Our trip to Nicaragua
Several months ago we were invited by another couple to join them on a trip to Nicaragua. I have to be honest, the description of a lighthouse (which I LOVE lighthouses) oceanfront with it's own wait staff was a no brainer for us. We instantly said YES without even thinking about it.
After some time had passed and it was getting closer to our trip date, we began to do some research. We became extremely apprehensive about our safety in this country after reading horror stories of folks getting kidnapped/robbed in Managua. We were on the verge of cancelling our vacation only 2 weeks prior to the trip date. We began to earnestly pray for God's provision for this trip. Until that point, I had many difficulties arranging childcare while we would be away in addition to our fears and anxieties regarding our safety. It was within days that everything began to fall into place with childcare arrangements. I was overcome with peace and was starting to get excited about our adventure.
While researching the rental house, we found out that a medical team would be staying in the surrounding home to do a mission trip. I had always hoped to do a medical missions trip and found this news to be an answered prayer; not just for a safe trip but for an opportunity to step outside my comfort zone and serve. The thoughts crossed my mind that it probably would not be possible but yet, I still made the call just to "check and see". I made the call to the Medico missions team and within 48 hours was put onto their roster! We not only received comfort in knowing our travels would be safe but felt a sense of purpose.
We arrived in Nicaragua and drove 1 hour down an unmaintained dirt road to our destination. Along the way, the street was lined with children with shovels filling in the potholes in hopes for a small amount of money. We pulled over to buy fruit, and these kids that were barefoot working in the 90 degree heat still managed to be smiling. We drove another few minutes and arrived at a stone gate which opened to a very unexpected gem! The lighthouse was amazing, with a breathtaking view!
The next morning, we awoke early as the sun rises at 5:30am. We head to the local church where the medical team has set up a clinic. The line of people from the local community has already formed and is backed up to the road.
We are given our assigned duties, Larry as the dental assistant (i.e, official flashlight holder), Kimberly & Chad- official baby weighers, and I am assigned to triage. As I am going through the line of people with my wonderful translater, Gabriel, I find the same complaints of headache, bone pain, nausea, and dizziness one after another. I felt very meniscule and unimportant, writing scripts for Tylenol for pain, vitamins for malnourishment, and instructing on the importance of hydration due to the severe dehydration issue. It was not until the days end that by the repeatitiveness of the symptoms, the medical team discovered the problem. The local well that provided all of the local community's drinking water was not working. For 15 months, the people of that community had been walking for miles just to get their family's water! In one day's time, a diagnosis and plan to correct the problem was in place; a true answered prayer for this community.
In between the days in the medical clinic, we discovered the history of Nicaragua. We visited the city of Leon which had 16 beautiful historical Catholic churches.
We also visited a museum which had original signed Picaso paintings; very unexpected! Our tour guide, Julio, was not only knowledgable but a Christian with a big heart. It was once again eye opening to see the kindness of others in this community. This same tour guide also took us to the top of Cerro Negro, a black volcano. On the way to the mountain, we stopped at a school and took supplies. It was at this moment that Julio's heart was really revealed. He also had a passion for giving back to his community.
We brought these kids school supplies and you would have thought it was Christmas. It was a joy to see their eyes light up. What a way to start the day!
We arrived at the volcano, which was much more steep than I had anticipated. The whole way up I was sure that I would not be surfing down the side of it like the rest of the group.
The top of the mountain was a more magnificent view than I have EVER seen. Once I watched my group surf down, I begrudgedly joined, and was surprised just how fun it was! At the bottom of the mountain, it looked like a black dessert.
It was almost as spectacular view as the top of the mountain, just amazing to see so many different aspects of God's creation.
On my second day with the medical team, I was assigned the pharmacy. I worked with several other women filling the medications, attempting to write the instructions with the correct translation, and trying to keep the sweat from rolling off of me. In this unbearable heat, the line of people seemed to flow; no one was upset with the long wait and everyone worked together as a team. One lady from this very poor community volunteered to help keep the pharmacy line in an orderly fashion. She had given up a week's pay to help us run the clinic and serve her community. I watched as my husband, with no medical training, was willing to do whatever assignment that was given to him from dental assistant to sorting pills. It was at that very moment, I saw the hand of God working, uniting us all together as a team to serve one another.
I could not have "planned" this kind of "vacation". I could not buy this type of joy. Yet, in the last few days of our trip....I was soaking in more than just a beach trip.