2017 Nicaragua Mission Trip: April 8-15
FPC’s Nicaragua mission team for adults and youth worked with the House of Hope and the Vida Nueva Orphanage. Team members led daily devotions, and our Deacons were prayer partners for team members.
A life-changing experience by Cheyenne Ferre:
My experience in Nicaragua was a life-changing opportunity that I was blessed to be given and will never take for granted. While in the mission field, I was able see God and appreciate Him in so many new, beautiful ways. Finding people in this world who have been led into such dark places, yet still have found their ways back to Christ, has made a profound impact in my life. Any time in the future when I am struggling to find my way back to God, I know their stories will be my inspiration.
I expected to do all this giving to the women and children and change their lives by example, but then I was taken back and rather humbled when I ended up receiving an ocean of gifts from them. They taught me millions of priceless life lessons within a number of days that I won’t ever let go of.
Being at House of Hope has significantly altered my outlook on how the word of God is spread. I discovered that verbal language is not necessary to be able to share God’s love with one another. It could be the smallest action such as holding a child’s hand, but then they look up at you with their extraordinary smile and it fills you with an unexplainable warmth. This exchange of joy that I feel is how I know that I have done God’s will. I have spread His love into someone else’s life and there is not a more precious moment in the world. I also think that the feeling God gifts me with is a reminder that we all have one connection through Him as brothers and sisters without regard to our location on Earth.
Friday Nicaragua Report, April 14 – Alden Crout
Today FPC’s Managua mission team got the opportunity to experience yet another beautiful day in Nicaragua. As we began our last day in this amazing country we woke up to a delicious breakfast at Quinta Shalom. Once we finished up breakfast and our daily visits with our adorable guard dog Chavo, we prepared for the day ahead. Following this, we headed down to some property right down the road from House of Hope where we have spent the past few days. There we met up with the most inviting and kind hearted people, also from South Carolina, who had an orphanage and had wanted to share their new plans with us. They have hopes of creating another organization for children on a beautiful piece of land complete with almond, avocado, olive, mango, and cashew trees as well as many others.
When we departed from this adventure we headed right on to another one! We pulled into this restaurant named Mi Viejo Ranchito for some more authentic Nicaraguan food and soon we were off to the town of Catarina to see the Laguna de Apoyo. To no surprise, this was also truly amazing! There was a beautiful blue lake with a background of mountains, the city of Managua and the Pacific Ocean. As we took all of this in we stumbled upon some gorgeous horses, a Nicaraguan mariachi band as well as another market. Some of our team shopped and then we all piled back on the bus to continue our journey with our bus driver, Harry, as well as his wife Maria, and his Daughter Nahomy. Harry had the great idea to head over to the city of Granada for some great history and sightseeing! We loved getting to know more about this country and the breathtaking ancient cathedrals that went along with it.
Once we got back to Quinta Shalom after the astounding bus ride through the country sides and mountain tops, we gathered for a delicious lasagna dinner. As we all finished up we went around the table and shared some great memories and our favorite moments of the week. We had a brief team meeting and discussed how we have bonded with each other as well as God throughout the duration of this past week! Then, we packed up and headed to the Augusto C. Sandino International Airport. As we wait for our plane and prepare to head back to Hilton Head Island we continue to cherish this past week and the time we have spent together leading up to Easter.
