Covenant Team Sunday, July 3
We have been having a great week with the Covenant team. Soccer in the streets, crafts, dramas, door to door evangelism, visitation and youth group parties have kept this team busy from morning to night. The ground breaking relational building and then the seed planting of the “Father’s love” that the team from Calvary Chapel extended two weeks ago, have been instrumental in the sprouting of new spiritual growth that we are experiencing this week with the Covenant Team. It is a joy to be able to share this with our Covenant friends.
I love how our Lord gives us so many illustrations in scriptures from a farmer’s point of view. When I come to Nicaragua I realize how valuable my childhood experiences of farming have been and how they have given me great visuals as I watch the spiritual growth of one individual to the next. One plants, another water’s and another harvests. Once again we marvel at the work of the Holy Spirit and how detailed our Father in heaven is and how He uses normal people to bring the truth of His Love to the world.
On Saturday evening, we went to bed in anticipation of joining the Village of Fortin for their Sunday morning worship service. We have been working with the Torre Fuerte outreach program in this community for two years. We have had opportunities to join in the harvesting of vegetables, preparing food, feeding the children, we have done door to door evangelism, we have taught the Bible and played with the children. Today was finally the day that Doug and I (Betty) along with the Covenant group could join in on a Sunday morning church service. Only to our disappointment the rain that started Saturday evening would not let up and so Pastor Manfredo had to cancel church. If you have never been to the Village of Fortin you may wonder why cancel church because of the rain? To let you know why, it is because this church is a newly formed congregation that grew out of an adult Bible study from the children’s outreaches and this church does not have a church building or even land, but rather they meet in a yard from one of the kind locals. Like many newly formed churches here in Nicaragua, they will meet outside, under a few trees to keep the hot sun from beating down on them. I have to say I was truly disappointed as I longed to worship with our friends from Fortin. But then the Lord impressed on me, how the people of this small body of believers might have felt. I and the rest of our team will have the opportunity to go to Torre Fuerte church tonight even if it is raining, but they don’t. Why? Because in order to come to Granada they would have to travel a far distance and most of them do not have the luxury of even one bike to ride into town.
So once again I have been humbled and am evermore grateful for all the privileges given to me. And soberly I am reminded that what I do have, is to be invested for my Master’s benefit, not mine. While we are here in Nicaragua, Doug and Pastor Flores have been working on the possibility of buying land out at Fortin, and then the next phase would be to have some sort of building with a roof. As I share this with you, I also have to let you know that this is not the only community that is dealing with this kind of issue. There is another community, on the other side of Granada that we work with as well, it is in the village of Cana de Castilla, and there we have a similar situation. In Cana de Castilla land is a bit more expensive, but when I see the miracle of God growing one tiny little seed into a fruit bearing plant, I am moved to tears as I know our Lord will provide every resource in order for his Kingdom to flourish and for the truth of His Holy Word to go out to all the people.
So thanks again for your prayers, we are encouraged and blessed.
In His Hands, Betty & Doug
Covenant Team: Thursday June 30
It’s been a whirlwind ever since the Calvary Chapel group came down last week. Luckily Katie was able to keep you all in the loop while she was here. After they left on Monday and the Covenant group arrived the next day, and I obviously dropped the ball. Amy
Below is Katie’s last blog “Sunday June 26”
Transition – Calvary Chapel to Covenant: Wednesday June 29
After the young adult group from Calvary left on Monday, we prepared for the Covenant group to arrive the next afternoon. For being exhausted, they arrived with a lot of spunk. With smiles on their faces, they have been working alongside Torre Fuerte at feeding programs and loving on kids. I’m passing the ball off to Keghan to give you a better picture of what they have been doing down here.
Calvary Chapel Team: Tuesesday June 28
We arrived home Tues am w/ few glitches. This past weekend’s retreat was awesome. Besides the snake in the girl’s room, the mosquitos, and the rain (all of which we can laugh about) we saw God work in a powerful way with the youth. As the retreat was themed “the Father’s love”, we saw many hearts open up at the realization that their father has not been a father to them and only God the Father can fill that void. On Sunday morning, the pastor had the youth from Torre Fuerte stand if they grew up without a father or grew up with a father who was abusive or set a bad example. 9/10ths of the students stood. But the awesome part was that these young leaders were not standing out of self-pity. Instead, they were encouraged to give the glory to God for what He has done in their life and are continuing to serve the Lord. I was humbled and amazed at their continual dedication to serving God despite all they endure.
