Sunday, August 9, 2015
The 22 made it to Fargo safely!!
We made a day going to Cerro Negro (look it up now 🙂 ) One of 2 black volcanoes in central america. We hiked up it, enjoyed AMAZING Panoramic views and then boarded down the volcano…it was awesome!!!
Tomorrow we fly
Saturday, August 8, 2015
So this post may be a few (24 to be precise) hours late.
We had a great day. We went to Mombacho (a really awesome volcano covered in coffee plants) and most of us went ziplining. It was super awesome!!
After that we had lunch where everyone got to experience Nacatamales. Very delicious.
After that we went to the Market, where everyone got their fill of finding trinkets and souvenirs. 🙂
Then we went to the best lake in the whole wide world. Laguna d’apoyo. We swam for the rest of the afternoon.
THen we drove back to Managua, had Tip Top for supper and went to the hotel.
We finished the night off with our team meeting. We recapped the trip, talked about what we learned on this trip and how to transition this to our lives in Winkler.
THen we were off to bed. 🙂
Friday, August 7, 2015
Our last day at Arms of Love has come to a close. 🙁 We had a great last day though. Just like monday, spent the day working around AOL (mostly in the fields clearing bush and pulling stumps), doing 2 programs for the Community care kids, and hanging out with the AOL kids.
The Highlight of the day for sure though was the evening party. As is tradition, we held a final night party with all the kids. We played musical chairs, a minute to win it game and then had some pinatas. After that we had a program where we performed dramas, music, testimonies, and AOL shared music and dance. We also had an opportunity to thank them and they thanked us.
This last night tradition is always a special thing to me, and i’m sure it became a special thing to our team today too. My heart was filled with joy watching our team minister to AOL and then watching AOL kids minister to us. These evenings are always a true experience of the family of God.
As usual, i am tired, but sad that our time here has already come to an end. Oh how the time flies. I will miss Nicaragua, I always leave a little piece of me here. It is my hope that this trip will affect the kids (both AOL Kids and ours) in long lasting ways, and perhaps some of them will be inspired to come back one day, as i was the first time i came here.
Tomorrow we will cram a lot of touring into the day and then debrief the trip as a team in the evening. It’s an early morning tomorrow so that we can accomplish all that we want to in one day, so i am off to sleep now.
Thursday, August 6, 2015
Today we had a nice Team day. We woke up and had devos and breakfast as usual and then hopped on the bus for a day away from the AOL campus.
The first stop was at Casa Bernebe. We went to visit them, get a tour of their campus and hear how they do things. It was definitely a great experience to see how they run things and what their place looks like. This orphanage is the one that Esmir and Juan grew up in, so we even got to see their old rooms. They also have a fairly large farm that they use to fund some of their costs, and the kids work in it daily, doing their part. It was a great thing to hear about them and how they are doing.
When we were done there we hopped on the bus and went to Masaya Volcano. It’s a really cool experience to literally stand at the edge of a volcano crater. You see, taste and feel the smoke coming out of it. They look kind of small from a distance, but once you are there, its crazy to see how big they really are.
Then we went out for lunch and then we went to a small market area overlooking Laguna d’apoyo (look up pictures, it’s awesome). We were all able to enjoy the incredible view and many found some neat souvenirs for themselves and others.
After that we headed back to AOL where we ate supper and had Devos. As part of devos we gave all the kids their own Bible. It was great to see them excited to get their own Bible and put it to use right away.
We ended the night with a round of capture the flag with the kids.
today was a great day and a little slower pace than the last few days which was nice. Tomorrow will be a packed day, being our last. But it will be awesome!!!
Wednesday, August 5, 2015
This morning we had the opportunity to once again put on a program for the community care program that AOL runs. Samson and Eli shared their testimonies, we did a puppet show, did some worship (including teaching the kids a camp song), and did the masks drama. Then once we were done that, we made paper bag puppets with the kids. It was a great start to the fay.
