On Monday, my girls will start school here in Nicaragua for the first time. This was their shortest summer break ever, but they are being super great sports about that… all for the sake of this Great Adventure.
So today we spent the afternoon at the largest crater lake in Nicaragua – Laguna de Apollo. It was created some 23,000 years ago by a large volcanic explosion. The water is gloriously clear and never cooler than 82°F. It is 590′ deep and 2.5 miles in diameter and absolutely gorgeous.
Lounging the afternoon away there was a fabulous way to celebrate the “end” of summer (or at least the end of summer break for the kids). It also gave me time to reflect about what we’ve learned since moving to Nicaragua 12 days ago.
A few days prior, a neighbor had shared how living here teaches you an awful lot about yourself. For example, if you think you’re a patient person, you might be surprised by how much here can really try that patience. How about the woman who knocks on your car window at the stop light… to beg for money… every single day… sometimes multiple times a day?
And how about selfishness? I know I struggle with being selfless, but being here makes me realize just how much. In the past week and a half, we have had multiple people drop everything to spend hours and hours helping us acclimate to this new environment. Here I thought I was a hero for bringing new neighbors cookies back in our hometown. I gave myself the ol’ pat on the back as I made the cookies and delivered them, feeling so good about taking a few minutes out of my busy schedule to welcome new friends.
But here, it’s as if these folks said, “I’ll see your cookie-gift and raise you… five hours of playing driver/translator/tour guide… and then I’ll do it all over again the next day too.” (But without the snotty attitude ;-))
Seriously. We have been blown away by the complete selflessness of our new neighbors and friends. At one point, one of us mentioned visiting a particular furniture market to buy some couches, and one couple literally stopped what they were doing to take us all to the market that afternoon. And we’re not talking about a quick trip either. Pretty much every trip to “town” takes several hours. In fact, I’ve started figuring out how long I expect something to take and multiplying that by at least two. Everything just takes more time here.
We’ve made at least a half a dozen trips to various stores trying to secure high-speed internet. Each time, we’ve been turned away for one reason or another. And yet these new friends (from multiple families, churches, even countries) keep asking if they can help us try again. (Are they gluttons for punishment or what?!) It’s as if they are actually living out Christ’s command for his church to be his hands and feet here on Earth.
These people had never met us before we arrived in Nicaragua. They didn’t know who we voted for in the last election, where we stood on different social issues, or whether we agreed about various religious doctrine.
They didn’t care.
Instead, they welcomed us into this community of foreigners, and sought to do whatever they could to ease our struggles during the transition. Even our kids have felt it (check out their blog here).
This is most certainly one lesson I pray we never forget, and put into practice in our own lives… no matter where we’re living.