Saturday, March 16, 2013

Amy is home safe...

Got a message from Amy that she is home safe, had a hot shower with blasting water power and is missing Nicaragua already.

Continue to pray for our team as we mentally process all we did and saw. And as we readjust to normal life in the USA. Short-term trips do change lives!

Hub City Vineyard will be making another venture into Nicaragua in March of 2014 (Lord willing and the creeks don't rise, as grandma used to say). Contact the church or any of the team members to talk about the possibility of joining us on next year's trip. All are welcome!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Travel today and this weekend!

Please pray for Amy as she begins her long day of travel home today. She traveling with 12 students from UVA who were also assisting the clinical team on Alternative Spring Break. The remaining doctors and clinical team members from the Olive Tree non-profit will be also traveling this weekend. Safe travels and much sanity to all!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Three home; one not and work goes on...

Terry, Lynne and I arrived back to Hagerstown from Nicaragua after a Tuesday travel day of over 14 hours. We hit the Hagerstown exit off I-70 at about 2:30 a.m. on Wednesday morning. Thanks for all your prayers during our trip and for our safe travels.

We three are off work today; getting some needed rest, unpacking, sorting through mail, and spending time with our respective families. We all head back to our "real" jobs tomorrow. Pray for us as we readjust back to our normal lives over the next days and weeks, that our memories of and our passion for the people of Nicaragua will not fade.

Continue to pray for Amy and the rest of the clinical team that are holding health fairs and medical clinics on the Pacific coast through Friday of this week. Plus my friend Richard from Iowa will continue to be in Jinotepe working on the library project up to Good Friday.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Waiting for a taxi in Jinotepe

Terry, Lynne and I stopped by the library project before leaving town this morning. I am posting some pictures of Doug's greenhouse and grounds as requested by those that were here last year.

Ten minutes until our taxi arrives and our travel day gets serious!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Monday - last night in country for three by gbG (guest blogger Gary)

I spent the day working at the library project in Jinotepe. Finished touching up some random primer paint spots this morning. My OCD would not let me leave the country with those few spots unfinished. Then cleaned the rollers, pans and brushes for the finish coat painting team from Iowa which comes in next week. Finished out the day helping Richard complete another low book shelf. There is now a total of six book shelves completed for the main room in the library. More shelving plans are being drawn up and the finish paint color for the total library project was selected this afternoon.

Amy, the soon to be last in country member of our little team, is out at the beach house in Huehuete for the rest of the week. Four days of health fairs and clinics are planned from Tuesday through Friday. Amy will be out of communication while at the beach so to her friends and family: do not worry if you do not hear from her. We all said our goodbyes this afternoon as she hopped on the bus for the Pacific Coast!

Some folks from previous year's trips have asked for pictures of Doug's tree/garden area and the aquaponic project in the greenhouse. I know Chandra has those shots on her camera: so hey lady, post them! I'll walk over there tomorrow morning to get a few more shots. Maybe I can get them posted before Chan does!

Terry, Lynne and I are at hotel Casa Mateo in Jinotepe for the evening. Tomorrow mid-morning we will be heading to Managua by taxi for the start our journey homeward. We anticipate our arrival back in the Hagerstown area at 3:00 a.m. Wednesday morning. Please pray for our safety (and sanity) as we fly first to Panama City then to Washington-Dulles. And many thanks to Mr. Eddie for being our personal chauffeur for the return ride from the airport!

The last ten days seemed to fly past. Each visit leaves us longing to return again and again. Not just to be His hands and feet by helping those in need. But to re-visit with all our dear life-long friends that just happen to live in Nicaragua.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Sunday - A bridge for Los Gomez

Today while the clinical team continues their weekend stay at Ometepe Island, I walked over to Doug and Julie's house in Jinotepe for a ride with them and friends out of town to Los Gomez to help work on a suspended walking bridge project. In the rainy season, this agricultural area is cut off by a creek that floods the only access road to this village (picture below). People cross a creek which floods up to 3 meters high by holding onto a cable across the creek. We worked along side of some Engineers without Borders college students from Colorado, people from Bridges to Prosperity and local workers from that community.
Today's project was to hand mix 4 cubic meters of concrete on the ground. The concrete mixing lasted from 9:30 til 2:30 with lunch breaks in shifts at the job site. Was a long, hot, exhausting day for an old guy like me, but was great to lend a hand on a project that means so much to the people of this community.

