Notes from Nica: Play Needs No Translation


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. IMG_6294Nicaragua 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. IMG_4067Be still my heart. These kids.


IMG_5827As 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. IMG_6267IMG_6269 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. DSC_1123 2 DSC_0163 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. IMG_0560_2Love 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. IMG_0441My 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.

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xo, Breanne

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!


8 responses »

  1. Those two sister especially melted my heart!!

    So I’ve been leaving my confessions all over the Compassion Bloggers Network blogs so here I’ll share a difficult experience. 🙂

    After working in ministry for years, I vowed to never work in ministry again as long as I lived. This due to a number of factors but I was determined to go do my own thing. Welllll…you know that thing you said about telling God you’ll never do something again… 🙂 A job I was interviewing for fell through and I was devastated. So I spent a few days away fasting and praying, asking God for His direction. A week later I was a Contractor for Compassion doing Social Media…and the rest is history!

    Despite difficulty and hardships we all face, I am grateful that God is so kind He doesn’t let us stay stuck. And this is why I love Compassion so much. Working (and playing) with these kiddos are as good for our hearts as it is theirs. And what a great reminder to all of us of His love and that He will fight to unstick us all from poverty — body, soul and spirit.

    • They were the sweetest things. The older was my closest companion that day 🙂
      Thanks for sharing your experience with us! I’m always encouraged by stories of God’s faithfulness through foiled expectations.

  2. It’s so fun to hear about your trip!! I loved hearing how God prepared you and how you connected so well with the kids. What wonderful photos!!

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