Monday, 6/17:

Today was officially our first day in the field.  We were all excited and knew immediately upon opening our doors that the day would be a scorcher.  There is another mission team from the States staying at the hotel as well; typically we eat breakfast together in the restaurant each morning.  In fact, one person on their team attended Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne.  Yep, small world indeed.
Two buses carry us daily to and from the day’s destinations.  Upon loading them this morning, we were off to El Porvenir to begin building a community water filtration system.  No diagrams, no cliff notes, just a “water filtration system.”  Uh-huh…sure.  We had no idea what this was supposed to entail, but we quickly found out.
I was particularly excited on the drive to El Porvenir, as it was the village I worked in last year (along with Ali, Rob, Darby, and Casey).  I couldn’t wait to see if the kids, teachers, and families would still be there and if so, if they’d remember me.  Somehow, when you meet people in your life for a brief time, the experience becomes an instant memory when the time comes to part ways.  You kind of just chalk it up to, Well, they were nice; I had fun, and you jump right back in to your daily routine. 
But when you see faces you recognize and the inherent smiles which belong to them and them alone, it becomes sharing life together.  The bond is immediately re-established, and time is no longer in the past.  There is another day in our collective future, one with unimaginable joy, of which today reminded me.  Our job, in addition to building a water filtration system, is to ensure our brothers and sisters of Nicaragua (and beyond) are with us to share in what can only be described as the One thing that matters.
God was at work in mighty ways today as he filled our hearts with sentimentality, our minds with determination, and our bodies with strength.  Because let me tell you, digging holes 5 feet deep in the heat of the Nicaraguan day requires Thor-like abilities.  Good thing there are a lot of strong high school boys on this trip!  (Not to mention a lot of old volunteers to cheer them on and stand strategically for pictures.)
We were only in El Porvenir for a few hours this morning, with the actual digging occurring for about an hour.  The first part of our arrival was consumed with unloading supplies like wheelbarrows, wood, and some other shiny things that I’m sure have technical names and even better uses.  Some measuring and roping off of areas behind the community showers went on, and thenthe labor was in full swing – pun totally intended and excused, because I am way overtired.
We were muddy and productive.  Lunch was driven to us by FH and we ate inside the buses.  Once we were through slamming the chicken, beans, rice, and tortillas, we headed over to Amaya for an afternoon of VBS. 
In militant formation, three lines of super happy kids greeted us inside the church at Amaya.  As we walked in, they clapped loudly, cheering at our arrival.  There we stood – two sides of people facing each other, with no divide between us at all.  For our God was there, connecting us once again.
We painted, crafted, and danced the afternoon away in style together.  Frisbees were thrown, balls were kicked, and bikes were ridden.  But most of all…love was shared.
We’re back at it again tomorrow, and I for one, am ready.   Along with the ibuprofen I have sitting out on top of my suitcase…

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