For some reason the question, "What's a nice girl like you doing in a place like this?" has been running through my mind today. The past months have been full of such questions (though more gently phrased) put to me both by others and by myself. The reason for the questions is that two weeks ago, after a time of decision and preparation, I came to Nicaragua to spend six months with the long-term team of Witness for Peace.
I am living with four others in a rented house in Jalapa, Nicaragua, not far from the Honduran border. On this warm, sunny day, marked at times by the sound of gunshots as the militia practices on the edge of town, I think how much my decision to come here has its roots in my sense of hope, despite these hard times. Caught without my shelves of books, I can only paraphrase a quote from St. Teresa of Avila, which is both a reminder and a strength to me: let people not lay the blame on the times, for in all times the grace of God will be given to those who follow him.
Ten, or five, or even one year ago, I don't think I could have followed him here. Steps taken over the years, conscious efforts to put myself into ever more difficult situations, physically and spiritually—from the inner city of Cincinnati at the age of 17, to the Catholic Worker nine and a half years ago—have gradually enabled me to come here, to an area at war. Even so, my decision to come was made with great anticipation, mixed with much fear and trembling.