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  • December 21, 2013: Day 9 in Nicaragua by Kristen Kirst and Brianne Vanderlinden

    Posted by Lauren Rochholz on 12/22/2013 09:21:01 PM

    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 University students.

    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.

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    December 21, 2013: Day 8 in Nicaragua by Nick Elam

    Posted by Lauren Rochholz on 12/22/2013 09:13:47 PM

    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.

    Saturday:

    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 beautiful country.

    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.

    Teamwork:

    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.

    Awe:

    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.

    Relaxation:

    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.

    Stars:

    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!

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    December 20, 2013: Day 7 in Nicaragua by Maria Hernandez

    Posted by Lauren Rochholz on 12/22/2013 09:07:37 PM

    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.

    Our word of the day today was gratitude and it came in handy anytime we were complaining about the hard work we were doing. Needless to say, we got through the day and were able to finally finish the entire sidewalk project!  Although I did not help on the sidewalk project today it was still a great sense of accomplishment to know that I had been a part of the end result. We were also able to finish putting the first coat on the second school building. After finishing with both projects we came back to the volunteer home covered in paint and dirt. On top of that I felt like my clothes were completely stuck to my skin from the humidity and sweat. Not a pretty picture
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    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 here. 

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