Category Archives: Nicaragua

Skin and Bones

I have been in Nicaragua for the last week, taking pictures and filming interviews for an organization known as NRN. It has been a great experience in many ways, but has also been very tiring. I remember our second day being an exhausting mess of inner city travel and 2 language interviews. By the time I would get back at night, I was exhausted and ready for a quiet dinner and to maybe take a leisurely walk up to the ice cream shop for a cool treat .

On most nights I would change into clean clothes before bed, and settle in to the fresh cleaned sheets for anywhere from 4-8 hours of sleep. The next morning would bring breakfast, and then a quick meeting before being driven out to shoot interviews all over again. It has been tiring, but it has also been very rewarding.

In fact, as I wrapped up an interview with one of the doctors working with NRN, she asked if she could ask me a question. After assuring her through a translator that she could, she asked me why I was doing all of this work. I wasn’t exactly sure why she had asked that question, so I told her that I wanted people to know about the ministry happening here, I told her that I had been to the website before I came and that even after that I had no idea the extent of the medical ministry that NRN was doing.

A life changing interview...

A life changing interview…

After the few moments it took for my answer to be translated, she began speaking again, sharing that the people in the clinic had noticed the same problem and had actually been praying that someone would come to tell their story. She thanked me for being an answer to their prayers, and for bringing my equipment and my talents to serve when I knew I would not be paid for my time.

It was a moving moment for me, an acknowledgement of the work I had come to do. For this doctor to take time to thank me has encouraged me to keep going for the rest of the week. She saw the sacrifice I was making and made sure that I knew that she had seen it.

The thing is that it hasn’t really been that much of a sacrifice. Each night I have a hot dinner and a clean bed to sleep in. During each interview I had a translator putting my questions into Spanish, and then each answer was brought from Spanish to English. I haven’t had to wash my own clothes or cook my own dinner for the whole time I’ve been here. When I am here with NRN, I live like a rich man that can afford to have his menial tasks done for him.

There is always someone watching over us at the Quinta.  Always.

There is always someone watching over us at the Quinta. Always.

If I had to clean and cook in addition to all of the other stuff I am doing here, I would be struggling to keep ahead of it all. It might be possible, but the longer I am here, the more I begin to doubt that I could do it all. The framework of people who are around me is the only reason I can continue doing what I am doing. The cooks and translators and laundry washers are an integral part of my small work here.

The Nicaraguans serving NRN are the bones, the frame that holds up our North American short term teams. Many people who interact with NRN in Nicaragua may never see the people who are the bones, holding the organization together. I look around at the people who are visibly serving and I see just skin. Our team gets to go out and look good in the communities we serve only because of the cooks who get to work at 4 in the morning and who are there when we finish dinner at 6 at night. We wear fresh clothes that were lovingly washed by ladies who may never get to see the impact of their ministry. We sleep in comfortable beds because our sheets are changed for us.

We are the skin and we get the credit for so much beauty.

They are the bones that we so often forget about.

We need both to live.

So as I sit at home thinking about my trip, I find that the people I keep thinking about aren’t the kids at the church or the people on the team, but those who quietly served us while we did our best to minister to their countryman. They recognize we have a platform to speak to their friends and family in a way that they never could, and they give us everything they have to make our jobs more comfortable. They willingly step out of the spotlight and serve us so that we can make Jesus look good.

Changing the we don't die.  Glad I wasn't involved in this!

Changing the brakes…so we don’t die. Glad I wasn’t involved in this!

So for the doctor who thanked me, I would like to thank you. You are changing the world, in ways that I never could, and I am so grateful to have met you. You may be saving a life right now, while I sit in my air conditioned home writing an essay that will draw attention to me and my work. I hope that I can tell your story in a way that helps people understand the importance of your role. It is the least I can do.

For the workers at the Quinta who kept us safe at night, washed our clothes, cooked our meals, and maintained the grounds, I can’t wait for you to see your rewards in heaven. I often see clearly the moments when I make a difference to someone, but you may not know until you reach heaven, and I will be rejoicing with you as you learn of your colossal impact. Nicaragua is different because of you, and I know my heart is different as well.

I think the translation actually made this skit more amusing.  Roger and Aaron did a great job.

I think the translation actually made this skit more amusing. Roger and Aaron did a great job!

For the facilitators who are our ambassadors, sharing our messages and translating our thoughts, thank you for your service. Without you, I and so many others would be lost, unable to share our heart for your people, to share our love for your people. You have a great gift, thank you for using it in service of the kingdom of God.

For those of us from North America who serve on short term teams, who receive the accolades of the church and post pictures on social media of all the work we have done, I offer just this.

May we never forget the bones who uphold us.

May we love them as we love ourselves.

Did NRN bring you here?  If so, then check out the Nicaragua category for more NRN related photos, videos, and writing.  If you are interested, feel free to check out some of the other posts on the site, and if you would like to get an email in your inbox when there is a new post feel free to subscribe.  You can find the subscription box in the top right corner of the site.  Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you find something that you find moving.  


I hear voices…

It was only for a moment, but I was completely sure that I had heard Braelyns voice burst across the dining room in La Quinta Primevera. I looked up with joy in my heart, not ready to ask myself why she would be in Nicaragua three days early, and my joy faded as I realized what I thought had happened was impossible.