Nicaragua, Thursday, April 13 – Lara Martel
Thursday in Managua started out like every other day this week…. muy caliente (very hot). The only difference was we were all even more anxious to actually get up, get ready, have breakfast and jump on the bus for Harry to take us to the House Of Hope. Today we would only be spending four hours there before saying our final goodbyes. Although four hours of running, jewelry making, laughing and never having a single second without having a kid on your hip seems like a lot….. it was not long enough. Kent, Mark, Alex and Charlotte got to work on the physical labor of fixing up the roof. That consisted of Mark climbing up and pushing a dried up dead possum off which spontaneously landed on Kent’s hat before sliding down his back. The rest of us either entertained the kids or hid Easter eggs. I remember moments before releasing the kids to scavenge for the eggs a few of us scooped up the younger ones to get a head start down to the playground. I could tell they were coming by the pounding of footsteps and giggles coming up behind me and feared to turn around all the while fearing my knees would be knocked out if I stayed facing forward. However, my heart was overwhelmed with joy when I saw the smile on each child’s face as they soared past two year old Tito and me. The smiles didn’t stop there! The best way to get a quick laugh is having a mini tickle fight. And by mini I mean fifteen minutes of nonstop chasing each other back and forth until we’ve laughed so hard we’re out of breath. The four hours passed by as we covered every type of activity and game. It’s hard to believe there was even time to sit at the picnic benches and simply enjoy each other’s presence under the warmth of the sun. When it did come time to leave we were all too content to feel sad. As we said goodbye most of the older kids understood that meant not returning until next year, but the little ones shrugged it off most likely expecting our arrival at the usual time of 9 AM tomorrow morning. However, as Alden said, “It wasn’t much of a goodbye, but more of a nos vemos (see you later).” The rest of the day we didn’t dwell on the idea that we would have to wait so long to see them again, but reminisced on the time spent at House Of Hope which felt like a lifetime.
At dinner we reflected back on events that happened throughout the week and shared funny videos as well as cute pictures. The greatest part about dinner was splitting a slice of tres leches, caramel flan, cheese cake and a bowl of ice cream between Alex, Marlee, Candice, Naomi (Harry’s daughter) and I. The laughter continued all night and only escalated when Kent and I walked into the common area both wearing our shirts inside out. The group was hysterical laughing for a solid five minutes before he looked at me and said, “OH, you have your shirt on inside out too!” That only increased the laughter. Waking up this morning our group had great expectations for a sad day, but in reality it was filled with so much joy and laughter to never let the smiles fade.
Nicaragua, Wednesday, April 12 – Carolina Brammer
Today we woke up at 6:30 at Quinta Shalom; I was wide awake ready to go. We all got up to put our bathing suits on and ate breakfast fast. Then we had devotionals. This morning Marlee and I did the devotionals. It was about seeing God’s work and his wonders in front of eyes and for others. Then we all loaded the bus to go to the House of Hope to pick up April. When we were going down the drive way all the kids and their mothers were patiently waiting by the sign of House of Hope. We were so excited and so were the families. I put down my window and all the kids waved and said, “hola Carolina,” and had the biggest smile on their faces. Next we were on our way to the beach. At the beach all the kids were waiting for us to go in the water. During the time in the water I was playing with Rosa and her mom, Alga. Sweetest family there is. Rosa would not let go of me…she was so happy playing and jumping. It made me happy too. Then her mom and her were throwing sand at me and thought it was the funniest thing, but the unique thing was after how dirty I was they took me to the water and they cleaned me off. That was very special to me because Alga called me family and that meant the world to me. Then it was lunch time and during lunch time we were taking photos. Alex, one of the kids, was calling my name saying, “photo.” In the moment I thought he meant one of him and his family but actually his mom wanted one with me. So I walked over and she put her hands on her lap and said here. So I sat on her lap and she gave me the tightest hug ever and we were smiling ear to ear. In that moment is where I saw good because that’s when I knew I was opening hearts to new things and just by a smile and hug was enough to say that I was doing something right. Happy to have an another amazing day at Nicaragua and have God watch over us and giving us the opportunities to change lives again.