At 11 we left to go bring a special meal to the kids living at the dump. We stopped at TIp Top (great chicken BTW) to pick up our order of 350 chicken meals, but it wasn’t ready, so we ended up waiting 90 minutes for all that chicken to be done. It was a much longer wait than was anticipated, but it was a Nica experience and a good lesson in how ministry doesn’t always go as planned.
Once the chicken was done we left to go to Tipi Tapa. This is where the dump is. Inside the dump there is a whole community of people living there. They go out, collect the good stuff from the garbage and make a living that way.
We partnered with a ministry that exists in the dump that feeds all the kids monday to friday every week. We brought each kids a box chicken meal. It was great to see how much this little meal meant to them. It was also interesting to watch even the really young ones eat a little bit of their meal and then bring back a good chunk of that small meal back to their family, where they’ll stretch that little meal over several days. It was truly a blessing for us to be able to bless those kids in that way.
After we handed out all the meals, the kids left and we stayed to hear a little bit from that pastor and we prayed for each other.
We were also able to leave some money, blankets, and Bibles to support their ministry. It was truly an impacting experience for many on our team.
In the evening the guys did devos and played hockey while the girls went to church…both of which were great experiences and we all had a great evening.
Juan shared his whole testimony in our team meeting. This was good for them to hear a complete story of how these kids grow up and how God was at work in his life.
Today was a full day, but worth every minute. We thank God for how he has been at work in our hearts and minds.
Tomorrow will be a lighter day, which i think will be greatly appreciated, the last few days have been crazy!!!!
Tuesday, August 4, 2015
Another day has already passed, it is hard to believe sometimes how fast out time here flies by. It is easy for the time to fly by so fast when you aren’t watching the time and just going out and doing, and that is exactly what we have been doing 🙂
Today our plans changed a little bit on the fly. We were going to bring meals to the dump, but it didn’t work for the ministry today, so we moved that to tomorrow.
Instead today became a work day. We left AOL after breakfast at 9 ish and headed to Managua. There we worked on some houses. A third of us worked on digging a foundation for the house we are building, a third of us painted the house of another visedal family, and the last third of us painted the house that our team built 2 years ago.
At 12 we left there and went and visited the Pastor of the dump ministry. He was at the school where they bring the young kids to get a bit of an education. He explained what they all did, and what their goals were for working with the kids. He gave us a small tour of the area and we gave him some blankets and some bibles to give to those who would need them.
Then we went for lunch at the Pizza Hut. Many of the kids were glad to have a “normal” food experience again.
Once we were all fed up, we headed back to the houses to finish the work that we started. We visited the house that the group i was with the first time i came down built, gave them blankets, bibles and we brought them a pizza to share. Then we went back to the houses we were working on and brought them all blankets, bibles and a pizza.
We worked hard to finish painting and digging and before we knew it, we were done. After praying for the families, and saying our goodbyes, we were off, headed back to AOL.
On the way back “uncle Ben” graciously offered to buy everyone ice cream, so we stopped a the ice cream shop and got to experience fresh fruit flavor ice cream, and it was delicious.
By the time we got back, supper had been sitting there for a while, We got back a little later than expected. This meant that we had very little time before devos started. Some quickly ate a meal, while some ate a small portion (still being full from lunch).
Devos went well, the kids continued to connect with each other and develop the relationships with the AOL kids.
After devos games of soccer, and volleyball broke out and lots of fun was had with the kids.
All in all it was a very busy day, but a very good day. As usual, we are all excited to see what is in store for us tomorrow!!!
Monday, August 3, 2015
We are now officially halfway through our time here at Arms of Love. It feels as though we just got here, but yet with each passing day we are reminded of how short our time really is.
Today was our first time doing a program for the community care program. There is a morning group and an afternoon group. Both groups are 12 ish kids. For the program today we did the Sin chair drama, testimonies, a puppet show and worship music. Then we also made pinwheels with the kids after the program. Many struggled to make their pinwheels work, but Jerome came along and showed them how it was done.
Since we didn’t need all our team running a program, we sent a bunch of the team out to work on the AOL grounds. They cleared stumps from the papaya field, prepped metal for re use to build a guard shack, trimmed weeds back, carried posts and fire wood etc. Most Importantly i managed to find the hockey equipment that we brought down 2 years ago 🙂 YAY!!!! Now we can play hockey with the kids for the rest of the week. THe nets were in desperate need of repair but the sticks were in good shape.
