A few of my favorite quotes about Christmas that inspire a simple life.
A few of my favorite quotes about Christmas that inspire a simple life.
I absolutely love to read. I don’t ever have enough time for it and could easily fill up bags at the library each time I go. So much to be read, how to read it all?
While I read quite a few non-fiction guides to living simply and share those often, I wanted to share some that you may not know of because they are not the HOW TO books. Some of them, the author probably didn’t intentionally lean into a simple life, and yet it has inspired or encouraged me on my journey in living simply. [Read more…]
Its funny how you can live so much in a week or a day even. We all have had moments, that are like a split down the middle our lives and we know that we’ll never be the same. Although I was only gone for a week to Nicaragua, upon returning it felt like I’d be gone a month. So much happened and was experienced in the course of the week.
Our church had been partnering with Food for the Hungry (FH) for a few years in a small community on the outskirts of Chinandega, Nicaragua. This community is riddled with poverty struggles like health issues, education, economic instability and unemployment. As our team prepared for our visit this year, we learned that our work project would be joining the residents of Bayardo Arce in a community clean-up campaign. When I visited last year, one of the shocking things I saw was the accepted and habitual trash dumping anywhere and everywhere, so I was happy that the community leaders had chosen this as a project.
As we arrived that first morning in Bayardo Arce, those of us who had been in previous years were astounded by how many adults were present for the beginning of the project. In years past, the adults who attended were mostly women and were not overly enthusiastic. This year there were women and men and they were not only there to be involved, but were excited and cheering about the project. Separated into twelve teams according to the street they lived on, we were to work three days on cleaning up with the third day ending in a team being chosen as the winner and receiving new yard and cleaning tools as the prize.
I spent the majority of my morning with the pink team, who undoubtedly had the biggest and hardest street as it also doubled as a creek during the rainy season and included the front portion of the field in which many of our activities occur and where there is traffic from others not living in the community. As men and boys trimmed grass with machetes, I raked grass and picked up fallen branches to be laid aside. There was little talking that day as we all were intently working. The heat index was over 100 degrees and midway through the morning, a man instructed me to take a break. One thing I began to notice, is they all intuitively knew to take breaks. The heat and humidity was great and though I felt the crunch of time, they were more in-tune to their bodies’ needs, so I followed course. As I rested, another man brought me a branch with some little tart fruits freshly plucked from a nearby tree and I gratefully enjoyed the snack.
As our work time came to an end, the pink team rallied and we celebrated our progress and then broke for lunch. As my team joined back together for lunch, the response was overwhelming that there had been so much enthusiasm and participation from the adults, like we’ve never seen before. This big change in just a year speaks volumes about what the FH staff is doing throughout the year to help this community develop and thrive. Those living in the community were taking the lead and organizing and giving instructions. They were owning this project and seemed more confident and proud.
As the days went on, I helped team “Rosado” every day and though a torrential downpour brought a new wave of trash from upstream on the day before the winner would be chosen, I was happy to see that rather than discouraged, they worked even harder and began work early to pick up the newly deposited trash. This hard working team won first place! These few days deepened their connections with neighbors and strengthened their resolve to care for and make their community a better place.
The afternoons were scheduled to be time with the children. FH works on a Child Focused Community Transformation model, realizing that children are not just the most vulnerable members, but also are a community’s future. We teach Bible lessons, focusing on issues that are prevalent in the community and play games and soccer and just give attention and affection to the kids.
One of the most treasured and impactful moments for me, was when I got to visit the two children that my family has been sponsoring. We have been sponsoring a little girl, Milagros, for a few years now. This was my second home visit with her, so already having established the relationship led to a more relaxed setting. We immediately started catching up on what was going on in her life and she brought out a notebook to show me some of her drawings, one of her favorite past-times. Her mama joined us half way through the visit, as she had been working, but left early to join us. She immediately welcomed me and hugged me and started telling me about some things that had happened in the year which was a big change from her more reserved manner last year.
It was a beautiful moment of how two women from completely different cultures, can bond over this sisterhood of being a mother and can encourage one another. I came away from this short visit encouraged and inspired and challenged.
The next visit was with a boy, Donald, that my husband and I both connected with last year and began sponsoring when he became available in the program last fall. His mother was unable to join us because of her work, so I met with him and his older brother. We talked and asked each other questions about our lives. Donald wants to be a doctor. As is so common, his brother shared about how he dropped out of school in order to get a job and help support the family. Although this was his reality, he is supportive of Donald to stay in school. Leaving, I realized that I longed so much to connect with his mother. I wanted to encourage her and build that connection with her.
Though their life is so different and in ways so much more difficult than mine, I also saw many similarities. Kids are kids no matter where you are. They love, dream, hope, laugh, run, and play. They also see the struggles of their parents and long to help and please. And mamas are mamas no matter where you are. We love our kids deeply, worry about health and wellness, caring and helping others, teaching our children. I may be the sponsor, but I am not the hero. I am broken and have issues in my life and family that money can not fix. Only God can. If anything, what extra money that we have often distracts us from deeper issues in our lives and our world both near and far.
Child sponsorship through FH is a precious thing. What a blessing and opportunity to see a family and child be supported and cared for throughout the year by the staff of Food for the Hungry. As sometimes the needs in our world seem so overwhelming, it is wonderful to know that our giving is helping a family get clean water, education, health care, and learn life giving principles. Our letters of encouragement may be instrumental in that child staying in school and making good choices, and fighting for a better future for his community. You can be a bright light in the life of a child surrounded by darkness and poverty. If you have children of your own, what an excellent way to teach them a little about the world and some of the harsh realities others live in. Sponsorship sets such an example to our kids about giving and caring and loving others. And as with our family, it is a challenge for us to continue to live simply so that others may simply live.
Would you consider sponsoring a child? I really cannot say enough about FH and the work they are doing around the world in the most impoverished communities. They not only provide relief in places struck by disaster, but are taking a holistic approach to seeing communities develop and rise our of poverty. When you sponsor a child, you are helping that child, their family, and their community work towards better health, clean water, food, sustainable income and farming practices, employment and business practices and thriving communities and families.
To learn more and sign up to sponsor a child, please visit https://fh.org/give/sponsor.
If you missed my initial post about FH & Nicaragua, you can read it here: Simplicity and Opportunities to Help: Food for the Hungry & Nicaragua
To see more photos check out Simplify & Pursue on Instagram