The Ohio River and Cincinnati came into view around 6 pm or a little after on Monday, August 17th, and a few minutes later, the pilot came over the speakers, asking the flight crew to prepare the cabin for landing. My second trip to Nicaragua was over, coming to a rather official end, as we approached the Dayton International Airport.

It’s one of those bittersweet moments. You have people that you hate being away from at home and are ecstatic about seeing them again, yet you hate leaving the Nicas behind too. Your heart is torn in two. At least that’s how I find it. One night a couple of the girls in my room at the Quinta and I were discussing it, and they felt the same way. And you can’t even really find so many people at home who know just exactly what you mean, because a lot of them don’t even really try or care if they get it.

Why is it that it’s so difficult to leave, when you terribly miss people at home?

Let me take you back with me..

Monday, August 10th, as the plane made its descent to the Managua airport, a thought crossed my mind.. I’m not even sure exactly how to describe it. Just sort of a feeling of returning to a home I have. Not like a permanent home where I live, but more of a place where I’m at home. Where the people are so incredibly welcoming and loving and generous, and where I could enter at any moment and feel a sense of home. If that makes any sense. No, I really have no intention of moving there.. I’m exactly where I am supposed to be, and I know that so well. But I also know that at any time, I could board a plane, land in Nicaragua, and have people there to welcome me back.

We got to Nicaragua around 7:30 Monday evening.. after going through immigration and customs and all that fun stuff (please note the sarcasm), we caught our first glimpse of Cecil, who coordinated and led the trip for us. We went over to some seats at the other end of the airport to wait for the Texas team to arrive, and then we all loaded all the luggage onto Isaac’s bus. I was so excited that we had Isaac driving for us again… he was our superhero bus driver 3 years ago, and he was absolutely everything I remembered.

This team we joined up with was from Austin, Texas. They came from Austin Christian Fellowship and just adopted us like we were their own. I can’t quite describe how that was.. I knew we were joining a team from Texas, but I’ve never gone somewhere knowing nobody like this time. I mean, I knew my family of course, and I knew Cecil and Ginny, and I remembered some of the Nicas.. but to join a team where you know absolutely nobody is just a bit daunting. And they made us so welcome in their midst.

Going back to Hogar de Fe, the children’s home in Los Brasiles, was indescribable. I remembered quite a few of the kids from 3 years ago, and at one point I called one of the girls by her name (Ana).. and I was able to recognize enough Spanish to catch her question: “How do you know my name?” The ensuing conversation was quite funny, considering how little my Spanish skills are. We mostly ended up just laughing, but laughter is the same in every language. It’s a way we can all relate and enjoy life. I pieced together some mangled phrases with my very broken Spanish, but later in the week I had CeCe, one of the ACF girls, translate some notes for me, including one for Ana, telling her that I’d met her 3 years ago.

Have you ever experienced this feeling of home with people you’ve never met?

The Nicas welcome you in and make you feel so at home. They have next to nothing, yet they want to share what they have with others.

And I can’t help but wonder what life would look like if we all lived with that mindset.

If you are interested in seeing photos, you can view them in the following albums: part 1, part 2, and part 3.

Lots more to come soon. Including stories of my sponsor boy!

*Keep praying, believing, and praising for Jon, please! He is allowed to drive now, short distances in the daylight, which is quite a blessing and answer to prayer. I know he is really excited about it, and it will take a lot of stress off of Amy. Don’t know this story yet? You can read it here…