Saturday, September 11, 2010
Sunday, July 11, 2010
Our days in El Crucero have been filled with endless work and many blessings; therefore we have been very delayed to updating our status on the blog. Each night we return to our hotel hungry and exhausted with energy only to eat and go to bed. We are thankful for the opportunity to serve.
Over the last several days we have completed a great deal of renovation that is required for the medical license necessary to run the medical clinic. We have also had numerous challenges with the roof. It is currently the rainy season which brings strong winds and torrential down pour to the area. Our clinic sits quite high and powerful wind gusts and the roofing material is in sheets makes for a ongoing problem with large sections of the roof coming off and leaving holes allowing substantial rain damage to the inside of the clinic.
The first ever “Copa Nica” (“Nica Cup”) was held on Thursday. Six local teams signed up to play and numerous spectators were on hand to cheer for their favorite teams. The American kids played two games and faired about as well as the US team did in the world cup. After several games, the team from Casa De Ozgo (a local youth center) was the champion of the first ever Nica Cup in El Crucero. We served Gatorade to all of the teams and presented the winning team a replica of the World Cup trophy and t-shirts for all the players on the team as a prize.
We were surprised three days ago by the arrival of the Project Cure container of medical supplies and equipment. The container arrived one week earlier than expected to the port in Honduras and we expect it to clear customs here in Managua by July 16th. Because we are still completing renovations to the clinic we will not be able to deliver the container directly to the clinic when it arrives on the 16th. It has been necessary for us to find a place to store the container until middle of August so that the renovations will be complete and we can arrange for a team from Colorado to return to assist with the set up of the contents of the container as well as be part of a large celebration for the arrival. Through a relationship and partnership with the Rotary Club in Managua we have located a very large home just two kilometers from the clinic that we will be able to store the contents of the container at no charge. In addition the owner of the house has offered to arrange for 10 workers from his coffee plantation to help with the unloading of the container into the house for storage. We are thankful for this storage opportunity and are amazed by the continuous blessings God is providing for our ministry in El Crucero.
Several visits to local orphanages have provided our team the opportunity to play and love the many children in El Crucero who are in desperate situations. Both the adults and the kids on our team have enjoyed playing duck duck goose, doing crafts, playing soccer and simply hugging and loving the endless amounts of kids in the El Crucero area who are either voluntarily placed in orphanages by their parents or have been abandoned. It is amazing to see the instant interaction and formation of friendships despite the language barrier and difference in background. It takes only moments after arrival to an orphanage to hear laughter and see smiles amongst all of the children, both American and Nicaraguan.
Seven team members departed Nicaragua on Friday and returned safely to Colorado. That same day, three new team members arrived from Texas to join us for the remainder of our time here. It is amazing to witness the hard work and dedication of each and every team member. Our days our long and our work is challenging, but the strength and energy of our team seems to flow endlessly.
The next few days will bring a milk handout outreach, several craft camps for the local children, more construction and one last visit to an orphanage. We are excited for our last few days here in Nicaragua but are sad to see the end of our trip coming so quickly.
Monday, July 5, 2010
We have had three very successful days here in El Crucero.
We were blessed to help out with the children's activities at a local church in El Crucero. The love and dedication these kids have is amazing! Some walked for 3 plus kilometers in the pouring rain to celebrate their love of the Lord. After making home-made crowns, singing praises and whacking the pinata, we made our way to the ABC (Abandoned Boys Center) orphanage. It warmed our hearts to see the boys faces light up when they received the soccer cleats and shin guards we had brought them. After fitting each one of the boys, the game was on! Team Colorado (Taylor, Ryan, Jen, Abby, Reagan, Jaelyn, Hunter and Ellie) vs the "Bad Boys of ABC". The fog rolled in and the rain came down ... in buckets. The kids played their hearts out and had the time of their lives.
Next up was the tradition of delivering the "food baskets". A group of local pastors pick 4 or 5 families (20 total for this trip) that are most in need of receiving the basic necessities that we take for granted. Oil, rice, sugar, soap, toilet paper etc. are given to each family in the name of Jesus Christ. It is always an eye-opening and moving experience for everyone involved.
While everyone in the US was celebrating the 4th of July, those of us who are serving in Nicaragua are grateful to be Americans more than words can describe.
The guys are making significant progress with the many construction projects that have been slated to be completed on this trip. The time and effort it is taking to rip down walls, and move and rebuild the walls is daunting. Jamie and Sean (along with help from many local "friends") are doing an incredible job. There is no rest for the weary!
We woke to a refreshing rain in Managua. The boys went straight to work on construction, and the girls went to the local market with the mission of finding soccer cleats and uniforms for the boys orphanage, so they can participate in the "soccer cup" planned for this Thursday. With God on our side, the mission was accomplished!
The afternoon was filled with kids "craft camp" for all of the local El Crucero villagers. It was a huge success!
So much has been done in only a few short days. It is refreshing to know we have the rest of the week to do Gods Work in Nicaragua. Please pray for the group and continued perseverance and success. It is with continual prayer that we are lifted up!
