Still Going Strong

I am back in Leon, which means I am back in the land of being able to get some wifi connectivity from time to time. A lot has happened since the last blog entry and, honestly, I don’t really know where to start or how to catch all of you up.

The past 9 days since the last update have been a whirlwind. We have been to two school graduations, hosted 5 precious children for 4 nights, taken the kids to the beach, celebrated Christmas with 7 families, have done a census of more than 500 children, held two VBS’ across four different days ranging in size from 40 children to more than 200 each day, said goodbye to the SMU team, welcomed the Texas A&M team, and continued building the school in Leon.

It has been a busy 9 days. But they have been good days.

The second half of the SMU trip was just as great as the first. On Tuesday (the day we left Leon), we were able to go to the preschool graduation. Many of the team commented on how special it was to watch as the same men and women we had been working with at the work site walked their children to the front of to graduate.

The team was asked to sit in the seats of honor for the graduation as the community’s way of thanking them for their efforts to make the school a reality. After the ceremony we were able to give each child in the school a Bible as a way to celebrate completing the year. It was a beautiful day and a moving experience to be able to celebrate with these children and their families.

We then drove South to Jinotepe where we have been since. Over the next two days the SMU team came with us to Tipitapa, one of the places most dear to my heart in all of Nicaragua. I was able to be there from the formation of this community in 2010 when flooding destroyed the homes of more than 7,000 in just Tipitapa alone.

During our time in the city we were doing two things: a census of the children in the morning and a VBS type activity in the afternoon. The census, as it always is, was moving. The team was able to see firsthand the circumstances in which so many Nicaraguans live.

As we were welcomed into homes – some of which were made of scrap metal, wood and plastic – we were able to see with our own eyes the dirt floors, holes in the roofs, and the general lack of possessions. We were able to feel the heat in houses from metal or plastic roofs, the hot sun, and the lack of movement of air from no windows.

In addition to seeing, we were also able to get to know the Nicaraguans as more than just statistics or pictures, but as people with families, lives, hurts, joys, and hopes. This is probably my favorite part about these trips. Getting to watch as people come to know people.

American and Nicaraguan starts to lose its meaning. Visitor and host start to meld into one until it is no longer a matter of us and them, but becomes “we.”

In the afternoons the melding continued as we sang songs with, played games with, and did arts and crafts with the children of the neighborhood. The first day we only had 40 children or so. But the second day word had spread throughout the neighborhood and we had close to 200 children. I don’t think anyone on the team would trade the experience of getting to invest in these precious children.

Thursday night we picked up the five children that would be spending the next four nights with us – Heyner, Fernanda, Emily, Guiselle, and Lupita. Five little ones with a-whole-lotta life. That night we just hung out and let relationships start to develop.

Then Friday we all piled into the van and truck and head to the beach. It was so great to watch the SMU team and kids smile, laugh, and play together. They built sandcastles, swam, crossed a wobbly suspension bridge, and just enjoyed each other’s company. We then drove back to Jinotepe and had a Christmas celebration that night.

Watching the the joyous looks on the kid’s faces as they opened their presents is something that I think we all will cherish for many years. After the presents had all been given out one in particular was used quite extensively – a jump rope! A contest was started where little Guiselle challenged one of the team members, Jit, to see who could jump 100 consecutive jumps.

The competition eventually spread to more than just those two until almost everyone of the trip had taken a turn at the jump rope. It was a heated battle until Fernanda decided to compete. About 10 minutes later she reached 200, also leaving her mark as the best jump roper in all of Jinotepe.

The next day was a trip to the lookout, the souvenir market and then the airport. We saw the SMU team through security and picked up the Aggies about 1 hour later. We didn’t miss a beat as we returned to Jinotepe to start the same trip all over again, just in the reverse order.

My next blog entry will show some of the pictures from the Aggie trip. For all the Aggie parents and friends, the trip has been a joyous experience and everyone is still alive and kicking. Here is a picture from Tipitapa to tide you over until I can get another update out!

There are so many more stories and experiences from both teams I want to share. God has been with us, we have seen both beautiful and heart breaking things, and we have seen prayers answered. I cannot wait to share these with all of you but for now it is late and we have a school to continue building starting early in the morning!

More to come soon.


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