By Sara Olivieri
“It’s not about the well, it’s about the relationships.”
Arriving in Nicaragua, that was one of the first things they told us, and kept telling us. However, it also seemed like the hardest thing to do.
I, along with six other Porch-goers, was in Granada, Nicaragua, for a week on a short-term mission trip with Living Water International to drill a freshwater well for a community that lacked clean drinking water. Though access to life-giving clean water is something we rarely (or never) think about or thank God for in Dallas, it is something that 800 million people in the world do without—making it a leading cause of disease and death.
Though we were there to develop a clean water source, that wasn’t the main focus. Like Jesus pointed out to the woman at the well in John 4, the one thing more important than water is the living water of the gospel. Whereas a drink of water can give life for a few hours or days, living water gives eternal life. The main focus was the people—to show them love, and build relationships, like Christ did.
This idea intimidated me. How can I build a relationship in less than a week? The language barrier, cultural differences, and my own feelings of insignificance all started to weigh me down. Each night our team would discuss our highs and lows of the day, and share what the Lord was teaching us. By the second night, I still had no clue what God was trying to teach me, and was honestly a little frustrated. Then I felt a little tug at my heart and this thought entered my brain: this isn’t about you. I immediately scribbled down John 3:30: "He must become greater; I must become less." This trip wasn’t about me at all—this was about Him.
The Lord moves quickly when we move ourselves out of the way, and at that point, things started to change. The next morning we pulled up to the drill site to be greeted with the group of kids we had been playing with the past two days, waiting patiently in dirty clothes and smiles with torn baseball gloves and a single bat in hand. More women had arrived with whatever chairs they owned to hear more hygiene lessons and Bible stories, and without hesitation would trust us to hold their babies and watch their children. When the drillers needed water to flush the pipes, every man, woman, and child pitched in to gather whatever limited water they had in their possession to contribute. As the week continued I was overwhelmed at their generosity and the time that they took out for us, and each other.
When we struck water, there was a lot of excitement and joy. But the true joy came from sharing the universal love of our Savior with these people, and seeing the love and gratefulness in them as well. I was humbled at the simplicity of the life they lived, and convicted that I don’t spend nearly enough time building relationships back home. In that short amount of time, we met adults and children who made a huge impact on our lives. We thought we were going to bless them with a well; we were not expecting to be blessed even more in return.
True joy comes from loving God, and loving your neighbor (Matthew 22:37-40). And the best love we can display is the love of Christ and the gospel.
The lessons we learned in Nicaragua apply just as much here in Dallas. Serving God and serving others doesn’t need to be difficult or require you leaving the country. Start here. Look around you. Find a need, great or small, and meet it. But don’t just focus on the immediate need; care enough to talk with them about their eternal needs. Build a relationship and share the living water of the gospel.
And whatever you do, ask the Lord to move you out of the way first. It's not about you. When our desires are removed from the situation and the Lord uses us to do His work, that is when the love of the gospel is truly displayed.