Nicaragua, Tuesday, April 11 – Kayleigh Grimes
Today was a very interesting, fun, and crazy day for all of us. We started the day off having breakfast which was a ham stuffed omelet. After we ate, we had our devotions led by Lara. I found this very interesting because we listened to a song called “Sitting on Our Knees” and had a silent prayer. I never heard the song before but it is one of my new favorites. Harry finally came and we went on our way for the second day at the House of Hope. We continued our jobs from yesterday which included paving the add on porch to the office and painting the dining area. I started off painting the dining area. Since I am so tall, I always wanted to paint the top half of the bars. I wanted to do something different, so I walked over to the concrete people and started to help them. Coming from an Engineering Major, mixing the concrete interested me. We had to be a two wheel barrows of sand, one of rocks, and one bag of concrete. After mixing all of this together we added water and had to make a dam to make sure the water didn’t slip out. Once the concrete was mixed we put it into the porch and smoothed it out. Mixing concrete was probably one of the coolest experiences I have ever had. One thing that had me laughing was when the foreman, Norman, made Mark, Caroline, and Alex carry what looked like a 2,000 pound telephone pole with him down the hill. The pole was too long so it needed to be cut down, Caroline and Mark had it half way cut with a hand saw, and then Norman came with the chainsaw and finished the job within seconds. We all had a great laugh about this. It was then time to break for lunch; we had chicken salad sandwiches, which were very good. We listened to this lady named Martha give her testimony. She did not live at the House of Hope, but she comes on Tuesday mornings to work with the rest of the women that arrive by bus. She wanted to be sent to Honduras to give her testimony to others. She was very shy and was not ready to tell the world her story. I hope that one day she has the courage to be able to tell her story to the world and help others that had gone through the same situation. We then listened to one of the staff members’ testimony and it was very touching; I always find these stories so interesting to listen to because it shows me that there is a whole other world out there besides living in the suburbs. Coming on these trips really opens my eyes and it changed something in me. After lunch it was time to play with the kids, this is always such a wild, fun, crazy time. We started off with making bracelets, painting each other’s nails, and pasting foam onto pages. We then heard the lesson of the day and Harry always does a great job with the kids… God truly shines through him. During the Bible lesson I had a little girl fall asleep on me and I felt so great that someone trusted me that much to be able to fall asleep on me. It was piñata day, watching the kids get so excited to whack it is a great feeling. They all have so much energy and I wonder how they never got tired; you just see these kids going for hours on end without getting tired. We once again just ran around and played until it was time to go. Leaving them never gets any easier, I hope these children get everything they want in life because they really deserve it. On our way home we stopped at the grocery store to get ice cream topping supplies. The bus needed gas, so we stopped at a gas station; it amazes me how cheap the gas is! My grandpa (Kent) washed the windows of the bus and his face of joy was priceless! We came back and showered which always feels amazing! I didn’t know if I had a tan line or a layer of dirt over my skin…it was a layer of dirt lol. For dinner we had spaghetti with meat sauce and sticky buns. It was finally time for dessert time which I was anxiously awaiting. For ice cream toppings we had chocolate sauce, peanut butter, cake icing (our whipped cream), cherries, and jimmies. I piled all of this on to cookies and cream and chocolate ice cream and a sticky bun. It was crazy delicious. Some of these southerners learned from a northerner about the hype of peanut butter on ice cream. This is a must in any sundae! After eating all the sweets we were on a sugar high! Lara accidentally flung ice cream on my grandpa and we all had a good laugh. After this Candice put icing, chocolate sauce, and cherries into Bridget’s mouth; this was so funny to watch. Our ice cream party was a great way to end our day with a huge laugh. We ended today chatting about the day and getting ready for our day tomorrow at the beach. Today was a crazy day filled with many laughs and God was definitely laughing with us all day.
Monday Nicaragua Report, April 10th – Gracie Brannon
So my day was supposed to start off at 6:30am when Bree woke the group up, instead it started around 6:53am. 7 minutes before breakfast! Luckily we didn’t have to be ready before breakfast so everyone got to take their time enjoying are delicious breakfast that consisted of, pancakes, sausage, pineapple + watermelon. After everyone finished getting ready we loaded ourselves with sunscreen + bug spray so we were prepared for the outdoors and all the busy action we would fulfill throughout the day. Finally it was time to board the bus and on the drive to the House Of Hope I was bubbling with excitement, I couldn’t wait to see my friends that I’d been missing since the day we left. On this bus ride I was sitting with Bridget and when we had reached the bumpy dirt road we couldn’t control our emotions, we were so excited because this road led to the House Of Hope. After feeling like forever we finally reached the House Of Hope I was filled with joy, I was so excited to be back! When we arrived my dad was the first one off the bus and was already talking to April. April met us under the pavilion and greeted us by telling us what work needed to be done. I was so happy to be back. Everyone got split up in 3 different groups, the tour group, the painting group + the construction group. I decided to take part in the painting group mainly because I love to paint but I’ll have to say there was a small part of me that wanted to paint because I’d felt that I had made a good decision to wear clothe that could get paint on. Caroline + Candice had decided to ask if John Carlos and/or Jason were still living at the House Of Hope. Sadly April told us the devastating news that they no longer were there. I was very sad to hear that because they had a very special connection and that was very hard for them to hear. After about 2 1/2 hours of painting and construction it was time for lunch + a testimony, and you have to trust me when I tell you I had the best sandwich I’ve ever had in my life! Lunch was a little longer than I thought but I did enjoy it, when lunch was over I was over the top happy because we finally got to see the kids.
