Steven Travale, Youth Speak News

True faithfulness and gratitude

By  Steven Travale, Youth Speak News
  • February 26, 2016

As I ran down a dirt road in the village of Nandarola, Nicaragua, I could hear the bus approaching behind me, its air horn tauntingly blowing. With four-year-old Miguel on my shoulders, the two of us were racing the bus back to his small house. It was the last day of my visit to this remote community. It was a poignant moment, waving goodbye to the mothers and children — Miguel included — as we left, and one of many fulfilling and joyful experiences I had in Nicaragua.

From Jan. 29 to Feb. 14, I travelled with 28 other Canadians as part of a delegation for the Canadian Outreach Medical and Mission Team (COMMIT) to offer medical aid to poverty stricken villages like Nandarola. Our group worked with nurses and aides from a local hospital to bring medical assistance to the people, in addition to Canadian physicians. We also hired local translators and two dentists to assist us.

We were able to offer dental work, eye care, medicine, checkups and health education to the community. We were also able to fundraise for the townsfolk to have access to a clean and continuous water supply. Our team offered sewing workshops to the local women and taught them how to make small items to sell in local markets, giving them renewable and continuous income for their families.

During the sewing workshops one day, we were offered homemade rice pudding by one lady, hot from the stove. The following day, a man picked fruit off his tree and offered it to us. These two gestures, simple as they may have been, struck me, particularly because I thought there was so little to be given in those places.

We may have provided health care and resources, but the Nicaraguans provided us with a strong reminder that we need to appreciate life, family, faith and the simple things in life. It was they who exemplified great resilience and gratefulness and changed many of our outlooks on life. The people in Nandarola and the other villages were all so grateful to God for what they did have — their family and their faith.

For myself, and for all Christians, it is a valid reminder, particularly during this penitential season of Lent. Now is the time to realize that Jesus Christ has blessed us in so many ways with so many gifts, and no I don’t mean the iPhone you got for Christmas. The gifts God gave us are family, His Church and the Good News. In return, all we must do is give Him due honour by receiving the sacraments and living the Gospel.

I’ll never forget how one of the elder women in Nandarola so eloquently told us, upon receiving a Bible of her very own, that she now had spiritual food for her and her family. I too had nourishment for my soul due largely to the humility and disciple-like virtues that I was taught on my fruitful and rewarding trip.

(Travale, 17, is a Grade 12 student at Sacred Heart High School in Walkerton, Ont.)

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