A mission team of 13 people, including seven youth, representing FPC, returned from Nicaragua on April 16. They shared many life-changing experiences, which are detailed below by members of the team.
Friday Evening Update – A Relaxing Day
For our last full day here in Nicaragua, we began with a devotion led by Cheyenne at 7:15 about how we will keep the memories from this trip alive and how we will share our experiences. We then enjoyed a wonderful breakfast and lathered ourselves with lots of aloe and sunscreen, as we all got fried at the lagoon yesterday. At 8:30, we boarded the bus and began our 1 1/2 hour ride for a relaxing last day to the zip line.
At the zip line, 9 people from our group, including Harry and his daughter, went on the lines while the other 5 of us and Harry’s wife followed the tour guides on a trail to enjoy the wooded area, take pictures and watch from the ground. The zip line grounds were actually a huge coffee and banana plantation, with huge chilamate trees that were home to monkeys and their babies. It was extremely fun for the people zip lining, as they were able to go in the “superman” position, upside down and on a “bouncy line.”
After zip lining, we all boarded the bus again for a 2 hour long trip to the Pacific coast of Nicaragua, Pochomil. The ride was extremely bumpy and we went down a really long windy road, but the views of the mountains were breathtaking. When we got to the beach hut, the first thing we did was eat lunch. Then, all of the youth ran (because the sand was burning our feet) to the ocean, where the water was surprisingly warm! I’ve always heard that the water would be cold! After spending about 30 minutes in the water, we all walked back to the hut to dry off in the hammocks.
After we were dry, we all boarded the bus again for an hour ride back to Managua. We all showered and checked in for our flights tomorrow, then shared a wonderful final dinner of rice, beans, slaw and plantain chips. We then concluded the night with a debriefing of the week and discussion on how we can remember this remarkable week as we return to our life at home. Our meeting closed with a lovely prayer led by Kent, then had a huge “packing party” to get ready to leave Saturday morning at 5:00 AM for our flight at 7:45.
Thursday Evening Update – Day at a Crater Lake With the Children
Continuing on after Gracie Brannon with our Nicaraguan mission trip journey, everybody woke up bright and early at 6:20. Devotion this morning was led by Candice Delmar at 6:40. She read us scripture explaining that through thick and thin, Jesus will always be there keeping us as strong as possible. Following the scripture, we all rushed to the kitchen to get our breakfast of the day. During breakfast Candice asked us “How can you take home the memories of this experience?” Kathy answered this question with “by sharing our story.”
By 7:30 we hopped on the bus, and were on the way to House of Hope. When we arrived, we were greeted by all of the moms, children and staff jumping and smiling. Cheyenne, Bridget, Candice, Caroline and I were given the opportunity to ride on the school bus that the residents of House of Hope were going on. We were not very certain of our decision at first because we were told it was a 1 1/2 hour ride with no AC. But once we saw the smiles on the mothers and children’s faces, we couldn’t say no. We were then on our way to La Laguna de Apoyo.
Arriving to the Lagoon was one of my favorite memories of the trip. All of the children’s jaws dropped when they saw how big this lagoon was. It was breath taking! Most of my day was spent swimming with my new friends to the wooden platform about 35 feet from shore or laying down on the platform because we were so tired of swimming. Around 12:00-12:30 lunch was served. Chicken, rice, beans, and slaw was the meal. Following lunch everyone went right back into the lake continuing our routine and swimming and lying out.
At 3:00 we had to leave the Lagoon. Some of us had to say our goodbyes then because they were riding on a separate bus. The five of us that were riding along with the kids and moms got to wait a little bit longer to say goodbye which made it a lot harder. The water works started for the five of us right when we stepped off the bus to say “adios.” It’s amazing to think that over 4 days you can build such a strong bond with complete strangers. We came to Nicaragua to help change these people’s lives, but I think they changed ours more.
