nicaragua: thursday

thursday ended up being a day full of casual miracles.
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we started at the school to pick up a crew of single mothers to get them off-site and give them a spa day; but being, you know, in nicaragua we had some hangout time while things got organized to mill around and love on the kids before we were able to pack it into the vans and get the day going.
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at one point one of the kids borrowed my camera - i love the perspective from this angle...
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and my God, THE SMILES IN THIS PHOTO
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and the love of julie. something every kid should experience. i can tell you first hand she's extraordinary.
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so of course we did get a bus of moms out to this amazing facility, a campus of several buildings that exist to provide support to people in this community. the man in the pink shirt is one of the directors, an irrepressible soul whose smile soars across the room as he strolls through it.
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we made goodie bags for the women of simple toiletries - hair ties, hotel size shampoos and conditioners, razors, hairbrushes, lotions, soaps, and combs. anything we could get our hands on from the piles of goods that were brought down from our various homes.
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now this is where it got interesting... i was honestly skeptical at first when i found out that we were going to give the women a spa day. i kept it to myself until later, but i was packing the goodie bags and thinking, "is this really the best thing we can do for these women? is this really a good way to spend our time?"

and the answer, like so many other answers down here, was obvious the minute we rolled up our sleeves.
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so many of these women had rarely been touched in this way, given attention that was purely for relief or comfort. i gave one woman a manicure and she kept trying to be "good" for me, when i pantomimed an example for her to let her wrist be soft so i could massage her hand, she just shook her hand in the air the way that i did. she got it after a minute, but it was one of those moments...

it reminded me of a time when i poked my little sister in the arm and she looked at me and said "lis, are you not getting enough attention?" and it stung me so badly that i teared up for a second - it was the opposite of looking for attention. i wasn't trying to GET attention, i was trying to GIVE it. and this day was all about giving attention, quiet and unrestricted attention, and watching some of these women have to first unfold themselves in order to receive it were many of the casual miracles.
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there were manicures, pedicures, makeup, hair all to be done - i haven't mentioned that the boys were back at la chureca, this was the girls' club - NO BOYS ALLOWED!
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we were also watching some babes while mamas were getting to play - i found myself a little cherub of a playmate. this kid was such a badass. so rambuncious! we chased this cup around the room for the better part of an hour.
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we broke up the day halfway through, bringing the women home and checking on our fellas
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austin had spent the morning starting a new mural - some of the local guys had seen this sketch of his and told him there was only one thing to be done
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we interrupted his progress though, to take a break, have a meal, prepare for the evening session
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back at the hotel, mercedes showed off her new hair, makeup, and outfit... here brett is so happy to see her... and SO not wanting to get her nice white dress dirty... but it was such a joy to see her dancing around the place.
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in the evening, we had a similar program to the morning but with a few changes - thursday night we had married couples come out, and while the women received the spa treatment, the men shared some time with our men to talk about traditional roles in the home, how to be the man of the house so to speak. a lot of these people didn't have traditional role models showing them how to have a respectful, healthy home and marriage.
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after the men's bonding time was over and the chicas had their primping time, we gave each of the fellas a rose for his girl
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the men came around from their side of the campus to meet the ladies in the main hall - tiago and danni led the parade of lovers
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once in the hall, the men came up one at a time and our director friend asked who his wife was. the man would answer, the director would call her up, and then the man would give her the rose - some getting down on one knee, some professing their love! - and they would be seated together for dinner. while the food was being served, we projected pictures on the wall of the women that we had taken that day.
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for many of these couples, a real date was an extremely rare thing :)
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sooooo after a long day we all got back to the hotel and started to have a reasonably quiet night
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until the dance party started. i don't even know how to capture this in the blog, suffice to say it went on for over an hour where a bunch of the guys danced and lipsynched and did pantomime games and basically gave us a workout from the laughter... it was a torrent of energy out of nowhere that died down as quickly as it came - but while it was up it was a bright marvel on a quiet dark little street in the middle of nowhere.
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i can't even explain how i come to love these people as we are thrown together so randomly. it's like i used to tell the campers back when i was a counselor, that one glorious summer that i got to eavesdrop on the minds of the twelve year old girls - we blew their minds with ideas and metaphors like how the universe is a blanket, God is the weaver, and he can see the blanket, He can see that we are tiny tiny threads sewn together. and our threads touch, and intertwine, and go in and out and around, and who knows what we touch but God is able to see it. and he is the pattern maker, the tailor, the caretaker and it's no secret to Him where we go. all we can do is see what we touch and what touches us and hope that we live up to His dream of quietly showing us how to make what we touch more beautiful. and if that involves pretending to sing along to journey at the top of our lungs, so much the better.