Saturday, April 14, 2012

Pictures! (Credit: Richard P. and Samantha S.)

One corner of the school's soccer field where we began the building of the wall.

Sifting rocks out of the sand to mix with cement; also, maybe panning for gold?

One of the most labor intensive jobs - mixing cement by hand. This is more difficult than it looks; you have to make sure the water doesn't escape the "volcano," mix quickly so the concrete on the bottom doesn't start to harden, and do it in the hot Nicaraguan sun!

Students diligently mixing ready-to-use concrete so that it doesn't harden.

Richard working hard

Make sure to stay hydrated!

Another labor intensive job - moving 100 lb concrete bricks. We had to carry a lot of these a large distance, until they got a truck to transport them across the field. Whew!

Everyone worked hard to carry these bricks... it was hard work...

And then some school kids came by, and wanting to help, also showed us up.

Our daily audience

Playing with the kids at the orphanage after working on the wall

Sometimes we didn't have as much energy as the kids...

Our awesome sponsors, Obed and Daniela!

A local shop right outside the orphanage

Some horses chillin' on the side of the road

Where we went ziplining on our "fun day" - Nicaraguan rainforest on a volcano! 

We got smoothies after the end of a long week of work - High chairs for the boys

Being silly with our new friends at the orphanage

What we did! It might not look like much, but we managed to put up several sections of concrete blocks. They will fill columns and a top layer over this section. To be continued...

Friday, April 13, 2012

This Spring Break (March 25 - April 1, 2012), a group of 16 students and 2 faculty sponsors from La Sierra University in Riverside, CA, went to La Trinidad, Nicaragua to help an orphanage run by REACH International  through STORM (Short Term Outreach Missions). We stayed at Hogar Reach, helped start the building of a wall around their school's property, and made some new friends (pictured above)!

We wanted to update this blog while we were there, but didn't have enough time or internet access, so we will be updating back entries now from various students who went on the trip. This will happen at different times, so if some pieces of the story are missing, or there are lots of different perspectives, you know what's going on! Thanks to everyone who went on the trip, helped support someone to go on the trip (whether financially, emotionally, or through prayer), and our new family in Nicaragua.

To learn more about STORM, visit:
To donate to the STORM program, visit:

- Jaylene C.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Day 6

Day 6 was the best day. We got up at about 4:30 in the morning, but we were going to have our fun day so it was worth it. We no longer had to work on the wall. At first the kids were not going to come with us, but they were able to join us. We got on the bus and finally left the orphanage around 5:30 AM. We took breakfast with us which was fruit and we got to choose between a chicken, cheese, or peanut butter sandwich. I chose the peanut butter one.

On the bus I sat next to my buddy Saul. The kid talked to me here and there but most of the time he was looking out the window at all the stuff we were passing. After about 3 hours of traveling we reached the volcano called Mombacho. We traveled up the volcano a bit and reached a little site where we began our zip line trail. They gave us all the right equipment and explained to us how to do it right. They had seven or so zip lines for us to go down. Each one was different in length and some they spun us or bounced us. To get down the tree for the last one we had to fall down a rope. There was always a person at the start of each zip line adn another person at the end to make sure we landed safely.

It was a lot of fun for everyone and even a couple of kids from the orphanage were brave enough to join us. Once we finished a truck took us back to where we started and I bought my mother an apron. Then we took another truck a bit farther to the top of the volcano where we ate lunch. It was rice, beans, and either vegetables or chicken. I got the veggie platter.

After lunch we went on a short hike to see more of the volcano and the stuff surrounding it. We took group pictures and saw some beautiful sights. After our hike it was time to start heading back home. I sat next to Saul for a while but we stopped shortly after leaving at a place for us to buy gifts and other souvenirs.

The kids had to stay on the bus as we did not want to take long. I bought two shirts, a magnet, and two other little objects that kids play with. My friend Chris bought a mochette that has all the seals engraved on it from the different Central American countries. When we were done shopping and walking back to the bus we saw these crazy high seats that people were sitting in. I went over to sit in one and the neat thing I know a lady was asking me if I could put the finished drinks on her platter.

Since I already was up there I decided, why not? The deans decided to buy us all smoothies at that location and even got some for the kids on the bus to enjoy. The smoothie had fresh oranges, strawberries, and mangoes in it. It was very good. After this, we got back on the bus and traveled home. We had a small worship on the bus. Once we got back to the orphanage we had some more soft tacos for dinner, and after this everyone want to sleep.

I got to take a lot of pictures today and had fun hanging out with everyone. The weather remains great still and I had a ton of fun.