Wednesday Evening Update – Our Last Day at the House of Hope
Today I started my day off by waking up at 7am by the tap of Bree. I went to morning devotions, then breakfast and finally got ready for the day. Now don’t get me wrong it is hard to wake up and get ready to leave by 8:30 am, but when you think about all of the joy you are bringing to those families including April and her staff, you realize why you are making all these changes…you’re doing it to bring joy. I hop onto the bus after filling up my water bottle. I can’t tell you how excited everybody (including me) was to go see the kids and spend time with them to bond and bring happiness. Once we got to the House of Hope I was really excited about playing with the kids but then I remembered we had morning
work to do first. Then I ponder “Well, they really need our help, they are so good to all of these kids, and if you have a negative attitude then that will make it worse than it really is.” But of course all of this conversation was in my head. My thoughts got interrupted by some of the girls shouting about the iguana we had seen the previous day.
Before you know it, it’s lunch time and I’m covered in paint with enthusiasm! I had previously been painting with delight and then sorting earrings in the shade with some fun music in the background. During lunch we had a touching testimony, and great sandwiches. After lunch we got to go shopping and purchase any products made by the women at the House of Hope, including the products April had given a commercial about. By the time the team was done shopping we had a surprise awaiting us, which was a lady who owned a catering company across the street was selling cookies, so we purchased all of the cookies to share.
It is about 2pm and the kids have arrived for the Bible lesson that Harry, Naomi (Harry’s daughter) and Bree end up leading, but what the kids do not know is that we have our own fun surprise for them! After the Bible lesson we get to play and bond with all of the different children that have come. I end up having the best time with the kids I have had all week! I start off by taking many pictures with families from the House of Hope, which was so exciting to see their reactions! Next I try to play soccer with a group of younger boys, older girls and Candice, another member of our team. That was so much fun because they did not try to make it so serious…they just wanted to laugh and have fun! Soccer turned into gymnastics which they seemed to find very interesting except for the fact they had quite the amount of tumblers at the House of Hope! We finish out the hours with the kids by surprising them with a piñata! It took not nearly as much time to knock it down than the team thought it would and the results were great! Because the team had decided to hand out goodie bags in case not everybody got a prize or piece of candy when some kids did not get a bag, Ms. Kathy saved the day by creating little backup bags for the children who did not get one.
Finally the team gets home and everybody takes showers and takes some time to rest before dinner. Time goes by and everybody is at the dinner table with their delicious meal which everyone is very appreciative for and stuffing themselves with. After dinner we have a little team meeting about Thursday and Friday, but I won’t spoil that for you! After that I start writing this report which leads me to conclude today was the most wonderful day I’ve had here and I’m so fortunate to be here. But not only am I fortunate to be here, I am fortunate also for what I have at home! This trip has changed my life and my point of view of looking at things. If I have a chance to come back at any point in time, my answer would be totally yes.
Tuesday evening update – Another Day with the Children
Following off of Cheyenne’s blog, Tuesday morning April 12th, at 6:50 on the dot we all woke up and jumped out of bed ready for devotion. The devotion today was about our team and how each individual contributes to one another. Also we discussed how our team wouldn’t be the way it is without the people we have. At the House of Hope today, it was a very hectic morning with April leading a session with lots of ladies from around Managua and several of us helping a volunteer with a Bible study. It was such a mind opening time for the others and me. Following the hectic morning we met at the entrance to the House of Hope and we got to meet with a lady sharing her testimony. It was very touching to all of us. We gave thanks to her for sharing her time and her touching testimony.
Meanwhile the bell rings and all the kids came running to us. Some of them already found us which was amazing to see their excitement to see us again. Where I saw God today with the kids was when all the ladies were doing their work, but they all had kids so they couldn’t really do much. I wanted to help the moms out by holding their children and playing with them. The struggle was I didn’t know how to ask in Spanish. The leader April said to just hold my arms out. I walked down to the pavilion and went up to Bree asking her if she could make the first move because I didn’t want to come off rude.
We walked into the work area and there were these little girls smiling at me and one of the little girls had a baby. So that moment I knew God was telling me it was the right time. So I held out my arms for the baby and the little girl handed her to me. I took the baby and went down to the swing set and the mom looked at me smiling. That’s when I knew they were saying thank you. That’s where I saw God today.
Other members of the team were building an extension onto an office area with strange looking foam panels surrounded by a wire mesh. After the panels were in place it actually looked good. Many of the construction techniques used here are a lot different from what we are used to seeing at home.
I am looking forward to more wonderful days with these amazing people.
