Thursday, January 31, 2008

Ziplining Through The Jungle

6 days down and 2 to go! The time is going by very fast. I think most of
us will be ready to come home on Saturday but we will surely experience a bag
of mixed emotions. We travelled about 2 hours outside of Managua on very bumpy
roads to get to the forest. It was beautiful. We saw coffee bean plantations (and even ate a few) as well as monkeys hanging from the trees. For many of us, the idea of "ziplining" was easier to swallow than the reality of getting strapped in and climbing up to the platform. Then we had to take the first step off the platform before flying above the jungle to the next platform. I reflected on how this process was a lot like our walk of faith.....we know we are "strapped in" by the Lord and His love for us, but we so often hesitate and/or fear taking that first step. Our feet stick to the ground as fear and lack of trust prevent us from moving forward. If we would simply take that first step of faith, we would enjoy the ride (although it can tend to cause butterflies in our tummies!). I long to live my life "between the platforms" of the zipline. I know it is scary and I don't have much control-but I'm also learning that there is a lot of freedom (it can be a lot of fun, too).

We completed our day shopping in a market, buying local coffee that beats anything Starbucks can brew up, and finally shared a meal out at a local restaurant. The highlight was watching Chris and Diana dance to the local music played by our own guitarest/vocalist.

Hasta Manana!


PS The people down here are some of the friendliest people I have ever met!

The whole team... on one very small platform...

Go Scotty Go!

Bruce has a new entourage he met at lunch. At one point their were 7 dogs. He could start a pretty good following down here!

The newly weds!

Tina shopped so hard she needed to rest a while in the market.

We had a pretty sweet game going at the market while everyone shopped!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Vamanos a la playa!

Today was the day we took the kids from "La Chureca"(the dump) to the ocean. We had so much fun as we swam with our "buddies" and rode 4-wheelers and horses. The water was very warm for a nice change from the Pacific NW coast. It was difficult to leave our dream-like day and return to reality. It is very difficult for our team to process the reality that we see. We seem to jump to conclusions about the lives these children live....mostly we believe our children are so better off in the US. In reality, a lot of those kids get to go home to families that truly love them and who spend a lot of time with them. They are probably better-loved than many kids living in a typical suburban home in our country. Without all of the distractions of our wealthy, materialistic country, they seem to carve out a life that is simple yet poor. This is one of the primary reasons Forward Edge and other mission organizations exist-to minister and help address the poverty. Education seems to be the primary way to bring hope!

Our day was also a series of subplots-comedies of errors of sorts! Rob noticed more than half way thru the day that his buddy was not actually one of our kids but joined in from another family. He shared it was the most "rotten" day ever. We all laughed at this unfortunate occurence and Rob became the target of jokes and jabs the rest of the night.

Shari discovered the lagoon she had been swimming in with the kids that seemed to be the perfect swimming hole was actually dirty with garbage and debris. Although she was concerned at first, she quickly readjusted and said "Oh well, too little too late for me."

Vicky's head was spinning because everywhere she looked was a sign with her name "Victoria" as an advertisement. She later found out it is a brand of beer down here!

There were plenty of others but it's late and I've run out of creative juices. Hasta manana!


We're on our way!

Wave jumpers!

Wendy and Fabiola got swallowed up quite a bit by waves.

We found a ridiculous amount of sea shells...

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Villa De Esperanza (The Village of Hope)

Today we had our fabulous breakfast and then headed out on foot to the Villa De Esperanza. WOW! What a stark contrast to what we saw yesterday at the dump. As you head down the road you notice the large brick walls that surround the village. Then when you enter the gate you instantly see this beautiful building which is the administrative offices for the Villa as well as Forward Edge.

Beyond the office is where all the hard work is taking place. They are currently building two houses for the first 16 girls that will stay there who come out of the dump. These two houses will be sort of a trial run as they prepare to build even more houses. They are also building missionary housing to house teams like us in the future. The name "The Village of Hope" couldn't be any better. After seeing what we saw at the dump this place really is a place that will be providing hope to so many. They won't just minister to the girls they house, but they will be reaching out and ministering to their families as well and trying to show them how to do better.

The couple that had the vision of this place and put it into action are Gloria and Wilburt. We got the chance to spend time listening to Wilburt talk about their heart for the Villa today. His prayer is that EVERYONE who walks through those gates would be touched by God. The children, the missionaries, the workers who are building the Villa. In fact the workers get together once a week for prayer and once a week for a devotional time. During one of the breaks today we served the workers some soda and snacks and Chris Kainu shared his testimony with them. After he shared he then asked Tina Mabry to share her story about finding freedom from 20 years of drug addiction. It was a very honest and real moment and you could see that it was touching their hearts. Afterwards at least 3 men approached her and wanted to know more about her story. It was very moving to watch how God used her to reach the hearts of those men.

