March 23, 2012

Day 4 - The River

Abbotsford HANDS Team:

We woke up pretty early today at 5:30 and had breakfast at 6:00am  Then, off to the bus for a ride with our new friends from Centro De Fe (our partner school) into the mountains of Nicaragua.  We started with a trip to an ecological reserve museum where we learned all about some of the issues facing Nicaragua today.  One issue is the threatened extinction of the sea turtle but there are many others as well including deforestation of the rainforest, flooding and mudslides (from deforestation), pollution, garbage, air quality and volcanic / natural disasters.  There are no shortage of ecological issues in Nicaragua.

After this we went to the river for the afternoon and enjoyed swimming, playing volleyball and frisbee, talking to friends and eating lunch.  It was very hot so the river felt extraordinarily great for swimming today.  There was a very slippery waterfall / rock area and several students had some mishaps but nothing serious.  I was pretty concerned about Courtney who fell on the rocks while trying to jump across the stream but she assured us all that she was fine...

Later in the day we went to a park with many vendors and an outdoor catholic service for Easter.  Many of the students had rides in the little tuk-tuk taxis.  We returned to the Nehemiah Centre for dinner with Lenin (our interpreter) and Peter and Trudy (our Edu Deo Hosts).  It was a great day of fellowship and fun.

Some of the things that have struck me over the first four days:

- while showing our tour of ACS on video to the Centro De Fe student body, I was struck with an incredible emotional / transformational moment where I actually teared up.  It hit me just how much we have and take for granted.  We have a room for every subject area in our school - music, art, wood, mechanics, sewing, computers, foods, gym... and while we were showing these rooms I'm looking at every room in the school from their 'auditorium' area.  The entire school can be viewed from there because every classroom is open to the centre.  And, Roy and Alison were outside doing a grade 5 PE class - on the street, stopping periodically for cars to pass through the kickball game they were playing with the kids.

- we drove past a traffic island yesterday and got caught in a traffic jam.  There beside us on this traffic island was a mother and her two young children.  She was selling stuff to cars passing by and the kids were playing on the traffic island.  There was a hammock set up for naps and a makeshift crib there for the baby.  I have never seen anything like that before.

- the students and staff at Centro De Fe love our students and staff and absolutely love it that we come here to build relationships with them.  They pull out all the stops for our visit and truly are grateful that we want to know them and visit them at their school.

- driving in Nicaragua is insane.  That's all I'm going to say about that.  Except that I make ALL the students where their seatbelts - even with Alison's looks of  "Gerry... its Nicaragua... nobody wears seatbelts..." - but they do in our van!

- teenagers don't see risks (some extremely youthful, single but engaged, teachers are similar).  Middle aged principals see all the risks and then imagine several more...

Alison here... following up...

As much as we have been connecting with Centro De Fe... we have been encouraging our students to also connect and create meaningful relationships within our own team as well.  It has been interesting to see people who would never really talk with each other in school from day to day... perhaps even being in the same class for years and years... connect for the first time. 

Our students have certainly learned a lot about relationships and what it means to develop them and invest in them.  I hope and pray that they will retain these reflections, that they will learn from them and apply them in tangible ways.

How do we move forward?  This is a questions we will have to continue to ask ourselves time and time again as the days pass.

Thanks... again... continue to pray please.

To God be the Glory....


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