When I was first introduced to this particular mission trip plan, it was at a casual dinner at Pastor Bruce and Cindy’s, probably only 4 months before the designated departure date. Right there at the dinner table I committed without even having any knowledge of what the trip entailed. The next day the Lord confirmed my calling by the means of finances, and a very sweet message from my uncle, pretty much requesting to sponsor me for the trip.
Of course I was extremely humbled by his generous offer, it nearly brought tears to my eyes. I didn’t know how to respond at first…especially since I have a hard time receiving gifts on a regular basis. I did accept, however, and viewed this as clarification to this commitment I had already made to God. On June 15, 2016, I would be heading to Nicaragua.
Leading up to the trip, in all of my type-A-personality intensive packing attempts, I had another humbling moment, paired with an unveiling of my obsessive tendencies in this world. Out of unnecessary anticipation of my concealed journey approaching, I ended up dropping a lot of money on extra purchases which I felt imperative to try and squeeze into my luggage. I became very stressed about the whole situation, and all because of my anxiety and fears of the slight likelihood that the outright worst possible scenario could occur along the way–fears which shouldn’t have even been there in the first place. I did trust God, and knew that He had called me to proceed on with this trip. But I simply could not help my strategic-planner instincts from domineering my thoughts. Deep down, I knew that this opportunity would be great for me because it would force me to be flexible, but at the same time this idea was also intimidating. I had absolutely no idea what I was about to walk into. I was indeed a mission trip “newbie,” and only having flown on a plane once in my entire life, I was also completely naïve to the whole traveling experience. I realized that mostly I desired an assurance of safety and security, and thus had somehow convinced myself that I needed all sorts of random gizmos and gadgets and extra pairs of gloves and socks because—you just never know. As with basically every other task I regularly attempt on a daily basis, I simply had to have a backup. Call it OCD or over-analyzing all you want, yet I will also confess it’s true. But God hit me hard that day after my expensive Walmart shopping spree, by reminding me that HE is my sole provider. I just needed to let go and embrace this period for detachment. The money I spent rightly served as my own punishment for thinking I could once again manage this situation with my own hands. Yes, I did end up hauling along the majority of all the extra clutter that I purchased, but I trusted that God would equip our team with whatever we needed in order to do his work–I strongly believed that. In that instant I recognized once again my stubborn desire for control, even over rides which are supposed to mimic an utter free fall. I needed to just be content and faithful in the One who made me…my God has never failed me before, and He would pull me through.
Despite my novice state of travel, my flight experience actually turned out to be a wonderful ice- breaker for the approaching Hispanic cultural exposure. By luck of the draw, I ended up sitting next to a sweet fella named Derry whose hometown happened to be in Nicaragua, and who also thankfully spoke simple English. Within the first few minutes of conversation, he expressed to me that he, too, was a believer of the Lord. He was extremely thoughtful during the turbulent flight, trying to distract me from the ascent and rocky landing to assist in relieving my obvious nervousness. We had genuine discussion the entire way, though some phrases were a bit choppy. I could see the passion in his eyes when he spoke about Christ and heaven…a place which he described as a beautiful place where there are no divisions among people: “There is no need to be discouraged,” he said, “what you all are doing is good…We are all connected, and God is a direct hotline…We are all brothers and sisters in Christ…one day the world will see that.”
Derry’s words remained with me as we went our separate ways, through the daunting stations of immigration and customs in the Managua airport. Both processes were actually quite a breeze, (despite the horror stories,) though it was extremely hard emotionally landing in Nicaragua, with no immediate cell service, unable to tell my family we arrived safely. Access to instant communication in our country has become somewhat of a security blanket, which was difficult to release once setting foot on foreign soil.
