Grab some coffee and get comfy for this one.
It’s tuesday, mid-morning. Most of the crew is in matasano (lori and andrea just headed that way too after we received a note from the clinic that they need more medicine). It will (ooh look, the computer is correcting my caps at the beginning of sentences) be good to hear the stories from the first day of the clinic (were there a lot of people waiting? Long lines? Reactions from the locals., etc.).
Monday was a long one. The trip from Managua to Matagalpa was reasonably quick and completely on paved roads. While most of us were following that path, Harold, Julia and Allison were at the health ministry, Harold and Julia waiting in line with hundreds of pounds of vitamins, Allison standing guard “looking mean” and guarding our truck (it’s a little Toyota pickup with a cage on the back. That’s where all of the luggage, medicine and other stuff rides). Took about an hour and a half (most of it spent standing in line) but the vitamins came through with flying colors. The trio made up time (the truck’s a lot faster than the bus) and met us for lunch in Matagalpa. And that’s where the pavement ended.
It is (simply put) amazing that we got where we were going. Let me rephrase. Had one of us been doing the driving, we’d have never made it. There are no street signs. There are no mile markers in rural Nicaragua. There are long, hilly, winding, gravel (sometimes gravel does not really describe the scope obstacle that you’re facing) roads that, every now and then, come to a fork. You either use The Force or know your way around (our CEPAD team rocks and they know their way around).
So eventually, we made it to Matasano (after the loooooooooong trip, Carla explained that in English, Matasano means “End of the earth”…but we may need to do some fact checking on that one). We were greeted in the church by the pastor (he greeted each of us as we left the bus), his advisory committee and many of the villagers. We spent a few minutes in the church, introducing ourselves (there is no Spanish equivalent for E.J. I thought Bart was gonna be in trouble too, but Bartolo to the rescue) reading scripture, enjoying a song by a local musician and church member and in prayer. The kids were playful, the (as I write this, a mother hen is shooing 8 chicks in my direction at what I assume, for chickens, is a high rate of speed) elders observant. All were curious and seemed to be anxious to know what would come next.
After the medical team scoped out the facilities and planned how things would be executed, and after Phil distributed the baseball gloves and the great American pastime was tossed around for a bit, back on the bus and off to the farm.
*If you wanna know how this ends, skip to the last paragraph.
Arrival at the farm: neat compound with a huge kitchen and patio where we eat, a house with a variety of rooms for us to bunk (this is also where the two showers and two flushing toilets are…this area will henceforth be referred to as the spa. now seriously, we take soooooo much for granted!!!! I quote Allison: “I never realized how dependent a shower is on actually having water come out from above your head.”)
There’s a community building of sorts…think of a picnic shelter, but fortified. That’s where we sit together at the end of the day and talk about our experiences. Scripture, thoughts and other quotes anticipate our experiences of the day and guide our discussions. My favorite passage so far is from Mechtild of Magdeburg: “The day of my spiritual awakening was the day I saw – and knew I saw – all things in God and God in all things.”
In this place and on this night, we also began putting together 425 “home health care kits” consisting of 1,334,523 small Ziploc bags, each with a certain number of vitamins, cough drops, band-aids or other otc things (this is the point where we point out that the coordination of this mass product assembly project -and more – began about 360 days ago when Stephanie P. started getting ready for the next [read: this] trip. Another tip of the hat.). long story short (too late): we completed about half the number of kits and went to bed (some of us on bunk beds for the first time in decades. Climbing onto the top bunk is an experience that need not be described here and was not photographed for posterity [or posterior]).
The roosters started at about 4am…the same time at which work on the farm starts too. So many of us were up early taking showers (in the spa), walking to the cemetery, walking around the CEPANA farm and loitering near the kitchen waiting for breakfast. Team Clinic (these are the folks going to the clinic [duh] on day 1) were eating by 6:30 and on the road at 7. Those of us on construction duty followed half an hour later.
Day one of the clinic (Tuesday) was a rousing success (“the best first day we’ve ever had”) and day one of construction, led by Bill, resulted in a great design for a new bench that will sit in the entry hall at CEPANA and this little diddy that you’re reading (or skipping all but the last paragraph of) right now. Group time was held in the dark (the electricity seems to be rationed) and the darkness was a nice touch, a nice way to end a long, successful and rewarding day, we hope the first of 4 in a row. Quote of the day, from Mary Daly: “Why indeed must ‘God’ be a noun? Why not a verb – the most active and dynamic of all.”
Good night and god bless.
*This is the footnote. If you’re looking for the last paragraph, look up.