Monday Evening Update – First Day at House of Hope
After waking up around 6:50 AM, we headed outside to the patio at Quinta Arien to share our thoughts and expectations for our day at House of Hope through devotion. Kent spoke to us about the search for a mutual effect of faith in God between both us and the women and children at House of Hope. With this on our minds, we hopped on our bus to travel to House of Hope.
April, the director of the program for House of Hope, greeted us once we arrived. She explained to us the projects that we would be working on while there and the schedule that was planned for the particular day. We were given a quick tour by another missionary named Phyllis, we were set to work, some us sorting cards while others painted walls for a new shop. The work seemed a little daunting at first, but the fact that we were given this opportunity from God to do this for people we had never even had the chance to meet was definitely something special.
Once we had made a lot of progress in our projects, we walked over to the pavilion to meet the children. Their enthusiasm as our friend Harry taught them the Bible lesson filled us with joy. To see so many children so passionate with their faith while having to live in the conditions that they did inspired us. It was an extraordinarily humbling experience that made us appreciate what God gifted us with and that is the ability to travel to these places and share His love with as many people as possible.
Eventually it was time for us to leave the House of Hope for the day, but we were happy that we still had three more days to spend with the children. We had made many new friends right off the bat even with a language barrier. We learned that there are many other ways of communicating with people of different languages such as laughing and playing. Still, I personally feel that I have improved my Spanish by trying to speak and understand them as much as possible.
We ate a delicious dinner at Quinta Arien and quickly debriefed our day. Then, everyone headed to their bedrooms to get a good night’s rest for another day of sharing God’s love and making new friends.
Thank you so much for keeping us in your prayers!
Sunday, April 10
Day of Rest and Preparation
Now adjusted to Nica time most of us arose between 6:00 and 6:30 AM to barking dogs and chirping birds but no roosters. After our first Nica breakfast, we left for the morning worship service at the International Christian Fellowship, and listened to a message on mercy and grace. We left the service with the well-known message of God’s unmerited love, blessing and caring for us all.
We had a relaxing day with Harry taking us on a tour of Managua, getting a chance to see some of the sites of inner-city Nicaragua, the beauty of an overlook by Lake Managua and the hustle-bustle of a market place with locals selling goods to provide for their families.
We rubbed elbows with the natives at a waterfront park and Harry picked out an ice cream place where we had a cone to help us prepare for a typical Nicaraguan lunch.
We all celebrated Caroline Brammer’s 15th birthday today with a cake with candles. Written on top of cake was “Sweet Caroline 15.” Then to top it off when we boarded the bus Harry, our driver and 14th team member, was playing “Sweet Caroline” on the bus PA system.
After a very nice dinner at our Quinta Arien we organized our arts and crafts and activities for the long day on Monday, where we will be begin spending time with the House of Hope children, making new friends, perhaps for many years. We will also begin our construction project expanding the office area along with painting other areas on the residential complex.
Then after a short planning meeting we tucked ourselves in, getting ready for Monday. Much more to report tomorrow evening.
We are all grateful for your prayers!
April 9 – Saturday Evening Update:
Excitement was in the air as the 13-person team from FPC arrived safely in Managua for a one-week mission trip to meet again and work, laugh and cry with friends from the past. We gathered our bags filled with our clothing for the week and arts and crafts and other supplies brought along for the women and children at the House of Hope and the Vida Neuva Orphanage. Walked outside to meet Harry, our good friend, driver and translator for the week and our 14th team member. It was good to see Harry after two years. Our team now included Kayleigh, Kent’s granddaughter, a college sophomore from Philadelphia, who met up with the rest of the team in Atlanta.
Everyone was peering out the bus window to look at the surroundings, trees, the people and traffic as we drove to the Quint Arien Guesthouse, where we will bunk down for the week. Kent told the team since we were in the off-season the temperature probably would not go higher than 95 degrees but we learned that the high for the day was 98.
The time in Nicaragua is two hours behind Hilton Head and we arrived at the guesthouse shortly before midnight on Hilton Head time. We will adjust quickly. On Sunday the team will worship with international missionaries for their weekly worship service and then we will organize to be ready at the crack of dawn to begin our work at the House of Hope on Monday.
Yours prayers are coveted…please pray for the team and all the women and children we will be with during the week.