People over progress. That statement was the driving force behind the week that some of our full-time team members got to experience in Chinandega, Nicaragua. Together (Juntos), with some other members of Valley Hope Church here in Swannanoa, we were able to travel down to Amigos For Christ – an organization in Chinandega that aims to love and serve local Nicaraguans in providing clean water, modern bathrooms, education, and sustainable means of economic and community development. During our time there, we dug ditches for water pipes, pick-axed solid rock, laid soil for a local dragonfruit farmer, toured the Amigos school, and most importantly, formed meaningful relationships (in our best Spanglish) with the community members we served alongside and with each other. People over progress.
I could write a novel about our experience in Nicaragua, but that one mantra stuck with me the whole week, and it is something I hope we can bring back to our mission and ministry here at camp. In the office, our team is constantly discussing ways we can improve as a camp in all aspects – how we can be better and more efficient at staff hiring, how we can re-work systems to make them easier and smoother for our campers and families, how we can improve the signage around camp (it’s important!), the list goes on. But what I hope to bring back from our week in Nicaragua is that phrase, people over progress.
The root of what Amigos For Christ aims to do is love people well and truly know them, and then through that love, get them what they so deeply need. Digging ditches is great, but it doesn’t mean much if you don’t know, understand, and truly love the people you are digging for. And the kicker is this – it truly works! When you enter a huge undertaking like getting clean water to rural homes for the first time ever, conversations with families and card games with the community leaders go nearly as far as actually digging the ditches and laying the pipes. God rarely calls us to be as productive and efficient as possible (much to our American dismay), but what He does call us to, time and again, is loving our neighbor and living in community. It is through that love that Amigos is able to accomplish what it does, and it was through having fun and getting to work alongside the locals that we had the motivation to truly serve them well.
What we do at camp on the surface certainly looks different than groundwork of Amigos, but through all of our re-working of systems, staff meetings, arguments about signage, and so on, we hope to keep that same love for our campers and their families at the root of everything we do. We hire an excellent staff because we love our campers, we want better opening day systems because we love our families (and their cars!), staff work hard during the summer because they love our camp community, and so on. People over progress.
Life in Nicaragua may visually look much different than here in North Carolina, but the laughter, conversation, and love that filled our days in Chinandega is, at its core, just what we hope to emulate at Merri-Mac. 81 days until our community comes to life, and we will all be Juntos soon!
From This Haven,
Lucie Christian, Intern
3x Timberlake Waterfront Director
Red Wolf For Life