What does a typical day look like at Beauty For Ashes Project?
Ha! This question always makes me laugh. So, this is what I did yesterday. Tomorrow will look completely different though. And that's amazing and exciting to me.
Wake up and talk to Jesus. Ask Him to wreck my plans for His plans today. Answer emails. Cook breakfast for volunteers. Get dressed. Conference call at 9:45. Load the jeep. Group prayer. Feed my homeless friend Bobby. Fill the broken cooler with cold waters from my friend in the wheel chair in the intersection. Get to Gabrielas. Find a mom waiting with a screaming child with the skin melted off his leg from a cooking accident. Rush him to the clinic and sit outside praying for healing while he screams louder than any human I have ever heard. Literally. My heart breaks into pieces. Go back and pick up my volunteers that I semi-abandoned at Gabrielas. They started an impromptu street party. The kids playing tell me I am malo (bad) for making their new friends leave. I promise to bring them back and malo quickly turns to "okay then we love you." Head to the trash dump in Ciudad Sandino about 15 min away. Drive into the dump as a dozen kids climb onto the car to hitch a ride into the dump. Hand out snacks. Hand out cold waters until the cooler totally snaps in half and the water spills everywhere. Water fight ensues. Run. Kids are too fast. Dirt quickly turns to mud. See a sullen husband and wife in the distance digging through trash. Go show them God's love because they deserve the joy and freedom that Jesus died to give them. Pray and talk to them for over an hour. Head to Salva's for a house visit. Talk to their two girls (age 14 and 15) that just recently had babies. I watch Papa God transform their hearts like only He can. Their mom thanks us by giving us a baby duck in a dirty cardboard box. On the way out, find a child with a gash in his head. Dig the first aid kit out of the jeep and bandage his head. More tears. Kiss him and tell him Jesus loves him. Drive back to our project at Gabriela's house. Find our scholarship kids waiting for us in the street to play our Friday game of street soccer that we are now late for. Play until the sun goes to bed. Hold our little ones in my lap while I watch the most beautiful sunset over the trash dump. Regift the baby duck to Gabriela's mom. She is stoked. See my sweet Vanessa walking up. She can't wait to show me that her new shoes I gave her fit perfectly. She reminds me of her dream that I promised to help her fulfill. I tell her my plans to help her pursue that dream this week and she squeals and hugs me until I can barely breath. Go hunt down my pack of dirty, sweating, smiling gringo volunteers. Goodbyes take a long time when no one wants to actually say goodbye. Blast worship music the entire ride home. Get to the outdoor pupusa restaurant and realize we haven't eaten in almost 12 hours. Order food and then more food. Play highs and lows. Talk about how amazing Jesus is for over an hour. As we leave, we see a woman in a wheelchair outside of the restaurant begging for money. We sit in the dirt and talk with her. After we pray for her, all of her pain leaves and she is filled with love and joy. We hug. And hug more. We help put her in a taxi and pay for her to get back to where she needs to go. Walk home. Get home and pray for Nelson the security guard and his family. When he bows his head to pray, two single tears fall to the dirt. Jesus loves him so much and I know he feels it too. Get to the house and go straight outside to take a bucket shower. It feels beyond amazing. Climb up the stairs and crawl into bed with the other volunteers. We sleep 3 to a bed. Human puzzle style. Set the alarm for 6am to do it all over again and more. Whisper my good night and gratitude to my amazing Jesus. I literally can't believe this is my life. Oh wait, it's not. It's His.
In the summer of 2008, 24-year-old Kara Westermann entered a trash dump community in Managua, Nicaragua known as La Chureca. Her life completely changed forever.
We want to paint you a picture of the place that stole her heart and drove her back to Nicaragua time and time again and eventually took her there forever. La Chureca is the city dump where mountains of garbage are usually burning in several areas. As the trash breaks down it emits methane gas and this causes random fires to ignite. Animals, as well as children and adults, wander throughout. Vultures usually circle above in the smoke filled sky. Sometimes it is hard to breath with all the smoke, especially during the dry season. Men, women and children chase after the dump trucks in order to be the first in line to capture whatever treasures may be hiding inside.
They collect recyclables and whatever they can use to sell for money. Surrounding these mountains of garbage are the homes of about 75 families. They have built these homes out of trash. Children run barefoot among broken glass and fire. Nicaragua has no bio-hazzard laws so needles and other dangerous items lay scattered along their paths. Huffing glue is a common escape for many. They carry small, glass jars filled with the same glue used to hold together the shoes you are wearing. Huffing this glue does two things. One, it is a temporary escape. It helps you forget that your reality is that you live in this awful place. Second, the glue curbs your appetite and alleviates hunger pangs. It is easy to spot people and children on glue. Their eyes look empty. Their faces sad and expressionless. Disease. AIDS. Prostitution. Abuse. Floods. Hunger. Just a few more battles these people face everyday. Many of them are the third or fourth generation of their family to repeat the battles fought here. With little encouragment or opportunity for education, a crippling fear of the world outside of the dump, and countless opportunities to be overcome with depression and worthlessness all help keep them trapped here.
But the real truth is they not forgotten and no place is too dark to escape the Father's love. Today I see you. I see you not as you are now but as you were created to be. As sons and daughters, royalty and His pearls of great price. His thoughts for them out number the grains of sand in the sea. They are worth more than gold, more than His life.
Our passion is trash dumps. We rescue children and people from the trash heaps and raise them up to be sons and daughters. We have an elite scholarship program where we bus children living outside of the trash dump across the capital city of Managua to one of the best private schools in the country. These children are one of our main focuses. The Lord has given us a heart to build a missions community in Nicaragua where we raise up nationals and non-nationals to be missionaries that will be sent out to the nations.