Saturday, June 24, 2017

Until next time.

Friday was a big travel day. Our fearless leader, Brian, had us meet at 7:00 A.M. for breakfast as we did every other day. Of course, breakfast consisted of eggs smothered in salsa, beans and rice, along with something we had not seen all week.......bacon. Wow, did that taste good. Unfortunately, a few of our group were not feeling 100%, so they not able to eat anything.
Our short half hour bus ride took us to a market place where we were able to purchase some authentic Nicaragua souvenirs. Yet again, our interpreter, Marcos, was very helpful. We only had about 50 minutes to shop before we headed off for the hour long ride to the airport in Managua. Our bags were unloaded for the last time from the bus and we said our goodbyes to Marcos and Oscar. This airport experience was a piece of cake compared to what was to come in Miami!
First our plane landed early in Miami which was great as we had a fairly tight connection to get through customs and make our second flight. Unfortunately, we were held on the tarmac as another  plane was using our gate. This cost us almost 25 minutes. Once we finally deplaned, the walk to customs was about half a mile, the lines were long, and a couple of us were stopped and searched. Very suspicious looking characters--two teenage boys. Then the bags had to be rechecked and we had to go through security again. The Blairs and Boltons made it on the plane about five minutes before the door closed. They were sure the others were going to be spending the night in Miami, but at about 7:31 (for a 7:35 departure) the Careys and Kiggins, along with adopted son Stephen, ran down the walkway and onto the plane!
It is good to be home, but there is also a sense of loss. Nicaragua allowed us to experience real, rich community, even though we were not close friends when we left. We are now family as we were able to share this opportunity together. We also feel as though we have left part of our family behind in the hills near Madagalpa. We cannot help but think of those precious children and wonder what they are doing today, if they are remembering the teachings of the week: God died to make them pure, God is with them, God is preparing a place for them. We think of Henry and whether his coffee crop will get enough rain to be bountiful this year. We are touched by Perla opening her home to allow us to crowd around tables and eat lunch there. We remember the young teen boys standing around on the outskirts the first two days we were there and then joining in on the games and crafts on the last day. We were so loved in the village each day. It reminds us of the words from Acts 20:35, "In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'"
Also Luke 6:38 "Give and it shall be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."
Thank you for all of your prayer support and love. We will be forever changed by this opportunity that you helped to give us.
Blessings from all of us!

Friday, June 23, 2017

Pictures from Granada


Hotel our last night

Church across from the hotel

Thursday, June 22, 2017


Today we travelled about three hours on the bus to Granada. Our translator, Marcos, was able to point out some interesting sites, one of which was an active volcano. We could see the smoke plume rising into the air. I would love to be able to tell you the name of this volcano, but that would require fluent Spanish. Since I know about three words in Spanish, I am afraid I will have to disappoint all of you who wanted to look up the place on Google maps!
Before I go any further, I must apologize for misspelling "Agros" several times. My iPad loves to auto-correct, and I put full blame on this inanimate object.
Upon arriving at our hotel in Granada, we had a lovely lunch where we were able to have ice in our drinks for the first time since arriving in Nicaragua. It may seem insignificant, but we were very happy to enjoy ice cold drinks. Then we were treated to a boat tour on Lake Granada where we saw several birds, some spider monkeys, and a few fish. It was very relaxing. We bought some bananas to feed the monkeys, but they were so overfed by earlier tourists, they simply sat in the trees and stared at us as we tried to lure them closer.
The swimming pool back at the hotel allowed all of us to cool off and have some fun. Of course, there were a few swim races and chicken fights. Our group has so enjoyed being together, so it was wonderful to have a couple of hours to relax together.
For our final dinner in Nicaragua, we ate at a steakhouse named El Zaguan. It was a fantastic dinner in a charming restaurant. Bryan led us in a meaningful closing activity while we waited for our meals. We had a chance to affirm each other by expressing our appreciation for what we had noticed about each other as we served together this week. It was the perfect ending to the day.
Thanks for all your support and prayers this week. We are full but ready to return home.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Goodbye Tierra Nueva!

We cannot believe that today was our last day in the village. How our time has flown by! Kidzone was another smashing success in spite of the early morning rain, which after yesterday's monsoon, turned the entire area into mud pits.
The day began with a message by one of the local pastors, and then Mark shared a salvation message with the entire village. Our team led singing and all of the kids joined in with enthusiasm.
Not only did the kids participate today, but it seemed as though all of the teen boys and many of the adults wanted to be included in games and crafts. When the Orange group went to the game rotation, they actually competed against a group of adult men. It was quite a sight to see the men dipping sponges into buckets of water and racing to fill other buckets a few feet away. I am happy to report that the kids won, perhaps with a bit of help.
Before lunch which was served by Argos to the entire village, we were treated to a performance by an authentic Mariachi band. It was amazing. Spencer danced with them for a few moments. Way to go Spencer!
When it was time for our goodbyes, the village presented us with gifts that they made for each us. The tears began as we hugged all the kids and many of the adults. It was very difficult to leave people that we had fallen in love with over the past few days.
Needless to say, we will be forever changed by this experience. We know that God brought us here for a purpose, and will continue to use this experience to teach us about ourselves and Him. One message that has come through clearly is the fact that we are so loved by God and that He has called us to love each other as He loves us.
Thanks to all of you reading this for your prayers and support.
Buenas Noches

Mark & Men of Tierra Nueva. Israel, Mark, Board VP, Carlos.
Oh, and a dear little girl.

Mark's message

Lunch for 370