Friday, November 28, 2014

Nicaragua - Day by Day - Days 7-12

   Here's the second part of my "Day by Day" post (click here for days 1-6)... [WARNING, THIS MAY GET A BIT LONG.]

   Day 7. More VBS and construction... Our theme was "Jesús es la Promesa" (Jesus is the Promise). This was the crucial day in which we were to present the gospel to the children, opening our hands and leaving it up to God. And our trust was not misplaced, as God, by his divine plan, called many children to accept His gift of salvation. It was such a blessing, especially in light of an evening prior; one of our team members, Madison, who had come on the last trip, had her heart completely broken, as a girl whom she had been talking with about God consciously chose to reject Christ. In that moment, several evenings prior, the entire team, I am sure, could feel that heartbreak as tangibly as the chairs we were seated in... I know I could. Thus, it was such a blessing to know that God used that day to call so many to Him.

Jesus's crucifixion.

Even with all the pictures, I still don't understand how they got those metal beams all the way up there.

This is how we explained Jesus's sacrifice to them; one child was "Jesus", wearing a clean white shirt, and another was the sinner, wearing a filthy white shirt. Then we had them switch, telling them that Jesus took our dirty "shirts" and gave us his clean one. It was such a beautiful moment!

   Day 8. Construction and LAST DAY OF VBS. Our theme for this final day was "Jesús es La Buena Noticia" (Jesus is the Good News). This was a hard day for the entire team, knowing that this was the our last day with the the children and the rest of our brothers and sisters in Santa Elena. There were many tears spilled, both happy and sad. We managed to contain the waterworks until the end of the day, though. And at church that night, there were many celebrations and gifts given all 'round. I am sure that I have left a piece of my heart behind with these people.

Craft time: Good News Newspapers that summed up our week.

Some of the boys and girls from VBS, as well as the men who worked with us on the construction, and Pastor Louis.

So I was just sitting there, absolutely weeping with the emotions of the day, when out of nowhere I felt this pair of arms reach around me. When I looked down, I found this girl, whom I had not had the chance to meet yet, trying to comfort me. We proceeded to sit in this position, hugging and weeping, for the next 20 minutes (I wasn't really keeping track).

Eden and her dear friend Jorge... I think what hurt most that day was watching how hurting my friends were that we were leaving. I pray that she will get to see this dear boy again.

During our last day, as we said goodbye to the children, many of them ran around with little notebooks, the craft from day 6, and markers, asking team members to sign them.

Church... what a blessing and joy it was to get to worship with these beloved people one more time!

   Day 9. We got to visit a Christian school, made by our truck driver, Mario's, church. This, we learned, was also where our funds collected from VBS years ago went to. They're saving it to make a library and computer lab. We also got to visit the Masaya volcano and swim in a crater lake (the temp. was in probably about the 70's... MINDBLOWING to someone accustomed to the frigid Minnesota lakes)!

The view of the mountains from the school's in-progress second floor library.

A nearby park ("Bible Park") used by the school... A different team from the U.S. came and "remodeled" it. This is the fabulous end product. And the verse here is 2 Timothy 3:16, which says, "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,"

At the Masaya Volcano...

   Day 10. We visited a museum to get a history lesson (I was feeling sick during the museum) and several political and former political buildings. We also got to visit a leper colony (such a fun experience playing with the kids, some of whom have never seen the world outside those walls) and Lago de Managua (Lake Managua) and we celebrated Hayley and Aaron's birthdays (Aaron's was on one of the first days, but we got a cake for both of them).

Beautiful cathedral.

The sun setting over Lago de Managua.

Happy birthday, Aaron and Hayley!

   Day 11. As we wound down our trip, we spent our Sunday morning at the church of one of our bus drivers. We went to the market (a second time) for souvenirs and gifts for our families, and then we went back to the hotel from our first night for debriefing and affirmations. And this perfectly displays how this trip changed me: our first night in Nicaragua, at the hotel, I thought I was a cheap, low-quality hotel and wouldn't have been surprised to find giant beetles in my bed. In comparison, our last night in nicaragua, in THE EXACT SAME ROOM as the first night, I felt like a princess in the most luxurious palace ever made.

The Pentecostal Church

Some free "souvenirs" Steph picked up for one of her boys who collects bottle caps... They were literally just lying all over the ground!

Praying over our dear friend, Mario, Jr.

   Day 12. Exhausted, physically, mentally, and emotionally, we got up, had breakfast, and got packed at about 4 am to make our 6;30 flight... As we drove down the Pan-American Highway one last time in our big, old school bus from Indiana, I felt a quiet, heavy sadness fall upon my heart, knowing it would be two years until I return. We barely made it to the gate when it was time to board. And our second flight, from Houston to Minneapolis, was delayed, leaving us once again stranded in the Houston airport, hours of time on our hands. Some played games, and many slept, seeking something to do with our time. Needless to say, we reveled in the air conditioning and the automatic (and just WORKING) toilets. Looking back, I think, "How quickly I forgot my Nicaraguan friends." And yet I did not completely forget them. I reveled in all of these things which they were not fortunate enough to have, all the while thoughts of them running through the back of my mind. I do miss them, and I think of them often, but I know that I will see them again, whether that be on earth, or in Heaven.

Brrr... Sounds cold!

We were all challenged to memorize a part of Scripture in Spanish and share it with one of our Nicaraguan friends. Eden picked 1 Timothy 1:7 - "for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control." I chose Isaiah 40:31 - "but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not be faint."

*Photo credits go to Steph Theis, my pretend "mom". For her posts on Nicaragua, click below. And for her full album of 1,948 photos, click here.

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