Our first days exploring Nica

on Friday, January 15, 2010

My life is so full of things to say and share. Part of me wishes that I had time and opportunity to blog everyday, but with a week like we have had that was absolutely impossible. Man, where to start? So much has happened in such a short time.

I last blogged on Saturday, we spent some time at home recovering from travel and went to church on Sunday morning. It was a great service, worship was cool, but entirely in spanish. The sermon was good and they had translation through earphones which was cool. We arrived at the service a little late. Seats were few even though they just moved as a church to a larger building. They have at least 1,200 people attending. 600 at each service and it is really not a very big room. There was an usher that found us some seats and we soon found out created the atmosphere for a divine appointment. I was sat beside the principle of the american school which is only a block and a half away from where we are living. She shared with me about some of the different programs that the kids can take part in along with other missionary families in Managua. They also have spanish classes for adults and she was recommending a student from her school as a spanish tutor for the kids. I was so excited to hear of all the options. Ben may get to join the soccer team and there is youth group every second Friday for Bailey and Caleb. I was so thankful for this meeting.

At church we met up with some of the team from Bethel so we joined them after the service to have lunch where they were staying. They were staying at this place called Villa de Esperanza (city of hope). It is a beautiful base built by Christians from the states in partnership with some Nicaraguan Christians. Their ministry is to the people that lives at the dump in Managua. There is a whole community that survives solely on what they can salvage from the dump, food, clothing, stuff to sell. I really don't know very much about the lifestyle, only that is is very dark and hopeless. There are many unwanted and abused children and obviously great poverty as is the case all over Nicaragua. There is a church and school right at the dump to try to minister to and educate the community. Villa de Esperanza and their partnering organizations (Forward Edge for one) take applications from families at the dump to give their daughters a better life. Many of the girls who are chosen are in abusive situations and their mothers want to find a safe place for them. The girls are given a home that they share with 7 other girls and a house mother and house helper. They have many chores and get fed well and a good education including an education in the Spirit, to know who they are in Christ, princesses. The Nicaraguan couple that manages the base is so great. Full of love and encouragement for the girls. The base is also used to house visitors, this brings in revenue. This is mainly why the Bethel team was staying there, but took advantage of an awesome opportunity to bless the girls and pray for them. A young american girl named Natalie is living in the same house as us and she is volunteering at Villa de Esperanza for several months. I'm hoping that during our time here in Nica we will have more opportunity to partner with this ministry.

While researching Nicaragua before we came. I happened upon a blog that an american woman was writing about her time in Nica. Her writing was helpful in knowing what to expect. I read her blog a couple of times before we travelled. While at Villa de Esperanza on Sunday, we were given a tour by an american woman, Susie, who seemed very familiar. I couldn't place her, but felt I had seen her before. Upon further investigation I found that it was her blog I had been reading on the internet. I couldn't believe it! What a small world. What a "God is working behind the scenes to complete his purposes through seeming coincidence" world! Haha I have always liked the saying "A coincidence is when God does a miracle and remains anonymous." Sure, meeting Susie doesn't seem so much like a "miracle" but God ordered certainly.

Sunday afternoon was such a blessing. The team at the Villa took those of us from Bethel who had arrived already as well as many pastors from Guatemala who were also staying at the Villa for the conference for a little tour of Granada. It is a town ... city? ... I don't know for sure ... about an hour away. It was a tight squeeze into a little bus. They are so efficient here in ride sharing ... lol. They will put people anywhere there is space to fit them and the only seat belt laws are for those in the front seats.
...... Side note, we got a ride from 3 Guatemalan pastors to the conference the last couple days and the first day, the eldest one (so sweet, such a tender heart, not a lick of english, but he still tried to talk to me all the time and then just laugh after when I couldn't understand :) He opened the hatch back on the jeep cherokee style vehicle and climbed into the trunk to make space for us and our kids in the seats in the front. We were so humbled, so much so that we couldn't let him. It took a while to convince him to let the kids sit in the hatch/trunk. Wow, so much honour ... so so humbling. 25 years our senior and climbing into the trunk to make us comfortable. Teach me this honour, Jesus....
... back to our tour of Granada ... We drove for about an hour, totally fixated on the views of the country side and taken back by the poverty and culture at times. You can drive by a shack and half way down the block there are middle class houses and then more shacks ... then an enormous and elaborate mall. It's crazy. We got to Granada and they took us to a place set on Lake Nicaragua. It is a dirty lake that no one will swim in, inhabited by sharks. We all got into tour boats and set off to explore the hundreds of little islands on the lake. There are beautiful homes built on the islands, some are uninhabited and others have monkeys that like to jump into the tour boats to sample whatever the guide brought them for a snack. They cautioned us not to grab them or touch them, just to let the monkeys come to us. One of the girls had a comical moment when one of the monkeys decided to pat her on the head for a while. One of the Guatemalan pastors had a not so comical moment when he thought it would be funny to grab one of their tales. The monkey took a moment to turn around and when she did and saw who had touched her she flipped out. Running back to him, she scratched at him until the guide stepped in between the monkey and the pastor. The monkey was not angry at anyone but him and she was screaming and trying to grab at him around the guides body. We were in another boat watching this so our guide pulled up close enough for the pastor to jump into our boat and get away from the enraged female. It was very dramatic, very exciting, very enlightening. I don't think I will ever pull a monkey's tale. She calmed down after a couple minutes and jumped back onto her island and the pastor returned to his boat. We loved it. One of those funny memories you will never forget. Sounds like a funny children's book in the making.

We got lots of fun pictures of the islands and the beautiful buildings. The kids wanted to ride in the skinny horse drawn carriages, but we only stopped in the city square for a short time. We explored the city square and the beautiful cathedral and them sampled some local ice cream. We tried theses frozen dolce de leche bars which are basically an ice cream flavoured with caramelized sweetened condensed milk. Yummy and only 5 cordoba or .25 cents each. The kids enjoyed a second one at the Managua market on Monday as well as a little girl standing nearby when we bought them from the vender. She walked up as I was paying and said "para me?" .. for me? So I bought her one too. We walked away and noticed from a distance that she had a sister and she was not going to share. Our friends were sad for the sister and gave her a 5 cord coin to buy one, but her sister would not let her spend the money ... the vender had left at this point and we couldn't recover the situation, but we are learning how to deal with it.

I will end this entry here because I have so much more to say and I am afraid if I go on too long, that some of you will be intimidated by the time it could take to read it. If you have time, just go ahead to my next entry :)

To be continued.....



Wendy Arelis said...

Wow...this is all such good news...thanks...keeping you all in my prayers...love wendy

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