To provide some context to what I want to relate, I have been on eleven GHO Medical Mission Trips to Nicaragua since 2011 as a logistical servant. During the year following the political protests, we went to El Salvador instead. Then I was back in Nicaragua for a trip that ended on March 15, 2020, pretty much the day Covid brought the world to a screeching halt. I finally joined a team in May of 2022. Unfortunately, I had a very different Nicaraguan experience, one that was dominated by the oppression of Covid. Every team member needed a negative Covid test 48 hours before departing, regardless of vaccination status.

Upon arrival at the airport in Managua, we had significant difficulty getting through Immigration (something that never happened before) as one of the only humanitarian groups coming back to serve at that time. During our stay and travels, we were stopped several times by local and National Police questioning why we were there, the streets were empty, businesses shut down, people were in masks and the economy was in ruins. Wearing masks alone was a major impediment to communicating and sharing the Gospel with the patients. At the end of the third day of clinic, one of our translators tested positive for Covid and that terminated our clinic activities. To fly home, we were then required to be Covid tested at the Ministry of Health in Managua on Saturday morning and return that afternoon for the results. Visiting the shops in Masaya was even depressing seeing how few were back in business. Despite my love for this ministry, I came home thinking that would be my last trip to Nicaragua. But, don't stop reading here!

God had different plans for me. My daughter was bringing my 14-year-old granddaughter on the March 2023 trip to Nicaragua so I decided to join up to provide some additional protection and support for the two of them, thinking that things would not have changed much in 10 months. I was very wrong. This experience, however, was the polar opposite of what I just described above. We were permitted to fly in with just our vaccination card or a recent negative Covid test result. The plane was packed coming in and numerous humanitarian groups were on board. We proceeded through immigration without any issues and even Customs cut us slack regarding some of the things were bringing in for the clinic. We found a hustling and robust Managua with a vibrancy and activity level similar to that of earlier years; businesses were again fully open, several new American chains had opened up around town, cars and trucks were on the road and the people were enjoying life once again. While some people still wore masks, they were in the minority. The fear of Covid was apparently gone within the general population. The former police presence was not visible. Our hotel in Nueva Guinea had made some improvements and we even had AC in our rooms. The small village where we held the clinic was overwhelmingly friendly and appreciative. Our team of 22 was ideal and we truly became a family over the week of serving together. We had exactly the right number of doctors, dentists, nurses, servants, and translators to accommodate all of the patients, every day. Over 1,200 people were treated and heard the Gospel several times during their visit. We gave out almost 200 full Bibles, 300 Gospels of John, and very nice Study Bibles to the pastors and their wives who participated in the Pastors' Conference (all paid for with donations from friends and supporters). There were 62 professions of faith, 7 re-dedications plus a yet-to-be-reported number through the Children's Program (morning and afternoon sessions averaging 100 kids per day). This trip turned out to be truly perfect and God blessed us and the community greatly.

I write all of this to say, if you have been turned off from coming for your first time or returning to Nicaragua for the reasons noted in my first paragraph, don't be! God is actively at work in this country and you can be part of that resurrection of the Spirit. The prior impediments have been removed but the need is still great. I am so overjoyed that I joined this team that I want others to really consider this opportunity in the future. God bless you!