Changing lives

Nicholas Mercer
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Two young women helping alter the lives of people in under-developed countries

As young people near the age of majority, they start thinking about a few things.

NEW FRIENDS - Melanie Wells stands between two young Nicaraguan children she met while doing mission work in the barrios in Nicaragua.

A different type of work

Ms. Wells, 21, is from Gambo, and she spent two months in Nicaragua.

Her work was with an organization called Adventures in Missions.

While Ms. Moss had her group come to her, Ms. Wells had to go and find her group.

“I randomly found them on the Internet,” she said.

Ms. Wells had been interested in going on a mission trip for the last seven or eight years.

“I searched college mission trips and I found them,” she said. “I read through their website, thought it was a really good program. The program I went on was real life ... I just contacted them and started the application process.”

Ms. Wells stayed in a town called La Quita Esperanza in  the centre of Nicaragua from July to August.

She returned to Newfoundland Aug. 2.

“It was a rural area, close to the farms and plantations,” she said. “We were outside of town by 10-15 minutes.”

It was a compound for children and youth who were from bad home situations, or were abused, or a part of gangs, she said.

“We were living with people who had been in bad situations, and they are all Christians now,” said Ms. Wells. “They do a ministry with the pastor.”

Living there was different than home.

The group stayed in a tiny house, with all of their beds connected.

“We had so little space,” she said. “There was a little culture shock.  There was no privacy or anything like that.”

The work Ms. Wells did while in Nicaragua differed from the work Ms. Moss did in the Dominican Republic.

In the area where she stayed, Ms. Wells said the group have a ministry with the pastor.

“We were helping the pastor and the youth with their ministry in what they call the barrios,” she said, referring to the barrios as an area made up of slums.

In  the beginning, the group did children’s programs.

They put off dances, sung songs, and did skits, all aimed at spreading the ministry further into the depraved areas of the area.

Ms. Wells said they would invite the children along to watch the group perform these activities.

“We would talk to them, and pray with them, and invite them to church.”

“They know that we’re there to show them love and play with them, things they probably don’t get a lot of.” Melanie Wells

This happened for three days a week for three weeks.

“The children absolutely loved it,” said Ms. Wells. “They know that we’re there to show them love and play with them, things they probably don’t get a lot of.”

Once the initial contact had been made with children from the area, the group would spend a bit more time with them on some afternoons.

“We might visit the houses of children we had already met,” said Ms. Wells. “We would talk with them, and pray with them about Jesus, coming to church and things like that.

“A lot of the work involved younger children and families.”

While the group was successful in reaching the children of the area, and bringing the message of love to them, the group found it difficult to reach some of the older youth in the area, according to Ms. Wells.

“We worked with young adults towards the last three weeks,” she said.

The older youth proved harder to reach because they were involved in so many things.

“It was harder to reach to young men because a lot of them were involved in gangs and things like that,” said Ms. Wells, noting the group was always very careful about the areas they went into, to avoid any danger.

Preaching to the masses was just one part of the work Ms. Wells and her teammates would do.

They also helped families with chores around the house, she said.

“We met a family, whose house was made of sticks and plastic,” said Ms. Wells. “They had pretty much nothing.  We actually used some money and bought they food, laundry soap, and shampoo ... we spent three afternoons, and washed their clothes for them, and cleaned their house.”

Overall, it was an amazing experience said Ms. Wells.

“One thing I’ve really taken away, is that you always hear that love is the most important thing, it doesn’t matter who you are,” she said. “I actually realize that now.

“Even with the language barrier, I grew to absolutely love the people down there ... we could love each other and care about each other, and it didn’t matter.”

nmercer@ganderbeacon.ca

Organizations: Dominican Republic

Geographic location: Nicaragua, Gambo, Arroyo Seco Central Newfoundland Eastport Mexico Thailand Haiti Agua Negra regions Newfoundland

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