It was a great day for the team as we strenghtened our bonds with one another and some formed bonds with the workers. Chris Kainu spent a lot of time with a man named Felipe. Felipe taught Chris how to build a wall and together they worked to overcome the language barriers. At the end of the day Chris got to pray with Felipe for some of his specific health needs and strength for his continued sobriety (40 years and counting!).

Did I mention yet that we worked REALLY hard today. We were so dirty, so tired, and I'm gonna guess REALLY stinky at the end of our work day.

We rushed home to take showers and then loaded into a bus to go and meet up with a group of kids from La Chureca (the dump) to play soccer and have pizza. Oh my goodeness we were sooo tired and now we were going to play soccer! While playing soccer even a few of our younger men were heard saying, "I think I'm about to have a heart attack!" We played hard and it was fun.

At pizza it was neat to be able to sit next to the kids and just share in a meal with them. They were all so polite and had such proper manners as they cut their pizza with a knife and ate it with a fork. The language barrier was difficult but at one point the little girl, Flora, that I (Shannon) was sitting next to asked me if I went to church and had God in my heart! WOW! What boldness. We can learn a lot from these kids. It was hard to put them on the bus after the meal and know that they would be sleeping in one of those little shacks on a dirt floor just a little while later.

Tomorrow we get to take a group of 23 kids from La Chureca to the beach. Please be praying that God would help us to overcome the language barriers and connect with these kids. Also pray for strength for the team as we will most certainly all be very tired because of the hard work from today.

This is one of the 9 homes that will house the girls from La Chureca. They are each 3 bedrooms/3 bath and all have living rooms, kitchens, and dining areas. They are absolutely gorgeous!

Jenn and Julie between loads of cinder blocks.

Works not as much fun if you don't get a little dirty!

I know my people from Team 1 are missing this face! He says Hola!

sidenote: Vicky wants Jenna and her family to know that they were praying today for her at 11:00 am. Thanks for sending the update. Praise God!

Monday, January 28, 2008

A quick note from Kris...

Hey Y'all!

Thank you all so much for the prayers and the comments! Echo de menos mi gente de equipo 1! (I miss my people on team 1!) And so does Nathan... he's standing over my shoulder right now to ensure I say hi for him!

We spent the day at La Chureca... as Shannon posted! I just had a few personalized hola's from the kids.

Iceman... Wendi say's "Te quiero tambien" She left me temporarily today for another man. He's younger, bigger muscles... but I'm still taller! Let me know if you need prayer for anything! And good luck with your presentation (I think you said it's tomorrow)

Judy... Ana lit up when I mentioned your name. She said Te quiero tambien, tambien!

Wee Wee-Alex was talking to Chris about you today. He says hola tambien! (that means also)

Glenn-I say Encantado!

Kara-Your messages are inspiring. I've read each of them to several people here and they seem to really sink in, thank you!

Rick-Thank you so much for the encouragement. I really, really appreciate it. You're an awesome man of God and a great leader. God has, and is going to do great things thru you. I'm blessed to be a part of it. And by the way, no joke, I was laughing out loud before it even said "Kris this is where you laugh"... people just turned and stared.

Mom-Pack your bags... I don't think I'll be coming home.

We miss you all so much! You're in our prayers everynight... I expect all of you at the airport, banners, balloons, you know the drill! (just kidding!)

I'll just leave you with my favorite picture from today... Love you all!


The one, the only, Antonio! (I had to bribe the kid with candy for this picture!)

La Esperanza (The Hope)

First off let me just start by saying that today is really hard to put into words. But here it goes....
Today we went to the school which exists in the middle of the dump. The name of the school is "La Esperanza" which means "The Hope". That's exactly what it is. It is the beginning of hope for so many of those children.

Many of us were surprised to find that the dump was right near the town. One minute we were on the bus in a busy street and the next minute we turned a corner and there we were at the entrance to the dump. The bus suddenly became silent as well all began to take in the reality of what we were seeing.

We went to the school first and then proceeded to go out into the "streets" of the village that exists within the dump. Within the garbage. From the moment we got there children who saw us gravitated towards us. One 13 year old girl made a direct b-line to Jenn, a member of our team, and immediately hugged her. This 13 year old girl walked with us the entire time as we walked through the village and all the while she carried her little diaperless, naked, sibling.

