Arrival and Day One: Rivers of Water
Safely on the ground in Managua on Friday evening we collected our bags and headed for customs only to find out that we were one government approval stamp short of being compliant for bringing in our medicines. After several hours of digging through bags and separating supplies in the airport we were able to minimize the amount of bags to be left overnight to the lucky number of 13.
While we were enjoying the beauty of the thunderstorm that hit the town making all lights go out and streets turn into rivers we did not take into account what it was doing to the dirt road we were about to embark on for our last 4 hours of travel.
God is good and in charge here.
Day 2: We are humbled, He is All Knowing
Roosters at 3 am? Really? The sun does not rise until 5 am but this land is full of noise at night. We slept with windows open and yes, these dogs and roosters are obviously confused and following the wrong circadian rhythm. Still without power the second night in Pearl Lagoon and therefore also no running water, no fans, no A/C. Sunday’s clinic was the calmest and most organized that this team has ever seen. We had no issues with crowd control or security which allowed for much more fun and play with the kids.
We treated 250 patients from 12 noon until 4:30 pm, pretty impressive. Go Team!!
Day 3 of our mission
Another 4 year old, sweet girl arrived with her mother. She had suffered extensive burns over most of her body in a house fire when she was 5 months old. As she healed, severe contractures (restrictions) developed making it impossible to extend her legs fully, bend her ankles, or raise her arms. The doctors here became frustrated and told her mom not to come back until she could afford all the surgeries they recommended. We hope to use our resources and connections to provide further surgery to bring her childhood some normalcy. Her mom continues to pray for that.
This third clinic day began bright and early at 4:30am and down to the dock by 6am. The punctuality of Americans however doesn’t transfer very well down here. Nicaraguan time runs about 30 minutes to an hour late so we boarded the boats around 730. We were promised a smooth ride but like all things on this trip, it was bumpier than planned. By the time we arrived in Orinoco, we were the ones who needed some care for all our new bumps and bruises courtesy of the choppy Nicaraguan lake.
Every clinic day has its unique challenges- today it was crowd control. Jeffrey, one of our translators, fearlessly stepped up and with a great sense of humor, he cracked the whip. Despite his authority and control, he had to promise everyone they would be seen not knowing whether we would be able to support him in his promise. As the last patient was finally seen, Jeffrey knew he could safely make it back to the boat.
On to Managua.
Day 5 Back to Managua
Seeing that we were all showing signs of fatigue following three full and fulfilling clinic days, Ali was gracious and declared breakfast at 5:30 a.m. vs. 5 a.m. prior to what would become a 12 hour return bus trip to Managua. Our day began with amiable weather, a slight breeze and good spirits. As we loaded the bus we realized we were returning with a handful more people (by design!) than our trip to Pearl Lagoon. The men quickly organized our bags in the luggage truck while our group boarded the passenger school bus. It was eye opening to witness the change in the dynamics of who sat next to who, who talked about what and the general atmosphere that quickly consumed the air. Our ages ranged from 13 to 79 with an ideal distribution in the mix; while these same people came from Idaho, Colorado, Florida, Texas, Washington DC, South Carolina, Minnesota and Georgia! What a spectacular mix.
The conversations for the next 12 hours were a personal reflection of the previous three days and individual experiences. As I sat and admired the exchange of words, you saw smiles, uncertainty, confidence and sadness. The young talked to the old and the Southerners talked to the Westerners with a sense of accomplishment on their faces.
Following what seemed to be 12 grueling hours on the bus, we collectively arrived at our destination in Managua understanding that the most important part of who we are is what is inside of us and never to allow ourselves to get discouraged and believe that our life is insignificant and cannot be changed. Having said this, our group has had time to reflect on how our lives can change and how we can change others. Day 6 will come quickly as we have an opportunity to visit our school, Christian Academy of Las Torres, in Managua, look it up at www.caltnica.org
Heading to the market to purchase our souvenirs and Nicaraguan necessities, we put our Nicaraguan friends to use again, and they graciously obliged. We ended the day with a frozen coffee and a little bit of Wi-Fi to connect with back home, many of us for the first time. Dinner and one last rainstorm provided the perfect background to end our time in Nicaragua. And we closed with, “I love you Lord, and I lift my voice, to worship you, oh my soul Rejoice. Take joy my King in what you hear, may it be a sweet, sweet sound in your ear.