After Day 10

The CC team of 5 left for Newark today and even though we miss the banter and fellowship of like minded servants, we only had to wait a few hours before our ministry of the day started with our friends from Torre Fuerte. Twenty of us took off for San Jose de Gracia, the new community that Torre Fuerte has been ministering too. After the slow and tedious ride through the hills of the local volcano, we were greeted with smiles and welcoming arms by young and old alike.

Before we started the Bible study we all joined in for a good game of softball. It reminded me of my younger days on those Sunday afternoons when my family and I would pass the time of day by playing a game or two out in a hay field. Dealing with rough terrain and making do with the few pieces of equipment we had, the young boys loved having the “old” guys play ball and they in turn loved the challenge of trying to keep up. Pastor Flores was throwing fire, as we attemped to hit the ball past the rocket like infielders. While we were playing I was reminded of the simplicity of what it takes to have a “good time”! As I soaked in the fresh smell of straw that we used for bases, I was convicted of how easily I get distracted by the “world’s” view of a good time. Doug and I bonded with our Nica freinds; we laughed about our strike outs, tumbles and dives, and even the fly balls that passed by us as the balls flew through the jungle of trees causing even the monkeys to scurry and run. A few bumps and bruises always builds a little character and I think it helped set the stage for our next event, the Bible study.

For the study, we met under a straw thatched roof with open walls and Lester (pastor’s son) led worship on what felt like “Holy Ground”. Even though many who attended are still not sure that the God we serve is real and true, they were touched by the Spirit of God and lifted their hands as they joined us in this worship time. Pastor Flores led the Bible Study, the study was simple and powerful. I know this, because I don’t know of too many farmers who will actually stop work and sit for a Bible study during mid day to learn more about the God of the universe. Once the study was over they all stayed and listened as Pastor “Dooglas” shared his story of God in his life. They didn’t want us to leave so they brewed up some coffee for us before we started our journey home.

Once again I marvel at the truth of the verse from Romans 10:15… “how beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news”. Doug and I are brought to tears when we realize this awesome privilege that we have been given as we join in with our fellow servants.They truly have “beautiful” feet as they press on further and further into the hills to bring the “good news” to all. We sure do serve a mighty God!

Adios my friends, Betty

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Day 10 (Monday)

We said our goodbye’s to Doug and Betty with hugs and much sadness as the Team enjoyed an early 4:30AM departure from Nicaragua on Monday morning. We flew out at 7:15 am. No lines to deal with and nothing but smooth sailing. We were first in line when we arrived in Houston to go through customs. We then flew on the last leg of our journey to Newark without a hitch and landed ahead of schedule. We were all exhausted but had an incredible time of fun, fellowship and service in advancing His Kingdom!

~Charlie~

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It was a bittersweet parting as we left Granada. The Melancholy feelings of leaving our Nica friends behind, while eagerly anticipating reuniting with our spouses and families. We said our farewells in the moonlight of the early morning with the dream of coffee soon to come. We arrived at the airport in Managua right on time and without a hitch were on board before we knew it. The flight to Houston couldn’t have been smoother as most of us slept to catch up on some much needed rest. Upon arriving in Houston we needed to go through customs and immigration. This part of the trip by prayer couldn’t have been easier or quicker than any of us could have imagined. We made the connecting flight with time to spare. While entering the plane Charlie asked if this plane was heading to New Jersey, in which the pilot replied “unfortunately it is” . The flight went great as we shared the recent memories of the past week on how God was at work in Nicaragua and in our own hearts. Before we knew it we were on the ground 30 minutes ahead of schedule. We were greeted with a westward North Atlantic breeze with a hint of factories and refineries in the air. Royal and Bill greeted us at the airport which was greatly appreciated with our tired bodies and minds. The ride home was filled with the exuberant recalling of our adventures in Nicaragua and the friendships we established with the local church. When we arrived at the McRoberts’ house the team parted ways, but the bonds created between us over the past 9 days will never be broken.

Dios de bendiga ~Kevin~

Day 9 (Sunday)

We awoke to our last day in Nicaragua with a sense of bittersweet anticipation. Excited knowing that we would soon be going home to our homes and families, yet sad to know that this would be our last day in our surrogate home with people who already feel like brothers and sisters. In fact, they are our brothers and sisters in Christ!

