S: Nicaragua 2010
BC: The End | Created at Mixbook.com by Deena George on 1/30/2011
FC: Nicaragua 2010 My First Mission Trip
2: On our way to Estelí! | We made it!
3: Where we sleep | Where we eat | Sign on our bathroom door
4: The duck, the parrot, and Tom
5: Breakfast at Hotel Nicarao
6: First morning in Estelí, Pentecostal church, ice cream man, puppy, Radio Shack?! Catholic church, town square | Estelí
7: Our Big Night Out! | The team heads out | Dora's ready to face the day! | Dance Party! | Everybody was Kung Foo Fighting! | Duanne, Lillian, & Mary Lynn | AhhahaHAHAHA!! | Our lovely hostess, Vettenie, and me
8: Ingrid & friends | Lady in the shade | Manny & Mario | Carla's School (Rosario Barrio) | Vacation Bible School | My first friend Ingrid | Valerie and kids | Kids are kids everywhere! | Some children of Rosario
9: Walking the barrio we passed a "landscaper" (guy with a machete)! We used the truck and the loudspeaker to invite the children of the barrio to VBS. They heard the call & came running after us! Simple life, simple beauty
10: When we arrived, many people were already lined up waiting for medical attention. It was very hot, but everyone simply waited patiently.
11: At Carla's school we had a few construction projects: We worked on building a sidewalk, a kitchen, and finishing a porch. You can see the kitchen construction behind the children - it looks like a small out-building. We also had a clinic and VBS.
12: We visited Matagalpa prison to minister to the inmates and the guards. Taking pictures was prohibited, but the experience is very vivid in my mind. I have never been to a prison before except to tour Alcatraz and this place reminded me of that very much. I was nervous doing our VBS story because I thought the prisoners would think it was dumb. I was worried they would get mad. Instead I witnessed about 15 men come forward to accept Jesus Christ as their lord and savior. I felt God so close to me that it was as though He were "on" me. He held my face in His hands to keep me calm while I comforted the prisoners during their teeth extractions. I had the honor of telling a man convicted of murder that God loved him. I felt no judgment or fear of this man because God was all around me. That day God became my friend.
13: Shalom Church | Mural by Steve Muldoon
14: Fun with the parachute during VBS. | Docs in the clinic. | Yum! | Jerry takes a break | Manny, me, Mario
15: Many hands (even small ones!) make light work. Jesse and Deena with some kids at Shalom.
16: Murray and "the gang" | Jesse & baby | Mary Lynn & baby | Josline & Deena
17: Playing soccer with the locals | Somoto | People waiting for clinic | Laundromat
18: Walking Somoto for VBS | Ezekiel & Joel | with Sally | Little Boy | Ladies of Somoto
19: Eric, David & Jesse taking a break from VBS invitations | Michelle in action | Martina translating & singing | Beautiful children of Somoto
20: Walking the barrios with the VBS team was always fun! It allowed us to explore the neighborhood and get a feel for the lifestyle of the people. | It was an honor to knock on doors to invite families to our vacation Bible school. We had adventures during most of our treks, too, from riding a burro and climbing trees in Somoto to chasing guinea fowl and side-stepping resting pigs at the Estelí dump.
22: Lunch at Somoto | We shared our food with them and they shared with each other.
23: Mario the ice cream man! | Tim, Ava, Martina | Duanne
24: Clinic at Somoto
25: Patients, translators, helpers, friends | Kathy, Ava, Elizabeth, Jesse & kids | Tom & Pete | Valerie, Claudia, & Brenda | David translating for me | Awww! | Registration with Holman & Ana (mario, jerry, ken, tim) | Waiting Room
26: With God all things are possible.
28: David learns to play Fall Down | Mario & Mario | Walking to the overlook | The view | Tom
29: Fancy lunch at cooking school | Peg, Kathy, & Carol | Looking | Bug!! | Resting | Posing
30: The terrain was steep and rocky, so the houses were more separated than in the other barrios we had visited. There was a lot of trash around and it just seemed like rougher living conditions. As we hiked the barrio, I couldn't stop thinking about what rain would do to this place. | Shakur (The Estelí Dump) | A pig lying in the front yard with the trash | Jesse & Sue | Inviting to VBS | Jerry & the guinea fowl
31: Tom clears an area for VBS | Our story shows how we are all sinners... | ...and can find forgiveness because Jesus died for our sins. | The children loved it! Isn't this where Sally comforts a boy with lots of hugs who we thought was moved to tears only to find out he was terrified of hugs?! | Jesse, Valerie, Me | Every girl likes to have her nails polished! | Dora loves VBS!
