A Good Place to Start {Nicaragua, Day 1}

Hope is the thing with feathers,  That perches in the soul,

And sings the tune without the words,  And never stops at all.

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We drove 2 hours to a city dump, just outside Leon.  The smoldering decay looked like the leftovers of an apocalypse.  Smoke rose up in twisted rings, like the Devil himself had been puffing on a big cigar. There were pockets of people, digging through the rubble, hoping to salvage enough trash to survive another day.

My stomach turned inside out as I got out of the van.

A herd of cattle  slogged right through the dusty devastation and a man-boy in a red shirt on a skinny horse led the charge. He would have made Marlboro Man proud. I couldn’t help but smile as I watched him sit up tall and do the work of an able ranch hand.  I’m guessing he was 12 or 13.
Compassion Bloggers Nicaragua 2013 - Project 155 - Day 1

Emaciated dogs tore through heaps of God-only-knows-what, while a handsome fella tried his best to restring an old plastic yellow guitar.  Maybe he knew something about the hope that perches in the soul.  Maybe his little sister did too, because she offered to let him use her necklace as one of the strings.  It didn’t take him long to hear the music and he knew just what to do.

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We talked to their grandmother, who has been eeking out a bleak existence at this dump for 22 years.  I could hardly fathom her life but she told her story with honor and looked us right in the eyes as she defended the only way of life she’d ever known. This is how she feeds her family.  This desolate place is where she begins every day of her life; without food, without shelter, without the most basic of human needs.

I was so haunted by  the metaphor of this trash heap, by the decay, the smell and the hopelessness of it all.

This is what separation from Christ looks like.  This is Gehenna.  This is hell on earth.

This is where we all start.  And this ash heap is where He finds us and saves us.  Every last one of us.

This is a good place to start, because He is the God who conquered death and hell.

A few hours later, a lady who makes her living at the city dump, Inez, was gracious enough to invite us into her home.  She invited us right in—without hesitation, without apologizing for the dirt floors or ducks waddling through the make-shift living room.  She pulled up four plastic chairs and smiled the entire time. She showed us the horse that pulls her cart to the dump, her dogs,  her shiny green parrot, and her beautiful daughters.  The look on her face while she talked about her girls was priceless.  Her youngest daughter Sarah, is sponsored by Compassion, which means that some of the burden for Inez is relieved.  She uses to extra to buy  food for the rest of the family.  She showed us pictures of Sarah’s sponsor and shy little Sarah told us she wants to be a lawyer someday.  The parrot ruled the roost, as it perched right on Inez’s shoulder, as she talked.  I wondered why someone whose daily life looks this bleak would want a parrot around?  It seemed kinda pointless, really.

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But then I remembered that  hope isn’t always easy to find.  Sometimes, it comes disguised as a little thing—a dusty yellow guitar lying in an ash heap  or a pretty green parrot, eating rice from a red stool.

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Sometimes, it sneaks in and takes the form of a sip of water or five loaves of bread or even funny shapes of silly bands.

Compassion Bloggers Nicaragua 2013 - Project 155 - Day 1

But many still wait—daring to believe that the world will see and not forget.

That hope is still coming.

Sponsor a child today for $38 and give them more than hope.  Give them Christ and all the gifts He brings.

Give them the kind of hope that is eternal and ‘never stops at all.’  Hope that turns ashes to beauty,  little to much and strangers to friends.

Want to change the world?  Sponsor a child.

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Click here to support a child today!

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Follow the other compassion bloggers here!  Christy and Kelly met their sponsored children today, with tears flowing.  I get to meet Diana tomorrow and I can hardly wait!

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40 Comments

  • Christy says:

    Edie,
    That was beautiful. I prayed for you this morning and again a couple of times throughout the day. Thank you for sharing. I wrote our sponsor child last week when I read your post about your trip. I can’t believe how big he is getting. We have been his sponsor family for over 3 years now. Hopefully, I’ll get to take a trip next year and meet him face-to-face. :)
    Blessings on the journey,
    Christy

  • VB says:

    Oh, how I do love this post. You are going to come back a changed person–Not that there was anything wrong with you before, but seeing it all in person, first-hand HAS to be life changing. How I would love this opportunity, but for now I will vicariously experience it through you and the others on your team! Blessings to you all! I am so looking forward to reading all about it!

  • Kristen Rendall says:

    Thanks so much for your description. It brings back memories from 15+ years ago when I studied in Central America. We too went to a city dump, and I can still remember the sight and the smell, the people, the children, who called it home. It is heart-wrenching, and yet I love the reminder that we serve a God who has conquered death and hell, and the lives here (as well as our own) are not beyond the reach of his grace. He loves to save, and there is hope there. I loved Nicaragua, and I know that you will, too. Thanks for being willing to share it with us!

  • Southern Gal says:

    And so it begins. Finding hope and Christ and compassion in a garbage heap.

  • Melissa McIntyre says:

    Beautiful Edie!! Prayers are with you!

  • Jill Foley says:

    What a beautiful post – I love the first photo and the opening lines.

    Thank you for going to Nicaragua this week and for sharing your journey with us.

    We sponsor Josseling in the Nicaragua and have for the past 10 years. My husband traveled there in 2012 and got to meet her and her family. I’m looking forward to hearing more about your experience.

  • Edie, you saw on your first day what I was telling you about! The kindness and hospitality of these people suffocated me. Their hope, their generosity. They have nothing but wanted to give away everything they had. Praying for you today!

    • You were SO right. I loved meeting them and their faces will live in my memory forever.
      I’m so thankful to be doing this and sharing it with the amazing people on the planet.
      LOVES!!

  • Carol S. says:

    Powerful images and words. I believe I will be a sponsor by the end of your trip. I may not look at garbage the same way for a bit.