After grabbing a quick breakfast, we made our way to El Puente, where we were once again blessed by the worship team’s jubilant salsa-enriched form of worship. We made a joyous noise unto the Lord indeed! Pastor Charles shared from the Word, explaining how the Holy Spirit was sent by God as He and Jesus both promised. How Peter commanded us to receive and allow to transform our lives that we may have a deep, intimate relationship with God, and receive the power to share the gospel with others.

After being blessed by such a powerful message, we lingered at El Puente to share in God’s blessings with others before heading out to brunch at a local bistro. It soon became evident that not only was Charlie filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, but the hunger as well!

We returned to the casa and pensively began packing up some of our belongings before David and Juan Carlos arrived with David’s daughter to take us to Masaya. Betty, Kathy and Frank were dropped off at the market while Kevin, Mike, Bob, Charlie, Francisco, Lindsay, David, his daughter and Juan Carlos drove to Parque Nacional Volcan Masaya (Masaya Volcano National Park). There we entered an almost extraterrestrial world, where the vegetation grew from a ground made almost entirely of volcanic rock and a haze of smoke rose from one of five calderas nested within the volcanic complex. Wisps of sulfur dioxide were (thankfully) quickly carried away by the steadily changing breezes that one can expect to encounter at higher altitudes.

Francisco led Lindsay, Kevin, Bob and Mike up a narrow path to the top of the 2,000ft ridge that runs between craters. The path was perhaps 3ft wide and there was an over 700ft sheer drop on either side. The going was tough on some of the steep parts, but well worth it as we were rewarded with a phenomenal view of God’s creation. We could see into 4 of the 5 calderas, some filled with vegetation, others barren or smoking. The vista provided views of the Nicaraguan countryside, lake Managua and other volcanoes: Momotombo and Momotombito and Mumbacho.

We rushed back down the trail in order to get back to the market and make some souvenir purchases before heading back to Granada. We barely made it back to our casa in time to clean up and head out to the Sunday evening service at Torre Fuerte, where Pastor Doug would be the guest speaker. Doug’s message from Zechariah 1 revolved around the promises that the Lord has made to us and that His promises depend on our faithfulness
to turn to Him, to acknowledge our creator and nurture and maintain our relationship with God. It is when we do that the He pours out his blessing on us (in the appropriate time), and we are then able to build relationships with others and produce the fruit of the Spirit.

After saying our final, heartfelt goodbyes to many of our Nica friends, we headed back to catch the second half of the Superbowl (in Spanish, of course), enjoying the fried chicken dinner Lindsay and Francisco brought us. Lester and Jessenia and Danny, Sylvia and Miguelito came by for one last visit and we shared in some great memories before they too had to say goodbye, asking how soon until we could return. My (Mike’s) response was to tell them to pray to God that it would be soon because only He knows!

The rest of the night was spent packing and preparing for the long trip home. We were simultaneously excited to be going home and depressed to leave our Nica family behind. They will forever be in our hearts and minds and we hope to see them again soon but in the
mean time, trust that the Lord did a work through us and that seeds have been planted that will produce fruit beyond our comprehension!

Amen y Amen,

Mike

Day 8 (Saturday)

Today began as usual except for the fact that we had a visitor from the U.S.A. join our bible study in Proverbs – none other than Roy Sherwood – who skyped in with us. We discussed the book, “Love Letters from the King” which sheds light on the incomprehensible love that God has towards his children. Then we had a casual breakfast before departing for a little piece of heaven on earth called Laguna de Apoyo. There we got to enjoy some sun, swim in the warm, fresh water and feast on delicious BBQ chicken, veggie shish-kabob, followed by fresh indigenous fruit which was very well received. On our way out we even had the privilege of watching a troop of monkeys swinging through the canopy of trees!

In the afternoon we went to Torre Fuerte where we set up to show the childrens version of Jesus film to a large, exuberant assembly of children. We presented the movie which was well received, with many children on the edge of their seat anxiously awaiting the next moments to unfold while Jesus hanged on the cross. To their and our great joy we celebrated the resurrection of Jesus.

The evening was concluded with our last debriefing and making plans for our final day in Nicaragua. Please join us in praying for the Holy Spirit to speak through Pastor Douglass as he will be sharing in the word with Torre Fuerte Sunday evening.

Shabbat Shalom!

Mike, Bob, Kevin & Charlie

Day 7: (Friday)

Today was a little less intense, but still long. We went to church at El Puente, then visited Frank’s family in a neighborhood nearby where his extended family shares a house. We got caught up on the blog for Weds and Thurs and after lunch, Ezekiel showed up for the first time (he is going to medical school in Leon, 3 hours away) and it was great to see him again. Meanwhile, Betty and Kathy went to town to buy backpacks for a couple of local families that they are ministering to.