The next morning after breakfast at the hotel, we hopped on a tour bus for a 2.5 hour ride to Jinotega. Along the road I was mesmerized by the scenery–mountains to the left and right, and poverty in the streets like I had never seen before. I remember looking up at the sky, with no clue as to where exactly we were going, what we would experience, or what else we would see. I wished my family was there with me, but also felt relief that they were safe and sound in a place of certainty. We ended up meeting at one of the clubs where Vida Joven conducts large group gatherings. Essentially, the organization stems from the American Young Life youth ministry program (Vida Joven in Spanish.) It is a form of evangelism and outreach; an attempt to bring in youth off of the streets, inviting them to club and then camp at La Finca, and to introduce them to Jesus. The aim is to continue to plant more clubs extending around Nicaragua in a circular pattern. At this particular central location in Jinotega, which would serve as our “home base” for the week, we were introduced to an array of other Vida Joven leaders, and were each paired with a different family with whom we would spend our homestay visit. Caleigh and I were homestay buddies, and were showered with the kind hospitality of Maricio and Laydee. Maricio spoke some English, but even so, I found myself frustrated because I wanted to be able communicate so much more than my limited Spanish knowledge allowed. We ended up borrowing an English/Spanish dictionary from Kate Hedgepeth, which ended up being a life-saver during our stay with this happy couple. Our homestay family actually lived in the club where we met, so we didn’t have to even leave the building. They had turned an old storage closet into a guest room, with two neatly-made beds and a welcoming sign with our names handwritten under the message “God keeps his promises.”
Soon, everyone from our church group began to break off and follow their homestay families to where they would be spending the night. Kate Hedgepeth and another fun girl named Rylie, served as our interns for the week. They would be staying in a hotel not too far away, but needed their overnight bags transported to this location. Almost immediately after arriving to this new territory, I was presented with the exhilarating opportunity to assist in the delivery of their baggage–on the back of Mauricio’s motorcycle. In that moment, I was reminded of the advice of a friend back home, encouraging me to be “all in” with everything during my time here–essentially to live fully in the moment in whatever I do while in this country. Without any real hesitation, other than the fact that the tiny kiddie helmet they jokingly gave me to try was not a feasible option, I hopped on the motorbike with a duffle bag in my lap, arms clinging to this friendly Nica I had just met not even 5 minutes prior. Jolting through the disoriented streets of Jinotega, the ride was quite symbolic for me. Upon my initial exposure, I was promoted to take off my own outsider American eyes, and put on the goggles of an entirely new perspective. Just moments after setting foot in this new city, I was zipping through the haphazard neighborhood streets through the eyes of a Nica. Cars honking, bikes zig-zagging, people staring, kids running… yet I felt safe behind Mauricio as he drove me by where he worked, the hotel, and other local hot spots. Surprised by my atypical spontaneous daredevil approach to begin my night at the homestay, I slid off the motorcycle with a smile. Again, with only the option to hang on and trust, we had made it safely to our destination.
After spending some time playing futball and volleyball with Maghetti and Marcos, two beautiful children of another camp leader named Geraldine, we gathered around a long folding table for a lunch spread consisting of rice, pollo (chicken), jalapeño sauce, and tortillas. To both Caleigh’s and my pleasant surprise, we would be meeting up with our church group after lunch for a mingling activity together, which would make the getting-to-know-you part less awkward with the existing language barrier. While packing my backpack for the unknown group adventure (the bag I would be living out of for the next 24 hours), Maghetti quietly appeared in my doorway, flashing her contagious grin in my direction. When I returned the smile, she quietly made her way into the room and sat curiously on the edge of my bed, her bright joyful eyes staring up at me. I somehow knew that she understood the barrier of tongues which was before us, yet in that moment it didn’t seem to matter. Pulling from my fuzzy memory of high school Spanish classes, I began trying to talk to her with the limited Spanish that I knew, and she returned the gesture, considerately slowing the conversational pace down for me. Earlier we had received a hint about a mountain climb, and to the best of my ability (along with some charades,) I proceeded to try trying about it with her. I remembered one particular word which I picked up during our playtime together–“fuerta” which meant “strong.” When pronouncing the word she looked up at me, holding back a laugh. Politely, she motioned to me with her fingers and pointed, saying “errrrrrreeeeeehhh”–attempting to teach me to roll my “r’s”. Grasping the quick pronunciation lesson, I responded by saying the word correctly, which sparked an instantaneous burst of excitement and clapping from this sweet little girl. She continued by describing to me what we would see on this mountain climb, which would require great strength, or “fuerta,”: awaiting on top of the tall mountain was “la Cruz”–the cross of Christ.
