Return to the Bricks

This trip is coming to a close, and as it does so does a chapter in life that will open up many more chapters ahead in my life.  Over the past few days I have been painting and have found that the technique for mixing paint is very different… By this I mean that they pour paint thinner directly into the paint can then apply the paint… This is crazy, since in the states we use paint thinner to remove paint that we need to get rid of, they use it to help the oil based paints they use spread more evenly.  Today I returned to the block making location.  The job today was amazing, as I worked with the supervisor I got to have some very interesting conversations…  I am extremely thankful for the opportunity that I had to work with this man, as I have developed an amazing friendship and relation with him through making blocks… This afternoon I spent my day in the commons area working on letters to distribute to the people I lived with and worked with through the week.  I’m very thankful for every one of them and what they have done this week to make this trip more fun.  I believe that Flor, Logan, and Blake have made this week much more fun, and have helped a lot with keeping stress down and working extremely hard all week.  Tomorrow we leave Jinotega and return to Managua to prepare to leave Sunday for Searcy.  More updates will come as we travel.  The plan that God has for me through this trip Is becoming more clear as it finally starts to sink in, I must seek Him who is above all, let Him shape me and mold me into what He wants me to be, let the good and the bad times be what builds me stronger and refreshes me, and to value my friends and family more, and be thankful for them and that they care about me more than I’ll ever know

Published in: on March 13, 2010 at 4:29 am  Leave a Comment  

The joy of a child

Day 5 of my visit to Nicaragua.  The image God wants me to see is more clear now… For so long I have not been grateful for the things I have before me, and resented the things I did.  I found this through a day of medical and fun at a local pre-school here in Jinotega.  I traveled with a team to distribute Anti-Parasite medication, weigh, and measure these children, and then enjoyed some time with them outside.  These kids loved our presence, and were thankful for us being there for them, to see them.  This made me realize that there are important things in my life that i’m not thankful for, and that I don’t thank those who have provided them for me.  Now, don’t get me wrong I am thankful for everything that I have, and i’m thankful for the  family I have… but theres times where I am not thankful for my friends, and the life I have been given.  When hard times have arisen in my past my usual tendency was to take off running and to find outlets of escape to get away from those times.  These were never the best option, I had to learn the hard way that when you hit these times, you have to face it and rely on those who you are thankful for… You have to thank them for being there for you when they could of just blown you off and avoided you all together, but decided that they needed to be there for you since they saw the need.  These children helped me realize further that God has placed people in my life for a reason, and the most of them are there for me in those hard times, and it made me realize that I don’t thank those people enough when I am in those times.  Seeing the smiles on the faces of the children when we arrived, while we worked with them, and while we played with them showed me a sign of what I need to be focused on… Thankfulness for the small things, for those who care enough to help me when I am down is important and not something that can be forgotten.  It has brought me to be more thankful for my family and friends as I struggle to find my answers to life, and make sense of everything that is happening currently.

Published in: on March 12, 2010 at 5:32 am  Leave a Comment  

Blocks, Kids and God

Day 4 of the trip… I’m sent to a village north of Jinotega to assist in block making… I went in with a journalist ideal to take photos and get some good stories that I can use to talk about things.  I originally thought that this place we were going to was a factory, or large area that was making these blocks.  Only to find out that this place was actually a small wooden shack where a man and his family reside and he makes his living making these blocks that are used to build buildings in Jinotega.  I started out the day by getting photos of the machines, and the way this guy prepared daily to make these bricks.  After we began the process of making the bricks, I learned that this process is time consuming and actually quite rough.  I watched at the guys I was with assisted in the mixing of the concrete, and the compressing of the bricks in what took an hour and a half to two hours to roll out 60 of these blocks.  I discussed with this guy the process that he goes through to make these blocks.  The process was to make a mixture out of finely ground rocks, shale and concrete… which you couldn’t make too soggy or wet or too dry otherwise the entire process the integrity of the block would be next to nothing.  After the blocks are complete they sit out for a few days in the sun  to dry and harden.  When they reach a point where they can be stacked the blocks are then stacked and sprayed down with water.  The process of watering the blocks, left me confused as I thought the main point was to have a block that was solid and not at risk of collapse or error in structure integrity.  He explained to me that the soaking of the blocks was to help build the strength in the blocks in order to provide a stronger structure.  This process actually helped the blocks harden more in order to be extremely strong.  As confusing as this idea was, it also had its valid points in that the water soaked into the block and kept it from shattering or going back to dust.  This analogy struck me in an odd way as I personally searched to find God in what was happening.  From what I got during that time I came to the conclusion that God designs us, creates us, builds us and strengthens us through sending rain into our lives in order to make our structure better.  That afternoon we returned to make another round of blocks to finish out our day.  At the end of our day, we had completed 120+ blocks to make our day a success.  We did enjoy some time playing soccer with kids in a field behind the building, and enjoying some time to unwind and have some fun with our translators and the neighborhood children.  I am slowly starting to see the image that God wants me to see in this whole mess of a picture that I still can’t decyfer.  I am praying that God shows me what he wants me to see in the next few days to get me a more clear picture of why I am here.

