Here I Come, Mi Nicaraguita

 

me and flag

I left my precious home in Nicaragua in early May of this year. I already had my plane ticket when the political Troubles hit in April. It was hard to leave, not knowing what would happen, but I was convinced that the best thing I can do for the people whom I serve is Do My Part – which always has been helping them have a better quality of life. It took many hours of prayer, thought and discussion to decide and feel peace about What My Part Is Now. I will be successful in raising awareness and funds in the States as I plan to travel and connect with like-minded people. I am believing for a Van Home in early 2019.

Van Life 1992

Pregnant me and my children – Van Life in 1992

 

baldo and family on beach

 

Next Monday I am getting on a plane and going home to Nicaragua for a month. My daughter Sarah is married to a wonderful Nicaraguan man and their due date for the birth of their 3rd son is October 6th. I have been blessed to be at every birth of my daughters

 

 

Maritia with the Ultrasound Project

Missions of Grace Ultrasound Program

I have a very exciting appointment for our Missions of Grace Ultrasound Project on my first stop in San Jose, Costa Rica. I plan to stay a night or two and then take a public bus to Nicaragua. I will be posting some stories for you!)

bus

I love to meet new friends while riding the bus

I am going on this trip with hands empty but my heart full of love and concern. Our support has dropped off the last couple months, but God knows and will supply what is needed.

Keep me and the precious people of Nicaragua in your thoughts and prayers!

Talk soon!

Cheri

beans

I love cooking on an outside stove

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FIGHTING BACK – HURRICANE HARVEY

wHi there everyone.  So strange to be writing a report about Hurricane Harvey relief when I have loved ones hunkering down in Florida for the next hurricane Irma. At the same time to read about an earthquake in Mexico, with possible tsunami waves headed to Nicaragua, where my daughter and her family live by the beach and loved ones by the coast.  Then to open my Facebook and read the sorrow expressed from the fires in the northwest.   Let’s see, what was I writing about again?

But I am going to do it anyway. Maybe my report can help encourage someone out there or maybe it can educate some that will be soon going through an aftermath of a storm themselves.

We put out the word on FaceBook on Thursday, Aug. 31 that we wanted to go search for the smaller towns that need help and ‘are not on the media radar yet.” A young man, Chris Leos, whom I had met a couple times a few years ago spoke up.  He gathered a great crew from his friends and I had a friend of mine volunteer also, Alex George.  Here is the crew:

The first MOG Harvey Crew-smaller size

We left San Antonio about 6 am.  We had three vehicles loaded with donations. Where would we go?  What would we find?   I was on Social Media during the 3-hour drive south, asking people what they knew, any suggestions, any contacts.  We needed gas!  ‘Nope, that station is closed,  no, that station is out of gas’…but behold!  A truck stop with trucks, trailers, jeeps, cars everywhere and all loaded with donations or a barbeque rig!  It gave me chills, honestly, to see so many concerned, loving people – all going to ‘help’, not even knowing exactly what that will mean.

We found gas!

We had been told that towns south of Victoria, about 30 miles from the coast had been hard hit.  It was not easy to really know – so much information was coming in. ‘This town needs help, no no they got it, it is this town,  go over there…

We ended up first in Bayside.  So very sad – so much destruction. But in Bayside, as every town we traveled to, donations were overflowing.  People from so many places want to help.  But this is the thing:  Most people were not back in their houses yet.  They will need those clothes, but right now they are thinking of how to get back home.  This is what Bayside looked like:

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At this point, we were thinking in terms of all the donations we had in our vehicles and it seemed to us to be the first order of business – find who needs it!  Bayside did not have many hands on helpers, but lots of stuff.  So we drove on.

We ended up in Austwell. This is a charming small bayside community. We spent the rest of the day clearing debris there – talk about hot, sweaty work!! But the locals were very grateful.  We also visited with the leaders at the community center. They actually asked us to please not leave our donations with them. They were overflowing and had no place to store anymore.  This is what they finally had to do:

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This is their Pavilion for community events, parties, etc.

Here are a few photos of us in action.  I know that clearing brush is such a small thing, but small things that give hope are mighty big, actually.

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And To wrap up this #Harvey Report, I want to give a couple shout-outs.

The so important elec crews

So much depends on these workers, repairing the electricity.  Every time we passed a crew, they had smiles and a tip of the hat for us – but they sure looked tired.

AND A GREAT BIG SHOUT OUT TO ALL THE TEXANS WHO CAME FROM EVERYWHERE PULLING THEIR BARBQUE RIGS, READY TO FEED US ALL.   I LOVE TEXAS!!

Texas Barbque Come and Get it

This is Danny and Sharlene Tate from Robstown, Tx.  They were such a blessing – not only their great sausage and fixings but that cold watermelon slice on such a hot day.

Thank you, Danny and Sharlene, thank you Texans for caring and coming, thank you community leaders in all these towns – working and giving and directing, while they themselves were suffering.  Thank you MOG crew – you dudes were awesome!

