Happy Weekend After Thanksgiving - I pray you all were blessed with good food and family time together. In the end, it is the bringing together of friends and family that matters more than how that gluten free gravy tasted.
We had a different Thanksgiving this year - as I mentioned last week, we traveled to Nicaragua to build a house for a family we met last June when we were on a Mission Trip.
This was Alex's third trip to Nicaragua this year, but the first time the entire family has traveled down together.
Instead of an official trip with a big organization - we were going on our own to help two families that we have come to know over the year.
While in Nica, my husband and some friends from Florida built a house for Killian's family. While the men were building the house, we spent time with Killian's family and another family close to Alex's heart. Maykol's family, an eleven year-old boy with two younger brothers.
I was honestly a little worried before we left - I was essentially going to be on my own in Nicaragua with my three kids and the kids from two local families that we were getting to know.
I also was not sure how my younger kids would take it - its pretty rough living in Nicaragua and these families are almost beyond our American understanding of poor. Plus, my son Luke is adopted from Guatemala. This would be his closest trip to his home country and I was not sure how he would take it.
In the end, even though we didn't have a big turkey and missed seeing our families back in the US, we had the most blessed Thanks Giving of all.
Killian's family includes five kids ages 1 to 13 and their Mom Alsera. This is sweet precious Killian.
This is their current house.
These are the walls of their new home.
Alsera works endlessly to take care of her children - raising five kids (basically on her own) in Nicaragua. Alsera takes care of chickens and pigs to support them and she works in the fields picking peanuts.
Maykol's family has six kids - the parents have been together for 17 years but just recently got married when they converted to Christianity. Pedro, his Dad, carries the weight of the world on his face and in his gestures. Five years ago they moved to Costa Rica on the promise of a job which didn't exist when they arrived. They were homeless for three years. When they finally moved back to Nicaragua, they had no money and no place to live. Pedro, who was born by the sea, took up fishing until they saved enough money to buy the land they live on now. This is their current home:
The home itself is maybe 10 x 10 - two beds that the entire family shares but very neat and tidy.
Pedro had a steady job and they were doing well until he got a hernia. Now work is hard for him. Nohemi, the mom, sells tortillas to help the family but the smoke from cooking over the wood fire pit has given her asthma. We bought them a gas stove while we were there.
The kids are all wonderful - they have nothing so they expect nothing.
We brought them some clothing and toys, the first toys they had ever gotten. We bought them food and gave them lots of love.
Spending so much time with them also made me realize just how tired and sick they are. You can see the hardship in their eyes and dispositions.
In the end, we all came home with a heavy heart and much to be thankful for. I keep walking around my kitchen in awe of the fact that I have a refrigerator and pantry full of food.
It is a sad fact that so many in the world live like they do. Not because they have given up, but because sometimes situations are so bad they can hardly get better on their own.
Even though this gluten free life can have it's challenges (we almost starved in Nica), we are all truly blessed and have much to be thankful for.
I am thankful for the opportunity to know these distant families and to hopefully help them out.
For us, we truly had a meaningful Thanks Giving.