Confessions of a kid at heart: bubbles might be the best toy ever invented anywhere in the world. They were a hit everywhere we went in Nicaragua, and I have to admit that I love them too. There’s something magical about their iridescence, their delicate nature, and the way they float just out of reach. Nicaragua accounts are coming to you in snapshots. Snippets of stories and lessons periodically as I continue processing my way through pages and pages of my journal and the four thousand pictures I have from my team. (And on that note, photo cred to my teammates for many of these pictures. We had some awesome photographers traveling together). First up: the kids. Be still my heart. These kids.
As I prepped for the trip, I was most excited about the kids, and most worried about the language barrier. In college, I was required to take two years of a foreign language. I’m not kidding when I say that nothing made me consider switching majors more than those four semesters of Spanish classes. But I persevered with the help of some patient tutors, then I swore off Spanish forever. (Don’t ever tell God you’re never doing/thinking about something again.) When I signed up for the Nicaragua trip, the application asked what foreign languages I knew, and I wrote down “none.” Two years of Spanish five years before left me with very little to go on. So I downloaded a language app and toyed with Spanish in the weeks preceding my trip, but I still knew I’d be relying upon translators for any real conversation. I prayed that, in an unfamiliar setting, God would show me how to love beyond words. He showed up. It turns out, play needs no translation, and play I can do. I could have spent all day sitting on that tile floor with Carolina at the orphanage. I didn’t have to know Spanish to take the crayon offered me and lean in close to color with her. I didn’t have to know Spanish to hug her a little tighter when she wrapped her arms around me and pressed her cheek into my neck, her head on my shoulder. When a little girl wraps her arms around my waist for an entire day, I didn’t have to speak Spanish to hug her, smile at her, swing her around in circles, and give her rides on my back. Love and play need no translation. But knowing that burbujas means “bubbles” helped. Knowing arriba and abajo were up and down, and knowing my Spanish colors helped when we played with the parachute. Knowing a few animal names helped when we colored. And knowing family words let me know that these two beautiful girls are hermanas, sisters. My first Sunday back home, I taught the story of David and Goliath to my kindergarten/first grade class at church. We talked about how David knew how to use the sling because he’d taken care of his family’s sheep and used the sling to protect the flock. We discussed how taking care of the sheep was probably a chore that David wasn’t always excited about, but God used that experience in his life for something greater. Then I stopped, struck by my Spanish class experience, how God opened my mind and allowed me to recall words I’d long forgotten to communicate with the people of Nicaragua. I wasn’t fluent, by any terms, but He used me anyway. All the frustration of those classes were worth it if my effort to speak Spanish to someone on that trip told them I loved them and communicated the love of Jesus to them, too. The other thing that needs no translation? Silly faces.
ps: I’d love if you left a comment with a time that God used a difficult experience in your life later. And/or what’s your “child at heart” confession? pps: There aren’t any Nicaraguan kids on the Compassion site right now (and I think that’s God protecting me from myself), but man! this trip made me miss my sponsor kids, made me want to be hugging and playing with them. If you are interested in child sponsorship, check out Compassion’s page or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!