Just wanted to send a final big THANK YOU to all of those who have helped me throughout my year in Nicaragua. Hopefully you have all received my postcards, although I've found that the Nicaraguan mail system doesn't always seem to get them in the right places and I always wonder where the postcards end up?! Hopefully to a good home I suppose.
I've now been home for a couple days which has been nice to spend time with my family and relax a bit before my next adventure. I had a very hard time leaving Nicaragua because, as you can imagine, living in a foreign country for a year can be an incredible experience and it was extraordinary for me. Leaving a place where I found such strong friendships, connections with the community, culture and language was heart wrenching and it wasn't until the plane took of that it became real to me that I had to leave. Leaving and not knowing when I will be able to go back.
During my last week the girls and Hassell had planned a surprise farewell for me that I had NO idea about and along with our director, Larkin, they got me as I walked into the office with Larkin and thought "why are all my girls here?!" and they all said "Es su gran sopresa!" (your big surprise). They sat me down in a chair to watch all their originally choreographed dancing and original songs. One of my favorite girls, Maikeyling wrote me a song called "Que te vaya bien" (There isn't a direct translation for this, it kind of means I hope you go well or safe journey I suppose) the point though is that she put so much heart and thought into the song that halfway through the song she burst into tears and of course Hassell, Larkin and I were a mess!
It sometimes takes farewells to realize what an impact that you made on the people you work with...this is good to recognize when you are working in the realm of non-profit, youth development programs because for me I spent many nights wrestling with the thoughts that I wasn't making am impact at all. One thing that someone told me my first month there is that you have to learn to stop looking inward and start looking outward (stop shining the spotlight on you). This advice really set the precedent for my year in Nica and truly helped me grow exponentially.
So many people have asked me what I'll miss most about living in Nica and working with Soccer Without Borders and I think for the rest of my life I will continually reflect on my experiences and come up with new things. But for right now I will miss most the community. And by community I not only mean the friendliness of Nicaraguan culture but simple things like finishing up on a run and seeing all my girls getting out of school or seeing my best friend Hassell sitting outside and getting to catch up with her. Making meals with people, dancing, walking everywhere, speaking Spanish, saying hello to the neighbors who notice when you've been out of town. In many ways I feel like I experienced a piece of Heaven having lived in Nicaragua and while it is by no means is perfect, the people are proud of their country and so eager and willing to share their lives with you. And I feel like that having community in your life, loving others and using your gifts to build up others is what God calls us to have.
And because I have community here in the states which so generously provided for me over the past year, I was able to love and spend time with little girls in Nicaragua. Someone also told me, "do for one person, what you want to do for everybody" so thank you for choosing me and my girls this year, I truly hope that you all understand the impact you've made in my life. I'm so excited to move forward in my next journeys in the ways God has grown me and to continue to help children who don't have the opportunities that I've had.
I will be home in WA just a few more days before I move down to Portland for the summer and would love to see all of you if you are in town. My number is (360) 509-7567. I will be back in the fall for school so there will be chances in the future too to share my stories with y'all if you're interested :) Hope all is well with family and life.