Joan and Melida waiting for the bus
Mylinda leading an art making process
Constant companions in Apantillo
Human sculpture with AMOS counselors
Ada Luz, health promoter
Such a dynamic group of urban health promoters
I was privileged to experience a week in Nicaragua with Mylinda Baits who works in partnership with AMOS, a community health organization. One of AMOS' local health promotors has been trained by Mylinda in the First Aid Arts program to help bring healing into the lives of women who are survivors of trauma. Here's a bit of Mylinda's ministry first-hand and how it intersects with the rhythm of the small mountain community of Apantillo.
We sat at the dinner table while the rain came down onto the tin roof. Drop by drop, then in a torrent as the evening storm passed through the community.
Melida, our guide into the community of Apantillo and delegation coordinator for AMOS, led the small group of gathered women in using their bodies to recreate a storm. Hands rubbed together as the rain began to fall until patting their thighs brought on a pounding of water. Fingers snapped for thunder that exploded throughout.
The women are madres voluntarias, volunteer mothers, who walk alongside those who are pregnant to help them create a healthier family and environment for the baby to come while caring for the mother herself. For some, pregnancy itself is one of life's storms and the exercise helps them sense a greater control over their lives.
Tum, tum. Tum, tum. Tum, tum. The sound of Dona Carmen patting tortillas into shape before placing them on the griddle of the wood-fired stove is our early morning wake up call.
Ada Luz, the community's health promotor, is giving direction as empty cans are turned into personalized drums. Each are uniquely finished to reflect the colors and tastes of the women who designed them. Mylinda leads them in different rhythms, reminding them that our bodies themselves have a life rhythm that starts with the baby hearing its mother's heartbeat. We sing together and each has a turn with a drum solo.
They reflect on the rhythms of their life--what brings them joy, energy, or a sense of peace. What did you learn about yourself? they are all asked. This space for self-reflection is a rare time for each of them. "I was able to accomplish something i didn't think I could do." "I didn't want to come, but once I got here I learned a lot." "Sometimes I'm afraid to ask for help even when I need it." "Es divertido!--it's fun!" one shares.
Climbing onto a local bus, we made our way to the next community for the afternoon workshop, bouncing down the rocky dirt road.
In an area with few physical resources and opportunities, fun is a precious commodity. Instead of asking them to form groups of 4-5 women, they play a game of "transportation." Are they traveling by horse, motorcycle, truck, or bus? They form groups of different size as the mode of transport is called out and then act out the ride. Laughter rocks the room and prepares their hearts for the more serious discussion to come.
Shouts of joy are heard as a group of children run up the path next to the church where we are being housed and well fed.
At the end of every workshop, food is offered. There is a sense of God's generosity and abundance as each is served a snack and beverage. The last workshop ends at lunch where everyone is invited to the table. Mothers and missionaries with the children crowded around breaking bread together. It is one more place and time where the church offers hope and healing to wounded hearts.
Rev. Joan Friesen is Executive Minister of ABC of Greater Indianapolis, longtime friend, and former member of Mylinda's Missionary Partnership Team.
Links to AMOS and First Aid Arts: