Walk through a barrio in Managua, Nicaragua, and it awakens all your senses. The heat of the day descends like a fiery cloud every day at mid-morning and hovers over you with its hot breath. You never want to be far from clean water. Not an easy task. The chickens squawk, an occasional beat-up truck kicks up dust and you do your best to avoid the dog feces on the rut-sculptured street where the children are kicking a half-inflated soccer ball. It’s like this every day. Except for today.
Today, Dr. Carl Ross and Nursing Grad Lee Folk are leading us through this morass of displaced, disenfranchised people, when someone calls Dr. Ross’s name. He turns and smiles. It’s someone he knows. Children peek over a fence; a young mother approaches with a sickly child; a woman appears in a doorway with her arm in a cast; a man with a scar the length of his bare chest waves and grins. He’s happy because he’s still alive, he believes, thanks to Dr. Ross.
He knows them all. And they know him and they know the nursing students from RMU who descend like angles two or three times a year to bring care and hope and help heal their wounds, ease their afflictions.
We’re there to scout a location for a commercial. But that chore takes a back seat to more important duties, and our crew stands aside in awe.
It’s like this all day, but we manage to find the ideal location for our commercial. Because we have an important story to tell. David and his trumpet. How it was stolen by a barrio gang. How Lee Folk managed to surprise him with a new one. How David played for us with all his heart, and how this event changed his life. And Lee Folk’s life, also.
We wondered how we could be in a place so poor, so ravaged, so unforgiving, and yet not want to leave. David’s mother and sisters embraced us and their tears spoke with an eloquence that surpasses any poetry.
We’re home now, but every one of us wants to return. We’ve made lasting friends. Hopefully, if you’re an RMU nursing student, or want to be, you can someday join us. We’d like that.