We have come down to the final moments of our three-week trip to Nicaragua as we send the final members of the team to the airport today to wend their way home to Ft. Worth and to Ft. Smith, Arkansas. We will leave on the early Monday morning flight tomorrow, and be home by late afternoon. Ain’t modern transportation just amazing!!?

I will speak in a church tonight – Iglesia Bautista Canaan. We have gotten to know and love the pastor and his family as well as several of the members over the last several trips down here. Pastor Everst asked me to speak at their main service, which is at 4 pm, before I leave town, so I will do that this afternoon. I will be sharing from John 10:1-10 about the Shepherd, the sheep and the “name” He calls us by.

We concluded our second English school Friday. It was a family oriented trip with several members sixteen and under, one who was eight. Family oriented trips are always a bit easier with fewer classes, so that we don’t work till 9 pm every night, and we only hold the school for five days instead of six. The eight year old quickly made friends with the children in the neighborhood, and though his “sport of choice” was American football, he quickly adapted to the many games of stickball they played daily in the narrow, rutted roadway in front of the church. Language proved no more a barrier here than in London at the Olympics.

For this English school, we were in a small church set back in a “rustic” neighborhood, and while the crowds were not as large, the adult students’ 75% response to our invitation to Christ on Friday made it all worthwhile.  One of our 14-year-old team members, who participated as a classroom helper, commented that every student in his class indicated that they had prayed this week to receive Christ. Since this was his first mission experience, I can imagine how that will stick with him as he returns to the U.S.

In the children’s program, we had about 60 children, and 19 responded to the pastor’s call to Christ on Friday.  We were in a neighborhood where it is unlikely that these people will ever meet and talk with another North American, and for many of them, ever get an opportunity to hear the gospel presented clearly to them again. So we trust that Jesus accomplished what He had in mind in sending us there.

All in all, it was a great week, and for us a chance to see a little more of what the real Nicaragua is like and what the local pastors and their congregations contend with day-to-day. The most amazing thing for us is always how friendly and loving the Nicaraguan people are and how appreciative they are that we come to teach them English. Gail had two male students in her class who both had tears in their eyes when they told her good-bye, which is very unusual for men here. Since we also saw that in our experience two weeks ago, God must be doing some serious work here in softening hearts.

It is the beginning of winter here, which means torrential downpours, great difficulty navigating the streets, etc. Fortunately, the rain hasn’t really started in earnest yet – we had a number of heavy rainfalls where the rain hitting the metal roofs made those of us not used to such fierce displays feel like the sky was falling on our heads, but, fortunately, they were short-lived. Each time it rained, it soon dried out and the hot, equatorial sun came back out. All in all, though, the overall temperature here has been much cooler this trip, and there were many more refreshing breezes that we each tried to embrace as they passed by.

As an aside, there was a big local holiday right smack in the middle of the week, one of twenty holidays throughout the year. Some are government holidays, and some, like this one, are religious. This particular celebration was in honor of the patron saint of Managua, Santo Domingo (see http://vianica.com/go/specials/27-managua-nicaragua-patron-saint-dominic-festivities.html for detailed information). Stores were closed, parades were held on every major street, fiestas were going late into the night all around us both the night before and the night of the holiday. From our compound where we were comfortably encamped, we could hear competing bands and singing partiers on every side, mixed in with fireworks at all hours. I’m pretty sure I heard a tuba blatting away during dinner one evening. I’m thinking a tuba is a pretty unusual instrument for Nicaragua, but we were near a university on one side, so perhaps one of the music students liberated it for the celebration. It made for interesting dinner music for our nightly gallo pinto.