So too did this define how I began my Nica trip - to look into the eyes of the people. To come to know the people that my sister and her family so dearly love.
Thursday, December 15 - Nicaragua arrival...
As the plane descended into Nicaragua, past the volcano and over Lake Managua I was instantly attracted to this country - the hills, the lush green landscape, the palm trees, sunshine, - what's not to like!
On the flight I shared the row with a young lady that grew up in Nicaragua heading back for a visit, and a young man who grew up in Miami and is now a successful Nicaraguan businessman. I shared where I'd be heading and tried to make mental notes of all the suggestions they had for me in terms of traveling in Nicaragua.
The picture doesn't do justice to how beautiful the hills are - even from the plane...
I made my way through immigration and customs without a hitch - something I was a bit concerned about since I was carrying a 50lb suitcase filled with gifts for the kids and moms I anticipated meeting at the medical clinics and at Rivas Hospital.
Walking out of the airport I looked right, then heard from my left "HEY CHARLIE!" (my sister Cheri and my dad are the only two to ever call me Charlie :-) My sister had her granddaughter Adrianna with her. Smiles and hugs and we were on our way to my nieces house in Managua.
Managua is the capital city, and the largest city in the country. The 20 minute drive from the airport largely met with my expectation - seemed so dirty, lots of small cars and even more motorcycles buzzing about and everyone honking, abject poverty, kids approaching the car at each stoplight begging (with well rehearsed sad eyes and sad stories). My first impression was "why would my niece want to live here?"
Well, we arrived at my niece's place, and just that quick my attitude began to change. The gate was opened by Luis, who I would later learn "came with the house" and has become something of a protective (and very loving) uncle figure for Windy and Adri.
Having a guard for your house (or street, or block or n'hood) is standard fare. Not much violent crime, but lots of theft due to the poverty so people just don't leave their house unattended. Luis is a retired driver and mechanic and a wonderful, humble, dear man that Windy is very blessed to have.
The house brings with it a wonderful sense of peace and warmth. You cannot help but feel completely comfortable here. Windy tells me "It's such a God thing..." in how they came to live here.
Stepping onto the back patio you are met with landscaping and a tropical feel that will easily lull you to sleep if you were to plop yourself down in the hammack...
Windy teaches at an upscale Catholic school in Managua, and so Adri attends there. That evening was the Christmas pagaent, so I was fortunate enough to get to attend. This years production tells the story of Christ's birth through song, dance and dress of the traditions of the different Nicaraguan people groups and regions. A wonderful program put on by the kids, a great Christmas celebration, and I have to say I loved being in an open air auditorium in December, in short sleeves :-)
Ten minutes into the production and the power went out. My sister leaned over and said "Welcome to Nicaragua...".
A few minutes later, the production back underway, and having some family friends join us, the power went out again. The friend leans over to me and says "Welcome to Nicaragua..." Whether in the city or countryside, this is just a way of life in Nicaragua.
The production concluded and Adri was excited to show Nana (my sister) and I to her classroom. From there it was off to the open air gymnasium where we were seated for a traditional Nicaraguan Christmas dinner (think Thanksgiving). The entire evening was fun and festive and everyone so friendly - I think I was starting to "get it"...
Prior to leaving my friend Bill gave me seven cards with the instruction to read and meditate one each day - and no looking ahead!
"But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you. For surely, O Lord, you bless the righteous, you surround them with your favor as with a shield." Psalms 5:11-12
Faith is mans response to what God said. In the roar of the sea, God is there. In the silence of the night, God is there. In the eyes of a stranger and the cry of a child, God is there. What is your response to these? To take refuge in Him is to trust in His ways, always. Trust for protection, trust for direction, trust for correction.
Thursday drew to a close as we went to bed, knowing Friday would be a busy day of preparation for the arrival of the medical team on Saturday. Friday would be a defining day for me as well. Stay tuned...
Press on friends,