Home again, home again.
On the last few days of a project, or in any place I’ve spent a good amount of time, I invariably wax reflexive, attempting to solidify those memories that I want to never forget, take the pictures that I haven’t managed to slow down enough to shoot, and have those conversations in which I let people know exactly how important was our time together.
Leaving Nicaragua snuck up on me. I was too busy, in fact, packing in all the life that I could to slow down enough to think about it. I’m glad I did it – the last few weeks and days were full of colors and smells and even new friendships that I wouldn’t have seen or smelled or formed had I been spending time writing in my journal.
My friend Lindsey came in two Sundays ago, with just two weeks to
see and experience Nicaragua. We immediately moved her into the
neighborhood with another family and put her to work, visiting all of
Manna’s projects and introducing her to the community. She did
wonderfully, without much help from or time with me, and it encouraged me to watch a non-Spanish speaker become so loved so quickly. Good hearts don’t need translators.
Meanwhile, I took over high school English, got sick for four days
during my next-to-last weekend, surfed one more time (in linen pants,
even), finally went to the Los Quinchos street kid program, heard from the campaign manager of one of Nicaragua’s illegal presidential
candidates, learned how to make choco-bananos (sort of. I’ve made
one unsuccessful US attempt already), and cooked an American dinner
for my family.
Two things, however, define my time in Nicaragua. One was a pair
of glasses that I bought for my older “sister,” Carolina. Carolina
has severe short-sightedness, and an astigmatism that gives her daily headaches. In exchange for a promise to use her new vision to
further her dream of someday owning her own hair salon, Greg helped
me take Carolina to the eye doctor and purchase a brand-new (and
cute!) pair of glasses. Greg is going to continue working with
Carolina to make sure she has the necessary loans to begin making her beauty-salon vision a reality.
Second, I developed a relationship with the Flores family that lived around the corner. I first met Olga, a twenty-one year old single mother and law school student, in our English class. She introduced me to her mother Lorena, brother Michael, sisters Dayana, Alba and Jensil, and her beautiful two year old son Emilio.
I became fast friends with the family, and Olga eventually shared
with me the economic situation into which she and her family were
sliding. Her father had stopped supporting her mother and her
siblings. Her brother Maicol was looking unsuccessfully for a part
time job that would allow him to finish high school and support his
sisters. Olga, because she was studying and raising a child, she had
fallen behind on her law school payments. Then Emilio developed a
respiratory infection which threatened to break the bank.
Over the course of the last two weeks, Manna Project and I were able to find Miacol a job with some local missionaries, work out payments for Olga’s law school, and get Emilio checked up and medicated at the local clinic. On the last day, Olga asked Lindsey and I whether or not we were Christians. It’s a normal question in Nicaragua, particularly for volunteers who are, by and large, evangelical missionaries. Lindsey and I both hesitated, and Olga said (translating here) “It doesn’t matter whether or not you believe in God. I know you are close to God because I’ve watched you with the children here, and because I know how you’ve cared for Emilio and me – not just taken care of us, but cared for us. When you do that, you carry God with you.” And I’ll add, though I don’t know she said it, “whether you like it or not.”
-Marco de Bicicleta