Santa Rosa Parish, Rosita Nicaragua
This reflection was written by Lisa Streholski, from Holy Family Catholic Community, Fond du Lac (Visit 2009). It was originally published in their Social Ministry Newsletter, "The Salt Shaker," in spring 2011.
When I went on the mission trip to Rosita in 2009 I had no idea what to expect. I had never been on a mission trip before. In fact, the only time I had even been out of the country was on a cruise to the Bahamas. My thought of a mission trip was you were supposed to build or fix things for people who couldn’t afford to do it themselves. I was very confused as to what our mission intent was. We weren’t building anything. We weren’t fixing anything. We really didn’t seem to be doing anything. A few in our group had meetings while we were there but the rest of us seemed to be “riding” along. We didn’t seem to be doing any of what I thought of as a mission trip. I soon learned that there is more to mission work than physical labor.
My host family was amazing. I had debated whether to stay with a family or not. I am so glad I chose a family. It made my trip more personal. Odela, her husband (I never did figure out his name) and their daughter Abigail welcomed me into their home like I was family. I don’t speak Spanish and they didn’t speak English so communicating was interesting to say the least. We hobbled through the week. We all had some good laughs trying to communicate not knowing each others' language. We acted out lots of words. It actually was fun. Like charades. It was nice that we could laugh at each other together. They had very little but happily gave everything they had to me. Never once worried about what it would take away from them.
We visited different schools during our trip. It was difficult to see the conditions that these children had to learn in. Some children attended night classes because they had to work during the days. Other children went to school only during the weekend because they worked on the farms during the weekdays. There was a shortage of materials and what they did have was dated. We had an opportunity to listen to parents voicing their concerns and fears with sending their children to school. It was heartbreaking hearing their stories. They were looking to us for help but all we could do was listen. I felt helpless. It made me realize everything I take for granted with sending my children to school. My complaints about our school system seem small and trivial compared to what their children had and continue to experience.
I realized on this mission trip that you don’t have to build or fix something to make a difference in someone’s life. Friendship, laughter and faith can do just as much to unite people. The people of Rosita are always in my thoughts. When I visited they had a new mayor in office. He talked about everything he was going to do to help the people. I am very interested to see what he has accomplished since I was last there. I am very excited to see how Sister Marise, Arely, my host family and the many others I only met briefly are. I have not been in contact with any of them since I left. I am curious to see how Abigail has grown. And I am hoping, if we visit the schools, to find the little girl who gave me flowers and give her a picture of us together and to let her know I remember her kindness. I wonder often what I can do to help them. Not just a quick fix but something that will change the future of their lives. A way for them to be more self-sufficient. I don’t have the answers but maybe if I keep going back we can find a way or maybe if I tell the stories of my trip someone else may think of a way. What I do know is Rosita is forever in my heart and I feel a strong family like connection. After all we all are part of God’s family.
If you would like to see a video of Lisa's most recent trip to Rosita, please click here.
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