Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Team Time

Hello all! Believe it or not another two weeks has gone by and it is time to share the stories and pictures we've accumulated. These past two weeks have seemed to go by rapidly as they have been filled with the comings and goings of friends, family and teams from home. We have both enjoyed the change in routine immensely and it many ways it has refreshed our vision for being down here.

The first week in April there was a team of 27 junior-highers from Cascade Community church that came down. Their intentions for the week were to love on the students and to paint the new kitchen and sports closet that had been constructed a few weeks before. They were a wonderful group of youth and the students loved having "gringos" to play with at recess. The first full day the team was here they had a special event for the junior high age youth of Los Cedros. There were soccer games, hot dogs, puppet shows and even a showing of Narnia in Spanish (English subtitles for the gringos). It was a great way to kick off the beginning of their week in down here.

Top: Soccer games are always a hit! Josh dishing out the dogs!
Bottom: Famous chef Lee Lockridge, Nicaraguan preschoolers get "pool time" instead of "nap time"...just kidding this was a special treat.

In the middle of the junior high team being here, we had one very special visitor come...my dad, David. It was a very surreal experience to be waiting for his arrival at the Nicaraguan airport! His arrival could not have come at a better time as we had both been wrestling with a bit of homesickness due to our desire to meet our new nephew. So, as a way of rejuvenating our spirits, my Dad whisked us away for a weekend at the beach!

You can see from the pictures that San Juan del Sur is an incredibly exquisite place. Discovered enough to have restaurants and comfortable hotels, but still untouched enough to maintain the quaint sleepy little fishing village feel. If Josh had his way, we'd probably move the community of Los Cedros out there and have classes on the beach! I've been there before but Josh has not, so it was even more fun to watch someone experience the beauty of the surroundings, breathtaking vistas, and delicious lobster! In between the hugs and brainstorming sessions with Dad and a little vacation, our spirits have been re-bolstered for the tasks that lay before us.

Top: View from the hotel Pelican Eyes looking down at San Juan Del Sur. Our delicious lobster lunch...not exactly diet friendly. Bottom: Me and Dad at the VIP movie theater, comes complete with a lazy boy and the ability to order dinner, drinks, candy, etc. from your seat! The U.S. should take notes!, Josh and I soaking the beauty of San Juan in!

Yet, even amidst our vacationing, we were reminded of the country and people we are serving. The picture below is of a Enrique, a waiter at one of the restaurants Dad frequents with his Agros teams. True to his nature, Dad was boasting about the fact that he was with his daughter and son-in-law and with delight in his eyes, described that we are working at a school in Los Cedros. Enrique stopped him and said "Los Cedros! That's where my wife and four children live!" He went on to tell us his story. He came to San Juan Del Sur 4 years ago in search of work. He got a job at the restaurant we were eating lunch at and his been working there ever since. He earns $60 a month, pays $30 for a room ( which is literally just enough space for a bed, stacking bins, and perhaps a small table to put a TV on) , he gets to go home to his family 2 days out of every month, and it takes him 8 hours by bus to get there. Can you imagine...you get to see your wife and four kids 24 days out of every year...there is something horribly unjust about that! Needless to say, it was a good reality check of the blessings we experience every day, and the situations these people deal with as well.

A picture of us with Enrique, whose story you just read.

After our brief respite from reality, it was back to work with the arrival of a medical/building/art class team from Northshore. 1/3 of the people did medical classes with the women of Los Cedros teaching them basic things like first aid, dietary needs for young children, and dental hygiene. Another 1/3 helped with the construction of our bathroom! In about a week we will finally have a bathroom attached to our house! Man will we be spoiled...the bathroom we've been using has been perfectly fine, but there is just something about having your own privacy that makes a world of difference. Finally, the last 1/3 of the group did art classes with the 1st-6th graders, which I ended up being the translator for (man is that ever tiring!). There was a duel intention for these art classes: the first was to introduce the students to their creative side and the second was an art contest for a future fundraiser. We chose the two best drawings from each class to use in a fund raising calender that will be made back in Seattle. The proceeds from the calendars will be given to the school to help with the feeding program, buying school supplies, and whatever basic needs the school has. It was a lot of fun to have this team down here, which is reflected by the fact that each day at least one of my students asks me "when are the gringos coming again?"

Top: The beginnings of our bathroom...wahoo! Fourth graders waiting for the first prize announcement.
'Middle: Getting the creative juices flowing. Hamy 2nd grade winner with her picture. Marvin, a 5th grader trying his hand at some volcanoes.
Bottom: 1st graders are so cute! A smile of satisfaction as Jorge is announced as the boy 1st place winner for the 6th graders.

Of course there are many more stories we could share, but most likely you will stop reading this if we carry on for too much longer. So, we'll sign off for now!