- Sheldon H.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Day 5

Day 5 went a lot smoother. I got a full night's rest and got up to have breakfast in time. I had toast, a Clif Bar, and some fruit. We went over to the work site for our last day of work, expecting there not to be much work since they ran out of bricks to build the wall the day before. However, they brought more bricks for us to lay and we got back to work. We did the top layer on another 9 parts of the wall, and felt great to get those done. Before lunch, we went into one of the classrooms where the teachers gave us a gift. Mine was a little church box thing that opened up and can hold pens. It was cool, and after this, we took pictures in front of the school.

We got back to the orphanage for lunch, and had a sort of vegetable soup, rice, and beans. It tasted okay, but was not my favorite meal. We went back to work shortly after two and laid another row of bricks on the remaining section of the wall. After we did this, it was pretty much time to go, so we started cleaning up the site and putting all the supplies in the warehouse. It was interesting because I guess the other workers are not going to work tomorrow.

The supplies weighed a lot and were heavy, so it was not fun to carry far away. We finally finished working, and it felt good to be done. The work was good, but it was killing my back so it was good to be finished. On the walk back, we stopped at a "store" and I videotaped in there, and showed the camera where I get all my Gatorade and candy.

Once we got back to the orphanage, we relaxed and just hung outside for a bit. I took a shower and got cleaned up before dinner. After that I got ready to eat. Dinner was really good tonight. It was more soft tacos, but they had some sour cream. It tasted amazing and I had three of them. My stomach was really happy after dinner and we played games till it was time to worship.

Worship was pretty much the same as the night before. We sang songs and had a devotional thought. It ended pretty fast, but then the kids had a surprise for us. They gave us each a stuffed animal and a letter written by one of the kids who was paired up with us. My kid was Saul and he gave me a lion because that is what I remind him of. The letter he gave me was really nice. They also went around and told us a little about the person they got paired with.

Every mission trip has those moments when it feels like the group because closer to God and realizes that what they stayed up to do was special. We just had that moment.

- Sheldon H.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Apparently no one heard our alarm this morning, so we awoke to Dean Vilchez knocking on our door telling us we had 15 minutes. We scurried about, until someone checked their watch and realized we had 15 minutes until breakfast. We then plopped back into bed and eventually rolled in for breakfast. After breakfast, we gathered our gear and put on sunscreen before heading out to our work site. Apparently the guys were late again and this didn't make Dean Vilchez happy.

We arrived to the work site and began to mix more concrete. I jumped in and started helping the contractors take the re-bar and make the rectangular support beams for pouring the main slabs of concrete. We started with two long re-bar rods, and then from thinner rods, we cut shorter segments that were bent into squares. These squares were spaced evenly between the re-bar rods, and then wire was used to secure the squares in place. Once one side was secured, the entire segment was trimmed, meaning any loose tails for teh wires were twisted together then cut off. Upon completion, the entire segment was rotated 180 degrees; 2 more long re-bar bars were inserted between the squares connected/secured and then the wires twisted off.

I spent most of the morning making these and teaching others how to make them. I then helped put some concrete between some blocks. The big adventure was figuring out how to transport the big pile of bricks from one end of the soccer field to our work site. While - well wait, it should be noted that these blocks/bricks we have been using weigh about 100 lbs each and are large. It takes two people to lift and move them. So while some people paired up and started hauling bricks manually, I found a working wheelbarrow.

I then met everyone at midfield and loaded 2 blocks into the barrow (cuz that's all it could hold). I then took a running start and pushed the wheelbarrow to the other side/the workplace. The contractors and our students liked the idea, so we started rotating groups to push the wheelbarrow. However, Dean Vilchez's cousin showed up and saw us struggling to haul the bricks over to the worksite. He left and returned wtih a truck, so we loaded the remaining blocks onto the truck and they drove them across the field. We then began to put up the third layer of bricks before we headed home for lunch.

Lunch was spaghetti, salad, and toast. It was so good! We then had some time off so we went back to the room and slept. The girls think all we do is sleep when we are free, and that's pretty true! Haha... we we woke up and returned to the work site, where we sat around waiting for more cement to be made and for the workers to finish the foundation. We continued the third layer, of bricks, and were amazed by the contractors' strength. One lifted and carried 2 sandbags across the soccer field by himself. These sandbags - I bet is as heavy as 2 bricks, and this guy was carrying them on his head and acted like it was nothing.

