DIRIAMBA, NICARAGUA – The following is a series of first-hand accounts of Carson-Newman volleyball players and coaches on their missions trip to Nicaragua.
Head Volleyball Coach Shannon Mincey
The sound of rain pounding on our tin roof woke us early this morning. The two volleyball teams (Spring Arbor's volleyball team is on a missions trip to Nicaragua as well) enjoyed a praise and worship time after breakfast. Little did we know, God had an emotional day in store for each of us. I am blessed to have had this experience with my team and husband. As we walked up the muddy trail through their houses, our hearts were being tugged and our eyes were being opened. I have never held a child so dirty and hungry in my life. There
were so many children without shoes and clothing - too many to count. Living conditions were worse than any of us could have envisioned. Yet we saw beautiful sweet smiles and children of God gleaming at us as we stooped down to help.
The following is from freshman setter Lindsey Wells.
Freshman setter Lindsey Wells
The original plan for this morning was to do a volleyball clinic in Diriamba, however God had another plan for our team. Due to the gym already being occupied, we were forced to take on Plan B. Judy (Fox, the group leader for the trip) took the team to the school in Diriamba, which is founded by our translator, Claudia's mother. She had to be one of the sweetest and strongest women I have ever met. Claudia's mother had a dream almost 14 years ago that transformed from a vision to a reality simply because of her faith in God. Her dream was to provide a school for the children in Diriamba that would not only give them education, but also regular meals, spiritual education and a safe haven in their lives. She went on to tell us all the possible obstacles like the government and finance that could have stood in her way, yet every mountain that stood in front of her dream seemed to move so easily. When being faced with the obstacles to prevent her dream which God had placed on her heart, she continued to tell herself, "He brought me into this, He will get me out of it," and smiled.
Today, Claudia's mother has a school containing 6 classrooms. The school is continually growing thanks to her buying new lots to overcome the slow yet awesome support of the people that care for Nicaragua. Although the success of her dream has been incredible thus far, she has no desire to stop now. More lots to buy, more children to help and a God that is big enough to accomplish all of that and so much more. Through this experience, I felt Claudia's mother witnessed to me and my life more than I could have ever done with her. She had faith in improvement and success because God placed such a desire on her heart; she knew He was in control.
Rather than looking at what she needs or doesn't have at this moment, she is so very thankful for every little piece God has provided her to build her dream for these children. In such a discouraging environment, there is absolutely no reason to believe, yet Claudia's mother clings to the unseen hope in the amazing possibilities God can accomplish. A banner was hanging at the door of the school with the verse that I feel truly describes Claudia's undying desire to please God and help the children. It should also be a desire of all of us. "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have the kept the faith." 2 Timothy 4:7. If we could only have the faith in God that Claudia's mother has. She has that faith with the small things throughout our life and trust that if God places a desire upon our hearts, He will provide a way to reach those dreams. So amazing!
Senior outside hitter/libero Rachel Bowlin offered her thoughts on a challenging afternoon.
Senior outside hitter Rachel Bowlin
Today was absolutely amazing for me and my teammates. We worked an outdoor soup kitchen in two different villages. All these soup kitchens were were a bucket of rice and a bucket of beans. The children in the villages were allowed one scoop of each in their bowl with sprinkles of cheese. Claudia, our translator, explained to us the children were fed one hot meal a day five days a week. After hearing that I still don't think our team was prepared for what we witnessed.
When we entered the villages there were a bunch of shacks side-by-side lining an all a dirt road. Once we started walking and getting closer, we saw a line of about 50 kids. We could see they didn't have many materialistic things like we do, but they certainly had more love than I have ever seen before. All of the kids wanted a hug or for us to at least say hello to them since our Spanish doesn't go much further than that. I found it interesting that they loved to see themselves after a photo had been taken of them. They don't get to see themselves very often. Our team had a blast with all the kids. We played games, took pictures, hugged, and even just stared at each other.
While we were at the soup kitchen at the first village, I got to see God in so many ways. At one point I got chills. When we left the first village, we all got back on the bus and noticed many of the items that we had on – headbands and bracelets - were now on the little children. The kids kept pointing at them. We would give them away and the smiles the kids had on their faces were just heart dropping - all for a headband. It was also cool to see how giving our team was. We all were laughing on the bus afterward at how we all looked.
Today set the bar really high for the rest of our trip because it was so incredible. We know there are many more great experiences for us still to come. We are so fortunate we get to open our eyes and our hearts together as a team.
For Day One of the C-N volleyball team's experience in Nicaragua, click here.