After hanging out for a while, Ezekiel took Charlie and Mike to a Nica barber shop for haircuts. A haircut cost about $2. They tend to cut hair a little shorter than we are used to, but I think it looks ok. Charlie had his glasses off while his hair was being cut. After his barber put gel in his hair and combed it, Charlie put his glasses on
and was surprised because he thought he looked like Pastor Flores!

We met everyone at the bodegas, Francesco’s neighborhood where we had another childrens’ outreach. Tonight one of the translators, Angel and his family came and made a Mexican dinner of tacos de carne, homemade tortilla chips, re-fried beans, fresh guacamole and piquito de gallo (salsa) for us. Roberto’s girlfriend Chilo brought bunuelos, which is made of yucca, rice and cheese that is deep-fried. You dip the bunelos in home made honey (boiled sugar, water, and cinnamon).

After dinner, a bunch of people from Torre Fuerte (whom we have been working along side) came over for an ice cream social and went around the room discussing our highs from the week. We all had some very intense spiritual highs and all felt very blessed to be a part of God’s ministry.

After everyone had left, Doug & Betty told us tonight that tomorrow we have Bible study at 7am then at 9:30 we are leaving for Laguna de Apoyo, which is an extinct volcano that is now a lake, and apparently the lowest place in Central America. We were so happy to hear that and are looking forward to being refreshed after having been involved in so much activity. It has been an intense mission trip, but we all agree there is not one thing we would have wanted to miss out on.

Thanks & God bless,

Carlito, Mikilito, Kevilito & Robertilito

Day 6: (Thursday)

After completing the men’s Bible study, we quickly realized that the routine for today was accidentally double, nay triple booked (at least in Charlie’s mind), and the following events may or may not have transpired in the dimension of time as we know it in the order in which they may appear:

At 8AM we scurried out for another adventure on the chicken-bus, where a tsunami of humanity confronted Bob once again. People constantly get on the bus, but never seem to get off. There may or may not have
been a Nicaraguan Joel Osteen sighting! We arrived at Cana Castilla, greeted by Sylvia, Pastor Pedro and his wife. We split up into groups and went to the furthest reaches of Cana Castilla – which appeared to
be approximately 15 kilometers between rancheros – for visitations. Bob, Charlie and Kevin had the opportunity to lead 3 people to Christ and prayed for a battered and emotionally wounded woman, and a boy who had surgery the day before. Meanwhile, Doug, Betty, Mike & Cathy encouraged and prayed for a believing family who are struggling with the realities of marriage, prayed for a girl who is sick with the flu,
and prayed for a family who is struggling with finances.

We barely made it back to the casa by the skin of our teeth with just enough time to inhale our lunch before flying back out the door. Pantanal aka “The swamp” is a barrio on the northern edge of Granada where Don and Jesse from El Puente, along with many others, have begun a ministry. Although our bodies were completely exhausted, our affections were set on high giving us the power to press on. We joined Don and Jesse in going door-to-door to invite people to their Bible study. Kevin gave a presentation including his testimony and waxed eloquent as he opened the Word of God and shared the truths therein. The team had a deep time of fellowship with the youth from Pantanal before walking over to a field to view and pray over property that El Puente recently purchased to build a Christian education center.

We raced home to devour a delectable roasted chicken dinner with sumptuous vegetables, gringo-style. This provided the much needed nourishment our bodies so desperatly craved. Immediately, we jetted for Torre Fuerte where Pastor Flores led a Bible study in Acts 2 with open dialogue with the congregation. The night was concluded with a debriefing on the terrace where the brisa fresca (cool breeze) quieted our hearts and minds.


Hasta manana,

Mike, Kevin, Bob & Charlie

Day 5 (Wednesday)

The last two days have been such a whirlwind of activity, we found ourselves walking as the living dead, which reminds us of Romans 6:13 in which Paul tells us to “present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and…as instruments of righteousness to God.” Our daily Bible study in Proverbs continues to be a very uplifting experience for us and our Nica brothers. Wednesday morning we were blessed to attend Pastor Charles’ church – El Puente – where the lesson coincided with our object lesson for the kids, which is to become fishers of men.

