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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.

Yep, today we are heading to the beach for 24 hours to debrief with group one, and relax so that we can finish out the trip energized.

Yesterday was a little bit different for us. Instead of going to La Chureca, we brought more than 60 kids from La Chureca to us, to spend some time playing soccer and doing crafts at a beautiful sports complex up in the Mountains. I’ll edit and post photos from that later, but last night when we got home I was just to physically exhausted to even try to stay up late. In fact, our whole group was in bed by 9:30 last night. Crazy!

Doug (the group leader), Kara (the translator) and myself will be here for another week working with a second group from Northway Oakland, and I cant wait to see what God has in store for us over the remainder of the trip. So far this has just been a taste, and I am so excited to get more of it. The exhausting days are nothing compared to the work that the people of La Chureca do every day.

I promise to post more pictures soon, most likely tonight, but I need to go get ready for an exploration of old world Nicaragua.

Adios

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Wow, its Wednesday already. The days fly by as we spend time in La Chureca (the city dump) and spend time as a group, worshiping, praying, and seeking God, and his purpose of this trip. As the days move on, the intensity of what we see continues to build.

Yesterday, on a path in La Chureca, Moises (Moist with an es) stopped our friend and guide Daniel and asked him to pray for him. Moises has been addicted to glue for years, and he was high when we saw him yesterday. His desire to let go of the burden of addiction was evident by his stopping us and asking for prayer, but we also know that addiction is a hard burden to let go of. As we prayed for him, he dropped to his knees, and began to weep: asking God to help him.

The story of Moises is not an uncommon one. Addiction grips La Chureca, where its residents find any way they can to numb the pain that they feel, the children are left desperately wanting to be shown love and affection. They run up and hug you, clinging to you in hopes that you will touch them, giving them a second to feel the love that they so seriously need. We met children as young as 11 years old, already addicted to glue. Their eyes, just dark holes in the sockets, nearly void of life, numbed to the world that they live in.

Some people would argue that that is the only way to go through life when hope barely seems to exist. I argue that with love, and the peace that experiencing love produces, a stronger drug than anything they could ever afford, is produced. As proof, we went to the local school and fed the kids during lunch. We played with them, sang with them, and saw joy in their eyes from love, and affection freely given. Regardless of the conditions that they have to go back to, for a while they were  totally free to be kids.

We also visited a girls home that Daniel and Jessenia started this year. We had a craft time, talked, played, and then they put on a performance for us. This home is important because the girls and one boy (Elias) are all from La Chureca. Their parents want to see them have a different life, and have allowed them to come to a place away from drugs and violence. A place where they can learn and grow as children.

As we ate and settled in for the night, we prayed as a group, and began to experience Gods presence like most of us had never felt before. Im still trying to work through what I was witness to, but you can check out our group Blog Mission 2 Nicaragua for Pastor Dougs thoughts. All I can say is I have never been in the presence of something so powerful, so clearly other-worldly.

On that note, its time for breakfast now, and Im really hungry. Enjoy some photos from the trip.

Check out some of our group blogs.

Mark:
http://leavingthemabetterplace.blogspot.com

Group: Aka Pastor Doug
http://mission2nicaragua.wordpress.com

More to come later today or tomorrow.

For the photographer minded out there. the majority of the photos are shot with a Nikon D2h in its 4megapixel glory with a Sigma 70-200 2.8. The rest are with a Nikon D700 with a Nikon 20-35 2.8. I’ll also have some film and Polaroids coming thanks to a SX-70 and the Impossible Project.

Today I am heading to Nicaragua to work with Light Love and Melody for the next two weeks. We will be working in La Chureca, better explained as the Managua City Dump (Managua is the capital City).  There is a community of around 400 people, that live and survive off the products that they can scrape together from the dump.

Please take some time to follow two groups; one, a young group of high-school kids, and a second, a group of young professionals and college students, as each experience Nicaragua for a week. Follow the stories of those that we meet in the dump, and our struggles as we attempt to understand a life that is totally opposite of ours.

Please follow along on Facebook.com/danspeicher

twitter: @danspeicher

and on the group blog: mission2nicaragua.wordpress.com

Stay tuned.

As a brief summer stretch finally passes by, and spring with all its color and sounds slips in, wedding season is slowly gearing up. After a few scattered and beautiful weddings throughout the winter, I am excited for the upcoming nuptials that I am going to be a part of. But truth be told, my heart is really starting to beat at my upcoming trip to Nicaragua.

Yep. I am finally heading south of the border! And I am really excited to say the least. For  weeks (maybe 3 if I can work it out) I will be working with my church, as well as a friend who works for Love, Light, and Melody: a non-profit started by Brad Corrigan (Braddigan), formerly of Dispatch. I am hoping to capture the intensity of life, love, and adventure that surrounds a trip like this. But more than that, I am excited to see how our lives effect those that we will be serving, and the changes that those in the most need, bring us.

More will come about the trip as the details are finalized, and I have a chance to talk to my buddy Dan, the in country director.

Since it has been a while since I have blogged, I wanted to start with whats been going on in my life.

I had a wonderful engagement session with Jamie and Ryan a few weeks ago. We started in Schenley Park, and they brought out their awesome boxer for some of the photos.

Jamie, Ryan, I am really looking forward to your wedding at the end of May.

Before I finish for the day, on April 6th, we celebrated Nation Tartan Day, in honor of our Scottish Forefathers who helped to shape our Declaration of Independence, using the Scottish one as a model. So in honor of that day, the Balmoral Bagpipe School had a concert, and scotch tasting (supplied by Pipers Pub in the Southside) at the beautiful Duquesne Club. The next photo is of me, just to prove that I really do rock the kilt:)

Have a happy Monday! Up next this week is Matt and Emily’s beautiful wedding at Longue Vue Country Club.

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