This is the room the uncle sleeps in. A few people on our team were able to install screens on the windows while we were there to make it more comfortable for sleeping. More breezes and fewer bugs.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
This is the room the uncle sleeps in. A few people on our team were able to install screens on the windows while we were there to make it more comfortable for sleeping. More breezes and fewer bugs.
Friday, July 17, 2009
In this first video, you can see the "kitchen" just outside the shanty. The kitchen consists of some stacked bricks to contain a fire.
This shanty has "Christ will return soon" written at the entrance.
Bruce's weight after the mission trip: 169.6 lbs.
I lost almost 4 pounds on the mission trip. That's the equivalent of more than 14,000 calories.
One of our fun activities on the trip was to visit the farm run solely by Gertrudis's uncle. He rides a bicycle several miles each day on a dirt road to get back and forth from town to the farm. And his farm has no electricity or running water, so he must do everything by hand.
Through our translators, Gertrudis and Raphael, I asked how old he is and learned he's 69. I then commented that he must be in really good shape, and asked if he knows that in America, our leading cause of death is from heart disease, which is usually related to obesity.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
I know people on this trip are already brainstorming ideas for a return to Nagarote. And perhaps some of the people back in Florida are even considering whether they might want to participate in a future mission.
As we read in the Bible:
"My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to finish His work," Jesus told them. "Don't you say, 'There are still four more months, then comes the harvest'? Listen [to what] I'm telling you: Open your eyes and look at the fields, for they are ready for harvest. The reaper is already receiving pay and gathering fruit for eternal life, so the sower and reaper can rejoice together." (John 4:34-36, HCSB)
It's so true that the fields are ready for harvest. There are billions of people around the world who don't know Jesus. But how can we be part of God's work in reaching those people?
Luckily, our own Southern Baptist Convention has worked very hard to make it possible for Christians to get out of their steepled ghettos and enter the world.
The Bridge is "an exceptional tool to connect Southern Baptists with mission opportunities in North America."
"The Acts 1:8 Challenge is an opportunity for Southern Baptist churches to declare their commitment to a comprehensive missions strategy in their community (Jerusalem), state (Judea), continent (Samaria) and world (ends of the earth)."
The International Mission Board also has a short-term missions site.
Of course, we can also be involved while at home.
We can pray for missions. Jesus said to pray that the Lord of the harvest would send out workers (Mt 9:38). We can learn about people around the world who have no one to tell them the gospel (aka "unreached people groups"), and we can pray that God sends missionaries into those communities. And we can pray for the work being done by missionaries around the world. We can communicate with missionaries and encourage them. And we can rejoice with them as people come to know Christ.
We can support missionaries. Through the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering and Annie Armstrong Offering, through our churches' contributions to the Cooperative Program, and through many other programs, such as Campus Crusade for Christ, we can support global missions. After all, how can they go unless they are sent (Ro 10:15)?
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Charlotte has a book that goes through parts of the body. For example, "Here are my hands for throwing and catching." And of all the pages in the book, Charlotte always focuses on the page that reads, "Here are my knees for falling down." That page shows a boy with a skinned knee crying. And when Charlotte sees it, she says, "boo boo" and gives the sign for crying.
Seeing suffering powerfully affects us.
Perhaps that is why so many of us have been motivated to share our wealth with the people of Nagarote, even though the fact that there are people in this world who live in shanties is not really a surprise to any of us.
But, as I reflect on our motivation, I am also reminded that a billion people on this earth live in poverty at least as great as the poorest people we've seen in Nagarote.
Are we motivated to care about those people?
And perhaps more importantly, we need to evaluate what we are motivated to do about the needs we see. One of the other team members asked me a thoughtful question that I think everyone one of us should consider:
Is it wrong that I am more affected by the poverty of people than the lostness of the people?The person knew the answer, and was merely reflecting on what it means about our theology that we are sometimes more motivated to give food than to give the gospel.
