La Chureca, Nicaragua

Monday, June 23, 2008

Ometepe and Volunteers

This weekend we went on a trip to the island of Ometepe!
To get to Ometepe we left from our house here in Managua and  went on a two hour car-ride (starting at 5 am!!! Thanks Erin for reminding me), caught a ferrry, and got to the island which is the middle of lake Nicaragua.  On the island of Ometepe there are two volcanos (I think they are both inactive?).  We drove around the island during saturday.  We stopped at this little outdoor restaurant that is nestled in between Lake Nicaragua and Charco Verde (means green puddle).  We had breakfast (yummy).  Then we went to some pond--I'm pretty bad with names, but the guide told us some people call the pond "fountain of youth."  The water has a lot of minerals in it-- so it is suppose to freshen your
 skin and make you younger. We hung out there for a few hours.  We rubbed some of the mud on the bottom of the pond on our skins to make us softer.... I don't know if it worked--maybe? (Mind over matter).

We eventually ended up at the shorter volcano (called Maderas) and stayed at a hostel called Finca Magdalena.  On sunday morning we got up to hike the volcano (5:30am again).  It was quite an experience.  It was raining, wet, and slippery.  We had two guides... one was rushing us--so the boys went on with him.  And then a few of us ladies ended up leisurely going up the volcano with another guide. He gave us the run down on the flora and fauna of the mountain. Good Stuff!  I included a short video of this experience here in the blog.
Overall tons of fun! It was a good weekend trip.  We all came home exhausted!
In the video you will see Eva, Christa, Summer, and Elizabeth ( I think you see a little bit of each of those gals).  They are girls I am volunteering with here this month.  Speaking of which, I haven't really mentioned the other peeps I'm volunteering with.  This session of summer volunteers has 9 people.  Two guys and seven gals! The guys names are: Ryan and Andrew (from Virginia and Texas).  The girls are: Eva (Texas), Meghan (Atlanta), Christa (VA), Summer (VA), Elizabeth (Texas), and Ashley (Texas).   I love the group of volunteers! We have gotten along very well :)
The program directors leading us this session are Geoff and Erin (equally amazing).  There are other Manna program directors here that we are working with and everyone is so fun, dedicated to their students and really interesting to talk to :)

Saturday, June 21, 2008

La Chureca- Managua, Nicaragua

Yesterday we went on a tour of the trash dump to get more acquainted with the area that we will be working with.

I have included some photos of the dump.

La Chureca is the slang term for the dump where some 200 families live.  The people live in houses they have made from scrap metal or other materials and they specialize in collecting different materials that they can sell to be recycled.  

Manna Project international works in many different areas in the life of the people in the La Chureca community.

One way is Child Sponsorship.  With Child Sponsorship, children who are diagnosed as being mal-nourished and have mothers who attend weekly health talks  in the La Chureca community receive monthly allotments of oatmeal, soy products and vitamins.  The gals who will be helping the project directors this month with this program will go to the health talks and home visits to check up on the mothers and their children in the program.

Another program is an Beginners English class that is hosted in a Health Clinic that is located in La Chureca (called Casa Base de Salud).  I will be helping the Program Director Geoff, with another volunteer here in this class on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

There is another program called Juntos Contigo that some Manna Volunteers will be helping in  this month (I can't exactly remember exactly what they do).

Also within La Chureca there is a school that missionaries have started and a sort of half-way house (ranchón) area for children who are addicted to huffing glue.  I think that as time permits, I would like to revisit the place because some little kids are just left there all day long.  When we visited on our tour, the little kids just reached out to us and pulled us in to hold them.  They just wanted some affection.  I held this little girl named Karina.  She was beautiful and loving and just wanted some affection.

Ok--So that's an intro to La Chureca.  One of the places where I will be spending time volunteering.

I will also be working in Math class, Adult Beginners' English class, Women's Exercise Class (me and Christa, another volunteer will be making a new routine for the class), and Music class in the Cedro Galan community.

