The Lady Bisons are spending seven days on a mission trip to Managua, Nicaragua as the team of 13 serves the people there.
Nicaragua has proved to be full of constructive surprises, and today was no different. The last four days God has presented opportunities for us to serve, humble ourselves, and build relationships with strangers in various areas around Managua. Today we were able to venture out a little bit farther and experience a different side of the culture that we hadn't seen before.
We all huddled into our bus in the morning, and headed for a market in Masaya, the City of Flowers, which is about forty minutes from our mission house in Managua. This week, our bus rides have consisted of sharing our individual testimonies as well as playing a game called Hot Seat that Shannon encouraged. The person (or victim) on the hot seat has to endure a series of questions that the rest of the players come up with- anything is fair game. We've intensely come to know each other better this week, and I think these bus rides are a huge part of that.
When we got to the market, I was amazed at how historical it looked. The best way I can think to describe it is a normal flea market surrounded with walls that mimicked a medieval castle. There were various stands and shops set up inside with vendors trying eagerly to give us their business. There were hand-crafted wooden figurines, bracelets, Nicaraguan coffee, T-shirts, hammocks, and so many other goods just waiting to be bought. I felt a little uneasy at the market thinking about how badly these people were wanting to sell me their things. Quality of life is so different here, and thinking about how these people live everyday has really impacted my heart. I was able to find some gifts for family members, and I knew that the vendors felt a sense of pride in making a sale. After we all had finished our shopping, we loaded up again and took off for the city of Granada.
Granada is the oldest city in Nicaragua and really showed its colonial roots. We ate lunch in a cafe that mirrored a hipster Nashville joint, full of rustic wood, unique decorations, and bookshelves full of vintage books. Uniquely, the power was out, but the restaurant remained open, something you wouldn't normally see in the States. While we were eating, I looked up from my plate and I saw everyone breaking food off of their plate to share with everyone else. It was cool, and I think it exemplified the phrase "breaking bread". Ines even remarked that she got to try five different dishes in addition to her own.
We left the restaurant and got to leave on a boat tour of Lake Managua and the islands that dot the coast near Granada. We got to witness mansions, private islands, an awe-striking volcano in the distance, and even got to see Charley reach out of the boat to try to feed a monkey. It was a beautiful experience and I loved getting to share it with the rest of the team. I also reached a new level of happiness when I was able to shout the lyrics to "Despacito" as our boat blasted down the lake. It was a great easy way to spend the afternoon.
When we docked, we meandered through a central park with more vendors, walked through an art museum, took a horse-drawn carriage ride around the perimeter of the city, and got to explore a 500 year old cathedral. The city was breathtaking and it was awesome to take in. The only disappointing moment was when we realized the ice cream shop was closed (which was a shame because this team runs on ice cream). We left Granada that evening fully prepared to pack up quickly to depart for the airport at five the next morning.
When we got back to the house, everyone was beginning to pack up their souvenirs and getting their suit cases ready. Amidst the chaos, Shannon and our translator Claire said they had some news. Our flight had been cancelled. We had some mixed reactions as all thirteen of us had to reconfigure our plans for the next 48 hours. For me it meant withdrawing from a golf tournament, for others it meant rearranging other travel plans, or having to pull strings at work.
Personally, it was easy for me to feel panicked upon hearing the news. My bag was packed up ahead of time (which is a rarity for all that know me) and I was mentally prepared to be home. I wanted to see my family. After some prayer and reflection though, I began to see this hiccup in our plans as an opportunity. I felt like I had given my all this past week, but I didn't feel completely drained. I wished I would have pushed myself into more uncomfortable situations that God could use to grow me. I regretted not taking the time to learn more about the people I had met using my broken Spanish. I regretted not playing just one more game with a crowd of kids that was overjoyed to have us there.
Despite the uncertainties surrounding our travel plans, my prayer is that we can all push ourselves a little bit harder in this last day and that God will lead us into situations that may extend past our comfort zone in order to grow us in unimaginable ways. I pray for safety as we wrap up our time in Nicaragua working with Hope Road. I pray that God's will will continue to show itself in our lives and that he will never cease to use us to bring His kingdom. I am thankful for everyone that has prayed for this trip, and I am thankful for the life-changing experience that Nicaragua has given me. We'll see you soon, United States. God-willing.