If we were hoping to have a morning to sleep in, well… that morning never came! We were up and at it at regular time and had to be packed and ready to go for the day. We loaded all our luggage and ourselves and headed out on the bus for the last time in Nicaragua. It was a tough goodbye as it always is. But the mood changed from sadness to terror as Santos threw an iguana into the back of the bus!
After our goodbyes, we added Katie Pullen to our team to head to Los Brasiles. Katie is a former Wildwood student and former alumni of our Mission Nicaragua teams. In fact, it was through our teams work in Nica that the Lord grabbed a hold of Katie’s heart and she has now moved down to Nicaragua to follow Him in full-time mission work.
Katie gave us the tour of the ministry center and the surrounding community. We saw some of the preschool kids as they arrived and also where her art studio is. It was awesome to see her heart come through in all she shared about the ministry God has called her to and the community that has become her home. We have a strong connection to Los Brasiles as our very first student team built a home there in 2004 and then later teams ministered there and took Brasiles kids to Campo Allegria. We can’t wait to see how God continues to use Katie as the Gospel goes out to that community.
From there we were back on the bus to head to one of our teams favorite spots… Wembes Market. I lead a group of brave souls into the inner bowels of the market (maybe pun intended). Once into the food section they got to experience the sights and smells of animal meat everywhere! Every part of meat is used and it’s always fun to try to identify. Fish, iguanas, chicken, beef and more! But everyone got a chance to shop around the market and pick out their souvenirs and then we were on our way to the airport.
We were able to make it through immigration and security with no problems until I heard my name being called over the loudspeaker. They lead me down to the restricted area of the airport (didn’t seem too restricted if I was able to go there) and they opened one of our black bags. I thought it was all the knifes and machetes just purchased, but it turns out they don’t let inflated sports balls travel. So after a few minutes of deflation, I was able to rejoin our team and board our US bound flight.
Everything was going great until we touched down and learned our next flight was cancelled. I began scrambling on the phone as I knew the airport was going to be a mess. Apparently MIA was shut down for 2 hours earlier due to weather and other issues. Before jumping on the skytrain towards immigration and customs, a team member couldn’t find their passport. With prayers being prayed, I ran back to the gate and praise God, an agent was willing to walk back onto the plane and found it and passed it through the secure glass doors. We were off and running to immigration where the lines for the computer check in were wrapped around and the computers kept failing. But we all got through and then made it through immigration. We had to pick up our bags for customs but then were taken by an agent upstairs to check on rebooking. The line to rebook was unreal. I had a team member stand in line while I worked on flights from the phone. Over 2 hours on the phone and standing in line, we finally get to an agent to hear him tell us there was nothing he could do. No hotel offered since the flight was cancelled by weather. But on my 2 hour phone call I managed to get us all booked on a Sunday morning flight to Tallahassee. I also checked on a Red Coach bus during that time as a plan B.
It was now past midnight and everyone was exhausted. They offered us the auditorium with cots to sleep in but it was dark and the cots were spread out and we couldn’t bear the smell. So we found a little area upstairs and started to settle. I called at least 20 hotels in the area only to hear “no rooms” from everyone. Despite wanting a decent night sleep, in a bed, with a shower… well, it looked like the airport floor was our only option. Everyone did their best with a great attitude and got some “sleep”. Not wanting to do that for another night (much less eat airport food for another day) I called to get us on the Red Coach bus to Tallahassee departing at 9am.
And so as I type, that’s where we are. We’re driving through the Everglades right now and will see most of the state of Florida (although a good number on our team are only seeing the back of their eyelids). We’ll be on this bus for about 11 hours, but praise God, we are at least getting closer to Tallahassee. Everyone is pretty wiped out physically, emotionally and spiritually. But we are so grateful for God’s provision for our team and for the ministry and mission He gave us this trip. And thank you, again, to all of you supporters who financially provided for this team and stood in the gap for us on your knees in prayer. It was certainly needed and felt. Soli Deo Gloria!
For more pictures, head over to www.facebook.com/wsm.mission.nicaragua!