I'd ask us all, now that this mission trip is almost over, to look back and consider whether we are more motivated by physical needs than spiritual needs.
Kudos to Rick, Angela, Steve, Raphael and Gertrudis for having a desire to use some of the remaining money to equip local pastors with theological books. May those books be a blessing to the pastors, and may those books aid the pastors in proclaiming the Word of God to the people of Nagarote.
Kudos to Steve and Angela who dedicated a lot of mental labor to figuring out how they could share the gospel while giving out care packages to hungry children who speak a different language. May that little communication of Christian love open the hearts of those children and their families to hearing a fuller explanation of Jesus from the local churches.
Jesus answered, "If you knew the gift of God, and who is saying to you, 'Give Me a drink,' you would ask Him, and He would give you living water...." Jesus said, "Everyone who drinks from this water will get thirsty again. But whoever drinks from the water that I will give him will never get thirsty again—ever! In fact, the water I will give him will become a well of water springing up within him for eternal life." (John 4:10,13,14, HCSB)
Yesterday, we spent the entire day traveling around Managua, Granada, and Masaya viewing local areas of interest like a volcano and a flea market.
Today, small groups of people are taking turns delivering care packages (1 lb of beans, sugar, and rice each) to the homes of the students at the Dream of Louisa school.
The rest of us are packing up the clothing we are going to leave here and then the things we are planning to take home.
Don't stop reading once we get home tomorrow... we'll have more information, pictures, and ways for you to help next year coming soon!
Please pray for a productive final day and safe travels home tomorrow!
Oh, and praise God that all illness has been minimal - just 3 people seemed to have had any type of sickness.
Freddie asked in the comments what the teenagers were thinking about this mission experience. So, instead of trying to translate their words... I thought I'd just hand over the laptop and let them share themselves.
Stephanie - It is hard to grasp that people actually have to live the way they do. Some of the houses we visited were shocking... they were made from scraps of metal, wood, and even towels. It's scary seeing that they can survive like that... I am so much more grateful for everything that I am so blessed to have. It's been really funny trying to communicate with people who speak a completely different language. :] I have learned tons of new Spanish vocabulary.
Todd - This trip has truly changed all aspects of my life, and we're not even through yet! The people here are so nice and just show compassion even when they might have not eaten a meal in days or they live in a house made of cardboard and 50 gallon drums, literally. My best friend down here, Karen, is deaf and about as poor as anyone here, but I didn't know she was poor until Raphael told me. She is always upbeat and laughing and signing things to me. Some of the people from the last trip left her clothes and shoes and other things, whenever I go anywhere I tell her to come with me and I normally buy her an ice cream or a coke so she has gotten used to being treated like a queen and I'm glad I could bring joy to her while I'm here. On a lighter side my favorite part of this mission trip is definitely playing with the praise team at Alfa y Omega, a local church that we have been having revival at. We sat around for an hour tonight playing praise and worship songs singing English and Spanish at the same time. I felt so empowered while playing guitar and singing.
Okay, well I'm typing WAY too much and you are bored of reading already so, I love Nicaragua. Nicaragua needs love. I'm so glad I had an opportunity to come here and experience their culture and see their need for God.
This has been an internet announcement from Todd Daniels. Thank you for reading, tune in next time to watch Todd fall off of a unicycle and see how many rocks he has to pick out of his forehead.
God bless, Todd Daniels [the locals call me Tost]
Justin - Nicaragua was an amazing experience, everything about was great the beauty of the country and the lack of technology. I was proud to be apart of this trip and everyone who went was great and enjoyable to be around. It was a break from life and the lifestyle I live in the states. The trip not only benefited the people of Nicaragua but it really benefited us in a way that nothing else can. I took a look at the life I lived in the states and the life I lived here and it taught me to be more thankful for the stuff I own and where I live and the way I live. It taught me to be proud of the United States.
