Published July 5, 2018
FLOWERY BRANCH—Amigos for Christ board member and mission leader Sue LaFave has participated in mission trips to Nicaragua every year since 2002, most recently leading a team over spring break from her parish, Prince of Peace Church in Flowery Branch. As political strife forced the Buford-based Amigos to cancel summer trips, LaFave eagerly awaits a return to Chinandega where she normally spends the summer in service. She even owns a home a few blocks from the nonprofit’s headquarters in Nicaragua.
On her first trip LaFave accompanied her teen daughter and others from Prince of Peace. Since then she has also taken her niece and nephews and many parish teens.
It is the Nicaraguan people who inspire her to continue service.
“Their humility and their strong faith set such a great example for my daughter when we first went and for me always. They are so grateful for the hand up that we give them. Amigos for Christ does a beautiful job in helping them without insulting them and allowing them to maintain their dignity. We are the Lord’s hands and feet when we go to Nicaragua. We work side by side with the Nicaraguan people to help them have a better life. We’re not there to preach to them through our words but through our actions,” said LaFave, who said she has never felt unsafe in Chinandega.
She first met the Narvaez family when they lived in a plastic and tin roof shack near the city trash dump. She worked side by side with the family and other Amigos to relocate them to a new home in Villa Catalina. Now living in a decent home with running water, the mother has a small business and her children attend an afterschool program called Teatro Catalina.
“I now see them being very successful in their daily lives, and it makes me very happy,” she said. “I know where my money goes. I’ve met the people in the communities and I see the impact it has on them and that makes all the difference.”
And she sees firsthand the difference of having clean running water in the 18 communities served by Amigos. Before parents would have to spend half their day fetching water instead of looking for employment, while children would babysit younger siblings instead of attending school, she recalled.
Sharing faith through action has profoundly impacted LaFave.
“I didn’t truly understand what an impact service would have on my faith life and my ability to share my faith with other people. I figured out it’s not only through my words but it can be through my actions—and what an impact. Every shovel full of dirt that I’ve dug in the long run helps me to understand that we can’t always do big things but every little thing adds up to something big. I see the Lord there,” she said. “I’m really humbled and proud to be part of an organization that makes a difference every single day.”