This weekend we will be traveling to Ometepe.  We are spending the night at a coffee plantation and going on an 8 hour hike up a volcano.  This will be some quality team bonding and fun!

I will keep posting news... love V

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Before Bed I will update--

Well, there's not too much to update besides the fact that my lost Luggage has arrived! YAY!
I am sitting in my room right now with a fan sending the most glorious breeze my way while my two compañera roommates are asleep... yes that means that all lights are off and I'm that creepy girl in the corner typing away at her computer (this reference would probably remind Liz of the days I would wait for her to go to bed before doing work, when we were roomies because if any body was awake and around I would want to talk to them).

Anyhoo-- Life in NICA-

Great! I'm finding that spanish is coming easily- and I am absolutely love love loving speaking with the Nicas and helping in all the English classes.  Well I take that back, I am loving all the classes I have attended and helped in.  I feel that this place is exactly where I need to be this summer and I am so excited to continue to get plugged in more and help.
Ok and let me just say--helping teach someone a concept is so amazing.  What a joy it is to see someone thinking through a problem or translation and then scaffolding them (ed school lingo haha) in the right direction.  
Just keep Reading... Just Keep Reading... Just keep READING...READING...READING

Back to logistics of my day and the happenings:
Today we continued our shadowing of the Program directors in their elements(but you know, its not totally shadowing because your shadow doesn't interact with you and we have actually been given responsibilities and put to work in every class we have been to so far).  I went to La Chureca (for those of you who don't know--it's Managua's Trash dump where about 1500 people live) in the morning and made it to the tail end of the women's health talk.   There is a class every week pertaining  different health issues. Mothers from La Chureca who wish for their children who have been diagnosed as malnourished to be fed (this is "Child Sponsorship") with monthly allotments of oatmeal, soy products, and vitamins, are required to attend.

Ok quick Stretch Break and 10 second breather...GO!

After La Chureca there was a lot of down time.  I read and received my luggage so I unpacked it.
After that, there was more down time and I went and got in the pool with two of the summer volunteers (yes we have a pool--ok I am slightly spoiled here).
We had Math class where I aided this Student named Luisa.  Luisa is 12 but she is severely behind in all areas of school.  Today we worked on simple math--Addition.  We worked hard together.  A lot of visual aid was needed to help show her that 4+1=5 and 1+4=5 and that 2+3=5 and 3+2=5.  I think I would like to continue to work with Luisa but we will see what my permanent placement will be on Friday.
We had another English class today that we helped out with--it was Beginners English.  I helped an adult women named Esperanza. (she was a doll to work with)

Ok I would like for the reader to now Stand up.  Reach for the sky... STRETCH... Bend over... Touch your toes... Shake it out... and sit back down again!

Then tonight Very special:
We had Dinner in the community!
I will spare complete details, although it was probably the best part of my day... Ok I will detail it a little.  We went to la casa de Lorena.  A women in the community.  We had a traditional Nicaraguan dish she made and sat and talked with her and four of her six children present for hours.  They were so warm, so welcoming, so loving that I felt like I could have stayed there all night.
Anyway, Nicaragua opens her arms out to new friends with LOVE.  I am ready to continue serving and seeing what the rest of the month will hold.

we will be going back to La Chureca for an official tour of most of the dump.  I have already been to all the locations on the tour, but some of the volunteers have not.  

Monday, June 16, 2008

Morning Time

Well,  I'm in Nicaragua and it is Hot and Amazing (and the Mosquitos LOVE ME!)

The first night  here not all my luggage came in.  Luckily I borrowed toiletries from people here a the Manna house...Buti'm hoping and praying that it will get here soon... I arrived on Saturday and it is Monday morning and I am still without.

But anyway the reason I am writing this morning is because I quickly wanted to write what I read from Psalm this morning in my quiet time.

From Psalm 78:23

"Yet he gave a command to the skies above and opened the doors of the heavens;  He rained down manna for the people to eat, he gave them the grain of heaven.  Men ate the bread of angels; he sent them all the food they could."

