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!

 

 

KILLING THE WHAT IFS

Around the table - my children

Around the table in Masatepe, Nicargua (Most of my children)

I was not afraid of moving my large family to a foreign country (Nicaragua) with no money and not even able to speak the language.

Bus Trip to Texas  1996

6 days and many buses to travel to Texas from Nicaragua

I was not afraid to take my 9 children by myself to Texas, traveling by public buses and crossing 5 countries.

I remember when my kids were small and we were living in Texas, I was a homeschooling mom.  I discovered this great hands-on curriculum called Konos.  I was so excited and I talked about it to all my friends. This was going to make such a difference.  And then it sat and it sat.  Months went by.  What the heck!  I was intimidated.  I had no idea how to really use it, nor even how to begin.  I think the big issue was one of those Stupid What ifs.  Do you ever entertain those in your mind?? What if I fail?  What if it doesn’t work? What if it proves to be a waste of time….WHO CARES!!

Flash forward hmmm say 20 years.  I want to be a writer.  I have it all figured out in my head.  For years people have said to me, ‘you should be a writer’.  I would answer them, ‘not yet, I don’t have time.  But later…’  And now is the time.  But I have a few ‘KONOS’ in my life.  Like this blog – should I only write personal stuff?  Should it just be about my travels?  Maybe my family life?  But what about Missions of Grace (MOG) and the amazing projects I am involved in?  But can I mix the two?    UGHHH  WHO CARES?

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I got to ride in a military Chinook to take disaster relief aid to remote Nicaragua

Did I fight fear of success or failure when I was invited to ride in the jump seat and deliver Hurricane Mitch relief supplies to the Rio Coco area of Nicaragua??  NO WAY!  I jumped in without hesitation.  It was amazing!

The other KONOS in my life is the ‘marketing’ or ‘public relations’ or ‘relationship building’ for MOG.  I see it in my mind – I know I want it to be build on relationships.  Amanda Palmer’s book “The Art of Asking” was such an inspiration to me.  BUT, what if people don’t respond?  What if people don’t take the time to even read my letters”  What if I fail.   ohhhh, there it is.  What if I fail…

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Javier Baldovinos and Great dog Shaka

What about you?  Do you fight those awful ‘What ifs’ in your mind? Do you ever fret about success vs failure?

How about if we encourage each other??

 

JUST GET IN THE WATER!!

Have a great day!

TOUCHING THE SKY – LEAPING OVER FIRE

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It is not often that I feel like I might actually be able to reach high enough to touch the sky, or jump carefully enough to not get burned over the fire.  So when this does come, I say, GRAB IT, EMBRACE IT and RUN WITH IT!!

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I have been traveling and sleeping on couches, floors and foreign beds for 2 1/2 months now.  I have a dream, I have a vision, but my heart has a limp, therefore chasing my passions bring on pain, discomfort and in-my-face struggles.  Today, I am in my beloved Nicaragua and yes, today, my fingers are close to those clouds and my feet are not burned, just very hot.

Please let me encourage you to keep on, follow your passions. So what if it requires sacrifice and loneliness and the same clothes forever and hand me down things.  Life is so much more than the normal – Live!  Jump!  Reach! Take Risks.

Each human being must keep alight within him the sacred flame of madness.

And must behave like a normal person.                           Paulo Coehlo

                                      

WHY DID I GIVE UP MY HOME?

My heart is driving me. If giving up comforts can possibly equal helping even one precious family…

La Paz de Cristo - Rebuilding homes

La Paz de Cristo – Rebuilding homes

I have skills, I have energy, I have desire and I want to believe in myself.  I was born in the 50’s, I grew up in the 60’s, so it was natural to question the ‘status quo’.  Did I want that?  Will that give me satisfaction?

Then in the 90’s I became a missionary.  Did that give me satisfaction?  I discovered that I did not fit that mold either.

But where I did find satisfaction was ‘with the people’. Riding my horse, carrying medicine into the hills, helping rebuild homes after a devastating hurricane in Nicaragua (see photo above).  The days I was ‘out there’, involved, bringing hope and love, that is where I fit.  Have I changed the world?  Not much, but I think I have helped change some lives, helped people begin to believe in themselves again, improved their quality of life at least a bit, and that is better than the remote control of my big TV, even better than a nice comfortable big bed (oh, but that is sooooo nice and I love it).

Sometimes when I am sitting in my Wagon, wondering where to go to work on my laptop, or wondering where to get a good cup of coffee without paying five dollars, or hesitating to humbly ask one of my kids for a space on their couch, again..I pause and think maybe I am just crazy.  But I believe.  Not yet enough in myself, but I believe that there is a God and He has called me, He has trained me and that I have work to do, work set aside for me.  If I do not step out and jump off this cliff of faith, the work will get done, but I will miss out, greatly.

