Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Visa Renewal in Nicaragua

Yes, the sunsets each night were this spectacular!! Woo hoo!!

A picture of the town of San Juan del Sur where our team stayed for Visa renewal.

Well, last week ended on a great note as the topic was prayer and worship and the fundamentals behind why and how we praise and worship God in our everyday lives. This was coupled with an initiative of building a prayer room that would be used 24 hours a day for five days, beginning last Sunday at midnight and ending at dinner time on Thursday.

It was our opportunity to not only come closer to God within our individual relationships with Him but to also seek Him for new things for our lives. My time in the prayer room brought about great blessing and revelation while giving me a greater understanding of God and His way for me and my life. It was also a time of further confirmation and affirmation of all the things that God has been doing in me and through me during my time here at YWAM. We ended the week by taking holy communion in acknowledgment of what Christ did for each of us on the cross. It was a heart breaking time but then out of that came incredible victory in knowing that with that horrible death came eternal life for us through His resurrection!! Amen!!

Friday then brought us to the beginning of our journey to Nicaragua for our visa renewal process. The trip to the border took us about 4 hours. The van dropped us off well before the border crossing and we were required to gather our personal things and, literally, walk across the border between Costa Rica and Nicaragua. It was an interesting experience in sweltering temperatures as we walked as a close unit into the new frontier of Nicaragua where we were then met with vendors offering to exchange our US dollars for the Nicaraguan currency, Cordoba. After that, we were bombarded by taxi drivers telling us that they could offer us the best fare to get us to our final destination in country.

We settled on a cheap $5 USD fare for each person, packed four persons into each of the three taxis and made our way, quickly, to our accommodation. The radio of the taxi played American music and filled us with the freedom of hip music while being swept away by the breathtaking views of the two volcanoes we passed that looked like they had been dropped from heaven into the middle of a lake. Incredible!! The entire part of this country we travelled in was breathtaking with lush fields of green that went as far as the eye could see, even viewing mountains that were covered in trees and bush every shade of green imaginable!!

A short 45 minute drive later (because the driver was speeding equivalent to the Deerfoot speed once you reach the city limits = 120 kph) brought us to our final destination of a hostel called Pacha Mama in the sleep town of San Juan del Sur. We said goodbye to our driver and hello to one of the workers of the hostel who was English speaking. If any of you have been to a hostel, it is your basic international stop with people staying over for a time, from all over the world. We met some interesting people while there and had the blessing of being very close to the beach. Woo hoo!!

Needless to say the entire weekend was nothing but relaxing, much needed and joyful for me for the pizza and ice cream were cheap and the sunsets beyond spectacular! Unfortunately, I was unable to secure any pictures as we were initially told not to bring our cameras if we wanted to lose them. I was one of those people who didn`t bring their camera as I knew I still had several weeks of outreach to make memories of, so sorry about that folks. However, I`ve done my best to give you some pics of the area we were in so you can have some idea.

I could tell it would be a blessed trip with not only the splendid beach and food but also the amazing sunsets each night along with the famous Jesus statue that resides on a mountain close to the beach, reaching His hand out and over the town. While the hostel was rather noisy late into the night (thank God for earplugs.... :D) the weekend was much needed for many of us and much appreciated and enjoyed. A lot of my time was spent rocking back and forth, on the front patio, in a wood fashioned rocking chair. Sweetness! So many praises were issued up to God every moment that I was there!! There was nothing like rocking and sipping some GREAT Nicaraguan coffee!! Oh yeah!! Overall it was wonderful and hanging out with my fellow homies was an even greater blessing!

Sunday had us leaving the hostel at 10:30 am, taking a `shuttle` back to the border. Now when I say shuttle, I mean a pickup truck with bars to accommodate the seating of 8 people in the back, while 4 people can sit comfortably in the cab (yes, I was one of those sitting comfortably in the cab, hee hee). It didn`t phase my fellow classmates as I could hear singing and yelling in the back as to their delight in the unique trip to the border.

Once we reached the outskirts of the border we were dropped off by the driver, gathered our things and made our way by foot to and across the border, paying both to leave Nicaragua and to enter Costa Rica. By noon, we were retrieved by two YWAM staff, within the YWAM van, on the Costa Rica side of the border and proceeded to make our way back to San Jose.

Only after more than an hour, we found ourselves stopped in a line up of traffic waiting to get through. We found out some time later that a bridge had collapsed and that we had to turn around and find an alternate route back to the base. Turns out that alternate route would take us around a volcano (Arenol) and instead of a 4-5 hour van ride (thank GOD that we travelled there and back in the YWAM van and NOT public transit), we were now looking at an 11 hour van ride due to the winding roads and very poor infrastructure that is common place in the entire country of Costa Rica.

I happened to be sitting in the very back of the van for the entire trip and was feeling the ill effects of it with each extreme bump. So, little sleep, too much fast food (which was seen as a better alternative in terms of cost) and being tossed by each subsequent bump had me completely out of sorts. So much so, that by the time we got back to base, which was after midnight on Sunday, now Monday, I was ready to die a quick death. LOL

I quickly showered and got to bed which was now closer to 1 am. I awoke the next morning earlier than I wanted and felt a clear indication of illness setting in due to lack of proper sleep and poor diet. But praise God because I received a lot of prayer from a lot of people on base and one of my roommates, also my daughter, and one of the guys from my class, also known as my son, told me to go straight to bed Monday night and to forget about work duty and just rest (I have been on dinner clean up duty since arriving at YWAM, a part of their program as a student in the school). So after resting, I awoke to a loud knock on our door and decided to get up and prepare for my Bible study group that was happening that night.

So that about covers my adventures over the past week and, now, a look to the adventures to come! We are slowly preparing for NIKO camp that is happening next week while taking in the final course topic of `Destiny by Design` presented by our New Zealander speaker, Daveed Wright, who now lives in Alajuela, Costa Rica with his Costa Rican wife and two children.

So, just as a warning, I will not have email access next week from September 19-23, 2011 as we will be trudging through the jungles of Cartago. I expect that we will make our way out to the camp area sometime Monday morning and then we are expected to return prior to dinner Friday night. We will be transported in two YWAM vans along with the leadership team guiding us during that time. The camp is, approximately, one hours drive from base. Please pray for safety in travel and for the strength of the LORD on our team as this will be a huge testing and trying time for all of us! Also, please pray for protection against sickness and injury as this place is in the middle of the jungle and will call us to do a lot of hiking and other physically demanding activities during our time there. I know that God will go with us and it is my hope that this experience and this time will bring us closer to God and closer as a team in preparation for our time of outreach that will begin shortly after our return from NIKO!

Volcano Arenal in its active days. It's located in the province of Alajuela.

Also, if you are interested, you can check out a bit of the reviews on the hostel we stayed at while in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua. Here is the URL:

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