Jenn with Joanna and her siblings

Along the walk we saw many children. In the eyes of a few of those children we saw pain. In some we saw nothing at all, but in others we saw JOY. It was amazing to see such joy in the middle of such despair. I, Shannon, knelt down down to say hi to a little 2 year old girl and she immediately reached up for me. When I picked her up she barried her head into my shoulder and clung to me. It was gut wrenching to have to put her down and move on. Tina was invited into one little girls home and was shocked to find out that everybody slept on the dirt ground each night. In the house there was a pig, a chicken, and a dog, along with a seat from a car and a refridgerator. We don't know if the fridge worked or not. However you may be shocked to know that they do actually have electricity in the dump.

This is a house. In many of the houses three families live inside.

Another group of with a horse tied off outside the home. There were many wild dogs, pigs and cows roaming around the village inside the dump

There were many little girls, like this one, who gravitated towards the younger girls on our team.

After we took that all in (as if we could REALLY do that) we headed back to the school to get to work. We spent the day painting the school both inside and out. Throughout our time there many kids came to see what we were up to and were happy to receive any candy we gave them. They were also happy to receive love and attention from all of us. We wanted to do more. But we know that the school does so much throughout the year, and so by serving the school we were serving those kids as well.

Painting the school

Playing at the school with some of the kids

When it was time to leave it was a mixed reaction from the group. Some had to say goodbye to kids they had formed a connection with. Some left weeping with broken hearts, and some left still processsing and waiting on God. As Val said in the post from team 1 after they went to the's hard to put it into words.

Tomorrow we will be heading to the Villa de Esperanza which is the Village of Hope. That is where they are building homes to house young girls from the dump. It will be a place that will bring hope and new life to those girls. We've heard that we are in for a long, hard, dirty day tomorrow. So please pray for our strength and renewed spirit. Oh we also found out tonight that tomorrow night we get to go to an outdoor complex and play soccer under the lights with a group of kids. That will be fun. We'll tell you all about it tomorrow.

(Ok Dan... this is just for you! Sorry mom, not in this one either! -Kris)

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Vida Nueva

Hola mis amigos! Como estan? (pardon the lack of accents!)

I thought I would fill you all in on a little place called Vida Nueva. You've read about the orphanage, but no one really knows anything about it. Like no one knows that it's called Vida Nueva (New Life). That is exactly what this amazing organization does. It provides children with a new life!

The Bagwell's, originally from South Carolina, moved down here 6 years ago. 2 years ago they opened the Orphanage. When they opened, there were 6 babies. Now they have 36. There are 4 full time employees that love these children around the clock. These babies (with a few exceptions) are the happiest babies I've ever encountered. They are so well cared for, so loved, and for so little compensation. These women work so hard and in my opinion it is because God loves them and they want to show these kids the same love.

The children range in age from infants to 13. Several have disabilities. You can imagine the amount of patience and energy this job takes.

The other amazing thing about Vida Nueva is that it gets absolutely no money from the Nicaraguan Government. It is 100% funded by donations. With 36 children you can imagine their need for more funding. I hope you'll enjoy the pictures I've posted below. I hope that you will keep the orphanage and these children in your prayers.

Love you all!


This is Carlos. He is 6 years old and lives in the orphanage. He is one of the happiest little boys you'll ever meet. He likes to play with bubbles (bulbujas) and color. This little boy has truly touched my heart.

This is Anixia (Nixie). Nixie is about 15 months. She also stole my heart. She has big brown eyes, loves to smile, and is the happiest toddler I've ever encountered.

Ok... this is Nancy. I'm sorry, you can't have her. I've got dibs. Nancy was found in a gutter, under a plastic bag. How could someone just throw this little girl away? Nancy has brain damage, the extent of which is too early to tell. She'll hold your finger tight, and giggle if you call her Princesa. If I could, she'd be coming home with me.

Team 2 - Day 2

Our day started off with another muy estupendo breakfast!

Then it was off to Verbo Christian Church for a great time of worship and teaching. As our team talked when we got back from church people commented on the differences. The main difference was how FREE they were in their worship. They were truly CELEBRATING God. There was one man who was literally drenched in sweat because he was dancing up and down the aisles as he worshipped the Lord.

