**For those of you who receive our quarterly newsletter, this is the same article. We didn’t want to make you read it twice…
Living here is hard. At times it is difficult to explain this in words, but I will try. Since we arrived in November, I have had to be intentional about looking for the positives and finding God’s beauty because the reality around us often overwhelms our hearts and minds. Every day we see, hear, and smell things that aren’t all that pleasant. At times we find ways to avoid them. We know when to hold our breath so we don’t have to smell the horrendous sewage. We know when to look the other way on the bus because the naked man with mental health issues is sitting at his corner. Daily we pass individuals maimed in war or those who work in factories with extremely poor conditions. But then there are days when we do choose to see, we do choose to hear, and we do look intentionally because after all, that is why we are here – to live in solidarity among these brothers and sisters.
Already, after only being here for six months Kevin and I found it extremely helpful to have my parents and Kevin’s dad come for a visit. We explored the country of Nicaragua, having our parents experience many of our daily realities. Through our experiences and the sharing of our lives, they were able to confirm for us, from an outside perspective, that this is a difficult place. My parents have traveled the world, yet there was something different about Nicaragua. Like my parents, I have seen and lived among poverty in many different contexts, but for me there is something about Nicaragua. Not that it is worse or poorer, and not that there needs to be a competition between the world’s poor and mistreated people – they all need and deserve help and have much to give - but there is just something here that makes your heart break and rejoice at the same time.
This all hit me last week when I was sitting on a bus. A blind, aging man played his harmonica and went from seat to seat asking for money for food. He waited at each row, touching each of our shoulders until we would give. This situation happens several times each day, and I have to continually ask myself and God how to respond. Although sometimes I give money (yes, I really do think that poor people have the right to choose how to spend their own money) and sometimes I give food from my backpack, that day I gave money and tears. I cried under my sunglasses.