Monday, January 22, 2007

Trip to Nicaragua

We arrived back in Costa Rica Wednesday after spending 8 days in Nicaragua. It was a great trip....a bit tiring...but wonderful to meet new friends and visit old ones. I thought I would give you a day by day account of our trip to give you an idea of what it is like for us to have to leave the country and travel.


We awoke at 4:30 am to get dressed and ready for our 6 am taxi to pick us up and take us the hour (sometimes hour and a half) ride to Liberia, the capital of our province. We arrived around 7:30 and knew we would have time to get breakfast before our 9 am Ticabus came to pick us up. Since there is not a terminal for Ticabus in Liberia, the bus would pick us up on the corner of town. We finished up our Burger King breakfast (yes we have one!) and made our way across the street to wait for the bus....and wait...and wait!!

That is the main game that you play when it comes to buses here! So around 8:45 we see a Ticabus heading down the road...gather up our bags and get ready to board...and the bus flies right past us!! OK...what do we do now? Dave ran to the office where he purchased the tickets and found out that was not our bus...another would be coming at 9. It actually showed up at 10! It took us one hour to get to the border of Costa Rica and Nicaragua but it took us 2 hours to cross the border and get our passports stamped! Everyone has to exit the bus...and when you enter the new have to remove all luggage from the bus to be inspected. But this time after getting our luggage and waiting in line....and waiting...and waiting...we get to the inspection table and they wave us checking! So we board the bus again and settle in for the three hour ride to Managua, Nicaragua, the capital of Nicaragua. We had a Pastor friend meet us there and he secured a taxi for us to get to the bus station so that we could catch another bus to the town he is from, La Paz Centro. We board this bus and ride for about 2 hours. By the time we reached the Pastor's was 6 pm. We walked up the roadway to the Pastor's home and waiting to greet us was his praise and worship group along with his wife and sons. What a welcome committee! They sang a wonderful song of welcome to us and greeted us warmly. At 6:30...after quickly eating..we went to the church building right next door to the Pastor and enjoyed service with them.
I would like to take a minute to describe the home of the Pastor that we stayed with. This house was built 2 years is a very small rectangle size home with exposed wiring and beams in the ceiling. The rooms of the house, there were only 4 of them, were seperated by sheets of black plastic. They had two rooms set up for bedrooms, one for a living area and one room was the kitchen. They gave us the best room of their home which had a twin bed and a full size bed. The twin bed, where Jeremiah, Rachel and Levi slept, was a wooden bed frame with a sheet of cardboard on top for the mattres, and a blanket on top of that for some comfort. Dave, Hannah, and I slept on the full bed which had a small mattress (maybe an inch or two thick). Not exactly the Best Western...but like I was their best! We awoke early Wed. am and the Pastor's wife had warm milk, coffee, and sweet bread ready for our breakfast. They took tables outside for us to enjoy breakfast. You will notice in the picture of Dave and Pastor Jose outside that there are two buildings outside as well. The building to the left is the bathroom and the brick building to the right is the shower. Just behind the table is an outdoor sink area for washing dishes, hands, face, and brushing teeth. After breakfast, we waited for a little bit warmer temps before we started our showers. Their outside shower is a 25 gallon bucket of water with a bowl in it for dipping and pouring water over yourself. No hot showers here! We were invited to join a family in the church for lunch so we walked to their home. After enjoying a wonderful lunch, the children enjoyed playing in their back patio with the many children that lived here. Many homes in Latin America have several homes behind them where more of their family lives. This was the case at this house. The kids really love playing with the other children. Jeremiah even rode a pig (although it was very brief!). We had many people while we there comment on how easily our children have adjusted to life in Central America. After lunch and visiting, we loaded up one more time to ride yet another bus to go to the city of Leon. The Pastor has two older children living in this city and going to the university there. It took us about 45 minutes to get there and we had just enough time to eat quickly and get ready to go to a house church that is about a year old in the part of town where we were staying. Dave was able to preach an evangelical message to this group of about 25 that gathered to hear the Word. We were told that only a few of the people that come to this home church are believers, yet the house is always full! After service, we took about 2 hours to walk around the city and enjoy some of the historical features of Leon. We spent the night at the home of Pastor Jose's two oldest children.

Around 10 am we left Leon and headed back to La Paz Centro. The Pastor wanted us to go with him to visit several members of his congregation. We visited 5 families, Dave read a passage of Scripture to each family and I prayed for each. It was a wonderful time of experiencing different homes, but each family was the same: very cordial, willing to offer food and drinks for each of us, and just so friendly! At 6:30 that evening the Pastor had scheduled a church service with Dave as the guest speaker. The church building they have is still being worked on. The walls are up and finished, mostly, but they still have dirt floors. It was a great evening of worship, word and fellowship. One funny thing was when two ladies were leaving for the night, they overheard Hannah and Levi speaking in English to each other. They both responded how sweet and cute it was to hear them speaking in English! I told them that English was their first language and they were just overjoyed with that!

