Saturday, July 28, 2012

Day 6 and 7.

Why the delay?  We had a really, really, long day yesterday!  The Chica’s had the day off so we had an educational day with the visiting the National Museum, the Tiscapa, eating lunch at the Tiscapa viewpoint, walking around the lagoon in the pouring rain and ending with some time in a park.  We also had our farewell dinner with the Chica’s, staff and team, said our goodbyes and then had a 2 hour closing meeting with just our team.

As I write this we are all still sitting at our breakfast table doing some team paperwork. Our work is done, dishes done, bags packed, rooms empty and ready to be cleaned for the next team that arrives in 2 hours.  It’s so bittersweet leaving the place I refer to as the Eden of Nicaragua.

With our first warm shower we will think of the Villa.  The first time we flush toilet paper down the toilet we will think of Nicaragua.  When we see someone throw away food we will remember the children begging for food by the National Museum.

Please be patient with your friends and family members when they return.  It is not uncommon for us to come back and be sad for a few days.  We’ve formed new friendships, left 20 lovely girls and seen some pretty sad and thought provoking things here.

Thank your for allowing your family members to experience one of the best and life changing weeks of their lives!

Adios vaya con Dios
Tiscapa Lagoon in the rain

Lots of rain.... Laura and me

Worshipping with girls at the Lagoon

The Chicas

Team Salzwedel with the Chicas

Thanks Team Salzwedel

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Oh my gosh today was a magical day!  The physical, emotional and mental work of the week all came together today.  It was a huge blessing!

Today we returned to the same school we were at on Tuesday and we were greeted with big smiles and open arms excited to see our familiar faces.  We planned our day of work and then the kids came out to recess.  We played football (soccer), played with sidewalk chalk, bubbles, beach balls, balloons and even braided hair, it was so fun.  Once the kids went back into their classrooms (with much prodding) we got back to our painting work.  We discovered the only thing worse than painting the girls bathroom is.... painting a boys bathroom!!!  By the end of the day both bathrooms were painted and had lights put in them, something they haven't had in 2 years!  I explained to the boys in our group that a dark bathroom for any women, esp a Nicaraguan girl surrounded by abuse, is a scary place.  The difference a light made to those girls was tremendous!

We had Johnny on guitar and 4 others go into 3 different high school age classrooms in the afternoon and give testimony, songs and a salvation prayer.  When it came to the 3rd room and one of our girls shared her story of an abusive relationship, the connection was made with the kids.  Her testimony was followed by 45 minutes of questions by a mostly female classroom, asking questions and advice about abuse.  I sat in the classroom wiping tears away the entire time, knowing how hard this story was to share and being so grateful that God could turn something so terrible into good for others.  It was beautiful.

Marge in Charge, Anna and RJ painting a roof to reduce heat in the classrooms.

A view of our handiwork.... bathrooms on the left

Sharing in the classrooms


Gringo's vs Nicaraguans
As wonderful as that was, the highlight of the day was the "Gringo's vs Nicaraguans" football game that followed.  Because we had been so transparent with the kids they were so happy to have us stay and as the game was played about 100 of us mingled together to cheer on each of the teams.  We had a connection that was born out of authentic conversation and actions.  The game was played on a small, raised cement court with a small ball and Nicaraguans with mad foot skills.  Nine guys and Lynsey (APU soccer!) who kept up every step of the way.  Even though we won today (lost on Tuesday), we felt like the true victory was in the relationships we made and the lives that were touched.... including ours!   Thanks for joining us by reading this blog!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Today was our day off.  Sounds odd having a day off when you are on a mission trip eh?
The reasoning is not only to give the staff here at Villa Esperanza a day off, but the work we do is very taxing emotionally and physically with the heat and humidity.  It also gives us a change to get into the culture of Nicaragua and spend time together as a team.

We spent most of our day in Granada, which is the oldest city in Central America.
Granada is a one-hour drive from the Villa and it has 365 little islands, which wealthy people buy and put houses on.  Some of them are incredible structures and then they have shacks on the backside of the island for the help.

We toured around the islands heading for Monkey Island where one monkey named Lola jumps on your boat hoping to search through our backpacks.  Today she got on to the call of the boat driver and was given a banana, which she ate leisurely while we all took pictures of her.  Then she decided she liked Lynsey the most and sat on the back of her seat putting her arms around her and even hugged her at one point, it was priceless!
Tour of Granada Islands

The chosen one, Lynsey

Our brave (young) jumpers

My college Kappa Sisters and I (in blue)

Our awesome on site director Susie with a smoothie!

After our boat ride we ate lunch in a park on the beach and then went to a local market where we shopped for trinkets to bring home. 

