Friday, July 16, 2010

Nicaragua Day 5

I'm not exactly proud to admit this, but if I don't then I can't tell you one of the most amazing things that happened to me on this trip. For a while, I have been taking a pill just about every day for anxiety attacks. I made sure to bring plenty with me on this trip because I knew being away from my little ones, being in a different country, just being out of my comfort zone period that I would probably need them. Anyway, as I mentioned before, I did a lot of praying before I left about my fears and worries and I continued to do so while we were there. On the last day as I was packing my things, I came across those pills. When I saw them, I realized that I had not taken a single one since we left for Nicaragua! I couldn't believe it! God gave me such a peace, that I didn't even realize that I wasn't taking them!
Anyway, the last day was pretty much filled with us packing our things, loading into the bus and flying home. It was really great to spend the last day travelling with these people who have come to feel like family to me. I actually found myself wishing I could stay longer. When we got off the plane I was so excited to see Bry and my babies, but I couldn't help but feel a little bit sad about saying goodbye to the people who had shared such an awesome experience with me. We ate together, traveled together, prayed together, shared our stories, served together, laughed together and experienced God's love in a way that I cannot explain in words. All I can say is that it changed me for life and I cannot wait to go back or to see where God sends me next...

My fam with Tim and Ariana. Tim is sort of a "missionary intern". He spends a ton of time living in Nicaragua doing whatever is needed of him. He was such a help to us while we were there and an awesome guy. Ariana was one of our translators. She is from Nicaragua but goes to school in the U.S. She was the sweetest girl! We sort of fell in love with her while we were there.

This was the largest group our church has sent on a single mission trip. There were youth, women, our worship team. Mom's and kids went together, husbands and wives, siblings, and small groups.

We were there to work but we also had plenty of silliness and fun. :)
Our bus driver, Victor. Such a sweet guy!!
Ready to head home...
Nicaragua from the sky...beautiful and green!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Nicaragua Day 4

On Sunday, we attended church at the same covered pavilion where we had spent the day before. It turned out that it was Mother's Day in Nicaragua, so we got a bonus Mom's Day this year! :) After church, we ate lunch at the guesthouse. We had plans to do a little shopping and then visit the public women's hospital. I had just finished telling Jo how Bay was so excited about going shopping and I was really excited about visiting the women's hospital. I went down to our rooms to get ready. Jo said that right after I left she was told that it wasn't a good idea for Bailey to go with us. The market was not the safest place and the hospital was not much better, b/c of fear of catching something. Jo said she felt sick about telling us. She didn't think that I would leave Bailey and she thought Bay would be really upset about not being able to go shopping. She said that she prayed all the way down the path. When she came in and told us we both held our breath while we waited for Bay's reaction. She said "It's o.k., just bring me something back from the market. " We were so shocked! Number one that she wasn't really sad about not being able to go to the market and two that she would stay at the guesthouse without me. And just as surprising that I would feel comfortable being that far away from her in a foreign country!
Bay stayed with Bubs, Caroline and a couple of the girls in the youth group. We went to the market and I was so glad that she hadn't come with us. It's not like a regular shopping trip. You have to be so careful b/c we were told that it is really easy to be robbed. We had about 30 minutes to shop and then we left for the hospital. We had put together a bunch of layettes for the new mothers from donations that we had brought with us. When we arrived at the hospital, I was shocked at the difference from the hospitals at home. First of all, the appearance was a lot different. There were tiles missing in the floors, screens out on some of the windows. Then I noticed that there were iv bottles on the ground, iv tubes in the trash, there were no hazardous waste boxes that I saw. Then when we got into the rooms, there were about 10-15 women side by side with their newborn babies. Right next door in a tiny room, there were probably 5 or 6 women in labor. No epidurals, no tv/dvd combo and most definitely no air conditioning! There were women in labor in the hallways, just walking around. We have it sooo good here! That night we all went out to dinner at a real restaurant. It was kind of funny though because we looked up and saw these stuffed chickens on shelves around the room. We realized that they were real chickens and that we were quite possibly eating what used to be inside of those chickens! We had a whole room to ourselves and it was a good thing b/c we were so loud! I think we were all just so excited to be in an air conditioned room that it went to our heads. The food was so yummy! And we were all so thrilled because they actually had desserts! We had been saying during the whole trip "Do they not have cake here??" We ate until we were sick! It was another busy but amazing day! I realized how close I was becoming to these women and hard it was going to be to leave this place.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Nicaragua Day 3