The steep climb up the mountain was indeed strenuous, and probably would not have been our first activity of choice before a week of intense physical labor. But, with frequent pit stops for name games and challenges along the way, the climb was much more bearable. From the start, we began an arduous attempt alongside our new amigos towards a common goal, looking ahead to the cross which awaited us on the peak. The view was absolutely breathtaking, and worth the sore muscles which would follow us throughout the week. Atop the gorgeous city of Jinotega, we sang worship songs together; we read scripture together; we laughed together and praised together. We cautiously made our way back down to level ground together, legs shaking but spirits stable. After dinner with our homestay families we attended club that night with other neighboring youth. Falling asleep to the gentle falling rain dancing on the tin roof, I felt safe behind the concrete walls amidst pigs and horses grazing in the yard.
The next morning we hopped back on a van which took us to our worksite for the week. Our main project, along with cultivating Christ-centered relationships with these caring people, was to prepare the land for the construction of Geraldine’s home. We spent the majority of our physical labor with shovels, pic axes and metal rods, tearing up the rocky ground and breaking boulders within the floor plan of their future home. The sun was hot, our muscles were achy, dirt clung to our shins and blisters blossomed on our palms. Each day it seemed like we discovered a new buried rocky “treasure” resting smack dab in the middle of our assigned digging square. Admittedly, I am somewhat of a realist, and I will be honest in saying that when we first began our efforts at the worksite, I felt frustrated with the lack of efficiency–here we were, busting our butts to clear the area, shoveling hard-packed dirt, chopping up the stony soil and attempting to remove gigantic rocks from the earth, while a Caterpillar bulldozer and jack hammer sat idol back at the camp at La Finca (which would be our home for the next 4 days.) But in the midst of all of our sweaty brows, tired arms, spazzing backs and sore legs, I realized that efficiency wasn’t what it was all about. The community we were building was so much more important than the house structure we were building. My perfectionist personality would normally have scrutinized over how quickly we could clear the dirt, or how precisely aligned our footers stood. Yet instead, I found joy in hopping from hole to hole, checking in on the progress and condition of all my amigos. For once, this realist was taken over by the power of relationships.
We cut the first work day short, after lunch back at the club. This would be the schedule for the rest of the week: breakfast at camp, worksite until noon, lunch at the club where my homestay family resided, back to work until about 3:30pm (weather permitting.) After staying with our homestay and living out of a backpack for the last day and a half, arriving at camp a La Finca felt like heaven. It reminded me of a cross between Camp Montgomery and Montreal (two camps I grew up attending with my church), with the cool air up in the mountains of Estelee, Nicaragua. Our first luxury happened to be the freezing cold showers we had been warned about, but quite frankly the temperature didn’t matter at that point–we were simply grateful to get clean. With the combination of sweat, bug spray, sunscreen and dirt, I don’t think I have felt so filthy in my life. This was something I adjusted to throughout the trip, and soon adapted to the rather rustic lifestyle. We had dinner at the dining hall, which would be routine for the remainder of our time there, followed by Mega Club (sessions similar to Montreat-style gatherings with energizers and devotional). The night ended with a meaningful labyrinth walk in the woods, sculpted from tall bushes under the crisp mountain sky…
Just like the daring motorcycle ride, the winding labyrinth walk was very symbolic for me (though in a more calming way.) During our devotional that evening I had shared how I now have a continuous conversation with God throughout the day, and how I express my thoughts and emotions to him whenever I begin to feel overwhelmed. We entered the labyrinth spaced out one by one, each traveling at our own pace. Though we may have been physically alone on our quest to the center, the presence of God surrounded each of us individually and as a whole. Occasionally you would catch a glimpse of someone else’s flashlight light flickering along the ground–a reminder that we are all in this journey together, even while working within our own radius of light. While moving within your own unique stride, there was no need to feel pressured to catch up to the person in front of you, or need for fear of someone sneaking up behind you. Unable to see over the growing walls, with each unexpected turn deep within the hedges, I had to just slow down and trust God. Slow down, and trust…one of the other major themes of the week. Once we finally reached the end of our reflection walk, even in the shadows of the night, a tall cross stood clearly visible in the center. Just like our long mountain climb, Christ was there patiently guiding, waiting for us at the end. When I veered around my last neatly shaved bend of foliage, I was beautifully reminded of two comments from my teammates before I entered the confusing boots of twists and turns. “This isn’t a race, Amanda”, one of them had said. Another, offering reassurance about being alone in the dark, whispered “it’s ok, you can talk out loud to Jesus”–referring back to my confession about constant dialogue with God. Staring up at the bold cross of Christ, I realized that these two concepts summed up my entire labyrinth walk, as well as my continuing walk of life.