This whole passage is a history of what God had done for Israel.  In the mixture of the many blessings and stories of Israel's thankfulness and waywardness...God's anger and loving faithfulness we see that even when his people disappointed him..."yet" he still gave a command to the skies to provide for them.  What a loving Father.   

Anyway, I think  this passage is pretty sweet as well because I'm volunteering with Manna Project International and this morning is the first working morning and it is great to read about God's provision with the heavenly bread.  I just pray this morning that the Lord would give me grace to live beyond myself.  Beyond my own strength, beyond my own love, beyond my own capabilities---so I can serve these community and people.

Before I go quick recap from trip so far:
Got in Late Saturday night (june 14th)
Airline lost my luggage
Mosquitos love me (I'm praying that my blood become toxic to them so they won't want me)
Sunday-went to church, had orientation meeting, toured the community: Cedro Gallan where we will be doing a lot of our volunteer work, played ultimate frisbee, had a cook out with the Advance English Students from the Manna Programs and played in the pool, then went to bed.
TODAY: Construction and Maintenance work in the morning at the community Center and then we will be shadowing the Manna Project Program Directors in different classes and such!  Woot Woot!  Here I go!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Traveling thoughts and New Beginnings...

I wrote this at 10 am in Miami International Airport

The first and only thing I can really think of right now as I sit in a walkway between Concourse D and E in Miami International Airport, is how stinkin close people get to you as they walk by.  This hallway is literally at least 25 feet wide and it is lined with chairs that are against one wall.  WIth all that space, you'd think that people would maybe back off a little and give my feet and my person some room to breathe.  Yet every time people choose to walk by, they walk by me, barely flattening my toes (wow I am totally being melodramatic here).  This is about the only complaint I have this Saturday morning as I embark on my 8 hour lay-over in the airport which is the continuation of my summer journey.

I'm officially off on my trip to volunteer in Nicaragua.  It is fairly strange for me to be sitting and waiting to go.  I feel like my life has been consumed with Nikki's wedding and bieng with family during Nikki's wedding weekend.  Don't get me wrong, that was an excellent thing to be consumed with, but I haven't thought much about Nicaragua (ah...I hope it doesn't hurt the country's feelings... I mean I'm being honest).

Ok time out:  three gals just barely brushed my toes as they walked by.  Give me some space people! Another guy just walked by with the sweetest alligator cowboy boots I've ever seen.  Ok so back to wedding and Nicaragua.

Wedding: the wedding was absolutely amazing (and I just lost my train of thought because a guy just drove by on a tricycle with a basket in the back!).  I don't think I've ever seen such a beautiful bride.  Everything went perfect.  My favorite part of the ceremony of course was when the doors opened for the bride to walk down the aisle.  Everyone who took a look at Scott saw love.  He was crying as Nikki walked down towards  him.  Nikki was crying as she approached, andeveryone standing behind them (aka the wedding party and family was sharing tears with them as well.)  It was so beautiful.  A wedding and a lifetime of marriage to follow...that's what we all go to witness last Saturday.  It was sweet connecting with family as well.

The day after the wedding I got to spend time with the fam from Nebraska, South Dakota, and New York.  I also had quality time with my grandparents who live in Panama.

Now I'm back in the airport again thinking about Nicaragua.  In my volunteer handbook from Manna Project, the to-do list says to mentally prepare for the experience.  I guess that's what I will be doing more of now.  

Two minutes later:  I felt a tingling feeling on my arm and leg and thought I was nervous, when i looked down an ant was crawling on me (maybe not nerves?).

Anyway, enough silliness.  I'm going to put my computer away for a little while now and really think and pray for the next four weeks.  I have time to do this.  It is now 10:45 am and my next flight doesn't leave until 5:50pm.  So I end these few morning thoughts excited, indecisive (on what exactly I want to do in the airport while I wait--duh I should be reflecting but I'm antsy) and hoping for some good insight on what I want out of this trip.