I hate to start off my first blog of the year with a false statement but I have to confess that although this is my first day of the mission trip, it is actually 2016, Thursday 12/29/16 to be exact. I could have also started it off by making other false statements, like how excited I am to be going to a Central American country with a semi-tropical climate with average daily highs in the mid eighties when back home we are getting 8+ inches of fresh white powder that could be used very productively by a pair of Golden Retrievers, or a pair of Vokyl RTM (Ride the Mountain) skis, but alas, here I am in Houston, waiting for an outbound flight to Managua, with sunny skies, warm temperatures, and no chance of snow. Now most of my family, all of them actually unless you count Lexi and Sam, but I think dogs should get a vote too, don’t understand this kind of thinking (or not thinking depending on your point of view) and they prefer the warm, so I will try to make the best of it even if inside I hope Nicaragua gets its first snow in history and then I can show them how to use some Vokyl RTV (ride the Volcano) skis. As usual I digress from the main point, if I actually had one, but now you made me forget with all that talk about snow, so let me focus and get back on track….ski tracks in fresh powder, I wish….

Well this is my fourth trip to Nicaragua with a group of Veterinarians and Veterinary students and 1 spouse (Hi Kathy) Thru CVM – Christian Veterinary Missions. I am happy this year to be returning with a lot of the same team as last year, including 3 vets, Justin who is an excellent equine practitioner from Texas, Mark (and his wife Kathy), a mixed animal vet also from Texas, and Wayne, a small animal vet from Atlanta; we also have 6 veterinary students from Illinois, 4 from Virginia, and 1 vet tech student, 6 of who made the trip last year. Having an experienced team will be a pleasure, but even better because we had such a great time last year, and our group became close friends in the short time we had together. Now I must point out that the group is all from the south (yes Illinois and Virginia is still south from New Englands perspective. This actually presents a wonderful opportunity to encourage and guide them to learn and grow in many areas, including sports culture (they aren’t yet Patriot or Bruins fans), appropriate recreational habits (see previous comments on snowshoeing and skiing), and language skills. Now they are all really smart people, having gone thru the rigors of veterinary school, but sometimes it is hard to understand them. They use words that aren’t actually words (Y’all for instance) and they pronounce good English words with a funny accent, a southern “twang” that changes the whole meaning; I will try my best to help them use proper Queens English, like we use in Boston, but it really is an uphill battle; but I care enough to try, even if I am going to take a lot of flack for it, c’est la vie in Spanish.

 We will be working alongside Oscar and Tamy Gaitin, who live in Catarina, and they will be our hosts. They have a lot of experience hosting all variety of mission groups, and they have been working with CVM for many years. Oscar is a pastor who has planted many small churches, 12-ish, (I like to add ish to words, i think it’s because I am ir-ish, I mentioned that last year but it still seems to explain some things), and he takes different mission teams as he makes his rounds in the countryside. He has veterinary, dental, construction, teaching, and other team-ish types that help him serve the people that may not have access to the care that we can provide. As we care for the needs of the animals, Oscar and Tamy can connect with people and try to build bridges and establish relationships with them. They are invited to the church, which is always led by local people, and hopefully can lead to a relationship with God thru Christ. It is a privilege to serve alongside him.

So as I sit here writing this in the Houston airport, having just finished a good meal at Pappadeaux restaurant (I think that’s a Spanish place) I can’t help looking forward to serving in Nicaragua. Despite all the hardships, we will endure (ok even I think that is a little over the top, but sometimes it just feels good to try and be humble and noble and all that kind of stuff, and don’t tell me you don’t try and fake it sometimes too). So off to United Airlines, gate E16, flight 734 (i lied again – I don’t even know the flight number), arriving in Managua, Nicaragua, at 9:19pm, ready to go, hoping to help, and willing to try. If you want to tag along, you are welcome to read the blogs, but please remember, no one asked you to read this, so be warned, if you do continue you might just find yourself in a better place, one where you cheer for the right teams (Go Patriots), play the right sports (get some Vokyl’s), and speak the right English (Bon jour mon amigo). 

Time to go Fly!

Many Blessings

Dr Mike

PS: Hi Nancy, I know you still love me no matter what; and Hi Family, and especially granddaughters Lucy and Ella! And Lexi and Sam too – I’ll be back to hike in the snow with you soon…