Thank you Natalie Woodke, IHM Parishioner and SUA Graduate, for sharing your reflection on the 2015 trip to Nicaragua!
“When I was asked to write this reflection, I honestly didn’t know where to start. There are no words to fully describe how absolutely eye-opening and powerful this trip was. I knew this trip would be incredible, but I had no idea how overwhelming it would become. I didn’t realize what I was feeling until someone else said it, but I have experienced TRUE joy in this country. There’s a spirit that’s present everywhere we’ve gone, and I’m amazed every single day. The people living here have almost Nothing but each other…and that’s enough. Every person I’ve met has been so kind, open-hearted, patient and simply just full of life and passion. It’s so breathtakingly inspiring. I hope to take away the simplicity of this country with me. And the idea of finding God and beauty in everyone and everything around me.
I hope to carry with me the amazing qualities I’ve seen in so many people here, and to become that Christ-like figure in someone else’s life. I hope to continue taking time to step back, and focusing on what’s truly important in life. I’ve learned how powerful it is to surround yourself with good people and that the little things truly do make a difference in the lives of others. 90% of the time, I couldn’t communicate verbally very well with the Nicaraguans, especially the kids. However, some of the most powerful moments I experienced were with these kids. We laughed and played games and make funny faces at each other, and words weren’t even necessary. I saw the face of Christ in every single child I encountered and these experiences and connections will stick with me forever. As our journey comes to a close, I know, I will take a whole new sense of appreciation with me back home. Seeing how hard the Nicaraguans work, and how eager the kids are to learn has completely humbled me. Everything in my life seems so trivial now, and I think stepping back for a week is exactly what my life needed. I hope to continue in service work, and pursue my love for helping others, especially kids. I hope to always follow my passions, and never put money or material goods over what truly makes me happy.
On a spiritual level, this trip has given me so much reassurance in my faith. I’ve encountered Christ more times this week than I ever have in my life, and the fact that this happened in a 3rd world country is so inspiring to me. This proved to me that God will always be present where He is needed, because these people need Him more than anything. However, despite their situations, the faith of the Nicaraguans was always present, and absolutely contagious, which is something I truly admired. I can’t say enough how blessed I am to have been exposed to this country and its people. I know I will be able to go back to my journal and re-read it when I’m having a bad day, because just the thought of it makes me so happy. The combination of the Nicaraguans, the culture, the beauty of the country and the wonderful people that came down with me has forever changed my life, and made me a better person.”