32: Brenda and Claudia hard at work with Tim assisting | Mario offers encouragement to a brave patient | Patients waiting | Eye doctor testing eyesight | Holman helps Sue & Lillian in the pharmacy | The beauty of Shakur | Grateful woman | Our Clinic at Shakur
33: The Tony Flauto Christian Academy | Michelle with the first students | Ana, Elizabeth, Martina with children & picture of Tony | Est. 2010
34: The Shalom church gave us a Goodbye Party complete with entertainment from the preschoolers through the high school kids. Ariel and Edwin spoke while Holman practiced his translating skills. The recreation pavilion was dedicated to Tony Flauto and other mission workers who have helped to grow this community. Michelle gave an impromptu speech on behalf of her father and herself. She spoke from the heart with eloquence and grace. Tony would have been proud - beaming and (of course) crying. On the left, Martina and me, then Erick and me. You can see my soccer bruise in both pictures if you look closely. It was a doozy! We enjoyed ourselves very much! | Some of the scholarship kids | me & Edwin | Enjoying the show! | me, Tania, Valerie, Edwin, Jesse, Ana | Michelle, David, me | me & David
35: I think that's the guy who licked my leg!
36: After we left Esteli we headed north to Managua for a day of fun with some of our Nica friends. | Can you say Indiana Jones?
37: While hiking mombacho, We enjoyed beautiful views, gorgeous scenery, fresh air and plenty of sunshine. Then we hopped in a couple of trucks and headed up to the course to zip line through the jungle! | The islands of Granada | On the way up, I saw wild coffee beans, strange flowers, amazing jungle foliage and some GINORMOUS spider webs! I became obsessed thinking about what those spiders must look like...Then it dawned on me ... I'm in the jungle!
38: Getting briefed | Kathy foreshadowing | Bring it on! | Well, this is embarrassing! didn't quite make it across on my first run! | Jesse, Edwin, & I are ready to go! | One of the runs
39: The zip lining was fun! I was a little scared, but nothing major. Until the end. I had to make a choice: walk the wire or ride one last zip line. There was NO WAY I was climbing that ladder to walk the wire, so I headed back to the final zip line. It wasn't a zip line. It was a Tarzan swing!! TOo late. I had no choice but to do it. There was no other way down. | but I did it! | My sentiments exactly, Mary Lynn! | I was terrified | Waiting on the platform fed into my worst fears. We were crowded, it was made of a plastic mesh so you could see through it. we couldn't see how far we were from the ground because We were high above the canopy and the tree trunk we were attached to seemed to go on forever. I wanted to hug the tree but there were giant ants crawling all over it which reminded me of the huge spiders that were lurking about and the howler monkeys were shrieking and the platform seemed to be shaking and hazel was screaming "No! PLease, NO!" and it was almost my turn! I nearly fainted. Thank god for bill and Ken being on that thing with me. | Yikes!
40: Tom on the wire | Go carol! | go ken! | go brenda! | Robert on the wire | It was getting late... | Everyone had a blast! | Go Juan Carlos! | Go David!
41: pure joy | ...and soon it was time to say goodbye to our friends.
42: Driving into La Chureca was an experience in and of itself. The air was thick. I felt like I was breathing in very bad things. The guard wore a mask. When he was ready to escort us in, I asked if he had masks for all of us. They only had one, so we went in unprotected. Seeing the mountain of garbage in the distance made it even harder to breathe. | La Chureca The Dump Managua, Nicaragua | Our first stop was at the clinic. It had just opened a few weeks prior to our visit. It was clean and tidy with bright colors painted on the walls. It was an oasis. We met some of the local children milling about outside. They played soccer across the dusty expanse in front of the clinic. The ball was old and tattered and some of them didn't have shoes on their feet, but they played hard and enjoyed the game. We gave away trinkets and candy to the children we met. Their eyes told their stories. | This is a difficult section of the book for me. The photos take me right back there and my brain still cannot process everything that I experienced that day. I am not sure of the order of events exactly, but I will document it to the best of my ability. I am crying as I sit here typing this text and placing these photos. Part of me hopes it will always make me cry.
