Friday, October 22, 2010

Life Given and Life Destroyed

Here I am again! Your responses make me a little more responsible about posting blogs more frequently. Thanks for the comments and encouragement. I enjoy sharing with you some of my experiences here in Nicaragua with the hope that it helps you feel more connected to your sisters and brothers who have and live a life that is just as valuable as each of ours but that for the grand majority is a life that has not had the opportunities that many/most of us have enjoyed.

One of the opportunities I have each weekend is visiting two of our government hospitals…one a hospital for mothers giving birth and for women with gynecological problems and cancer patients. The other is a physical rehab hospital. One part of Aldo Chavarrhia, the physical rehab hospital, is for those who have lost arms and/or legs through accidents or land mines. I’ve often reflected on this after I meet and visit with these folks. The majority of those who come to Managua to be fitted for a prosthesis or to have an existing prosthesis refitted or replaced come from the northern departments where the war years (1984 – 1990) took place They have stepped on a buried land mine which is still able to be activated and have had limbs blown off. The maps which tell where these mines were originally placed are not useful because with the torrential rains we experience and especially with the devastation of Hurricane Mitch in 1998, the mines have ‘moved on’.

The terrain in the north is very hilly and so the mechanisms have moved easily and far. One man told me that “not even God knows where they are!” Land mines have been outlawed by many nations as a weapon. However, the United States and a few other countries have yet to sign the treaty which would prohibit the use of such devasting devices which end up harming people young and old, for many years during and after the war officially ends. I suspect that the grand majority of our folks who have lost limbs through land mines or accidents do not have the advantage of a prosthesis. They hobble through the streets on crutches or in wheelchairs begging for a living, hoping for generosity, understanding and compassion from their sisters and brothers.

I have not been to the ‘higher hills’ since that adventurous trip I wrote about the last time…the lower ones, yes. I have been to Los Planes which can be reached by a variety of vehicles and which is is arrived at, over less difficult, but still challenging, roads. Kari and I go to this area every two weeks and meet with a group of incredible women who range in age from younger to ‘more mature’. I’ve been meeting with them for a couple of years now. We chat and enjoy each other, but the main reason for gathering is to study aspects of the Bible and to take time to reflect on Scripture and share that reflection. The wisdom, faith and richness of their lives is the gift that is shared. These gatherings give me life and I look forward to them, even though it’s a bit of a challenge to go and come.

Once I get into the ‘campo’ (farmland) area I experience a particular peace and calm. It’s mostly quiet there except for animal ‘voices’. The foliage is lush, colorful, thick and green and birds and butterflies are everywhere! It’s a simple, basic lifestyle that’s lived there and the beauty of creation leads one to prayer very easily. So each Wednesday evening I thank God for the presence in my life of Dominga, Paula, Maria Elena, Amalia, Evangelina, Yoma, Migdonia, Leah and others that come when they’re able. They teach me a great deal about life and God and relationship. They are gift! Who are the gifts in your life who enliven you?

You are gift! Thank you for your love, support, prayers, donations and interest in this country located in the ‘heart’ of Central America. Your Nicaraguan sisters and brothers … and this sister…are grateful.

Until the next ‘posting’ …

Love and gratitude,


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Nearer My God to Thee…

Managua, Nicaragua

October 7, 2010

Hello, my ‘followers’,

It occurs to me that perhaps some of you might wonder about the You Tube connect to “Gabriel’s Oboe” from The Mission that appears at the top of my blog space. This has been on the blog site since pretty much the beginning when my friend, Ruth, realized how much I enjoyed that piece of music. She put it there so I can listen to it whenever I wish. The movie and book, The Mission, both in English and Spanish have been favorites of mine for years.

Normally, my blog mistress puts a title on my postings. However, I decided on the title for this one! Today I’ll share with you our last experience of determination to get to the various rural settings in spite of the conditions. I think we’ve reached a new aspect of reality and Claudio, my co-worker and the driver of our trusty yellow 4-wheel drive pickup, has finally admitted that there are limits!

One day we went to an area called Masatepe to negotiate for 6 quintales (600 pounds) of frijoles (beans) so that our farmers could replant. The fervent hope is to be able to make up for the crop lost to the intensive rains. We had a long but delightful day, finally accomplishing the task. Of course, there was waiting involved because the only person who could give us a valid receipt was in Ticuantepe which was 45 minutes away. We did a little paseo (pleasure trip) to the town and enjoyed some new sites. We also went to San Marcos, and among other things, saw Tom Monaghan’s Ave Maria University. No comment.

The next day we set off for 5 of the rural areas with the intention of delivering the 100 pound bags of seeds - one quintal had been dropped off the day prior at a closer area. The frijoles were well protected with meters of heavy black plastic…inevitable rain, you know! We started off and were able to get to Los Filos, Las Yucas, Las Latas-Lajas, La Ceiba and ULTIMATELY Las Parcelas! It was a trip never to be forgotten. I don’t know how many times Claudio stopped the truck, got out and spent several minutes trying to find a ‘possible place’ to get from ‘where we were’ to ‘where we needed to go’ without falling into one of several trenches and/or sliding off the edge of wherever! At one point earlier in the ‘adventure’, we met a larger truck than ours loaded with corn. Now, this is a one-vehicle-only type of trail that sits in between high banks of earth. These caminos have been ‘carved out’ by the rains over the years. There was definitely no way to back up and/or turn around. The fellows from the other truck “guided” us up on the side of the road which put us on about a 45 degree angle with himself on the ‘other truck’ side and myself on the ‘up’ side hanging onto the hand grip above my seat. I have no idea why it worked without some mishap…but it did. Claudio didn’t know how it worked either, but after the “passing” both trucks were upright and we were warm (as in sweating) and breathing! I think it was divine intervention! He had suggested previously that I pray to all the angeles y santos (male saints!!). I informed him that the “santas” (not as in Santa Claus!!) were more likely to be of help and more focused! He did not argue with me! Claudio is diabetic and we hadn’t brought anything to eat and it was well past ‘feeding’ time! Next time I’ll make sure we have food. He’s been doing this for 9 years and is a good driver and so I was anxious but not having a panic attack. However, I did not want to spend the night in mud up to my knees! We did manage – with a lot of help from above, I’m sure – to eventually get back down to the main road. Claudio admitted afterward that he was frightened. “It was the worst I’ve ever seen it”, said he! It was a fairly silent trip from La Ceiba to Las Parcelas. Needless to say, there were many prayers of gratitude sent up that evening. I checked to make sure the following day that Claudio said his, too!!

I do enjoy a challenge and have an adventuresome bone in my body, but I can do without a repeat of that particular experience. Claudio has not wanted to venture forth until the rains subside. He’s looking at next Wednesday. I’ll write an update afterward. I’m also making a list of aprendizajes (learnings) that have evolved from this experience. What adventure have you had lately and what did you learn from it?

Take care, my friends. Thanks for ‘following’ and to some of you for sending comments. Your love and support are greatly appreciated.

Your sister,


A note on the photos:

One of them is loading the sacks of beans, another is a delivery at Las Yucas, "Hector" is my little friend on the tire, the oxen are the most secure transport system in the rural area and the rural "kitchen" is just cooking is done there. The "loading" took place in Masatepe and the other photos were all taken at Las Yucas while we were delivering one quintal. That was before the going became very nearly IMPOSSIBLE.