My prediction of the people of Nicaragua was not to far off but I didn't think they were going to be that nice. As with everything there is always an exception like this crazy drunk bum who started walking toward me and pointing saying loads of stuff who knows what, but Raphael told him "get out here" Raphael has my back. The rest of the people were great and always smiling which surprised me because they understand the life they live and the life of the people of the U.S. . How could they be so happy?
Rebecca - Hi, it's me. I haven't been able to type anything because we have all been busy. All that I can tell you right now is that I am very thankful that God is an awesome God. He has worked miracles non-stop since we have gotten here. I have that feeling that i don't want to leave here because there is so much left that we can do. But someone said that right now the best thing we can do is come home and tell everyone of the need here and figure out what we can do in the future. I miss my familia and hope that they miss me too. I will have to tell you my stories when I get home because it's hard to explain in words. Love y'all and Gloria Dios.
Aaron - I am gonna keep this really short and sweet. I have had the best time of my life and I want to stay here and help these people. Don't worry I will tell everyone all the experience I've had. Love you all. See you soon.
Dyllyn - So let me just say before I tell you my perspective, that this trip is definitely something that if you get the chance to do, do it.
no second thoughts, just do it.
my perspective of the trip:
this trip has changed my entire view of life. It made me realize how stingy, greedy, mean, and out of line, not just me, but America in general. I am not saying everyone is that way, I am just giving you a general idea. I guess the saying "you don't know what you got until its gone" is absolutely true. I have seen many kids who have absolutely nothing, give so much more than we do. I'm not just talking materialistic things, I'm talking emotions and all. They Made me so much more happier than 80% of everyone I know. They took the time out of their life, to make us all feel special, give glory to god, make us things, laugh with us, etcetera. They have nothing and give everything, we have everything and give nothing. I am completely ecstatic that i got to experience this.
The kids here light up when they see you. It is so important that we are here, to them. I have made so many friends already, and we all know each other by name, even though we speak opposite languages. People say language is a barrier, I have proven that theory wrong. It is a small barrier, that if you put some effort forth, you can get around it.I communicate with a Hispanic girl who is deaf, on a daily basis. Now you tell me if language is a barrier.
People come back from mission trips changed, but they usually fall back into there old habits. That's because they don't keep up with there prayer, and bible life. They don't put forth enough effort to stay changed. When I come back I'm going to try to make an impact, and its going to be a constant impact, not just a one time deal. I hope if you go on a mission trip, you feel the same after. Stay strong. Another saying that is helpful, is "keep your eyes on the prize"
Well this is the conclusion on my perspective. Hopefully this helped, but this only scratches the surface of my view. Adios.
Sunday, July 12, 2009
Written by Bruce
During the week before our team left America for Nicaragua, Jennifer and Charlotte took a trip to North Carolina with Angela and Stephanie. Having a week home to myself, I took the opportunity to paint our small, pine, dining room table.
Jennifer knew I wanted to paint it, but I surprised her by giving it a little something extra. I painted the table a bright white, and with black lettering around the top of the table, I wrote out the words:
"The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control"
I later told her that I had considered trying to paint a fruit tree, or some similarly-themed art, in the center of the table, but I had decided I simply don't have that level of artistic abilities.
Well, today our team attended the morning service at Alfa y Omega church. At the end of the service, Pastor Juan Baptista called each adult member of the team up and presented us each with a unique gift.
The gift given to Jennifer was a napkin holder in the image of fruit (and veggies). I told the pastor how providential that gift seemed since we'll now have fruit to place in the center of our Fruit of the Spirit table.
In addition, I have been concerned about whether I and others on this trip will continue, once we return to the normalcy of our lives, to have the same heart for people we are feeling here.
Anyone who works with youth knows how they so often return from camp on an emotional high that doesn't last. And many people feel moved when they see or hear of the desperate needs around the world. But few of us continue to care once those images are out of our minds.
This was actually a discussion in one of our team's recent morning devotions. We all know that we need God to actually change our hearts. And we also need to pray that God changes our hearts.
Now Jennifer, Charlotte, our soon-to-be-born little girl, and myself will have a daily reminder of God's people in Nicaragua.
