Serving Over Spring Break

For the past two years I have spent my spring break in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

Taking+a+break+from+teaching+English+classes+March+16%2C+senior+Lanie+Jones+poses+with+the+other+high+school+girls+and+two+chaperones+on+the+trip.+This+was+the+group%E2%80%99s+last+day+of+teaching.
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Serving Over Spring Break

Taking a break from teaching English classes March 16, senior Lanie Jones poses with the other high school girls and two chaperones on the trip. This was the group’s last day of teaching.

Taking a break from teaching English classes March 16, senior Lanie Jones poses with the other high school girls and two chaperones on the trip. This was the group’s last day of teaching.

Submitted by Lanie Jones

Taking a break from teaching English classes March 16, senior Lanie Jones poses with the other high school girls and two chaperones on the trip. This was the group’s last day of teaching.

Submitted by Lanie Jones

Submitted by Lanie Jones

Taking a break from teaching English classes March 16, senior Lanie Jones poses with the other high school girls and two chaperones on the trip. This was the group’s last day of teaching.

Lanie Jones, Print Co-Editor-in-Chief

March 10, 2017 I stepped off of a plane in Managua, Nicaragua and onto a tiny bus crammed with approximately 30 people. Three hours later, my team arrived in San Juan del Sur, a small surfing community in southern Nicaragua. I’m not going to lie, that first night was slightly terrifying. The next morning, I was sure that trip would be the only mission trip I went on for the entirety of my life. As the week progressed I found my life in a 180 tailspin while I was challenged and filled with pure happiness I’d never experienced before. By the end of my 10 days, I was convinced I’d found my own little piece of heaven. Never could I have imagined the profound impact San Juan del Sur would make on me, nor how it would come to affect my future.

This year, March 9 was the day I stepped back into my favorite place on the entire earth surrounded by my favorite people. Prior to this year’s spring break, I didn’t think my love for that place or people could grow more; I have officially been proven wrong. Everyday since I’ve been back, I’ve had a solid cry session not because I’m sad (though I’m always slightly upset when I’m not there), but because there’s an unexplainable amount of love in my heart for the beautiful place that is SJDS.

I’m fortunate enough to travel with my church youth group, where our team partners with local missionaries. In the mornings, we teach English, art and science to kids ages three to about 16 in a church called Alfa Y Omega. The afternoons are filled with various outreach adventures, which vary everyday.

When I first served in Nicaragua spring break of junior year, I never foresaw it becoming a place I’d want to spend so much time in.”

One of my personal favorite ministries, Bethel Mission, is located in Rivas about 45 minutes (in the back of a pick-up truck cruising down the highway at 60 miles per hour) from SJDS. Bethel is a feeding program for young kids whose parents live and work in the dump just a few hundred feet from their location. The dump is a massive area that is essentially covered in trash. People in the community live off of what they can find in the dump, food included, and have to maintain it by burning trash and sorting through it constantly. For many children who go to Bethel in the afternoon, the meal they receive there is the only one for the day. By looking at and playing with them, you’d never know. They are the most joyful children I’ve ever encountered, always looking for someone new to talk to our spend time with. Their sweet smiles are so full of joy I cannot even explain it. My heart melts and my eyes well with tears when I think of them.

Another outreach project we do occurs at a local nursing home in Rivas maintained by Catholic sisters. Residents are those who have been forgotten about or overlooked in the community. That afternoon, half of my group played Bingo with them while the other picked up trash around the grounds. Simple tasks such as these are incredibly special to the people there, and it’s beyond heartwarming to see their smiles as we greet them with a simple “Hola!” Other afternoons, we spent time at the beaches cleaning and picking up trash, followed by pick up games of soccer or volleyball.

Submitted by Lanie Jones
Senior Lanie Jones shares a word of encouragement with the group after an afternoon of surfing lessons and volleyball March 13.

Throughout our whole time there we partnered with the Christian Surfers, a local ministry for at-risk youth run by the Merge Ministries missionaries who live in SJDS. They were by our sides at every outing, serving alongside us and giving us occasional surfing lessons. These guys, around ages 14 to 22, are by far the highlight of my trip. Last year, I was able to meet them all and begin spending time with them, but this year was full of connecting with them on a deeper level and truly getting to know them all. Each one of them is full of life, passion, determination, leadership and confidence. I’m beyond proud of them all and cannot express my love for them enough. The Christian Surfers are some of my favorite people on the planet and I can’t wait to go back to spend more time with them.

When I first served in Nicaragua spring break of junior year, I never foresaw it becoming a place I’d want to spend so much time in. For senior spring break, there was no other place I could have imagined myself in. Looking forward, I want to serve and work in SJDS as much as humanly possible. I went back because it’s the place I feel most at home, content, relaxed and in my element. I frequently refer to it as my natural habitat, meaning it’s where I feel called to be. My heart overflows with love for SJDS and its people and I cannot wait to be back in the place I proudly call my second home.

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