Wed, July 15 (Day 6)

Praise God for another beautiful morning and for coming together as a group in worship with Peter leading us in song. Peter assembled 8 pages of worship songs and learned them on his guitar so that we could worship together each morning as a team. Team members walked away singing the songs and being in awe of the song, “Oceans”, as Peter just nailed it. He has been so instrumental (no pun intended) in bringing us together. Praise God for Peter! And for Jeannie for her devotion.
The day then began as we walked down the muddy streets of Managua carrying 40 large bags of food to members of Living Water Tabernacle. We were welcomed into their homes as 10 of us stood in their 1-room home and took turns presenting the family with the bag of food. We asked about the photos on the wall, their family, and prayer requests and then prayed with them Nica-style. Our first home we entered was Bernada’s who is in a wheel-chair. She had a white board on the wall where she writes her poetry. On the board was “Mi casa es su casa.” And she welcomed us through her entire home. As we were dripping with sweat, we walked across the cement floor where the room separated the bedroom from the family room and kitchen, and we peeked around the corner to see her new bathroom that Traders Point helped build. Bernada told us some of her poetry and explained how much she loved us and is praying for us. If that doesn’t humble you, nothing will. We prayed together, hugged and kissed her as we left to go to the next home. We repeated this about 8 times until David led us into a new cement home that David helped build. Just a few months ago, David had walked through their house literally made of cardboard. But as David walked in this time, his jaw dropped, and the tears flowed. He personally helped raise the $4000 to build the 2nd nicest home we had seen. Most homes like this are built for about $8000, but they were very proud that they were able to build it for ½ the normal cost with the help of David’s team.
Before we knew it we were eating lunch together at Tip-Top chicken where we finally got to eat in air conditioning – and free wi-fi. Immediately following lunch, we took our next trip to the Rey Solomon (King Solomon) school. It was here the God showed Himself in the most amazing ways.
No surprise that one of the school girls actually saw Anna on the bus and they both were shouting for each other as the girl sprinted to the school to greet her. Being my first time at the school I stayed back to watch God’s love shine. Sydney, Anna, Jeanie S, Jeannie D, Cody, Brendon, Jake, Dustin, David, Tyler stormed the halls looking for their friends. Within about 1-2 minutes I watched the kids nearly come out of their skin as they saw their friends. I was so moved by the tears of happiness. Only the Lord could bring this kind of friendship that they have established in such a short amount of time. I don’t understand it, but I’ll never forget what I saw.
Of course each of our team members are unique and handle things their own way. However one moment struck me that I have to share. Jeanie S is one of the more quiet girls and one that I’ve had the incredible honor of getting to know this trip. However, this quietness does not reflect any less of an impact on her. Jeanie and her buddy saw each other through a small opening in the wall. With this sighting, Jeanie’s buddy ran up to great her reaching through the wall. I watched as Jeanie held her friend as tight as she could and let out the emotion as her tears poured over her eyes. If you see my facebook pictures, you’ll see one of Jeanie crying. I had to fight her to let me take the picture, but wanted to share that emotion with you all. How beautiful were her tears. Jeanie is one of the most special young ladies that I’ve been able to meet. Praise God for Jeanie!
Sydney introduced me to all her friends. That darn kid is practically speaking Spanish without any translator – I swear she is my kid, but certainly didn’t get the gift of tongues from me. I love that she introduces me as her “papá” (pronounced puh-pah’). I am so proud to be her “papá”. I hugged her friends and told them how happy I was to meet them. Then, I joked around with them, where Sydney would finally say “mi papa es loco.” I need to look that up, but I think it means I’m amazing. 😉
After meeting all her friends, we were getting close to finishing the hour, but David wanted to teach the boys a basketball drill. They selected 8 boys to run the drill and once I saw what he was doing, I grabbed the remaining 10-12 girls (high school aged) and went to the other side of the court and setup the same drill for them. However, I didn’t have a translator and had to instruct them with my own Spanish. First, I don’t speak Spanglish, let alone Spanish. Most of the people on this trip use the little Spanish they know to help them get through what they are trying to say. Well, I’m so bad at Spanish, that the little I know (after 2 years in high school and 2 semesters at Purdue) actually makes it harder for them to understand me than if I didn’t say anything. I added my own “flair” to the drill during the 95 degree heat as I chased the girls around demonstrating what to do. It doesn’t help that my basketball skills are only slightly better than my Spanish. But for a ½ hour, I chased the girls around making them laugh at this “loco papá” and had the best time of my trip. I think had we continued I would have ended up in a pysch-center somewhere in the Nicaraguan jungle never to been heard from again. But it was the time of my life.
We had to leave and headed home for dinner. We took freezing cold showers to get our body temperature somewhere under 120 degrees and ate dinner and headed back to the church for a second night of VBS. Another wonderful evening was had by all. I deeply wish I could bring back a hint of this experience to show you all. It would stop your breathing as it has mine. The kids are Heaven-sent and our team represents the best we all pray for. Thank you for sacrificing the time with your children, fathers, mothers, sisters and brothers to all this magical experience to unfold. I can only pray that all of you feel the love we’ve experienced the last 6 days. Praise God! He is mighty! He is Love!
~Mark Kowal
God has blessed us with another perfect day here in Nicaragua. We first started our day with a food distribution to the slum of Ciudad Sandino. Almost all of us got to be the speaker in each house. The speaker gets the opportunity to talk to the head of the house and accept prayer requests. Then to top it all off they get to give the family a two weeks supply of food. After that we headed to lunch filling ourselves before heading to Ray Solomon. Ray Solomon was a great experience for all, we all got to either see someone we already knew or created some new relationships. It was especially incredible for me because I got to see my brother in Christ Leonel. Leonel and I met my freshman year and our relationship has been growing ever since. We started as awkward forced friends but now we can hardly be separated, today we got to talk about his family and his life and how he has been doing the past couple of months. God has truly blessed me with his friendship and I am glad to call him my brother.
Then the group headed to a quick dinner and then continued to Ciudad Sandino to run a VBS for the kids of Ciudad Sandino. After a couple of hours of sweaty screaming children we headed home for some needed rest. Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers as we get to take our sponsor kids on a boat trip.
-Benjamin Wilson

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