1. Peterson, Connie

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In May 2006, I served as a faculty advisor to ten students from Concordia College on a mission trip to Nicaragua to build houses for Habitat for Humanity. The mission of Concordia College is to "influence the affairs of the world by sending forth into society thoughtful and informed men and women dedicated to the Christian life." This experience was a direct extension of that mission. As a nurse pursuing advanced education in International Health, I thought this would be valuable in building my cultural competence. As a Christian, I felt called to put my faith to work in a country that so desperately needs assistance. As is often the case, I found I gained much more than I could ever give.


The people of Nicaragua are a paradox. They live in a place that is disconnected economically and physically with the rest of the world. Yet, they express a closeness to God that is tangible. They are uneducated and yet they speak multiple languages. They are extremely poor in material possessions and yet they are the most hospitable strangers I have ever met. They express their joy about living in their music, their laughter, and their faith. In the process of working together, we formed connections between our "two worlds" that will survive for a lifetime. This poem honors my new friends.


Nicaragua: El Segundo Madre de mi Corazon

("The second mother of my heart")


We call them poor because they have no things.


They call us poor because we live without faith.


We call them underprivileged because they have no money.


They call us underprivileged because we have no time for our families.



We say their country is "third world".


They say we all live in the same world.


We ask, "Where is God?"


They say "Jesus Cristo esta aqui."



Here in the red dust born of the hot sun,


Here with the donkeys and bare feet in the potholed streets,


Here in the golden pineapple juice dripping from sticky sweet chins,


Here in the walnut brown skin of the beloved faces,


Jesus Cristo esta aqui.



Here in the Spanish hymns and Creole drumbeats,


Here in the corrugated tin and concrete bunkers,


Here in the mangoes, bananas, beans, and crooked smiles,


Here in the eyes of his children,


Jesus Cristo esta aqui.



Here in the mothers beating their clothes white on stones,


Here in the sweat of the hammer and the spade.


Here in the waves crashing on forgotten beaches.


Here in the proud people of the land.


Jesus Cristo esta aqui.



Jesus Cristo esta aqui.


We will wait until he comes again.


Esta listo?


We are ready.



Figure. Rama Cayan i... - Click to enlarge in new windowFigure. Rama Cay-an island inhabited by Rama Indians, natives to Nicaragua. Photo courtesy of the author.