Greetings from Managua, Nicaragua!
We just made it into our hotel here in Managua around 9 pm tonight, had a delicious dinner and are settling in for the night! We’re staying right across the street from the airport and we’re so thankful to be in such a nice place to get some rest after such a long day of fun!
Today was our tourism day and our Nicaraguan hosts definitely did not disappoint! We started off the day by sleeping in just a little bit and having some breakfast at camp around 7 am. The Towers and Nicaraguan team left camp for the last time as we drove in our school bus for a little over an hour and found ourselves at one of the many beautiful Nicaraguan beaches where we swam amongst some awesome waves, got some good sun on the shore, took some of the best hammock naps, laughed, played games and had a delicious lunch!
After lunch we hopped back into the bus for a couple of hours to head out on a guided boat tour of Lake Nicaragua, where there are over 300 different islands! The islands have been formed by the volcano in Granada and were so beautiful to enjoy from our boat, as we rode around Lake Nicaragua as the sun set.
After the boat ride, we met back with the Nicaraguan team to drive them back to their hometown of Tipitapa to say our final goodbyes. It seemed like such an abrupt ending from all the time we have spent with them over the past 10 days. Even though it was short, it was a time of sincere thanks, expressing our deep love for one another and future excitement to hopefully see one another again soon! As we drove away on the bus, we couldn’t believe that they had all gone home so quickly. The bus was a lot quieter and a lot less fun, but we couldn’t help but smile and be thankful for the gift of our Nicaraguan brothers and sisters. God has used them to teach each of us so much about passion, prayer, faith and joy. Even though some of us might not ever see them again this side of heaven, the legacy that they have left on our lives is eternal and we thank God that He’s graciously given us the opportunity to be shaped by them and their faith!
Two members of the Nicaraguan team rode with us to our hotel here in Managua to see us off tomorrow: Joe, our translator, and Manuel, the director of Christian Camping International here in Nicaragua. Both of these men have been an incredible blessing to our entire team and without their leadership we would have been so lost!
First and foremost, if it wasn’t for Joe, we would have spent most of our trip politely smiling at our Nicaraguan friends and playing charades as we tried our best to communicate what we needed to. Joe is a native Nicaraguan and a teacher at the school in which both sessions of camp were held. He literally drove across Nicaragua through the night so he could meet us bright and early during our second day of the trip. He met us with a zeal to serve and translate whatever we needed him to and that strong first impression only grew as time went on. He went above and beyond his role as a translator, constantly showing us hospitality, jumping in bible studies to help our counselors connect with campers, helping to narrate skits, teaching us about Nicaraguan culture and not to mention doing all of this during his winter break from teaching school kids. Joe’s positive outlook always kept our heads up and focused on the mission God had called us to. His servant-leader heart showed us Jesus in so many incredible ways!
Secondly, Manuel is so much more than just our CCI Director here in Latin America: he’s so very often the life of the party! Manuel is a pastor who lives Costa Rica and is passionate about seeing God use Christian camping ministry in Nicaragua. He spends time away from his wife, kids and family to help train up young Nicaraguan leaders in camp ministry, sometimes spending months away from home. Manuel might seem to have a serious disposition at first but once you get to have any sort of conversation with him, you soon realize that he is a jokester whose laugh and joy are so contagious. Manuel was constantly encouraging Maddie, myself and our entire team. His heart for the Latin American church is so apparent: he’s been doing camping ministry for close to 35 years! He’s always excited to tell a good story or celebrate the faithfulness of our God. We can’t imagine a Commission Camping trip without him!
As sad as we are that our time in Nicaragua as come to an end, we cannot wait to be state side again with our friends and family back home! We’ve talked so much about how excited we are for our first meal back in the US and we simply can’t wait anymore (burgers upon burgers upon burgers)! We’ll be flying out of Managua bright and early tomorrow at 8 am and hope to be back in Texas in the late afternoon.
Please pray for safe and efficient travel for us and that we would soak up and enjoy our last hours together as a team! We are so excited to see you guys and share what the Lord has done over these past 10 days!