For those of you that know me, you know that I like tattoos. ‘Like’ might be too tame of a word. ‘love’ or ‘obsessed with’ is more like it.
Things like pinterest, living in a musician-filled Nashville and working in the music industry have helped feed my addiction. I just love how art tells a story, and to have that permanently branded on your skin is such a romantic thought.
Although I surprisingly only have two tattoos. Not bad for someone who loves ink as much as myself.
My first tattoo has an awesome story as I went with my incredible mother. She turned 50 the same year i turned 18, and that was the crazy thing i requested that we do together. It was amazing.
But i really want to talk about my most recent addition to my body. Ever since Andrea Watson and i have met, we have talked about tattoos. It was one of our many bonding points. So after 6 months of talking about it, we finally took action.
Mine is on the left, the odd shape with the heart in the middle, and Andrea’s is on the left with the northern star as the cross. You should really follow her blog as she is about to embark on an incredible journey. You can find that here.
I’m sure you are wondering what in the world that odd shape is. People often ask “is it Kentucky?” since i technically grew up there. My thoughts? People need to look at a map 🙂 and I say that out of love. But Nicaragua looks nothing like Kentucky. I don’t blame you for not knowing what Nicaragua looks like though, I had no clue until i took my first trip there in 2009, when it stole my heart.
I went with an incredible organization called LUO. Please check them out, they are doing incredible work in setting children free from poverty in different parts of the world. In Nicaragua, this organization partnered with another group called Open Hearts. They worked to open two rescue homes to bring children out of the city dump in the capital city of Managua (La Churecca). There were approximately 2000 people living there in 2009, 50% of them being children. Almost everyone worked in the dump, even the children, sorting through the trash to find recyclables that could be sold for some sort of income. Mother’s became so desperate that they began to sell their children to the truck drivers so that they could get first dibs at the best trash.
When the Buzbee family of Open Hearts began to hear about such travesties, they couldn’t just stand by and watch. This organization helped to build a school inside La Churecca in an effort to bring the children to a safe place during the day while their parents dug through the trash. It became a place of refuge, education, love, and nutrition. But the terrible stories of the kids, captivated the hearts of the Buzbee’s and they began to take in some of the children into their own home.
After adopting 6 nicaraguan little ones, they decided it was time to open up a rescue home. First, one for the young ladies who were being sexually abused. They decided to call this place Casa Havilah, House of Havilah, from the Bible passage Genesis 2:11…
“…the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold…”
The name reflects the message that they want to instill in the girls that no matter their past, they are still worth more than gold. The home provides a safe place for these young ladies. A home of love. It is by no means glamorous living, but it is free from the struggles of living in La Churecca.
The Buzbee’s discovered that the need was so great among the children, that they opened a rescue home for boys as well, called Casa Robles. This translates to House of Oaks, which reflects the verse Isaiah 61:3…
“…they will be like great oaks that the LORD has planted for his own glory…”
The environments of these homes radiate with pure love and joy. yes, these children are troubled, and they may not have any luxuries and live without a stable family, and yet, without fail, they are continuously smiling.
The picture above is from the third trip I made there in 2011. It has been incredible to watch the ladies grow up year after year. Notice the littlest one in the picture, sticking her tongue out?! That is darling, Sofia. She has been special to my heart since before I even stepped foot in Nicaragua. I bought a canvas to support her for an entire year through LUO. So when I made the trip, I knew that I wanted to especially meet this little girl who’s picture had adorned my wall for 6 months.
Meet Sofia… in 2009…
Adorable, right?! She was probably the most shy and timid out of all of the children. She had no desire to talk, but was perfectly content to sit next to you and feel your presence. She liked being held, and loved, but no real concern on being in on the action of the other children. And these kids have LOTS of energy.
Fast forward two years later…and she is the clown of the group. An absolute character and a fantastic time. I love being able to witness the young ones have the opportunity to flourish, and become the people they are meant to be without being stifled by abuse.
Although, they are constantly challenged by the forces of their world. Some of them long for their families in La Churecca because that is what they are familiar with, no matter the abuse they have been put through. But, there is still hope. These homes are a beacon of light to a possibility of the children being set free from the chains of poverty.
They have all stolen my heart. They crave love, and it so easy to pour your heart to them. It is amazing how much they will cling to perfect strangers if they see care, joy, and love. The people of Nica have changed my life. It is difficult to walk into a home with mud floors, a tarp roof, – witness complete joy and contentment – and not be changed.
I pray for and think of the people of Nica often, and I long to help and visit whenever possible. But if the truth be told…I don’t think of them near enough. I need them in my thoughts, continuously. I need to remember their joy as they face brutal circumstances every day.
The materialism of the US is an epidemic that corrupts our souls daily. We are all victims to it.
And this is why I needed this tattoo. As a daily reminder of those amazing people, and how they changed my perspective on life completely. They broke my heart and saved my life within an hour of my experiencing their lives. And they now too, have a place on my flesh for the world to see and as a constant reminder of what really matters in this life: people and the love that we freely give to them.
Although traveling overseas may not be your thing, I would strongly encourage you to step outside of your bubble. Open your eyes to the things of this world, that you may not relate to. Let the experience take you over, and awaken your soul. It is in these times of vulnerability that your life can be changed, if you are willing to let it happen.
Now go put something good out into the world…