Joanna in Nicaragua - Study Abroad Journal
April 1, 2010
This week was the first week of my internship. This week is also Holy Week, which means that almost every person in Managua doesn’t go to work and heads to the beach. As the week progressed, buses filled with people leaving the city, stores closed down, and buses stopped running. We still came to the Nehemiah Center everyday because, for us, there was work that needed to be done.
Tonight we are heading to Leon, where Roberto and Grieselda actually live, to see the festivities for Holy Friday. We are going to stay the night at Roberto’s parents’ house, and tomorrow go out and see the city and watch the ceremonies late into the night.
I’ll miss you all on Easter Sunday, because that day is not celebrated like we do; the big celebrations are today (Thursday) and Friday. One lady here explained it as being kind of “anti-climactic.”
I will be celebrating Sunday, though, because Jesus Christ came to the earth for the least of these, and he came to pay for our sins so that if we confess them and live for him we will spend eternity with him. I praise him for his sacrifice and for the miracle of his resurrection, because he is ALIVE and living within us today.
Fuimos a Leon
April 5, 2010
In all of Nicaragua, Leon is the only city that has a sight like this. On Good Friday the people fill the streets to watch their friends and family make artwork about the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. They make this artwork out of wood shavings, dirt, corn, rice, and beans. There is no music or dancing because they see this as a holy day, a day to remember the suffering that happened.
The artwork is vibrant in color, each one displaying a tribute to Jesus Christ. Along with the artwork, on the streets there are many people cooking and selling food. The most common thing was fried chicken and French fries.
This weekend we also got to see Roberto and Griselda’s house. They live in a rural area outside of the city. The property they live on holds all of Griselda’s family. As each one gets married, they either add on a room to the house or build one right beside it. Roberto kept making jokes about how it is actually an empire of Griselda’s family. Her family included grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers, and sisters. When a man gets married, it’s a custom to live with the girl’s family. When they have saved enough money, they get permission from the eldest in the family to own part of the property and build a house. Roberto and Griselda built their home only a year and a half ago.
Roberto and Griselda stayed in Leon for another day, but Greg, Tim, and I returned home on Saturday morning. We took this opportunity to cook some familiar food. We chose Chicago Style hot dogs for lunch and French toast for dinner. It was a good day.
En Dios Confio
April 10, 2010
As far as our internships go, everyone but me is doing a film. This week, Greg, Sam, and Tim each left to begin filming in different Nicaraguan communities. They are each gone for a different amount of time. The organizations I am writing for are based in Managua, so I have been here all week by myself. At times I was a bit lonely, because I am used to always being in a group of four. I tried to make the best of my time, though.
It was one of the first times I’ve felt alone here, which, if you have ever experienced it, is not a great feeling. But, I knew that God has purpose in everything he does, so I trusted that He was teaching me something through this. I don't know if I learned anything new, but I really had to rely on Christ to be my comforter, instead of people. I was encouraged because, with a shift in my attitude, my time alone did not have to be boredom; I used it to praise him; to make a plan of things to do and go out and do them; I used it to reflect, and read a lot.
I posted a while ago about not knowing how to love people the way Christ does and that I was going to try and figure that out. Well, I have not come to a complete conclusion, but I have been reading two books that have completely challenged my thinking and I highly recommend them. One is When Helping Hurts, the other is Poverty Alleviation. If you are interested in helping anyone at all, I suggest you read these first.
April 15, 2010
Catching a taxi is a fairly easy thing to do in Managua, considering that every minute about 10 stop and try to get you in their car. The hard part comes when trying to tell them where to go...They don’t have street names or addresses!
An address would be, for example, turn left at the coconut tree and go three blocks in the direction of the lake. If the taxi driver doesn’t know where THE coconut tree is you will have to get a different driver who knows. To get home this is what I tell them:
Las Brissas, tres cuadras pasado el Hospital Lenin Fronsseca. Una derecha y una izquierda.
I live in Las Brissas, three blocks past Lenin Fronsseca Hospital, take a right, and then a left.
Sam came home for the week, so we decided to go to an Art Cafe. The guide book said there was supposed to be open mic nights on Wednesdays. Turns out, the entertainment was Star Trek in Spanish, and after that, really loud Hispanic ’80s music with outrageous music videos. We had a good time.
This morning Sam and I caught a lizard with a blue tail.
Monday, April 19
For the first time in four months the clouds released their moisture into the Pacific Nicaraguan Coast on Saturday! We happened to be in Masaya visiting a famous market known for their art work, Artesanía.
The Artesanía is all handcrafted pottery, leather products, and paintings; they are very beautiful. But of course, I bought two pairs of wooden earrings. After the market, we went to a restaurant and ate a meal for $2.
Thanks to Amanda Cleary, I finished my first writing project for the Nehemiah Center today. I learned a lot through writing that one story, and I look forward to writing my next assignments.
Wednesday, I will be going to Leon for two days to gather testimonials from the people impacted by the domestic violence and HIV/AIDS programs.
Sandalias de Cebra
Saturday, April 24
Leon is one of my favorite places in Nicaragua. The people are friendly, the streets are clean, the architecture is interesting, and second-hand American clothing boutiques are everywhere. I was able to get about six interviews in two days, and a new pair of Roxy flip-flops. It was a nice change of pace and faces.
Pictured are Alma, Lourdes, and Rakel. Alma has been my translator and cultural bridge in my internship, and my first project was to write a story on her to help increase her funding. Lourdes runs the Buen Trato program, and Rakel runs the HIV/AIDS program.
Alma, Lourdes, Rakel and I met with the leaders who are running these programs in their churches. We were able to hear about how their experiences were going, how the knowledge they are learning is changing their lives and the surrounding communities, what challenges they are facing, and what they envision for the future.
I love being able to go into peoples’ homes and churches and see how God is moving in Nicaragua; when you only walk down the streets and play at the beach, you miss out on the real heart of this place. They are a people of passion, eager to learn, and ready to sacrifice their desires for Christ’s. They are a nation in the process of transformation, and I feel blessed to be here.
Tesoros de Dios
Wednesday, April 28
Within these walls is where society’s ‘least of these’ are considered Treasures of Christ. At Tesoros de Dios the children cared for range from having dyslexia to severe cerebral palsy. It is on those mats the children receive physical therapy, and outside of the center they participate in horse therapy. Along with therapy, they are provided with various learning opportunities, such as computer skills.
The organization is run by pure passion, surviving on the little donations they get to pay bills and keep the place running comfortably for the children they serve. Today I had the chance to go to the center, I felt the joy the workers had, and the smiles on the children’s faces reassured me that Tesoros was doing a great work for Christ’s kingdom.