A Christmas Service Trip to Nicaragua
Sophomore Annabel Ward tells us about her mission trip over Christmas break to Nicaragua.
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Following strenuous mid-term exams, holiday break is a time to kick back and enjoy a pause from school. While many students spent their break at their home, others go on trips. While the conventional destinations include somewhere tropical, or even a ski resort, senior Caroline and sophomore Annabel Ward spent their winter break in Nicaragua on a volunteer trip with their church.
The Ward family has volunteered in Nicaragua for 6 years now, 4 of which have been in the same village. The trip, hosted by the Peachtree Road United Methodist Church, consists of about 12 families, rounding out to about 60 people. The families stay a few blocks away from the village at the base of local pineapple farm in cabins.
An average days begins at 7 a.m. with breakfast and a morning worship. The families varies in their charitable contributions every year. This year’s project was renovating a local school. After eating lunch, the children and parents split up. The kids go on to meet local Nicaraguan children while the adults continue to work.
Annabel’s favorite part is the interaction with the local children. Going back to the same village every year, the Ward family has had the opportunity to see the children grow up, adding to the memorable experience.
The trip is equipped with even more traditions. Annabel explained, “Every year we give out crosses to people that inspire us. Parents give it to the translators usually, and the kids give it to a Nicaraguan kid that inspires them.”
The cross is a leather necklace with a small intricate cross pendant on it. For the past two years, Annabel has given her cross to the same Nicaraguan girl, Percilla. When asked what inspires her about Percilla, Annabel replied, “Her love. The first year I went I was really young and I thought that it was so cool that a little kid liked me.” Annabel said that the second she saw Percilla the second year, she knew that she was going to give the young girl her cross again. She said, “We just picked up where we left off and it was really cute.”
However, the trip is not all fun and games. Annabel says, “The working is hard because you don’t get to see the impact it makes right away, whereas playing with the kids and making the kids smile it’s really immediate.” The children’s smiles offer instant gratification.
Over the years, the church has completed several projects throughout the village. This year, they rebuilt a local school in an effort to increase education.
Despite the hardships, Annabel says, “I can’t imagine not having that experience….It just makes you feel so good, and its helping me shape who I want to be.” While her parents have offered alternatives to the annual trip, she and her sister have rejected the idea. For the Wards, the holidays simply would not be the same without Nicaragua.