Posted Sunday, September 27th, 2015
1. Nalgenes are your life source. We don’t drink the tap water in order to avoid getting sick from the bacteria. Instead we fill our water bottles from jugs of purified water.
2. In the woods, you can’t burry your toilet paper. In Nicaragua, you can’t flush it. But don’t worry. There are trash cans.
3. Chacos are essential for the days when it rains. Which is everyday.
4. You become pretty accustomed to wearing the same clothes all the time. But we do get more than two pairs. So that’s nice.
5. You can pretty much expect to be covered in some combination of sweat, dirt, and bug spray 100% of the time.
6. Even though you take precautions with mosquito nets and repellant, you still manage to have a plethora of bug bites.
7. You feel unplugged from the world because you can’t use your phone. It’s lovely. We do, however, have a few phones that we share to communicate with Students International staff and other group members when we need to. In Nicaragua, all of the phones are prepaid so we visit little shops in the streets when we need a recharge.
8. It’s common to see small animals and insects running around everywhere. Our favorites are the geckos that crawl on the walls and up through the ceiling. They are so fast that you’ll never catch one, and they make a loud chirping noise that you would never expect to come from such a small critter.
9. Icy river baths? Cold bucket showers. The city limits our water use so we don’t have running water everyday. We fill up buckets on the days we have water that we use to bathe on the days that we don’t. And it would be outlandish to bath in warm water here because it is always so hot.
10. You’re living in a microwave community. Relationships are built fast and strong. The people here are brimming with hospitality and have such a strong desire to invest in your life. Nothing brings people closer together than a shared experience and the bond of Christ.
Posted by abrannon
Posted Saturday, September 12th, 2015
Before leaving for Nicaragua, I bought a small journal for recording new words. The first word that I scribbled in that little book is paraíso. Paraíso is the Spanish word for paradise. And it is the word our group learned to say after we woke up on our first morning and found this:
That is in the backyard of the Students International base. Granted, this photo really does make it look like paraíso. This was also in the backyard:
Paraíso is a word that often comes to our minds here. Every morning for the past two weeks we have attended language school from 9-12. Sitting in the classroom each day I have thought to myself, This is too wonderful to be real. This is our classroom:
At this moment, we have been here for almost three weeks, and life is good. We love our families. We love our classes. We love our ministry sites and the SI staff. We love this city and its culture. It’s easy for us to summarize our experiences thus far with the word paraíso. But that would be false.
If there is one thing that is the difficult about living in a new culture, it is learning the language. As I said, we love our Spanish classes. The instructors are fantastic and we get to go home and put our knowledge to the test. Already, our confidence is building. But our energy is also draining. It takes a lot of concentration to follow a conversation that is not in your first language. On top of language school, we have other classes we are taking online, events to attend in the evenings as part of our program, and family activities to participate in. We are tired. But it is worth it.
The tool of language is worth acquiring because it is opening doors for us to build relationships. Communicating with our families is becoming easier, meeting other Nicaraguans is enjoyable, and spending time with the people at our ministry sites is doable because we know how to speak their language.
As words begin to fill the pages of my little Spanish journal, so does the gratitude within me. Some people would not call a place marked by material poverty paradise. But my team and I would say that we are in another version of Paraíso. We are learning to live simply and to love well. We are experiencing Kingdom paradise.
Posted by abrannon
Posted Sunday, August 30th, 2015
From the moment that we stepped off the plane in Managua, Nicaragua, I began falling in love with this country. And after just five days of living in Masaya, I can honestly say that this city is stealing my heart.
Nicaragua is a small country of 5.8 million people nestled between Honduras and Costa Rica in what we refer to as Central America. Next to Haiti, it is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Consequently, living here is a strong reminder that we are not made for stuff, but for relationships.
The team gathered for breakfast at the SI base on one of our first days in Nicaragua.
In Nicaragua, relationships come first. When someone approaches your gate calling, “Buenas!” you drop whatever you’re doing to great them with a handshake or kiss. Then you pull up a chair prepared to sit and talk for as long as they decide to stay.
