Nicaragua - post III of III

A 'fun day' is a usual part of the end of EMI trips - this time,
we went zip lining over the canopy of a Nicaraguan forest
outside of Managua.
February 25
Today can be summed up in one word: AutoCAD (which is a computer-aided drafting program). I started just after breakfast around 7:30am, and quit at just after 11pm with just a few breaks for meals. And actually, I enjoyed it! Playing the role our interns normally play has been fun – though my eyes are a bit glossy. Heading into our final day tomorrow, we’re about 95% finished with the bridge design and drawings.
AutoCAD on an 11" screen isn't ideal, but carrying around
this mini-laptop on trips is a lot better than the monstrous
17" model I had on my first ever EMI trip in 2006!
The result of my AutoCAD efforts - the bridge design details!
February 26
Today, the Young Life staff took us up to a place they call ‘The Labyrinth’. It’s exactly that – a labyrinth made of hedges. For those who aren’t aware (which includes me), the difference between a maze and a labyrinth is that in a labyrinth, you typically follow a long, meandering path from start to finish, without the traps and deadends that mazes have.
The entrance to the Labyrinth
From above, the labyrinth forms a circle, with the inner rows winding around and back and forth to form a cross. At the end, you come to a deadend, with a choice of turning left to exit, or right to head to the center, where a large wooden cross is constructed.

It’s a nice little metaphor for life. To give each of us the impression of being alone, we staggered the timing of each person’s start and then walked slowly through path. Each segment of path was rounded, such that you couldn’t see more than 20 feet or so in front on you. Then, after a bit, you’d come to a dead end, and be forced to turn left or right, or do a U-turn.
The curved path inside the labyrinth
After we all reached the center (15 minutes or so), we talked about what we were thinking while we walked. For me, what stood out was that just like the curved path, in life, we can only see just a little bit ahead. Obviously that’s not terribly deep, but I think I still usually get it wrong as it relates to my day to day life. In my mind, I always picture my life’s path as a straight line ahead. But I think it dawned on me that it’s more like these labyrinth rows, where the path is curved, and though it seems like we’re on the path that will take us all the way through life, very often, a dead end or U-turn is on the horizon.
Gathered at the center, discussing what thoughts had come to
mind as we walked the labyrinth.
Of course this can represent the trials that may lay ahead, but it also can mean that the place in life where you’re currently at may not be where you’ll always be. Maybe it’s a job change, family move, career change, or even just something new that you’ll add to your current job or life situation that will significantly impact or improve your life. Whatever the case, I think we often get caught in the trap of feeling like our current situation of life will always be just as it is. But as I look back on my own life, more often than not, wherever we’re at and whatever we’re doing, it’s far more likely that we’re just in a ‘season’.

For me, that’s encouraging. Don’t get me wrong – I’m perfectly content where I’m at currently. But I often evaluate how ‘things’ are going based on a perspective of nothing ever changing in the future. That naturally produces some level of anxiety in me, as I also think about all the things I’d like to do but am *not* currently doing too. I think this thought I had in the labyrinth was a good reminder that regardless of whether or not I do in fact end up doing what I’m currently doing for the rest of my life, I shouldn’t be thinking of it in those terms. Instead, I should just focus on the bit of path that God has currently shown me, and not worry about what may or may not lay ahead on the *curved* path before me.

Ok, as almost always happens on these EMI trips, a big ‘learning point’ has come along. With that in the books, I suppose it’s about time to go home! And as it would happen, we leave the camp tomorrow and fly out the next morning! Goodbye Nicaragua – after just a week, I’m surprised at how much at home I feel here. Maybe it’s because of how similar it is to Africa. Or maybe it’s a sign for the future… J (…and the answer is ‘no’, there are no current plans in the works!)

Some extra shots from the trip:

Designing the bridge with Brian (L) and Ian (R)
Digging test holes to check the soil conditions under the
new bridge piers in the lake.
Surveying across the drained lake
The civil engineers conducting a flow test on the stream
In true Young Life fashion, our team did our own dishes and
cleanup during the week.
I've already talked about the coffee produced at the camp, but
they also had an indoor gym/soccer arena - how much more
perfectly tailored could this trip have been for me?!
Zip lining through the trees - it was a fun time, only dampened
by the fact that I had pulled an abdominal muscle just before
the trip, so for me, the zip lining put me in excruciating
pain whenever I was latching on or off at the 14 stops along
the way. I felt like a wimp, and had to be helped up, instead of
jumping up the mere 4" required to latch on!
Hanging out in airports around the world (this time in Houston)
is part of the fun of EMI trips.
Being in another country offers great 'pictures' of how things
can be done in such different ways. You can't tell in this shot,
but this is actually a very steep road (8%?). This guy has a
little bicycle basket he uses to haul firewood, so to keep
from building up too much speed, he uses these blocks of
wood as brakes!


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