Earlier this month a group of Greenbrier girls and staff members took a trip to Nicaragua. Here is a message from Greenbrier therapist Shellie Beeker on their service experience:

“These people have to walk 11 miles to get food and we complain about what we are getting for snack after we’ve already had three meals.”

If I could sum up our most recent Nicaragua trip in one sentence then that might be the one. It also included a lot of joy, playing duck, duck, goose, getting sick, getting well, drumming, dancing, laughter, painting, cleaning, bus washing, poor Spanish, new and old friends, spiritual awakening, spiritual questioning, sadness, tears, adventure, slightly better Spanish, birthdays, rice and beans, and connection. Unforgettable.

Greenbrier Trip to Nicaragua

As we look at our own privileged situation it is impossible not to compare how we live our lives on a daily basis to those of a people with very little material goods. Our students, sometimes suffering from what media has called affluenza, processed this week a difficult reality, that not everyone lives the way we do and second that we are all guilty of entitlement and taking for granted our privileges in our every day lives.

Our students were able to recognize different kinds of wealth. They were able to recognize wealth not only in material goods but prosperity in spirit and virtue.

It was so evident how the people of Nicaragua welcomed us into their homes, their communities and their hearts. While many homes were made of tin or cardboard, openness, kindness, patience and purity were certainly evidence of spiritual wealth we were witness to every day on our trip.

As a trip leader, I was also able to witness growth and the presence of this kind of wealth within our students.

They supported one another through sickness, sadness, despair at not being able to help more, loneliness, big questions regarding faith and spirituality and to allow themselves connection, openness, patience, curiosity and joy in the experience as well. Our hosts at Chosen Children Ministries commented how impressed they were with our students’ maturity, sweetness and respectfulness throughout the week. They also spoke to how deeply our students were willing to allow themselves to connect not only with the people there but with the uncomfortable feelings that come up when you see extreme poverty.

Greenbrier Trip to Nicaragua

Throughout the week students helped to paint a recently completed church building, taught African Drumming on buckets which can be used to carry water, taught tinikling, a traditional Pilipino dance, painted and organized items on the Chosen Children Campus, brought school supplies and food to needy families, ordered in a local bakery, zip lined through the forest, saw volcanoes from a distance and enjoyed two markets. Yet there was so much more!

I am so proud of our students and honored to be a part of this trip and those that come ahead. Each one of us makes and can make a million little or big differences in the lives of those around us. Let’s choose to be active participants in this by choosing to follow the example of our students when we give, not only what we have materially but to give what we have in virtue and spirit.

– Shellie Beeker

Therapist, Trip Leader Nicaragua 2016