So many thoughts were running through my head, what if they don’t remember me, what if none of the kids from last year, there was only one way to find out. Kayleigh and I grabbed the activities that we had planned/packed together the previous night and brought them to the dining hall. April had already rung the bell so most of the kids were waiting for the team in the dining hall. I saw familiar and new faces and I was very happy. We started off the time with the kids by Bree + Harry leading our bible lesson, the kids seemed to really enjoy the story and the matching activities. Now it was the time of the day I’d been waiting for, it was time for everyone to disperse among the kids with coloring books with crayons, markers + colored pencils and all of the sport supplies and chalk we had brought. I immediately ran for Carlito and Jieli (former friends from the HOH) and we grabbed jump ropes and chalk. This is when the best part of my day took place, Jieli didn’t know how to individually jump rope so I helped her by holding the rope and swinging it over head slowly then stopping it in front of her feet and telling her “saltar” (jump in Spanish) . Eventually she got it down very well, she could do it 5 times taking a second to stop in between each jump of course. Then Carlito was drawing with chalk and so I decided to join him, this led to a mini Spanish lesson. Carlito would draw something and I would say “Que es” he would respond by letting me know what it was. Then when I would find out what it was I would let him know what it was in English, then he’d repeat. I also asked him some questions and drew pictures based on his answer, then I’d ask him again “Que es” (so I could figure out how to say it in Spanish) and he’d tell me. This was so fun for me because not only was I learning new Spanish words but it brought us closer. After a lot of games/activities such as monkey in the middle, soccer, football, baseball, coloring, playing on the park, etc it was sadly time to go. We all said goodbye but reminded them we’d be seeing them tomorrow and then had to hop on the bus to head home. Only we didn’t go straight home, we stopped to get ice cream, thanks to Mark. When we arrived home we all wanted to take showers, eat and then go to bed. After showering it was practically time for dinner and it was so good we had nachos, rice and salad and for dessert we got to have a homemade cake the ladies in the kitchen had made since it was Caroline’s Sweet 16! Of course we had to have the ice cream that had been purchased earlier so we did, everyone thought it was good just a little unordinary but still good. That leads me to what’s happening now, I am writing Monday’s report and I chose to write Monday’s report because I wanted to write about the first day in a year with kids + April. Overall I enjoyed this day so much and can’t wait for the rest of the week ahead of me.