Every day we will be able to think of the Baptist church in Nagarote that doesn't have air conditioning, a family life center, an education wing, an organ, stained-glass (or even glass) windows, or cushioned pews, and yet worships the same God as us now and forever.
It is my hope that my family will pray for this church in Nagarote, similar churches around the world, and the lost people those churches are sharing the gospel with on a daily basis.
And because all of us on this mission have sat around and talked about how this experience has given us a new perspective on what really matters in the world, it is my hope that this daily reminder will help me resist the temptation to waste my life on meaningless things, and instead invest my life in the one thing that matters: Gloria Dios!
P.S. The gift to me was a key holder with a map of Nicaragua, and it says, "Nicaragua tierra de lagos y volcanes" (Nicaragua land of lakes and volcanoes). I told Pastor Juan that gift was also perfect since I'm a science teacher who teaches about lakes and volcanoes.
Saturday, July 11, 2009
Saturday morning started with a breakfast of chicken tamales in banana leaves. Then, we went to Iglesia Philadelphia to hold our final Children's Carnival. The afternoon was spent discussing our plans for Monday and Tuesday and researching a few new ministry opportunities that we might be able to take advantage of before we leave. Our team is doing great remaining flexible.
The children waiting for the program to start this morning.
A young girl who asked for a butterfly to be painted on her face and then made a coffee paper butterfly.
This young senorita had her hair curled around paper and secured with bobby pins so that it would be bonita for Sunday morning.
The children this morning loved the group shot. The children had just finished making their salvation bracelets.
Gertrudis is serving peanut butter crackers after we shared the gospel story through the bracelets.
And finally, proof that not all missions work is as glamorous as passing out crackers and singing Che-Che-Wa-Wa!
Friday, July 10, 2009
Our internet connection is a little spotty so if Angela or I post some of the same stories or similar photos, I apologize. We don't usually have a chance to check one another's posts, before we upload our own.
Here are a lot photos and stories from today. It is getting harder and harder to whittle down all of the images we want to share with you.
This morning we held another Children's Festival at a local Christian School. When we arrived, we found children decorating the walls with water colors. As it turned out, we were there on the same day they were doing their monthly birthday party. The boy in this photo was extremely shy and I had a hard time getting his photo, but he was very into his art.
Another of the decorated walls, with a quote from Genesis 1:1.
Some of the children were patiently waiting for the party/festival to begin.
And since last night's revival ran late (one of us will share more in a later post), some of the teenagers were a little tired this morning. :)
But not Charlotte. She is back to her usual bedtime of 6-6:30 PM! PTL! She has become almost a permanent morning fixture on her Daddy's back.
The crowd is growing...
Always time for a goofy group shot while we wait for the principal to arrive and get the party started!
Tammy and Dianna are ready to go with their pintura de cara (face painting). This is ALWAYS a big hit with the little ones, and the teachers!
Music time! Songs with hand motions are appreciated all over the world.
Joe & Shelley bring it on with the puppets. In case you didn't know, they wrote a puppet script to open our Children's Festival and had it translated and recorded onto CD into Spanish so they could tell the children why we were here.
And another round of Che-Che-Wa-Wa! My goal is to try and get a photo of every team member doing this wonderful dance. And the song is addictive. Just as soon as it leaves your head, someone walks past you humming the tune and it starts all over again.
For craft time, we added something new - a coloring page. 1 Peter 5.7 is written in Spanish at the top - "Cast your cares upon the Lord, for He cares for you." Just another way we are trying to share the gospel.
The glitter crosses are still mucho popular.
Part of the festivities included a pinata. I don't think it took more than a few kids to bust this one open. The scramble for the candy was crazy, but only for the younger children. The older kids just kind of sat back like they were too cool for candy. Not much different than most American teenagers might act. Know what I mean.
