Lessons of Love
The author of today’s post is by two staff members at
Seattle University. Kristen Kirst is the Director of Advancement Communication
and Marketing and Brianne Vanderlinden is the Assistant Director of Special
Events and also a 2007 SU graduate. Each day is written by a different member
of the Seattle University community making the PWOB trip to Nicaragua.
When we arrived in Nicaragua we were assigned three
missions: pour concrete to build a sidewalk connecting the homes to the school,
painting the school with new paint to improve student pride, and spending time
with the pequeños. Today was the finale
of each mission. Sitting with the group this morning adding final touches of
blue, we were serenaded with Christmas Mass rehearsals of “Gloria” accompanied by the djembe. We will never look at a sidewalk the same. 10
days has gone so quickly and tonight was an example of the family we have seen
here at NPH and the family that we have now become a part of.
One of the special traditions of NPH is presentations by the
pequeños as they say goodbye and thank you to their new family members…us. Returning to Casa Madre Teresa (our home
during our visit) from the presentations is a happy yet somber walk. There is
the tug of being ready to return to Seattle, but there is also the tug of a
newly found home and the formation of special friendships that have just begun.
There is something about putting your hands in the soil, sitting with pequeños
of all ages, walking amongst their fields, using their tools, and listening to
their music that continues to pull you in ways we will continue to unravel as
we begin to face the reality of heading home to the US.
This morning I [Bri] woke up with such comfort; I felt as if
I was home, that I belonged here. The
long days of hard work and intense heat has broken down any barriers that keep
me from feeling like an outsider. For most of us clothing choice is determined
by the “smell test” and every meal we share is the most delicious food we’ve
ever tasted on a simple plastic orange plate. We’ve learned it is much easier
to simply eat with our hands. This trip has been so much more than a service trip.
It feels like global engagement has taken such a powerful role in the education
of our students and it has been meaningful to contribute while also gaining a
better perspective of what is going on in the lives of current Seattle
Today at lunch we sat with the littlest penqueñas. Before every meal the little girls take turns
leading us in prayer. You can imagine what it would be like to hear a 7 year
old decide what she’d like to pray for… what she would like to pray for today
is her sister to pay better attention during the blessing.
Love is found everywhere here. You see it witnessed by the
boys walking with their arms around one another whether they are heading to the
soccer field or to go work. You see it
as everyone gathers to say a blessing for every meal. You see it in the loving expressions of the tias
and tios (aunts and uncles) as they gently nudge the pequeños.
For us it is holding a pequeño on our laps as we watch the
presentations each night in the Ranchon, playing soccer endlessly, pressing
their hands into the sidewalk that will be a new path to school for them. Love
is found in the shouts of “Hola Hola”, “Buenos Dias”, and “Como Estas” wherever
you go. When language challenges
dissolve and a pequeño grabs your hand and laughs out of sheer joy when you
mess up a word. Love can be expressed without words and we have truly
experienced that at NPH.
Now to learn how to actually speak Spanish and plan a return
trip next year.
A Day of Light:
Saturday, Teamwork, Awe, Relaxation and Stars
The author of today’s post is Nick Elam, a senior majoring
in Strategic Communication. Each day is written by a different member of the SU
community making the PWOB trip to Nicaragua.
Today was our second and last tourist day. It was a great
way to begin to exit our journey and spend some time seeing more of this
Our day started out at 8 in the morning, driving through
Rivas and San Juan del Sur, to arrive at our final destination, Playa Hermosa.
Before arriving at the beach, we got to see a few parts of Rivas and San Juan
del Sur, two of the larger cities in Nicaragua. The market in Rivas was chaotic
and full of life. Our van, Vincent VANgo, was bumper to bumper with taxis and
other cars, as we tiptoed through the market. After leaving Rivas, we drove to
San Juan del Sur, a tourist town for Nica that sported a presence of Gringos.
It was beautiful all the same, and the bay was a spectacular site. After
winding through a few more streets and neighborhoods, we approached the gate to
the private beach area, paid our fees and entered the jungle-engulfed rode
until we found our day’s paradise, Playa Hermosa.
This past week has been full of teamwork. It amazes me how
quickly our group has developed into a team. We all supported each other, as
each person has gone through their ups and downs. Today was in honor of our
team and the effort we have committed to; a well-deserved gift.
Playa Hermosa is beautiful. It is tucked away in Nicaragua’s
western coastline and separated from the busy, public beaches in San Juan del
Sur. The secluded beach has a small inn, restaurant, massage area, hammocks,
bar, surf equipment and few people. It was a day in paradise for us PWOBers.
The water was warm enough to stay in for as long as you like, and the waves
were large and perfect for surfing. The coast was lined with Nicaragua’s
beautiful jungle; you could see every color of green in the tall canopies. I
felt like I was in a beautiful landscape portrait.
Everyone got to do themselves today; we were all together
and alone at some point. It was a great time to begin the process of reflection
and meaning making for these past few days. Naps in the hammocks, body surfing,
and eating some delicious food were a few of the treats we spoiled ourselves with.
Before dinner, we made time for a reflection and sharing. For me, it was great
to see how 13 people, few of which had known each other before, came together
to give ourselves to another community, and ultimately form our own. This group
is truly a gift.
After dinner our night ended with some light, both above us
and below us. It was a clear night, one of the few that we have seen in our
time in Nica. The stars here are impeccable, nothing dilutes their brilliance. To
bring more light to our day, the ocean had another treat, marine
phosphorescence. As you waded through the water at night, looking at the stars,
you could see little particles of light shining in the water. The world has a
funky way of illuminating beautiful adventures such as this.
The light in this day (the sun, stars, and phosphorescence)
speaks to how brilliant and bold this journey and place truly are! …So grateful
to be a part of it!
The author of today’s post is Maria Hernandez, a graduate
student with the College of Education’s Psychology program. Each day is written
by a different member of the Seattle University community making the PWOB trip to Nicaragua.
Today has definitely been a day of ups and downs for the
group. After the amazing and relaxing day we had sightseeing yesterday,
everyone woke up feeling really tired. On top of that it seemed that today was
the hottest day we’ve had here so far. Still, we dragged ourselves to the
worksite and continued our work knowing that after today there is only one more
work day before we leave.
However, the day was made complete when we went to dinner
with the girls today and played a great game of cards. Afterwards, we were able
to watch them practice for the night’s holiday presentations. It never ceases
to amaze me how the pequeños at NPH come together to do performances that
showcase the variety of talents they have including dancing, singing, and
playing instruments. It is great to see how the older and younger kids unite on
these performances to bring happiness and smiles to the huge family they are a
part of, a family of which I feel more and more a part of every day I spend