Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Saints in Nicaragua: Finding common ground

Before coming to the airport, I was nothing but excited. The flight to San Salvador was pretty uneventful, despite the seemingly never ending turbulence. As we entered the San Salvador airport, we were looked at as if we were from another planet. Everyone seemed to stare, even when we looked back and created awkward eye contact with them. I began to notice that this was pretty normal. Walking down the street, being looked at and wondering what they were thinking. Were they thinking that you didn't belong? Or just fascinated by the differences? We girls began to get used to the whistling and the things that guys would say to us. But it was a huge difference than home.
That was not the only thing that was different. The heat hit us more than we thought. The first day of working was completely brutal. Constant sweat, constant thirst, and constant exhaustion. However, what happened later in the afternoon made it completely worth it. The hike of Mombacho volcano opened my eyes to the beauty of Nicaragua. As we stood up along one of the sides of the mountain, I could see the city of Granada down below and the tiny waves of the lake that looked like they weren't moving. I myself am not accustomed to this type of beauty. It was something very different to me.
The next day at work seemed even worse. More work, and even more heat. However, when one of the worker's sons, Kendall, showed up, it became fun. He would run around trying to help us with our work even when his small six year old body wouldn't allow it.  He would ask for cookies and bananas during our breaks and we would gladly sacrifice it for him. Kendall opened our eyes to life as a young country in a poverty stricken area. We noticed his small shirt, and very large pants which were tied by a plastic bag in order to keep them from falling down. But most of all, I noticed how happy he was. How happy he was to be running around doing the same things that we had been complaining about earlier. Happy for meeting new people and conquering the struggles of the language barrier. And most of all, happy to be alive and enjoying life, no matter the circumstances. I think this is what I have learned most on the trip. Happiness is not solely based on what you have in life, rather how much you enjoy the things you have.

-Grace Hillkirk

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