During my junior year, I went on a mission trip to the Island of Ometepe in Nicaragua with about 40 other people from my school. The trip lasted eight days, and each day we went to one of the two churches on the island. I met a beautiful little girl on our first full day there, and she absolutely changed my life forever.
With three years of doing a mediocre job in high school Spanish classes, I thought that my lack of her language would be a big problem, but she and I became close faster than I ever have with anyone else. She taught me something that I thought I already knew, but quickly realized I had been complacent about until she was in my life: she taught me that love transcends all borders and breaks all language barriers because we all have one Father. So, here is my letter to her.
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To the sweetest little girl,
First, I would like to say that it is impossible to do your kind heart justice with anything I write.
I used to think that little kids couldn’t possibly have an accurate concept of the Lord’s love. I used to believe that we teach children Bible stories just to give them a background before they are old enough to develop an actual belief in the Bible.
But I was wrong because I met you.
On our first day at your church, you ran up to me with your big smile and contagious laughter. I have never met anyone with as much joy as you. I was instantly in love with how adorable you are.
And everyone who met you was fully aware that you are incredibly easy to love. You danced and ran around and played with everyone you saw. You made it so easy for me to forget that there are bad things in this world.
Then, we went to the church, where I watched your face light up as the translator asked all of the children, “Quién ama a Jesús?” or “Who loves Jesus?” Every child’s hand immediately shot up into the air, but you jumped up off the floor and shouted “¡Yo! ¡Yo!” You were so excited to share your love for the Lord, and you showed that in the way you loved everyone around you.
The next day we were given the opportunity to not only go back to your church but to participate in your mass service. I sat in the back with some friends, and you walked in with your family. Right when I saw you I was overjoyed, and you sat down right in front of me in your cute little white church dress.
Throughout the service, you would turn around and give me a little grin, and when I’d smile back you would let out the world’s cutest giggle. Eventually, my friends and I moved forward for worship, and I invited you to come up with me. You gave me a sassy little head nod to tell me “no”, and every time I would glance back at you, you would try not to smile and shake your head some more.
A few songs later, I felt a little tug on my skirt, and I looked down to see you, happy as ever. After the service, we ran around and played some more until it was time to go. And when we said goodbye for the day, you hugged me with so much sincerity, and pulled away to say, “Eres mi mejor amiga.”
That was the moment I knew I would never forget you.
I came back to the church later and spent time with all of the children, but you weren’t there. We played for about an hour and then decided to walk to a field down the road. When we came to a street corner, I was so pleased to see you standing there, waiting for us. And when you saw me you ran to me screaming, “¡Mi mejor amiga!”--one of the things we started to say a lot to each other, especially because we couldn’t say much else.
The more time I would spend with you, the more you became patient with my horrible Spanish-speaking. And you made it so easy for me to talk to you, even if I didn’t make much sense all the time. It was so clear to me that language barriers don’t have to stop the relationships of people from growing because the connection they have makes the context so understandable.
It also became clear to me that I came on this mission trip with the hopes of impacting others, but you did so much more for me than I could ever do for you or anyone else on the island. And I owe so much of how I now view the world to you.
On our last day, I felt so much heartache. Leaving you and everyone else that I met felt unbearable. We got to spend time with you all that day and play like we usually did, but I had this weight on my heart the whole time.
I was dreading the inevitable goodbye at the end of our time together. And then the time came. The majority of the children had said their goodbyes and gone home, leaving you and a few others. At first, you started to run away from me, and I could see on your face that you just didn’t want to say goodbye.
But then you started to hug me, and I was so scared of what would happen when I let go. So I didn’t let go, and we sat there hugging and crying into each other’s arms. When your mom came over to us, I started to think that maybe her comfort would end the tears, but then she started to cry too.
That was the moment I knew that I had an impact on you, like the one you had on me.
When you had to leave I was so conflicted about how I felt. I was absolutely devastated seeing you go, but my heart had never been so full of love. You are a light in this world. Your heart changed mine so fast, and I know you have so much more love to give the rest of the world. Thank you for showing me so much about the Lord. Thank you for reminding me that His love makes ours so much more real. And thank you for being mi mejor amiga.
I’ll love you forever.
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My expectations of the people on this island were exceeded times 1000. I thought it would be a place full of people who needed a person like me to share the Lord with them. Instead, I met people who showed me more of the Lord’s love than I have ever known. And I could never forget a place like that.