Comunidad y semillas de mostaza
Location: Ometepe, Nicaragua
Cost of Trip: $1800
I returned to Nicaragua for my third and last time with Gordon College this past March during spring break. CICRIN, the island of Ometepe, and the Nicaraguans who I have met there have held a special plaec in my heart throughout my whole college career, and I can honestly say that I am graduating a better person because of my experiences there. After spending this past summer leading domestic short-term mission trips and this past semester studying in Lima, Perú, I was excited and felt more prepared to lead the Nicaragua trip for a second time. Of course, each trip comes with its own challenges and new team dynamics, but an improved confidence in my Spanish abilities and a solid friendship with my co-leader, Megan Hammes, helped me to start the trip off on a positive foot.
Gordon has partnered with CICRIN for about the past ten years and each year they have been such a blessing to work with. The organization houses and feeds about 30 children who come from at-risk homes and additionally runs the only private, free, Christian school on the island that is currently expanding to include a high school. Recently CICRIN also bought a plot of land where they have started to plant and harvest plantains. During our week at CICRIN, we had the opportunity to dig numerous holes for plantain trees at the farm and to dig out some other larger trees next to the school, where they will be putting a parking lot in the near future.
During the trip this year, although our team did not spend as much time with the children at CICRIN, we did get to know the adults much better than in past years. Talking to Carlos, the head farmer, I learned about the civil war in Nicaragua and how that impacted his childhood. Hilario, who works on the farm and also helps out with odd jobs around CICRIN, told me stories of his radical faith and how that has influenced his interactions with the people in his town. His wife, Virginia, is the head cook at CICRIN, and his two oldest children also help out with the kids and with cleaning. We also had the chance to work with some Costa Rican missionaries who were there at the same time as us, doing a dance ministry with the children. It was encouraging to see the exchange of the global church between these two countries, especially because Costa Ricans and Nicaraguans historically have not had the best of relationships.
Every year, Hellen, the director of CICRIN, tells us her testimony of how she came to CICRIN. Originally from Costa Rica, she became a Christian while studying in California for a year in high school. As a young adult, she was asked to come to Nicaragua just for a couple of weeks to help translate for some US missionaries who had come down to re-start an orphanage on Ometepe, which eventually became CICRIN. These missionaries had to leave all of a sudden, and, promising Hellen that they would come back, they returned to the US. But, they never did return, and Hellen has been working at CICRIN for the past twenty years.
Each time she tells us this story, Hellen emphasizes the roles that trust and faith have played in her lifetime. This year she passed out mustard seeds to everyone, quoting, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing is impossible for you.” As a senior, I have been encouraged to put my complete trust in God and to know that no matter where I end up, it will be according to the Lord’s purpose. I look forward to seeing what else I learn from this trip in the future, as I take forever to debrief my own experiences, and I hope to return to Nicaragua in the near future, even if I can’t do so with Gordon.