July 17, 2012

Worlds Apart (part two)

The Nicaragua adventure/storytelling continues . . .

We arrived to Managua on a friday afternoon . . . I remember at the airport, it didn't feel like we were in a foreign country. I felt like we were still in Miami . . .

all 17 of us :)
 We quickly got acquainted with our shuttle bus and wonderful driver (who would be our BFF for the next 8 days). Driving through the city, I noticed the graffiti that covered almost every square inch, the abundance of trash, people walking in the street in between cars, and multitude of overcrowded old school buses, which serve as the main form of transportation.

The vegetation in the country is gorgeous. The city itself is not beautiful, but there was an abundance of green all around us. The house we stayed in was surrounded by mango, avocado, plantain and palm trees.

Our first stop was a church in Managua that One By One works through. This ministry primarily works with the children and youth in Nicaragua . . . their vision is to reach the next generation with the transforming message of the Gospel, and in 3 1/2 years God has worked through them to make a significant impact in the community. Some of the ministry we got to see included children's and youth services on Saturday and VBS/afterschool programs throughout the week in different locations.

Our first task was to go out into neighborhoods and invite kids to their Saturday services. Their staff has established relationships in the community, and you could tell - walking down the streets, some of these kids would just flock to the staff members we were with.

This was my first encounter with this degree of poverty. However, the particular neighborhood we were in wasn't the most poor. The roads did have some pavement, but there was litter everywhere and trash being burned in the street. We went into one house - entering through a small gate, into an open area with dirt floor, there was a small sink for laundry, clothes hung up to dry, a small stove/open fire for cooking, and one or two rooms that had cover. Dirt seemed to cover everything. I saw these living conditions in front of me, but it didn't seem real. It was as if my eyes were drinking it in, but my brain could not process the fact that a family lived here. It seemed surreal.

I was out of my comfort zone the entire trip, which was a good thing. Not only could I not communicate with the natives (thank God we had 4-5 spanish speakers on the team), (which made it interesting trying to order a subway sandwich and ice cream - tasks that you don't normally think about until you have to try in another language :) . . . oh, my spanglish must have been awesome) but kids generally make me nervous, then being in a foreign environment, different culture, different food and with 17 different personalities - all of these things woven together made for an eventful 9 days!

Speaking of food, I will say that I LOVE plantains (tostones and cheese was my favorite food), the fruit over there was amazing, and don't get me started about the coffee . . . :)

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