After supper (and some hockey) we had devo time. The older boys had soccer practice, but we were able to devos with the older girls and the younger boys. It was a good time of connecting with the kids in a spiritual way.
After devo time we had a party with the kids. On account of the fact that it was Matthew’s birthday, We bought a pinata and filled it with candy, a giant cake, played loud music and had a Nica party with the kids, it may have been a short party, but what we lacked in time we made up for with enthusiasm in the party!!
We also found some mangos, which was to a great delight of many who were longing for them since we arrived.
All in all it was a great day. We are looking forward to what God has in store for us tomorrow!!!
Sunday, August 2, 2015
Vamos a la playa, vamos a la playa 🙂 Today was beach day. We loaded up 2 buses and drove 1.5 hours to San Juan to go to the beach. The beach was in a nice little bay so it was well protected, and most importantly, no underwater rocks 🙂
For many of our team this was their first time in the ocean, so the trip was just as exciting for them as the AOL kids.
We arrived at the beach at 1030 and the kids promptly bolted to the water (well most of them did). For lunch we had pescado or pollo. After lunch we played the AOL boys in beach soccer and beat them…Juan was especially happy about that as he had a candy wager on the game.
After that some locals challenged us to a game and we had a blast playing them.
Around 330 we loaded the buses back up and headed back. I ended up on a different bus because the first one took off while i was counting heads on the other bus 🙂 So i had a spontaneous change in company for the ride home…and it was good.
When we returned we changed, and had supper. After supper we had a free evening. Some played sports and games at the soccer court, others played music, card games, and just hung out. The evening was a nice exclamation mark on a great day.
We finished the day off with our usual team meeting. We shared highlights of the day, worshipped together, went over the next day’s schedule and bought bracelets and whatnot from a guy that sells them to help support guys in prison.
It was a great day and we look forward to what tomorrow will bring.
Saturday, August 1, 2015
The group had a great day today, filled with a variety of experiences and interactions. It was another full day of spending time with the AOL kids. monday to friday the kids have school, but for the last 2 days (as well as sunday), the kids have not had school, which makes for some awesome opportunities to connect with the kids all day.
As usual the day started out with personal devos at 730 and breakfast at 8. After that, our youth were out into the common grounds, and the kids’ houses to go interact with them in any way they could. For some that meant sidewalk chalk all over the basketball court, for others it meant helping to trim grass, trees, bush and clean up the AOL grounds. Others played volleyball, soccer, and on the play structure, slide, swings etc. Before we knew it, lunch time was upon us, a whole morning had been spent with the kids and it was great!!
At lunch time Juan, Jessica, Jaylene, and Ashley went off on a special trip to Managua, a nice 90 minute ride in the back of a truck through heat, wind and rain. 🙂 The purpose of this trip was to connect with the older kids that are no longer living at AOL. To encourage them and to challenge them, and to remind them of God’s love for them.
Meanwhile the rest of the team stayed at AOL. 2 girls joined the AOL kids’ music lessons. The rest of us went on a tour of their farm. They are starting to grow lots of beans and papaya’s as wells as a few trees of every fruit they can 🙂 It was cool to see all that was growing and all that had been done for growing towards being self sustainable.
Once the kids were done music lessons, we had a water balloon fight that turned into an all out water fest, there was hardly a dry person left 🙂
In the evening the Boys went to church while the girls stayed back (the girls go to church on wednesdays). The boys had a great time connecting at church while the girls connected with the AOL girls back at their house.
once the boys returned from church, we were able to treat the kids to a movie night. We watched RIO and got the kids a snack and some pop. It was a great way to wind down the evening.
Tomorrow we are headed to la playa. A 2 hour ride each way, but it will be worth it 🙂
Friday, July 31, 2015
Today Marked our first full day in Nicaragua as a complete group. Normally the kids at Arms of Love would have school on a friday, but because this was the last friday of the month, the kids did not have school, which gave us more time with the kids, which was awesome.