We were given translating headphones so we were able to actually listen to the message and understand it, which was an unexpected blessing. Oh and here's a fun and random thing that happened at church. Sadie was wearing a Switchfoot T-shirt and the mother of the lead singer from Switchfoot was there. She was on a mission trip too.

After church we came back and we were humbled by our host family. Our rooms were cleaned and our beds were made. It felt a little strange to be served when we came to serve. But we gratefully accept their blessings. Have we mentioned yet how great the food is!!!

Our bellies were full so it was time go get to work. We began the huge task of sorting through the 40+ suitcases that were carrying supplies needed for the villa esperanza, the orphanage, the church and the kids at the dump.

After completing our task we got some time to hang as a group and have a devotional time followed by some individual quiet time with the Lord.

Then it was off to the orphanage. We were greeted by Lena (the director) and Gloria who oversees the Villa. We spent the next couple hours just loving on the 30+ kids who live there. Most of which are under the age of 2. We held them, fed them, loved them, changed them, and played with them.

When asked what stood out to us the most here were some of the responses:

"It was really depressing because you could tell how much pain some of the kids have gone through because of the sadness in their eyes. You want to tell them everything is going to be ok, but you can't."

"It's so sad to think that people don't want them, because they are all so beautiful."

"You can tell the kids who have been there for awhile because you can see the hope and love in their eyes."

"I'm so humbled and amazed by the women who work there and care for those kids." (sidenote: There are 4 women who work there and care for the kids and they each get paid what would be equivalent to $100 per month)

Tomorrow we are going to La Chureca (the dump) where we will be helping to paint the school which will be opening in February.

Dan the Man....this pic is just for you! (Victory!!)

Hey Y'all!

Last night I (Kris Blais) had the pleasure of sitting, talking and praying with Ricardo (The Pastor we're staying with) Layda, y Lina. Ricardo helped me by giving me encouragement. He told me to read John 14. While doing so I felt I needed to pass along encouragement to mi otro equipe.

"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me... I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things thatn these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it." John 14: 1, 12-14

I love you all so much. I wish we all could have stayed another week. Today as you go to church, and as you reunite with friends, and revisit your week here... remember the kids in La Chureca. Remember the kids in the orphanage. Remember the Villa. Pray for all of these things in Jesus' name. You all are in my prayers. I'm glad you made it home safe.



Val-Yeah I can bring you your nuts... but like I said about everything else you want me to bring... remind me. I'll forget. Thank you both for your leadership last week. I'm so blessed to have had the opportunity to spend so much time with you.

Paris-Happy Birthday. I'm proud of you and I'm proud of the growth you experienced last week. You're in my prayers.

Judy-I miss you presence.... who's gonna fix my boo boo's? Just come back and we'll live here. We can pitch a tent in the yard or something.

Jeff-You have a great heart and a great passion for God. I love you and you inspire me.

Kara-You were an unexpected blessing. Thank you so much for your heart and your willingness to come. I'm so glad to have met you. Thank you for sharing everything. Can I get that poem that you recited the other night?

Terry-(Little Terry) Your heart and motivation inspired me. Thank you for reaching out to me. You taught me the value of a little hard work.

Terry-(Big Terry)-You are a great leader, and fearless. You are a true example of a disciple of Christ. Let your light shine my friend.

Rick-Get to work! We've got a lot to do for Young Adults! Thank you for your leadership this week.... more importantly thank you for your vulnerability and your friendship.

Glenn-Encantado! I miss your humor and your energy Glenn... thank you for being an example to me.

Suzanna and Marsh(?)-Como esta Indiana? Thank you for stepping out of your comfort zone and joining our team. It was great to meet you and I can't wait to see where God takes you in life.

Shelly- Thank you for your heart. You are an amazing woman of God.

Randy-You also taught us the value of a little hard work. Your passion is inspiring. Don't hide your light Randy. You too can change the world with God.

Ben-You are also missed. Your genuineness (if that's even a word) was a blessing and truly inspiring. Thank you for raising such wonderful kids as well. I'm blessed to know your family.

Mom and Dad- (Joe and Suzy) Thank you for everything this week. You guys are amazing! I can't wait to go eat at fun restaurants with you.

David-You are such an awesome man Senor! Your humor, and heart are such a blessing. Watch out for that TV!

Ice man-Thank you. Thank you for sharing your story about Val with us. He's in our prayers. And you are too. Remember as you find yourself surrounded by darkness to let your light shine bright. You have a great heart and God has and is going to work miracles thru you. Read the CD again. And you can have your coffee back on the 13th.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Passing the baton...

