I’ve been travelling to Managua for 30 years. That’s two pant sizes and a full head of hair ago. I continue to return, because Managua is a place of meeting for me.
In that poor, scattered city, I continually meet remarkable people. Such as Guillermo, who meets me at the airport with a warm smile and friendly banter; Dr. Woo who goes about her work as a physician, in a calm, caring manner; Juan Carlos, quietly ensuring that the cement is poured and projects completed. I think too of Marissa from the States, who is volunteering for a year and has fallen in love with the people and culture of this beautiful and sometimes, tragic land.
For thirty years, as a pastor, I’ve been travelling to Nicaragua to support public health initiatives, most recently through AMOS: Health and Hope. AMOS http://amoshealth.org is a faith based, community health care model, which empowers local communities, to leverage their wisdom and resources, for the purpose of improving their overall health.
AMOS accompanies 70,000 of our most vulnerable neighbors, in 22 underserved rural communities and one urban clinic. We train local health care workers and committees, to immunize their children, provide clean water and monitor the health of those pregnant and with infants.
In these vulnerable communities, in the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, it is beautiful to see communities empowered to grow in health and hope. The good news, arises from the talent and commitment of neighbors watching out for one another.
In truth, I receive much more than anything I give. The people of Nicaragua, remind me of two truths: That we need Faith and we need each other. That together, there is no challenge we can’t overcome.
In the Gospel of Luke 24, a story is told of the afternoon of Easter. Two travelers are walking from Jerusalem to the village of Emmaus. They are talking about events of the day. Rumors circulate that Jesus’ broken body had been stolen. They are distraught, hopeless.
As they walk, a stranger joins them and opens their eyes and hearts to a new possibility, that all is not lost. That hope remains.
That evening, they invite their new companion to join them for supper.
When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him (as Jesus); and he vanished from their sight.
People of faith, like me, tell this story 2000 years later, because it has legs. It offers a timeless story of God’s initiative into the common place moments of life … sharing a conversation and meal.
The road to Managua and Emmaus, remind me of a profound and simple truth. That companions enter our lives, sometimes but for a moment. To remind us that we do not walk alone. To bless us and be on their way.
I’m just days back from my most recent visit to Nicaragua. As before, I’ve met remarkable people. People who open my eyes and expand my heart. I’m nothing, if not grateful to my fellow travelers.