In the afternoon, we arranged for a bus to haul a large contingent from the congregation of Torre Fuerte, which felt to us to be the entire populace of Granada, to El Fortin. We set up for a feeding program and children’s program, with another rendition of the skit about Peter and the fishers of men. After the presentation we had crafts.

As the sun sank into the horizon, we began a slideshow of photos we had taken at El Fortin previously, which almost literally blew their minds. This was followed by a short Veggie Tales clip, then the children’s rendition of the Jesus film.

After the movie, Pastor Manfredo spoke to the children about the importance of accepting Jesus into their hearts. Then we packed up and enjoyed the wild, crazy adventure of riding the bus through the
washed out, rutted dirt road back into Granada.

Hasta manana,

Mike, Kevin, Bob & Charlie

Day 4 (Tuesday)

Buenas Dias!

Anticipating the day’s activities, Pastor “Dooglas” began the day by pouring a 5lb bag of cane sugar into his teaspoon of coffee. He is being conformed into the Nica image. Then we met to discuss Proverbs 31 which provided us with our daily spiritual food. In depth conversation ensued about not giving yourselves into sin, and the virtues of godly women.

Bob, Kevin, Mike, Roberto and Frank walked to El Puente in order to prepare to go to the dump, but in true Nica fashion, God changed our divine appointments as he had other plans for us. We gave Bob a quick tour of El Puente and returned to the casa to regroup. Next, Charlie, Kevin, Mike, Bob, Roberto and Frank survived the controlled chaos as we fought our way through the market (narrowly avoiding peril at all times) in order to get to the bus station for the infamous chicken-bus experience (Bob’s first chicken-bus experience). Several Nicas appeared to have popped up from the floor boards right next to Charlie and Bob, multiplying like loaves and fishes. We took the bus to Cana Castilla where we assisted with the feeding program. Approximately 50 children were served but they brought the food in little buckets back to share with their families.

During lunch, we had fellowship with our Nica brothers and opened one another’s minds to God’s truths, grace and sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit (BAM!).

We joined Pedro to visit local homes and invite people to come share in God’s blessings. The people met us with open hearts, and we had a growing caravan of kids following us asking Kevin for stickers. The team began to tease Kevin, calling him the pied piper as the kids could not get enough stickers. Mike had a similar effect on the children when he took their photos and showed them their image.

After Lester led us in worship, Betty, Cathy, Sophia, Kevin, Lester, Luis and others took the ninos to have their sweet, sweet time of sharing the great news of the gospel. Kevin was in fellowship with the suffering of Christ while making bracelets with a sea of kids. Cathy was the superstar of the day, overflowing with joy as she breathed life into living creatures made out of inflated latex.

Meanwhile, Mike and Bob share their testimonies which appeared to touch the hearts of the adults. After translating for us constantly over the last four days, Roberto lost his voice in the midst of Pastor Pedro’s message and thus we missed the essence of his teaching however his message was not lost on the Nicas.

Tonight we went to Torre Fuerte to join in prayer and worship. The church blessed us by having us come forward and covering us in prayer. After the service we enjoyed an intimate time of fellowship with new and old friends. EL BAMO

Please pray for Roberto as he is experiencing what appears to be a mild form of laryngitis and for our weary bodies as we are not accustomed to the extensive walking and extreme heat in this equatorial latitude.

Dios te bendiga,

Charlie, Mike, Kevin and Bob

Day 3 (Monday):

This morning the guys were up early for another bible study in Proverbs 30 with Roberto, Frank and Francisco and were humbled by the deep spiritual insight of the local Nica brothers, which delayed the agreed upon schedule. The team then had the breakfast of champions as per Chucky’s award winning oatmeal which gave us the staying power to endure a long day of ministry. Immediately after we drove an hour and a half to the farming community of San Jose de Gracia, where Connie’s parents, who are new believers, are the only two believers in the area. Every Monday for the past four weeks, Pastor Flores and his crew have been taking two consecutive bus rides and then walking two hours to get to San Jose de Gracia inorder to reach out for the lost.

Today we shared our lunch with the group from Torre Fuerte and played a quick pick up game of soccer which was highly enjoyed by all the locals .Some of the team members thought they were in better shape then they were and quickly became overwhelmed from the heat. Following the game the team broke into groups going door to door invite the people to participate in a community Bible study. We were welcomed with open arms into their homes and the turn out was much better then we could have ever imagined!

