Nicaragua Mission Trip – Day 7

Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Day 5
Day 6

Friday, July 24 – We ate breakfast quickly and headed to the village a little earlier than normal to say our good-byes. We only had about 45 minutes there, and I started crying as soon as we arrived as I saw the kids run to Abby – I knew how much they’d miss her (and the rest of us), and maybe more importantly, how much I would miss them.

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Our family arrived at the community center (minus Jorge who couldn’t get off work), and there were lots of hugs and a few more tears. We walked to their temporary home since their Project H.O.P.E. house hadn’t yet been started aside from post holes, and we were lucky enough to have the interpreter Evelyn follow along with us. Since we had her with us in the beginning, we decided to go ahead and pray together and talk briefly. We told each other we’d continue to pray for each other and that we were so grateful to have met each other. Even after Evelyn moved on, we were still able to communicate much better than our first visit to their home. They opened their rice sacks of clothes and seemed to enjoy looking at them. We gave Sebastian a small board book of Lil’ Miss K’s that was in both Spanish and English – he knew immediately that it was just for him and wouldn’t let anyone else look at it. It was adorable to see how he clung to it! We gave him a couple other small trinkets too, and we gave Gizelle another apron, Jorge a donated baseball cap, and Estphanie a pair of cute pink converse sneakers, which she seemed excited about. Even though they have almost nothing, they gave us gifts too – a brightly-colored Nicaraguan napkin holder and a hanging key holder that says, “My God, where are the keys?” in Spanish. Earlier in the week we gave them a photo of our family.

Us with our Nicaraguan family
Us with our Nicaraguan family

After watching Sebastian play for a bit and taking a couple more selfies with them, he headed back up to the community center for a few more minutes. Estphanie and I played some clapping games, then we exchanged many more hugs and had to leave. I remained composure until we got on the bus, when I saw several other ladies crying too, and we saw them all waving vigorously good-bye. It’s hard to believe we’ll soon be going back to our normal, comfortable lives, and they’ll still be in the village, where they’ll be doing the same thing over again next week with another group of missionaries. I only hope we touched their lives half as much as they touched ours.

Next, we headed to Granada, a big tourist city in Nicaragua. It took about two hours on the extremely hot school bus, so the drive was pretty miserable. We arrived at a boat dock, had a bathroom break and bought some tasty roasted cashews from vendors, then hopped on about 3 boats for a tour of Lake Nicaragua. We got to navigate through some semi-narrow canals filled with what looked like a type of lilies on the water – it reminded me of a picturesque rainforest that would be on Discovery Channel – it was absolutely gorgeous!

Beautiful boat ride on Lake Nicaragua
Beautiful boat ride on Lake Nicaragua
Local fishermen
Local fishermen

About 15 minutes into the boat ride we started seeing giant homes on the water … we finally found where the few rich people in Nicaragua live. Halfway through the boat ride we came upon an island that inhabited a handful of spider monkeys – I’m not sure if they were native to the island or if they were placed there for the tourists, but they were definitely tame. They recognized one of the boat drivers and hoped onto his boat for a while. It was kind of surprising to see well-off Nicaraguan tourists on the boats too.

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The boat driver picked this pod from a tree and it opened up in a beautiful flower

After the boat ride, we went to an open-air restaurant overlooking the lake where we had chicken, steak, or pork entrees. The best part of the meal was the plantain chips, which were kind of like sweet French fries. It was nice to have a bit of time to relax and unwind after a week of work and an emotional morning. After the restaurant we went to a market, where we had about an hour and a half to shop – not nearly enough time, especially for my cousin Cyndie, who had 6 kids to buy for. Most of us bought fruit smoothies, and even though we took a risk with the Nicaraguan water, none of us got sick that I’m aware of. I bought a dress, sandals, and baby hammock for Lil’ Miss K, a couple souvenirs for our niece and nephews, Nicaraguan coffee, and a woven bracelet for myself.

At an open-air restaurant in Granada
At an open-air restaurant in Granada
View from the restaurante
View from the restaurante

After we left the market we had to endure about 2 more hours on the hot, uncomfortable bus back to basecamp. It might have been the worst part of the entire week – I felt pretty bad by the time we got back. We ended the evening with steak, which was probably my least favorite meal of the week. Every night we had a different kind of fresh-squeezed juice – my favorites were the watermelon juice, dragon fruit juice, and something similar to limeade. The passion fruit juice, which we had a lot in Haiti, was also delicious. They also had a dark purple juice that tasted like cinnamon that a lot of us didn’t really care for. And because we wanted to continue with the trend, we stayed up just a bit later than the previous night, going to bed after midnight.

Nicaragua Mission Trip – Day 1 (Travel)

Saturday, July 18 – Jerod and I said our good-bye’s to Lil’ Miss K (so hard!) and left her in the very capable hands of my mom, while my dad dropped us off at the airport late morning. We met up with our group, checked in to our American Airlines flight, and left Kansas City around 1.

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Jerod and I at the start of the trip

We had a quick 1-hour layover in Dallas, but it proved to be plenty of time to get to our connection. The flights were smooth until we got to Nicaragua, where a storm was passing through. Our seatbacks had screens with a flight map – so after a lot of turbulence and elevation loss and gain, we could see that our plane was going out into the ocean rather than landing in Managua. Come to find out, it was doing a loop to avoid the storm. Upon heading back to the city, we did three more loops before finally landing. I know at least one person had to use his airsick bag – it was definitely a rough 45 minutes.

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Our flight path into Managua, Nicaragua

Customs was similar to any other airport, except we had to pay a $10 entry fee to get into Nicaragua. Nicas picked up our luggage and transported them to the exit for us for a $1 tip. Because we got in late, we didn’t have time for Eddie, our bus driver, to drop us off at basecamp and get back to pick up the next group of missionaries, so we waited at the airport for what seemed like eternity. We finally got to basecamp around 10:30 (11:30 Kansas City time). We had a very quick meeting, then we finally got to eat cold pizza for dinner. We found our room assignments and tip-toed around to get settled, as an earlier group had already gone to bed. I was in a room with 3 other women (the room had 8 beds), and Jerod got to bunk in a large room with 14 other guys. But overall, the accommodations were extremely nice for being in a 3rd world country. We didn’t exactly have to “rough it” like my previous mission trip to Haiti. It was a long first day, and I went to bed excited for the next day!

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My accommodations for the week