My first few days in Nicaragua were spent with our friends from the Beauty for Ashes Project. This ministry shares the love of Jesus with children and families in the heaps of trash in the capital city of Managua. On the day we arrived, the group had plans to visit a family in a community called Nueva Vida to celebrate birthdays of three (3) children. I was honored to be invited to attend with the group.
On our drive into the community, I was overwhelmed by the sheer size of the trash heaps alongside the unpaved roads. They were like mini-mountains of garbage, plastic and rubbish ranging approximately 8ft. to 15 ft. high. Each pile cascaded down to become part of the dirt road beneath the wheels of our truck. It was not your typical Main Street welcome.
However, the real welcome came when we arrived at the home of Salva & Henri, their 11 children and 6 grandchildren. Salva, in particular, was filled with so much joy to see me. I briefly met Salva in April at an event in another town and I had forgotten about our encounter. The interaction in April, however, had meant so much to Salva. She almost squeezed the breath out of my lungs as she hugged me in Nueva Vida. It was such a surprise, and yet her Joy was so pure it brought me to tears! As we continued our greetings, Salva shared her testimony of accepting Jesus fully into her heart and living in relationship with Him. The fruit of that intimacy was obvious in the joyful nature within her family as we spent the afternoon celebrating the birthdays and Jesus’ love.
It did not matter where we were, how many flies swarmed the birthday cake or what smells occasionally floated by with a strong breeze. Nothing compares with Heaps of Joy, Love & Peace I found in Nueva Vida that first day!
May God, the source of hope, fill you with all joy and peace by means of your faith in him, so that your hope will continue to grow by the power of the Holy Spirit – Romans 15:13