Thursday, December 8, 2011


How do I even begin? I guess the beginning. So every year a missions trip from Costa Rica is planned to head to Nicaragua. Last year we took a team to help with a new Vineyard church plant in the poor community of Tipitapa, just outside of the capital city of Managua. The team last year helped to start the work needed to put a roof up over where the church meets every Sunday, which is actually outside of David's mother's house. This year was a continuation of that work. Since last year, the church has expanded and one of the needs was a bathroom. Before the family just used a dug outhouse. For sanitation purposes, this year we decided to actually put in a flush toilet as well as a shower. Also, if you've kept up with my blog for a while, back in the summer a team came down and lead an eye glass clinic in Nosara. They graciously left the eye testing kit and a few hundred pairs of glasses. We decided to order more glasses and host a clinic at the churches in Tipitapa and in Managua. Other projects included a birthday party for Jesus to celebrate Christmas with the kids, a CPR class in Tipitapa with the CPR mannequins that the Denver team provided in the summer time, visiting with the children on the cancer unit at the children's hospital in Managua, and building relationships with the people there.

So we saddled up two ridiculous large vans and packed up out motley crew: 5 Gringos who flew down from the states, 5 Tico dudes from our church, 4 young professionals from the Vineyard church in Escazu, the clinic director from the non-profit clinic here in Los Anonos, our house, and director of PuraVida Missions (another mission group outside of San Jose), Delynn and his family. The best part was most of the people who went this year also went last year. It was a great way for us to reconnect with people we met last year and continue building the friendships. Taking people who have gone before really  helped eliminate the awkwardness of meeting new people for the first time. Most of us felt like we already knew some of the people, which made it much easier to communicate and share.

What an adventure! I think the best way to tell the story is to do it with pictures (and a few captions of my very own...)

Our dudes are very, very good friends 
and consider themselves family. 
So they decided to show us their family tree.

We got to the border and it was devastatingly hot (like 89 degrees! Shock and dismay!!). The team had to walk from Costa Rica to Nicaragua. We obviously almost died of dysentery, influenza, and  malaria in the 300 yard walk in no-man's-land, but by grace and a few bottles of water we made it unharmed.

 We were glad we weren't on this other bus. The tire had exploded and it didn't look like it was getting fixed any too fast....

 Cindy Schmidt met a new armadillo friends when we stopped for lunch. At first she wasn't so sure about him, but after a few get-to-know-you questions and an ice breaker game of tiddly winks they became buddies.

 Here Steve demonstrated how to eat rock hard meat. Man style.

 Nanis took advantage of the ample space between the two front seats of the van to catch a few winks. We were pretty much packed in like pickles in the vans, so he took the opportunity to stretch out up front. They don't call him "Nanis Super Skinny" for nothing!

 This nice man offered us a ride to Managua, 
but we politely declined. 
The one horse power engine just wasn't enough power for us.

 David was so excited to come home he about flew the coop.
 We started on our projects right away. I got down to business testing eyes. The kit is called "Eye Doc in a Box". It's really easy to use. If you have short-term missions teams that are looking for a practical, easy way to help an impoverished community, Eye Doc in a Box is the way to go. Their website has all the information for getting your own kit and being trained. Any one can do it (if you can do simple math, you can use the kit). Check out the website @ . We used left over glasses from another missions trip as well as ordered 750 pairs from the Lyon's club. You know all those little collection boxes at your local optometrist? This was that in action. For real. They actually do go to other countries. Here's my public service announcement: Donate your old glasses today! They could end up on the face of some one on the other side of the globe!!!

Look how happy Delynn was with his new pair!!

While the eye clinic was going on in the side yard, the guys were out back digging the hole for the septic tank for the new bathroom. Yes. Digging. By hand. With shovels. No fancy machines. No diggers. No back hoes. Hand digging. Intense. Labor of love. Literally!!!
This guy was awesome. No special caption needed.

 Debora shows us how the Nicaraguans carry things around on their heads. This was the extra table we needed for the eye clinic.
Oh, yeah, then the guys mixed cement by hand, too.
Nice work, guys!!

 During the eye clinic we had prayer teams praying who prayed with the people 
after they received their eye glasses.
It was a great way to personalize the clinic
and people experienced the love of God in a real way.

 At the end of the day we needed to clean up. 
Our volunteers were a bit young, but had lots of energy and spunk!!
 I was adopted into the family....I think I need to tan a bit, though. Cafe con leche anyone?

 All the kids were fascinated by instantly seeing their pictures. Any time some one took a picture, they immediately wanted to see...and then have another one taken. Good thing for Energizer batteries!!

Rodney and Cindy

Chrissie took the whole work thing really serious. It was like an episode of Dirty Jobs.

Takin' it easy.