The worship kickstarted the beginnings of what would be an exceptionally sweet time of fellowship. Pastor Flores spoke on Jesus being the light of the world and all who accepted him would not live in darkness (John 8). Chucky Pop then shared his testimony from his heart, which captivated the audience of young people and concluded with a presentation of the gospel, convicting their conscience. Meanwhile, Betty, Lindsay, Kathy, Kevin along with Francisco, Louis and Juan Carlos took the 30 plus children aside for a special object lesson in becoming fishers of men. At first things seemed bleak! It wasn’t until Betty commanded Lindsay and Kevin to toss the fishing net to the starboard side of the vessel, then things took a change for the better. We had blue balloon fish bursting the nets causing great joy among the multitudes of children. Both Betty and Kevin shared what it truly means to become real fishers of men which was followed up by a gospel presentation and various crafts.

The entire team along with the Nicas went back to our casa for another night of great fellowship and killer pizza, Nica style which was enjoyed by all.

Muchas Bendiciones,

Kevin, Mike, & Charlie

Day 3, Morning – by Betty

Hello from Granada, my writing is definitely not as colorful or flavorful as Charlie and Mike’s, however, both Doug and I love hosting teams and enjoy the “flavor” that each one brings to Granada. One of our greatest privileges is to absorb Nicaragua through the eyes of first timers and others who don’t get to spend as much time here as we do. Cultural differences are always right in your face, but after a day or two, it seems that culture fades into the background as relationships are built and friendships are formed. When I think of how our God designed us, made us to be relational and even gives us His Spirit so we can connect with others despite our differences, I stand in awe and think “only God!”

Today at 6:30 AM the guys from the team will meet up with their new friends for a daily Bible Study, this is new but something the Lord has placed on Doug’s heart for a while and now it has come to fruition. These studies are a great way to start the day. Today we definitely will need your prayer as we head out to a new community far out into the hills. Not too long ago, Pastor Flores shared the gospel with an elderly couple in San Jose de Gracia. They accepted Christ as their Savior, and now he has started a weekly Bible Study. Today we will do a community outreach there, where no Christian or churches exist and yet people are open and ready to hear the “good news of Christ”. It is another field ready for harvest.

Please pray that we listen and stay open to the Holy Spirit’s leading as we head into the mountains today.

Stay tuned and we’ll let you know how the day progressed.

Betty

Day 2 (Sunday):

The morning opened up with the men having a sweet time in the word (Proverbs 29) with Roberto while Betty and Cathy prepared a nourishing breakfast. Then Kevin, Bob, Betty, Mike, Cathy, Frank and Jurian walked to El Fortin where pastor Manfredo has many outreach activities for the local youth. Charlie, Doug and Lindsay caught a ride with Linda and Darryl, a couple from South Carolina who recently moved to Granada after participating in short term missions for twelve years. After worship, Doug taught (Roberto translated) about the kingdom of heaven and explained how it is upon us and in us and how Jesus paid the price for the world to be part of the new kingdom of God. We shared in the bounty of food that was distributed to the fellowship as part of El Fortin’s feeding program.

Tonight we walked down to Torre Fuerte where we joined the congregations from both Torre Fuerte and El Puente. We opened in worship led by Lester and his worship team. The worship was Spirit led and lively with a lot clapping. Pastor Flores taught from Acts 2 and explained the results of being baptized in the Holy Spirit. After church we invited many to come back to our casa for ice cream and fellowship. Betty came up with an ice breaker which quickly turned into a regular riot. We got to spend time catching up with some old friends and making new ones.

The team is now ready to sign off for the night and prepare for the adventures tomorrow holds!

Dispues,

Mike & Charlie

Day 1 (Saturday):

After scrambling off the tarmac and getting through immigration (almost without a hitch), we were greeted by a warm, tropical South Pacific breeze with just a hint of mango blossoms in the air (at least in Charlie’s mind). We received warm hugs from Doug and Sylvia, who came along to meet us at the airport in Managua. Once we arrived in Granada, we were shortly joined by Lester and Roberto. Francisco and Lindsay brought us a pollo fritanga dinner, a type of barbecue chicken with a lemon zest wrapped in banana leaves and served with fried plantains. The food replenished our travel-weary bodies. After dinner, Doug and Betty worked on our schedule while the rest of us went for an evening walk to the town’s main square. We were joined by Danny and Sylvia with their hijo Miguel, and enjoyed the evening breeze. When we returned to our casa, we had a short meeting and turned in for some much needed rest.

Dispues,

Mike & Charlie