About 1500 miles from here, as the big silver bird flies, is a country that is in almost every way different from where we live. Their culture, clothes, language, weather, even transportation would be considered strange by our standards; not necessarily strange in a bad way but dissimilar to our norms. The beautiful country of Nicaragua welcomed eleven gringos with open arms and continued to make us feel welcome for the entire ten days we were there. While the customs agent only smiled as he did his job, almost the entire rest of the country literally had open arms for us. They are very affectionate and love to hug.
We also had gifts for them as we arrived. We started with the gift of English in the form of four English classes a day tailored to the individual's level of knowledge and comfort of the language. Many could speak absolutely no English while others conversed about difficult subjects with ease, only needing some clarification of nuances and figurative meanings. All were appreciative of the gift we gave since it will be a great help in finding and keeping a good job.
We soon starting working in the next and best gift which was the gift of the Gospel. Through testimony, songs, and preaching, as well as our own open lives we were able to present the Good News of Jesus to over four hundred people from kindergarten age on up. My new Nicaraguan friend Marta was well into her sixties or maybe seventies and did not know how to even say "Hello" when we started but learned not only English but also about how Jesus died for her sins and was resurrected and now waits for her in Heaven. Teenagers with bad attitudes (ok, not everything is different there) heard and accepted the free gift of English but much more importantly the free gift of eternal life with Jesus.
We had approximately 100 adults and 100 teenagers come to have a life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ over the week. We gave a good gift and a great gift and asked for nothing in return but, of course, received some wonderful tokens and souvenirs as we left. The best thing we received was obviously not a tangible bauble or trinket but the incredible gift of God's revelation of Himself in our work. We did what we needed to do but God blessed it and made it worth something far more valuable. As we were preparing to leave our leader and missionary friend Jody Kennedy asked us a question. He asked us what God had revealed about Himself to us this week and also what God had revealed to us about ourselves.