Heaven and Earth in Nicaragua

I want to be known as a holy and blameless son; one who loves because he knows he is loved.

I want to live within the tension of the now and not yet of the Kingdom of God, saturated with an indescribable and unquenchable hope.

I want my whole life to look as it does during a seven-day trip to La Villa Esperanza in Managua, Nicaragua.

Seven years ago I traveled to Nicaragua. I headed to La Villa Epseranza, a home for at-risk girls. Myself, a single dude with 2 brothers, no girlfriends, and zero knowledge of “female” somehow ended up on a trip to serve 16 girls, ages 5-16. These girl’s parents had given up day-to-day contact with them, sending them to “The Village of Hope” so they could escape the threat of some of the most intense poverty the world knows.

Seven years and eight trips later and I’m officially obsessed. I go to The Villa because I’ve come to see glimpses of what God’s unconditional love looks like, not only towards these girls, but towards me. Now when I head to Nicaragua I see 25-30 girls, ages 12-23, who are not poor, broken, sinful, or stubborn, but who are blameless children of a living God. These girls are royal, and so am I. Their Father is King, and so is mine.

On Saturday I said goodbye to Massiel, our 14-year old, Nicaraguan little sister. My wife and I have known her for 3 years and I think she’s perfect. Yes, she struggles to receive my love often because she didn’t learn love growing up. Yes, it’s challenging to communicate with her in my poor Spanish. Yes, she is one of my best friends. And yes, one of my greatest joys is learning to give and receive love alongside her.

Massiel is a child of God who is delighted in by her Father.

Four years ago I was devastated to see Alondra, the most precious 12-year old girl, walk away from The Villa. She chose to leave because she wanted to experience the world on her own. I met Alondra on my first day at The Villa. Today, at 16, she is pregnant with her second child. The dad of her first born was 28-years old and was gone as quickly as he arrived. This is the difficult reality for a lot of young girls in Nicaragua.

Yet Alondra is a child of God who is delighted in by her Father.

The Villa exists within the tension of the now and not yet. On one hand we see injustice – girls who have been abused, broken, and disturbed by a life of pain and evil. On the other hand, I get to see Heaven and Earth meet every year when I’m there as two dozen girls get to re-learn who they are; beloved daughters of God. I get to stand in the tension of the now and not yet with the vibrant, unwavering hope that Jesus is coming back to put the world to rights.

In three months I’m having my first child – a daughter. Eighty percent of my family produces male offspring, and I’m having a girl.

My God is so kind that seven years ago, at the naïve age of 19, he let me go to Nicaragua and learn how much he loves me by teaching me what unconditional love looks like for one of his perfect daughters. In October, I get to lavish my own daughter with the same unconditional love my perfect Father has taught me through the girls at La Villa Esperanza.

This is why I go to Nicaragua ever year. They are some of the most beautiful girls the world has ever seen. Regardless of what the rest of the year has given me, God lets me wear his glasses for a week to be reminded of what identity looks like in his Kingdom.

We are the beloved.

Alondra is a beloved child of God.

Massiel is a beloved child of God.

My own baby girl is a beloved child of God.

I am a beloved child of God.



Learn more about La Villa Esperanza and other opportunities to serve those in need around the world with Hear The Cry.

Hear The Cry 


Author: Alex Salzwedel

Alex Salzwedel is the pastor of operations at Bridgetown Church.