The Past two days have been pretty intense here in Nicaragua.

On Wednesday we went to Chaco Cente, a working farm out in the country, where former captives of La Chureca are living, farming, going to school, and participating in a community where they are able to grow, feel safe, experience redemption through Christ, and be free of the identity of a person from the dump. The school on the property is now open to local residents, and they said that it is the best school in the area. Parents have pulled their children from the public school, and now send them to Chaco Cente.

A few years ago, Chaco Cente was having problems with the water system. The city water was shut off in that area, and the newly freed residents began complaining that they were better off in La Chureca. “At least there we had water, here we have none, maybe we should just go back.” Deosnt that sound an awful lot like the Israelites after Moses helped bring them out of slavery in Egypt?

The solution was a simple one, build a well. Now there is no fear of running out of water for a very long time.

Later that afternoon, we went to visit Dan and Jessenia’s girls home. We went on a hike to this beautiful hill, and after a while of laughter, and taking in a beautiful view, we sat down to talk with the girls. As we talked Alesca, the oldest girls started to tell her story of sexual abuse by her uncle, and how no one believed her story till it happened again. Finally she was believed. She had never spoke of it to anyone, and as her voice shook and tears poured, she found freedom.

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Today will be our first day in the dump. It has been what I consider oppressively hot, but everyone who lives here considers it cool.

We had a great first day yesterday. We went to a wonderful church service in Managua, and it is amazing how different cultures, speaking different languages, can worship and pray together, as one body of the church.

The team met the kids from the girls home that Dan and Jessenia run, for the first time. Wow! They treated the girls, like they were cousins. I havent heard so much screaming and laughter for a long time, and it does ones soul a service to see kids just being kids, and college students acting like kids, both laughing, running, and singing at the top of their lungs.

We spent a good amount of time in the car, doing a loop from Managua to Masaya, and finally ending at the girls home, before finally heading home to the compound. Yesterday was a day of acclimation. Today will be a day of doing. Meeting people in the dump, most likely spending time at a school in the dump, and walking through seeing the oppression that weighs heavily on this small community.

Im not sure how much I’ll be blogging. I will be shooting lots of photos, but I dont want to post for the sake of posting. I want to be putting together a story to really show what Dan and Jessenia do here, so I may decide to just blog with photos from my iphone. but not today. Enjoy

P.S. Be sure to check out the trip blog @ www.mission2nicaragua.wordpress.com

Fresh Mango in the morning

Girls and a Clown; Lunch Sunday afternoon

Dan and Elias

Morning light

A room with a view

Today begins the second trip to Managua, Nicaragua with Northway Christian Community in less than a year. We are going to work with our friends and partners Dan and Jessenia Bain. If you didnt follow along last year, you can catch up with what happend last year HERE and follow the group blog that Pastor Doug Melder will be maintaining here.

I am seriously looking forward to this trip, and will be working later on with Dan and Doug to create a blog for Dans work in Nicaragua. This is a chance to relax and prepare before I head to Cameroon for seven weeks with the Cameroon Football Development Program. We will be using soccer as a platform to leverage HIV/AIDS education to students at more than 10 schools around the country.

As is always my style, or so it seems, I had to take a quick trip to Washington, D.C. yesterday to get my passport from the Cameroonian Embassy because I wasn’t going to receive it through the mail in time to make my flight at 830 this morning.

Im trying something different this year. I am trying to simplify my life. So one test of that, is I will be living out of a cary-on, and the only other thing that I brought is my camera gear and computer. The idea is that I can actually live as simply as I long to… Proof below:

 
Both images (C) Dan Speicher 2011 captured and edited on iPhone4

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As we walked through La Chureca today, my experience was different than the previous trips in. 

My eyes are being opened to the reality of the slavery that so heavily holds this village in bondage.   Rather than just seeing the homes and people along the pathways, I’m tending to look farther back, reaching deeper into myself to try and have eyes that see past the facade. Eyes that can see the shame, the fear, and the needs of the people. 

The first thing I notice is the lack of music in La Chureca. Sure its there, but its always slow, low, and rhythmic. Nothing about the sounds say that joy lives there. if it wasn’t for the frequent shouts of “hola Daniel” from the children, or the occasional “como esta” from some adults, I would begin to think that we were at a funeral.  

People don’t move into La Chureca for happiness. They move their for work, or because they don’t know where else to go, and end up losing hope along the way. The promises of good wages are slowly dying and the hope of a good life and freedom along with it.  

Until their spirit can be healed, the addictions, abuse, and pain have no where to go, and no reason to leave. The cycle starts, and move from generation to generation. If a mother was never properly raised, never knew what it meant to be taken care of as a child, then how could she know what it is to properly raise her own child?  

If a young man spent his childhood without a father teaching him to be a man, and all he saw was his dad with lots of girlfriends, drinking, and being abusive, then that is what he associates with being a man.   When he grows up he sees that as ok. So the cycle continues. One generation after another, continuing to commit the sins of their fathers. It’s not until their spirit is healed that they begin to change.  

When their spiritual needs are healed their physical needs can begin to be met.

As an example, we met with Migdonio again. We had been looking for him on Monday and when we went by his tent he wasn’t there. One of the boys said that Migdonio hadn’t been using crutches, and was out in the dump working. Sunday he slipped in the rain, and after work went to the doctor. The doctor wrapped his knee and told him to stay off it for some time.

Tuesday we found him sitting under a tree resting. We started talking to him, and he said that he had felt the joy he had felt was leaving him. We prayed for him, and sang songs, and gave him a bible so that he didn’t have try and borrow a neighbors any more. Migdonio started to cry.

Those tears were tears of hope and praise. He said he had needed encouragement and was so happy to hear it. That spiritual healing is just the beginning. He needs to keep his eyes towards the heavens, and lean on God as his crutch.

In the afternoon we visited Dan and Jesina’s girls home.

These children are so precious and just so open to being loved on.

Photos will come later, but here is one from the phone.

Off to the dump. Have a great day.

Wow what a week. We have seen miraculous things, and built amazing friendships. From Migdonio walking (without pain and crutches for the first time in more than a year), to spending time in the beautiful old city of Grenada, to experiencing the magnitude of this earth at the Masaya Volcano yesterday, this week has burned memories deep into my heart.

Group one is heading back to the US today. They will be missed. We grew close and experienced miracles together. But as I start this week with the second group, collage students and young adults from Northway Oakland, I am excited because I know that this trip is still early on in its stages. There is still much to see, people to meet, and stories to hear. I pray that as the days move on, that we grow as friends, but also as brothers and sisters, a body of believers experiencing Gods plan for a country, a city, and a little village built on a dump.

As this week moves forward, I’ll be posting less images, not because I dont want to share them with you, but because I need time to process what is really happening, in order for me to tell the best story possible, I need to be focused on the task at hand; listening to my heart. That being said, the images I post I believe will help you see the things that are happening, help tell a full story.

That being said, I am going to post a number of images now from the past week, and our trip to the volcano yesterday (including one of the dance party on the bus- the girls heard Shakira and bodies started moving).

After we were finished playing with the children from La Chureca we headed to a girls home where some of the students sponsor girls.

As I mentioned earlier, we spent an afternoon in Grenada, and I shot some photos of the beautiful city square, and an amazing church. Grenada used to be the capital, but after years of fighting with Leon, they decided to make Nicaragua the capital to avoid more bloodshed.

On Sunday we headed to Masaya Volcano to see one of the most amazing sights I have ever seen. Masaya is an active Volcano and it erupted as recently as last year.

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