The majority of our team was up for 8 am breakfast (it was optional today, not so much for the rest of the trip). Fruit, Gallo Pinto, and Eggs were on the menu. After Breakfast, we had the rest of the morning to hang out with the kids. Playing on the play structure, playing UNO, and a big round of kings court soccer, we all managed to connect with the kids at Brazos de Amor in some way. 🙂
After Lunch we were getting ready for our big event. Today was the day that we got Arms of Love and Casa Bernebe together for one big, awesome event! We rented a place called “futboleros”. There we had a big covered area where we set up tables and chairs, a small indoor pitch for the ninos, a trampoline, and 2 large soccer pitches. We had a tournament (boys and girls seperate). with small teams from all 3 groups. It’s amazing how much soccer the kids will play and still not be tired of it 🙂
After a few hours of playing soccer and hanging out with the kids, we had supper together. After Supper we had a program. We did a puppet skit for them, Jess and Jay shared their testimonies, we did a drama on masks, played some worship, casa Bernebe played some worship, and then Esmir and Juan shared a little bit with the kids.
Before we knew it, our time at furboleros was over, but boy was it a good time with the kids. Relationships were built, kids were encouraged, and much soccer was played.
We returned to AOL with a few hours before bedtime, so some card games, sardines, and other games were played as we continued to find creative ways to connect with the kids at AOL.
We wrapped things up with a team meeting and are now off to bed. Tomorrow will be a true Nica experience. Church, and a day of “we will see what happens”. Should be a great day 🙂
Thursday, July 30, 2015
Today was an eventful day. While the 12 of us were sleeping the remaining 22 of our team were making it to Fargo to be on their way to Nicaragua. On their way they blew a tire on the bus. Thankfully the bus has double tires, so they were able to limp to the airport, but it made it a much closer timing and they only had 15 minutes to spare before they boarded. Then in chicago there were some emergencies that made the airline empty the plane, only to immediately reload and leave. That could have caused a bad chain of missed flights, but thankfully it all worked out 🙂
While the 22 were flying the 12 of us toured around Managua a little bit, learning a bit of the culture and history of Nicaragua. We ate lunch, picked up a bunch of Bibles for the arms of love kids, and then made our way to Arms of love in Jinotepe. We arrived around 3 pm, got a little settled and then got to play some soccer with some of the kids for a short while. We had supper and then Esmir, Juan and I departed to go pick up the rest of our team from the airport. The other 10 stayed at Arms of Love and enjoyed an evening interacting with the Arms of Love Kids.
We picked up a sleep deprived and hungry crew right on time. Then we took them out to eat their first Nicaraguan Meal, Pizza Hut 🙂 Ok, 1 last american meal…Gallo Pinto for breakfast is coming soon enough.
We had our first complete team meeting and now are off to bed. Tomorrow is a big first full day.
Wednesday, July 29, 2015
The 12 of us made it to Nicaragua in one piece. Yay!! After driving 3 hours to Fargo, killing a little time in Walmart, and anxiously waiting to see who they would vote off our over filled first flight, we were off at 5:56 am. We landed in Chicago and quickly hopped another plane and were immediately flying to Miami.
We went through processes in Miami that we didn’t need to, not realizing that our bags were checked all the way to Nicaragua, but it helped to kill some of the 6 hour wait that we had for our last flight. They changed our gate 4 times, sending us all over the terminal, but finally we were off to Manauga!
We landed in Managua on time, 745 pm, (845 MB time). Went through all the processes and got all our luggage…..well all except one. We had a small mix up, so now we need to go back to the airport tomorrow morning to see if we can’t retrieve it.
We got settled at the hotel and then went out for our first Nica food experience, Gallo Pinto (painted rooster) Fried Plantains, Fried cheese, chicken, and fresh squeezed juice was the order of the evening.
Now the 12 of us must get some needed sleep!
The rest of our group is on the road and probably approaching the USA Border as i type these words…..a long day ahead of them, but we are looking forward to having them join us in Nicaragua!