One of our employees recently had the opportunity to travel to Nicaragua to distribute food with Servants With a Heart, a non-profit organization that Jenkins Restorations regularly partners with for our annual meal packing event. Servant Leadership is important to the identity of our company and our core values, so we encourage all of our employees to participate in activities and events like these and are proud when they do. Learn more about her experience below!
In the hustle of our every day, it’s easy to push aside thoughts of tomorrow and thoughts of others, especially those less fortunate. While the intention is not to disregard, we simply live in a world that doesn’t allow us to slow down long enough to look around and take in the needs of our surroundings. However, that is just an excuse, the reasoning we make in our heads to appease the guilt.
The truth is that the choices we make are all intentional: where we go, who we see, what we eat, what activities we participate in. I made excuses for myself for years. I didn’t have the time, the money, or the skills. However, I have found these are all lies. There are constant opportunities to serve others every day; I simply need to intentionally choose to do so. It’s difficult, and I am certainly in no way perfect at it, but in recent years God has laid it on my heart to do more.
One way I have truly loved to serve has been through the food packing event that Servants With a Heart and Jenkins Restorations hold each December. Not only is this a fun way to join in fellowship with co-workers and others in my community, the food we pack for the families in Nicaragua makes a real difference. After several years of participating in this food packing event, I was ecstatic to get the opportunity to fly to Nicaragua and experience the other side of the event, distributing the food we packed to those in need. At first, the decision was difficult to make, with personal challenges causing me to question whether I should make the trip. In the end, I knew I was being called to go.
I set out with no expectations. Servants With a Heart had a plan in place and our group met several times to familiarize ourselves with each other and learn what we needed to know about Nicaragua. I felt anxious and excited as I boarded the plane, even more so when we landed. After a smooth exit through customs, we were there. I was there.
Our first stop was to a community dump, where families worked every day, including their small children, collecting items that could be recycled for money. That was how those families survived. It wasn’t lucrative work – it was dirty and dangerous, but to those families it was normal and how they earned a living.
When we arrived, there was already a group leading the people in songs of worship. We got off our bus and were instructed to disperse throughout the group. In those first moments, all I could do was look around and take it all in. Some were singing; some raising their hands in praise. Many were watching us as we moved throughout their group. It was surreal, but there was no time to hesitate – everyone just had to jump right in.
We joined the group in singing and when it was finished, the local pastor called on anyone who wanted prayer to come forward. People came forward and requested prayer for everything from blessings to relief from medical pain. We then put our hands on the people and prayed over them. Once the prayers were finished, we distributed the food and toys.
As the families gathered their food and toys and headed back to their homes, I began to take a closer look around. Everywhere I turned there were mounds of trash. It was all over the ground, everywhere you stepped. Families were gathered on some of the mounds, surrounded by bags of plastic. Some had animals, all as undernourished as their owners, their skin dry and tight around their rib cages.
As I processed everything my eyes were taking in, I wondered what my purpose would be on the trip. What could I possibly have to offer? I was far removed from my comfort zone, but as I looked around, my heart softened. I watched the children, the joy they exuded, and knew I would do whatever was needed of me. I resolved to allow myself to be guided by Christ and not be afraid to do things I had never done before.
There were countless opportunities to act on my resolve. Whether it was praying over people I just met, singing songs in an unfamiliar language, or leading our team’s devotion, I intended to live out every calling God laid on me. I walked away from the experience in awe of God’s grace and wonder, how He could use me in ways I never imagined by just letting him take the lead. By being intentional in letting go and serving in any opportunity that arose, I was able to see Him work not only in the lives around me but my life as well. I learned so much from the people I met in Nicaragua. It was an experience I will never forget.
Follow us and Servants With a Heart on Facebook to learn about getting involved with their mission. You can also check out their blog for more stories of how their efforts change lives!
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