After dinner I returned to my room to write my journal, then went to worship, followed by some time with the kids. I was going to help the girl with her violin, but Jaylene played the violin that night and was holding all the kids' attention. I was more than fine with that, so I instead played games with the kids. Soon we got a phone call from Anne Maria, the head director here at the orphanage. She was driving a truck back from Leon (about 2 years away) when the tires blew out. She had to leave the truck and hitchhike to the nearest town in order to get cellphone reception (that's where she called us from).

This was because the truck broke down in the middle of nowhere. Anne Maria wanted a few of us to stay up until midnight to help unload the truck when it arrived. Because we were fearful that we would not be able to go back to sleep after waking up at midnight to unload the truck, Dean Obed, Crystal, Veronica, Suzy (from the orphanage) and I stayed up until midnight. Little did I know my night was just beginning.

- Richard P.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Finally in Nicaragua! Got in last night at like 11. Been doing some wall building and general sweating, but we just had lunch and are on break until 3, so we're feeling pretty good.

I was so anxious on the way here, whether we would all get there on time, or safely, or if people would have a good trip, or if we would have enough to do, or if I planned things properly, but now that we're here, I feel like I can finally relax, also because Obed and Daniela are here.

There was something comforting about getting off the air conditioned plane and being immediately overwhelmed with that distinctive smell of foreign country. The humidity, the open air, the fires, farm animals, fragrant trees, and vehicle exhaust makes for scents that are familiar to me, from memories from past travels and dreams of those of the future. The wind blew by the open windows of the bus, and with cool evening air blowing in my face and stars close above, countryside shadows whipping by, and the sense of an adventure being forged, I smiled because I could not help it.

- Jaylene C.

We awoke at 5 AM for devotionals with the orphans. Afterwards, we ate breakfast (after a quick 45 minute nap while breakfast was being prepared). Apparently I eat a lot , and people wonder why I am so thin. I wish I could give them an answer. After breakfast we went to the work site where we started by distributing the bricks along the fence-line. After a delay by the main workers, we were able to start mixing concrete, which was then distributed on the cement foundation.

We then put the massive blocks on top of this layer, and then filled in the spaces with more mortar cement. The kids from the school actually put on a very nice welcome ceremony for us before we began building. Then throughout the day, the students would come out and visit with us whenever they had free time. Our progress on building the wall was primitive and hampered by a lack of tools and perhaps poor planning.

For example, we only had one mallet, one brush, and the foundation for the wall was still being built. Thus, once lunch came, we went home to the orphanage dormitories, where we are and then rested. If we thought our "nap" before breakfast was sooooo nice, our afternoon nap was AMAZING! It was so deep it felt like comatose status.

We eventually rolled out of bed some hours later. We could not return to the work site because our layer of bricks was still drying and the other side of the foundation had yet to be poured. So we brought out some of our toys and games for the orphans. We pumped up the soccer balls we brought and played soccer for a while. Once we tired, we came inside for refreshments. We then played with the kids using the board or card games we brought. We had large games of UNO, Connect Four, Jenga, and other games as well. The kids then taught a few of us some games.

There are two orphan girls here that are 5 and 7: Yamiela and _________ (?). They are so full of energy and cute. They run up to anyone they see and reach out to be picked up. One of our LaSU girls brought small Disney Princess puzzles. These two orphan girls were so thrilled. They came running around to everyone showing the puzzles. Eventually one of the ran up to where I sat and wanted to show me the puzzle, so we tried to put it together. The puzzle was easy and only 24 pieces, but after putting 8 together, thegirl lost attention and started doing other random things like feeling my hair, trying to tickle Jaylene, etc.

Eventually, it was time for dinner. The vegetables and the tea were amazing! We then had worship. Somehow the word got out that I played violin and Jaylene played piano. So a small electric keyboard was setup for Jaylene. Then one of the orphans came up to me and asked if I would play her violin. I told her if she wanted me to play it I would. She seemed timid but excited. When I got the instrument, the bridge was angled so bad it was about to fall off, so I carefully fixed that. Then it was severely out of tune, so I properly tuned it. The orphan girl seemed so pleased that I played and fixed up her violin for her.

After Dean Obed gave the worship talk, the orphans and music teacher from the school gathered around and wanted me to play for them. They kept naming songs and I would play them. They were so funny to see their excitement. Eventually the little orphan girl who played the violin asked me if I could teach her a few things. I agreed, so tomorrow when we are done building, I am supposed to give a violin lesson. We'll see how it goes.

I then returned to the room, awaited my turn, and took a shower. Although the shower is like a single stream of water coming from a small pinhole, and even though there is only cold water, the shower was divine! Oh how good it felt to get the sweat and grime off me! I then jumped into bed and was out... anticipating what tomorrow would bring.

- Richard P.