Sunday, July 4, 2010
July 3rd, 7pm.
The sun has just set and the haze from the volcanic ashes make the few stars that much more enchanting. There are eight American children standing in a makeshift church in the outskirts of Managua, Nicagura; surrounding them are several dozen children from the small town of El Crucero. An observer can easily separate these children into two groups by the color of skin, the language they sing and their quality of their clothing, albeit these differences, there is something that all of these children share in common, a dedication to make the streets of El Crucero safer, healthier and a more promising place. That, and their love for the Lord.
This isn't the type of church that includes a Sunday school and a choir, there is no crowded parking lot and brunch at the Pancake House afterwards. A small dirt road will carry you thirty minutes into the mountainous terrain of El Crucero, the lush hillsides are misleading, with a population of only several thousand people, the poverty is fierce. A town running twenty kilometers long has less than a handful of homes with running water. This is the second poorest country on earth, and this is its poorest town. This is the stuff you find on the Discovery Channel.
Between the hurricane in Houston and a faulty engine at DIA, the fact we arrived last night is a miracle in itself. Two vans took Sean and Laura Tonner with kiddos Regan and Hunter in two, Then there is family number two; Sara and Jamie Hendren with kiddos Taylor, (along with her friend Jen), Abby, Jaelyn and Ellie… and cousin Ryan from Dallas. Then there are those from Phaseline, who have as much commitment to this project as the Tonners; Monica Owens, Liz Ryan, Jess Leyba and then there is a journalist, Ak: moi. For most on the trip, this is a familiar airport, they hug the van drivers hello, and for several on the trip this country, and the people are foreign… We lug the duffel bags into the motel, with its simple layout and picnic tables outside, we're eager to crawl into a bed, hopefully not an infested one. However, two of the girls (age 10) discovered a worm in their bunk… again, this is no first class accommodation. We're here as a group to provide medical care and hopefully some infrastructure in a struggling community. That said, these kids know that their idea of work is a few hours during a summer vacation, the kids that we'll see tomorrow morning live in an unending summer where school isn't an option and while some work for a meager penance, many go to sleep in dirty beds, unfed, some with fevers, and many don't know their parents and many will become parents far too soon from when they're ready.
While the photographs depict paradise, I've realized this is anything but….
So, I'm a journalist. I was brought on this trip after editing an article about The Project in El Crucero last summer for Denver Magazine, and since I've been intrigued, albeit the tragedy in Haiti, the sores in Nicaragua didn't occur over night, but have worn through the corruption, the poverty has withheld a civil war and the Red Cross handouts, but for some reason this village doesn't seem hopeless. So not in an attempt to save the world, but rather to quench some curiosity I packed my bags and my bug spray and prepared myself for the unknown.
At The Clinic: Inside the small square building there is exposed brick and cement, and not the type people pay half a million for lofts in Lower Downtown…. and there were holes in the ceiling, a toilet that needed to be replaced, measurements and moldy dry wall to be torn down. But Sean, Jamie, Ryan, Taylor, Abby and Regan went after it and accomplished more than they planned. With some of the children of El Crucero helping carry the bits and pieces out to the trash, today they're rebuilding one of the walls.
At the Feeding Center: It took no time at all for Hunter to find his friends, many of the children whom stare at us, the white Americans with confusion… but when they see Hunter's open arms and kind eyes, they rush to him to play soccer and to have fun. The small children, the little girls and boys, those who needed laps to sit on, and hair to be played with, took quite a liking to Monica, Liz and Jess. I hung back with the teenage girls who took turns trying on my sunglasses. They devoured the rice and beans with hungry tummies and packed away more in plastic baggies to bring back to mothers and fathers.
Back At Church: After showering and putting on fresh clothes we all made our way back to the small town of El Crucero where we were greeted with Spanish music, a kid on a keyboard and another on the drums made harmonious music that yes, was quite Christian, but I'd be a liar to say it didn't entice me to dance some salsa. The elders held our hands and greeted us with the most grateful gestures as we left the small building, a square building put together by bricks I don't think we've felt closer to God.
As the day closed and we put the last of the cheese and pepperoni pizzas in our mouth there was a sense of peace and serenity. Far away from the bustle and stress of our day-to-day To Do lists, the highways and the car pools, the conference calls and deadlines, we're glad. But never for a moment are we not grateful that we can return to the chaos and the safety that is the United States. So as we embark on a 4th of July in the poorest country in Central America, and nearly the world…. we're never prouder to be Americans.
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
We are making our final preparations to travel to Nica in the coming weeks. The main objective for this trip is to construct a kitchen inside of the clinic. As most of you know, the clinic is host to an outreach program that feeds approximately 100 children a week. The installation of this kitchen will make cooking and food preparation easier.
We are also excited to see what progress has been made in the development of a soccer field on site. The local government was kind enough to scrape the land just north of the clinic so that we may conduct sports camps in the future.
The team is very excited to return to Nica and see our friends. Please keep us in your prayers and we look forward to providing you with updates each night.