Imagine signing up to go on a trip four months ahead of time without knowing any of the travel plans or how to pay for it. An international trip where each day’s schedule was a surprise and you don’t know the language. This is the trip I signed up for back in November when I decided to go on a mission trip to Nicaragua with Cru and Filter of Hope. I can honestly say that it was worth the risk; it was one of the best and most humbling experiences of my life!
Each day we set out to provide access to clean drinking water for the people of Nicaragua. The majority of Nicaragua’s population get their water from lakes, wells, and rivers that are full of bacteria and contaminants. Most of the families that we visited said that they have been sick or they knew someone who has been sick from drinking the water. Filter of Hope created an easy-to-use water filter that provides a simple solution to this striking need. During the course of the week, our group split into teams of about five students and one translator to distribute, install, and teach the locals how to use the water filters. I loved being able to see the reactions of the families once we showed them the clean water. On two of the days, we went to islands where the people were living in poverty and isolation. They had been drinking water from the lake for their whole lives, and it was amazing to see how grateful they were to finally have clean water. I became conscious of how much I take my daily necessities for granted. I was also reminded that being content isn’t about all of the stuff that I own; it’s about being grateful for the things that I do have.
After giving them the filters, we were able to have conversations with the families about their communities and their beliefs. We shared our beliefs with them and explained that Jesus’s death and resurrection washes our sins clean, much like the filters clean the water. God lovingly offers His forgiveness to us and all we have to do is repent of our sins, accept His gift and believe in Him, and then we will be able to spend eternity with Him in Heaven. Many of the people there already believed this and said that they were encouraged by our willingness to share our faith. One woman was moved to tears by our visit. She told us that she had been going through a rough time in her life, and she was feeling like God was far away from her. She said that we were just what she needed that day, and that when we came and encouraged her it reminded her of God’s everlasting love. Other families had heard of Jesus before, but had never prayed to accept His forgiveness, so we were able to pray with them and help connect them to local churches.
Overall, my trip to Nicaragua was a truly eye-opening experience. I witnessed people who barely had basic necessities and yet were completely content with their lives. I was able to share and be encouraged in my faith by the very same people. I grew meaningful friendships with the other members of the mission trip, and through it all, I had a ton of fun. I can’t wait for next year!