Here, everyone has plastic lawn chairs. When someone drops by for an afternoon visit, out come the chairs. When company comes for dinner, we pull the extra chairs around the table. When niñas prance into the social work site, we make a circle with the chairs. When supper has been cleaned up and the air has cooled, we drag the chairs to the street to congregate with family and friends or whoever happens to pass by. They are one of the many symbols that signify the importance of gathering to Nicaraguans.
Laura visits with her sister Angelina and cousin Kiera.
We have experienced a whole new meaning for the word community. After less than a week of living with our host families, our team has all agreed that this place feels like home. We have encountered both extreme poverty and extreme hospitality. We are being poured into by our host families and the SI staff, and after a few weeks of language school it will be our turn to pour into the children and families at the ministry sites. We feel loved, and we feel at home. And we are looking forward to all that this new home has in store for us.
The entire team with some SI staff. From left to right Katie Trapp, Seth (SI), Laura Christ, Noah Kneer, Lauren Michels, Christina Bowman, Jill (SI), Austin (SI), and Anna Brannon
Posted by abrannon
Posted Friday, March 20th, 2015
Thursday is the last full day of work. The heat has taken its toll on us this week. Most of us have gotten a bit sunburned, but that’s a small price for all the great sun and blue sky. Work has been very good and we have met many great people. Here are a few photos from today.
We started off the morning with a wonderful breakfast and reflection on God’s word. Our devotion covered Matthew 28:19-20. We talked about how to prepare our hearts as disciples of Christ. Then we split up into our teams. The team I am on is tearing off old siding on a house. We have all been using a lot of fun power tools (i.e., a reciprocal saw and a nail gun). The family that resides in the home we are working on is very hospitable. Today we were treated to Muffaletta sandwiches. They were absolutely delicious.
The leaders here at Reach Global talked to us about how God is already working here. This was evident to me by the community within the neighborhood radiating Christ’s love. From sharing stories about Katrina to being told that “I now have a family in New Orleans,” I have experienced a deep connection to the neighborhood. Also, I have seen God’s love within the Greenville College Community I am here with. I have had several encouraging conversations with other team members, which have resulted in a lot of new friendships. The team leaders and the Reach Global leaders have all impacted our team as examples of mature discipleship. Overall, this experience has been a huge blessing and has been life changing for me. I am so glad God led me to be a part of this team and serve the Lord.
Written by Holly Pianfetti
Posted by Eric Watterson
Asst. Professor of Psychology
Posted Wednesday, March 18th, 2015
Wednesday means more work for the team, again in three locations. Enjoy these photos and reflections.
I can’t believe it is Wednesday already and the work week is over halfway through. The time here is flying by! Today, some of the groups split up to go to a new work site: Rock Molina’s house. I had the privilege of joining this group to do some demo on this house. The Molina’s lost their home and everything in it to a fire toward the end of last year. Driving up to this house, I was immediately saddened. Looking around at the ash, I found a toy car, and thought about all the memories that this house probably held. Besides ash and ruins, there wasn’t much left of the house except the wood framing. However, after talking to the owner of the house, Rock, my perspective of the ruins changed. He explained how he was just blessed that all of his family got out of the house safely and how God knew the stress his family was under, and this fire actually relieved stressed. He knows God is working in his life and that this fire was all His plan. So, even though it seemed like a tragedy, my group got to have a little fun with the job. With sledgehammers in hand, we starting busting apart the stone fireplace, demolishing walls, and tearing down lots of burnt wood. It was a great time to make my group of all girls, besides the intern, Ryan, feel powerful. I actually had a blast busting up the concrete and kicking through walls. We learned new skills and got to have great conversations while we worked as well. The work day ended with a cookout of delicious burgers with our whole team and a conversation about internship opportunities. Afterwards, we were also entertained by some people using odd and ends from the warehouse to put on a little musical show, as well as some dancing and great laughter. Today was a great day and I really felt God’s working and watching over our team. We are so blessed.
Written By: Emily Kaiser
Posted by Eric Watterson
Asst. Professor of Psychology