Accompanying our literal warm welcome to Nicaragua was the shining sun, a comforting cool breeze, open trucks full of smiling and beautifully toned people, and of course Jilmer. No one was missing the 12 degree weather we left behind in Kansas City as we drove through the bustling city of Managua with our AMOS delegation leader Jilmer serving as a tour guide.
At first glance, Nicaragua seems like a country of contrast. We’d see a brand new Walmart one minute, and then a horse drawn carriage the next. We saw many people with the latest smart phones, yet we knew there was still a struggle to have access to clean water, especially in rural areas.
After unpacking that first night, we also had the pleasure of meeting Dr. David and Dr. Laura Parajon at the welcoming ceremony. There we got a run down of all the activities we’d be doing the whole week and we were encouraged to start thinking about what activity we wanted to be assigned.
Day 2 began with a tour of the AMOS facility lead by our second amazing delegation leader, Felicia. We learned about Amos’s connections to different churches and other volunteer organizations. We saw the guesthouses where many other international volunteers had stayed, their new building built for training community workers and the local Nejapa clinic. As one of our members James Prigel said, we were able to physically see and touch the donations First Baptist Church has been giving. We were shown that our time, money, and efforts spent to prepare for this trip was not given in vain.
After the tour, Jilmer and Felicia presented on Nicaraguan culture. This is where we leaned about the proper way many Nicaraguans greet each other (with a kiss on the cheek) and we were taught to not be surprised if we ask for directions and we are pointed to a local landmark instead of an address. We also learned about Latina time perception and we were taught to not be offended if a meeting starts way later than expected.
In the afternoon we went off to see the city of Managua. We saw Managua’s beautiful landscape with (hopefully) dormant volcanos and mountains bordering the lake of Managua, huge colorful steel trees, an earthquake ravaged abandoned castle, and a lagoon smack dab in the center of town.
When we got back to AMOS’s campus, Dr. David told us the story of the Momotombo, one of largest and most well known volcanoes. He told us that it’s eruption (in 1610) forced out the inhabitants of the ancient city of Léon and that the remains of that town could still be seen today.
Dr. Laura later told us that the volcano was erupting -(don’t worry it wasn’t!) 😃
Upon returning to the AMOS campus, we were trained to set up water filters. Though there were 3 different kinds of filters, we were only going to set up the ceramic filters, which are both easy to clean and efficient. We were taught of the importance of clean water for the families of the community. We learned about AMOS’s struggle to convince families that the water they took from the well was not clean. And we heard the testimonies from families who have noticed a significant difference to their health.
In the afternoon we were trained run the health stations. We were taught how to calculate z scores after determining a child’s height and weight. We also learned how to draw blood to test for iron deficiency.
It’s safe to say we were all very nervous about our trip to San Onofre and the task we had ahead of us. We were going to be in people’s homes, pricking baby fingers and teaching songs and dances to children whom we have never met and could not communicate with.
Going into the next day will surely require a leap of faith. No one said this journey would be easy, but God would not have taken us all the way to Nicaragua to let us fail.
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you