We went into Elaia last Saturday to return the book I had borrowed a few days before, and as Brinson and I were thinking about what to order, he looked down and pointed to a small phrase on a bracelet. “That’s for you, Jamie. You can’t get away from it.” As I read the message I agreed, as it said (with a rainbow behind it) ‘God Keeps His Promises.’ I began telling Brinson about how when I was leaving Rwanda, on the tarmac, I prayed and asked the Lord to please not keep me away too long. That I wanted to stay, but knew I had to leave, but would He please allow me to return. And then I mourned that loss for the months following. Retrospectively I now know that I had to return to the States in order to date, fall in love with, and eventually marry Landon, but in the moment it hurt like the death of a good friend. The pain was visceral and deep, and on some days, overwhelming. But, as they say here in Nica, ‘poco a poco,’ (little by little) God healed those wounds and even assisted my heart in dreaming and hoping for our communities in Eugene. It wasn’t that the desire to be overseas ever vanished completely, but maybe it was that I learned to trust Him more.
When we were there, also, we met the owners of Elaia, a very sweet Korean couple who love Jesus and are attempting to be a positive influence in their corner of Managua. The husband (whose name escapes me now) asked me if everything was ok as I returned the borrowed book back on the shelf. I said it was, and asked if he worked there or owned it. He said he was the owner and I did what I usually do: I stuck out my hand and said, “I’m Jamie!” I introduced him to Brinson (Landon was in the car), and began asking him about the business and how it was going. I also told him how we had eaten lunch there a few days prior, and how we all enjoyed the sushi. He began telling us more about the business, and even went as far as to show us two extra rooms they are working on. One will be for meetings and contains a large table with many chairs, and the other is a small classroom to teach English in, with a printing press in the back. Part of their ministry in Managua is that they periodically print devotional books in Spanish, and sell them at cost to anyone who would like one. (As a gift, he gave one to me, which I received gratefully.)
As we went back to the main cafe, Brinson asked if we could pray for him and his wife. They said yes, and I ran to get Landon. It was such a sweet moment with them, blessing them and their business, and encouraging them in the work they are doing. We thanked them for creating the space and left to run other errands. As we continued down the road I explained to Landon and Brinson how much I needed that. In Eugene, I LOVED to have conversations with the baristas at my favorite coffee shops. Evan, Matt, Sky… They all became friends, who also happened to make killer coffee. And there was this thing that happened in my heart before we left that said, “But if that can’t happen in Nicaragua, it’ll be ok. I’ll be ok.” BUT GUESS WHAT?! It is happening. That is the thing that I love so much about all this. I thought us saying ‘yes’ to the thing God placed on our heart would come with sacrifices (and it definitely has), but over and over again, we have received those back here. Pick up basketball every week, pickled ginger in the grocery store, and the coffee shop connection are just a few examples. I’m telling you, this story gets better with each passing day.