Thursday, January 26, 2012

Experiencing Nicaragua

Sunday was our first full day in Nicaragua.
We woke up to a rainy and dreary morning, but it cleared up as the day went on.

We started out the day with a worship service of our own.
Then we headed out to Santa Emilia to check out our first clinic site.
On the way to Santa Emilia we stopped by the dump to drop off some of our trash.
Those who had been to Nicaragua before said the dump is something you must experience.
I wasn't sure what to expect...

As we drove up the hill to drop off the trash we passed several "homes".
These "homes" were made out of plastic bags tied together held up with big sticks.
At the top of the hill we saw a large group of children and some dogs waiting for us. 
Two very excited looking young girls, probably 7 or 8, ran up to the truck.
They jumped in the back and tossed our trash bags on the ground. 
They let us know we were ready to go by hitting the side of the truck.
Before we could even turn the truck around to leave, they had already torn open our trash bags and begun to search through them for food or anything else they could use. 
The dogs were right there along with them digging through our trash.
The scene was absolutely heartbreaking. 

As we drove over the mountain and through the city of Matagalpa to Santa Emilia, we continued to see things I will never forget. Not many people in Nicaragua have vehicles. There are buses that run all over the country, but they can get expensive. Sometimes the trip can cost an entire day's wages. As a result, most people walk. Everywhere we went people were walking down streets and dirt roads. Some of them hitch hiked as well. When we would drive by, they would put a thumb out asking for us to stop. We saw so many trucks with beds filled with people. Some of the hauling trucks with bigger beds would be packed with people standing up. We even saw people hanging onto ladders on the back of the buses! 

In Santa Emilia, we arrived at the church. The church has a roof and an altar, but it is open on all four sides- like a concrete tent. We rented some extra tents for the clinic which were up and ready for us. We talked about how things would be set up for Monday, and we got to see the water tower that the construction crew had set up there the week before. 

Cocoa tree at the church

Altar, Bathroom, and Water Tower!

Water Tower
The Church with our tents for clinics
 On our way back to Jinotega, Eliud took us through Matagalpa to see what the city looks like. One things we noticed is that there are no street signs. We asked Eliud about addresses, and he said in Nicaragua there are no addresses like in the States. In Nicaragua they use landmarks to explain where things are. For example, you could say you lived a block past the grocery store in the corner house. 

In Matagalpa we passed a hospital, so I asked Eliud about the hospitals in Nicaragua. I was interested to know what it's like because I work in the hospital at home. The medical care at the hospitals in Nicaragua is free, but Eliud said that the conditions in the hospital are not good. There could be up to seven people sharing one hospital room. 
It seems the hospital would be a last resort!

On our drive back over the mountain I also noticed that the houses in the cities seem to have more structure- made out of brick or concrete blocks- while the houses in more rural areas are more like shanty shacks- slabs of wood propped up on each other. 

Example of a shanty shack.
This one was next door to the church.
After lunch at the house back in Jinotega, we went to visit the orphanage. Our church has been to this orphanage several times on mission trips. Last summer the youth did sports camp there, and the week before we went the construction group helped finish up their water tower.
We were able to play with some of the kids and meet Joy who runs the orphanage.

Our house in Jinotega
The Orphanage
Playing with little ones
In the evening, we went to Shalom Baptist church in Jinotega. The service was in Spanish, but we were able to sing along when Dan and Leigh Anne led a song. Dan also spoke about the construction group the week before.

Back at the house, we were able to finish counting all the vitamins. We also had a group working on the rope for the well in Puerta Azules. 

Suitcase full of vitamins

Working on the rope for the well
Isaiah 61:1-3 (NLT)
"The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed. He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord's favor has come, and with it, the day of God's anger against their enemies. To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory."

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