Thursday, January 12, 2012

{Nicaragua 2011 ~ Day 1}

Finally, the day I had been waiting for came. Almost a year of preparations....many of you have prayed for this mission trip and some of you gave financially...all to make this possible. There is so much to share, but I'm going to try and start from the beginning and not get ahead of myself!

The trip actually started on Thursday at the church...weighing our luggage. We were allowed 50 pounds each. I was so nervous, but miraculously I was under by 15 pounds! Hallelujah!! I can add my hairdryer :) I went home and had dinner with my family and tried to soak up every moment, knowing it would be a long week without them. Quentin got up with me and drove me to the church at 2am. It was a foggy morning and once loaded on the bus and headed to Memphis, we realized that the bus defroster doesn't work very well...or at all. Charles was the human defroster, constantly wiping the glass so Billy could see the road. Made for a very long trip to the airport. Billy did a marvelous job...and we only had one scare when he missed the turn and we had to back up so we wouldn't end up in a ditch. We arrived at the airport around checked in and waited for our flight. I'm a nervous wreck.

Me & Lizabeth Robinson (my boss) at Atlanta Airport
We landed in Atlanta around 8am and had enough time to kill to grab a little airport breakfast. I survived the flight and my nerves were starting to settle a little. Atlanta International is a huge airport with a tram to take you from gate to gate....when the little speaker comes on and says this train is leaving and you should hold on...they mean it!

I seen several soldiers at Atlanta...catching flights home...and it brought back a flood of memories. I stopped to shake several of their hands and just to thank them for their sacrifice. I don't think you can thank them enough and I know for some of them, they were seeing their families for the first time in months...others were leaving their families to finish tours. I know how that feels and it is always humbling for me to see soldiers & their families in airports.

JR & Brittany Lawrence and Erin Gammill...grabbing some airport breakfast...yum...yum!

Inside view of our hotel, The Best Western, in Managua, Nicaragua (*note this is NOT where we stayed for our mission trip...just the first night while waiting on the rest of our team to arrive)

I got a little nervous when we started flying into Managua...ok...I got ALOT nervous! I was thinking where in the world are they going to land this plane? I couldn't see anything that resembled an airport...all I see was water and buildings. Well, there just happened to be a little...and I do mean little...stretch of a field in the midst of those buildings and that would be where the landing strip was. Wow! As soon as we touched down the pilot immediately applied the breaks...that's how short the runway was. We went through customs & immigration, paid our $10.00, found our luggage and headed to the hotel across the street. If the landing of the plane didn't scare ya, the crossing the street definitely would! Just picture a real live human form of Frogger...these cars weren't stopping for nothing and there was no end in sight, so the best course of action?? RUN!!! (and now I know why you don't want more than 50 pounds of luggage). We checked in and got our room assignments...I would be rooming with Lizabeth and Brandi Parkinson. The rooms were small with 3 twin size beds, but clean...I'll take it.

Me & Brandi Parkinson sporting our Mission Team tees :)

We walked around taking pictures of all the gorgeous vegetation around the hotel. Everything is so green and alive! They had banana trees, palm trees, and even a mango tree!

One example of the beautiful vegetation surrounding the hotel...and just happened to be a "ginger plant". Of course I had to have a picture. You will notice my became a permanent fixture to my back during this week.

Me & Kristin Summers at dinner.

After scoping out the hotel, we all decided we were had been a long day of flights with not much time for eating. We didn't have a translator this first day and the hotel staff could speak some English, but not much, so ordering our food was challenging to say the least. Lizabeth tried using Google Translator on her iPhone, but that proved to be not such a great idea....LOL..She tried to ask "do you have dessert" and ended up translating "are you dessert?"....apparently Google needs to go back to school. The food was wonderful, but we never did get that dessert!

This was my receipt for my meal....the US dollar total is circled with the Cordova total above glad they're doing the exchange for me. I stink at math without a calculator!

JR & Brittany enjoying the music of a party that was going on right outside our rooms. The music was entertaining at first, but around midnight, we were just ready for them to shut it down, so we could get some shut eye.

Passing the time with a 2-deck game of Spades.
The rest of our group (the ones that flew out of Little Rock) weren't due to arrive till 8pm, so we had to stay up for a team meeting. Luckily, I had brought a couple decks of cards in case we had some long layovers at the airports.

The Little Rock group finally arrived (they had a very eventful day of flying including arguing about the extra baggage that had ALL OF OUR SUPPLIES IN IT...and one of the little girls having to carry her little suitcase as a carry on.) They were tired and wore out. We had a quick meeting before bed. Day One complete.

I can't wait to share with you the rest of our week!!

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