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While every mission trip is different from the ones before, some things are routine.  So it was, per usual, that we gathered early at the airport to begin our week of serving.  As in years past, there were alumni who would not be joining us there at the airport to assist and see us off.   When friends are there to wave goodbye and the travel is seamless and on time, it sets the tone for what we know will be a productive, bonding and fun week.

It was raining as we descended into Managua, obscuring the view of the lush countryside that we will experience while we are here.  But who needed the sun when our interpreter from El Ayudante, Oliver, was there to greet us with a smile that shone like sunbeams through the clouds?  His job this week, he informed us, is to be not just our interpreter, but our friend.  We can tell by his enthusiasm that being his friend will be the easiest thing we will do all week!  After all, we are here to build relationships with the people and we pray that he is just the first of many new friends we will make.  And the idea that it may rain doesn’t dampen our spirits one bit!  After all, with the clouds hiding the sun, it can only serve to cool the air, something we know we will definitely appreciate.

The two hour ride to El Ayudante, under Eden’s skillful driving, was uneventful.  Although there were a few times that those of us in the front of the bus wondered if he was going to be successful in some of his passing attempts.  You see, most of the roads we traveled are narrow with only one lane in each direction and our transportation was a well-worn old school bus in which we often felt perhaps we needed to lean forward to ensure we had the power to crest some of the hills.  While we always bet on Eden succeeding, there were a few times we were grateful that he chose not to pass after all.   With the chatter of the group, the passing scenery and the PB and J feast for lunch, the time passed quickly.  Making that turn into the final road to the mission house was a welcome sight for all of us, and a homecoming for many.

With the experienced alumni guiding the newcomers, we headed to our dorms to unpack, familiarize ourselves with our home for the next week, and organize for the work ahead.  Full of questions and anticipation, it was wonderful to see new and eager faces in our group.  We know this evening will include a delicious dinner, some prep work and probably some healthy good-natured fun as we begin to really bond as a group in anticipation of the week ahead.