  • Jenn says:

    What a great, eye opening, first day. Thanks for sharing your heart, Edie. My sponsor daughter lives near Leon. Do you know if you will be visiting NI 156? Praying for all of you!

  • martha says:

    I took a minute this morning to read this in the midst of getting things ready for out of town guests. Wow, so powerful!!! I am ashamed of my “this house has to be perfect” attitude and so thankful for your reminder of all the riches I have. Thank you for your always inspirational posts…..the beauty in a broken yellow guitar and a grin from a stranger…..finding Christ and sharing his love……I am on my knees . I will praying for you on your journey.

  • Julie says:

    He has indeed given you the words to share. My heart is moved as I read of your first day there. I am praying for you. I am reminded of what I have been saved from. And I am so thankful that Jesus came for the “least of these.” You are His hands and feet. May He love through you deeply and fully with each precious one you encounter. Looking forward to reading about day 2! Much love!

  • Sonja says:

    Beautiful post, thank you! I featured your post on my own blog today. You really made me think hard.

  • Pamela says:

    So encouraging to read about your experience.

    Another great organization making real changes in Nicaragua is “With One Hope.” It was started by a Christian who spent several years there and desired to make a change, one child, school, and community at a time. He’s brought on leaders from the community to keep it running. I’d encourage your readers to check it out too! http://withonehope.org/

  • Amanda says:

    I sponsor a child in Africa through World Vision and I wonder how it compares to Compassion. Do you know if one is better than the other? I guess it is a moot point now because I could never stop sponsoring her.

  • Deidra says:

    Edie,
    Thank you so much for your words today! We are praying for you! You have such a gift for showing others what you see through your words. God bless you! I would love to be able to do this one day, you will come back a changed person!

  • I am eager to read about your experiences. I was supposed to join you all on this trip, but had to decline. So, for me, reading about what you all are seeing and taking in has special meaning.

    I’ll be praying for the group!

  • Elizabeth says:

    Although I have never been to that dump, I know many people that have and how it effected them. Praying you have a great experience in Nicaragua and safe travels for all of you! Bendiciones!

  • Claire @ A Little Claireification says:

    Such a beautiful post and a reminder to all if us how fortunate we are. Praying for you on your journey.
    I have been unable to open any of your posts on my MacBook, by the way. It crashes Safari every time. I know it used to do that and then was fixed so it may be on my end but since I love reading them I have resorted to reading from my phone!
    Xoxo

  • You did such a find job! I loved how you highlighted the devilishness of the city dump. When our fists hold too tightly to what God has given us, Satan is helped. He can keep people working in garbage dumps as long as we don’t see the enemy’s work in the circumstances. Thank you for highlighting that the Lord overcomes it all, that even in this seemingly hopeless lifestyle, there is still dignity, hope, love, laughter. God is amazing! We have a big God, wanting us to have big hearts and open hands. Thank you.

  • shannon says:

    I am having a hopeless, horrible week and then I read your post….Thank you for the reminder that my burdens are nothing compared to the reality of what you are currently experiencing. I am praying for you.

  • Leanne says:

    Thank you for sharing. I can’t imagine working in a dump like that…reminds my that my ‘bad’ days are actually wonderful, truly easy and blessed days. Something worth remembering. It must be incredible to actually meet your sponsored child. What an honor.

  • Nester says:

    oh your descriptions. so vivid. and your wrapping up hope and perching and the parrot and changing the world. chills.

    love you friend

  • Kelli says:

    “But many still wait-daring to believe that the world will see and not forget.” Those words gave me goose bumps. Praying for you all as you continue to give hope wings.

  • Jennifer says:

    Poverty is evident in these photos, but your descriptions replace the horrific with so much beauty and yes, hope. I can feel the kindness overflowing there, even in the midst of such apparent struggle. Thank you for impressing these love lessons upon us – wringing out every little bit so we can feel it, too.

  • Sharon O says:

    Beautiful writing. Beautiful strong words and compassion. thank you.

  • Oh yes, sweet friend, hope in the littlest of things. It;s always amazing to me how they find it, buried, when sometimes it’s so lost on me.

    Thanks for being our eyes and sharing. xoxox

  • Patty says:

    Thank you Edie. I have spent the better part of this week purging useless stuff from the nooks and crannies of our home and wondering how having less can be a blessing. Thank you for sharing what living with less and giving more can do for those who have so little. I look forward to hearing about your meeting with your little one on the other side. Patty

  • Michele says:

    Beautiful post Edie. I’m praying for you and your amazing impactful trip. Thanks for the link for Compassion. I am going to sponsor a child today. So excited!

  • Tanya M. says:

    Hi Edie. I’m brand new to the Compassion ministry, and a brand new Compassion Blogger. Just wanted to let you know, this post really ministered to my heart. You words are powerful. You’ve inspired my first Compassion Blog post about the Nicaragua trip. I’ll continue to be in prayer for the entire team, and God bless you all for speaking out on behalf of children in poverty around the world. So happy to be on board. I’ve linked your post in mine – which you can read at >> http://typicaltanya.com/2013/06/21/rhythm-3rd-world-treasures/. Blessings!

  • Tami Benson says:

    There’s a YouTube slideshow of the photos taken on my first trip to Nicaragua. Thought you might like to see it. Although I’m a musician, I travel with a medical team to Puerto Cabezas. Here’s the link: [youtube=http://youtu.be/9LIr-c-_SLM]

    With so little, and such poor living conditions, my brothers and sisters there sing this song with as much gusto as we do here in the states. That amazed me. God is good.

    Thank you for visiting my friends and family in Nicaragua and loving on them for me. I hope to see them again next February, Lord willing.

    Love in Christ,
    Tami
    \o/
    Praise Jesus!

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