Saturday, August 14, 2010

Arriving in Managua

Lena and I left the hotel in Yonkers after a continental breakfast and got on to I-87 to head to the airport this morning. We both felt rested and happy to be closer to the airport and not feel so rushed to get there.  Traffic in Manhattan, even on the interstate, was backed up and slow moving, but before long we crossed the Triboro Bridge to pick up the Grand Central Parkway east towards Queens. After a few tries, we found the long term parking lot that Lena picked out and boarded the shuttle for the Delta Terminal.  Once there, we met the first members of our team, as we all wore similar tee shirts.  Mike H. and Samantha M. kept us company as we looked for the rest of our group.  Soon we all met up, and our team leader Frank helped to organize our small army, and with the help of a worker from the airline, move us to the group reservation check in area of the terminal.

The GHO team heading to check in for our flight at LGA

Once inside, we were faced with our first big issue as a team.  The airline was having trouble issuing our tickets as a group, which caused an hour long delay as some of the great agents helped to sort the situation out.  It turned out to be a blessing, as two of our team members were running late and after we got our boarding passes the line to get through security were a lot shorter.  We headed to the gate and met with a group from our team that was heading down to Atlanta on a different flight, prayed together and were able to meet some of the translators from our team, Millie, Cindy, and Amy.

There was a storm starting to descend on Atlanta as our airplane did the same after our two hour flight, and our connecting flight to Nicaragua was delayed by one and half hours.  Lena and I visited the Chick-fil-A for lunch and rejoined the tam as we waited at the gate.  The second flight of team members arrived safely, and Frank was able to check on the progress of the team coming in from California.  Lena and I excitedly got to know our new family as we waited, and we even watched a rerun of a Patriots pre-season game on TV!  It was so amazing to see the different folks chatting, Fitz trying out the eye glass machine with some of the other guys who would be using it in the clinic, and Mike B, Mike H and Jay practicing some of the praise songs on their guitars.

Our route from Atlanta to Nicaragua

The flight to Managua took close to 4 hours and was free from any real issues.  After paying $10 each to obtain a visitors pass at the customs gate, we went to the baggage claim and met up with the team from California, who arrived just before we did.  It was hot and muggy in the capital city even after dark, and we loaded some bags on the truck for the hotel after we met our in-country missionary host, Rolando.  Since the Best Western is located across the street from the airport, we took the baggage we would need for the night and walked over to our abode for the night.  After we received our room assignments, we dropped our bags off and freshened up before heading to the wonderful buffet dinner that awaited us.  The dining area was beautiful, just a short distance from the pool, and after a great meal we had a short meeting together and sang some songs.  After prayer for group, we headed back to the room for showers.  I was able to change some of our US dollars for the Nicaraguan Cordoba (roughly 1:21 ratio), use the hotel computer to send a quick email home (an attempt to access facebook resulted in my account being temporarily deactivated), and then spend some time with Lena before getting some sleep in preparation for our 6:30am breakfast!

Final thoughts for the day:

  • Practical items: do not use the tap water to drink or brush teeth (always use bottled water), do not flush any toilet paper down the toilet (the plumbing can not handle it so there are waste baskets for the papers), and be sure to wear flip-flops in the shower 
  • Lena and I sat next to Jay and Dot on both flights down to Nicaragua, and I had a great conversation with Jay , who is an elder in his church and would be sharing the preaching and teaching times with Pastor Chuck from California, about the balance between love and justice that God desires for us - a love for reading and learning from the Word
  • Mike and Laura B offered to take us in when we return to spend the night closer to the city to avoid driving all the way home.  I talked with Laura in Atlanta about how God has a way of changing our plans.  PATIENCE -> OBEDIENCE -> DEPENDENCE on God.  (This lesson would be proved many times over during our trip!)
  • It is really hot and muggy in Nicaragua

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Don't Be Like Mike

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Thankful that God has granted me a second chance (quite a few, actually) through my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I love the Lord, my family, and enjoy endless laps of swimming and circles on a motorcycle. Follow Jesus.