A group from our church went to Nicaragua in January on two week medical mission trip. I found, as with previous mission trips, that I was blessed by the experience way beyond anything I might have done for the people we went to serve. The Nicaraguans were gracious in their hospitality and warm in their welcome. Having read about the history of our country’s interactions with Nicaragua, I am humbled by the fact that they let us into the country. I learned a new phrase during the trip-- first world problems. Today I have been frustrated as I have wrestled with a first world problem, one that involved a computer of course--a brand new bread machine that would not start after I filled it with the ingredients for sour dough bread. Nothing happened when I hit start, even after I reset the machine and tried again. So I called the number on the sheet that says, “thank you for purchasing our product,” and “our customer assistance representatives are always ready to answer your questions.” They are ready if you are willing to wait on hold for about a half an hour. While I waited, I dumped the mixture from the bread machine into a bowl, mixed it up the old fashioned way, kneaded it and set it aside to rise--a good start to working off my frustration. In another hour, I will roll it into a loaf and let it rise once more and then bake it--a solution to my first world problem. I have the ingredients and the knowledge to make bread. The people we saw in Nicaragua in the rural areas we visited suffer from third world problems, real problems like hunger, disease, lack of clean water, and high rates of maternal and infant mortality, to name just a few. Yet they live their lives with faith and quiet dignity as they tackle the problems they face. When I become aggravated with a first world problem these days, I try to remember to take a deep breath and think about our new friends in Nicaragua, who daily face problems that are matters of life and death. And then I thank God for the blessings I too often take for granted and continue to work towards a return trip to Nicaragua where I hope to learn more about how to face life’s challenges from the amazing people who live there.
Grace and Peace,