Spiders and serving – experiences from Nicaragua

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Ken Banks

“Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.”

Chantal Melanson, left, April Banks and Ken Banks of the Central Nova Wesleyan Church in Truro, recently returned from a trip to Nicaragua.

This quote from U.S. President John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address in 1961, inspired a generation to rise up in passion with a heart for serving. It offered them the opportunity to think beyond themselves.

Having just recently returned from a nine-day trip to Nicaragua, as part of a humanitarian / missions’ trip, I have been reminded of the value of intentional service.As Kennedy inferred, living beyond ourselves is of far greater benefit than solely living for ourselves.

As mentioned in previous columns, Nicaragua is a poor country. It has many needs. One person, or group, or even many groups could not meet all of the challenges in this country of six million people.

Yet, in a land of scarcity – where 80 per cent of the people live on $2 or less each day - a relatively small amount of money and ministry can make a huge difference, and leave a lasting impact. 

Jose, was among the poorest of the poor. The only people we were told who would be poorer were those who lived on the street or in the dump. He and his family did have a home, located in Managua. It had one room where all five members lived and slept. The support beam in the house had been damaged by termites, and was in need of repair.

The kitchen was out back in their small yard, and consisted of three cement blocks used as a stove along with a table. Laundry, cleaning and baths were all done in a cement two-sink washbasin located in front of the house. They had one chicken.

We served Jose and his family for one day of our trip, digging trenches around his house more than three-feet deep. These would later be used to place the foundation for his new home.

The project was going to allow Jose to have a larger house, as well as one made from cement blocks as opposed to wood – which the termites would eventually eat.

Working in 35 C degree heat and having tarantulas jump out of holes as we dug (true story), would not be considered fun or comfortable … but receiving hugs of thanks from Jose and his family afterwards – proved to be excellent pay.

Along with giving a day’s work, we donated $800 toward supplies to continue the work after we left, which were delivered to him while we were there.

Not only were we able to assist a family in need, and to offer them something helpful, we were able to make new friendships.

There are many other stories I could share from the trip … the day we fed and interacted with 70 kids from a poor neighbourhood in Matagalpa … the seven-year-old juggler begging for food … the sad, elderly man who walked from vehicle to vehicle with his hands cupped, hoping for the least bit of food or money … the opportunities to hand out packages of crackers or rice to street people … the crowds of kids who gathered when we offered candy (even parents enjoyed the treat) … and even more surprisingly, the crowds who wanted to receive the Spanish/English Bibles we were giving out. At one point we even made a pastor cry, but I’ll save that story for another article.

In closing, I would challenge each of us to consider this concept - even if it’s right here at home - what might you do to live beyond yourself, in order to make a difference in someone else’s life.


Ken Banks is the pastor of the Wesleyan Church in Truro. You can contact him at www.trurowesleyan.ca 


Organizations: Ken Banks, Spanish/English Bibles, Wesleyan Church

Geographic location: Nicaragua, U.S., Managua Matagalpa Truro

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Recent comments

  • Robert Groh
    March 08, 2014 - 08:00

    I just returned from a 14 day trip to the Blue Fields and Puerto Cabezas. I concur with everything is this article. I have been working with the missions on the East Coast since 2004. You can certainly change lives for very little investment in Nicaragua. Love the people.