By the time you are reading this it will already be day 5 of our mission trip because we have no cell phone or wifi or any other kind of power, except maybe what comes from rice and beans, but that is mostly unproductive and difficult to utilize, so this day 3 and 4 blog will be a little late, as are most things are in Central America. We are working in the countryside, which is a great way to see and experience life in Nicaragua. When you are a tourist and visit an area you can get a good feel for the geography and flora and fauna. But when you live and work and eat with the people, it is a much richer experience; you get a feel for the people and culture. And Nicaragua has wonderful people. They may not have much material wealth, but I do not consider them to be poor. In some ways they are richer than most Americans.
The day enfolded with a 2 1/2 hour drive into the mountain and volcano region of central Nicaragua. The roads changed from smooth paved roads, better than any in Ashburnham, to yellow brick roads – ok they were actually gray, but following a gray brick road just doesn’t sound as good. But the roads were actually hand constructed by teams of people who used nothing mechanical, just hand shoveling,raking, laying the paver bricks, and filling in the edges, and they were still smoother and longer lasting than ours. However we could only follow the yellow brick road for so long until it turned into a dirt road, then a rutted dirt road, finally a rugged, rocky, rutted, rough dusty road. When we finally arrived we split into 3 teams, a cattle team, and equine team, and a small animal team. Then we go to the farms for the large animal work, or stay at a central place in the village for the small animal work. Most of our time is spent on vaccinations, deworming, applying tick medications, dog spays, and some equine castrations, pig castrations, along with some basic veterinary care for wounds, skin, eye, GI upsets and other common problems. Sometimes it’s real busy with lines of people waiting, and sometimes there is no one. But even then you get a good look at the rhythm and pace of life in the countryside, with no hurry, or anxiety, or complaining, or ADD. And the best part, no cell phones or TV or anything electrical or mechanical. The only sounds are more natural, with people talking, dogs barking, chickens clucking, breeze blowing. I wish we could hear more of that all the time. Well, except at night. That’s when those sounds aren’t as pleasant. Especially the roosters. I just don’t get them. I always thought they were supposed to harken the dawn, be the sentinels on a new day, protecting and guiding their flock from danger. I guess I had the cartoon Disney version in mind. Well down here they have never watched TV, so I don’t think they know what they are supposed to do. So they just cackle away, not all the time, just mostly at night, all night, when any civilized bird would never consider yacking away. It doesn’t seem to bother the locals though, they have just grown up with uneducated birds, and they don’t seem to mind. I will have to do a little poultry research, and see if there is some medical solution to this condition. The only thing I can think of at the moment involves shot guns or flame throwers, and that doesn’t look good from a veterinary team. Maybe the good Lord is just trying to teach me patience and love. After all I wonder what I sound like to Him, so I’m glad he doesn’t throw me in the flames. Thank you Lord!
I do enjoy the meals down here. Basic natural foods, not processed, no additives, cooked over brick ovens. Lots of fruit, natural native fruit juice mixtures, eggs, chicken or beef, and lots of guya and pinto, rice and beans, sometimes 3 times a day. Good stuff, keeps things moving in the right direction, no need for antacids or Alka seltzer. And bucket showers: pump up some water in a 5 gallon bucket, take a small bowl, pour over head, lather, rinse, and repeat. Just right after a long hot dusty day. Thank you Lord
Every night we have devotions, and we all get together, sing some songs, pray, and talk about the day, what we learned, what we saw, and how God revealed Himself. Sometimes we can get so focused on our work, on our goals, on ourselves, that we lose the right perspective. We see only what we need and want, we see as in a mirror. But when you are taken out of the familiar, out of your comfort zone, and especially out of your normal, you have to loosen the reigns; you become vulnerable because you are not in control. We strive for control, we are obsessed with it, and we think we can get it. We spend our whole life chasing that one more thing that will bring us happiness, that will finally fulfill our deepest desire. But that’s the ironic part, because we are never really in control; we are like a vapor, a mist, a little light that soon fades away. And the only thing that really matters, the one thing that never fades away, the one thing we can never lose
It’s always right there in front of us, but we just can’t see it, we don’t have the right perspective. Sometimes we need to get a different view, and allow our limits, our weak spots, to open our hearts and minds to something other, something outside us. I don’t need more me, I have had too much of that all my life. Out here in the countryside of Nicaragua, I have less me, and that turns out to be the best thing that could ever happen. I don’t know if this makes much sense to you, but out here, things look different, and it looks more like God. And it’s not because I am in a foreign country on a mission trip. It’s because I am in the presence of God. We all are. All the time. You can’t see it with your eyes or find it in a place or a thing, you just have to let go, lose control, surrender. It’s the upside down way of God. Turns out it’s the right perspective after all.
So I wake up to the sound of crackling roosters, except it’s like having Dolby sound with 12 speakers all crowing out sounds of different volume, direction and rhythm at the same time, and dogs barking at them, and the 4:00am bus blowing it’s horn to tell people it’s coming so it doesn’t have to completely stop and they hop on while it’s moving, and all the bug bites on my itchy arms from newly fed no see-ums who are quite happy fair skinned and good tasting gringos are here, and I have to smile inside. It’s life in a new part of creation, and I think I’m seeing it from Gods perspective.
I still don’t like the roosters.