43: A woman invited us to her home. This barrio was the most impoverished we had seen so far. It was dirty, littered, the air stunk, the ground was squishy, damp, and fowl. Walking down the narrow alley, I felt...desperate. The woman led us to her home and inside was her beautiful baby boy, Alejandro! He was resting happily in his "cradle" made of an old piece of tarp tied to some sticks. Valerie gave the mother a bag of newborn baby boy clothes she had brought with her. The woman was very thankful for the gift. I couldn't believe that a plump, rosy-cheeked baby could be born in such a place. He was a miracle. God is good! The woman beamed with pride and joy just as any other new mom would. I was grateful to her for sharing this with us. | We gave out some trinkets and candy to the children we met along our way in and out of the barrio. Jose Louie was a bright-eyed boy who followed us at a distance the entire time we were there. He was curious and mischievous and I liked him on the spot. | As we exited the barrio, we met two young missionaries from the Manna Project (www.mannaproject.org) who worked at a clinic down the way. Then we headed over to the school - yes there is a school at La Chureca! It is run by a husband and wife missionaries who have dedicated themselves to improving the lives of the children here. We were not allowed to take any pictures at the school, but we were able to love all over the children. We sang songs, covered them with stickers and hugs, and had a great time! The little darlings were absolutely filthy; most looked as though they had never had a bath or had their hair washed. Can you imagine? I wanted to give each one of them a long hot bubble bath and wrap them up in soft fluffy towels fresh from the dryer. Every time I take a hot shower in the morning I think of these children and the rest of my friends in Nicaragua who don't have the luxuries that are part of my everyday life.
44: We hiked up one side of an excavated area and were able to get a bird's eye view of the barrio. It was depressing. However, there was a lot of construction going on. Spain has brought money to this problem and they are working hard to get their project completed by July 2011! As part of this project, they are planning to build housing and a building. This will provide the workers with better living and working conditions. We saw an entire section of the dump pile that had already been excavated and flattened down readying the area for home construction. Hearing about this project helped me cope with what I was seeing. Some of my team members said the place had vastly improved since last year. I couldn't comprehend how what I was witnessing could be an improvement, but it is improving. Thank God there is hope growing at La Chureca. | We climbed into the back of the pickup truck and headed into the pile. Here is a ridge (left) on the mountain of garbage. You can see people working along the top of it.
45: Driving up into the garbage is a physical assault on the senses. The air stinks. My nose hairs seemed to be frantically flapping outward in a vain attempt to force the exit of the offensive intruder. My eyes stung and they could not process what they were seeing. The air had a quality that I could both touch and taste; very unpleasant. There was a disharmony of sounds: grinding, crushing, rustling, thudding, crunching, crackling, and pounding. Exiting the truck is something I won't soon forget. There was garbage as far as I could see and when I stepped off the truck and into it, I sank a few inches. The feel of it under my feet caused me pain. I slowly looked around trying to process the sights and sounds. It was impossible.
46: Rosaria & Celestia | We began to walk. It was difficult. My mind rejected everything my senses brought in. I thought this is it, this is hell. I asked myself, "What is hell?" The answer simply: the absence of God. Then we saw a ramshackle hut with two little girls huddled under it seeking protection from the hot sun. Tom pulled out his guitar and began to play. People stopped working and watched. Some wandered over. Soon there was a circle of clapping singing people around these little girls, Rosaria & Celestia. Then a man came up over the rise calling, "Cristo! Cristo!" He had a huge smile on his face and sang at the top of his lungs! He was so happy to see other Christians. God was not absent at all, he was right there with us. | Lunchtime for a couple workers
47: Animals and livestock have been brought in to try to stamp down the pile and speed decomposition of the garbage. Unfortunately, now the people have to compete with the animals for food. | Working at the dump is a tough job for both man and beast
48: We were on a way out of La Chureca when I heard my name being shouted out across the road. I turned to see if my ears were playing tricks on me, but it was Jose Louie with a friend chasing after us calling out, "Deena! Deena!" Jose Louie's friend wanted a bracelet. Jose Louie asked me a question pointing his finger ahead of us. I didn't know what he was saying, but he was persistent. I finally figured out what he wanted to know - "What is her name?" He asked pointing toward Valerie. I told him and he smiled, satisfied. For some reason, that exchange - hearing my name being shouted out in that place & Jose Louie's persistence in learning Valerie's name - had a profound effect on me. I can neither describe it nor do I understand it. I hope someday I will learn why it was so important. | Lake Managua is severely polluted from decades
49: There are many organizations that are striving to clean up the Managua city dump and help the people who live and work there. This is a difficult task that is sometimes made more difficult because the people who live and work there fight the changes out of fear that they will no longer have a viable means to earn a living. Please take a moment to pray for the people of La Chureca and the organizations trying to help them achieve a higher standard of living. | of sewage being dumped here. | All of my senses have been victimized Lord I want to close the door I want to live in fog I want my mind's eye to be blind I feel forsaken Despair surrounds me on all sides I weep on my knees in your presence I call out why why why A quivering oh my God on my lips Alahondro is my child now and I know it I want to silence the call of your people The feel of garbage beneath my feet hurts because it is where they live I walked upon their roof, their bed, their food My spirit is grieving I long to love It is my only solace My deepest privilege | ~ by Valerie Norris