Calvary Chapel Team: Sunday June 26
“ It was such a powerful moment, watching the sunset Sunday night over the joint service of Torre Fuerte and El Puente, the other church that FOAM works with. Looking around, I saw faces from other American groups some familiar faces and row upon row of our new friends from Torre Fuerte.
The weekend had been the retreat and probably the most powerful part of the week. Even though we fought bugs, sleep deprivation, over stimulation, and a few last minute changes to the schedule, God came through. The theme was the love of the father. Many of the kids struggle with a father who abandoned them or abuses them. The teaching time was an assurance the God loves us, in spite of whether we have sinned greatly of if we stand in prideful self-righteousness.
Then came testimonies. Jessenia gave her testimony on stage, telling of God’s faithfulness even when her father had abandoned her early in her life. A number of the youth were so broken after that, and we were able to pray for them. There were testimonies around the bonfire, just a few of the Torre Fuerte kids – but powerful because they were finding freedom in opening up to their church family. The youth group is so tight knit, it gives new definition to the body of Christ. They defend and protect each other. We came back to Granada with a crazy sense of God’s hand at work. My life is now newly surrendered to God’s work, as I know many of us from the trip as well. So sitting in that service was a powerful experience of something like heaven – the rejoicing at relationships built across a language barrier – real love felt because of Christ! To see God at work in the church at Torre Fuerte has given us such love for this body. So as the sun finally set and we said goodbye, we knew that whether any of us return or not, we will always be excited to hear the news of what God is doing down here. In the precious name of Jesus – may he be magnified!”
Calvary Chapel Team: Thursday June 23!
Today was perhaps our most difficult day so far. But God was still working. The theme of today was servanthood.
The morning began at 9 when we met the Torre Fuerte group to bike over to the feeding program at Fortín. We didn’t have enough bikes, so Dave got to do it Nica style with a girl sitting on the top bar of his bike. We expected a forty-five minute ride through the heat based on what the team from last year said, so we were surprised to realize they moved the program to a location only twenty minutes from our houses! We pulled in to a small yard full of jungle plants and shade trees.
Sometimes the most challenging situations are the ones that slowly wear on you. The weather was extremely hot and humid, and there were hundreds of house flies settling on everything and everyone. Brushing them off became a constant challenge, and you had to eat fast to keep the flies off any food. We painted nails and supervised coloring for several hours, with a little bit of sports mixed in there for variety. We suddenly realized that this is life in Nicaragua! Waiting out the heat, swatting flies, chatting a little…
There were good moments, though! We have one friend from the youth group, Veronica, who is one of the most persistently loving girls we’ve met here. She just shows up next to you and throws her arms around you. Yesterday I finally connected with her for real, and we were so glad to have her smiling face there all day.
Another warm moment was sneaking into the Nica bathroom, which was basically a stall made out of cloth with a raised hole in the middle. The door was only a piece of fabric that flapped in the breeze, but the Nica women go in groups and hold the door closed for each other. Two of our Nica friends held the door closed behind me. I just really appreciate their loyalty in looking out for each other, so it was a funny little expression of that being extended to our group as well!
For the last hour or so we were there, a storm was black on the horizon. We heard thunder and hoped it would stay away, but by the time our presentation was starting, raindrops were falling and the trees were swirling in the wind. The kids stuck in their chairs stubbornly, and Jim and I and Betty shouted over the wind for the last of our hygiene presentations. We had their attention, but the rain won out and everyone ran for shelter before we could give the Gospel. We waited out the storm in a shed and got acquainted with some of the people until the rain let up enough for Laura and Betty to give an abridged version of the rest of the presentation.
We had an awesome bike ride back to the house—the dirt road had turned into a muddy river and we had to just plow through it and the rain. By the time we got back we were covered in muddy splatters!
The night ended with church, a lesson from Pastor Flores, and seeing all of our friends again. This was our last service at Torre Fuerte. It was kind of sad to leave! But we will see everyone one last time on Sunday night before we go.
