Nicaragua/Canada – Two Countries One World
Dear Gang, Amigos/Amigas
I suspect that if someone from Nicaragua came to Canada, they would be left with a sense of amazement, for their world and ours are different in so many ways. In going to Nicaragua, I was overwhelmed by the extremes and contrasts that I saw everywhere. Pick any topic: politics, transportation, distribution of wealth, public vs private space etc. Everything is written in extremes and contrasts and I personally need to understand this better.
Likewise, I am left with a lasting impression of contrasts about TCOW. The most striking contrast is that of what I see as changes and growth in all of us who made this trip. Think of where we were in this venture at the point of inquiry and where we are now, as we return from the contrast of Barrio Grenada y Anexo, to our lives here in S. Ontario.
We each have had our individual journey and mine as a leader and participant has left a fresh imprint on my inner being. There is wisdom to be gained from the journey, not the least of which is that patience is a virtue and that the element of time is needed to find a workable and comfortable path of change. The people we met will continue to gain strength, to grow in their communities and change as they continue their journey, as we will in ours.
It is important to understand that we took this journey to learn, understand and to offer ourselves as helping hands. We believe we have accomplished this. So too in leadership roles, we learn, understand and offer ourselves as helping hands for the strength and growth of TCOW and to find the balance that fosters change as you grow as individuals.
It is my hope that each one on this trip finds a new place in their heart and soul to let these seeds of leadership develop and produce some of the wisdom that will guide you through your lives.
Thank you for this journey. Gracias
To All Of You:
We have travelled together, laughed together, cried together and grown together. We have lived as a family, relying on each other through good and bad. We have all shared an experience, and although reacting to it differently we will always have that bond. The next few days, weeks, months, and years, will bring many challenges, happy moments as well as sad. I would like you all to know that you have each other and you will always have me. You all showed me so much love this trip and that will never be forgotten. We have a bond that no time, or distance can break and I hope that whenever you need a friend, a helping hand, or someone to share your joys with, you will not hesitate to contact me! I love you all more than words can say and I hope you will carry that love through your life!
At our reunion a week ago today, we struggled with the way ou TCOW trip will have lasting effects on our lives and future decisions. In the midst of this discussion, Daniel Saunders read a quotation to us from the Danish, Christian philospoher, Søren Kiekegaard. if I remember it correctly it was saying that any work you do in this life in the service of God will not be lost.
Immediately I thought of the concept of the “Kingdom of God” that Jesus preached so much about. Remember the words of the popular United Church hymn, “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God”?
Jesus was referring to God’s realm and our citizenship in it. It is a realm beyond the plane of this world, but also in it. It is a reality to which we belong here, but only in part. Jesus said you must have the trust and wonder of a little child in order to enter into the Kingdom (Mark 10:15). He also said that the Kingdom is within you (Luke 17:21)
It is my observation that there were many times the “Kingdom of God” broke through to us on this trip .. in moments when the contrasts of culture and the pain of a political history and poverty became real; .. in the exuberant and playful acceptance of the children of Los Quinchos, of Barrio Grenada and Citilapa; .. in the care and affection of our host families; .. in the appreciative partnership of fellow Nicaraguan workers at the service projects; .. in the singing voice of the principle at Los Quinchos, in the sung prayer of Dalena, in the sound of the mariachis breaking through to crowd to honour our farewell; .. in the loud group singing on the bus and the quieter, honest moments of sharing during group time in the evening; .. in the bestowing of bandanas and key chains and clay hands that celebrated our contributions; .. in the tears of our favorite big, bus bouncer; .. in the faithful shepherding and friendship of our Compañeros staff; in the wisdom you each expressed at key moments; .. and in the compassion you showed each other at times of illness or need. Indeed, each of you had your eyes cleared long enough to have glimpsed the presence of God’s Kingdom in others and in yourselves.
Reflecting on the history of ‘kingdoms’ and their association with authority, hierarchies of power and inevitable wars, some people of faith have chosen to drop the ‘g’ in ‘kingdom’ and refer instead to God’s “Kindom”. Surely each of us experienced the truth of a “kindom” that made Nicaraguan neighbours into true brothers and sisters of faith.
I guess what is most important for me at this juncture, is to name each of you as a full citizen of this Kin(g)dom right here and right now .. and for each of you to claim this citizenship for yourselves. To be a citizen of God’s realm is not an easy life, because the vision that inspires our work is greater than the world can sustain. But our work for the Kin(g)dom will never be lost, and neither shall we be lost.
Blessings as you move out in so many wonderful, new directions. Elizabeth