Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Hallelujah, there's clean water

I'm back! 

My little corner of the internet has been basically silent for a week thanks to my latest adventure. I've been writing and rewriting this post and introduction because I realized that while I have a lot to say, I feel like a jumbled mess. I got back at 1am on Tuesday and I give props to those people who can bounce back right away. 

The general idea of what we did: Kids' ministry. Every afternoon we sang, performed a drama, taught a lesson, played games, and made crafts for about four hours. Before and after, however, we hung out with the kids and played with them. In the mornings, we either painted or cleaned or rehearsed. 

How many kids? The picture up top is, I think, from the last day. Best answer: a lot. 

How was Nicaragua? How do I even explain that one? The homes were...sad. There was definitely proof of poverty. Our only acceptable water was from water bottles. When you went somewhere besides the church, they charged you to use toilet paper when going to the bathroom. And you couldn't flush toilet paper. There was no soap (so grateful for hand sanitizer). It was uncommon to have air conditioning. While there were scam artists, the people we met through the church there were the nicest people I ever encountered. 

What did I love the most? THE KIDS. Wow. The craziest thing I experienced was how quickly I formed relationships with these kiddos. They ranged from about 5 to 13 years old from around the neighborhood (there's a school nearby too) and they were amazing. I've done other kid activities before in my church and area, but it wasn't really a WHOA I LOVE IT thing until Nicaragua. Nicaraguan kids stole my heart, ya'll. By about the second day, I already had a Spanish posse going on. 

Here's the thing about the picture above. From left to right is Fernanda, Alexander, Monica, and Nayeli. They're cousins who all live across the street from the VBS center. This group specifically took me in as one of their own, tried to teach me more Spanish, and became my (younger) friends. While they had less than I did, they gave me gifts. I don't think anyone will understand how much they affected me. 

Other cool stuff: 
  • Ziplining! This also included a tightrope section, swinging like Tarzan, and a HUGE, fast drop down.  I don't even know how to explain the adrenaline rush. 
  • A boat ride and unsuccessful attempt to feed a monkey. 
  • Lunch on the highest point of a mountain overlooking a volcano covered by a lake. Basically, it was really pretty. 
  • SHOPPING. I'm not a shopper, but I was looking forward to souvenirs. I had 45 minutes-1 hour to go through 120 shops and buy for 7 people (6 family members and me). It was actually stressful, but I was dubbed the best haggler for prices among everyone. 
  • The driving was...crazy. Our bus driver had a humongous bus of about 26 people he had to navigate through the tiny streets of Managua. He owned those streets, I'm telling you. I almost felt death a couple times. 

A big downer of the trip was sickness. About early-mid way through, I became really ill. Chills, a fever, and nausea hit me at once and I never felt so cold. Thankfully, it was only about 24 hours, but my runny nose is still here. And during the last two days, I lost my voice. Guys, it's already a struggle to talk in a different language, but it's almost impossible to do so while your voice is raspy. 

I didn't read a single book, go on Twitter, or think about this blog during that week. Now that I'm home, I can't wait to catch up, talk to you guys, and read. But I'm so thankful that I had this opportunity. Nicaragua wouldn't be my first choice in the beginning. Now, I'm already hoping I go back and revisit with the people in a few years.

Now...what's your week been like? Catch me up! Tweet, email, comment, I want to hear from you. 

EDIT: A few of you commented saying you wanted to see the lake over the volcano. The picture doesn't do it ANYWHERE NEAR justice, but here it is!


  1. As much fun as trips are, it's always great to get home and crash. Clean water! Yep, I remember the fun of bottled water only and no flushing toilet paper from my trip to Guatemala. I'm sorry you got sick! That feels extra horrible when you're traveling, but at least it didn't last long.

    The kids ministry looks amazing! The zip-lining doesn't look too bad either. ;) And it's true; those who have little give and share joyfully. It's truly special.

    Curious moment: did you speak a lot of Spanish before making the trip? Welcome back to the States!

    1. Oh, you went to Guatemala? When and how did you like it? I know, I hugged my stomach and internally cried for my mother and bed.

      It is. It SO, so is.

      HA. No. I did REALLY well in my Spanish I and II class (full conversations with my professor who refused English in his classroom). But out of the classroom, I struggled. When I got there, though, I did a pretty decent job. I don't know if I said it up there, but some people thought I was a translator because I really tried conversing with the kids! Thanks, Kel!

    2. I feel old saying it, but about 6 years ago. I went to a school down there for three weeks to brush up on my Spanish so I could test out of a few college classes (and now you know how ancient I am ;) ) and had a home-stay. It was a pretty awesome experience. One-on-one classes with a native speaker who knew almost no English and afternoons doing homework in cafes with cappuccinos.

  2. Aw, welcome home, Summer! We missed you! I hope you're recovering! :) But where is the picture of the "mountain overlooking a volcano covered by a lake"? You can't tell us about something so beautiful and not show it to us! :) I've always wanted to go zip-lining. It sounds like such a rush! Sounds like you had a great time with the kiddos and that this is a trip you won't soon forget. :)

    1. Thanks, Jen! I'm trying. It's why I'm so horrible with the blogosphere right now. I edited, look, look!

    2. So you did, so you did. :) It's gorgeous, Summer. I'm totally jealous now. :D

  3. Awww, Summer, this post brought tears to my eyes. You're such a sweet and good-hearted person. I'm sure you influenced them all more than you'll ever know. I hope you get a chance to go back and visit again in the future. In the meantime, welcome home! :)

  4. What a great trip (minus getting sick, no fun)! I remember when I saw poverty like that in Mexico and man, it really does change your perspective.And I want to see this volcano picture too!

    1. When did you go to Mexico? It made me SO grateful for what I have in America. I hate warm water fountains, but at least I can drink from them and not have diarrhea later ;)

  5. *waves madly* Hope you're feeling better! I've been as crazy busy as you - I'm at my university now and getting settled in and doing orientation. Feeling a bit overwhelmed but very happy.

  6. WOW. What an awesome trip, Sunny! I went on several missions trips in high school - including one to Belize the summer before I started college - and they were all incredibly rewarding. I agree, it was the kids and PEOPLE I met who really shone. Goodness it puts things into perspective when you see how other people live. I'm also glad that you got to explore and have fun too. That picture at the bottom is gorgeous. Thanks for sharing your adventure with us!

  7. When you first told me you were going to Nicaragua, I thought it was just a vacation, not a "kid's ministry," but your activities all sound so fulfilling. Never having been out of the country, I can't imagine what it must be like to experience how people live in poorer nations - the worst I've seen in person is poorer parts of American cities. The kids you met sound like such amazing people, and I hope you can stay in touch! It's too bad you got sick (and that there wasn't any soap), but other than that, this trip sounds GREAT.