One of the other high points of the day was that Francisco Havier being involved with the construction group at the church. He has been helping the guys as much as he can this week. They were all working on the roof, which is aluminum, so it is about 120 degrees up there. Jim was taking a shift and then Francisco willingly said that he would do it. “No problema.” His servant’s heart to work on the church was a huge testimony to our guys!
Thank you all for praying. We know that this was the hump day of the trip—obviously the Enemy doesn’t like what we’re doing. We know that there are going to be powerful things this weekend!! You can pray about:
- Alan’s legs—his knees are still pretty swollen but he is moving around. Pray for a quick recovery.
- TODD—Just got sick today! To cap off the Whalen’s week, Todd is throwing up this morning (Friday). Pray that he feels better quickly!
- PRAISE that Jeremy is feeling better. We found him some steroids thanks to Chris’s mom, who packed a huge First Aid Kit complete with steroids for asthma… what a crazy amazing thing! That Jeremy who couldn’t breathe two nights ago is now just doing fine.
- This weekend—PRAY that God will be present as we talk about his relationship to us as a Father! We are going to be building relationships. Just PRAY PRAY PRAY that our love may be genuine, and our time can be really profitable. And pray that God will be working in the lives of the younger members of the youth group who aren’t as strong in their faith yet, that they will be so encouraged!
- Pray against spiritual attacks. In addition to the various illnesses, there was a break in at one of the houses earlier in the week and a couple of valuables were stolen. Pray specifically for the Whalens (aka Pam) because they have been the ones having things happen to them.
Calvary Chapel Team: WEDNESDAY! June 22
From lush jungle farmland to smooth tiled floor in our house in the city, the theme of today was fellowship! We saw the family of God in all forms.
We began the day at an outreach to children outside the city. Just as a side note, we had a hilarious time on “the Chicken Bus” as Betí (Betty) so fondly refers to it. It is basically another schoolbus (we had ridden one before) but on a VERY busy road, so it is always crowded, sometimes not just with people. Several of us found ourselves nose-to-nose, or back-to-back, with friendly strangers.
When we arrived at the little building that serves as a ministry site up there, we were sent out to invite local children to the outreach. We went with the Pastor there to bring them in. At first we only invited a few of the kids the pastor knew but soon we were inviting everyone. School had just let out, so we started a tidal wave of children. Back at the ministry site with the expected 50 or so children, we pulled out a soccer ball to wait for the stragglers. The 50 turned into 80 and by the end we counted 150 children!
We did our usual skit, but then Betty threw a twist in. Right before the presentation began, she asked Dave White to share the gospel with the kids at the very end. He said yes, though he hadn’t really worked with kids a lot before. He did so great! God was really present as we were faithful to share THE GOSPEL—that most important bit of knowledge—with the kids. Though maybe not all of them know what they meant when they raised their hands to accept Christ, they have heard! That seed can travel a long time before it takes root—but “one plants, another waters.” As the church there grows we can have assurance that these kids will continue to hear the message of life.
During the afternoon a few went out to take groceries and medicine to a family that we visited on Monday…the husband is sick and the mother has pain in her feet that makes it difficult for her to do her usual job of selling used clothing. Dave said he was so blessed to be able to share that joy with them and see the relief on their faces.
The real highlight of the day for most of us, though, was spending time with the Torre Fuerte youth group. It went so well! We had pizza and ice cream and some cookies for them, nothing too special, and we divided up guys and girls into the two different houses. The Nica girls are very wonderful but not very outspoken, so getting to know them has been a little difficult, especially with the language barrier. It was a little stiff at first, but as soon as we got them into some bathing suits and into the pool, and Brianna thought of a few games to try out together (Rojo-Verde instead of Red-Light Green Light, etc), the giggling began. What a difference! We were all family after that. We spent the evening talking and eating, painting nails, listening to Bri teach from the Word, worshipping God in Spanish, and taking picture after picture. We will be serving together tomorrow and then going on a retreat Friday afternoon into Sunday, so we will get to build on those relationships even more!
Our hearts are praising Him for everything He did today. Our “Highs and Lows” at the end of the day just kept reinforcing that.
You can be praying for:
1. Tomorrow’s outreach. It’s our last feeding program, so pray that we can show Christ’s love to the children and that our presentation would go smoothly again! Pray that the Gospel would be clear for these hungry kids.
