Wednesday – Day 6 – 8/13/08
Today started out early much like every other day. Alarms went off between 5 and 5:30am, devotions were had and then came our pancake and fruit breakfast. We were on the road at 7am and maneuvered our way through the city traffic of Managua. I should stop at this point and give some of the finer points of driving in Nicaragua:
1. Aggressive driving is the rule; not the exception. All for one and one for oneself!
2. Lane markings, turn signals, and courtesy are just suggestions.
3. If you are riding a motorcycle, its a great idea though not mandatory to wear a helmet. Gloves, protective clothing and proper riding boots have not been introduced yet. Of course, any of the above for your passenger is totally optional and has not been introduced yet. Most passengers on motorcycles are female.
4. Roundabouts tend to be pretty efficient movers of traffic when the above rules are practiced.
5. While travelling on the highways outside of town, passing is expected even with oncoming traffic. With the latter, it just adds to the thrill factor. One just makes three lanes out of two with the oncoming traffic being run off the road.
6. There is clearly a food chain in place when driving with big trucks being at the top and pedestrians being at the bottom. The others (small trucks, cars, donkey or horse carts, people carts, motorcycles, 3 wheel taxis, bicycles, animals and people) sort out their place in between. In order to help with this process it is expected that one beeps one's horn when overtaking.
7. Generally the paved roads are quite good; however, once one leaves them, they deteriorate very rapidly. The non-pavement roads would be a hoot to ride on a dual sport motorcycle.
8. Bridges are also optional. Fording streams is considered customary. And passengers are expected to push when needed.I
9. Nicaragua is where retired school busses and long haul trucks from the USA come to die.
10. Speaking of the school busses, there are hundreds if not more on the road every day and they can be expected to and do stop anywhere including on major highways. Some are colorfully painted and most have the windshield cleverly decorated to reduce the driver's field of vision.
11. Police are scattered throughout and position themselves along side the roadway. If they want you to stop, they just raise their fingers and you are expected to pull over.
12. At night, taillights and reflectors are totally optional (especially on motorcycles) and pedestrians haven't grasped the concept of walking against the traffic nor do they wear light or reflective clothing
While some of the above is intended to be humorous, it's a deadly serious game. I could see that after driving down here and returning to the States, it would be a challenge to unlearn the aggressive driving practices.
Returning to our blog, we continued up to our destination; however, this morning we decided to visit the new mission station at LEON where we were supposed to have stayed. It's just being completed and is very similar to the MASAYA station except that it doesn't have quite the dormitory space. The Pastor's home, however, is quite nice having been built with masonry, concrete and steel.
Leaving the LEON mission station, we turned off down our 11k dirt road (about 6.6 miles). Last night's rain definitely made the road a bit slippery and shortly we passed the vultures and the dead cow. Oh yes, I didn't mention that from yesterday morning. It seems that a cow died along side the road and there was a band of vultures “working over” the cow. Leaving last night, they were continuing to feast on it. And the same thing this morning although there were fewer of them. But more on this later. Arriving at the work project, I saw an answer to some of the teaching that I have been doing on giving. A number of the pastors had come over to help and that was a tremendous expression of support. It has been gratifying to be teaching and seeing receptive hearts. The weather today was much hotter and more humid, so much fluid intake was needed.
We also had our first encounters with scorpions when we disturbed their little enclave. It was the first time I had seen them in the wild, and I got a great picture of one. Much of the team helped in levelling out an area outside the walls which were being built. By the time we had to leave for lunch, two pieces of rebar had be laid horiontally in the wall which added significant stability. Tomorrow we're expecting to build more blocks higher around the 4 windows. The other pastors are coming at 7am (2 hours before we get there) so we should see quite a change.
Down at the ocean, it was very very hot and many enjoyed the ocean. Angela shared her wordless bracelet with a little boy and he seemed to grasp the meaning of it. Arriving at the VBS location, once again the singing had already started and the team assumed their positions. I was able to take a few photographs of them while I waited for the pastors to arrive for our teaching time. Remember, they were off serving one of their own: Muy perfectamente! Yes, I'm learning some Spanish!
We continued on in a second day on principles of giving. I complimented them on their service to Pastor Leonardo and we did a short review of the previous day's material as a few more men joined us. We worked through most of the material on giving that I had prepared, but there is still a bit more to cover tomorrow before I teach on the last subject for this week. I find it hard to express the joy I have in being able to share with these brothers and provide them encouragement in their pastoral calling.
At the conclusion of our time, Adrian mentioned that we were going to take one of the Pastors and his infant daughter and wife out to the paved road (11k) where they would catch a bus to LEON and a hospital. While my heart was pricked by this, Adrian indicated that it was probaby just a case of the parents being over protective. I suggested that Melissa take an initial assessment of the situtation which she graciously did. She has a kind and gentle manner and put the mother particulary at ease especially when she said that she had a son of the same age back home. We'll check on the child in the morning and if a hospital visit is necessary, we'll see that they get there. As for me, I couldn't just not respond to a need that a brother had especially after teaching on caring for the needy, widows, orphans, etc. So we'll see in the morning how it it going.
Driving back we were running a bit later because of the preceding situation. As we approached the location of the vultures and the cow, we saw smoke. Fortunately, someone had built a fire and was burning the carcass. Again, we'll see how that goes in the morning. We also stoppped and picked the fruit that is used in making moracas. The drive back was one of the more fun ones in that we were really engaged with Adrian and covered lots of topics from movies to music and idioms that we use in our respective languages. Approaching Managua, we met up with Cheryl and her children and dog and picked up the coffee souvenirs she had purchased for us. From the service station we could see the American Embassy which is a tall building perched on top of a nearby large hill. Then it was a traffic snarled drive through Managua and on into camp. The other group was staying at the LEON mission house for the night, so we had the Masaya facility to ourselves. Angela and I watched the mission house staff clean the moraca (jicama) fruit and took a bunch of pictures. We then reviewed Thursday's lesson (Melody has this one) and also reviewed what happened in the lesson today (all positive and apparently there's a part of the skit that we'll do back home. We were then dismissed and team members headed for showers or other end of day activities. And, here I am updating the blog at 10:15pm. This has been another day that the Lord has made, I am rejoicing and being glad in it.
5:30am will come early, so I'm signing off for the night.