Stay tuned for the next segment – we are going to Port O’Connor Sunday.  Planning on repairing a roof of a community leader, clear debris and most importantly – identify a few families to adopt to help them rebuild.

Any contributions to this cause will go 100% to Hurricane Harvey MOG Relief fund.  We do not pay salaries and have little overhead and great big hearts.

Missions of Grace Donate here

Read more here and sign up to volunteer:   Missions of Grace

 

 

A Day in the Capital-Managua

I treated myself to a haircut and pedicure today. My taxi driver friend picked me up and is escorting me wherever I want to go.

It is a strange atmosphere here in Managua. I would call it SOBER .
The hair shop where i go is usually very busy and I always have to wait. Today it was different. Hardly anyone there and nobody was joking and laughing like before. SOBER. I mean, the stylists were friendly and as always, did a great job. But no smiles. There was a tension.

As I rode with my Taxi friend, I noticed something – how could I not. There were non-smiling police everywhere. EVERYWHERE; Lined down the roads.

I still have a dentist appt but there was a gap of 2 hours between appointments (due to the less time required for my first appt). What to do? I got dropped off at the big, popular Mall – Galeria. (I had already resolved to shop in only particular stores.) The atmosphere here is so SOBER.

I am hungry so I came to the restaurant part. Well, maybe I won’t take photos but it is empty. So empty.
And not even music playing. Que triste.

Please understand that, by nature, the Nica people are a welcoming people. I always feel like they ‘See’ me. But today people are introspective.

What effect has this experience had on me? Am I tempted to find another country to experience? NO WAY. These are my people and I am theirs.

My heart is heavy but I will hold on tight to HOPE and the FAITH that there is still the amazing Divine Presence that has guided me here for so many years and also has given me so many stories to share. We here are NOT abandoned. The future is still coming and the Nica smiles will once again shine, and when they do, so will mine.

FAMILY

 

me and all my kids

Presenting my children 

I made it to San Jose, Costa Rica with a few good stories to add to my collection. Those are coming up in the next posts.  But I think the most important post that I can write is about my family, specifically my ten children and their families (being I just left the states where I was with many of them). I truly without a doubt could not do what I do without their support and patience and love and acceptance. I travel between Nicaragua and the states for my job and for my life. I do not mind when one of my children move because then I can get to know a new place! I have children in Nicaragua, Denver, San Antonio, and Austin. Also great siblings in Florida and Michigan. I can travel to my heart’s content! I borrowed and kept for my own a saying years ago: “I get by with a little help from my friends.” because my family ARE my best friends.

family at lukes wedding

Almost everyone is here

I have lived for the last couple of years without a home and without a vehicle (due to the desire to be able to follow my heart). And without burdening anyone too much. How do I do that? Family.  I stay at each home for just enough time to love on them and their kids and visit and catch up and then I am gone. It is me who keeps the clock running, not them. I have this thing that I never want to be a burden to anyone. They offer to lend me their vehicles and drop me off at the airports.(I am believing for a van next). Most of all, they love me just as I am. They listen, they engage, they speak the truth in love and give solid advice.  I love my family.

me and my grandbabies

Surrounded by almost all my grandchildren

Please note this. I am a single mom (for the last many years) with ten children and soon to be nine grandchildren and I DO NOT REGRET any of it! We may have been kinda poor when they were growing up, they just might have worn many hand-me-downs. But did we go on adventures!! Anything I wanted to do, I just took them along. You CAN raise a big family without lots of money.  I repeat YOU CAN RAISE A BIG FAMILY WITHOUT LOTS OF MONEY. 

So, here is advice from a woman who has already lived a full life. The best thing you can give is your love. Look what I am reaping! And believe me, I dragged them to maybe too many places and worked too hard helping others outside the family. But it is okay.

Love covers all.

 

 

 

NICARAGUA DISASTER RELIEF

These precious boys lost the walls of their home

These precious boys lost the walls of their home

This morning my heart is so very heavy and to be honest, a bit scared.  The what ifs are screaming – I hate what-ifs.  What if we cannot help everyone?  What if we fail?

This is always where I have no choice but to reach down deep in my soul and grab hold of my faith that there IS a God – there is Someone Else who cares even more than I do, than we do about the victims of the flooding that happened in my very own communities in Tola, Nicaragua a month ago.   So many affected families!!  I woke this morning with my neck in knots and my stomach also.  But I also was grateful that I know a remedy – it just takes some effort and taking a bit of time alone.  I grabbed my yoga mat and my Bluetooth speaker and headed out to the sun.  I first chose music that pulled and tugged at the pain in my heart – that made it come to the surface and also caused the tears to flow.  I bent and bowed and reached to the sky.  I cried loud, from my gut.  Nobody was around – I could do this without inhibitions.  It hurt but my heart was thankful that I acknowledged the pain, that I unburied it.  Strangely, it felt right.

