The summer started with a schedule of 8 teams within 13 weeks. Often one team would leave in the morning and another would arrive the same evening or the next day (my excuse for not updating this blog, sorry folks). Most teams consisted of 20+ people. There were teams coming from all over the US from Portland, OR to Sarasota, FL. We hosted a variation of teams, from construction teams to youth oriented teams, to a pampering team (haircuts, nails etc.). It was a joy to meet so many people with a heart for God and His people. For some people it was their first time traveling outside the US. For others it was their 7 or 8 trip to Nicaragua. It was a joy to work with all the teams and see how God grows and changes people during a week away from all we know and the comforts of home.
We visited El Canyon, a local orphanage FEI has been supporting for over 4 years. La Chureca the local garbage dump, which has a school in the community of families surrounding the landfill that FEI has also supported for the same amount of time. We have also begun to minister and support new projects.
One new project is working with a baby nutritional center and orphanage called Vida Nueva. Tim and Chris Bagwell moved to Nicaragua 5 years ago from the US to work as missionaries for their church. Two years ago God put it in their hearts to open a nutritional center for children. It is one of only two in the country. These babies are abandoned in the true sense of the word. Milagro(above right, Milagro means Miracle in Spanish) was found in a field wrapped in a plastic bag. Nancy, another infant, was found in a drainage ditch with only her mouth and nose above the water. Little Marcos (below,left) was abandoned at the hospital after his mother tried to self abort three times because she was raped by two men. I know these stories are horrific and incomprehensible, but they are truth. Truth of what desperate people will do during what they think are hopeless situations. And we believe God led someone to find Milagro and Nancy who were literally thrown away like garbage. As Tim Bagwell puts it "Each on of these children already has a testimony of God's love."
This center has 40 children living there with ages ranging from 5 days to 11 years old. The house is bursting at the seams and unfortunately they have to turn some of the children away. The Bagwells have just recently bought property here in Managua and are in the process of raising funds to begin to build a new, much larger home for these kids. It's a blessing to be a part of these kids lives. I sneak off any time I get to be with them.
Along with visiting Vida Nueva, we also were blessed to help an orphanage in a nearby canyon called El Canyon. We worked at the local school in this area as well as the orphanage. We took one team of only women to the school and gave haircuts and lice treatments, did manicures, crafts and played games. One of our team members made picture frames with foam craft paper and we took pictures of all the kids and had them choose a frame for their picture. The school is now in the process of getting a new paint job as a result of Gloria's fund raising and the teams that have visited and decided to contribute to the improvement of the school.
In the orphanage we often cleaned dorms and organized storage rooms. But most of our time was spent loving and playing with the kids. The children love any type of craft. Painting, jewelry making, even the old standby of making things with pipe cleaners. Impromptu soccer and basketball games were the norm. We also were able to take the kids to a local soccer field that has lights to play at night (most of the time, if the electricity is on). We played soccer and had pizza dinners. I am blessed to personally be able to get to know most of the kids that live in the orphanage. To see them once a week and be able develope relationships with them.
We also traveled to a local community called Motestepe to help build a local church. Building new columns and painting beams were the projects in this location. It is a very poor community that doesn't get a lot of local or international help. The church is on a corner where it is a known hang out for gang members. We were greeted with scowls from the boy gang members, but by the end they wanted to join in the fun and have their pictures taken. This little girl on the left is Jenny. She was very excited about her pets. She, like me, is an animal lover. This is her pet duck, and she had me follow her to her house across the dirt road from the church to take pictures of her puppy and then finally of her new baby sister. Having teams visit this community is new to the community so the kids went a little crazy with the picture taking and the handing out of candy. These situations make you learn certain words in Spanish very fast to try and manage the swarm of excited kids just wanting to play and be included. We also worked with the Pastor handed out clothing and stuffed animals to women and children who have the most needs.
We had a group of high school students from Edmunds, WA we took to a community Gloria has found that we had not worked in before. We worked at a school about 2 kilometers away from where the teams live during their stay called Chiquilistagua. The school was previously a rehabilitation center. The principle was given a 4 year lease for free. The problem is that the school is very run down. When it rains the water comes right into the windows. The walls are are dirty and the cement floors are almost impossible to clean. There was one working toilet in the whole school and that is only for the preschool children. The others have to go behind one of the school buildings and find a spot to in an emergency. We painted 3 classrooms and the principle's office. The change in the room were like night and day. And after we left there were local men hired to help finish painting the rest of the rooms. It is nice to know that the rest of the school was able to be finished and we didn't leave anything half finished.
I know you all were anxious for an update and apologize for this taking so long. The summer schedule was busy, nut I had no idea how busy it would really be. And when there was free time (hahaha that makes me laugh) the electricity was out or the Internet was down at my house. I have to run and pick up my friend Helen from the airport. I will continue this update soon, as there is still another half of the youth team from Edmunds to tell. We traveled to a town called Rio Blanco and had our own little adventure there. You can see video's of exactly what FEI, Gloria, teams and I do here in Managua if you go to http://www.kptv.com/ and search for Living in a Landfill or Managua, Nicaragua. We had a TV crew from Portland come and do a few stories about the work here. They are truly the picture of what we do here.
I wanted to add prayer requests before I have to go:
- Praise God for the rest and restoration He has given me the past month.
- Praise Him for the quick healing He gave Wilbert (Gloria's husband) after he had extensive hernia surgery.
- Praise Him for the provision He has given in the funding of Villa Esperanza.
- Pray for safety for the cont ruction workers working in Villa Esperanza.
- Pray God leads Gloria and Wilbert to Nicaraguans who want to serve alongside them in their ministry.
- Pray for good communication between all involved serving with FEI and working in Nicaragua.
- Continue to pray that Gods will would be seen in all areas.
Thank you all for your patience. It has been a long but extremely blessed summer. I hope yours was the same. Please feel free to comment and aske any questions.
Sister in Christ,