Friday, July 24, 2015

Nicaragua 2015 - Day 6 - Unexpected Challenges

Every morning our team has been meeting together to read through Philippians. Fittingly, today's passage (Phil. 2:12-18) was a good preparation for the day ahead. Verse 14 was a great reminder of our required attitudes in serving and being lights in the world. 

“Do all things without grumbling or disputing,”

We expected the day to be a muddy one with heavy storms early in the morning, but the rain mostly kept away after breakfast. It was then a 2-hour drive back to the site where we installed the Chlorinator yesterday. We thought it would be quick drop-in to check that the system was running and some hygiene lessons for the community taught by Omar. 

Of course it didn't turn out that way--a few of the obstacles that popped up:

- We checked the Chlorinator and it was still not producing chlorine to help clean the water. 
- Even if it was working, we realized that we forgot to bring the test kits to check the chlorine levels. 
- After looking at the tanks, we determined that the water that was being collected from the river was still too silty to drink. Even with the purification, the community probably wouldn't drink it. 

After some consultation with the community leaders, it was decided that we'd move the Chlorinator close to an old hand-dug well that was mainly being used for the cattle. The water there was pretty clear and with purification, it could be used by everyone. Having to disassemble the system, move the tanks and lava blocks, and reassemble it back together again could have been potentially discouraging, but everyone took it in stride, even with more obstacles ahead. 

We were able to get everything put back together and finally got the system working to create chlorine. However we also realized that having the community getting buckets from the well below by hand would just not be feasible in the long-term. Having to fill up 2 450 liter tanks regularly would be unfair to expect from the community. Ironically the solution was to reinstall an old rope pump that we had been replacing in other well repairs. Unfortunately, we didn't have all the materials needed to set it up--planks and power tools--so we'll have to return for a 3rd day to finish the job. 

Most of our other jobs have gone relatively smoothly, so this has been our biggest challenge so far for the trip. Sometimes it's easy to focus on doing as much as possible during our short time here, but this has been a good lesson on how our timing is not usually the same as God's timing. Through this extra work, we've had to learn patience, how to adapt to change and to pay attention to even the smallest details. It's even given us an opportunity to use our ingenuity and try something completely new. Ultimately, God wants us to do our work well so that the community can get clean water for a long time instead of rushing to finish an incomplete job. 

Anyway, we're looking forward to seeing it through tomorrow. We'll keep you posted!


Sunday, July 19, 2015

Nicaragua 2015 - Day 1 - Arrived in Matagalpa!

Arrived in Nicaragua! (L-R: Derek, Kenric, Graham, Ben, Gloria, Josh, Julie, Hilde, Gerry and Steven) 

¡Buenos días!

It was quite the travel day yesterday, but we have arrived safely to Matagalpa!

The day began bright and early today meeting at the airport by 6ish to get last minute things organized, checked in then moving through security and customs. Our travel itinerary then took us on a 3-hour flight from Toronto to Houston, a 2-hour layover in Houston and concluding with another 3-hour flight to Managua. After a quick pit stop to pick up some snacks, our final leg was a long, winding 2.5 hour drive to meet our hosts, Fedelina and Omar, at Puentes De Esperanza (Bridges of Hope) in Matagalpa. You could tell that the exhaustion of the long hours on the plane and car had taken a toll on the team as dinner was pretty quiet. However, thanks to a hearty and delicious spaghetti dinner, we were re-energized to chat, catch up on the day and play some cards before winding down.

Our trip has started with a few unexpected challenges though. We had a couple of delays getting through security having to explain the content of our luggage especially with some of the additional equipment we had to bring down. Fortunately, nothing got confiscated and we didn't have to pay any extra fees. A couple pieces of luggage are also missing—which includes some equipment and team Steven and Gerry’s personals—but we’re praying that they’ll be found and arrive soon.

The travel together though has given more opportunities to know each other--we're from different congregations and churches. It’s been great to learn more about our team’s diversity, background and experiences—some have been here multiple times, some are retired, a couple still in school, but we're all here to try to bless because we have been blessed ourselves. I’m excited to see how God will use each one of us in different ways to serve Him, one another and the people in Matagalpa over the next 10 days.

Hasta mañana,

“For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.” – Romans 12:4-8