Nicaraguans: 1; Gringos: 1

We didn’t damage Nicaraguan – US relations today during the soccer game, or even during the pick-up softball game that followed. Today was a mixed day of work and fun for our team from New Mexico State Univ. We started the day early, so we could get a coat of paint on top of the school. The galvanized metal roof needed a coat of paint to help reduce the oxidation from the hot Caribbean sun. 4 of the guys volunteered to do the roof, while the rest of us added a second coat of paint on the walls and trim. It is starting to come along. It looks beautiful and clean in the classrooms. But whenever you have a big group of painters, messiness is an unfortunate outcome. We put a little more paint on the floor (and on ourselves) than we intended. We worked solid from 9 am to 1 pm, then we broke for another delicious lunch. The woman who cooked lunch for us today gave me an extra treat…Armando told her how much I love plantains, so she gave me a double helping.

The kids started gathering around 1:30 patiently waiting for us to finish our lunch. They wanted to play soccer with us and just hang out. I was so impressed with the crew as they did their best to communicate with the kids…I think fun is a universal language.

Another crowd started gathering closer to the church as the kids played with our kids from NMSU. This crowd kept inching closer to the field…we knew what they were here for. The soccer match that was promised yesterday was gathering momentum. It didn’t take long before two teams were fielded; a group of Aggies + 1 of the Nicaraguans in our group, JJ (our nickname for him because we can’t pronounce his real name). The locals had their dream team, including a boy of about 12 years old that handled the ball like a magician. The first game was a good challenge, and the Nicaraguans actually were impressed with the soccer skills of our team. But we still lost 2-0. The second game was a shocker…the Americans won! We even had two women on our team, which further impressed the local boys. The rubber match was won by the Nicaraguans 1-0. Lots of back-slapping, high-fiving and hand-shaking afterwards, which is a good sign. Someone suggested kickball, and we ended up hiking to the local baseball field to teach them a new game. Unfortunately the kickball was deflated after it hit a barbed wire fence. So the locals playing softball offered a game. Again a team of gringos was quickly formed including two of our new friends from the soccer match. This time we won 10-9! We invited the team to worship with us, and they offered a rematch on Monday, which was quickly accepted by “El Capitan” Greg Bowles. I hear he is slightly competitive…

I think this is a good trip…we are doing some good while having some fun. We are looking forward to worshiping with our new friends tomorrow.

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