If the school we visited on our second day was the "city school", then the one we visited on our third day was definitely the "country school". The road we traveled on was dirt and full of huge ruts from the rain. We had to stop once to let about 30 cows cross the road. The building where we met had a roof, a stage with a few classrooms attached to the back. While we sat there, we watched 2 men cut grass in a huge field using machetes. The houses that we saw on the way to the school were basically shacks that were barely standing. It was so hot, but it was really hard to complain when you saw how happy those kids were that we were there.
We did the same things as the day before, only I didn't have to teach the sewing class. I was so impressed by the youth group at our church. They were so awesome with the kids. They never complained about the heat and there was no drama, like you would normally expect when you have that many kids together for a long period of time. I really enjoyed this day more than the others because I was able to sit with the kids and watch the puppet show or help them make a craft. I was so frustrated that I didn't try harder to learn Spanish before I went. The kids were trying so hard to talk to me but I had no idea what they were saying! Luckily we had some translators with us, so we were able to communicate a little. Those kids were so awesome. They had no idea how little they had! They just wanted to play and to be loved and to be happy.
We went to a small restaurant for lunch. When I say small I mean really small. You walked in the door and picked out your food in a room about the size of a large closet. On the other side of that room is a covered patio with tables and chairs where you ate your food. The only thing that looked appetizing to me was some rice and beef. Bailey got the last helping of that so I just sat and had a coke while they ate.
We returned to the school that evening and had a movie night for the kids. The movie was a Veggie Tales movie, "Jonah" and it was in Spanish. It was so dark out there. The only lights were the ones under the little patio that we were sitting under and then they turned those off for the movie. I have to admit it was a little creepy. There are things crawling around out there that I don't want to know about! Anyway, after the movie we were able to give the kids things to read to learn more about Jesus.
It was a long day, but so rewarding! When we got back to the guesthouse it occurred to me that the movie was the first time I had seen any kind of television in several days. And I didn't even miss it. It's amazing how clearly you can hear God's voice without all of the distractions we put in our way.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Nicaragua Day 2

On our second day in Nicaragua, we piled into the bus and headed into the city to visit one of the schools that the Sirker's started. When we arrived, I was surprised to see the school. There is a common area with small class rooms around it. There are walls and a roof, but there is about a 2 foot gap between the roof and the wall. The windows and doors are open because there is no air conditioning. So basically, if it rains and you are standing close to one of the walls or windows, you get wet.
First, we sat and watched as the students performed some songs and dances for us. I was so impressed that they had learned a couple of the songs in English, so that we would understand them. After they were done, our worship team (the musicians from Living Hope) led us all in song and worship. They also did some songs in Spanish and some in English. It was so cool to look around and see people worshiping God in different languages together.
Next, we broke off into groups. Some of the women from my group taught some parenting classes. Things like how to get more involved in your child's education, the importance of teaching your daughters modesty, etc. The youth group separated the students into groups. In one class, they did a puppet show for the kids, in another they would play games and in another they would do crafts then they would switch the kids out so that they would all get a chance to do each thing. Before we left Memphis, our children's minister (Ms. Anita) had the kids from church write "Jesus loves you" in Spanish and tape them onto Airhead candies. So while we were at the school, Bailey and Caroline were able to pass the candy out to the students. I was so proud of Bailey. Normally, she stays right beside me where ever we go. She is a major mommy's girl. But on that day, she went and watched the puppet show with the kids and jumped right in to help.
Besides being one of the trip photographers, one of my responsibilities was to teach a sewing class to some of the students. I was under the impression that they had some experience with a sewing machine already and that there would be maybe 10-15 girls. I was going to teach them how to sew a tote bag. I was already nervous because I am terrified of speaking in front of people. When it was time to start the class, I walked in and there was about 50 kids sitting there. On top of that, I learned that none of them had ANY experience with sewing. At first my fear took over. I was stumbling over my words, I couldn't get the sewing machine to was horrible. I turned to Jo and asked her to take over for me and I walked outside for a minute. I started praying and asked God to please not let my fears get into the way of what He wanted me to do, to give me the right words to say and to help me through this class. Jo said when I walked back in, she was amazed at the change in me. She said it was like I walked out one person and walked in another. God is so awesome and faithful! I could never have done any of those things on my own. It makes me wonder why we try to do things on our own when it is so much easier to just lean on Him. The kids had a blast picking out their fabric and cutting out their patterns. Seeing the smiles on their faces was such an awesome feeling. God taught me some huge lessons that day!
When we left the school we went back to the guesthouse and arrived just in time for dinner. We had rice w/corn and peas, shredded cabbage and tomato salad and rolls. After dinner, the ladies in our group talked about our day and how we felt God's presence in different ways. Then we all went and had cold showers and went to bed. I was so exhausted from the day, that I had no trouble falling asleep!