The pictures below show both sides of the bridge supports, the bridge cables passing through yellow tubes, concrete being hand mixed on the ground and the progress of pour. I added the cattle drive picture just for fun!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Split up again...

After last night (Friday) having a great time being all together at the Casa Mateo hotel in Jinotepe, our group of six is now split in three directions. I rode to the Managua airport to see off Chandra and Mary this morning for their trip home. As I type this, they should be on the last leg of their flight back home. They are scheduled to arrive in Washington/Dulles at 11:30 Saturday night. Chandra was planning on being at the late Hub City Vineyard service tomorrow morning. If she and you are there, give her a big hug for me! After dropping the ladies at the airport. We went on a search for a belt for a broken down hotel van. Luckily the interpreter is very aware of where to find auto parts in Managua Then we went back to the airport to pickup three new members of the clinical team. I along with duffle bags full of newly arrived items from the states got dropped at Casa Mateo late this afternoon.

Terry, Lynne and Amy went to Ometepe Island with the rest of the clinical group this weekend. Part of "loving others" is loving this country. And that they will definitely do this weekend.

I am back at Casa Mateo tonight by myself (shed a tear for me). At 8:30 tomorrow morning I am heading to a local bridge building project coordinated by Doug along with Engineers Without Borders. There is talk of needing enough manpower to hand mix several cubic yards of concrete on the ground. I'll need lots of Vitamin I in the morning! That's what us desk-workers turned construction folks call 800 mg of prescription ibuprofen. Hopefully there will be a blog post and pictures of this effort tomorrow night if I can still move my arms.

The picture below is the school bus being loaded for today's trip to Ometepe Island. The bus will cross to the island on a ferry and stay with the clinical folks for the weekend.

What a different a year makes...

Here are some comparison pictures of the construction site. The first two are from March of last year. The library was built in the front empty corner of the lot utilizing the front perimeter wall as part of the structure. Note the doorway and four high windows on the wall that are now in he room.

Will post more later today...

Friday, March 8, 2013

My last 2 full days in Nicaragua...

I don't know quite how to describe clinics other than humbling & awesome.  I think that Gary described it best when explaining to Doug that I had chosen clinics over painting, "Sorry, but you don't have Nica babies..."

Terry, Lynne, Mary & I were at clinic yesterday and saw mostly women & children.  I was again on heights and weights and was even able to check heartrates on people that I could find a pulse on.  Today, Amy came with us and took over heights & weights so that I could help out in the "farmacia" (pharmacy).  Workin with Peter (a kind & quie man with an awesome sense of humor and great intelligence) was really cool.  For someone without a medical background other than a nurse mom, it was fun giving flouride treatments to kids (all of which had some form of decay), filling out labels for people's medicines (en español), providing said meds, explaining said meds (en español) to people and then being hugged and blessed profusely (en español) by the people of this amazing culture.

Tired & sore dont really begin to describe my current state, but Mary & I are homeward bound tomorrow while Amy, Lynne & Terry head to Ometepe for the weekend before next week's health fairs.  Our fearless leader will be heading out to work with Doug on the bridge projects.

Prayers for comtinued safety and traveling would be much appreciated.

Love to all back home!

Thursday construction update by gbG (guest blogger Gary)

On Thursday work continued at the library/ education center job site. Amy finished painting the hall way and we both tackled the large room which will be the main public area of the library. All but a small piece of wall in the main room is done! The big push on Thursday afternoon was to get that highest wall done so that we were not in the way of the local welders on Friday. Our goal of primer painting the whole building is in sight! And I'm sure there are other side projects we can tackle.

Terry, Mary, Lynne, and Chandra continued work at a medical clinic on Thursday seeing about 85 people. Ask Chandra about her transportation adventures in getting to the clinic site!

