mission trip

Megan Frederick is a high-school junior from West Chazy, NY. She has been on four mission trips to Nicaragua.

Take a look at your surroundings. Carpet floors, brick walls, a running air conditioner, electric lights, more rooms than fingers on your hand, all the technology in the world. You are luckier than you could ever imagine. There is a place 4,706.3 miles away where school children are lucky to have four classroom walls. Two meals a day is a rarity. Running water is a luxury, not a necessity. This is the deepest corner of the world, and this is where hope is hidden.

There is a school in Chiquilistagua, Nicaragua. There are up to forty children crammed into classrooms meant for twenty; rickety chairs face an old, outdated whiteboard which never has enough markers. The walls are a dull painted beige, and there is usually no additional adornments on the walls. The one meal they get per day at school is most likely the only meal the children see. The school is shaped like an L, with all the classes facing a miniscule courtyard. Each class has varying degrees of openness: some have walls constructed of wood full of holes; others have an open wall facing nothing. The air is heavy, weighing down on your soul. The breeze carries the scent of burning garbage and desperation. The children have bugs in their hair, dirt on their faces, and dreams in their eyes. Grimy hands coated in dust grip onto education like a solitary rock in a storm. The chance to go to school is something every child dreams of, and only several actually get. In a sea of malnourished faces and starched white school uniforms, it is hard to imagine a smile in a place stricken by despair; however, in the deepest corner of the world, there you will find true happiness. You will find happiness in the eyes of the girl who has a full stomach; you will find happiness in the smile of a boy walking to school for the first time; you will find happiness in the faces of the less fortunate.

There is an orphanage in El Crucero, Nicaragua. Thirty seven girls live there, all in varying stages of abandonment. They are well fed and cared for, which is the basic necessity we all require; nevertheless, they are all missing something fundamental: a home. They sleep in bare rooms, eight small beds crowded against one another. Empty-eyed dolls are clutched by empty-eyed girls, and the air is thick with hope tinged with longing. The girls are clothed in hand-me-downs and loneliness, and eyes filled with dreams peer into your soul. They watch as kids leave to go home with families, and they are left behind yet again. Dead and dry grass crunch under shoes two sizes too small, and a courtyard is filled with laughing children. Orphans are visited by angels manifested in the form of Missioners. Stickers are peeled off faces, and smiles are frozen in an endless eternity. Words are relinquished as the language of love and laughter fill the air. In a sea of isolated children, it is hard to imagine a smile blossoming with no love and care; however, in the deepest corner of the world, there you will find true hope. You will find hope in the babble of excited girls in an endless sleepover; you will find hope in the smile of a girl clutching a new quilt, stitched with love and care; you will find hope in the faces of the less fortunate.

The North Country Mission of Hope #67 cohort

There is a shack on a nameless street in Nicaragua. A family of seven lives there, five little ones and two parents that have nothing left in the world. Dirt floors, dusty souls, and desolate eyes are the only adornments. There is one room barely big enough for the twin mattress that the children sleep on, barely big enough for cracked mirror hanging on the wall, barely big enough for the seven empty shells that call it a home. The father drinks his days away, and the mother is too frail to care for her children, so the responsibilities fall on the eldest daughter; her childhood was gone the day she was born into a world of dirt and despair. Hunger claws at their conscience like an unabating storm, and fresh running water is as foreign a concept as merriment. The children have never seen a toy in their life, nor have they ever been to school. Happiness and hope have never graced the doorstep, and a stormcloud of despair is always looming on the horizon. The family has given up dreams of a better future, staring into the face of an eternity of suffering. In a sea of unanswered prayers, it is hard to imagine a smile lighting up the darkness; however, in the deepest corner of the world, you will find true love. You will find love in the eyes of children who live without; you will find love in the smile of a mother as she watches her children; you will find love in the faces of the less fortunate.

In the deepest corner of the world, you will find hunger; you will find pain; you will find longing. You will also find happiness, hope, love. The people that live every day of their lives wondering if it is their last are also the people who teach you how to live. The people that suffer in silence are the people who teach you to be brave. The people who stare misfortune in the face and persevere are the people who teach you the importance of resilience. In the deepest corner of the world, you will find an entangled mess of dirt roads, dream-filled faces, despair bleeding into hope. In the deepest corner of the world, you will find the fighters, the dreamers, the believers. In the deepest corner of the world, you will find the true meaning of life.