We are resting right now before dinner and another night hanging out with the chicas!
Tomorrow we will be returning to yesterday’s school to continue painting, playing and sharing testimonies with the children.  Adios!  Tracy

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Hola amigos!

Weekly Staff Devotion......

....lead by Patrick & Nick

Painting the girls restroom

Painting outside
Once again, we are beat, but we had a great day.  We spent the day at another local school that is full of very needy children.  They were so welcoming giving hugs and fist pumps.  We brought balloons, beach balls and a soccer ball to play with them for an hour or so until we got to work painting.  We cleaned and painted for hours, stopping to have lunch and periodically play with children.  As Mark said, "We kicked some mission butt today!"  The epic moment of the day was when Patrick went to dunk a ball and the entire basketball hoop crumpled and fell over, he has now been nick named "hulk" or "shaq".

We arrived back home about an hour ago and are all cooling down and showering before dinner and then play time with the chicas!

Our group is becoming a great team!  As we are stretched outside of our comfort zone more of the team volunteers to speak up and lead in some way.  We've have those who help with dishes, setting up tables or praying over our food or team time.  John has been a huge blessing leading (and performing) on guitar. I'm especially proud of Nic and Patrick who lead the staff devotion this morning! 

Gotta run.  Time for more beans and rice!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Hello family and friends!  I am posting early tonight because we are exhausted and I'd better get this done while I'm awake!

We had a wonderful and productive day where we got not only a lot of work done, but continued to build relationships with the people of Nicaragua.... and 7 of the girls from the Villa came along with us and worked along side us!

We spent from 9:30am until 3:30pm working at the local school where there are over 1000 children with class sizes from 40-60 children and one teacher.  Today was the Day of the Student which started with the teachers performing for the children.  Our own Johnny Brazel got up on stage and played a song in spanish for the kids and english for our team, he did a great job!

Six of our team painted 2 classrooms and the rest cleaned up their entire school yard.  Four of the Villa men came along to help paint and weed wack the grass.  We kept hoping the they would run out of gas and stop because we were SO tired working in the sun for hours!  They didn't run out, and we got the job finished.  We did stop to have lunch with the teachers where we played a game with them, sang a song, read an encouraging scripture and prayed for them.  

Even though the day was productive and we got a lot of work done the best part of the day and the priority of our mission is connecting with, playing with and loving the children.  It was fun to see Patrick, Lynsey and Anna join in a game of football (soccer) with the children, to see John teaching a local boy how to play a song on the guitar, and the rest giving plenty of Hola's, high fives and fist pumps.

John playing for the school

Megan and Claire painting a classroom

Serving lunch to our team and teachers in the typical size classroom 

The painting team that painted 2 classrooms

Our team and 7 of the girls from the villa resting on all our bags yard debris
We returned to the villa with enough time to cool off, shower and chill a bit before dinner and playing with the girls again tonight!  We are all having a wonderful time, no one is sick (or home sick;) ) and we are all so grateful to all of you for allowing us to leave our families and lives back home in the US and experience a piece of paradise.  God Bless!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

We are just completing our first full day here in Nicaragua.  Sundays here are a day of rest, so we had a fun day with the girls building on our relationships.

Church was at El Faro (the lighthouse) at 9:30am.  This is a church that ministers to the people of 
La Chureca (the dump).  Many of the girls that live at Villa Esperanza (village of hope) have families  whom still live in La Chureca so they get to see them at church.  It was fun to see the girls join in the lively worship music with clapping and dancing, although, being in spanish I didn't know many words except for Jesus, Christ, father, heart, love:)
Riding to church, bus 1

El Faro Church

Lunch time at the Villa

After church we had lunch back at the villa and then a special date with the girls...... we went to see Spiderman... in spanish!  It's an odd feeling being in a country that is so poor and then going to a mall and seeing that there are people here that have money to spend on movies, clothes and such.  The contrast is unsettling.

We are now having some down time getting prepared for our week.  Our team is starting to bond which will be great for the work that we have ahead of us.

Please continue to pray for our team's health, safety and unity.  Pray that we can step outside our comfort zones and engage with those who could use a friendly word, hug or just smile.  Thanks!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

 We arrived safe and sound!  A miracle in itself being the 18 of us came from 7 different locations!

Today was spent getting orientated with the Villa, the quirky things like military showers, not flushing your toilet paper, what water to drink, etc.

Tonight we had dinner with the girls and then had a big dance party.  Those girls have some moves!

It's been a great day and exhausting day!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Today's the day I get to go back to my little place of paradise!
Nicaragua, here I come!