Chandra and Mary have their last work day at the clinic on Friday as they head home on Saturday. Some team members are planning on leaving many of their trip clothes behind. And some are replacing that clothing weight with many pounds off Nicaraguan coffee. Nicaragua is the forth largest coffee exporter and Mary is single-handedly trying to get them to number three.

Terry, Lynne and I will be staying in country a few days longer until next Tuesday. Amy will be spending another week in country with the medical team and will be coming home Friday of next week.

I plan on doing the Managua airport run with Mary and Chandra on Saturday. We will certainly miss these two dynamic ladies from our team. Jinotepe is about an hour away from the Managua airport (depending on traffic just like any major city). Dr. Bill Kerns from Smithsburg will be arriving in country around the same time on Saturday, so we will be picking him up during the same run. As the medical team is here in Nicaragua for four weeks, their cast of characters is constantly changing as people rotate in and out for one week (or longer) stays.

More construction pictures below including Richard from Iowa as he is working on the library book shelves.

Note the duct taped double extension poles on the paint roller. It kept me off of scaffolding which makes my wife very happy as I do have a scaffolding story from my past adventures at a Mexican job site.

There are also some pictures of our hotel Casa Mateo in Jinotepe. (Note: Terry and Lynne have been roughing it with some other members of the medical team in Huehuete all week. I'm sure the would love a hot shower by this point.)

The last picture shows why we are here. That is a picture of a dump of the edge of Jinotepe a short, few minute walk from our hotel. There are usually ladies there scavenging for anything they can find. Nicaragua is the second poorest country in this region. Only Haiti is poorer. Scenes like this one make my mind race. They draw me inward to the reflect on the excesses of my own life and hopefully to action.

Continue to pray for our safety and health along with the well-being of our families back home. Without their support in the trenches on home front, it would be impossible for our team to leave home and serve the people of Nicaragua.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Gary lied...

Back in semi-civilization & feeling beyond blessed. Our team stays divided while Mary & I returned to Jinotepe, Terry & Lynne went back to the beach house after our excursion today. Gary only lied because plans changed: It seems that any team that can stay out at the beach house, will in order to cut costs.

Clinic yesterday was amazing and I am still trying to organize my thoughts & journal entry to properly describe it. There was a much needed humbling moment in the early afternoon where I let myself start thinking about how sore, tired, homesick & hungry I was when one of the interpreters asked me, "If you knew it would be like this, would you still come?" My heart answered before my head caught up with a resounding, "Yes!" Due to that, I will be heading out to do clinic work tomorrow and Friday as Amy & Gary seem to have this painting thing down pat until the college students arrive to finish up the job.

Today we went to explore Mombacho: an ancient yet still active volcano that actually formed one of the surrounding islands (Grenada) 15-20 thousand years ago in an eruption. There was a 45 minute hike that completely took me unawares that I was in no way physically prepared for. I made it even though I skipped a side trail. The entire team was amazing and supportive to stay with me and let me rest as I needed.

Dinner tonight consisted of some pretty darn good pizza & lots of laughs. Off to shower & sleep better than a baby.


PS - Check out these pics from yesterday & today!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Tuesday update - gbG version (guest blogger Gary)

Amy and I spent the day continuing to primer paint the library/education center in Jinotepe, Nicaragua. Richard from Harvest Vineyard in Iowa arrived today. He is setting up shop to build shelving for the library. The Hub City Vineyard team worked with Richard last year. He will be here for three weeks. The final week a college team from Iowa State University will be painting the top oil based coat on what we primed this week.

Talked briefly tonight with the clinical team leaders. After the clinical team drops off supplies at their Thursday/Friday clinic site, we are all joining together tomorrow mid-morning to visit the Mombacho volcano site. The clinical and construction teams will be staying at hotel Casa Mateo in Jinotepe starting tomorrow night through Friday night.

