work with as well. Gaining this understanding of AMC’s work and building these relationships with the community are both important in order to effectively support intercultural communication while carrying out my role at AMC as the volunteer team facilitator.
My time in La Dalia, Matagalpa will stay with me well beyond my role at AMC. I feel extremely blessed to have had the opportunity to get to know this group of people. The amount of love and knowledge that was shared with me was overwhelming. It was difficult to leave.
A few days after I returned to Managua from Matagalpa I went on my first medical mission trip. We held medical clinics in five different communities in the department of Boaco. This was an opportunity to see how an experienced medical mission team holds and organizes clinics. During the week of clinics, I gained a learned more about the process of medical mission teams by participating several different areas of work. I was involved in the team by recording patients’ problems, doing medical translation, and I worked in the pharmacy.
This week with the medical mission team demonstrated how easily common complications such as diarrhea can turn life-threatening when simple but necessary attention is not available. It was an eye opening experience.
Also, when a man came to the clinic and informed the doctors he could not hear, I witnessed a nurse clean a lump of dark brown wax out of his ear that was literally the size of a quarter. The man could then hear, and If I may paraphrase the nurse doing the cleaning, ‘it was Biblical’.
Since the medical mission trip I have been back in Managua for about four weeks. I have continued training under my friend Beth Jerdan, who I will be replacing when her missionary term with the Mennonite Central Comity comes to an end at the end of December. Recently, I have been learning about the logistical organization responsibilities of the job. During this time we have been preparing for the teams that AMC will host. We will host nine teams from the end of January through June and we are still hearing from more teams that would like to come!
And that brings us to now. Purisima, the celebration of the Virgin Mary, just took place this past week. From a Northern American’s perspective, the way this holiday is celebrated could be described as a combination of the fireworks of the 4th of July with a fusion of the gifts of Christmas given and received by a religious twist on Trick or Treating.
As for daily life,
I continue to be challenged. I continue to overcome challenges. I continue to struggle with challenges. I continue to learn. I continue to listen. I continue to question. I continue to wonder. I continue to find answers. I continue to wonder deeper into questions. I continue to not find answers. I continue to be an outsider. I continue to be befriended. I continue to be loved. I continue to love.
And at the end of everyday I rest. My human being wrapped in grace.
Thank you for your continued prayers. Your support is a wonderful gift.