As we become immersed in preparing for and celebrating Christmas, we must never forget that we give gifts because we were given the greatest gift of all — God’s perfect Son came to earth in the form of a man to sacrifice Himself so that we might have eternal life. Sometimes, however, we need reminders about the true “reason for the season” …and sometimes those reminders come from surprising sources, from young minds.
At the start of this school year, HCS sophomore Jessica Bewley traveled with her family and some members of her church to Santa Emelia, Nicaragua, where they worked in medical, dental, and pharmaceutical missions. Recently in her Writing Skills class, Jessica had to write an essay in which she defined a term which is meaningful to her; she wrote about hope and how her definition of it changed as a result of that trip.
Desmond Tutu once said, “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” The Webster’s Dictionary defines hope as this: to want or to wish for something with a feeling of confident expectation. I do not believe that hope is always a verb, but an idea of light in the midst of darkness. I realized what hope was when I looked in the coffee-colored eyes of a young child in Matagalpa, Nicaragua. I found hope in a poverty-filled village where the thought of hope seemed to be hopeless.
Once in the village of Santa Emelia, I was taken away from the distractions of my everyday life, and it revived me. Just being there and breathing in the warm mountain air made my soul feel finally at peace. I saw hope in every beautiful person I was there to help. The people had needs, and I was there to make their lives a little more endurable. Although I was there to help them, they also helped me without even meaning to. In the lives of the people, I saw how strong each one of them was. In such a dark and poverty-filled place they went about their lives with a smile on their faces and joy in their hearts. This is hope.
As an illustration, this sad yet beautiful place became like a window for light to shine through. Every morning in Nicaragua, we awoke to the sounds of roosters crowing; these calls became the sounds of hope. I began each day with a cup of Nicaraguan coffee, which is the best I have ever had. This coffee gave every day a fresh start. With every meal we ate fresh, natural pineapples, and these became the tastes of hope. Every night, we praised God with the music of macarenas in a Spanish praise band; this worship became what hope sounded like. On the last day of our trip, we visited a dramatic waterfall. This waterfall with its fast, rushing water and a huge, open pool surrounded by painted boulders below was the most beautiful symbol of hope I had ever seen.
When I found hope, I was able to go back to my everyday life with a new perspective. Seeing the joy in the hearts of the people in Nicaragua put a joy in my heart as well. I met a man named Vince who was one of our translators along the trip. I never once saw Vince in a bad mood or upset about anything. He encouraged me throughout each day by giving me high-fives and telling me that I was doing a great job when I was feeling discouraged. Vince had an amazing testimony that explained why he was so positive, and his joy made me feel as if there was hope for the natives there. I was able to spread hope back at home to the people around me when I thought about my friend Vince. Hope is almost contagious. Once it is in one person, another can feel it and be filled with it as well. It’s like fireflies that light up the night.
At the time I visited Matagalpa, Nicaragua, I did not exactly know what hope was. Throughout my time there I found it in the beautiful people I met, in their coffee-colored eyes and Spanish hymns. In the midst of the darkness in that village, I found such an abundant, thriving hope. Hope is joy in the middle of adversity, the light in the darkness, and the perseverance in poverty.