Here are some pictures taken today at the construction site. Anything that is white, we painted in the last two days.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Monday in Nica - guest blogger Gary

Today was our first full work day in Nicaragua. Chanda, Amy and I worked in Jinotepe painting a primer coat on stucco walls of a building that will eventually be a library and education center. This is our church's second year working with our Vineyard friends, Doug and Julie Effinger. We are all a little tired and sun soaked, but with the tiredness comes a sense of accomplish of a good's days work. Chanda left the hotel tonight at 7:00 p.m. to make her way to the Pacific coast with two of the interpreters to join the rest of the clinical team.  A 45 minute drive in a bench seat Toyota pickup truck (think 1990 vintage, copper in color). Chandra will be helping with a beachside clinic tomorrow   and seeing that part of the country for the first time. Amy and I stayed back in Jinotepe for more primer painting tomorrow! Finishing some outside work in the morning then moving inside in the afternoon to avoid then direct sun.

Terry, Mary and Lynne worked at a community clinic today.  One of the interpreters reported that they saw approximately 80 people. The housing at the beach house is described at "elegant camping." Bunk rooms, shared baths, cold showers, limited water for showers and flushing.  But... with a killer view of the Pacific Ocean.  I'm sure Chandra will be publishing pictures when she returns to the world of WiFi later this week.

The weather here is cold for Nica standards.  It was 60 degrees and very breezy last night! High's in the low 80's and brilliant sun today.  More of the same with increasing temps forecasted as the week progresses. No rain in sight. Just like in Hagerstown, right?

Pray for continued health and safety was our work continues tomorrow. The high winds are causing issues with blowing dust in our eyes and triggering allergies. But God's provision continues to amaze our little group.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

When you order fish in Nicaragua...

Today was an eye opening experience all together & in so many ways!  After breakfast, we took a quick walking tour of Jinotepe.  It took about 45 minutes total to cover the 5 block by 2 block area including everything from a casino, to an open market to the work site that we'll be working this week.  The people here are so friendly and welcoming!  After our tour of the town, we had lunch and then headed out to the little tourist area of Catarina.

The view is more spectacular in person and accompanied by wind gusts that would shame some hurricanes.  We were able to wander and enjoy ourselves in preparation of the work week ahead.  And then we had dinner...

You know how you go to certain restaurants and you KNOW the menu?  #5 is burger, fries & shake.  Well, Nicaraguan meals are traditionally served with the main dish, fried plantain (no real taste, but a very meaty starch...yummo with ketchup) rice, cheese, some type of salad (ours was beet, carrot, cucumber, lettuce, orange & banana) and a fried banana for a sweet.  So, when seeing the menu, you are given platter options:  chicken, beef, pork, fish or shrimp with different preparations on said platter.  I thought I was safe with fish & had agreed with Lynne to split with her if she'd do the same with her shrimp dish.  Great conversation, music (seriously - dueling players) & laughs ensued.  And then the meals arrived...

The people across from me (who also ordered fish) got these amazing looking platters with heaping filets of fish surrounded by the rest of the meal.  My tummy was rumbling, my mouth was watering.  And then MY meal arrived...

When they say, "fish on a platter" - they MEAN fish on a platter.  The whole  fish.  Cooked with face in tact.  I have a picture of said meal (that Lynne graciously swapped me for) that I can upload once home; but I really wish that someone had caught a picture of my face looking this potential meal in the eye.

Excited to get working tomorrow and praying for the med team as they departed from our company earlier.

Love to all back home!!


Breakfast in the breeze...

Now that we have a moment to breathe, I can actually give a few details...  

Yesterday's travel was long.  At church by 5:30 to be at airport by 7:30 for flight at 9:15 to be in Panama City by 3 to catch flight to Managua (with a stop in Costa Rica) by 4 to arrive inManagua by 7.  Once we landed, we had to deplane, get luggage, get through immigration & customs an then get to Jinotepe (hotel). 

Thank goodness for the comforts of a bed, a fan & a shower in the morning!  The hotel here has an open courtyard filled with native flora & birds that kindly awoke us.

The breakfast that we just enjoyed consisted of scrambled eggs, rice & beans, fresh fruit and toast.  We are all in good spirits and currently planning out the week's events.

Much love to all back home.  Continue prayers are appreciated.


Saturday, March 2, 2013

Estamos Aqui!!!

We are here, we are here, we are HERE!

Praise Jesus for safe travels and an amazing story to come of God's perfect timing & plans!!

Love to all back home!