On Friday Michelle, fellow Mission Intern, and I, received the privilege of spending the day with two other United Methodist Church missionaries; Nan McCurdy & her husband Miguel Mairena. Nan invited us to attend a big health event on awareness of cervical cancer in the community of San Francisco Libre, a town about 1.5 hours outside of Managua. The event was hosted by Women & Community which is the organization with which Nan & Miguel work.
The event consisted of several speakers explaining the manifestation of HPV, how to prevent HPV, and the importance of visiting the gynecologist at the least every 3 years. Between the speakers, a group of Women & Community Association Nicaragua's promoters and a group of youth performed relevant and funny skits. Always including a very machismo man.There were well over 100 women present at the event. At one point there was a dance contest and man could those winners shake it. After the event, a delicious lunch was served.
|Dance competition. You go ladies!|
|We moved our chairs into the shade, but then we encountered ANTS! We spent lots of time trying to keep our feet on rocks. Michelle is showing those ants whats up.|
San Francisco Libre is a community located on the northern side of Lake Nicaragua on the southern side sits Managua. Although the community sounds relatively close to Managua in location, once again the roads leading to San Francisco Libre, once you leave the main road, are bumpy and rocky. However, Nan & Miguel did mention the roads are improving and what used to be a trip of about 4 hours is now 1.5 hours. Also, there were times after rainfall where a SUV or truck with four wheel drive couldn't make it all the way to the community. About halfway to San Francisco Libre we arrived to the newly bricked road and flew the rest of the journey. Eventually, in the next 3 years or so, the entire road will be paved leading to the main road connected to Managua. The Nicaraguan government is trying to improve many roads throughout the country and possibly one day it will no longer take 20 hours to reach the opposite coast.
During the car ride to SFL, Nan gave us a little bit of the history about this community. Nan's organization, Women & Community Association Nicaragua, focuses on empowering women through many different programs and improving women's health. SFL houses one of Women & Communiy's offices and the association focuses on the entire municipality in the area surrounding SFL. In 1998, Hurricane Mitch devastated different parts of Nicaragua including SFL. Part of SFL went underwater and many people were strained, also the flooding lake caused SFL to become a temporary island, cutting off bridge access. People like Nan & Miguel helped bring food & resources to the community during this tragedy. Also, they worked with UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief) to receive funding for boats, gasoline, and generators. Then, several people spent each day searching for stranded people. Nan believes they rescued about 1,500 people in the area and some people has been stranded for about 7-9 days. Nan & Miguel helped with the rebuilding process as many people remained refugees for almost 2 months after the disaster.
Then, in 2010 the lake flooded once again due to increase in rainfall. The water flooded homes once again and new rivers were created by the change in water level. The lake's water level never fell back down and experts say it's going to stay at a high level from now on. The event we attended took place in a street right next to the new water level and this specific part is like a ghost town. Many houses and buildings near the water are abandoned and the water is filled with tree trunks jutting out in a row, marking where streets once laid. The government working with Women & Community decided to only rebuild houses on higher ground within the city. Women & Community's office is located on what seems the highest point in town. They bought a huge chunk of land which they will begin to sell off to businesses and provide new housing in the area. Now, most of the town is rebuilt in the "new" part of the town.
It was a wonderful day to spend with Nan & Miguel. Nan has served as a missionary in Nicaragua for almost 30 years. Her first experience with her late husband involved working with people on the war front. She sat and listened to families who lost loved ones in the war, attended many many funerals, and acted as a present of Christ during an extremely difficult time for Nicaraguans. She told us it caused her to grow up quickly and has had a huge impact on her life ever since. Her husband passed away her in Nicaragua when her two children were very young. She married Miguel some time afterward and between the two of them they have 5 grown children. Miguel grew up in a small island in Nicaragua and left home at about the age of 14. He is very handy and worked as a mechanic and he held numerous jobs working his way up within a Jeep company. He began elementary school at the age of 20 through a accelerating program. Eventually, he went to law school in the states and now works with Women & Community providing legal council to women and children.
I am blessed to work within the missionary community alongside two wonderful, humble people ushering God's kingdom and love to the here and now.