Friday, June 24, 2011

Manauga Day 2: Calm before the storm

My first full day in Managua has been very relaxed.  I slept excellent and got a great night's sleep from 8:30 p.m. to 9:00 a.m..  I forgot to warn my roommates I talk in my sleep, but they told me this morning they found out on their own :)  Breakfast here at the hotel is amazing...anything you can think of, and for free.   Most of the volunteers who are already here (some still trickling in) spent time swimming at the pool today, but I just didn't feel like it.  It's encouraged to not leave the hotel for multiple reasons, so I walked around the grounds searching for the deer and parrots they have in a fenced area.  I had quite a scare when big dog started barking at me from behind a fenced area, so I gave up on locating the deer and headed into the airconditioned lobby to read.  So far this feels more like a vacation than a mission trip, but I know tomorrow will be a completely different so I'm enjoying this calm. 

I've felt like I was antisocial for most of the day; I guess I forgot how out of place and shy I can feel sometimes when around people I don't know.  When I feel like I wish I came on this trip with someone I know, I tell myself to get over it and introduce myself.  I introduced myself to a group of female newcomers from Florida and joined them for lunch. One lady brought her daughters (8 and 10) who are rediculously smart and adorable (and much better at math than myself).  Another lady has been on mulitple trips with Corner of Love and is a doctor.  The other two ladies are both doctors hereand it was interesting listening to the seasoned doctor explain the other how the clinic days will operate.  It makes me nervous and excited for the days to come.

Tomorrow, I will be taken to the dental clinic to select items I think our dental team will need for the week.  There are no dentists on this trip, but there is one other hygienist from Bermuda I have yet to meet.  I was told I am the lead for the dental team, so your prayers are appreciated as I prepare and make decisions. 

While reading last night, Psalm 57:9-11 stood out to me, and I've decided to focus on this next week:

"I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations;
I will sing of you among the peoples.
For great is your love, reaching to the heavens;
your faithfulness reaches to the skies. 
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
let your glory be over the earth."

"Te alabaré, Señor, entre los pueblos, te cantaré salmos entre las naciones." Muchas gracias to my Sistaw Elizabeth for loaning me her English/Spanish Bible and phrasebook :)

We have a meeting tonight at 7:00 and then bus 2.5 hours to San Ramon.  Your prayers are appreciated for the team as well as for those we will serve in the villages of Matagalpa.  I will not have access to internet after tonight, so I will try to "check in" again next Friday when we return to Managua. 

Buenas noches!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Nicaragua via Costa Rica

After an unexpected detour to Costa Rica, I made it to Nicaragua!  Our flight from Houston was unable to land in Managua due to bad weather, so the pilot circled a few times before we got the ok from the control tower and started to descend.  Then tower control changed their mind, and we started to circle once again until the decision was made to fly 25 minutes south and land in Liberia, Costa Rica to refuel.  We ended up sitting on the plane for 2 hours in Costa Rica due to computer issues back in Houston inhibiting us to take off.  The good news is that I sat next to a recent seminary graduate and native Nicaraguan who currently lives with his wife in Mexico and we had a great time chatting.  He gave me some great advice and encouragement!  And now I can say I've been to Costa Rica too! ;)

I made my way through customs fairly smoothly, but definitely need to brush up on my Spanish...BIG TIME!  When asked what all the supplies in my bins were for (glasses, soap, etc) I was able to spurt out "cosas para una brigada medica" (things for a medical brigade) as instructed, although I felt silly doing so for some reason. 

I'm currently at the hotel in Managua where I will be staying tonight and most of tomorrow.  It's a lovely hotel and so far I am having flashbacks to our Cook Island honeymoon...but I think that's mostly because it is very humid!  It's currently cloudy, raining, hot and sticky...and I love it!  I was told it's not as humid up in San Ramon (Matalgapa region) where we will be heading tomorrow.   

Tonight is the farewell dinner for the Week #1 team / welcome info for us on the Week #2 team.  I'm looking forward to a long sleep tonight since I didn't really get any sleep last night on the plane.  I'll update tomorrow before we head up to San Ramon.  Thank you so much for your continued prayers!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Ready, Set, Go!

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying,
“Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?
And I said, “Here am I; send me”
(Isaiah 6:8)

Tonight I head to the airport, and at 12:55 a.m. my flight leaves for Nicaragua via Houston.  I'm excited for my first mission trip with Corner of Love, and will try to update when I can.  I will not have internet access while in San Ramon for the week, but I may be able to hop online while at the hotel in Managua.  I'm flying into Nicaragua about a day early (much cheaper flight) so I'll "check in" if and when I can.  While I'll be in Nicaragua I am expecting a temperature high of 82 degrees, and a low of 68 degrees, with humidity from 65-99% (!!!) and rain most days as this is their rainy season (and mosquito season).

Nicaragua Nuggets:
  • San Ramon's elevation =2139 feet (Maple Valley = 343 feet)
  • It is recommended that people who have never eaten "Nica" food before start slow.  Our food will be cooked for us at the Quinta where I'll be staying, so I'm not completely sure what to expect.
  • We will all be carrying a roll of toilet paper in our backpacks while on village trips as bathrooms are few and far between.
  • Nicaraguans are not extremely fond of dogs and they are viewed mostly as service animals, and not members of the family as in America.  It is dishonorable to shake someone's hand after touching an animal or to have animal hair on your clothing. 
  • Much emphasis is placed on how people dress in Nicaragua, even with those who have little.  People will come to our clinics and other mission activities wearing the best and cleanest clothes they have.  They are a much less "informal" society than we are.  To come into the company of guests or to show up at a function poorly dressed is quite taboo.
  • In Nicaragua it is more polite to use hairspray outdoors.
  • Nicaragua society is a lot about food and one of the nicest things you can do is eat in the presence of Nicas.  The "elite" would never eat while in the presence of strangers or share a meal with them or even sit near them while they eat.  We have been encouraged to eat or drink around Nicas while working or on a break in the villages.  It's a compliment to sit amongst Nicas while eating, it's like saying "I am among friends.  I am not ashamed to eat in this setting and am not 'above' you".  I've been told this is the best way to make Nica friends. 
I appreciate your prayers for safety and health. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

My New Favorite Salad Dressing

Last weekend, our friends Breezy and Cyballs drove out to our "time zone" for dinner (we live not so close to each other).  We ate, excitedly chatted about their miracle baby girl due this September, and played a little Blongo Ball.  It was a great way to end a beautiful day that gave us a huge glimpse of summer!

I made enchiladas for dinner (using a Tyler Florence recipe I promise to share another day, because it is definitely share-worthy!) and needed a light side to go with them.  Rice seemed too expected and boring, and a salad sounded refreshing after the warm day we had (it got into the 80s!).  I usually like to mix up a quick balsamic dressing for our salads, but wanted a dressing which would be a better match for the enchiladas.  After combing the internet, I found some great ideas and came up with the following...which may just be my new favorite (and I mixed up again tonight)...

Zesty Citrus Salad Dressing
Juice of 1 orange
Juice of 1 lime (or lemon; I used lime last weekend, and lemon tonight)
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1 shallot, minced

Place all ingredients in a glass jar with a lid (or small storage container with lid) and shake well, or place in a bowl and whisk. 

I love loading our salads with lots of veggies; cucumber, bell pepper, tomatoes, mushrooms, radish, carrots, it's all fair game!