2. JEREMY. He has been suffering from severe asthma today. His current medication isn’t working, so you can pray that he finds one that does.
3. The construction crew. PRAISE that they got a power drill from a church member! They finished all the benches and now just have to fix the gutters on the church. They will have more flexibility schedule-wise once they finish, as these guys have mostly been spending each day inside the church working! Their faithfulness has been amazing to me in that way. You can pray that they are able to finish with no extra difficulties.
4. The retreat! Pray for DETAILS to come together as well as for good relationships and a POWERFUL work of God among these “jovenes.” The topic is God as our Father! You can pray that these kids will find the father-love that many of them never experienced through the love of God.
Calvary Chapel Team: Tuesday!June 21
Voy a escribir este blog post en Español. Es más fácil que escribiende en Inglés ahorita.
Just kidding! But you can offer up a praise, we’ve had very smooth cross-language interactions so far, with interpreter and without.
Today we went to a remote village in el campo (the jungle, basically) to help with the feeding program that Torre Fuerte, the local church that we have primarily been working with, puts on there. More than 50 children and several parents bring bowls and buckets of various kinds twice a week to get big scoops of rice and a beautiful Nica concoction of meat, veggies, and spice. In addition, they get fed from the Word four times a week with a Bible teaching and songs.
The day began—after a hike through Granada’s central marketplace and a long bus ride, but that’s another story for another blog post—with groups visiting local families to invite them to story time and share a bit of the Word with them. We divided into groups. A few of us got put with both of the pastors, Pastor Flores and Pedro, who speaks very clear and distinct Spanish, thankfully! They took us to several homes. All of the people are very poor, with little more than a small shack for a house. It was amazing to hear the pastors just start teaching the word right in the middle of the jungle. We met a family of new believers, a woman who could not talk, and a man possessed by a demon. We prayed together, in English and Spanish but unified in the Spirit! The whole day was a big reminder about the necessity of praying hard.
When we came back, we played with kids and got to scoop food. We spotted several of the buckets that Calvary Chapel’s VBS decorated last year! The kids used them as a dish. The boys from our group had a great time playing “rugby”—aka “Try to Grab the Football Any Way You Can” with a huge crowd of kids. The little boys loved being growled at, tickled, and chased.
After that was the presentation—Pedro began with songs, Pastor shared from the Word, and then came our turn. A small miracle came about in the form of Jaime (sorry, Jim)—he was initially a little tentative about being onstage, but the moment our dialogue began (in Spanish, yes) he snapped right into character. No qualms or pauses! The kids loved it. We taught them how God made everyone in His image and wants us to take care of our bodies. Then Laura jumped in to teach them how to brush their teeth. We gave out little bags of toothcare items, which seemed to be a big hit!
That evening we went to the church for their daily prayer service (at 5 AM most days of the week). A fairly large group had gathered to hear the Word, worship, and then to pray. They prayed passionately and specifically. We were blown away by their faithfulness to pray. From what we understand, they even prayed for help from the Church in the US right around the time that Calvary was forming into a church. Goosebumps. So to them, prayer is what they depend on, and they wait for answers. We were really challenged to pray as our first resort, to pray before making decisions, to pray for protection, to pray for each other and the church. What would it look like if we prayed as a body more?
Thank you for praying as well! We have been attacked in several ways, but we have also been enormously blessed to see God at work! Pray for:
1. The feeding programs continue Wednesday and Thursday. Pray for good interactions with the children and for our skit to go well again!
2. Construction at the church: A team of guys making benches and tables is now down a power saw (déjà vu). Pray that the work will get done.
3. Pray for our interactions with Torre Fuerte’s youth group (which goes with us on most of our outreaches)…we are having girls’ and guys’ night tomorrow (Wednesday). Pray that the love of Christ will bind us together in spite of language difficulties.
Buenas noches a usted, nuestra familia en Cristo!