Nicaragua, Sunday, April 9 – Bridget Delmar
Today was our first full day in Nicaragua, and it made me feel like I had never left. We arrived yesterday, the most that we could see were the large neon colored trees that covered Managua. We woke up at 6:30, I guess we couldn’t wait for our day to begin or maybe it was because it was 8:30 at home. We really didn’t know what time the church service started, but we believed it started at 9. So we ate breakfast, it was delicious. We had eggs, watermelon, and Cantaloupe. They had rice and beans as well, but I am not a big fan. We finished our breakfast as Kent told us then we had the time wrong and the service started at 8:30, it was currently 8. We had told our wonderful bus driver Harry to arrive as soon as possible, but around 20 minutes to 9. So we thought we were going to be a little late and we started our morning devotional. Kent talked about praying without ceasing, or in other words praying without stopping. A few minutes in Harry came and he told us that he came as soon as he could. So we closed in prayer and ended up being 2 minutes early for our 8:30 service. The area that the service was located was just as beautiful as it was when we went there last time. There was a big garden the prettiest of flowers. There are benches and a swing made of bamboo, which to be completely honest was not the nicest thing to sit in and a little painful. When we finished there we got on the bus and Harry started our tour of Managua. We started out driving around as Harry tried to get his new communication system working. He had a microphone that was supposed to transfer what he was saying to us, but the only way he could make it work was to talk very loudly. Loud enough for us to hear what he was saying without the microphone. So we went without it. We passed a statue and Harry explained the history behind it. We saw a little girl in the road juggling some tennis balls for money. There were men on the side of the roads cutting coconuts to sell. You see horses on the side of the road dragging a huge cart behind, wondering how there small boney bodies can carry all of that weight. There were guys on the road trying to sell sunglasses, they carried around large stands with sunglass all over. Then we arrived at a soldier memorial on our way up a tall hill. We went up and saw Lake Managua, a beautiful lake that is still mesmerizing even the second time you have seen it. We arrived at the top and had to get off the really nice air conditioned bus. It was really hot outside, but the breathtaking view made it 100% worth it. We walked over to look at the lake, took pictures of us by the big white colored tree. That did not work out as well as we thought. All you have to do is ask Lara who had to lie in the grass to try and get a good angle. At around 11:30 we left and started heading to the restaurant. I have never had food that good. We had lunch with missionaries that had moved to Nicaragua. They told us about their lives and why they moved. They told us about their children, two of them were there. They had them answer some of our questions. They were 11 years old and the other was 9. We ate some dessert, I never actually got mine they ran out very quickly. I did get to watch everyone enjoy theirs. Cheyanne let me have a bit of her tres leche. We said goodbye and went back to the bus. Alex had found a little pull out chair in the front and I got to see what it was like to sit up front when Harry was driving. He is a good driver, but let’s just say if you are not used to fast driving or sharp turns you would not enjoy sitting in the front. Our next stop was the market. Harry dropped us off and he had an hour to shop to our little hearts content. They sell all kinds of things, like bracelets, clothes, Hammocks. I bought a 5 dollar hammock, a dress, a shirt, headbands, and got a little Spanish lesson from Cheyanne. When we came back to the bus Harry drove us back to the place we were staying at and we played with the dog and tried to find a place for our new hammocks so we could lounge. We were not very successful in finding a spot. The dog was successful in keeping us busy though. It got really hot outside so a few of us went back inside and waited for dinner. We had chicken, salad, mashed potatoes, and rice and beans. Kent asked us if we had ever stopped praying today, which had to do with our devotional this morning. Alden said no and that was basically the end of that conversation. Then Bree sent us to go get our duffle bags so we could sort out the things that we were going to do with the kids each day. Candice, Caroline, Alex and I stuffed Easter eggs. Others separated things into bags. Then I found Kent and began my writing as everyone walked around trying to get steps in. I am looking forward to seeing the wonderful kids at the house of hope again and being able to connect with them again and be able to spread the word of god. I am also very happy to see the amazing director of international House of Hope April once again.
Nicaragua, Saturday, April 8:
We gathered at Savannah airport, checked all our bags, got through security, waited anxiously at the gate with smiles and telling stories of last year’s trip. Some of us with photos on our phone shared the pics with caused everyone to be more eager to get there.
Flights seemed to take forever, of course, but finally arrived in Managua. Within 30 minutes from us arriving at the gate we went through immigration, got our bags, went through customs and outside to our bus with Harry waiting for us. Harry is our 16th team member. Now all we had to do was to return to the Managua airport after three hours to pick up Kayleigh and Mark…our team is now complete. After arriving at the Quinta Shalom guesthouse, what do you think the first thing was that most people wanted to do…that’s right get connected to the guesthouse’s wifi, to check messages and mail. It seems that we all had to check to see what’s going on in the “real” world. In a day or so we will realize once again there is only one world and God is here too…And his blessings flow everywhere! After checking on what’s going on back home we had a brief team meeting to discuss our plans for attending a nearby worship service, lunch with a PCUSA missionary couple that is living in Managua, and get oriented to Managua, which will include shopping.
The team is delighted to be here and we give thanks for God bringing us all together once again. We covet everyone back home praying for the team and our friends that we will spend the week with.