As we were walking through a village today I was really struck by how much barbed wire is used. Each lot is sectioned off with posts and barbed wire, then a little shack is erected in the center, usually with a tin roof and black plastic walls. Sometimes the structures are more stable by having one side be made of cinder blocks or wood, but most of what I saw today was typical metal roof, plastic walls with barbed wire around the tiny plot of land it sits on.
I really don’t know the intended purpose of the barbed wire. Maybe it’s easy. Maybe Nicaragua was once populated by barbed wire salesmen who were really good at getting their product out there, or maybe it’s for security. This is my land, this is my plot, don’t venture here without my permission.
Security is what kept coming back to me because on the onset, several layers of barbed wire will certainly keep you out of a place. But then the part of me that is a policeman’s daughter immediately thought “A good pair of cutters would get through that in about five seconds.”
The center we were at had a little play yard with walls made of steel bars that rose about seven feet high. I looked at those and though “All you need is a ladder or a sturdy piece of furniture to get past those…”
Everywhere I looked were security breaches waiting to happen, walls waiting to be scaled.
Not a one I saw was impenetrable.
I got to thinking about all the walls in our lives that seem to be permanent boundaries. Walls of stubborn pride, bitterness, depression, judgement- both of ourselves and others, walls of hopelessness, unemployment, etc. None of those walls are impenetrable either, no matter how much they seem so.
The number of walls God has broken down outnumber the grains of sand on a beach. Do we really think our case is so unique that we are the only ones God can’t help?
And with God’s help, who are we to say that He won’t use us to break down walls in the lives of others?
I went to another family’s house in a village in Nicaragua today that is served by a Compassion Center. This was one of the nicest houses I’ve seen so far, made of cinder blocks with a metal roof. As usual, there were no lights inside but you can look up at the roof and see sunlight streaming in all around where there is a good two inch gap. They had walls around their property, but the door was swung wide to allow us to come in.
(How often do I ask God to come in but leave my door locked to him?)
We met a wonderful lady who lives with her aunt and three sisters. Together, they are raising 8 children who are incredibly well loved and taken care of. I’ve never seen kids with such manners and kindness. Daisy is a merchant by trade, packaging spices and seasonings into small bags each evening to go sell on the streets in the early hours of the morning. On very good days, she makes the equivalent of about $6.00 and then comes home to care for her children and nieces.
The kids clearly adore her. Shaun asked one little girl if her mother was a good cook and she looked at her mama and beamed as she nodded yes, just as I’ve seen my Katy Rose do so many times.
Through an interpreter I asked what her favorite thing to cook for her children was and she smiled at them all before answering “Pollo”, chicken.
Then I asked the little girl what her favorite thing to eat that her mama cooked was and she practically got stars in her eyes as she said definitively “Pollo”.
I looked at the lone chicken pecking around the yard and wish I knew spanish word for “Supper” so I could make a joke
I was really heartsick to discover later that they only get one meal a day at home. I can only imagine what a treat Mama’s pollo is.
I got to help her break apart large sticks of cinnamon and package them into small bags to sell. As I did so, her little boy, Marvin peeked around my side to watch me. Like all happy children, he has a smile that turns on every light in your heart.
I reached into my pocket and pulled out a small battery powered fan and turned it on, blowing a small stream of cool air into his face. His eyes got wide as he gently grasped it to get a better look, turning it over and around to see how it worked. I showed him the on and off switch and he was enthralled with peeking inside trying to see exactly what was creating the breeze. It was evident that this kid was a tinkerer at heart, one of those people that love to figure out how things work,just like my grandaddy was. The fan had a little necklace so I hung it around his neck and after a few more minutes of figuring it out, he began fanning his sister and cousins with it, amid giggles of delight.
A while later he came up to me and said something in Spanish, motioning to the fan with a hopeful look in his eyes. I don’t speak a lick of Spanish but I know kids and I knew he was asking me if he could keep it. I didn’t want to respond without a translator though, because I wanted to make sure he knew what I was saying. I had the translator explain that it had batteries and it would quit eventually, but yes, he could certainly keep it.
I pulled a smiley face stamp out of my pocket and stamped faces on the kids hands, first one, then the other, then they asked for stamps on cheeks and I finally gave them the stamp and encouraged them to share it – something that is a holdover of being an american, but you really don’t have to encourage kids in countries like this, they share because they find more joy in sharing rather than keeping it for themselves.
Her oldest daughter showed us letters she’d received from her sponsor and posed with them with great pride. It was clear she felt loved, not just at home but by someone back in america as well. There is a sense of self worth that can outpace poverty at any level if it is only given to a child when they are young enough.
The pastor at the center we were at today said “Many countries just want to receive the fish. Here, we want to teach them to fish for themselves, that is what we are doing for these children when we educate them”
And that is what Compassion does. They nurture kids in more ways than one, but the goal is to nurture them as completely as we can.
There are four facets of nurturing that every sponsored child receives:
Social/Emotional nurturing – Compassion works to ensure children feel loved and valued by helping in many ways, such as offering therapy to the child if needed, and even helping adults in that child’s family learn to restore relationships.
Education - In many countries, education is very difficult to come by. In Nicaragua alone, 4 out of 5 children never go to school. This is mostly due to parents not being able to afford it. Compassion works to make sure children in the program receive an education. In fact, it is required that they be educated while in the program. They do this by providing money and supplies for school, school uniforms in countries that require them, tutoring, and in some cases even providing the school itself.
Physical - Compassion children receive healthcare, clean drinking water, and even nutritious food and nutrition education. Any one of these things would be considered a blessing beyond measure by one of these families so I can’t even imagine how grateful I’d be if I were a mother in these mother’s shoes and had this provided for my child.
Spiritual – We are all lost. Compassion makes sure every child in the program knows of the love of God for them and has an opportunity to choose to follow where He leads. Children are not required to become Christians to be a part of or remain in the program, but they live each day receiving all of these wonderful things and knowing it is in the name of God.
And that is what compassion does with your sponsorship money of only $38 a month. The tear down walls separating these children from their dreams.
And this is what you do when you sponsor…
Today, I bonded with a little boy in a foreign country who didn’t even speak the same language as me. Currently, 1.4 million kids in 26 countries are being given a chance they would have never had if not for people like you agreeing to sponsor them.
I’m traveling with some amazing bloggers and They’re all writing daily posts as well. Visit them by clicking the links below to go to their blogs or by visiting http://www.compassionbloggers.com/nicaragua
Edie at Life In Grace
Traci at Beneath My Heart
Kelly at Faithful ProvisionsYum