With the ominous forecast of a snowstorm, we fortunately decided to drive to Toronto on Sunday night and stay overnight in a hotel to ensure we could make our flight on Monday morning. The six of us gathered in a hotel room and watched the remainder of the Super Bowl game after a slow drive to Toronto and dinner at a local Boston Pizza. Most of us were cheering for Seattle (except Trevor Main who correctly predicted the Patriots win) and were left in disbelief at the end of the game.

There were many cancelled flights on Monday morning due to the storm. Many of the cancelled flights were to the eastern cities of the US and Canada and also to the midwestern cities. However, our connecting flight to Managua was through Miami so our flight left just thirty minutes late (likely due to deicing). We made up the lost time and arrived in Miami on schedule. After a two and a half hour layover we arrived in Managua a few minutes ahead of schedule. All in all, travel went very well, especially considering the departing weather conditions.

President Herman Garcia and wife Nora

BIC President Herman Garcia and Nora

We were met in Managua by Herman Garcia and his wife Nora. Herman is the new president of the Nicaraguan BIC church. They helped us get our bags over to the Las Mercedes hotel where we stayed the first night. In the morning we had a wonderful breakfast and started with our first day of our planned activities.

Our main goal on the first full day in Nicaragua was to meet up with our driver (Bismalk) and travel to Masaya. But first we needed to purchase school supplies for the gift bags that we will give to the 200 children in the 6 churches that we will visit over the next 10 days. Fortunately we had a lot of help from the administrative assistant of the BIC church. You can see that our checkout person was not impressed by our gigantic order.

Double-checking our order

Double-checking our order

Assembly line

Assembly line

In the end, we were successful but it took quite a good part of the day. We visited two office supply stores to get all of the supplies, which included 800 school notebooks, 200 pencil sharpeners, 200 scissors, 400 pencils, 200 erasers, 200 rulers, and 200 bouncy balls. There were quite a few boxes and, combined with our luggage, it made for a very full load in our van to make the trek to Masaya. I had to sit in a small jumper seat and it was very uncomfortable. We arrived in Masaya late in the afternoon and started to unpack all of the school supplies we had purchased. You can see in the picture of Thomas and Melanie that we had a assembly line all the way around Trevor and Sherry Main’s hotel room as we all worked together to put the first 50 school kits together. We assembled enough school kits to get us through the first kids’ program tomorrow.

Then we went for a later dinner at a local restaurant and walked over to the city square in Masaya where we bought ice cream before returning to our hotel. We decided to play some cards and I promptly lost five games in a row before anyone else had lost a single game. Eliminated from the card game I started to write this blog post.

I can see that everyone has had a long day as there are a lot of new things to take in and the weather is very warm (it is a real sacrifice being part of a mission team to Nicaragua). Tomorrow we will travel to the project site at San Antonio Sur. In the morning we will work on a small storage building for the San Antonio Sur ministry centre and the women will prepare the kids’ program. After lunch we will all go to the first church for our first of six kids’ programs.

It is great to be back in Nicaragua and to see some familiar faces. I love the people here. As we meet with the leaders of the BIC church in Nicaragua and hear of the slow progress of their ministry centre, I think Westheights church has the opportunity to encourage the entire BIC church of Nicaragua (more than 100 churches) by helping them complete the ministry centre at San Antonio Sur. I believe that Westheights has a key role to play in seeing this project come to completion in the next few years. Once completed, the BIC church in Nicaragua will be able to use the San Antonio ministry centre for their annual meetings, training events for pastors, retreats, and possibly even a future church at San Antonio Sur.

We will keep you posted on the project and kids’ programs as we get into the work tomorrow. Visit the blog and stay tuned for more updates. Pray for the team. Pray that we will be safe and healthy and that our efforts will be a support to those we have come to encourage here in Nicaragua.