Even after only being in Nicaragua for 48 hours, God had already revealed himself in countless ways. This trip had a lot of unknowns for me, and shamefully a lot of fears. But within this time in which I was forced to surrender and trust God and his people, He surrounded me with his peace. These Nicas who I had just met, already feel like long lost friends. Spanish started to become second nature, and became so normal to my ears that it even began to take over as the primary language in my dreams at night. It was such an eye-opener to me to share such special moments with such anointed people. It is simply beautiful how we can come from two completely different countries, speaking two completely different languages, yet still read from the same bible and pray to the same God. All of it sounds so simple, but in this moment of recognition I was reminded of my friend Derry’s words of wisdom: “We are all brothers and sisters in Christ. In heaven, there are no divisions, no barriers…” we are all centered around our Maker. Quite early in our journey, I was learning hands-on that God’s love has no boundaries. Just like my travel buddy had described, we are all one in Christ.
One lesson that I have learned from working alongside these passionate souls, is that missions do indeed extend both ways. My church group and I can all agree that we are now a part of a developing path with an aim of redefining mission: a Christ-lead mission which is highly relational and not just financial or labor-focused. This trip was different from other mission trips I have attended in the past–this one was personal. Perhaps it just depends on the heart of the individuals, and the consistent pruning which continues along our faith walks. I know that over time, God has been transforming my heart for His people. He has allowed me to witness others come to know Christ, placed me in uncomfortable circumstances, and softened my spirit for working with others from different backgrounds. I can feel Him continuing this work in me, because a few years ago I can’t say I would have been ready to embark on something so remarkably incredible as this. Slowly but surely, He has grown my compassion for service and helping others, more than I could have imagined. For so long I put up a protective wall around myself, still passionately helping people but more so from behind the scenes. This quest however, was up front and center, sharing sweat and tears while being completely immersed in the culture and living the lifestyle of the people there. These people have, and always will have, a special place in my heart. Barely knowing each other at all, we dove deeper into each other’s hearts. Climbing mountains together, enjoying meals together, sharing stories together, from all walks of life. Our daily living situations may seem like night and day, but our Creator is the same. Our passion is the same. United by one eternal force, we are all brothers and sisters, united by one same never-changing Love. Once we got to know them, not as a group of Nicas, but as individuals, hearing their testimonies and studying scripture with them, we realized they are just like us…possessing a sense of humor, feelings, outlets with social media, and adhering to the same written Word of God. All inevitable stereotypes we arrived with, quickly vanished.
It is all so sweetly touching…seeing how much these people truly love. They welcomed complete strangers into their homes and made us feel like family, sincerely demonstrating the phrase “mi casa es tu casa.” I do feel like I acquired a new family–a Nica family away from home. Almost instantly I felt accepted and comfortable, and they expressed their humble gratitude for our willingness to leave our own families in order to help theirs. A few of them shared that they considered us role models of distinguishable character, yet I felt as if this should be the other way around. I view them as my role models for living with a golden perspective centered around the Lord. In my eyes, they have their priorities straight: God, family, and relationships–all values which we hold dear, but which can often get brushed aside in the rising pressures of American society. It was evident in their radiant faces, that they know joy and how to spread it too. They know how to laugh and how to have a good time. They lead by example with their hospitality and fellowship. Passing down the role of discipleship, they act out of kindness and stewardship. Through their devoted spirits and humble hearts, they are the epitome of community.
Through all of our travel, back and forth between cities and destinations, we were always accompanied by a willing and friendly Nica escort; always there to assist us, with mere humble joy. No matter where we went, there was always a familiar face, even if we couldn’t remember their name. Exchanging smiles, we looked these people in the eye. We served these people, and they served us. In their kind and beaming eyes, I saw the face of Jesus. Jesus was right there next to us, leading us through the streets, up the mountain, and around every corner.
