“What you do makes a difference and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” –Jane Goodall

My second mission trip to Managua, Nicaragua was nothing short of incredible. From my team to the experiences that we had, all will be memories that I cherish forever. As remarkable as it was, it was also challenging. Physically, mentally and emotionally we were challenged by unimaginable living conditions, extreme poverty and of course, overwhelming heat.

We started off our mission with a full day of travel. We met bright an early at Triumph Lutheran Church to pack up the van and make our way to Minneapolis International Airport. We were certainly thrilled to be leaving the bone chilling weather for awhile. After over twenty-four hours of travel and three flights, we arrived in Managua at around 1 a.m. We were so excited to be back in the city again!

There are three main focuses of this mission trip: Relationships, creating a community within the church and house visits where we talk with the families and provide food and other necessary items.

Home visits are the hardest part of the mission. Not only are we carrying fifty pound bags in the scorching heat but we are visiting homes that are in unimaginable conditions, often times no larger than one room with more than five people living there.

We visited over thirty homes delivering bags. One home in particular greatly impacted all of us. This home was high up in the mountains. We had to hike over a mile through thick wilderness and dirt to reach the dilapidated metal home. The woman who lived there refused to invite us into the home at first but Pastora eventually convinced her to talk with us. When we entered the home we were shocked to see that the woman had a swollen black eye and had clearly been experiencing abuse. She hung her head in shame and we all stood there in silence. One of our team members, Pastor Kristian, then began to speak with her and pray for her. Although the young woman never spoke, her silence spoke volumes.

Standing in that one room home housing eight people, two of which were children, looking at this young woman in so much pain, left all of us speechless. With all that she was gong through, she made no requests and asked for nothing from us. All she wanted was to grow stronger in her faith and for her children to be safe.

We take so many things in our lives for granted and in that moment I was reminded of how much I have to be grateful for. The roof over my head, the family I have back home (as crazy as they are) and the list can go on forever. However, our lives are not measured in luxury. That designer bag is fine and dandy but to visit a country where the price of that designer bag is more than an entire month’s wage really puts things into perspective.

Being Miss International of course has its fair share of luxury and glamor but that is not what makes you a queen. Being a queen is not always glamorous, it’s not always easy and it is certainly not always air conditioned. Being a queen is about sitting on the ground in the dirt to play with children. It’s getting soaked from a water balloon fight and hearing the laughter all around you. It’s carrying fifty pound bags up hills and through the mud to help a family in need. It’s not easy but it is worth every second.

Ava Hill
Miss International 2019


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