December 14th, 2013: Day 1 in Nicaragua by Matthew Pyrc, SJ

Posted by Lauren Rochholz on Tuesday, December 17, 2013 at 5:24 PM PST

The author of today's post is Matthew Pyrc, SJ who works at Seattle University in Campus Ministry and is the Jesuit in residence in Bellarmine, 6th floor.  Each day is written by a different member of the SU community making the PWOB trip to Nicaragua.

After almost 17 hours of traveling, we arrived at Jinotepe, Nicaragua, the home of Nuestro Pequeños Hermanos, NPH. Professionals Without Borders, PWOB, is a group of staff, faculty, and students from Seattle University. We currently have 13 people in Nicaragua working at NPH, a community of about 200 youths who have been orphaned, abandoned, or were at risk. Today was our first full day and we eased into it after a tiring 18 hour journey. Breakfast consisted of eggs and cheese and the wonderful flavor of fresh bananas, the taste of which you can only get from Latin America. We all agree they just are not as good back home!

The morning was spent taking a tour of the campus. We toured the dorms, the clinic and school and saw a pig being slaughtered. That will probably be tomorrow’s dinner. We were impressed with the growth of the fence built by PWOB during last years’ service trip. The fence was constructed to corral the cattle using posts of wood that sprouts into trees…and they were beginning to sprout!  We think it’s funny that the project was called ‘pasteurization.’

After lunch we joined some of the girls in making piñatas for the Christmas Posada festivities that begin this week. Many of us are discovering how exhausting it is to try and communicate in another language, whether we can speak a lot or a little. However, soccer, or futbol, is a universal language and our game with the girls taught us a great deal about ball handling skills, true grit, and how to have fun playing in the pouring rain. The day concluded with Mass, dinner, and a friendly game of volleyball with the boys from NPH. 

The people here are wonderful and very welcoming. Some of the students have been learning English and they are enjoying the opportunity to practice speaking with native English speakers. The journey is just beginning and we are expecting the arrival of the last three members of our group tonight. We will take turns posting here this week sharing a highlight or two from each day. Here’s a photo of Seattle University Senior Audrey Farber and the piñata making.