Driving to Masaya on our tour day, with a zip line destination to end our visit, we encountered pretty much the only hurdle up until that point. Suddenly we became stopped in heavy traffic due to an angry protest only feet ahead. Tires were stacked in the middle of the road, and had been set ablaze, creating a fiery wall blocking our only route to safety. With no real organized traffic rules to begin with, cars and semis were all attempting to bypass the burning tires, just feet from the glowing flames. Flocks of people began crowding around as we sat in the van in a standstill with the other vehicles and watched from afar. Finally a gap appeared near the turmoil after traffic police arrived at the scene. Two semi trucks were attempting to pass in front of us facing in opposite directions, their gas tanks dangerously close to the fiery mound in the road. I was sitting next to Bruce in the back of the bus when we approached the mob, and as he moved up front to discuss the situation with our fellow Nicas traveling with us, I pulled out my bible and prayed. My devotional topic on faith from the previous day kept ringing in my ears…I opened up to Philippians and re-read the passage for reassurance…“the opposite of faith is fear….” I repeated my own message to myself as I crouched down over God’s holy Word.
Finally we managed to inch up to the heart of the chaos, and competed for space with the other cars wanting an escape. As we passed by the rising fire, a young Nica in the road began to roll a new tire our way, with an aim at placing another burning mound right in front of the nose of our van. Thankfully, we skidded through the crowd, glancing back at the frightening encounter, grateful for the Lord’s protection. During that moment, I will admit I was afraid of our safety. With literally no where to turn, I was forced to turn inside…to pray to my God my Savior, my protector and comforter. As I sat there with members of my church family, afraid and eager to get past the threatening experience, I remembered my own family…my family and friends back home who I love dearly, and whose prayers I know were surrounding us throughout the week, and embracing us during such a heart-throbbing time. In that moment, I did not believe that God would let harm come upon us. I strongly believed that He wanted us to come back home to be able to tell of our week outside of our country, to share the power of his love. As our week drew to a close, I longed to be safe in my own home with my parents and little brother. But even while we remained in a foreign land for one more night, I knew I was safe in my Savior’s arms. In the aftermath of our little frightful encounter, I flipped to Isaiah 41:10…reading it over and over again for reassurance…“fear not, for I am with you…” Praising God for his angel’s shielding wings.
Here is an excerpt from my journal that eventful Friday afternoon:
“Zip lining was exhilarating, up in the trees with the monkeys. I agreed to take after my daredevil pastor and ride one line superman style, flying head-first tandem with a guide. It was nice to get outdoors out of the cramped van. Afterwards we had lunch, “papoosas,” at an El Salvadorian -inspired restaurant, and then visited the markets where I did some souvenir shopping. Now we are in our way to the hotel which we stayed in for the first night. There we will have access to hot showers and wifi…I will have a chance to communicate with my family again. Other than making it through Nicaragua airport procedures, and customs back in Miami, we have pretty much survived our journey. I had no doubt of this, but also know that I will indeed be returning to the states a changed being, and closer to the Lord. This week has truly been a wake up call and life-jolting experience. At times I was afraid for my life, yet had no other choice but to simply trust that the Lord has my life in his hands. Even with the upset tummies, blistered knuckles, sore muscles and dirty sweat, every bit was worth it. Every part was a mission in itself, not only for us to extend, but for us to receive; the mission of spreading God’s unconditional love out of pure humility, sacrificing our own comfort, and working together for the glory of God. Singing outside amongst our Nica friends, I was reminded that this is what matters. Christ is what matters. Love is what matters. Love hopes all things, and endures all things. I experienced true love this week. The kind of love which comes instinctively without even knowing yet. The truthful love, the welcoming love, the unshakable love. I experienced the heart of Love himself.”
The Nicas are so caring, and truly genuine. You can tell by their stories that they, too, truly know the Lord…the same Lord who we serve even from across the world. That is so beautiful to me…No boundaries are too far for God. My best friend’s last words to me before our plane took off, were “You’ll never be the same…” And she’s absolutely right. This has truly been an eye- opening experience; a scary and daring one, but so good for my controlling personality and phenomenal for my walk with Christ. While on this trip in a completely foreign environment I have had no choice but to look to Him for guidance and protection each day. It is a different focus than our first-world minds are trained to think, yet it is the focus that I should be having even in my day-to-day schedule back home. I have sincere compassion for the people here and am realizing just what a wonderful influence Christian camps can have on the lives of youth. I can already picture myself returning next year, and want to do my best to describe the magic of this place and this entire journey to everyone back home. Even living out of a backpack with minimal water and stinky clothes, it is still possible to feel the peace and love of God. We ended the second to last night at La Finca with a bonfire and singing…singing to God, our central fire, and source of everything we need.
