Barefoot on the dock. These are the first steps on an island that will receive a special place in my heart. My steps are a little wobbly, my legs are still moving in the rhythm of the dancing ocean. But I enjoyed the boat ride intensely, I drank it in with all my senses when I saw the Nicaraguan coast fly by. At a speed like this, motion becomes like separate shots of captured moments instead of a constant flow of time. Palm trees, rocky beaches and jungle green. Numerous shades of blue outstretched across the horizon. Salt water on my lips as waves splash in the boat. Burning sun, but its power taken away by the wind. Distant shores with small wooden houses. Colorful sails on small boats on their search for fish. I smile. I thrive. I feel alive.
A small boat took our Bethel-team 30 minutes into the ocean to arrive here. This is RamaCay, an island that is called home by the 1200 people of the Rama-tribe and will serve as our home as well for the coming 8 days. Although the island isn’t fully closed off from the main land’s influence, they are still an indigenous tribe with their own flavor. I look around to absorb the first impressions. I wonder what the heart of their tribe is. Where can I find what makes this culture unique?
The question still rings in my heart when we take our first walk around the island. As we explore the corners of this 8-shaped island, another question comes to my mind. Why are we here? Or more specifically, why am I here? My feet have only walked this ground for less than an hour and I already know that every premade expectation about this mission trip is incomplete. The beauty of my surroundings is overwhelming, the friendliness of the family that welcomes us into their house is inviting, the first sights of this culture is almost confusingly intriguing. But why am I here?
I take the hand of Jesus, He’s walking beside me. I ask Him the question as we continue our walk around the island. I expect an answer including a strategy for starting a revival. His answer surprises me to the core. “You are here because I want to show this beautiful island to My children. It’s a hidden piece of My glory that I desire to be enjoyed.” Not a word about change, help or improvement. I’m confused, although it’s not the first time He’s saying such a thing. A few days before I stepped on the airplane, He asked me if I was willing to love the RamaCay-islands like I would spend the rest of my life there. He invited me to a love that will last a lifetime. It was a difficult question for me for many reasons, but especially because it contradicted many of my misconceptions about ministry. In my mind, ministry is connected to instant results, impressive testimonies and changed cultures. But time after time again, I realize that God’s perspective on ministry is simply not the same. His view on ministry is an overflow of love that creates lasting fruit. In His eyes, ministry is a privilege for His children to be enjoyed, not a necessity to prove of obedience.
I look around again. I see wooden houses, scented with the smoke of dinner preparation and decorated with laundry drying in the strong wind and burning sun. These are the homes of people highly valued by God. We already saw several people get healed after we prayed for them in their houses, including a lady that suffered from the consequences of a stroke. But all of a sudden, I see that it’s not just about the moment of the miraculous. Even the healing testimonies are an expression of an highly involved Father that wants His children to enjoy His goodness.
I have a feeling I’ll learn a lot this trip.
This post is part 2 of a series of blog posts ‘Nicarama14’ about my mission trip to Nicaragua.
It’s also part of the ‘barefoot’-series, which will be accompanied by an iPhone snapshot of the place where I wrote it in my travel journal. Read all of the other posts here.