I never thought I´d be ringing in 2009 locked inside a religious compound in urban Nicaragua, streets exploding with home made firecrackers and singing praise songs into the night with a bunch of people I´ve grown up with at church, but there I stood!

We didnt drink any koolaid (cant drink the water here anyway) or wear white sneakers, but we were locked safely inside the missionary safehouse La Quinta in Managua, and for the first New Years Eve in a long time, i blew noisemakers (thank you Victoria, yes I opened everything already! love my secret amiga!) and wore pajamas and watched the years change completely sober and totally unworried about finding someone to kiss when the clock struck midnight!

I can´t believe its 2009….I wonder what the year holds in store for me…but right now I´m just focusing on this sweet mission trip we´re on! I am in Managua, Nicaragua, in a great host family house, having an awesome time! We went to their church service Thursday and the praise was awesome, we were singing and dancing and clapping and crying, the church is so excited for us to be here. Huge praises on a secular note also because i have found Beans in a Bag!!!! I bought 15 dollars worth and hot sauce and coca light and trits ice cream and was so stoked to put it on a credit card! and tuna with jalepeños! Life is good!

We just had our second day of Vacation Bible School with 160 kids, 45 more than we had yesterday, we had an incredible youth night last night and an activity day panned for this afternoon, and its all going really wel. Somehow I have been volunteered to emcee everything and translate a lot as wel, and lead all the songs and bible verses, so I am constantly sweating and exhausted and practically eating excedrin with caffeine to stay awake, but having a really good time. Every time I fee ilke I´´m about to collapse, a cute kid climbs in my lap and gives me kisses and smears their face paint on my cheeks and everything is okay.

Nicaragua is a country that needs so much help…60 to 70 percent of moms are single moms, teenage pregnancy is out of control high, drugs and gangs on all the streets, 80 percent of the population is living on less than two dollars a day…these kids fee like they have no chance, they have no role models, they have no future….I´m so glad we´re here to provide a litte bit of help and encouragement, especiay to the youth. (Sorry this “l” key doesnt reay woork!)

We had awesome conversations last night with the young women of the church about what it means to be a woman of God and about the stresses in our lives and having dreams, and they were realy open with us about the pressures they face to have a boyfriend, get married and have babies, or just to get pregnant, their friends who have kids at 17, 18 years old, one girl told us she had been offered money from men to sleep with her, about how people tell them they won´t make it or they think they can´t go to school and folow their dreams. It was realy moving and we got some great feedback from some moms of the teens today who said their kids came home so excited about what we´d talked about, because its not really a culture that encourages honest conversation about yoursef, and they felt really touched by our openness and vulnerability, and knowing that we´´re facing the same kind of questions they are and even with al our differences, Americans and Nicaraguans have so much in common, we all sleep under the same blue sky and we all have a heart and a spirit and dreams adn the same Dios!

I hope everyone is doing wel, i miss you! This is going by realy fast but its realy touching my heart and I feel so blessed to be here.

Con amor de Cristo
Raquel

ps its sooooo good to be back! crowded dirty streets, kids runnign barefoot every where, horses eating the soccer fields, pollution, chicken busses, trits ice cream, beans in a bag, pringes con limon, spanish everywhere i go, men caling me ¨¨reina¨¨ on the streets, the skin melting heat, the kisses on the cheeks and hugs from people ive never met! i heart central america

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