These three children appeared to have no association with the school and snuck in on the side. Angela invited them in and gave them wooden cross necklaces. Eventually, we found Gertrudis to tell them it was okay to come all the way in and I was able to help them make their own salvation bracelets. I saw the girl in the middle raise her hand when Rafael asked who had prayed to begin a relationship with Christ.
Two cute la ninas whose smiles I couldn't resist sharing!
In the afternoon, a small group of us returned to Louisa's Dream to finish what we had started the day before. First, we dropped off 3 tubs and 2 bags full of clothes.
Then, the children were divided into two groups that we might give them the ingredients of the salvation bracelets and share the gospel with them. Rafael seemed to have their undivided attention as he presented the gospel to them.
We were surprised to see so many parents present. Though we weren't expecting them, god made sure we had just enough cross necklaces for everyone to get one. And we had plenty of bracelets for them to assemble.
I never did hear the final tally, but I seem to recall seeing more than 10 hands go up in each of the two classrooms when Rafael asked who had decided to follow Jesus.
While we rejoice in the seemingly large numbers of people giving their hearts to Christ, we also rejoice in all of the seeds that have been planted through this simple bracelet.
Jennifer - Charlotte's fever is broken. Her appetite is almost back to normal. She has resumed normal sleep patterns. God is good!
Rick - Last night at revival, I believe the report was 6 people made decisions to follow Christ and there were a few decisions to rededicate lives. Maranatha!
Rafael - He is preaching the last night of revival as I type this, on Luke 16. Pray that hearts will be turned and seeds will be planted. Eternity is at stake.
Oh, and today the team was able to finish the delivery of a bed to a blind man sleeping on an old door. This is a great story and I'll ask someone who was there and took pictures to share them. I did hear that when he fell asleep in his new bed the first night he thought he was sleeping with angels! God has been so good to show us how we can be His hands and feet here in Nagarote.
If you are reading this and would like a specific update from one of our team members, leave a comment and Angela or I will get the message to them as soon as it is possible.
This house has five children ages 9 and younger.
Their mother passed away three months ago, then
their grandfather came to take care of them. He passed
a few weeks ago, now there is no one left to care for
them. They are living alone now.
This lady wrote "Christ is coming soon"on her house
Husband, wife, and 17 children live in this house
that is about 160-200 square feet.
They will use whatever scraps they can find
to make walls.
Cardboard and plastic bag walls
Thursday, July 9, 2009
Louisia's Dream was to start a school. And while she wasn't interested in doing so in the name of God, we were still able to visit her school today and share the gospel with ~90 students plus their teachers.
We conducted a similar Children's Carnival there this morning and it was quite different. Being a school, the children were expected to behave accordingly and were very polite, some even speaking a few words of English. (Not that they were rude the day before, but it was loosely organized chaos with 300 children and only 18 adults, including our 2 translators.)
About half of the students were waiting when we arrived, assembled in the common area.
Steve helped the first class decorate wooden crosses he bought for ~$0.10 US each on eBay. The most popular decorative effect were the glitter pens.
Eventually he got smart and remembered he was no longer a young 37 and pulled a table over to ease the burden on his old legs. :)
Justyn and Aaron were leading recreation. The young boys were so eager to play ball themselves, they told Justyn and Aaron to sit down and take a break. Think Justyn might have a future as a PE teacher? :)
The boys playing futbol.
One of the classrooms.
Stephanie and Angela painted the female students' nails. This was a big hit and even Gertrudis joined in!
At each of our Children's Carnivals, we are providing a small snack of a cracker with peanut butter on it and a cold drink. The kids were eager to be in these lines!
Dylllyn is leading the children in a bean bag toss. Notice the lines... this is one of the differences between being in a school environment and being at a church.
And of course, during music time, they sang a song called "Che-Che-Wa-Wa." The song is from Peru and title is a made up word. It is just a fun way to break the singing ice before Angela and Rebecca begin to teach their Spanish Christian songs.
I don't have any pictures of the face painting or salvation bracelet building, so you'll have to wait for someone else to post those. (hint, hint Angela!)