I am writing this post from a room in a motel in Managua, Nicaragua.
It is not my own room. The shower has no hot water so shaving is difficult. Don’t even think about putting paper down the commode. (I won’t go into the mechanics or alternatives.)
Each year I come to Nicaragua as part of a Health Talents International team on a mobile medical mission trip. I come for a particular reason. My church supports a program that feeds hungry children in four locations. I come to see and then report.
The trip is difficult for many reasons besides cold water, beans and rice for every meal or a different bed. It’s January and it’s hot.
I come to help people. I fit eyeglasses on people who cannot see well. Great doctors give examinations and write prescriptions that are filled by exceptional pharmacists. Dentists extract teeth in chairs made of plywood. All of this happens out of suitcases and in less than professional environments. We help hundreds in a few days.
Then we go home to warm beds, hot water, working plumbing, and loving families.
It is difficult, so why go?
One obvious reason is altruistic—to help people who need the help. Something in all of us yearns to make a difference in the life of someone else, someone who has no way of returning the favor. I can think of no better place to do that than where I am.
A not so obvious reason is what it does to me in a different way. It refreshes me. In no possible universe can you say hard work in dirty areas is refreshing. Yet, the refreshment comes only through that discomfort. I get to experience life in a different vein, see through different eyes, and feel with a different heart. I see things inside of me that are masked by technology and suburbia. I come because in the discomfort of the place, I find peace in my soul. That only happens when you become uncomfortable.
Some people jump out of perfectly good airplane. Others fish, hunt, camp, or sail. All are perfectly acceptable was of getting just uncomfortable enough to make you think.
I like mine. I look into the eyes of worried parents with hurting children. I see children devour food that kids back home twist their faces into a displeasured distortion. I see people standing in heat rather than complaining about how hot or cold they are. I get the change to make some small difference by being God’s representative to them (a role that none of us deserve but are called to do).
I get to be uncomfortable and I get a chance to grow. What about you?