 Dago and Pipo get our piñata friend ready for his candy surgery. 
This guy got stuffed. Literally. He made his debut at the birthday party for Jesus. 

 This is the neighbor's house. She makes tortillas by hand over an open flame. They were AWESOME!!! 
I'll take 6 dozen to go, please!

These girls came to the kid's party. SO cute!

 I spied this couple relaxing in a hammock in 
the field by the community. 
It looks like a really comfortable spot. Got room for one more?!?

 The guys had a blast riding around the community in the bike taxis. These are four wheeled taxis that are powered by bikes. The average income for a bike taxi driver is $3 a day for a 13 hour day.

 These boys were awesome. Eight little boys have formed their own soccer league. They mustered the courage to ask the team is we would buy them team uniforms. They wanted to be a real, official team. We were so moved by their boldness that we raised the money amongst ourselves, went to the oriental market and bought them each the full uniform. You should have seen their faces when we came back with their gear. The ball is literally glowing!
 Our little buddy, Otto, wanted to hitch a ride back to Costa Rica with us. The team was willing, but his mom, not so much.

 When the eye clinic was said and done, Carmelinda and I found some sexy glasses left over. Who wouldn't love these faces?!?

 God has a sense of humor. We came back to the hotel we were staying at and as I walked through the front room, out of the corner of my eye, I saw Derek. Derek is from Virginia and had come on a team last year. It was late and my brain wasn't processing information, so I just kept walking, until I did a double take. Wait, DEREK!??!???! What are you DOING here?!? Derek and Jeanie, from our partner church, and a group from their church were on a missions trip to another community in Nicaragua and were staying at the SAME hotel!!!!!!!!!! NO WAY!!! What are the chances of that?!? Jeanie was sleeping, but that didn't stop us. Cindy and I snuck into her room as what a surprise she got!!! So random yet so cool.

  Jenny did a great job cooking for the family. She cooked for 25 people over an open fire. While we would call that camping, she calls it daily life. I will never take my stove for granted again. Of course Cindy Schmidt had to try her hand at cooking, too.

 Rodney and Steve kneeling before the throne on the sabbath. 
Okay, sacrilegious, I know, but I couldn't resist the pun....

The neighbor boy showed off his guitar skills.  Pipo tried his hand at it, too.

 I realized that in Nicaragua I am a giant. Literally. People always seem really amused by this. 
I can see why... Yes, I do occasionally play basketball.

 To show the love of Jesus in a practical way we gave out energy efficient light bulbs and delicious chocolate bars. This man must have know we were coming. His shirt said it all!!

 Viña Tipitapa. Church in session.

 We all really connected with this little girl, Erica. 
She had a million watt smile and such a beautiful heart.
Rodney and I see God doing incredible things in
Erica's life.

Any opportunity we got, we prayed with people and asked God to bless them.

 David's family.

 Sometimes you see some random things in Nicaragua. 
For example, baby in a crib on the side of the road. 
Her mother is probably nearby selling fruit or vegetables to the afternoon rush hour traffic.

 Some how I suddenly got even taller in Nicaragua!!! Inconceivable! 

This woman had a lot of character. 
She was begging in the artisan's market.

 On our way home we stopped by a volcanic crater lake. 
Pipo decided he could fly.
The dudes!!!!!!!

 Kevin and the dudes went on a short horse back riding adventure during our lunch break on our way to San Juan del Sur. High-ho, Silver!!

Okay, the next set of pictures is my montage to Nicaraguan buses. They are crazy. As are the drivers of said buses. They are not up to code. They are not standardized. They are crazy. Loco. I think I would be lucky to still be alive if I had to ride these on a regular basis. Wow. I should write a whole blog just on the Nicaraguan buses. For now, enjoy!!
 We came away from the trip shining like stars.

 Ronny and Karla continued their love story...Awwwwwwww...

 The dudes had to play a little soccer on the beach.

And on our way through the border on our way home we had the last chance opportunity to buy just one more souvenir.

We had an amazing trip. We laughed. We cried. We built a bathroom.

Best quote of the trip:
"Most Nicaraguans come to Costa Rica to get paid to work. We go to Nicaragua and pay to work. God's kingdom is really upside down."
~Mau Peraza

Best example of how we should act as Christians:
People took turns doing morning devotions. One morning Delynn and his young daughter did devotions together. Since both are bilingual, they took turns speaking in one language while the other translated into the opposite language. It struck me that this is the exact model we should all be following. We should be listening so closely to our Father in heaven that we literally repeat after Him what He is saying. It was a really cool moment.

Favorite memory:
Randall jumping and playing in the ocean.

Funniest moment:
The guys stuffing the piñata as if they were doing surgery.

Best part of the trip:
See people experience Jesus is really practical ways.

1 comment:

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