Mary Frances

Prior to this trip, I had heard, “you’re going to get so much out of it.” I wasn’t sure exactly what that meant until being there with the team. I didn’t really have many expectations… I just expected to make a difference in someone’s life (hopefully).

Being part of the GlobalX Nicaragua trip, partnering with HOI and Comunidad Connect, surpassed any preconceived notions and expectations I had. It was an incredible experience. I truly enjoyed the mixture of the activities we accomplished – from the labor intensive projects, to praying with community members, to kicking a soccer ball with young girls in the village. I learned throughout the week that we can do so much for others, even through small acts. It was also amazing to grow spiritually as we had downtime several times throughout the day for reflection.

I loved seeing the smiles on the kids faces . I also found the smiles that adults gave to be rewarding as well. Life is not easy for adults, so they do not always give smiles freely. A tie as one of my favorite things was the team bonding and comaraderie camaraderie our group experienced. I am so thankful for each of the people that came into my life during this experience. Had so much fun with them! From funny stories on our van rides to playing spoons late in the evening around the kitchen table on the farm.

~Mary Frances~

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Laura [our fearless & fluent leader]

Although this was my 4th mission trip through GlobalX, it was my first trip as a “team leader” which offered such a different lens to see and experience this trip through. Since I went on this same mission trip last year to Los Robles, I expected to have roughly the same experience…WRONG!

This year, I was able to experience the growth that the community had made throughout the past year. I got to continue building relationships that were planted as just small seeds in June of last year and see/ feel them sprouting every time I heard someone say, “This is Laura (pronounced “lah-u-rah” by the locals), remember her? She came with a group last year,” and see their faces light up with a smile.

Reconnecting with the locals was not the only great thing I got to do. Seeing the continued progress within the community was amazing! All the families that were interested in receiving a water filter now had one, countless additional floors and stoves were constructed for hard working, in-need families, the local cemetery that was started with my group last year already had it’s first loved one laid to rest in it, the bathrooms in the converted stables we were staying in now had real doors instead of just a curtain to separate your bodily functions and your poor roommate (ha!), most of the showers (sorry Stephanie!) had been converted to gas showers instead of electric showers…some of our teammates last year got to experience what happens when electricity and water mix…

In addition to witnessing the upgrades and progress within the community, I also had the opportunity to experience a different work load as well. I was able to lead a women’s bible study designed for many of the women in the community to come together for almost 2 hours of support, teachings, discussion, crafts, and fellowship (this was an amazing & growth provoking experience!), and I was able to paint a house with mosquito repellant “paint” which consisted of CaMg, salt, and water which I didn’t have the opportunity to do last year.

Although the aforementioned was very rewarding, the part that touched my heart the most this trip was the growth within our own team. In working with them for the last 4 months and seeing them grow as individuals and as a team has been one of my favorite parts of this trip. It was so exciting seeing each team member step up to complete a task that was part of their individual strengths, but even more exciting to see each team member wiggle and squirm to do something that was a weakness of theirs and out of their comfort zone. This looked different for each team member. For some, it was praying for the first time aloud or leading a morning devotional, for others it was relinquishing the control that they are used to having and letting the locals/other teammates take charge of a task even if it’s not the most efficient or productive way to do it. Some members grew during meal times trying new foods or drinks, while others learned the virtuous lesson of just showing up and the power that brings along with it. God works in sometimes mysterious, but always wondrous ways and one of the greatest gifts this trip was our Extraordinary Eight.

I have already re-accustomed myself to throwing toilet paper directly into the toilet (instead of into a garbage can) and am grateful to brush my teeth under clean, flowing water (instead of bottled water), drinking ice-cold water without fear of a stomach ameba and sleeping cozily and freely in my bed without having to locate the flashlight beside my pillow and tuck in a mosquito net below the mattress. However, the two things that I certainly do already miss is the rewarding focus and purpose that full time service gives your life as well as the playful, solid bond we experienced with our teammate “family.” A week of service in Nicaragua together will now lend itself to a lifetime of friendship and memories. ❤ ❤ ❤

~Laura~

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Stephanie & Todd

On June 17, 2016 we celebrated our 10 year wedding anniversary. We decided to go on a mission trip to Nicaragua since that is the country where we got engaged. We really did not have any expectations for the trip. We just wanted to make a difference and help the people of Los Robles which we COMPLETELY accomplished. We loved every minute – pouring concrete floors, building cement ovens, painting mosquito repellent paint on homes, working in the local cemetery, VBS, women’s Bible Study, playing sports with the kids, home visits, card games, and corn hole! The people we went with will be life-long friends and we truly created a bond that made the trip even more successful. The people in Nicaragua, as well as the people we went with, will forever have a special place in our hearts.

