Sara LoTemplio's Mission of Hope Blog
Sunday, February 20, 2011
Today we had the unique experience of going to Mass in Chiquilistagua.
We took about a half-mile walk on back dirt roads. If you’ve never been to Nicaragua, as I never have, you would be shocked and appalled at the amount of filth and garbage strewn everywhere. Wrappers of all sorts litter the ground; tires, pieces of metal, sometimes even piles of garbage lit on fire just lying in the middle of the road. I want to pick it all up but there is no place to put it. I couldn’t help but to feel frustrated that the people would let this happen to such a beautiful place.
What really blows my mind, though, is the contrast of this abject poverty and destruction, and the beauty of the people. I suppose I expected the Nicaraguans to be in despair and upset all the time. In reality, they are some of the most joy-filled and happy people I have ever met.
It’s hard for me to grasp because the two don’t go together. Poverty and joy are not usually used together to describe something.
At the church, although I didn’t understand the Mass in Spanish, we were asked to stand and the priest welcomed us and thanked us for everything the Mission has done. The people around me smiled and simply touched my arms and it was beautiful. It was then that I realized how much I have taken for granted.
There was so much garbage because they had nowhere else to put it. I use the same amount of garbage, probably more actually, but I take for granted the fact that a garbage truck takes it away so I don’t have to look at it, live with it.
These people, who have so little material things, have so much faith and hope. Their church was absolutely spotless and beautiful. When a song was sung, they all sang with enthusiasm I have never seen before, even without instruments. Whether you believe in God or not; whether you’re Christian, Hindu, Buddhist or whatever else, you cannot deny the amount of spiritual wealth they have.
As Megan Harris said, I’m beginning to wonder whether they are the poor ones, or I am. Of course, they still obviously have many basic human needs that need to be met, but I’m beginning to think that the healing works both ways. We can give them food, medical supplies, clothing and homes. We can give them friendship, welcomings, stickers, and Silly Bandz, but they can give us the most beautiful gift of all: the ability to always have hope, faith, and love even in the most dismal of situations.