Editor’s Note: Maple Valley resident Elisa Lewis went on her sixth trip to San Ramon, Nicaragua with the Corner of Love mission. The mission left Feb. 20 and returned March 5. Tanya Amador and her husband Nelson have organized the missions for nine years. The group provides medical treatment and needed supplies for San Ramon and the surrounding villages. There were 78 missionaries on the trip including doctors, nurses, optometrists, dentists and people with a passion to serve.
The following are excerpts from Lewis’ journal documenting her experiences.
The following are excerpts from Lewis’ journal documenting her experiences.
• Feb. 20
Today is the day I make the trek from Seattle to Managua. This is the first time I’ve traveled alone. I have so much cargo to bring. It turns out it will cost less to upgrade to first class to get it there because there is more cargo allowed. Not bad!
I ended up meeting nice people on the plane and in the airport. So I ended up not alone. I arrived in Managua without any trouble.
• Feb. 21
Set up office
The dorm looks great, but there is still lots to do. The families don’t come until Feb. 24 as do the 78 missionaries. So I am Tanya’s (Amador) helper until then.
– made the menu;
– organized the pantry;
– grocery shopped some more in Matagalpa;
– picked up beds in Matagalpa;
– set up the temporary office in the dorm.
• Feb. 22
The office works starts. We created mounds of paper to prepare the incoming missionaries for their jobs. I made an attempt at washing off all the goo the window guys got on the windows. I mentally had to fire him. He was very messy!
Nelson (Amador) is, as he says, “working his butt.” That means he’s working like a dog trying to get the dorm ready for missionaries. He’s trying to get the stuff in for hot showers – put in electrical stuff, hanging mirrors, etc.
• Feb. 23
Tanya and I have lots to do in Matagalpa. We took an adventurous drive to La Laguna with our macho Nica helpers to pick up a truckload of wood. The kitchen staff will use this wood to cook huge pots of beans outside.
In Matagalpa we arrange to buy more beds. Go to the photocopy place to have charts copied. We made the bed order, my personal favorite.
Loading the eight mattresses and box springs was pretty funny. We ended up finding a guy with a truck, his son and some guy without shoes. The shoeless guy stood on the back of the truck kept the mattresses from sliding off. It turned out the man and his son are pastors. They became quite interested in the mission and plan to help us with more hauling.
Tanya and I continued to work on welcome baskets, bed assignments, etc., until bedtime.
• Feb. 24
Today was my saddest day working in our family program. We learned of four deaths in our program. One was a very old person. One was a baby who was so extremely malnourished when she came to us. Another was a hydrocephalic 2 year old who may have been OK had she born in the U.S. Another was a 16-year-old girl who died from complications of diabetes.
It was a big reminder that we are working with the poorest of the poor. It’s sad we can’t fix them all.
Tonight we picked up the rest of the team at the airport in Managua. So many bins of supplies, so many people – we can do great things this trip!
• Feb. 25
Set up day – meet my team day.
I have a great team. We were able to meet and figure out what everyone was doing. There are lots of newbies. I took them on a tour of San Ramon and the Amador ranch.
Sue and I set up the clinic flow – drew a picture and everything.
After dinner we had an Ash Wednesday service. We prayed for the families who had the deaths.
• Feb. 26
So, our best laid plan sort of went as planned. Not quite, but enough to run pretty smoothly. I worked with Dr. Luther (Frerichs from Enumclaw Medical Center) and we mainly sponsored families. This was the most thorough and well documented care they have received to date. It was great having our eye doctor with us today. He saw about 120 patients and gave out over 100 pairs of prescription glasses. How exciting.
Our sponsored families reminded us of why we do what we do. They are the poorest of the poor. We saw so much need:
• kids with the front of their shoes cut out so they could still wear them after they outgrow the shoes;
• a mom who didn’t send her kids to school because she doesn’t have enough food to send them to school with a lunch;
• kids who couldn’t go to school because they didn’t have shoes;
• a baby who couldn’t open his eyes because of severe conjunctivitis.
