View all HANDS Teams
Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Pink and Red 1 comment

Our Team:

We knew that today was an important day. It was to be our last full day in Nicaragua, and we only had a handful of hours at our work site to get the job done. Peter and Trudy Kuipers, our hosts/ess with the mosts/ess are coming home only a few days after us, and wouldn't have time to wrap things up if we couldn't finish. Last Friday we showed up at the work site for the first time, and were greeted with dancing, fruit and thankful hearts. Today, we arrived and the gates were locked. We needed to be let in. But once we got behind the gates and inside, we worked tirelessly to get things done. Everything needed a second coat of pink paint. The building here is so much different. Everything is open air, so wind can pass through the hot classrooms, but metal bars adorn all of the spaces. Most walls are concrete or plaster, and some aren't all that smooth, so applying paint can be tiresome. The paint itself is an oil based glop that really does go on, but is a bit hard to get off. Clothes that were splattered are probably not coming back with us.

I say we worked tirelessly, but truly, some of us are quite tired. We've been spending 18 days in 38-40 degree heat, away from home and regular comforts, and only one mom on the trip to keep everybody smiling and comforted. One student in particular felt the overwhelming exhaustion today, and boy did we make him pay...

IMG_7177 IMG_7195 IMG_7182 IMG_7183 IMG_7184 IMG_7185 IMG_7186 IMG_7187 IMG_7188 IMG_7189 IMG_7190 IMG_7191 IMG_7192 IMG_7193 IMG_7194 IMG_7178 IMG_7179 IMG_7180 IMG_7181

Seriously how can you fall asleep in that position? And how can you stay sleeping? And how do you not notice all of the photos? Sweet!

Luke and Conner began to help Netty, a contractor hired by EduDeo that has helped with many school building projects over the course of the year, prepare the kitchen floor (previously dirt) for tile. They were amazing all day, and just as we wrapped up at 2:30, they had the excess grout wrapped off. Beautiful job boys!!

IMG_7200 IMG_7204 IMG_7197

We have spent a lot of hours in our old cheese wagon. The bus was our life line. Everything we did, we'd pile on to get to. Mauricio, was our driver beyond compare. The guy is seriously talented. He's been a huge help to us here, like all of the people that we work with!

IMG_7208 IMG_7211

We felt like we had done good work, and were happy with how things turned out by the end. Peter gave a wonderul speech about how far the school had come in the last couple of years - a new roof, new floor, and now fresh paint. Looks like a different place. We were happy to help!

IMG_7198 IMG_7199

The pastor of the church and his wife provided a snack of fresh fruit in the morning, and prayed for us to bless us as we went our way. Lydia, the principal was also there helping to clean up. Group picture!


We made it home to the Nehemiah Center by 4, and spent time in a group debrief with our EduDeo leaders. Everyone talked about what they enjoyed about the trip, we prayed together, and then said our goodbyes.

Students had time to hang out together for one final evening, pack their bags, and get ready for the long day of travel tomorrow. See many of you in 24 hours!!

view full article…

Monday, April 4, 2016

Sur la Playa 1 comment

On Sunday, the team headed to the beach. Well first we went to church at Bautista Libertad. A more conservative church service. But beautiful music and lively preaching. We broke for Sunday School in the middle of the service, and they arranged an English speaking missionary (Kirk from Texas) who led us in a wonderful lesson on following God and being obedient. We were thankful and surprised when he began speaking, and had an American twang!

Then, an hour long trip to the beach where students swam, relaxed and enjoyed the day! We took a day off from the blog (it was Sunday after all) and here are some pics you may have missed:

