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This post is part of a series of posts about a Madison Youth Listen and Learn Cross Cultural Engagement trip. You can read more about the purpose of the trip here in the blog post titled A Different Kind of Short-Term Missions Trip. You can also read about our first day in Nicaragua here and our second day here

Monday, June 20, 2016

Today’s update about our third day in Nicaragua is written by Abigail Niewenhuis:

Mondays are a bore.

Luckily this was not the case at all today!

For starters, we drove to the Nehemiah Center for devotions. It was an encouraging way to start our day, and very timely considering some of the heavy subjects we were about to learn.

After devotions, we drove (in our new van with A/C!) to Tesoros de Dios, which translates to God’s Treasures. Tesoros is a school where children with disabilities are able to come and be equipped with basic tools to improve their lives. The children come for half a day twice a week and are engaged by the staff members in a variety of ways. Something that is quite incredible about Tesoros is that one of the child’s family members must come with to school with them. These family members make the huge sacrifices of not having a full time job and income so that their love one can receive an education. How admirable!

A very frustrating thing is that the majority of people here in Nicaragua are afraid of disabled children. They think that if a person has disabilities, it is because of some terrible sin their parents had committed. This is obviously not the case, as is clearly stated by Jesus in John 9. “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.

While we were being shown around, a little girl—Mariangel—ran up to us and greeted us with great joy.  Mariangel’s grandmother is the one who brings her to Tesoros de Dios every week because Mariangel’s mother is also disabled. Mariangel has autism and is not able to express herself with words very well, but she has progressed so much since first coming to Tesoros. Her grandmother was able to briefly tell us part of Mariangel’s story and she started to cry while sharing that Mariangel had been to a birthday party the night before, and it was only the 5th one she had been to. Mariangel may not be able to express herself as well others, but she certainly was able to help spread the joy of the Lord with us all.

Next, we visited a place called House of Hope. House of Hope helps women who are leaving prostitution and leads them through an intense four year program. There are about 64 women who stay at the site. One thing the program does is help the women become entrepreneurs. This creates steady income for the women and give them a sense of pride and dignity.

While we were there, we were told some pretty gut-wrenching stories of some ladies who were formerly in prostitution. I will spare you all the horrendous details. However, God is redeeming and faithful. House of Hope has had such a positive influence in the community here, and it was very cool to see how they’ve been doing God’s work.

To end our day, we had a stimulating 3 hour (!) conversation with a staff member from a coffee company called 41 & Change. Something interesting about 41 & Change is that they pay their Nicaraguan farmers who grow their coffee 25% more than minimum wage. Also, they partner with Young Life so that some of the cost of the coffee goes partially to a kid going to camp in Nicaragua, and a kid going to camp in the United States. We’re bringing some coffee home with us, and you can buy some of their lovely Nicaraguan grown roasted coffee beans online as well!

Overall, Monday was an overwhelming (seriously, it’s taken me two nights to reflect upon it and to write this post), yet wonderful day, and all of us here can say that we are enjoying our time here in Nicaragua so much, and we all feel so blessed to have this opportunity and can’t wait to continue this journey!

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