We spent Friday walking and visiting more members of Pastor Jose's church. We visited another 5 or 6 homes and each one the same as before...the families were very friendly and open to have us come and visit with them. Once again, Dave read a passage of Scripture and I prayed over the families. That evening, there was another church service. Dave preached and afterwards each member of the church came through and showed us their love through hugs and just blessing us. We really enjoyed our time with Pastor Jose and his wife Reyna. They have four wonderful children, two of them living at home with them and two attending the university. They love God so much and love God's people. They are servants and truly enjoyed having us in their home. We look forward to going back and visiting with them again sometime.
We got up at 4 am to prepare to catch the 5:30 am bus to head to Leon and make our way to Jinotega. We arrived in Leon and waited for the next bus to leave. We left Leon at 7:30 arriving in a town called Matagalpa at 10:30 am. We jump off the bus and walked to the bus station to locate the next bus heading to Jinotega. Our bus left at 11 and we arrived in Jinotega a little after 12 pm! We were tired...but it was so nice to be in a familiar place again. We walked with our luggage from the bus station to Pastor Serafin's house, about 6-7 blocks. We arrived at Pastor Serafin's hungry and Pastor Reina had lunch waiting for us. After finishing up lunch, the children quickly got changed and ready for children's Bible classes that are held every Sat. at 2 pm. This was one of the kids favorites when we were living in Jinotega. They always looked forward to Bible class. We had a good time relaxing and visiting with good friends the rest of the day!

We spent Sunday letting the children play with some of their best friends. I met with the youth dance team and helped them choreograph a new song for them to begin practicing. It was nice to see that the youth dance team is still growing and continuing to learn more in the dance to glorify the Lord. That evening was their regular church service and Dave preached. It was nice to see all the members of Pastor Serafin's church once again. We have some wonderful friends there and visiting Jinotega is almost like a second home for us now. Everything is very familiar there...the people are just wonderful.

Monday & Tuesday
We spent catching up with friends and just enjoying time with them. I spent alot of time shopping for things that are much cheaper in Nicaragua than here in Costa Rica. There are so many used clothing stores in Jinotega...and I have yet to find one here near me in Costa Rica!

We awoke at 2:30 am to prepare to catch the 4 am bus out of Jinotega to Managua. Which meant more waiting for a bus! Pastor Serafin and Pastor Reina waited with us. The weather in Jinotega was so much colder than here in Costa Rica!(very refreshing for us!) We arrived in Managua at 7:30 am and made our way to the Ticabus station. The one thing that is important with securing buses in Central America...make sure you are early! Especially going to never know when you may arrive (Dave has had several buses break down on him!) and you never know how long it can take to get a taxi driver that will not try to rip you off! God was good to us! As soon as we arrived in Managua we found a taxi driver to take us to Ticabus for a very good price; it is not always easy when you have 6 people and we had 7 large pieces of luggage! We arrived at Ticabus station and waited until 12 noon for our bus to leave. It took three hours to get to the border of Costa Rica. Once we reached the border, we noticed there were many people in line! Several buses had arrived ahead of us. Since the line was so long, they were allowing one parent with children to go ahead of the line. I saw when I went through the line that there was one worker stamping people's passports as they were entering Costa Rica. It took us three hours to enter the country! By 6pm we were back on the bus and heading for Liberia. Our neighbor met us there and we crammed all of our luggage...and his vehicle and finally arrived at our home, tired and hungry at 9 pm!
All in all...we had a great trip to Nicaragua. Alot of it was quite tiring...but we are used to the buses by now! The children are old hats at it now! (Maybe we should join the Amazing Race Family Edition next time....we have had lots of practice at it! LOL) Since arriving home, we have been getting back in the swing of things; school starting up once again for the children, Bible studies every Sunday night, and just regular activities of living here in Potrero. We are seeking God on any new direction He would have us take to reach out to the people here more. We feel the people here are still "watching and waiting" to see what we are all about. We are so different than the normal American families that seem to pass through here. We actually have a desire to mingle and live among the Costa Ricans. Please keep us in prayer as we continue to reach out and show love!
One other thing I would like to add in catch you up more. On Saturday my husband was doing our weekly shopping in Santa Cruz. When he finished up in the store, he came out to where he had parked his motorcycle (which this parking lot was fenced and has only one way in and one way out with a security guard); well...lo and behold...the motorcycle was GONE! Someone stole it right up under the security guard's nose! Dave filed all the paperwork necessary and has declared it stolen. Now we play the Central American waiting game...and see how long it takes for something to happen. We are praying that God will take care of the whole situation. We appreciate your prayers in this too.

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