Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Life changers in Jinotega, Matagalpa, Nicaragua

View from the mountains

Just when I thought Nicaragua couldn't get anymore beautiful I traveled with a friend to Jinotega, an incredible mountainous city outside of Matagalpa, 3 hours North of Granada (depending on what bus you end up on!) Everyone at Soccer Without Borders in Granada gets a week long spring break and it has been the most meaningful spring break I've ever had so far. 

My friend Kylie had heard of a girl named Melissa Hartwick who lives in Jinotega running a home for foster kids in Nicaragua. We decided it would be a) awesome to check out Matagalpa and b) amazing to talk meet Melissa and check out what she is doing. Amazing is an understatement describing Matagalpa AND all that Melissa has accomplished in her time here in Nicaragua. I'll tell you what she's doing now and her hope for the future. 

Me, Rebecca, Darling and Melissa just before I headed out to meet Kylie and before a motorcycle adventure! 

She's a 25 yr. old energetic, passionate person who makes you realize that no dream is too big. Not to mention totally took on the Nicaraguan hospitality mentality and invited Kylie and I to stay with her for the night. She moved into a 8 room home and started fostering Nicaraguan children and is in the process of adopting her daughter named Darling. Lots of room for lots of people! 

Darling (Left), Melissa (Right)

When Kylie and I arrived there was only her, Darling, Melissa's friend Rebecca (who is also incredible, doing unreal things in Ghana and also in the process of adopting) and a couple from Slovania, Beatrice and Tomaz (who cycled down to Nicaragua from Mexico) whom Melissa had met while in a car accident. I've never had so much fun with a group of strangers and it was so refreshing to meet people doing things to serve others. The couple from Slovania came to visit Melissa to help clean up the property and the house she lives in for their last few weeks in Nicaragua. Hearing this was outstanding, given that there is a disconnect between tourist in Nicaragua and the understanding of the level of poverty and need for service in Nicaragua. 

Melissa told us about how she has been working with the Nicaraguan family services hosting foster kids for short periods of times until they are reunited with their families. Darling, her daughter was not one that was reunited with family and became up for adoption. Melissa knew right away that Darling would be her daughter, that she needed a home and a loving person and her life and Melissa said yes. So beautiful. Darling is a spunky, sassy 8 yr. old who loves to hug and play and is clearly very creative, a true blessing in my eyes for Melissa to be able to adopt her. 
Their home in Jinotega set in the mountains with a beautiful view, waiting to be filled with people in need.
The home seemed filled with people when Kylie and I arrived and Melissa seemed thankful for all the company. It had been a rough month for Melissa because no foster children had come through for sometime and when they do it's for a short period of time. She hopes that it will soon be filled with children and is also working on developing it to be a home for women in rehabilitation. I loved getting to hear her story, that she truly let her faith lead her to where she is now. It's clear that there are always times of doubt and uncertainty but it is so encouraging to meet someone like Melissa who is daring to be different and is using her time and talents to serve Nicaragua. 

I think what is most special about this week and my time in Nicaragua working with Soccer Without Borders is that my perspective is changing on the way I dream where life will take me. It's meeting people like Rebecca, Melissa, Darling, Beatrice and Tomaz that encourage me to reach higher and learn to love and serve others in my daily life not just when it seems necessary. I wanted to write about this experience because I'm learning that experiences like these make an impact and I hope you'll visit Melissa's blog at and Rebecca's website at enjoy!