This past weekend all of us program directors and Amira traveled to Matagalpa for our annual staff retreat.  Leaving Friday morning we stayed in Selva Negra, which is an organic coffee farm and ecolodge located in the Northern part of Nicaragua.  Set right in the midst of rich forest, there were numerous hiking and walking trails to take advantage of, as well as a wide range of other activities to choose from and a delicious restaurant to dine in.  Whether we were hiking, reading, eating, or simply resting, it was wonderful to be able to relax in such an environment.   

It was not only nice to get out of the heat and get outdoors for a couple of days, but it was also great to be in each other's company and talk outside of the everyday busyness of programs.  As much as we do not want to admit it, our time here is quickly coming to a close and so it was nice to have a chance to discuss what the last couple months are going to look like.  BUSY is the only way to describe it.  Next week is Semana Santa, which is a holiday for us, and then only a couple of weeks until the first round of summer volunteers arrive, then the second round of summer volunteers, and then the new program directors, all pretty much in a row.  Manna Project is really unique in that part of its mission is to host these summer groups for a month at a time, offering them a chance to really take part in some of our work down here in Nicaragua and experience the culture first hand.  The hope then is that such an experience will inspire them to take back home with them a heart of service and an incentive to get involved elsewhere.  Needless to say these volunteers are a big investment and an important part of the organization.  So at dinner Friday night we spent time talking about our own personal roles in their adjustments and time here, and how we can be effective leaders.  All of the conversations were extremely positive, and even though the house is going to double in size for the last few months all of us program directors are looking forward to the new faces, helping hands, and fun experiences that are sure to come!

Small lake located in the center of the resort.

Joanna, Amanda, and Steph posing with some of the local flora.  

Megan, Steph, Will, Dane, and Zach posing for a picture on the trails. 

Entrance to the Selva Negra restaurant.