By: Ellen Haygood | May 2, 2017

The Call to Nicaragua

I have been extremely blessed to have had the opportunity to spend the past three months serving in Nicaragua. I had been praying for a chance to serve in a Latin American country for several years and studied Spanish in high school and college and had been saving money in the process of waiting. Last December, I heard about the Taellor’s House internship through Denise Meyer, and after she interviewed me and told me about what we would be involved with as interns, I felt God’s confirmation specifically in three areas I had been praying for: 1) Wanting to spend time dedicated to serving others besides myself. 2) Wanting to learn how to speak Spanish fluently. 3) Wanting to explore teaching to see if I should pursue that further as a possible career option. Denise explained that I would be able to pursue all three of these things during my time here, and she was right.

The Beautiful Nicaraguan People

I had never been to Nicaragua before, and upon arriving on February 4th, I was immediately taken back on how beautiful the country was. However, that pales in comparison to how beautiful the people are. I have fallen in love with the warm and selfless hearts of the Nicaraguan people, and they have taught me and shown me the beauty of putting the needs and interests of others above your own. The other two girls interning with me at Taellor’s House have become two of my best friends, and we loved getting to serve together as a team.

Daily Life at Taellor’s House

My weekly schedule involved teaching English at Taellor’s House on Tuesday’s, Music/Dance on Thursdays, and serving with Aida and the Project Hope medical team once a week going to different villages to provide treatment to those in need. When teams were on base, I enjoyed getting to interact with them as well and was able to help build houses a couple of times! There were several good things to be involved in, but God almost immediately showed me where my heart would be most invested at: Taellor’s House. The kids won my heart over in no time at all, and God has allowed me to develop deep relationships with several of them. Words cannot describe how much I have been impacted by their love and how quick they are to trust and love on the people around them. One of my favorite parts of the day at Taellor’s House is when the gates open in the morning and they all come running in with big smiles on their faces to come up and hug you. I get sad every day when school is over and they have to go home. It’s like a part of me goes home with them and won’t come back until the next morning. The kids are always excited to learn something new and we had so much fun learning new songs and line dancing! One of my favorite memories is watching each of their faces explode with excitement as they played my ukulele and violin for the first time! They absolutely loved taking turns and singing while each of their classmates played the chords behind them. Each morning and afternoon before classes started we would have a devotional time where we sang through all of the songs we had learned followed by one of the teachers or the principle teaching from a Bible passage. The staff and teachers at Taellor’s House are some of my favorite people and closest friends I developed while in Nicaragua. They all have hearts for the Lord and genuinely cared about how I was doing every day. I felt like I had a family working alongside me each day I was there. I learned most of my Spanish just by interacting with them at mealtimes and having conversations throughout the day.

Katie teaching ukulele to Nicaraguan children

Katie playing music with children at Taellor’s House

Challenges and Blessings

Through all the wonderful experiences I had here, there were also a lot of difficult circumstances to work through as well as unexpected situations that I had not encountered before, but I have found them to be very strong reminders for me that we live in a sinful world where nothing is perfect, and there is only one place that is. One day we will have complete perfection living in the presence of our Lord where there will be no more pain, no more injustice, and no more goodbyes. I have been praying that God would allow me to see with his eyes, listen with his ears, work with his hands, and break my heart for the things that break his, and he has been faithful to do that over and over again during my time here. I have also found that when I seem to be challenged the most in my own life, I draw nearer to God than ever before. It ends up being a sweet blessing resulting in a closer relationship with Jesus. God greatly impacted my life through living in Nicaragua for this very short period of time, and the Katie going back home is a different girl than the one that got here on February 4th.

Dios le bendiga,

~Katie Petersen

Katie hanging out with some of the children at Taellor's House

Katie with children at Taellor’s House

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Ellen Haygood

Ellen puts her master’s degree in marketing to work serving as the band’s full-time marketer. She also sings and plays banjo, which she did on season 14 of American Idol, making it all the way to the top 48. In January of 2020, Ellen married Michael Haygood of The Haygoods, another performing family in Branson.

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