Nicaragua Day 1

As soon as we stepped of the plane in Nicaragua I knew we were in a whole different world. These skinny little boys would try to grab our luggage and help us with them. We were warned not to give them any money because we would be swarmed by other children wanting handouts. It was so hard not to give them anything! We were told that they probably wouldn't keep the money for themselves anyway. A lot of times adults send them out to beg and then the kids have to bring the money back to them.
We all piled into a yellow school bus and headed for the guesthouse where we would be staying. We were told that we would be stopping at a restaurant on the way for lunch. Boy was I surprised when the driver pulled into an abandoned gas station. We all just kind of sat there for a minute thinking maybe he was lost. Then he told us that this was the place. It ended up having a little fast food restaurant attached to the other side. The food was actually really good. It was kind of like a KFC.

After that the driver, Victor, took us to the Samaritano Fundacion. It is a property run by an awesome couple, Carolyn and Noor. Since they moved to Nicaragua, they have opened several schools and hospitals. Noor is a doctor and he has an office and operating room on the property where we stayed. Most of our group stayed at the guesthouse on the property. There are 4 large rooms filled with bunk beds, a living area, kitchen, and screened patio. Bailey and I ended up staying at "la casita" which is a little house behind the guesthouse. We stayed with Jo, Lily, Tara and Caroline. (All moms and daughters.) Luckily we all brought little fans because it was really hot and their is no air conditioning anywhere in the guesthouses. When we used the toilets we had to throw our tp in the trash and if we forgot, they had latex gloves on the back of the toilet so that we could fish the tp back out of the toilet. And yes, most of us had to go "fishing" once or twice. The shower trickled only cold water and you usually are joined by a handful of bugs. I had the pleasure of sharing a shower with a gecko one night. I was not pleased.
Our meals were prepared by two local women who work on the property. For breakfast, we would have things like pancakes and rice and beans or eggs and rice and beans. For dinner, we would have tacos and rice and beans or chicken and rice and beans. Yep, there was rice and beans for every meal. We would drink things like cantaloupe juice, pineapple juice or passion fruit juice, all of them made fresh by Anna Lucia or Teresa.

Every night before I got into bed I had to "dust" the bugs off of my bed. We slept with the windows open. It took some getting used to because of all the different creature noises. The first night Tara and I were convinced that one noise we heard was either a bird or monkey. We found out later it was the geckos. I couldn't believe how loud they were. And for some reason they chose me to torture! They were always over my bed. Ick!
I have to admit when I sat down on my bed that first night I thought, what was I thinking?! I miss my babies, I'm hot, the creatures are freaking me out. I prayed for a long time before I went to sleep, asking God to relieve my worries, to help me come out of my shell and be able to build relationships there, to open my eyes and my heart for what he wanted me to experience there, to give me peace. After praying for a VERY long time, I lay down on my stomach and hid my face in my arm (so that I wouldn't get any bugs in my mouth while I was sleeping) and actually slept extremely well.