She probably hates this picture...

She probably hates this picture…

It was a trick of the mind perhaps, one that is easily dismissed as an acoustical aberration. The joy I felt was no trick however. I experienced it in its fullness.

In 5 different years, my time in Nicaragua has been shared with so many people, some have gone once, others have been two or three times, but each year I have gone, Braelyn has been there.

I have stood beside Braelyn as her petite frame spoke out powerful words of healing and of blessing in a Nicaraguan home we were guests in. We have stumbled up and down volcanoes together, and made and destroyed volcanoes of concrete together. I have watched her grow from an energetic teen to a rambunctious young lady, ready to take on the world. Each trip like a yearly snapshot…each revealing a different part of who she is.

She might hate this one too...

She might hate this one too…

All it took was a misheard sound to bring this all to heart.

Within moments of my mistake, God blessed me with a clarity I could not have found on my own. If I could experience such joy at the sound of a voice, couldn’t others? In a moment my mind raced down the dusty streets of Tipitapa to the church we serve with, a church Braelyn could likely navigate in the dark by heart. I imagined the huge smiles and hearty hugs that awaited her there. The pastor, his wife and family, Alex and so many children whose names I don’t know but Braelyn probably does. Each of them as familiar with her voice as I am. Each of them happy to hear her voice again.

Braelyn with her sponsored boy, Eddie!

Braelyn with her sponsored boy, Eddie!

In my reminiscing I found myself thinking of things she has said to me or others during the trips. Moments that stick with me and encourage me when I reflect on them. Statements that challenge me, and stick in my heart. What do our Nicaraguan friends remember when they think of Braelyn? Which of her statements stick in their hearts? What kind word or silly sentence do they replay in their mind when they think of her? Her voice has the power to encourage from not only across the ocean, but from across time for those who remember it.

Perhaps more importantly, I could have said most of these things about most of the people I have come to Nicaragua with over the years. This story focuses on Braelyn because it was her voice I thought I heard. It could have easily been any of a dozen other people I have been to Nicaragua with over the years. How many people from Dayspring can be identified by voice at our sister church in Tipitapa? I suspect it is more than we realize.

Each person who has been to Nicaragua with Dayspring has a voice that has spoken to someone here. A voice of encouragement, a voice that acknowledges the beauty of a people who often feel neglected or forgotten, a voice that extends help or provision in a moment of need. It is voice that is recognized by the people at Tabernaculo de Aqua Viva as one of love and encouragement. It is a voice that says “we will stand beside you” and “we are here as an expression of God’s love for you”. It is a voice of support, one that says we acknowledge your suffering, and this is what we can do to help.

Dayspring has a voice in Nicaragua, and it is because of individuals, like Braelyn, who have brought it to the ears of the people here.

So, please pray that our voice as a team would be strong and firm this year, unwavering in our commitment to our Nicaraguan brothers and sisters.  May each donation and sacrifice be fuel for the voice of God’s truth spoken through us.  May each syllable carry every ounce of love that was sent from the United States without spilling a single drop along the way.  May we speak hard truth where it needs to be spoken, and offer apologies where we have done wrong.

Especially pray for Braelyn, as this year she is sharing a message of hope with a church full of women ranging in age from 15-to 95.  Pray that as she speaks to her beloved Nicaraguan sisters, her voice would be clear as a resounding trumpet, and as strong as a nations guttural yell, capable of tearing down walls and laying waste to anything that stands in the way of God’s message for the women of Tabernaculo de Agua Viva.

Leaving her second home...Leaving her second home…

NRN Gala Video

This short film was prepared for the 2014 NRN Gala on September 19th. It features photographs from several great photographers, (I will be getting their names shortly) video footage featuring Franklin, and footage from the 2013 & 2014 Dayspring Community Church Trip to Nicaragua. If you are looking for more NRN related videos, check out Daysprings NIcaragua Channel at

Kathy McCloy contributed some of the still photos used in this film. You can check out her website at

The rest of the still photos were contributed by Jason Chapman. SIte unknown…

You can read more about my experiences in Nicaragua or my other mission trips (such as Haiti) as well.

Want to sponsor a student of your own? Go to and check out the sponsorship options. It can change your life!

Safety is not Guaranteed

In June I was in Nicaragua with my church for our annual support trip to Pastor Chemas church in Tipitapa, Nicaragua. The area had recently been experiencing some earthquakes. Now earthquakes are terrifying in normal circumstances, but in Nicaragua the fear of the populace is especially high due to a long and sordid history of damaging quakes. So as we prepared to go to Pastor Chemas church, and stayed in the capital city each night, the thought that perhaps there would be an earthquake was in the back of my mind. As I looked around at the team God had assembled for this trip, I got a little more nervous. Out of 20 people on the trip, 8 (maybe 9 actually) of us had relevant first responder training, or were nurses, or were in school to be nurses. In my mind this clearly meant God must be planning something. I thought the possibility that we were walking into an earthquake was pretty high. Continue reading

Video from Nicaragua 2014

As new videos are uploaded, I will be adding them here.  I hope these videos give you a little glimpse into the experience of Dayspring Community Church in Nicaragua. Continue reading