From time to time, we’re bringing you first hand stories and accounts written by those within CS. Enjoy the following from Darryl Pauls!

When my wife and I first began talking about going on a missions/surf trip to Nicaragua with OneWorld Health and CS, our first question was “Can we bring our daughter?”

The week before this trip, our oldest daughter, Mary Beth, would be turning 13 and we knew traveling and serving in a developing nation would be an amazing experience. The teenage years are so important in the formation of identity and answering the questions “Who am I?” and “What is important to me?” As parents, we felt so lucky to have the opportunity to let God show her a bigger world outside of the comfort and familiarity of our home and community where He could speak into that search for identity and significance … And we were excited to spend some time together exploring another culture and having some fun in the surf.

Once we were in Nicaragua, we hit the ground running as OWH had an efficient and well organized plan to run free one-day clinics in rural communities near the Pacific coast. Traveling to the rural clinic sites, as we observed the passing landscape from the windows of our bus, we were reminded that life is hard during the dry season in Nicaragua. All the bushes and trees are bare twigs coated with dust, fields are barren and livestock are gaunt. Yet when we stepped off the bus at each site, we were met with joyful smiles and vibrant communities. Days at the clinic were busy working alongside the translators to ensure that each person received the medical care they needed. We were so proud to see our daughter confidently using her gifts and talents to serve each person and assess the needs of the team.

The only greater joy than receiving a blessing is to give one away. It was really a privilege to be a part of the team here to deliver medical care, much needed medicines, and even restored vision through glasses! As we both served and were served by the Nicaraguans, we were reminded that while our cultures and lifestyles are worlds apart, we all share common hopes and longings, joys and sorrows. Our shared humanity helps us to accept and enjoy our differences.

Of course, selfishly, one of the things that drew us to this trip in particular was the surf. While it wasn’t too hard to justify a mission trip with surfing included, I have always appreciated Jimmy Kaiser’s take on living on mission – that God has given each of us unique passions. Discovering those passions and being inspired to use them in God’s kingdom by serving others is truly a joy. So while the surf was just “plain ol’ fun” it also served a purpose, bonding our team and being a welcome release from a day of intense work.

Being back to our familiar routine in SC, we have to swim against the tide to hold onto the things we learned from this trip … especially to hold loosely to our material possessions and work towards investing in our real treasures – our family and friends, our community, and our calling. Remembering also to grow in our faith as we see God reveal, through both the ordinary and the extraordinary, more of himself to us and His heart for the nations. One of the greatest things I was reminded of on the trip was by my now teenage daughter who said, “You don’t have to go far to find people to serve. You just serve the people where you are.” It’s cool to see God answering the quest for identity and significance in each of our lives.

-Darryl Pauls and family