IMG_6890 IMG_6887 IMG_6883 IMG_6881 IMG_6878 IMG_6877 IMG_6873 IMG_6870 IMG_6865 IMG_6864 IMG_6863 IMG_6859 IMG_6856 IMG_6855 IMG_6854 IMG_6853 IMG_6851 IMG_6848 IMG_6847 IMG_6846 IMG_6845 IMG_6844 IMG_6843 IMG_6842 IMG_6841 IMG_6840 IMG_6838 IMG_6837 IMG_6835 IMG_6834 IMG_6832 IMG_6831 IMG_6830 IMG_6829 IMG_6828 IMG_6827 IMG_6826 IMG_6825 IMG_6824 IMG_6821 IMG_6820

view full article…

Sunday, April 3, 2016

I Hate Goodbyes 1 comment

Today was a hard day. Students have been preparing for this trip for an entire year. They have fundraised, studied and packed, they have prayed, planned and traveled far. Today we had to say goodbye to the students that we have become so fond of at Bautista Libertad. A school of 500 students crammed into a hot, dusty, loud little school in downtown Managua. Their smiles and cheer, deep brown eyes and love for neighbour will go with us as we leave this place. It is hard to believe we have spent 10 days here already. And while we still have a full day on the worksite, there are many relationships that for now, are put on hold. Students exchanged Facebook information and took selfies together, but the time for being together is over, and that can be difficult.

It wasn't all tears and hugs today though. We started the day with devotions at Bautista Libertad - we discussed the health of the body, and how the Body of Christ is now evident to us as the church around the world, not just the different people that make up the church we attend.

Students then helped with small painting jobs around the school. A group of Gateway students helped paint a mural on Bautista's school walls. It was drawn and planned out by a teacher at the school and came out great!

20160404_125127 20160404_092854 20160404_112627

It seemed like health day at Bautista. In the corner of the school there is a little pulperia (snack shop) run by a local family. They sell mostly chips/pop/snacks. There are a few healthier items (plantain chips and pizza...). This little store does remarkably well. The majority of students purchase something there during recess. Today, a teacher and a few of the grade 10 students had a table set up across the courtyard with beautiful fresh fruit set out on it. They had pineapples, papaya, watermelon, cantelope, bananas and some unidentified small fruits that students could also buy. They sold out! I was so happy for them. There was also a group of nurses that came to the school today to attend to the health of some of the youngest primary students. They were given needles, a small tablet that dissolves in the mouth to get rid of parasites, and liquid vitamins. This happens a couple of times a year, and students are usually vaccinated for similar things to Canadian students: diptheria, polio, tetanus, measles, mumps and rubella. What a blessing that these diseases are nearly eradicated around the world, and in a country like this, where more diseases are around, and some hard to control, especially encouraging to see!

The little boys and girls were lined up for their shots, and after seeing one little girl cry when she got her needle, I took a picture of a little boy, who stoically approached the nurses, rolled up his own sleeve and gritted his teeth. Fuerte!

20160404_080621 20160404_112819

After lunch with the Bautista students (beans/rice/plantains for the 21 time in case you're counting) it was time for the annual talent show. This has continued to improve over the years. Bautista students take it very seriously, and Gateway students realize over the course of the week that there is some practicing that should be done before they get on stage. This year there were fewer entrants, but of higher quality. A beautiful duet between a cello and violin. A couple of powerful skits, a sweet rendition of 10,000 Reasons highlighted BL's contributions. And Gateway responded (not that it's a competition!) with the Cup Song, Maki's rap, Zach/Bailey duet, Luke/Brayden playing Heart and Soul. What a fun time!

20160404_113324 20160404_141944  20160404_124548  20160404_144658 20160404_144111 20160404_144107 20160404_142956 20160404_143748 20160404_145336 20160404_145333 20160404_144655

The talents were done, it was then time for goodbyes. The students presented each Gateway kid with a small gift. We gave gifts to the grade 11s. We took pictures. Lots of pictures! Then onto the bus and back to the Nehemiah Center.

20160404_150514 20160404_150340 20160404_150451 20160404_152831

view full article…

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Just Lather, That's All 1 comment

This morning something very, very special happened - we got to sleep in until 7:00! Breakfast wasn't until 7:30. And now, a word about the food. There are three very solid square meals every day that we get here. Students have found breakfast to be the most unique. We often have toast, fresh juice and cereal. Sometimes we have pancakes or eggs. Occasionally we have gallo pinto (Nicaragua's national dish of rice and beans). Lunch is usually rice, beans, chicken and some kind of vegetable, and supper is usually rice, beans, chicken and some kind of vegetable. The team will tell you, however, that they still like chicken! It's cooked in so many ways! And it's well seasoned. And we're hungry!

