March 28, 2014

What HANDS Is All About...

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Overall, I was MOST IMPACTED BY THE INCREDIBLE RELATIONSHIPS THAT STUDENTS DEVELOPED WITH THE STUDENTS AT CENTRO DE FE.

This March has been a busy one for HANDS teams, especially school HANDS teams. It’s always exciting to see youth who are eager to get involved and serve others both near and far and it is our prayer at EduDeo Ministries that these youth will find real meaning in these experiences.

Being fully aware about the continuous debate around short term mission trips, we continue to strive to find better ways to offer healthy development mission trips and strive to do it differently.  So it is especially exciting to read and hear about stories of reflection such as this one from the Abbotsford HANDS team that just returned from Nicaragua.


Overall, I was most impacted by the incredible relationships that students developed with the students at Centro de Fe. Throughout the week, the other leaders and I continuously made comments about how quickly our students connected with the Nicaraguans. Our North American hosts expressed the same sentiments. They have helped with many school groups in the past, and they said that they have never seen a group jump right in and develop friendships so quickly.

From the very first activity, students were ACTIVELY ENGAGED  in conversations with students their age, despite a language barrier. I was concerned that this level of engagement would not be able to keep up all week, but each day they CONTINUED TO INTEGRATE THEMSELVES and soon found that teenagers are the same no matter where you go. It was heart-wrenching to watch some of the goodbyes today, as there were so many tears and long embraces. I still find it hard to believe that in one short week, THESE KIDS REALLY CAME TO LOVE EACH OTHER.

Tonight we had our last devotions/debrief together as a group. We did an activity called a “Pow-Wow” where each person had an opportunity to share one “pow” and one “wow” (one negative and one positive from the week). For the past two days we did some very touristy things like zip lining, boating, looking into a volcano and swimming at the ocean, and yet not one single “wow” had anything to do with those things. FOR EVERY PERSON ON THIS TRIP, THE MOST MEANINGFUL MOMENTS WERE THOSE SHARED WITH THE PEOPLE HERE. I TRULY BELIEVE THAT OUR TEAM HAS COME TO UNDERSTAND WHAT IT MEANS TO SERVE GOD BY LOVING OTHERS.

One student said something that will probably stay with me for a very long time. He expressed that...

... even though our plan was to come here and do missions through loving others and helping with development of Christian education, he felt that THE PEOPLE HERE WERE THE TRUE MISSIONARIES AND WE WERE THE ONES LEARNING...

...He said that he felt that the people here are the ones who really know how to love. They know what it means to welcome you with open arms and to show God’s unconditional love and he hopes that when he arrives back home he will be able to love others more like the people here.

To me, that thought is a TRUE TESTAMENT OF WHAT THIS TRIP WAS ALL ABOUT. 

 

- Abbotsford HANDS 2014 Team

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