Esso Excitement

Hello again to you all. I’m excited that we have been able to post every day so we can share with you guys what is going on here in Nicaragua. It seems absurd, as I write to you today, that there are only two more full days left here in our new home. Where did the time go? It has swept past us and left us scrambling to just take in as many sights and sounds and smells and tastes that we can before we leave here Monday morning.

We had many new experiences today. It seems that, this trip, we have just had so many opportunities to do things we’ve never done before. New connections have brought us to different places and God has just continually taught us more and more through them.

As Corwin has been walking along the path of his adoption process, he has had a chance to share with many people in different places the things he has been doing here in the past several years. Many people have been inspired and blessed by his love and devotion to this country. One such person was a judge that he encountered. This judge was so moved that he asked if Corwin would consider helping out a cause that was near and dear to him. In many of the small towns outside of Managua there are very few and hard to reach schools. Some children, especially young ones, can’t go because they cannot ride the bus or travel that distance. It is a terrible thing for communities that are saturated with little minds wanting to learn. This judge goes to a church in Managua that has set up a kindergarten in a small town. The church completely supports it and pays for it. The judge asked if Corwin would consider paying a visit to this kindergarten while we were here. Corwin asked what their needs were and he said that they would really love to repaint as it hasn’t been done in quite some time. Corwin felt like it was our honour and privilege to visit the kindergarten and bring them some paint.

The kindergarten was one hour away from the orphanage. As we drove we took in the country side of Managua, the dry fields and the trees and the little shacks at the side of the road. When we got to the town we were amazed when we saw how small the kindergarten was. In one tiny little room there was 70 kids!! Just 70 little kids running around and listening and learning. A man at the kindergarten explained that the church pays for as much as it can, providing the kids with teaching and a meal every day. It is the responsibility of a different family every day to prepare the meal for all the little kids. They have no school supplies, so they are only taught by ear. The kindergarten seemed like a positive place to be…and they were sure excited to get our paint. They started painting before we even left!

The children loved us. They smiled and laughed and played with us. We didn’t have long to stay, so as we were leaving the kids ran up to the edge of the yard yelling “Adios!” at us and waving their little arms off. It was humbling…to realize we have an education system so advanced that so many just grumble about attending. We have an ideal education class size of 20, or whatever the number is, and these 70 kids just squish in this little hot room and scrounge up as much knowledge as they can. The contrast seemed so blaring.

After we left the kindergarten we headed to the market place, also another fun experience. On the way Corwin taught us the boundaries of the market area, which is huge and is easy to get lost in. He taught us how to barter, explaining that it's very offensive to agree on a price and then try to continue to barter down again. And he also told us to just have fun as we fumbled with our Spanish asking for different colours and sizes and products.

The team did so well with it. It seems this team has been extraordinarily willing to use Spanish as much as possible to communicate. They pick up words left and right and are constantly asking questions, which is what we like to see! They had fun picking out their nick nacks for friends and family and comparing all the good deals that they got.

After the market we headed back to Veracruz. We needed to put some finishing touches on the mural in the house, finish the project for Evelyn, and sort through our donations so we can all make a back pack up for a kid who we have connected with in the community as well as dividing everything else up for the orphanage. The hole which we were digging at this year’s project is as far as it can go now and so we don’t need to be digging any longer.

Marshall, Denver, and Will headed to the worksite at Evelyn’s. They did whatever they could do to help, mixing cement and filling trenches. They loved working for this woman and her family. Her hospitality last year spoke to us all and she was also so humble and grateful. She has a beautiful smile and an ability to communicate her love without words. It was our honour to provide her with this.

Erin, Jaclyn, and Bobbi went to the house to finish the mural. We ended up painting all four walls of the room. Three walls have green paint (for grass) up to about the middle. The main wall of the room has a sunset with daisies and sunflowers. The wall to its right has a tree and some horses, running on the horizon. The wall to the main wall’s left just had hills on it…and we let the kids have those hills to pain flowers and hand prints on as they wish. The last wall at the back was just painted a mish mosh of colours. On that wall we painted “Dios es Amor” (God is love) in big letters. It was our pleasure today to put the finishing touches on it all. Sbietta, the little girl going to be living in that room, and Cindy, her cousin and best friend who she currently lives with, were happy to watch us as we completed the project. We have grown to love these girls…playing with them and braiding their hair and getting them to paint along side of us. They are near and dear to our hearts and their smiles have encouraged us all week long that we are doing something so much greater for them than we realize. When we’ve been discouraged…one look at them changes everything.