Team 2 anxiously awaited the arrival of Team 1 in the Houston Airport. We actually did get to see each other but we were separated by a single pane of glass. Team 1 wasn't really expecting to see us and they seemed a little disoriented as they looked at us through the glass wall (they had to go through customs). They looked tired and as they passed by one member got close to the glass and mouthed, "have a great time."

Soon after that we boarded the very plane they had just gotten off. The flight seemed to go by quickly and there were like 2 or 3 other mission groups on the plane as well.

We arrived in Managua with all of our luggage.......except ONE suitcase! But we consider that a HUGE blessing of God's provision considering the fact that another group on the plane was missing EIGHTEEN suitcases!

We got here at night so it was kind of hard to see the surroundings. Some immediate differences we noticed....
A random fire on the side of the road
8 people riding in a small little taxi
People riding in the back of pick-ups STANDING up
People riding motorcycles without helmets

We are sure those little things will pale in comparison the what we will see throughout the rest of the week.

Ok, gotta go.....Chris is calling the group together for prayer!!

Team 2 Hits Houston

Well, we are on our way. We all arrived at the airport in Portland around 3:30 this morning and we are in Houston just hanging out during or 5 hour lay over. We are excited because there is a possibility that we might see team 1. If we do it will be through a glass wall, so that will be a bit comical! We'll let you know how that plays out.
For now we are just hanging out, talking, eating, playing games, comparing malaria pill regimens, and even playing a little football in the airport!

We will get into Managua at around 9pm tonight. We thank you in advance for all the prayers that we know will be covering us this week. We look forward to what God has in store for us and are excited to share it with all of you.
We leave you with pics from the airport.....

Vicky doesn't want to get malaria, so she is taking her pills!

Derek playing football near our gate.

Chris, our fearless leader, enjoying a down home texas BBQ sandwich

Playing spoons!

Just hanging out after lunch and making sure Diana gets her caffeine jolt!

Hi Emily and Colt! We miss you mom & dad

Adios team 1!

And then there were 3. Team one just left about an hour ago. This house feels so empty without them. I can actually walk into a room and be alone.

Team 1... we just want to let you know that it was an absolute pleasure and honor to serve with you in Nicaragua. Each and everyone of you touched someone's life this past week. Whether that be a little girl in La Chureca, the family we stayed with, or one of our team members, you impacted someone's life. This week was an emotional roller coaster for a lot of us. From the laughs, normally inspired by Glenn's accidental comedy (encantado Glenn!) to the low's of weeping as we pulled out of La Chureca last night, it was an amazing week.

We've come to love you all so much. Your hearts inspire us, and we are blessed to know you.

Remember the feelings you had and the things you saw as you arrive home and dive back into your normal, everyday lives. We may not be able to save these children, but God can. As I heard it said many times this week, "We are the hands and feet of God's plan." Without him (God) we can't, without you he won't.

We hope that you won't let yourselves be consumed and distracted by the busyness of home. We pray that you rise up against the enemy. He wants you to forget what you saw here. Don't. He wants you to go right back into routine. Don't. He will use people very close to you to extinguish the feelings you have in your heart. Rise against him. Stand together and fight. Pray that you will be able to see when the enemy is plotting against you, and then turn to God for strength and direction.

You are all amazing. Your heart is good. I knew that coming here last week. But you showed it time and time again. Thank you for inspiring us. Thank you for loving us.

You're in our prayers.


David, Julie and Kris

Friday, January 25, 2008

What we did on Thurs

Okay for all of you waiting with baited breath for what we did on Thursday here it is. I am hoping that most of Team 2 is asleep, which if you aren't you should be -- you have an early flight and why are you reading blogs? Get to bed!

We went ziplining through a Nicaraguan rainforest. Yes that is right. It was awesome fun. There were 15 stations and we ziplined from tree to tree 75 to 100 feet or more above the ground. We saw a troop of howler monkeys and had an awesome view of the country's natural resources. Even those of us afraid of heights LOVED it! It was a great experience. And for those of you wondering about Kris in a tree he was climbing a tree, in flip flops, to get that perfect picture of a monkey. There was some blood involved but Judy patched him up. He'll learn to walk again soon. Just kidding, mom.

Then we went to a little town with a beautiful view of a crater lake and a volcano to eat lunch. Very cute little town. And then onto shopping. We went to an old fort that had been transformed into an indoor market.

And then onto buying coffee -- the best around and for only $4 a pound I think we pretty much cleaned them out.

See ya all soon.