~Stephanie & Todd~

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Nicaragua Wrap Up Week – Katy

Starting a new week back at home, getting back into my typical routine is a little bittersweet. My experience last week in Nicaragua completely blew my expectations out of the water. I expected the work, the housing, the travel, and the food to be similar to my past trips to Central America. What I did not expect was to gain life-long friends and a trip family. God placed each one of us on this trip for a reason, and as our trip leader said, if just one person had not made the commitment, the week would not have been the same.

The people of Nicaragua blew me away. They are humble and grateful despite having practically nothing. They welcomed us into their homes, gave when they had little, and chatted despite our broken communication (minus our fluent leader). The children laughed and played and openly gave hugs to strangers who couldn’t communicate with them. And the people in our group REALLY blew me away. Most had not done a service or mission trip before. But everyone had a heart to serve, was easy going and flexible, and ready to have a great time, which is exactly what we did. Thanks to everyone in the group – each of you made this trip amazing.

A piece of my heart is now in Los Robles, Nicaragua and I hope I can make it back one day (and hopefully know a little more Spanish next time)! We’ll close out the blog this week with thoughts and reactions from different group members. I hope the blog was entertaining and informative and gave you at least a small idea of what an incredible week we had in Nicaragua!

~Katy~

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Tourists

Friday, June 24

Today we left Los Robles. It was bittersweet – we were all excited to see more of Nicaragua and make our way back home, but we were sad to leave the peaceful and loving community we called home for 5 days.

We made our way back south to Granada. We stopped at a market to do some shopping, had a great lunch, and took advantage of a photo opp overlooking Lake Apoyo.

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Our tour guide, Eddy, took us on a wonderful tour of Granada, telling us about the history and showing us some beautiful churches. We took a little boat ride around the islands of Lake Managua to see monkey island.

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Our last stop was to a hammock store that employees people with disabilities to make hammocks, and we piled into the largest hammock in the world.

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We returned to Managua to stay the night across the street from the airport, where we had a wonderful last dinner together. This has been an incredible trip for everyone and we have no doubt that God had a grand plan by placing each of in this group.

Fiesta!

Thursday, June 23

Today was a special work day. We all spent the morning in the new cemetery painting flower beds and the cross in the middle. This has been a huge project for Los Robles since the current cemetery is really far away. It will mean so much to the community to be able to be present for burials and to visit the graves of their loved ones.

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The afternoon was busy. We took a tour of the coffee plantation we had been staying on all week. Very cool to learn about the process if growing and harvesting something most of us drink every day!

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Next we visited 2 homes to spend time with and pray with community members. One man was 76 years old and had some incredible stories about the community and how it had changed over the years. The fiesta was our next stop. We brought a piñata for the kids who came to VBS all week. Here you have to dance to get to hit the piñata – it was hilarious and the kids, as well as our group, really enjoyed that time.

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We ended the day with the brigadistas presenting them with some gifts and funds to help their efforts in Los Robles. They surprised us with a band, led by Mancho who is married to one of the brigadistas and is the main contractor for home projects in the community.

We have had such an incredible week and go to bed with full and happy hearts. We head out tomorrow morning for a touristy day in Granada but will keep Los Robles in our hearts and prayers as we go.

Play Ball!

Wednesday, June 22

Weather was muy bonita today. For the morning one group helped lay another floor and the other group went to a home to ‘paint’ the walls. They put a mixture on the walls inside and one wall outside that helps repel bugs.

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The afternoon was our last day for group activities. Children’s VBS and the women’s Bible study wrapped up an amazing few days and we handed out the hygiene kits. The sports group played the first ever organized baseball game between Los Robles and San Esteban from across the lake. They had a great time and the game ended in a tie!

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Ending the evening with some music and games and looking forward to some new projects and activities tomorrow!