Monday, August 2, 2010

This is Nicaragua

Today I had a uniquely Nicaraguan experience.  We had to leave the Orphanage for first service (meaning we left at 8) in order to make it to church because there was some big party planned for afterwards and Managua and everyone was worried about the streets closing and not being able to make it home in time for lunch.  We made it there with about 10 minutes to spare.  I got to see Myra Trolese for a quick second, which was wonderful. 

The service went well.  I sat with our daughters and Theo, while Tate wanted to spend time with his hermanos.  We sang some great songs and I really enjoyed the worship!  I definitely see the benefits of attending a Spanish church when it comes time to worship here.  Anyway…about half way through the worship the kids were dismissed and Theo and Tate both went in the nursery (one willing and one not…in that order).  

I enjoyed the sermon without the constant squirming of Theo, only to have that replaced by the constant squirming of Ana.  Since I don't get to experience her squirminess very often I really enjoyed it.  At one point I think she fell asleep on my lap.  

We left fairly quickly after the sermon, Tate and Stanley in the bus and I was in the truck with The Vargas family and several of the chavalos and three gringos in the back.  We got about 10 minutes down the road and I saw the bus take a different route on the round about than we did.  I was instantly nervous.  I'm not thrilled about being separated from Tate (even though I know he's in good hands with the boys, there's just something about that protection instinct that a mom has) and I don't really know what to expect because the other road is more familiar to me and we seemed to be on a more residential route.  

We get about a half mile up and it just gets ugly.   We're at a four way stop and our light is green, but we can't go anywhere because directly across from us are cones blocking off the road.  There's an onramp to the road though, and it's not yet blocked off so there are about 15 cars flipping u turns to get onto the road via the onramp.  Our light turns red and several of the cars in front of us do a mad dash across the intersection and go in between the cones.  The guy setting them up (I'm sure fearing for his life) just gives up and picks up the cones.  I watch as the road ahead becomes congested as everyone tries to go in the same direction, cutting across 2 lanes of traffic in the middle of an intersection.  Don Jorge and Yamilett are discussing what way they should go when I guess Don Jorge decided he was tired of waiting.  He heads out into the intersection in spite of our red light.  I see a huge cement mixer coming toward us.  They have the right of way times two…they have a green light and more importantly here in Nicaragua, they are much bigger than us.  They honk at us (not a big deal, honking here isn't rude, it's a way of life) and keep coming.  So do we.  At this point I'm more concerned about the 12 guys in the back of the truck.  I doubt the cement mixer would hit us on purpose just to prove a point, but you never know.  He finally slows down and lets us pass, albeit with a lot of honking. 

Finally we're on the desired road but we aren't moving.  All of the cars are stopped because the road is supposed to be closed in both directions.  We aren't moving and our truck is full of hungry adolescent boys and a grumpy 18 month old.  What do we do?

We drive over the median that is at least as wide as a car and is basically a huge curb.  We drive over the median and start passing all the stopped cars because we're driving the wrong way down a one way street.  Several cars follow our lead.  At first it's fine, and then we have to start swerving cars that are going the right way on this road.  They had been forced to turn around at the stop, which is why we were all waiting anyway.  This is Nicaragua, my friends. 

About a mile down the road we have to merge with traffic because a policeman is there.  We see another truck of people holding up their Bibles and getting through traffic.  We realize there is a church just past the turn around point, so the directors get out their Bibles.  So now we're driving like maniacs and willingly identifying ourselves as believers…and claiming church attendance for our reason to be such bad drivers.  Awesome. 

A police man sees us and tries to let us through to the church parking lot, but a big bus cuts us off.  There's a lot of pointing to Bibles and honking.  We finally manage to get through.  At this point I'm really confused as to what we're doing…I doubt the parking lot has a back way out and everyone is hungry.  Hopefully this church serves communion!

We see people washing the cars in the lot (amazing servant evangelism idea!) and head in.  Don Jorge says to everyone that we have to wait anyway, so we might as well hear the word of God while we're waiting, and we get to stretch our legs a bit.  Makes sense to me. 

The church is called Hosanna church and is huge.  It's a very traditional looking American church.  There are huge floral arrangements in front and the entire pastoral staff sits on the stage with their wives.  There's about 20 people total.  It seemed a little out of place to me, a little too American in a place that doesn't need to be Americanized, Nicaragua is beautiful.  The culture and people are beautiful.  I love the dancing while worshipping.  I love the heinous rhythm of the clapping that sounds more like an applause than clapping to the beat.  This church seems too perfect.  To the point that when Theo threw our bulletin on the ground (5 times in 10 minutes) it was immediately picked up by and usher and handed back to me.   THe people were nice and sincere, but it just seemed out of place to me.  

About 10 minutes later Theo was done playing nice, and an usher showed me where the air conditioned nursery was.  I sat in a rocker with Theo and looked around.  There was a beautiful mural painted on the wall.  I think it was farmers or a campesino theme but all the people were white.  Odd. After five minutes of staying there I saw our group get up and leave.  Luckily the church was huge so 20 people leaving wasn't a huge number, but we were still obvious.  I felt awkward. 

When we got outside I felt even more awkward.  They were rinsing off the truck and here we are leaving 5 minutes into the sermon.  I cringe at the whole situation, even now.  

Thankfully the road was open and we were able to get home quickly.  Tate was fine and I was relieved to see him.  I don't think he's going to get to go without me again-this is Nicaragua and I'd rather have him close.  

Anyway, we made it home safe and got to be blessed by a beautiful song while we waited.  I thought it was crazy at first just to crash a church service for a few minutes, but I'm sure there were people there like us who didn't plan to attend and were super blessed!

This is Nicaragua, my friends!!