So, we woke up late, ate pancakes (the Dutch kind if you know what I mean) and boarded the bus for our team cultural day. This is the first day where we're on our own as a team, and we are doing truly touristy things. We drove a half an hour south of the city to a working potter's house. Currently the shop and store front are owned and operated by a woman and her sons. They also have a few people working for them. We were given a great demonstration of the spinning and forming of vases and urns, saw where the pottery was fired, and then got to do some shopping!

IMG_6593 IMG_6598 IMG_6604 IMG_6605 IMG_6606 IMG_6611

After loading our carefully packaged pottery purchases into the bus, we went further down the highway to the nearest volcano - Mombacho! At the foot of the mountain is a little jewel of a tourist attraction, the Mombacho Zip Line Adventure. The group was a little bit nervous and a lot excited. We geared up, which was fairly quick, and mostly consisted of finding a helmet that fit Mr. Kooman's head. Thankfully the only reason one wears helmets are not for the zip-lining itself, but to protect oneself inside the truck as we rattled our way to the top of the course. Our guides (four guys who didn't share their names) were funny, fast and efficient. They moved us from platform to platform quickly and safely. Everyone participated, everyone enjoyed the experience. Beautiful birds flitted around us, and a family of howler monkeys were too hot to hoot, thankfully, they were just hanging in the shade of an enormous tree.

IMG_6718 IMG_6699 IMG_6697 IMG_6691 IMG_6679 IMG_6677 IMG_6676 IMG_6670 IMG_6652 IMG_6649 IMG_6648 IMG_6647 IMG_6646 IMG_6645 IMG_6644 IMG_6643 IMG_6642 IMG_6641 IMG_6639 IMG_6638 IMG_6637 IMG_6636 IMG_6635 IMG_6617 IMG_6614 IMG_6613

Historically, on the cultural day, we spend time touring Lake Nicaragua. This year we did that on our field trip with Bautista Libertad students, so we had some time to explore the beautiful town of Granada. We did some learning about the main cities in Nicaragua, and Granada was the first settlement the Spanish created after bringing boats from the Atlantic up the river into Lake Nicaragua. It was the cultural, economic and political hub of the colony for hundreds of years. In the 1900s Granada was the capital for the Conservative element in the country, with Leon being the Liberal capital. It's colonial appearance is still in tact, especially because the old buildings were not damaged in the 1972 earthquake. A beautiful church stands in the main city square, and a vibrant market surrounds it. Many tourists flock to Granada to explore, shop or just simply have a coffee in the town square.

IMG_6781 IMG_6774 IMG_6773 IMG_6801 IMG_6798 IMG_6794

Students had a healthy chicken lunch in the air-conditioned comfort of Tip Top (39 degrees in Granada!) and then had time to wander around the main square. Like we should at all times, students were instructed to keep their eye on the church as a landmark, never wandering too far outside of its shadow as they spent a few dollars and perused the stalls. American dollars are preferred in Nicaragua. Fresh, new bills are the preferred kind, but the official currency the Cordoba is also accepted of course. Right now the exchange is 28 to 1 (American Dollar).

Lesther and Peter took us through Granada's old market, where the stalls are tight, the alleys narrow, and the food less touristy and more authentic. What an experience. Peter, Lesther, Chris and Mauricio stopped for a haircut. A straight shave and a haircut for 50 cordobas each. Just under $4. What a deal!


20160402_150550 20160402_154957 20160402_155003 20160402_154952 20160402_154038

There was even a little bit of time when the haircuts went longer than expected, to explore Granada's beautiful cathedral. Inside are many icons and symbols of the Catholic Faith. The building is vast, with apses, chapels and narthex's to explore. Birds fluttered around, parishioners were in prayer, a Sunday School (Saturday School?) class was taking place, and beggars asked for alms at all of the doors. A lot going on.



After a hot day, it was time for some refreshment at the over-airconditioned Pizza Hut in Managua. It was Bailey's 18th birthday today, and it was fun to celebrate with her. The ladies even bought here a cake, and the Pizza Hut staff sang a nice little ditty for her.

IMG_6819 IMG_6818 IMG_6815 IMG_6813 IMG_6812 IMG_6811

view full article…