This week has been a wonderful escape from my busy schedule back on American soil. Before the trip I had lots on my mind, lots of first-world pressures (money, work, tasks), yet once we crossed the Nicaraguan borders, all these burdens went way. Instead, the week was all about surviving, clinging to the cross, extending service, building relationships, and sharing love. And in the end, God covers them all. It made me realize how our society instills certain standards on us, often distorting our view of necessities. This week we lived out of a backpack in the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, yet no one was without substance. We always had food to eat and water to drink. We always had a place to lay out heads after a long day of labor. We had each other, to laugh with, embrace with, work with, and communicate with (to the best of our ability.) Put in simple terms, “Our pockets were empty yet our hearts were full.” We had Christ surrounding us each and every day. And that is all we needed.
Being my first international mission trip, I did not have much to compare my entire experience to. Keeping the mentality during the motorcycle ride, my goal was to live large and embrace the present. Given my ignorant state as a young missionary, I feel as if I did succeed in achieving this goal to my capacity for this particular excursion. Because everything was so new, I was still a little reserved in the abnormal environment. But with the excitement of next year’s trip already developing in my mind, I know that I will be able to give myself even more when that time comes. Now that I know the drill, I will definitely be able to relax a bit more, and be even more intentional and more relational.
It has been such a humbling experience working side by side with our Nica brothers and sisters, all for the Lord. Hopefully, the acts of service will have a ripple effect not only in the camp at La Finca, but in the surrounding community. The plan is to continue spreading the love of Christ in this sweeping motion, eventually reaching the entirety of Nicaragua. It was very difficult to imagine leaving for our home country and having to say goodbye to these people with whom we have all formed such strong bonds. The entire week seemed like a blur…but just as they reminded all of us, this isn’t goodbye, but rather, “Hasta luego” (“see you soon.”) I will definitely be back to this sacred land when opportunity permits. God has proved his love has no boundaries and his protection transcends across the seas. I prayed and prayed that I would be able to do this, to be able to handle these conditions, to be able to withstand all the hardships physically and for it to transform me spiritually and mentally. My God has fulfilled all of these prayers, and much much more. Upon returning home I am eager to share this unforgettable experience. Although we were present there to help serve and support the mission and outreach of La Vida Joven, the mission has trickled both ways. The Nicas have touched my heart in a way that I have never experienced before, and it is true that I will never be the same.
Even retuning home, I wish to continue this idea of priorities and new perspective. As a church, we long to create a movement of community back in Jacksonville, among our church family and surrounding neighbors. I am not yet ready to let go of all of the magic which took place over the course of our stay. Jumping back into routine of work, duties and society’s stressors is something I am dreading, but will just have to take step by step. Moment by moment, depending on God for continued guidance, protection, and strength. I want to remember, not only the memories, but the feelings and freedom that comes from surrendering to the Lord in every circumstance. Even in the comforts of our country, I want to keep this perspective, I want to keep this peace, and I will forever view life differently. There were times when I felt fear for my life, but God is the source of my life. Remembering too, that we were all on this journey together, just like in the labyrinth. Even in the darkness, the cross is waiting at the end.
I know I have experienced something special, something that words alone can never describe. It is an experience which is so personal, not only in the interactions with the Nicas and fellow teammates, but with God. Throughout the week of firsts, unknowns, and unfamiliar conditions, He was my constant–my never-changing source of strength and dependence. Even though life may lead us through bends in changing directions, the cross remains at the center. Geraldine said it best as we labored on the worksite, straining to break up an enormous Boulder stuck in the center of the floor plan: (in Spanish of course), “We will name our house ‘built upon the rock'”–‘The Lord is our rock and our salvation; we shall not be shaken.’
Though the majority of this week was spent living minimally, I felt so much more full of life…with the time set back two hours, I woke up naturally at 5:30/6:00 everyday, easing into the morning…no pressures, no makeup, no workouts to cram in before work, but just fellowship. Now back in the states, in the familiar territory of my own home, even with the reverse culture-shock, my heart is thankful, humble, full, and transformed. While it is comforting to set foot in familiar territory, among my own loving family, a piece of me remains back with my Nica family. The service and love which they demonstrated for all of us this week has been such a beautiful and humbling experience. Sometimes it takes stepping out of your comfort zone and living each and every moment of every day fully dependent on the Lord, to be able to really recognize that He is all we need. To all the caring spirits at Vida Joven, muchas gracias. God is at work in you and through you. Hasta pronto, amigos.