Then I chose a song called “It is going to be worth it all”.  I sang it loud.  Then the old one “It is well with my soul”.  Some Yanni, a bit of Cello with the Piano Guys.  30 minutes later, I paused.  I laid down.  I rested.  My heart rested and was grateful.  This feat of helping so many is not up to me.  It is even not up to all the amazing volunteers who are giving of themselves.  We are the hands and the feet, even more than that, we are Love, we are Hope.  WE SEE YOU.  Someone cares.  We are in this together.

Valentina

Valentina was very thrilled with her gifts. #Ilovedonors

Today I am moving my suitcases out of the comfortable, warm loving home of my daughter and going into the pueblo.  I will enjoy the many meals of Gallo Pinto (rice and beans) with my pueblo friends, I might fight off some monster mosquitos, I might not sleep with A/C, but I will be there.  I will see and hug and cry and Know.  I am honored to be an expat here because I have access to resources that my pueblo friends do not.  I have access to the internet and caring people flung across many places.  I am not alone.  We are not alone.

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It seems so strange to me but it is true, that when I allow my heart to hurt, I become more resolved and stronger for the fight.   Some families have lost their entire homes but even more have lost walls, as the photo above.  The Wells are contaminated and no clean drinking water.  I will share in next posts encouraging stories of all the hearts and hands that are helping and also stories as I visit the people and take photos and interviews.  Come along with me on this journey!

 

 

100 Mile River Journey with an Ultra Purpose – Rio San Juan, Nicaragua

Taking Stand Up Paddleboards (SUPs) down the full length of the Rio San Juan! Along with a motor boat with a guide.  I have had this trip in my heart for a very long time now.
Five years ago the Nicaraguan Ministry of Health requested that MOG Missions of Grace take our Ultrasound Program to the remote areas of the Rio San Juan River, which runs along the border of Nicaragua and Costa Rica. This was not possible until now.
We will be visiting the remote villages along the river and tributaries seeking out the needs of the local people.  We love pregnant mamas and babies and want to be there for them!
We are delighted that Tony Smith of Jarvis Boards will be joining us with two of his amazing wood SUPs (Stand Up Paddleboards.) We have hired a guide with a boat but the paddle boards will be crucial to navigate the tributaries that the boat cannot access.  Watch out Alligators!   20170322_190911-02 (1)
David Wells of D&D Media Collective  will be filming the entire journey, creating a documentary for Jarvis Boards and one for MOG!
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Our small team will consist of myself (Cheri), my son Johnny Mauldin, Tony Smith and David Wells. We are planning to travel all the way to the Caribbean Coast, ending at San Juan de Nicaragua.
We are taking hammocks and gear generously donated by Kammock and will be roughing it all the way. We will utilize the guide, ride the stand up paddleboards and sometimes take the public panga bus boat. The Tributaries are drawing me because I think that there will be small villages along the banks.
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I will have such a smile on my face as I climb out of the water and say “Hola!!! May we hang our hammocks here for the night??”
This is one of the activities that I thrive on.  Adventure to remote places, coupled with reaching out and helping people.  I love love love it.  Not sure how much we will be able to send updates while on the river, but I will do my best and certainly when we complete our journey, a blog post will be sent asap.
Please follow my blog.    I have moved out of my home in Texas and will be traveling or living in Nicaragua except when I get to be with my kids and grandkids.  So many exciting adventures planned.  You will be glad you did!

unfolding nicaragua 2016 (Adri and Lilly)

Three amigasI had the extreme privilege of traveling to my beloved Nicaragua with my two oldest granddaughters.  My oldest daughter will be married on July 9th on the beach here and we came a few weeks earlier than the rest of the clan.  Adri (11yrs in the blue cap) lived here when she was younger, but Lilly (9 yrs- yellow cap) has only been here once when she was 2 years old.

I love to travel on buses, walk the dusty roads, eat fritanga on the curbside, stay with Bus Adventurefriends in tiny pueblos and even bathe out of a bucket if necessary.  I was curious how my girls would handle the extreme differences from their lives in San Antonio, Texas. So many differences, especially very limited access to the internet on their phones and Nana’s (that’s me) Nica lifestyle.  I was honored that both set of parents gave their blessings for my plans of adventure.  🙂

We stayed at a beach house without running water and the necessity of mosquito netting and thank God for FANS. We walked a long way on a beautiful empty beach (Guasacate) and discovered great shells for them to carry home.  I was most excited to take them to my dear friend, Martita Romero’s home in a tiny pueblo to spend the night.  The wonderful Nicaraguan hospitality reigned and the gallo pinto, queso and fresco was delicious.  Lilly saw Martita hand sewing a pillow when we arrived and whispered to me that she wanted to learn how to do that.  The next morning she managed to communicate this desire (even though she is just learning Spanish). Before I knew it, the ladies of the house cleared their entire day for us and even brought the sewing machine from next door.   Adri and Lilly will never forget that day, I promise.Lilly made this pillow herself

 

 

 

 

 

We went home, riding buses and taxis, dirty clothes and all, but tired and very happy.  My granddaughters passed the test and cannot wait for me to take them further remote next summer.  They pried many stories out of me during our adventure but no worries, I have plenty more!

If you ever have the desire to join us on our unique adventures, just let me know!