If you sleep in a room with air conditioning you miss something about Nicaragua.  But where we stayed, La Bloquera, we experienced Nicaragua in full.  It is noisy in the morning!  Roosters, birds, cars and horns all scream at you to wake up.  So wake up I did at 6:30am.

Even though our windows had screens on them, there were plenty of spaces for animals to crawl or fly into our room.  The noise was everywhere.  Some animal scurried up the tin roof.  I choose to believe it was a bird and not a rat.  I spotted a mouse later in the week though.  The noise that woke me up initially sounded like a bird trying to get out through the screened window.

So I had plenty of time to take a shower, read my Bible, pray and look over the day’s schedule before our 8:00am breakfast.  Speaking of breakfast, it was great.  Antonia was our cook and she prepared gallo pinto (literally means painted rooster, but is rice and beans), fruit, eggs with bits of ham and toast.  Nicaraguan pineapple is white, but it is delicious!  I actually lost two pounds while I was there.  Not because I ate any less, but because I ate better.

Julio was unable to accompany us Tuesday, but he arranged for another interpreter, Charlie, to join us.  Our taxi arrived on time, but Charlie didn’t.  After waiting about 10 minutes we decided to head to Santa Matilde anyway.  The village is located off the main highway between Chinandega and Chichigalpa.  From where we were staying it only takes about 2 minutes on the highway, but about 5 minutes to travel a mile back to the church over a bumpy dirt road.

The village of Santa Matilde is home to about 3000 people within no more than 2 square miles.  Some live in homes with concrete floors and walls that have been built by outside groups in the past.  But many aren’t as fortunate.  Their homes are pieced together from plastic, rice bags and whatever else they can find over dirt floors.

Most homes have some kind of electricity and a sink of some sort, usually outside.  There are no indoor toilets.  Furthermore, the community water system in Santa Matilde is only operational for an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening.

Unemployment is staggering and kids wander the streets all day long.  And yes, there is the random naked two year old walking the streets.  Usually with a mom or an older child.  But even in the midst of their poverty, the children of Santa Matilde are so beautiful.  Their smiles and dark brown eyes capture your heart.

Our interpreter, Charlie, caught up with us at the church and the day began.  The church is basically a shelter with wooden posts and a tin roof.  They have a storage facility on the site where they keep their plastic chairs and other needed supplies.  Much of the space is filled with the rice from the recent harvest.

Our day in the village was spent reconnecting with Pastor Walter and his wife, Claudia.  We talked through the recent events and future needs.  Pastor Walter and Claudia expressed great thankfulness to Independence Hill for all the support.  They were extremely grateful for the assistance that was given them for their home.  To hear her speak, you would have thought she lived at Biltmore House.

Much of what we discussed was the planning of a chicken coop that is to be built.  This would allow the church to have opportunities for members to work raising the chickens.  These would be raised for their meat, not for their eggs.

Our desire is to equip the church in Santa Matilde to be self-supporting.  Opportunities to harvest rice, raise chickens or make clothes have a dual effect in such a poverty stricken area.  First, it gives individuals an opportunity to create income while giving them a sense of purpose.  Secondly, it becomes a blessing to the community because the church is able to sell those products to residents of the village for a lower cost and without the travel cost.  It is a real win-win.

The rest of the day was spent making home visits and praying with those in the village.  Justin met a young man who was struggling and spoke into his life with such power and clarity.  I just stood back and watched as God brought that divine appointment together.

The afternoon sped away and we headed back to La Bloquera.  After another wonderful meal from Antonia, we had some time to talk, read and pray as we processed our day.  A couple from Idaho, Daniel and Kathleen, had arrived there that day.  It was great to get to know them and his Spanish was fluent.  Which turned out to be helpful in understanding Antonia.

So we wrapped up our first day and were about as tired as we were from the day before.  Justin and I decided to call it a day around 9:00pm.

Sleep came quickly…

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