What a blessing to be born in the U.S. What a blessing to be able to be a part of making things better for these families.
• Feb. 27
My job today ended up being a scribe and interpreter for Dr. Luther. Who knew I would ever get good enough at Spanish to do that. I had to be bailed out of a few words, but otherwise I did OK. Cool thing was no one gave me that, “I don’t have a clue what you are saying and you have three heads” look.
Clinic went very smoothly today. Probably over 300 people seen in clinic. We were busy. We say the most gruesome thing we’ve ever seen in clinic. A kid with a huge tumor that surrounded his eye and had it coming out of his head. His caregiver had been refusing surgery in Managua because she thought it might kill the boy. But if he doesn’t have the surgery he will die. Nelson worked hard to convince her that she needed to accept surgery.
We brought 8,000 supplies. We will run out. Medicine supplies are still pretty good.
A great day overall.
• Feb. 28
Today was a great and efficient day. We were able to split our medical team into small teams according to skills and background. It worked slick. My job today was to scribe for Dr. Eduardo. It was fun and he speaks enough English to help me fix some of my Spanish. Turns out he is also a Star Wars fan, so when I said, “may the force be with you”… he thought it was funny. Good thing because that wasn’t coming out in Spanish.
At the end of the day I played the “basura” game (trash game) with the kids and had them pick up trash. I taught them the cleanup song from Barney. They thought it was really cool.
The kids around her are so much fun. They think we’re fascinating especially when we have a camera. They love to have their pictures taken and see them in the back of the camera.
• March 1
Some of us walked into town to look for ice cream. We ran into Maria (our sponsored girl) and her friend Alba. Last year I found out Alba couldn’t afford to go to school and could not read. So I told Maria to teach her and she did. It turns out Alba is still not in school and the only thing holding her back is $20 for a uniform, shoes, notebooks and pencil. She will receive all this on the June trip as part of the shoe program. It drives me crazy that something so little can keep someone from getting educated.
We found our ice cream and the local gas station that doesn’t have gas. I found out Maria had come into town for church in the morning and waited for me all day with Alba. I hung out with them at the park for a while after the ice cream. They asked me to teach them some English. We worked very hard on “God bless you.”
It was a great day.
• March 2
Samulali village clinic
It took us a while to get set up, but once we did we worked solid until after dark. There was no electricity. I worked with Dr. Luther. Our little team saw 120 patients. What a team. I don’t think our patient chair ever cooled off between patients.
Tonight was our farewell party. We had folklore dancers, a slide show and cake. It’s all good.
• March 4
Selva Negra clinic
The conditions some people lived in were horrendous. Families of four or five living in about 90 square foot, if that, no windows.
I sat next to Dr.Luther on the bus. We had a very interesting conversation about what it would be like to teach the kids that there is the possibility of something other than poverty for them. What would it be like if the teachers were to begin teaching the kids that there is life beyond the sixth grade academically? And the kids could become teachers, nurses, doctors, lawyers, etc, if they worked hard enough.
It has been a little personal mission of mine for Maria (my sponsor girl). Each time I come I ask her what she wants to be when she grows up and remind her that she’ll have to study hard for it. This year I added, “and don’t have any babies when you are young!”
Perhaps Nicaragua can be only a generation away from getting out of poverty – perhaps.
• The last night
Tonight we will spend the night in Managua. The last night is always one of my favorites because of tour farewell, wrap-up dinner. I love hearing what the trip meant to everyone. You can’t go work with the Nicaraguan people on a trip like this and not have your life or perspective changed in some way.
For me going every year provides me with a great perspective on how well off I am.
• March 5
I am ready to be home. I miss my family. I miss my bathroom. I could go for a spoon of my cookie dough. The flight home seems so much longer this time.
It’s amazing how God takes ordinary people and accomplishes such an extraordinary thing.