Nicaragua – Monday, 7/13 (Day 4)

When my daughter, Sydney, first came to Nicaragua, I was disappointed not to hear from her at all the entire trip. Leslie and I waited every night for a call or text and never received it. Not that we were upset, but we wanted to connect with her some way. I now realize why things are so difficult to plan. There is only 1 small crepe shop that has wi-fi and it’s a 5 minute walk, but you cannot walk alone. So planning to get wi-fi access is not always possible.
On Monday, our plans changed that morning. The original kids we planned to see did not have school. We had to find a plan b. So, we toured a nearby school where Jeannie and Cody were able to meet their sponsor child, Jonathan, as it moved them to tears.
The school is located in the worst part of town of Managua where crime, drugs and violence soars. But after the bus bounced its way through the massive pot holes, and traffic-filled streets, we pulled up to the school and walked up the metal staircase (similar to a NY fire escape) to the 2nd floor. We walked through the steam-filled hallways and saw the kids in their long blue pants and white shirts- their uniform. They tried their best to concentrate on their teacher, but we certainly distracted them as we passed the halls. Apparently they had added windows since last year, which added a decent breeze to the halls. But it was HOT, and sticky and wet! And, yet, they just smiled, waved and laughed when they saw us.
We didn’t get to spend any time with the kids, but it was nice to see a school and what it’s like for them to have class in session. Many of them posed for pictures with us in the hallways. They LOVE to take photos. But it upsets me to know how much they love to take photos, and yet they don’t get to have the actual pictures afterwards. We will have to find a way to get them developed and delivered.
We also toured a special needs center that TPCC helped build. They take care of over 100 kids in a tiny, tiny, hot office. Transparent curtains separate the rooms and plastic patio chairs line the edges. That’s where treatments take place – as well as surgeries. David was able to connect with a family that has a son that went through the same brain surgery as his son. When you connect with a child like that, it literally makes your heart ache and you crave to help them- in any way possible. How they live in these conditions, especially with the special needs, amazes me.
And although it was a short tour, we were able to get back to La Quinta for a quick lunch before we headed right back out to do some touring of Managua. We saw the history of Managua before and after the major earthquake rocked the country. We saw the sprouting city that Managua was, and how quickly it all came falling apart. As with any country, it has its political challenges and financial woes. After learning of this history, we could feel the frustration that the Nicaraguan’s must feel and why the poverty is so overwhelming.
However, the part of the day that blew us all away was the VBS that we put on for the kids of Rey Solomon in their church that evening. Led by the amazing Sarah Croner, the women, along with Mark M, taught the children songs and dances of simple English and Spanish terms like Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes. To get a feeling of how amazing this team is, it can be demonstrated with one example. The team introduced themselves one at a time as they stood in a straight line. We said the name and the children responded back shouting their name, until we got to Anna. Before we could even introduce Anna, the entire audience shouted at the top of their lungs “ANNA!!!” They all know that bright-smiling, beautiful and wonderful girl of ours, Anna. Her impact on the kids has been life changing for them. And then we came to Caroline. And again, before we could even get her name out, the crowd as loud as they could shout said, “Car-o-lee’-na!!” (that’s what we heard when they said her name.) I can’t express to you all, how awesome it was to witness this and how proud I was of Anna and Caroline, Sarah, Jeannie, Jeanie S, Brianna, Sydney and Mark M. They are God’s gift to these families…and to me, as well.
We danced and laughed with children before learning about the fruits of the spirit. Breaking into groups with about 2-4 kids and we helped them color a booklet of the fruits of the spirit. I personally loved it as I sat with 3 boys (5 yrs old and 10 years old) and taught them how to speak English names of fruit, as well as the fruits of the spirit. They, too, tried teaching me the Spanish names. However, they quickly realized I’m a foreign language mess, but they still told me that I was “intelligente”. No doubt that evening was by far the most amazing of the trip for me. All I wish I could do is help those boys continue to learn. I know I could make an impact in their life – and I only wish they could see the impact they have had on mine. Goodness…tears are filling my eyes as I type this.
The Nicaraguan love is so amazing. It’s something that can’t be recreated. Passing out candy to random kids, playing water chicken with strangers and passing out candy to kids as we are walking by while giving them full out bear hugs just doesn’t seem to be catching on in the States. But what an example they are for us. It’s a love that could only come from Christ. And although I can’t communicate it in this blog, I hope the memories of this trip softens my heart for the rest of my life, knowing that during that evening, I witnessed the love of Christ through those 3 boys and all the kids that filled the church.
~Mark Kowal


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