BY KEN BANKS - What would it be like to live on $2 or less a day? In our culture, it would be unfathomable. For 80 per cent of Nicaraguans, it is reality.
Nicaragua is the poorest Spanish-speaking nation in the world, and the second poorest country in our hemisphere ‚Äď just after Haiti. It is a beautiful country filled with great challenges. One such challenge, beyond the poverty, is that 27 per cent of the population suffers from undernourishment.
In less than a week, 10 Nova Scotian‚Äôs (myself included) will arrive in Nicaragua for a nine-day humanitarian/missions trip. Eight of our team members are from the Truro area. This will be the second trip to this Central American country that our church has organized in the past two and a half years. But not only will Wesleyans be going as a part of this team, there is a total of three different denominations comprising the members of the trip.
For a country that has so many challenges, one might wonder what we could possibly offer during nine days of service. The thought has crossed my mind before.
But I recall an experience I had while on another such trip, when several of the local residents thanked us Canadians for coming to their country, and assisting them in making a difference. It was stated that it helped them to feel as though they weren‚Äôt alone.
Whether in another country, or here at home, that is a great reminder. There are people who feel alone in their circumstances ‚Äď and would appreciate someone simply showing love and care.
I am reminded of one of the things Jesus said about those in need, from Matthew 25 ‚Äď where He equated doing things for those in need as doing it for Him:
‚ÄúFor I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.‚ÄĚ
We can all do something.
Our last trip primarily consisted of construction. This time around, there will be more interaction with people. Though there is a definite language barrier, between those on the ground helping us with translation and kindness shown during our interaction, I fully expect bridges to be made during these nine days.
Among the things that we will be involved with include teaching basic English. In Nicaragua, English is not taught until high school. Getting any experience with the language leads to a greater possibility of getting a better job. In addition to volunteering in three schools, we will be using Spanish/English Bibles to help teach the language.
I would like to thank the local Gideons for helping us get 400 of these Bibles. They will be a huge help.
Along with teaching English, we will be assisting with a food program for children. Kids are fed six days a week at the location at which we will be serving. We are also going to assist in the construction of a home for a family. Our local contact suggests that this will be a huge blessing to this family ‚Äď seeing that they are among the poorest of the poor in Nicaragua.
One of my personal joys is going to be able to participate in the dedication of a local Wesleyan Church. Through the giving and effort of our Truro church, the San Juan church has been able to be constructed, and currently has an effective ministry.
Pray for us, would you?
Ken Banks is the pastor at the Wesleyan Church in Truro. You can contact him at www.trurowesleyan.ca