Published in: on March 12, 2010 at 5:17 am  Leave a Comment  

Wandering the Streets

On day three of the trip, we split into our groups and wandered the area of Jinotega to get a grasp on the city and its layout.  I traveled with the Communication students and we headed to a cafe on the other side of town.  Much to our surprise we got to the cafe only to find it closed till 10 AM.  From here our team split up into three groups.  I decided that the best option of people to go with would be Flor, she’s bilingual and fluent in both languages and one person I know who can really be down to earth and cool with everyone.  So we made our way up the street to the Catholic Church about 3 blocks away from the cafe with the mission of getting photographs of the church that were unique and gave a perspective of the church that was quite amazing.  Flor talked with one of the door men who let us in to take some interior photographs and “tour” the church.  Much to our dismay, at the time we arrive, we could not get into any bell towers or clock towers as the Father was not in the church at that time.  We left the church and looked around at the park across the street, at this point we all kinda let loose and began photographing everything we could… families, scenery, children playing, parents with children, buildings, statues, plaques and even animals in the park.  We met with our group again around 10 AM at the cafe to discuss the ideas for the trip and what our mission was going to be for the coming week.  We left the cafe and wandered our way back to the park and church again to get more photos and to get into the bell tower to get some scenic shots from above the city.  That afternoon after we ate lunch our group once again hit the streets, this time to explore the market area across the street from the Mission.  Here we saw how the folks of Jinotega make their money, and the goods that they sell on a day to day basis.  I wandered the streets with Philip Holsinger, one of the leaders of this trip, and we hit some of the areas of town that were perhaps a little more rough… as I found out later, Philip took me into the “hood” of Jinotega… or at least one of the “hoods”… after this day, I had seen a lot of the people of Jinotega, yet I was still seeking my own understanding and direction for why I was here… I must struggle with this now in order to find why i’m here, and what i’m doing… What is my purpose on this trip, I still am struggling to figure this out… as I search for the answers I will struggle to figure out my reasoning for being here, and what God is wanting me to see or do while i’m here…  These are answers I believe will be revealed to me in the next few days as I look for God in the people I interact with and the people I have come down here with.

Published in: on March 11, 2010 at 10:47 pm  Leave a Comment  

First day of Travel in Nicaragua

The day started off kind of rough, waking up in a room that’s about 80 degrees with two other guys was very uncomfortable and not fun.  After getting about 5 hours of sleep, I awoke to take a shower and start preparing for a day of travel and sightseeing in Nicaragua.  After a hot shower and packing my clothes back up, I made my way to the lobby of the hotel to drop off my suitcases and eat breakfast before departing from Managua.  Following breakfast we departed Managua and proceeded what I believe was west for an hour into some mountains to do some zip lining.  I’m sure I’d rather take on New York City driving than Nicaragua driving any day; these people are NUTS behind the wheel.  About half way to the zip lining destination our second van got pulled over for not having tags… perfect eh?  Of course it is…  We arrived at our destination and proceeded to get fitted for harnesses, and helmets for our zip line adventure in the hills of Nicaragua.  The zip line trip was quite a lot of fun considering that we have somewhere in the area of 26 people with us.  After we left the zip line adventure we made our way back toward Managua to eat lunch at this place called Tip-Top, which is the Nicaraguan equivalent to our American Kentucky Fried Chicken.  Sorry Colonel, but I think that they might of just beat you out when it comes to service and flavor.  After this we went to the market in Managua which was located in an old castle, or fort of some kind.  We wandered around for an hour looking at the shops and visiting with the guides to get a feel for the community and area more.  After experiencing the local lifestyle in the market, we made our way to Jinotega up in the mountainous north of Nicaragua.  After passing through the mountains and seeing some amazing scenery we arrived in Jinotega, who’s population is around 250,000.  We attended church with the locals next door to the mission, then proceeded to get dinner and our luggage to prepare for our first night in our home till our departure on Sunday.

Published in: on March 11, 2010 at 5:41 am  Leave a Comment  

Travels to Nicaragua

Today we departed for Managua, Nicaragua on what I hope would become an adventure of a life time.  Our flight left Little Rock, Arkansas at approximately 3:15 PM, on a very small and cramped ERJ-700 Continental Express Jet.  After a about an hour and a half of flying we arrived in Houston, Texas to make our connection to our international flight to Nicaragua.  Upon arrival we had about 15 minutes if even that to transfer from the Express Jet Terminal to the International Terminal to get checked in, and board our jet.  Not as easy of a feat when one member of your crew is crippled.  Running through a terminal with a rolling suitcase, laptop bag, and the carry on bag of our injured friend is quite a workout in itself.  After departing from Houston we proceeded to fly out over the Gulf of Mexico toward our home for the next week, Nicaragua.  The flight was pretty smooth as we cruised toward our destination.  We arrived at the Managua airport and passed through customs with ease.  From there we collected our baggage and met with our team leaders for the trip.  We loaded our suitcases into the back of a Toyota truck of some sort, and then walked across the street to the Best Western hotel that we booked to stay at the first night of the trip.  This hotel was pretty legit.  I felt that I was staying in a resort in Florida since the atmosphere in the area was what I remember when vacationing.  We got our room assignment and proceeded to our rooms. At this point LaRell felt that it was necessary to mention that he drank the water at the airport as we were going through customs.  We got to our room cranked up the AC to the full blast lowest temperature we could so the room would be cool when we got back from our meeting.  At this time we also discovered a major fire ant infestation over the window that lucky me decided to sleep under.  After our meeting house keeping bombed our room to kill the ants and let us back in.  Our AC unit decided to be a piece of junk and not produce cold air, but rather produced warm to hot air, rendering our room hot and uncomfortable.  After a long night of meeting, travel, ant killing and telling Flor not to pay for me to go zip lining with the team, I reluctantly took the offer and let her pay my way.  I could already tell that this trip was bound to get more interesting the more the trip progressed.

Published in: on March 11, 2010 at 5:40 am  Leave a Comment