Hello from Nicaragua! We have been about a week here but it feels more like seven years. We have been so amazed by the hospitality we have seen and received. Every effort has been made to help us feel at home.

Our journey from Heathrow to Houston was very long and this was followed by a just as long a layover. Fortunately, despite Ed failing to smuggle through a cereal bar, we got lots of food and drinks on the plane including a delightful turkey sandwich. The second flight was significantly shorter and many opted to nap on it. However we all felt the cold which, although flying to an extremely hot country, was coldest I’ve been in memory.

Finally we made it to the hostel where we quickly fell asleep having been provided with super comfy beds. In the morning we were befriended by some very social Americans who saw our stuffy British nature as proper which was a very nice way of putting in. Here we had a quick orientation with our Short Term Coordinators (Barbara and Lukas) before hitting the road again. Significant stopping and starting due to traffic caused delays and some sickness but all was forgotten when we stopped by a beautiful lake equipped with a cool breeze and a puffing active volcano.

Arriving at the project it was clear it had been touched by God when each of us was served enough food to feed the 5,000. Little did we know that we would get a mountain of food at every meal (and we couldn’t be more grateful). We went through another orientation before struggling with mosquito nets and unpacking. We engaged in a late night devotion during which we were attacked by some swooping black bugs who have plagued us every night since.

Waking bright and early at 6 (ish), we surveyed the remnants of the mosquito nets. The Sunday was mostly spent in church which had some translation but was mostly Spanish. Here we learned about Daniel and delivered an ‘Oscar worthy’ performance about home and away mission work. Once again we poorly represented the English and were destroyed at volleyball.

From Monday to Wednesday we have started working on-site, building new toilets. We have done a range of activities including sifting, making steel struts, digging foundations, filling foundations, making and using concrete and cement. This work took place from 8 to 4, stopping for an hour of lunch. Lunch was the largest meal of the day, consisting of some combo of plantain, beans and rice. The highlight of lunch, and some would say the day, was the homemade juice we had with lunch and at a break: you wouldn’t be remiss to call it divine. In the afternoon or evening some of us opted for a quick swim while others opted to update their journals or play Uno. Most are asleep around 8 ready to be up again for the morning devotions at 6:30.

On Tuesday we were all exposed to a new grape-like fruit which had the consistency of an eyeball but was extremely delicious. It had a large seed at the middle, which was inedible, as Maggie found out the hard way.

On Wednesday we were asked to dig a 2 by 2 by 2 cube for a septic tank. We dug just over a metre in the day, which was impressive given the firmness of the ground, which was rock hard at times. We also gained access to the washing area, so began handwashing our clothes, which was a welcome relief to have sweat-free clothes.

Over the first few days we have awarded stars to each team member as follows:

* Damon – throwing himself into everything

* Steph – eating like a vacuum

* Zoë – translating extraordinaire

* Ed – pickaxe pro

* Sarah – inspiration leader

* Ashley – metal twister master

* Sam – fighting through the dust

* Maggie – childcare champion

* Becky – always sunny

* Beth – superstar shoveller

* Josh – iron hands

Praise points:
  • Thanks for the hospitality and everybody helping us settle (a real answer to prayer)
  • Thanks we arrived safely and have all our luggage
Prayer points:
  • Continuous good health (we are all suffering from bites and blisters)
  • Good relations with locals and each other continue
  • People back home are safe and sound