Back at Shirley's, our duffel bags full of donations exploded on the ground as we began to fill all the backpacks we brought with us. Because the at the orphanage they share everything, we cannot just give one kid a back pack and one now. We will huge duffle bags with things and let them come and pick a few items. But we can make back packs for our little friends from the worksite or from church or from the community. We’re able to pick clothes and toys that would suit each of them. It was fun to make up our back packs together and be excited about giving a gift to these new friends of ours.

If you looked out the window through the gate of Shirley’s house, you could see a swarm of kids. It was like they all knew what was going on and, maybe, if they could, just getting a glimpse would guarantee them a back pack. It made me sad to know we don’t have enough for them. That all the stuff we could bring down, trip after trip, could never be enough. It was a sobering thought.

Because it was Friday, we got to eat supper at Delpha’s. Delpha is a lady that has a fried chicken stand outside her house on weekends. She makes chicken and platanos (plantain chips). We like to support her business and eat her yummy food. As well, it gives us a chance to spend some time in the community.

After supper we headed to the orphanage to play. The kids were excited to see us and ready to tire us out. We ran around with them, skipped with them, played soccer with them, and laughed with them. They rode on our shoulders and held our hands and became like sons and daughters or little brothers and sisters to us. Part way through our time there we all got called into the dining hall for a Bible study. We sang some songs and then the director of the orphanage read from the Bible. The older kids seemed to listen intently, but some of the younger ones nodded off. Erin and Bobbi had two of the cutest little girls I have ever seen fall asleep in their arms. We had the honour of tucking carrying those girls to bed and tucking them in. We told them we loved them and wished them good night. There is nothing more satisfying then telling an orphan that you love them as they are about to go to sleep.

This week, at the orphanage, I met a woman named Meg. Meg is a volunteer that comes down on her own accord twice a year from Virginia. She came with a missions team for the first time in 2003 and fell in love with the orphanage and the children. She remembers everything about them…their stories, their backgrounds, their families. She is just like a mom to some of the girls who she has seen grow up in the last several years. She is so loving with them and they love her…they bury their faces into her and hug her and tell her they love her. Some even call her mom. The girls on our team have been getting to know her little by little and hear her story. It is so comforting to see God calling people, consistently, to this orphanage. To know people like Corwin and Meg don’t just walk into and out of these kids lives…but that they keep coming back, showing them that there are people who will not abandon them. Meg was elated when I told her of Wilber’s adoption. She said she will get her whole church, who has sent many teams down, to pray for it. God moves…so evidently…and we are seeing it all around us here.

After playing at the orphanage we had a surprise for the team. We all got in the van and, as we started to drive away, Corwin “surprised” us by telling us we were going to…the gas station! It seems silly, but the hoots and hollers and excitement that shouted outta the back of the van was astounding. When did the ESSO become something to cheer about? When you’re in Nicaragua. Because things are simple here. We don’t need something flashy or huge or expensive. We don’t need more and more and more. When you have little, a little more seems likes a whole lot. The excitement that came from a few simple ice cream treats at the gas station was a symbol of the clarity this team is processing with. The knowledge that God has given so much in forms that we, in North America, sometimes just don’t see.

As we debriefed as a team we shared the experiences that have been moulding us. During our meeting Esteban pieced together even more of the puzzle of the family we are building this house for. He said that this woman, who has had so much taken from her, has been obediently following God. A few weeks ago, when we found out that we could not build for the initial man we thought we could build for, this woman was being broken by God. She was at church and, as an offering for a new building was being taken, she felt God saying “give a whole month’s salary”. She was so broken she said “God, take all I have, it is only for you”. And so she gave everything she had with joy. She came home to tell her family they may not have much food for the next month. One half hour later, Shirley came to her house to tell her the news…we were going to build the new house for her! An act of faith rewarded by an instant blessing.

It is hard to believe we are about to leave. We are just getting into it all…learning much about true wealth and community. Trying to understand more of how to live like it asks us in James, favouring no one and not allowing wealth to rob our faith from us. Bobbi made a comment about having “safe faith” in Canada…faith within a limit of always knowing there is a safety net. There are no safety nets here.

Insight is clear as we enter into our last 48 hours. Please continue to pray that God rocks us…that this whole thing continues to mess us up and change us. Pray we love til it hurts and leave with no regrets. We are only ensured this one chance.

It will seem like only moments till we see you again. We send our love, as always. Bless you!

-Nicaragua

P.S. Jenna…I gave Suyepa your pictures and a hug from you. She was SO excited!