Instead of relaxing or heading to the beach for spring break, one group of college students chose to spend their break serving others in an entirely different country. The students traveled to Nicaragua on a mission trip through the Campus Lutheran Church to spread their message to the people of the country. During their time in Nicaragua, the students also learned about the culture and experienced many once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.
The mission group used “sports ministry” to engage the children in athletic activities, such as baseball, before teaching them about the Christian faith. After the games, the mission group performed skits for the people they met on their journey. The skits involved beaded bracelets, with each bead representing a certain religious theme. After the skits and bead explanations, the group handed out bracelets to the audience so their message could be spread to others by means of the colorful jewelry.
Aaron Paterson, a member of Campus Lutheran Church and participant on the mission trip, said the bracelets were a way to overcome the language barrier because most of the Nicaraguans mainly spoke Spanish.
“You can’t even talk with people some of the time because of the language barrier, and you share laughs and smiles,” Paterson said. “It’s just so cool.”
Even though the group traveled with translators, reaching out to the members of the community sometimes proved difficult. Other times, language did not stop the formation of deep bonds between the group and the Nicaraguans.
Katie Blaue, a student member of the mission group, noted how different the lifestyle in Nicaragua was from the United States.
“The biggest surprise was how little everyone had, but yet how proud they were for it,” Blaue said. “In America, we’re so materialistic. We just have everything, especially technology-wise.”
The trip opened the eyes of the travelers. They became aware of how much they have to be grateful for. After returning home, Paterson said that trivial things that might have seemed like a big deal before, now seem insignificant after seeing the poor, yet proud, outlook of the Nicaraguans.
Both Paterson and Blaue enjoyed their time spent in Nicaragua and are eager to go on another mission trip. The experience gave them a sense of appreciation and willingness to help others.
Blaue documented the group’s insights and adventures in a blog, which can be found at http://clnicaragua.wordpress.com