Monday, July 29, 2013

Nicaragua: The Houses

The houses in Nicaragua blew me away. I knew to expect things that were very different than where we live, but I wasn't really prepared to see the care and pride the people took in their homes built out of tarps and rusted tin. They were so thankful to have what they do, and it was humbling to see multiple families live in one square room and then hear people in the US complain about being cramped in small houses (with multiple rooms and way too much junk!). It was very eye opening and a very beautiful experience. I came home to my 4300 square foot home and wanted to throw up...seriously ridiculous. I CANNOT WAIT to take my kids to Nica one day and I hope it will stir their hearts towards missions, compassion, and the truth and reality of how most of the world lives. 

Outdoor bed and hammock

This little home seemed so welcoming to me!

A BIG house.

Toilet...some were out in the open like this. 

Other fancy toilets were in a building with a "door." 

This is one of my favorite stories from while I was on my trip. This little cutie is Ishmael, and he is 5 years old. His mama is Aracely, and she works for Voice of Hope ministries as a housekeeper and has been with them for years. She has been buying blocks to build her house one at a time as she could afford them. She and her husband had been trying to build their home for 4 years, and they knew that it would likely take them 8. They were waiting patiently, working hard to provide a safe place for their family, and struggling to make it all work. A new section of Voice of Hope Ministries is called Homes of Hope. While I was there, a group was able to finish buying the supplies needed and help Aracely's family finish building their beautiful home. Ishmael worked so hard every day I was there trying to get it finished, and the day before I left we were able to do a house dedication. It was amazing!

Ishmael sifting dirt (this was HARD!)

Ishmael straightening out old nails to use on the house. 

The finished product...besides the door!
This is a very nice house for the area. As you saw, most of the homes are made with tarps or cardboard. 
The home where Aracely's family was staying before had bad leaking problems, and it rains a lot during this time of year.  During the house dedication, it started pouring! We were all inside and under their beautiful new roof...Aracely's face lit up and she had tears rolling down her face as she saw how dry and "safe" everything and everyone was. It was such a special time! 

At the house dedication. Ishmael has an older brother too, but he doesn't like pictures! :) 

Last week, I was able to share about Nicaragua during VBS. I told the kids the story about Ishmael and asked them if they knew anyone who was 5....or if they ever built a house when they were 5. I think it really hit home with them, and they were able to really grasp that not everyone lives like we do. Love telling this sweet boy's story! 

Friday, July 26, 2013

Mid-Week Meltdowns...

Wednesday afternoon/evening was full of meltdowns at our house. Some moments were so ridiculous that I just had to pull out the're welcome!

Exhausted children are not my favorites, but a long week of VBS did them in. :)

Monday, July 22, 2013

Nicaragua: The People

The people in Nicaragua are amazing. They are the reason my heart is longing to go back already! They are just so sweet and genuine, hungry for God's word, and overall just stinkin' happy! Here's a random assortment of a few people I fell in love with while I was there...

Ishmael is 5 years old. In this picture he is working (hard!) on finishing building his home. He was a tough little dude, but so, so precious! (Another post coming about his family and their home.) 

This is Satrunino (in the orange). He is a new pastor that was able to open the "doors" to his church the Sunday that I was in Nica. He is an amazing man of God, and another hard worker. He is the maintenance man for Voice of Hope, the pastor, and I saw him working on Ishmael's house more than once. He doesn't slow down! 
Oscar is on the left. He is the amazing translator that I couldn't have done much without!

David. 12 year old little stinker. 

I didn't get these boys' names, but they were cuties. The older brother brought the baby to church, and there wasn't a mama in sight for about half the service. It's amazing how the older siblings take such good care of the babies!

Sweet little girls at church. The kids sat through the adult service and participated and listened. They are so well behaved compared to kids in the US that it is just crazy! 

This was my boyfriend one day, Luis. The ladies were laughing because everywhere we turned in this neighborhood, he was right beside me. He was super sweet, but a little shy! :)

This little boy was precious! He reminded me so much of Collier! I showed his mama the picture of Collier below, and she agreed that they resembled each other. He made me miss my boy!

Happy family with a freshly bathed, naked baby! 

One of my favorites...."Life is better blonde." Ha! I don't think she had a clue about what it said. 

I literally could have kept this little man forever. What a doll! 

This one too...

Precious friends....hand in hand. 

This is Miracle. She was a sweetie and her mama was too!

The girls loved to pose for pictures and then wanted me to show them what they looked like. 

I seriously was not prepared for how much the kids would love blonde hair. I probably had my hair braided 50 times this day...even by the little boys! 

Sweet boy waiting for his lunch at the feeding center. (A whole post coming about feeding centers too!)

This is Caesar and his little boy. He prayed to receive Christ the morning that I shared the gospel at a neighborhood near the volcano. I am so glad I have his picture and his name so that I can continue to pray for him and his family!

We gave out t-shirts and hats one day. The kids didn't care in the least what the shirts said or looked like, they were just thrilled to have new things! 

Sweet boys THRILLED with their new hats. The one on the right is a hat from DHL! :)

One of the most precious VOH workers, Leslie. 

I miss these sweet faces! Can't wait to share more about the homes and feeding centers with you...God is doing amazing work!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Nicaragua: The Country

I think that Nicaragua could easily be described as a country of extremes. I saw some of the most beautiful sights of my life while I was there, but I also witnessed some of the toughest living conditions I have ever seen. 
Nicaragua as a country is absolutely beautiful...

Nicaragua is between Honduras (North) and Costa Rica (South). It is touched by the Caribbean Ocean (East) and the Pacific Ocean (West). These beautiful pictures of the ocean are in Leon and of the Pacific. 

I literally turned slightly from the last beautiful picture, and this was my view. Devastation from a hurricane and no ability to clean it all up.  

Cows on the beach...

Black, sparkly sand!
Nicaragua is the poorest country in Central America. The unemployment rate is unbelievably high...I was told close to 70%. Most people who are employed are not full time. The country as a whole does not seem to have much of an idea of sanitation and preservation of the environment. The majority of the areas we saw were extremely rough. Nicaragua is considered a safe country with their highest crime rates including theft.   

I was amazed by how different areas looked that were only a few minutes apart. We would go from places that looked like the jungle, to a cow pasture (that could pass in NWA!), to beaches, to volcanoes, and so on. It was craziness. I saw trees that could grow in my backyard right next to coconut was wild. 
There are several active volcanoes in Nicaragua. 

There are bike taxis all over the place and large markets where people do the majority of their shopping. 
It is fairly rare to drive a car in Nicaragua. Some people do, but it is nothing like turning 16 in the states and getting a license. Most people use public transportation, ride bikes, or are blessed with a motorcycle. 

Nicaragua has a tropical climate. I was there during winter/rainy season. The weather was very nice and very mild (70's and 80's most days). 

One thing I found interesting was their currency. They use something called the cordoba. The exchange rate is close to 25 cordobas per dollar. So, that meant when you went places for food or anything else, if it was $4, it was 100 cordobas. It felt like I was spending a fortune on things when it would cost 400, 600, or 1000 cordobas. I didn't get used to that! :)

I have more to share, and I will do upcoming posts on the people and the living conditions that we saw. 
I love looking back at these pictures already!