Today started early….leaving for the airport at 3:20am. And though our team is small (4 traveling to Nicaragua today and three more tomorrow), many more have joined us in spirit and materially with their gifts, donations, and other support.
Pulling out of the driveway, my car was filled with 5 group bags containing wonderful tools to share the love of Christ. One duffel contained a great number of valentines signed by past team members hoping to share their love with the 118 Agape Special Needs Students and their nearly 20 teachers and support staff. We also have valentines lovingly created by Special Needs students from the Indy area hoping to reach out to others just like them in a country far away. These valentines will be sorted out into red and white lunch-sized bags that were creatively decorated by the TPCC basketball youth who learned about TPCC’s work with special needs kids in Nicaragua and how they could be a part of it too with just markers, foam stickers and a few simple Spanish phrases. We’ll throw in a few pieces of candy and small inexpensive toys that are carried to Nicaragua in Tote #2…..then once assembled, these tokens of love from many will be used to show the love of Christ to the Agape kids and staff.
The letters, pictures and small gifts of nearly 50 child sponsors from TPCC filled three more of our team duffels. These gifts will be distributed by our team during the week connecting families from our church home to children from two different Christian schools in Nicaragua bringing hope, showing love, and providing much needed resources to these impoverished families. Each of these children will know that someone far away cares for them and is praying for them and their family through TPCC child sponsorship. What an encouragement!
The army duffel number #3 is filled with wonderful gifts donated by a team member’s employer to encourage the hard-working staff of the Agape Special Needs Program. These teachers, doctors, and other support staff view their work as a calling, receiving pay well below that of their non-Christian school peers.
Other supports in our duffels include teaching resources, student supplies (like scissors, small white boards, and the like) and therapy supplies (like therapy balls, balance beam blocks, and various wedges to position our high-needs children with CP and other conditions that limit their mobility). Our physical therapist from Indiana will use these items to continue the training that our teams have provided over the last seven years.
Lastly, we’ve disassembled a pediatric wheelchair and stander and lovingly padded and shrink wrapped them into two bundles that just barely make the airline specs of 62 linear inches and 50 pounds. The wheelchair will possibly relieve the tired arms of a parent who carries their special needs child many miles to and from school. The stander will enable several high-needs children to stand for the first time at eye-level with their peers. What a different perspective that will bring! (In addition to many health benefits…)
So after 11 hours (including an unusually long line in security in Indy, a bumpy ride to Houston, a quick dash to the next gate, followed by an hour and a half wait on the tarmac, and then smooth flying to Managua) we collected our luggage at the airport and took the 30 minute drive to our home for the week, LaQuinta Primavera in Managua.
Most of us were operating on little to no sleep the night before, but excitement for this beautiful country with its beautiful people carried us through as we unloaded the luggage, found our rooms, greeted friends from past trips whom often cross our paths at the Quinta, and set to the task of sorting all the supplies from our duffels, totes and shrink-wrapped packages.
What a full and wonderful day of feeling the Lord’s love and provision. And we drop into bed in great anticipation of what He will do and where He will lead tomorrow!