Written by Rachel Brummer, Butler '12
For Ron Nored, senior point guard of the Butler University men's basketball team, the summer has consisted of much more than basketball and sunshine. In early June, he took a nine-day trip with members of his church, Common Ground Christian Church on 46th and Illinois, to Chinandega, Nicaragua.
Called a "vision trip" which, according to the church's website, is "an opportunity to see what God is up to and then join him on that mission", the expedition's goal was to create alternate employment opportunities in the economically-impoverished city of Chinandega. Led by a married couple, Ron and Marty Read, the group teamed up with Vision Nicaragua, a company based out of North Carolina.
The most common form of employment in and around Chinandega is to work in the sugar cane fields. However, the pesticides that are used on the fields are of such strength that the men working in the fields are dying young because of kidney failure. Vision Nicaragua's intent is to establish other jobs for these men. While on the trip, the group would join with the villagers in construction, training and development opportunities.
Nored, a native of Homewood, Ala., said that the group’s purpose for visiting was not just for work, but to open their eyes to another country's way of life.
"They wanted us to slow down our lives because we get so busy in America and have an opportunity to hear what God was saying to us," he said. "In Nicaragua, time is not of the essence. There is just no rush to do anything."
Nicaragua is a small South American country, about the size of New York state, located between Costa Rica and Honduras and bordered by the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. Chinandega is near Nicaragua's border with Honduras and is close to the Pacific coast. With a population of slightly more than 5.5 million, it is, Nored said, one of the poorest countries in South America.
In addition to experiencing the culture of another country, Nored said the group was to develop relationships amongst each other. A total of 18 people, mostly members of Common Ground, joined together to make the trip.
"We were really diverse in our backgrounds and what we brought to the table," Nored said. The team consisted of engineers, students, business people and even a massage therapist.
The group spent its time in Nicaragua in a secluded project land just off a highway, which had a large dorm for sleeping, a cafeteria, a store, a clinic for villagers to see a doctor and a welding shop for the project's cement block-making business.
Nored said they also were encouraged to become acquainted with the people of Chinandega. To do so, the group provided food to families in poor villages and helped with various tasks around the project. They painted parts of the mission and fixed the water well. The well was their only source of water, so to make sure it was functioning was important because they didn’t always have access to water, he said.
"The city turns the water off at very random times," he said. "Sometimes you'll have water and sometimes you won't."
This was a problem when team members wanted to shower. When the water system would shut off, someone would scream "No agua!" as loud as he or she could. "It started to become a joke," Nored said.
During one of the days, rain poured down for hours and caused the water system to be shut down. Since it was raining so hard, Nored decided to take a shower in the rain. He lathered in soap and stepped outside but, once he got out there, the rain lightened up. He then saw the cattle truck the group used to drive around in, which had a large pool of water sitting in the tarp stretched on top of it.
He said he convinced one of his group mates to climb on top of the truck and push the water on to him. It worked, but the security guards were not sure what was going on.
"(The guards) were flashing this huge light on me as I'm showering," he said. "I thought they were going to try and get me because they thought I was a random person. It was pretty funny."
Nored said one of the most memorable people he met during the trip was named Mario, who lives on the project with his wife and son. Mario was the group's driver, transporting them to wherever they needed to be.
"He has the best heart in the world," Nored said. "He's 5-6 and he's the strongest, hardest working man I have ever seen in my life."I wish everyone could have a heart like he does because he was a different kind of person than any of us have ever experienced."
The group was able to enjoy some down time. In Nicaragua, the sun rises at 6 a.m. and sets at 6 p.m. each day. The group never worked after 6 p.m., he said. Also, he said that each individual would be given personal quiet time each morning and, in the evening, the group would gather to discuss what they thought God had been communicating with them throughout the day.
Additionally, Vision Nicaragua provided the team with money to take the families working on the project to the beach for a day, who don't often get a chance to relax.
"They are tireless workers, and they all have about 10 kids," Nored said. "The families were able to have a day of enjoyment where they didn't have to worry about work."
Perhaps what was most rewarding about the trip, Nored said, was the opportunity to slow down the pace of life.
"The first thing I was going to do was wake up and read my Bible," he said. "Not having to rush to do anything was good for me."
Since the group spent every waking moment together, they all got to know each other very well.
"That was the best part of the whole trip, getting to know these people and getting really close to them," Nored said. "I built a different kind of community of people than I am used to. When I'm with them, it's like everything else stops."
Now back in the United States and living on Butler’s campus, Nored has returned to focusing on basketball. The Bulldogs, who have appeared in the last two national championship games, are currently in the middle of their summer workouts, which consist of open gym, weight lifting and conditioning sessions.
"Everyone's coming into the gym and working hard," he said.
In addition to maintaining his own skills, he is coaching an AAU basketball team: The Truth. The team is made up of seniors-to-be from around the Indianapolis area.
"We're doing well," he said. "We've had a really good July. We've played the best this month than we've ever played before."
During the trip, the group got to play the village children in soccer, which, he said, is the most popular sport in Nicaragua.
"We got our butts kicked because they were really good," he said. "They knew the field a lot better than we did, so we would be running and fall or something like that."
After the game, Nored said he started to do some basketball moves with the soccer ball, which captivated the kids. "Soccer's huge there," he said. "They don't have much basketball, so they don't get to see that."
Nored said he plans on going back to Nicaragua. Upon his return, he wants to hold a basketball camp.
"I've got some things on my plate that I want to do going back down there."