February 20, 2009

A Day in the Life

There is a peace that settles over you as you drive through the gates of Villa Esperanza in Nicaragua. The chaos and noise of Managua city disappears as you pass through the row of palm trees surrounding the front gates of the property. As you look forward you quickly understand that everything is thriving, from the green grass and vibrantly colored foliage to the laughing children.

The hustle and bustle of activity at the Villa begins early and continues well after dark. This is more than a village, it is living, breathing organism. Even the girls living at the Villa start their day early, around 5 am on school days. They are up with their pet rooster, exercising, doing their chores and preparing for their day at school.

The kitchen in the Rancho is constantly busy and well trafficked! Flor de liz, the cook, always has the coffee strong, dark and hot (we are very thankful for her). Caretakers are constantly hard at work cleaning the walkways, raking the ever-present leaves, watering the plants, cooking meals, cleaning the casas, doing laundry, and on and on. Construction for the next phase of children’s homes is underway, adding to the ever present activity.

Teams have breakfast early and begin their day immediately thereafter. They head out to serve various centers around the city or, as the team did while we were here, they bring community members into the Villa for training and games.

The Villa is a place for the children living here to thrive, it is a base and place of retreat for short-term teams, and it is a community center that is well-known throughout the city. The vision for the Villa is not only to help the girls but also to minister to the surrounding community. This dream has become a reality!

A team from New York came to spend time training teachers from two local schools, Colegio Cristiano La Esperanza and El Canyon. A week was dedicated to helping these teachers learn new techniques and skills. While the teachers were learning, the children from the schools came to the Villa to play with the girls living here. The added bonus: each of these activities were centered around sharing the Good News of Christ with the children and adults who were served.

As the day passes and comes to a close, activities slow down but do not cease. After the evening meal, team members spend time recharging for tomorrow. They lounge in hammocks, debrief the day and plan for tomorrow, play games and continue building those important relationships.

The girls spend time playing with the team and each other, just hanging out and being children (after homework, of course). The newly erected playground near the children’s homes is a big hit with the kids and visiting team members. The children run from one piece of equipment to another with the vibrancy of youth. Team members follow closely behind, usually gasping for air as they try to keep up with the kids. The house mothers visit with the workers of the Villa as they rock on their front porches, keeping an eye on their children.

In the evening, sitting on the porch of a casa, peace surrounds us and calms us. The soft sounds of laughter and conversation settle over the Villa, as calming as the ever-present breeze. There is love here—prominently displayed in the hugs and shining eyes of the children. There is peace and hope here—shown in the genuine smiles and friendships nurtured within these walls. God is here, his smile shining brightly with the sun, His voice riding the wind. He encourages, blesses, and directs as He lives in the hearts of so many.

"Our city is strong! We are surrounded by the walls of God’s salvation. Open the gates to all who are righteous; allow the faithful to enter. You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!" Isaiah 26:1b-3