A Lesson in Persistence

“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”
― Winston S. Churchill

“Ron, you have to see this,” I shouted from the living room. A chicken bus spinning its wheels, grinding its gears, and unable to go forward or backward appeared to be hopelessly stuck in the deep sand on our beach.

Yet, throughout the three-hour ordeal, I learned a lesson in perseverance that the Nicaraguans show over and over again. They never give up. What we perceive as hopelessness, they tackle with determination, persistence, and always with smiles and laughter. Incredible!

Nosotros Pequeños Hermanos outing looked like it was headed for disaster. The Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos NGO had an orphanage on Ometepe Island until 2010, when our sleepy Concepcion volcano decided to wake-up. Fearfully, the organization transferred the children to the mainland in Jinotepe, but continued to run a small farm and a project called Samaritan Project on the island.

Every year, they bring the children back to Ometepe Island to visit and volunteer on the farm. When we saw 50 orphans stranded on our beach, we grabbed the shovels and joined in the fun of helping them dig out their chicken bus.


“The three great essentials to achieve anything worthwhile are, first, hard work; second, stick-to-itiveness; third, common sense.”
― Thomas A. Edison

Yes, they appeared to lack a little common sense by trying to turn the bus around on our beach, but what they lacked in the common sense area, they made up for in their stick-to-itiveness.

IMG_9833Ron carried boards to the beach and the hard work of digging out the wheels enveloped in the deep sand began.

IMG_9840“It is better to take many small steps in the right direction than to make a great leap forward only to stumble backward.”
― Louis Sachar

Digging then pushing…digging, then pushing…it seemed to go on forever.
IMG_9844“No matter how much falls on us, we keep plowing ahead. That’s the only way to keep the roads clear.”
― Greg Kincaid

The older kids cleared our sandy road of rocks to place under the tires and when they ran out of rocks on the road, they collected more from the beach. The little kids played in the shallow water, laughing and enjoying their temporary reprieve from the hot sun.

IMG_9850“The difference between perseverance and obstinacy is, that one often comes from a strong will, and the other from a strong won’t.”
― Henry Ward Beecher

When push comes to shove they diligently angled their bodies against the embedded bus rocking it back and forth over and over.

IMG_9855“We are made to persist.
that’s how we find out who we are.”
― Tobias Wolff

Little by little the wheels of the bus went round and round again until they were confronted with the big mango tree on the road. Now how will they get the bus turned around without moving forward into the deep sand?

IMG_9865Like the little engine that could, they inched the bus forward, dug out the wheels and layered the sandy holes under the wheels with more rocks. I think I can… I think I can.
IMG_9869Meanwhile, the hot sun was sucking the energy out of the persistent workers. We didn’t have enough glasses to bring water to the thirsty crowd, so Ron strung our long garden hose to the beach and all the parched workers quenched their thirst and had a little fun spraying each other, too.

IMG_9871“Persistence. Perfection. Patience. Power. Prioritize your passion. It keeps you sane.”
― Criss Jami, Killosophy

Three hours later, they were able to back the bus into a vacant lot beside our house.

IMG_9875“Character consists of what you do on the third and fourth tries.”
― James A. Michener

And boy, did these kids have a lot of character!!! Look at the exhausted boy leaning on the shovel.

IMG_9888One boy, nicknamed Batman, became a little teary-eyed with his accomplishment and persistence. Hugs and handshakes passed through the exhausted crowd.

IMG_9891“O snail
Climb Mount Fuji
But slowly, slowly!”
― Kobayashi Issa

Persistence paid-off big time today. I love a success story with no loss of enthusiasm.

IMG_9895Now, all that is left are footprints and tracks in the sand…a reminder that success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.


24 thoughts on “A Lesson in Persistence

  1. Wonderful Story! Love the quotes and the pictures. This kind of stuff is everyday life in Central America! Our friends and family in the USA can’t help but be entertained as well as myself here in Costa Rica!

  2. It was great of you to help them out. Persistence does pay off. It pays to have a “not give up attitude” toward everything in life.

    I like the pictures to go with your story too.

    It was nice of you to offer water to everyone and I’m sure they needed it, but (and I don’t mean this in a bad way) drinking out of a garden hose is toxic. I don’t know if you know that or not. And perhaps the people there don’t care. It’s probably better to fill a pitcher from the house and pass that around.

    I did love the story though. It’s not the usual happening and three hours of struggling is a long time.

    • Sunni, I was shocked to learn that drinking out of a water hose was toxic. I had no idea. It made me curious as to how many people have died from drinking out of a water hose, so I tried to research statistics. The only death I could find was a man from England, who didn’t actually die from the toxins produced from a water hose, but because he was addicted to water and overdosed on the water from the hose. I think you would have to drink a huge amount of the water from a water hose consistently before the toxins would build up in your body. Anyway, I hope I didn’t poison the kids from the orphanage. Yikes! Who knew? Now, I wonder about my flowers that I water daily from the hose as well as our neighbors whose only source of running water is a hose into their house. Thanks for letting me know about this.

      • Debbi,

        I read about the hose and water a few years ago. Somehow it stuck with me. I figured you never heard that story. Perhaps you do have to drink lots of water through the hose but it does concern me that your neighbors only have that hose for water. I imagine after years, things could become quite toxic for them. Could that be replaced with something else?

        • Sunni, I got them one of those cloth hoses about a year ago, the kind that squishes up to less than two feet long. I think that is much better and it doesn’t have plastic in it. I am not sure if they are still using it. I’ll have to check.

    • Anita, that is so true. At first, the kids stood all around the bus and scratched their heads. They didn’t know how to begin. But, once Ron showed them that the wheels had to be dug out from the sand and rocks placed under the wheels to build up a hard surface, they got the hang of it quickly and became very inventive in ways to raise the wheels of the bus. Not only did they have perseverance, but they also learned how to problem solve and think out of the box to move the bus. It was a great experience for them and they were all so proud of their accomplishment.

    • So glad you enjoyed it MH. Not only was it fun to write and photograph, but it was a wonderful experience in watching the cooperation and the problem solving that took place. If it would have been me, I would have called a tow truck. But, we have no tow trucks on la Isla.

  3. Persistence sure did pay off, my goodness….3 hours! At least the kids could play in the water to entertain themselves. Fun pictures to go along with your story and I love your quotes!

    • Yep, three long hours. We had planned to go into town to eat pizza, but by the time the bus was back on the hard packed road, we were both too exhausted. Ron, a lot more than me because I couldn’t help push that big bus. Thanks for your comment, Barbara.

  4. What a wonderful story — and great photo documentation. It reminded me of the rainy season in Liberia. Just substitute taxis and money buses for the school bus, and the worst laterite mud you can imagine, and you have the picture. If I had to make a choice, I’d take the sand, every time.

    • Oh, I hate to even think about trying to get a bus out of the mud in the rainy season. Haha. And thank goodness it is the dry season because the lake is much lower. Sometimes the lake rises almost to the hard packed road. In fact, one year the lake rose into our yard. It was the year we were building our house and we couldn’t get materials to our house except for carrying them across three barbed wire fences. I’d take the sand any day over the mud. 🙂

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