In my last post, I described how and why I invited God to break me as we climbed Cerro Negro on our first day in Nicaragua. Fast forward to the next morning…
During devotionals, we learned we would be working on a project in La Chuscada. Up until three years ago, the people in this community spent their days retrieving water for their families from a hand-dug well. Amigos for Christ came alongside them and helped bring clean water to their homes. Currently, a new school is being built in the community, and we had the opportunity to contribute by digging footers, constructing walls, and planting grass.
Jillian and I chose to join the grass team while Travis and Brooke headed to the perimeter of the worksite with shovels. When we learned the shipment of grass had been delayed, our team hung out in the shade and talked with the locals. When the grass finally arrived, I slipped on my work gloves and filed into line. I was excited to get to work, but I had a bit of a headache. As I dug a pickaxe through the soil, my headache increased, and I felt a little dizzy. Armed with my water bottle and a salty snack, I planted myself on a cooler in the shade.
As minutes passed, I started to feel worse. Recognizing I was on a slippery slope, I panicked. In the hopes of reversing the symptoms of heat exhaustion (and saving myself from embarrassment), I guzzled water and ate a peanut butter sandwich. Not smart. At this time, Travis approached the shelter for a break. I told him I didn’t feel well, and we walked away from the group. Moments later, I fled to the woods and lost complete control of my body for the first time that day.
My husband helped me get comfortable in the shade. After I promised to tell someone if I felt worse, he returned to work. A few minutes later, I saw polka dots (“stars”) on dark clothing. I knew I needed to notify Amigos of my declining state, so I surrendered and confided in Sabrina Bland, one of the nurses on staff. She located Jeff Hughes and asked him to escort me to Amigos in the “ambulance,” the truck they have at the worksites for situations like this. They assured me I would be fine–I needed water, Gatorade, and rest. At least I hadn’t thrown up–yet.
Not long after leaving La Chuscada, I needed Jeff to pull to the side of the road. For the second time that afternoon, I lost control of my body. Jeff continued to assure me I would be fine–I wasn’t dying, and I wasn’t going to have to go to the hospital. He distracted my thoughts with stories from his life as he monitored my water consumption. When we arrived back at Amigos, we ran into Annie, another nurse on staff who happens to be Sabrina’s daughter. She gave me some instructions, and I headed off to my room to take a cold shower.
Once I had settled into bed, my head throbbed in waves. If I sat up, I was dizzy. My face was white and swollen, and I stared at the ceiling through puffy eyes. Certainly God would not allow me to go through this misery without good reason. So I prayed–what lesson do you want me to learn from this? God immediately told me, “Let go.” Though His voice was not audible, His words were loud and clear. I remembered being on the volcano the previous afternoon, inviting Him to break me. He wasted no time taking control from me, forcing me to let go. As I struggled through the worst 12 hours of my life, I was able to find joy in my suffering. God loves me and continues to meet me where I am–whether that be in the midst of the good, the bad, or the ugly.
During the rest of the week, I did my best to let go, and God surrounded me with people who contributed to my success. I was able to form relationships with my teammates and those who live in Nicaragua while Travis and our girls ventured out of my sight to do the same. On many occasions, I would enter a room or round a corner to find our daughters in conversation with adults who were genuinely interested in them. At the end of the week, I shared my testimony with the group. This trip was not as much about physical labor for me as it was about building relationships and spiritual growth. While I had feared being judged on that first day for my actions and inactions as a mother, these people built into me throughout the week and helped me let go. I am forever grateful.
In my third and final post about this trip, I will share highlights from the week that will illustrate why our family wants to return to Nicaragua in the future. Hope you’ll check back soon!