Even if you’re not necessarily connected to a network of churches, I was reflecting on how diverse our country has become and even the fact that not only am I bi-racial but so is the family we’ve created now. My husband is from Nicaragua (often mistaken for being Filipino) and I never really appreciated his culture until I had the opportunity to being engulfed in it if you will.
Maycol (yes that’s the correct spelling of his name) traveled to the U.S. around the age of four or five, where his family left the difficulties of their country and were able to re-establish themselves here. Looking at my husband and his four brothers, you would never know where they began and the legacy they come from. My father-in-law owns his own business and my mother-in-law has worked over a decade at a whole sale florist. They have both worked many hard years to not only raise their children, but to pave a way for them (it’s truly amazing what they’ve done). One of the most influential people in their family was Mike’s grandmother who passed away from cancer several years ago (I didn’t have the opportunity to meet her unfortunately, but I was told he asked her to pray for me before we had started dating)… she was constantly giving back to her community and selflessly sharing God’s love. In honor of continuing her great work they began Ebenezer International Outreach. The premise behind the non-profit is to provide support and be a force of change in your own community, because it really starts with you. That meant bringing food, clothing, and even helping rebuild homes for the long-term…because sometimes one trip just isn’t enough. And the truth is, people really connect with consistency.
I had the chance to go on Ebenezer’s second trip back to Nicaragua in 2011 after Mike and I had gotten married. It was a complete eye-opener and hit me close to home as I saw where my husband’s roots ran deep and still do. I’ve been able to go to many mission’s trips, but there is something different about watching someone you’re connected to tell show you where they used to live and go to school… It’s one thing to hear stories and another to experience them. We rode in the back of pick-up trucks, stood near a volcano, prayed and spent time with families and children. Words can’t really express how I feel, and not necessarily because I feel “blessed” to be in America – but because I feel broken to do more. I never really said how truly drawn I am to the mission of loving and impacting your own community, but it’s always been my heart.
The mission is still going strong and Mike was able to bring our current church along to push it even further. Last year through some great connections a 40ft container was able to be shipped with clothes, household items, wheelchairs, bicycles along with the team to give out to the community. A school is also in the works of being built in an extremely impoverished area where most of the work has begun, Los Brasiles. This year an even larger group will be headed out from our church and we’re praying to give out over 500 food bags this year. There have been political setbacks like the container being held for a period of time, but God has overcome each of them.
The legacy we leave is not just for us, but our children. As great as it is to read quotes from influential leaders like Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela, it’s completely different to incorporate and apply them to your life. I’m constantly challenged to live out the dreams and legacies of those before me and I pray Kai doesn’t just quote things we say…but that he lives them out.
Here are some pictures from the previous trips and this last trip: