Hello from Nicaragua! As we wrap up another beautiful day in sunny Nicaragua, Team USNA prepares for a bittersweet departure tomorrow morning. Determined to finish strong, the team jumped into action promptly at 0600, shut off the AC (set to a chilly 80 degrees Fahrenheit), and headfirst into devotionals led by Carrie and Josh. The team meditated on Matthew 6:25-34, then filed in worry-free for breakfast. Nourished both in spirit and in body, the fun began. Alana, Brent, and Bryan shared their testimonies at the radio station, supplemented by a rendition of “The Stand” sung by Brent, Carrie, and Domingo. Meanwhile, the team gathered around the radio to hear and support our brothers and sisters, and a handful (Austin, Eugene, Jackson, Josh and Michael) chopped up onions, peppers, carrots, and garlic with the radio blasting in the kitchen.

Determined to serve in all areas and capacities, the team spent this morning serving at the Casa. We cleaned the tables for the seminary training to take place later on, washed the bus for our journey home tomorrow, and prepared the “training center” to support new life. The team worked hard to clean and till the fields for the next planting. Many rocks were picked up. There were a few casualties (we broke a rake) but luckily no heat casualties in the hot morning. Even the locals agreed that today was an hace calor kind of day. Many breaks were taken, but the team did an excellent job holding each other accountable in the event any member took to social loafing. In the end, the field was beautiful, even, and ready for life. We even ate some of the papayas growing on the nearby trees and survived. Hallelujah! A real joy to work for the Lord, the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. It was a real joy for the team to give back to the Casa which has been supporting us this last week. Because we care.

After a delicious lunch from Mama Maria and the crew, the team jocked up one last time for the villages and took off for El Platanal. Everything must go! We packed all of the remaining clothing into black bags of grace and charity and distributed with the passion of a gringo about to depart the country. For the last time this trip, we diffused into the village and engaged the people. Paper airplanes were made (after some hardcore construction that only mechanical engineers on the team could understand), footraces commenced, and many nails were painted. We’re unsure where the initiative began (it was Michael) but the little girls in the village were determined to paint the nails of all male members of the mission team. Unfortunately, there are pictures to prove this event actually did occur. All male participants did conclude that after the experience, they learned a great lesson in humility and refined their masculine identity.

Before returning to the Casa for the night, the team made a quick trip to the local market and supermarket to check out the scene and buy some of the local snacks. Limeades, colas, guava juice, Frescas, and cookies were consumed at la supermarket Shihab. We still don’t know who Mr. Shihab is.

Finally, to top it all off, we celebrated an early birthday for Josh. Brent and Carrie did the honors of smashing an egg on his head before pouring flour on him (as per Nicaraguan tradition). As they as at the Academy, tradition never graduates. It’s been a pleasure recounting today’s adventure with you all. God bless and stay warm!