There is a nursing home in Masaya, Nicaragua, and, this July, the Mission of Hope had the opportunity to visit San Antonio Nursing Home— the first time in about five years. Twenty-three Missioners ventured to this location, and I was lucky enough to be one of them. We had the opportunity to deliver handmade blankets to the elderly living there, along with some donated jewelry. Waking through those front doors was undoubtedly the beginning of my “Mission Moment.”

The home is located in a renovated hospital and is cared for by extremely wonderful nuns. They were so sweet our entire stay, gave us a tour of the home, and introduced us to all the residents. When they saw us approaching, many of the residents’ faces lit up with joy; they all held out their hands for us to shake or motioned for us to give them hugs. We introduced ourselves to many of them.

One particularly spunky lady proudly said, in perfect English, “My name is Mary!” Mary loved to dance, and was one of our shadows for the remainder of our visit. Several of the elderly followed us around the home trying to tell us stories of their lives. They were just so happy to have someone new come to visit them, and I felt truly blessed to have been able to meet them. Many of the residents had special talents, and they were very quick to give us a show. We had an elderly gentleman serenade us after we gave him a blanket, and another gentleman kept playing a beautiful tune on his harmonica. All of the elderly at the home enjoyed having us there, and many handshakes and hugs were given that afternoon. Having kind strangers, with so many smiles etched into their faces and so many stories behind their eyes, grasp my hand and whisper, “Gracias,” truly touched me, as I am sure this experience touched my fellow Missioners.

Being able to interact with a new age level on the Mission was life-changing for me. This was my fourth Mission trips and, until then, my favorite part of the Mission and my experience was always seeing and interacting with the children. They were my reason to back, trip after trip, mostly because you could communicate entirely wit laughs and smiles (no Spanish necessary), and all they wanted to do was give us hugs and have us give them toys. This was actually identical to the experiences I had with the elderly of Nicaragua. The same smiles and laughter were all the words I needed, and it was with the same joy that hugs were given and gifts received. Visiting San Antonio Nursing Home has opened up a new opportunity for providing service to a new population that will be forever grateful. It is important to remember that the ones who came before us offer the best experiences for what lies ahead of us.

Megan Frederick is a student leader on the North Country Mission of Hope Leadership Team and a senior at Beekmantown High School in West Chazy, NY. In July 2017, she attended her fourth Mission trip.