The Experience of a Lifetime

In December of 2104, three women, Molly, Nancy and Ruthie visited Nicaragua with Away 2 Be.  This is what they had to say about their experience:

It was a dark day on December 1, 2014 when three women (three friends) from Vermont gathered their carefully packed bags and their courage to begin a ten day adventure in the warmth and beauty of Nicaragua. We would meet our trip leader, Susan Lambert, when we landed in Managua International Airport. And, so the adventure of a lifetime began.

The hugs, tears and laughter that were exchanged with Susan upon our landing were followed by loving messages of welcome she had created and left on our pillows.   She gently and skillfully oriented us to our surroundings and prepared us for the days ahead. We were like sponges – willing and anxious to absorb whatever lay ahead.

Our itinerary, full of beauty, wonder and time for reflection, was beginning to unfold. We were immersed in the remarkable geography and history of the country.   For two days, we stayed at a resort bordering a volcanic lagoon and explored the surrounding villages. During the next several days, we toured a family-owned coffee farm, a weavers’ coop, a chocolate factory and a children’s library built in one of the barrios. We shared time with local potters and restaurateurs and spent four days at the Casa Materna MaryAnn Jackman in Matagulpa.   Through Susan’s interpretation skills, we were quickly able to understand the roles of those we met and they learned a little about us as well.

All of our experiences were exhilarating but the time at the Casa Materna absolutely filled our souls. The staff, each and every one, was so genuine in their welcome. Though we did not share a language, we were able to communicate heart to heart very quickly. Eight mothers-to-be were in residence on the day we arrived and by the next afternoon, there were thirteen. The women were, of course, shy but curious about us. During the next four days, we were assimilated into their lives and those of the staff with extraordinary generosity and graciousness.   Our Susan, a long time board member and liaison for the Casa, facilitated those interactions with such grace and joy. We soon felt like we were part of the fabric of this incredible organization and the lives of the women they were serving. We were sharing meals, dabbling in crafts, making tortillas, taking walks, trading family pictures, exchanging gifts, celebrating festivals, laughing and communicating as if we had known each other for months not days.

How did this happen?   How did differences dissolve and get replaced by kinship in such a short time?

So much of the bond we established during our time at the Casa was based on sharing the privilege of motherhood – the anxiety, challenge and wonder of it all spanned our cultural differences. Ruth, Nancy and I took time to think about our own journey as mothers, as we reflected on the experiences we shared with the women at the Casa. During our group yoga exercises filled with laughter and some tears, we learned of each other’s hopes and fears related to family and parenting.

As Susan’s Mom, I reveled in the woman she had become. My heart was bursting as I watched her interactions with her Nicaraguan family and the skill with which she wove Nancy, Ruth and me into this life. She lit up the room with her joy, spirit of adventure, compassion and caring.   She has chosen to be a “giver” to our world, who has already made an enormous difference in the lives she has touched. What a privilege to be her Mother!

The lives of the mothers-to-be at the Casa, are enriched by the love and caring of the staff members who have given their hearts and talents to ensure that the journey of motherhood gets off to a good start for those who come through their doors. They share the most intimate days and hours before new life begins. They laugh, cry, learn and love during the short time that they spend in each other’s company.   Each clearly considers it a privilege to be present to one another during this momentous time.

We left the Casa with tears, hugs and the memories of a lifetime tucked into our hearts. In the kindness that surrounded us during our time there are lessons for our planet. Nancy, Ruth and I experienced the hope and optimism of people who know the importance of treating people as they would like to be treated.   We watched in awe, as one person after another, welcomed us into their lives with open arms and huge smiles, rather than fear and misunderstanding. Imagine an international community where such behaviors were commonplace!

Our best wishes and Happy Mothers Day to our new Nicaraguan friends and soulmates!   Many thanks to all of you for who you are and the work you do that makes this world a much better place.

 

Happy Mother’s Day

People are Gifts

Written by Molly, Nancy and Ruthie, 2014 visitors to Nicaragua

This morning we packed our bags (in order to be able to fully enjoy our day), did yoga, read a poem on transition and our chose our daily angel cards.  (Ruthie-Adventure, Nancy-Beauty, Molly-Harmony, Susan-Intention). After our serene beginning, the wind blew and locked us out of our place.  Not to worry, Socorro came to our rescue (literally)!

The mothers-to-be seemed tired from the previous evening’s events.  What a fun adventure and opportunity we had last night!  We essentially “trick-or-treated” for the first time in our adult lives in order to enjoy “La Purisima”, a celebration on the eve of the feast day of the Immaculate Conception honoring the Virgin Mary.  It was strange to be surrounded by hordes of people singing to the Virgin, holding out bags to be filled with candies and fruits.  We had VIP entrance to the houses since we accompanied 9 pregnant women.  They were shy and reserved, yet excited to spend this special night in Matagalpa while donning their best duds and new jewelry from their own Purisima celebration.

Today, after another lovely breakfast of eggs and gallo pinto at the Casa, we again walked with the mothers.  We noticed an enhanced connection and ease of communication among the women, many of whom have been together for a number of days.  Maria, the first woman we met when we arrived to Matagalpa, who had been on bed rest, is now leading the group op the hill.  Today’s exercises had us all in stitches as we acted out our favorite animal and did stretches accordingly.  There were tears too, as we called loved ones present to our circle.  (You were all present).  Of course, as we shared pieces of our stories, we wondered about the longer life-story of these young women.

We strolled the city, today much quieter than the rest of the week, to find special things for special people.  Our friend, Nohelia joined us again this afternoon for a visit to Molino Norte, a women’s weaving cooperative.  For Ruthie it was a dream come true to try her hand (and use her muscles) weaving with a giant loom.   (We all tried!)  The weavers explained to us the life-changing benefits of the jobs that were created for them in order to make a living out of their art.  Purchases made!

Fifteen minutes up the road, we found ourselves in yet another paradise, Selva Negra, a coffee farm with stunning vistas, a cool breeze and mountains enveloping the grounds.  We dined in the sun with friends, old and young, from near and far, as if our paths had always been intertwined.