I believe in people.  I very hesitantly believe that when I ask, the resources will be given and I can GO and DO and maybe some others will come with me and then they will begin to believe in themselves and they too will bring hope and they too will bring along others…

Just like when I used to have all my babies born at home – when people asked me about it, I always tried to be quick to say, ‘it is not for everyone’.  This too, is not for everyone.  But sometimes I get lonely, doing my thing, and maybe by writing about my journey, I can encourage you and then maybe you can encourage me!  I would love to receive feedback, I would love to hear what gives you satisfaction and i would even invite questions about what the heck I am doing….maybe this is a new way to have pen pals! (oh, did that show my age??)

THE BIRDS AND THE BEES, WHY NOT ME?

My wonderful children

My wonderful children

I am moving in eight days, again.  When I had all my kids at home (all ten of them) they used to love to shock people by telling them we have moved 19 times over the years.  Am I military? you might ask.  No, not at all.  Then why would I move so many times, especially with such a large family.  Good question and one that is too complex for me to delve into today, maybe I do not even understand totally.

But all that moving certainly did produce well-rounded people, with not much need for the security that comes with a ‘permanent home’ (is that maybe a bit of an illusion, anyway?).  One of my comments used to be that I wanted my children to have their security inside of them, not in external circumstances.  most of my kids are in their own homes.  My youngest is at the stage that he has one foot in and the rest out, sort to speak.

40751a83-9290-46c4-9c60-675b8d140d8a_zpsxxhazwfqI have a dream that I have been chasing for many years – building up a non-profit to help empower people who are helping others.  Needless to say, this has created a lifestyle for me that is not too security-based.  I am now 60 and I continue to believe and give and live for my passion, for my dream.   I have to be out of my apartment in eight days and just found a place to sub-let yesterday.  I act like I eat stress for every meal and enjoy the flavor, but lots of times my insides churn and I fight that enemy, anxiety.

BUT, I have been living like this for 40 years now (40 years!) and it appears that the older I get and the more my kids are independent, the more I feel driven to shed my ‘stuff’ and be free to keep trying to fly.  One of the biggest struggles has been always, over the years, finances.  Even freedom costs money.  The lack thereof and the pressure produced by that lack tends to produce anxiety.  Sometimes big, bad, ugly anxiety.  How do I deal with this damaging enemy of mine??  I have faith in a higher being than myself.  I believe in God and that He is directing and guiding my life.

I have this impression these days, and I might be wrong, that it might be more accepted for me to make known that I am gay (though I am not) than for me to announce that I believe in God and that I hear His voice and that I try to follow Him with a passion.  My struggle with beginning to blog was this:  do I hide my faith in the closet?  I want to be accepted, I want to build my readership, I want people to read my words and I long to encourage people.  So, do I hide the very thing that sustains me?   I do not attend church but my faith and my belief that I am following divine direction keeps me a bit saner as I push through the brambles and thorns of life, to see people set free.

As I stated in the beginning, I am moving.  And it is all very precarious at this point.  I developed a migraine headache yesterday.  A bad one – I thought, uh-oh, I know these signs, that stupid stress monster is rearing its ugly head and making me sick.  I cannot sleep.  So this morning, I turned to my Bible.  I stopped.  I got on my yoga mat.  I stopped.  I got quiet.  I tuned in to something in me, yet so much bigger than me.  I was led to John 14:1.  “Let your heart not be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me.”  Then I opened a very old devotional book I had on my shelf – have not opened it for a long time.  Opened to this:  “do not worry about your life, what you shall eat, or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you will put on…”  Matt. 6:25.     For years and years and years, when I find myself out on a ledge once again – needing to jump and needing to believe that ‘He’ will catch me, I always have to come back to this same question.  ‘Is my God real?  Or am I crazy?’   And time after time after time after time, He has proved to me, He is real (and yes, I am a bit crazy).

So, here is my story, here is my song.  The real one.  The continuing saga of a simple woman, with ten kids and now 8 grandchildren, still determined that my God is real and that He cares for us and that we really can make a difference.

“FOLLOWING THE LIGHT OF THE SUN, WE LEFT THE OLD WORLD.” Christopher Columbus

Following the sun
FOLLOWING THE SUN – LAS SALINAS, RIVAS, NICARAGUA

I discovered this bridge while hiking alone in Nicaragua.  Some Nica friends had told me that if I followed the path that was pointed out to me, I would arrive at a very secluded beach on the Pacific Ocean.  I was not told that I would have to wander through salt flats (which were awesome) and wind through a woods of thorny bushes and cross over this very cool bridge.  I got lost (which I tend to do now and then) and was thankful when a few local guys  let me follow them.

I had grown suspicious of men over the years and tended to put up barriers to ‘protect myself’.  One of my desires on this trip was to break through as many of the lies I have allowed to fester inside of me and gain some more life freedom.  Out with the old, and in with the new, ya know.  When I got lost following the sun and stepping off this bridge, I heard voices.  I turned and saw these young men – it was just me and them for as far as I could see.  I took a deep breath and…smiled, ‘on your way to the ocean?’ I asked.  And they were and here I am – I have lived to tell the tale.

It is good to ‘follow the sun’ every day, to face our fears and leave more and more of our old worlds behind.  I am certain that many of you reading this can relate.  Doesn’t it seem to you that many times our fears and our ‘old worlds’ are intertwined?  Let us help one another follow the sun!