March 28, 2012

Day 9 - Last Day - Farewells

Abbotsford HANDS Team:

Another early morning.  We woke up at 5:30 for a 6:00am breakfast and then off to Centro de Fe for a final morning of good-byes and a farewell assembly with the school.  We had some presentations, we sang "We Wanna See Jesus Lifted High" with the student body (they knew it well in Spanish) and then some farewell speeches.  Students had written ACS Thank You cards for each of their new friends and staff and we exchanged presents which included some beautiful murals, cards, sports equipment, pens, yo-yos and other small gifts.  It was a sad but wonderful morning.

Then off to an authentic Nicaraguan market for some last minute shopping.  People bought:
- hammocks
- pottery
- shirts
- purses
- bags
and a ton of other stuff that was well priced and mostly hand-made.  Shopping in the market was a fun experience.

Then back to the Nehemiah Center for dinner and then off to a school to continue painting new classrooms.  We finished the classrooms at about 4:30 and headed for home to get some packing done before dinner.

During devotions we had been reading about an organization which supports the local Niraraguan economy by helping coffee farmers in the Mombachito region.  They have set these farmers up with loans which they faithfully repay and have helped them market their coffee as organic and free trade coffee.  We were all inspired by the story and one night a representative (Nicaraguan) came to our group and gave us a presentation.  We were all moved by the story of this program and so we decided that we could support this project ourselves in a very creative way.  We bought a ton of coffee.

When we came down to Nicaragua, we brought all our clothes and personal items as 'carry-on' luggage so that our checked luggage could be full of school supplies and other needed items we received from the MCC.  So, we have a ton of empty, large suitcases and we have decided to fill them up with coffee for our return trip.

You can help as well.  Please consider buying some of this coffee.  Your support of this project helps Nicaraguan farmers earn a fair living off their work.  Ask a student for information about purchasing coffee from our ACS Hands team after we return.

This evening we had a wonderful group session with Trudy, Peter, Lennin and our group.  We shared some of our stories and experiences together
and then gave some suggestions to the leaders for future trips.  Everyone shared about the positive impact this trip had made on them.  After our sharing time, we watched a slideshow of highlight pictures from our trip.  It was a room full of laughter and fun as we revisited our days together in pictures.

Our goal for this trip was that it could have components of service, learning,
collaboration and transformation and from the stories we heard tonight, we
accomplished these goals and in many ways exceeded them.

Ms. Lammers has been an extraordinarily fantastic leader for this team.  Her positive energy, people skills and organization have made for an incredible trip.  Mr. van Eerden added much to this team as well.  His wisdom and insights combined with a cheerful spirit went a long way in building our team and unifying the group.  We are hoping to bring back several interviews, videos and slide shows for the elementary students as well as feature some of our sister school staff and students around ACS when we return.

Lennin, (our interpreter) Lester (our driver), Peter and Trudy (our hosts) have been wonderful mentors for our students.  What a great experience this has been and we can't wait to share our stories with the student body once we return.

Thank you again for your prayers, support and for reading this blog each day!  Love from the ACS Hands
Team 2012.

- Mr. Goertzen

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