Calvary Chapel Team: Sunday & Monday June 19 & 20
It was a little intimidating, yes…I held my breath, sat down next to her, and introduced myself…in Spanish. Thankfully we were able to stick to subjects that I knew the words for, for the most part, and we were both smiling to be able to connect across such a wide language barrier. In fact, the whole night was like that. After church on Sunday, our first night here after a long day of flying, the whole youth group from Torre Fuerte came out to meet the new additions to the missions team. Almost none of them speak English, and very few of us speak Spanish, so we were grateful for the presence of an interpreter, also a believer from the church. There was already such an atmosphere of family because Brianna and Jim and others who have been here before were reuniting with old friends. We plugged along, getting acquainted as best we could, then the introductions went around the circle. There was much laughing as we tried saying our favorite dessert in another language. I felt my heart warming to be meeting fellow believers, even though we had never met before! The night closed with a few people standing up to say what was on their heart. Both the “gringos” and the Nicas expressed joy to be sharing in the work together, and encouragement to be seeing others from another culture following Christ. We are excited to be in Nicaragua this week and getting to know these new faces better as we work with many of them – they will come out to a lot of the ministry sites along with us.
Thanks for your prayers! Everyone made it safely yesterday, just a bit worn out! We’re all well rested today though and ready for our first day of ministry. Pray that today we can also finish polishing our presentation for the first feeding program tomorrow.
FOAM Prep Team – Friday & Saturday June 17 & 18
Yesterday, a few of us woke up early and went to Charles bible study at El Puente. It seemed to have been a great time of worship and fellowship. After that we had the awesome opportunity to go on a zip-line canopy tour at a local coffee bean farm. Even Betty stubbornly joined in and had a great time. It was a wonderful time of bonding and the forty five foot decent was an exciting way to end the thrilling experience. We got back and ate a big meal to cover both lunch and dinner, then met up with a group from Torre Fuerte. All of us jumped onto a bus and found ourselves surrounded by Granada’s country side setting up chairs, microphones, a keyboard and two tents in someone’s front yard. A group of us walked around and watched as the youth group invited people over to worship with us and helped in any capacity that we could, which wasn’t much. We began worship and saw people slowly trickle into the yard. As Miguel started teaching we realized that whether or not people in the surrounding houses came, they were still going to hear what he had to say. It was encouraging being able to understand some of what he was preaching and hearing him call people back to repentance. Although no one came up for the alter call, Torre Fuerte went back again tonight to continue the outreach in that community the next day.
Today, we were told that we would be going biking with a missionary, named Baker, to the laguna. After breakfast, we headed out to Baker’s bike shop and as we started out our trek, the drizzle turned into a steady rain. Later we realized this was a blessing in disguise, because without it, it would have been about twenty degrees hotter then the already hot Nicaraguan weather. Three out of the eight of us said that they enjoyed the ride. All of us who found it to be our low for the day would tell you that we’re proud that we made it, but we would never do it again. However miserable the journey, we were rewarded with a beautiful partly cloudy day by the time we arrived. We swam, and ate and swam again. About thirty minutes before Doug decided we should get going, Jim Godwin unknowingly extend our visit by an hour and a half. He kayaked to the other side of the four mile long laguna and back, returning the color of a lobster. After we had all been thoroughly burned, we were blessed to return to our abode in a van. The rest of the afternoon was full of shopping and napping. Todd Whalen had an odd encounter when he accompanied Jim to the market. While waiting to cross the street, he found himself being petted by an old Nica man. When he turned around to see who was touching his hair, the man looked at him and said in broken English, “you shaggy.” We laughed a lot when we heard that story. Doug had the chance to see Pastor Flores and the group off to the outreach again tonight. He said that the bus was full of
people and that they were very excited to return. When everyone got home, we ate dinner and talked through what was going to be happening once the group arrives tomorrow. We’re so excited to see what God has in store for them!
Dios te bendigas,
FOAM Prep Team Thursday June 16
Hello everyone! I’m sorry that it’s taken me so long to let you guys know whathas been going on but it has finally calmed down enough for me to get thechance. We have obviously arrived here safely and are getting settled in. These first couple days have been getting used to working around the language barrier. Although none of us are experts on the language, we’ve all dived right into it. The first day or two, several of us had our noses in our Spanish-English dictionaries the majority of the time. It’s been funny to see how all of us work together when we are trying to have a conversation. We’ve also been rekindling relationships with our old friends and making new ones. Bible study at El Puente and church at Torre Fuerte have been wonderful. Hearing Pastor Charles speaking in English (Missionary Pastor of El Puente and seeing the amount of people who have continued to attend Torre Fuerte while we were gone is encouraging. We can’t wait to see how the Lord is planning on using us this summer! Dios te bendiga!