Thursday, July 30, 2015

Hasta Pronto Villa Japon

Yesterday we bid farewell to Villa Japon. As predicted, we shed a lot of tears. The people here taught us that everyone wants the same things in their life: someone to love, good food, shelter, an education and healthcare. One can be very rich even without a lot of material possessions. We are proud of the important work we did on a new school. It was a lot of physical labor, but we performed it with love. We spent the afternoon visiting Volcan Masayo, taking in the sweeping views and thinking about the history of Nicaragua. Today we depart after a tour of the bustling metropolis that is Managua.  Adios Nicaragua.  Hasta pronto!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Comida Deliciosa

Working in Nicaragua is physically demanding because of the heat and humidity. Thankfully we have Rosa and Martha to care for us. They prepare three fabulous meals each day on a simple propane stove. Most days we eat comida typical (typical Nicaraguan food).  Meals often include gallopinto (a rice and beans combination), handmade tortillas and plantains cooked in various ways.  Even though the meals are simple by American standards, we have all marveled at how little we have eaten of the snacks we brought with us.  Even our pickiest eaters have enjoyed the food. Thank goodness for Martha and Rosa. They put a lot of love into their meals and it spreads to each of us. 

Martha cooking breakfast


The stove

Sergio and Rosa presenting lunch

Daily watermelon break. 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015


Our theme today was Rejoice!  We did a lot of that in various forms. We worked on cement mixing in the morning and expect to finish the job tomorrow. While at the school, there was plenty of time for playing with kids and sharing music with each other.  Several people also got to hear another personal story of the war from VilÅ‚a Japon's mayor, Memo. Beth also organized a craft project in the preschool class much to her delight.  Unfortunately, the pesky toenail from yesterday required a trip to the medical clinic. But we all rejoiced over the fact the patient is doing much better now. In the afternoon we played sports with the kids in a field near the school.  This evening we reflected on the various meanings of the word rejoice. We reminded ourselves how important it is to live in the present moment and rejoiced at the ability to do that when we are so far away from our comfort zone of home. We are also preparing ourselves to leave the beautiful people of Nicaragua and the many friends we have made here. We say good-bye to the children in the morning and expect to need lots of tissues. 

And Now Presenting Our Local Sponsors

One of SOL's tenets is that it doesn't tell a community what it needs but rather assists communitities in fulfilling their own dreams. SOL expects the communities to provide volunteers to work alongside the SOL staff and the U.S. volunteers. One of our greatest joys this week has been working aligside these folks.

SOL Leader Julian Guevara on the far right. 

SOL leader Casey Calais on the right

Local "mayor" Memo in the middle with Sergio and Dimas from SOL

Local leaders Memo and Raquel

Local hardworking youth along with our youth.

Our dependable driver Federico

Monday, July 27, 2015

Grace and Hope

Our theme today is Restore (Hope) based on Romans 15:13. In our morning reading we focused on grace as the hope of a brighter tomorrow in spite of the darkness of the day. It was an auspicious day for focusing on grace and hope.  We spent the morning mixing cement as we have finished all of the necessary rebar!  The walkway around the school is now complete and we have almost completed the crown. Next we will begin finishing the top coat on the floors and walls. Our resident Dr. Mike also performed minor surgery this morning to relieve a painful ingrown toenail. This afternoon we visited El Triumfo, the village where SOL will commence building a park next Monday. The kids there were just as loving and friendly as in Villa Japon. We walked through the village and paused at the community well built by World Vision. It was amazing to actually see firsthand the kind of well we have contributed to building in Africa. We also explored a large local farm. The animals were a hit. This evening, Julian Guevara (the SOL leader for Managua area projects) shared his personal history of being born under dictatorship and over time realizing the need to work towards a better life   Julian talked about his work as a Sandanista in the Contra war. It is impossible to convey the emotions Julian evoked in each of us. He described unspeakable acts, but he moves forward iwith such grace. He finished by serenading us with a song of hope through Christ from his time in the war. Today showed that grace  is all around us.  We just need to choose to see it. 

Stealing our Hearts

The children of Villa Japon shower us with joy every day.  Loving, curious, playful creatures, they provide the highlight to our workday. They are quite used to the gringo volunteers, so they are eager to pose for us and they love taking pictures with our cameras.  They even fight over us (es mi gringa, no es mi gringa). They use our work gloves as play things and borrow our hats as costume props.  Sunglasses are another favorite.  Popular games are no different than in America:  piggy-back rides, marbles, coin toss, tag, running and playing.  In addition to playing, they are also hard workers. During time away from school they often work by our sides shoveling cement fixings and cutting wire for rebar. Glorious smiles abound.  A huge piece of us will remain here when we depart on Thursday. 

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Touring Nicaragua

Today we continued the vacation portion of our trip, starting with a visit to the supermarket this morning to buy supplies for lunch.  It looked very American, which isn't surprising as the chain is owned  by Wal-Mart. We were amused to find Spam in the "Gourmet" portion of the market. From there we moved to zip-lining. Everyone participated, even though some thought about bowing out.  We went down the line in the normal way, as well as upside down, backwards and flying like superman. We had a blast!  After a picnic lunch, we visited a master potter and got a demonstration on how to make beautiful pots. We also bought quite a few of his pieces of art. We ended the day with a visit to the artisan's market in Masayo where everyone had a chance to shop for gifts and souvenirs. Tomorrow we are back to work!