Reflections of Team 1 Tuesday July 18, 2012

Hola Family & Friends,

 How does it feel to be Grandma or Grandpa to 100’s of children? This is a little story.

The feeding ministry always attracts many kids. (see attached pics, Hennessey in white top)

 

 

At the ministry in Fortin (small fortress) we had one of the feeding ministries.  Arriving early, there were 4 children there, before the others arrived, all around 4 years old.   I sat with them, took out my first aid kit and showed it.  They kept saying “cuda” cuda”, as I found  out means bandaid or “healing or cure”.  So I picked a bandaid for each of them and  was especially appreciated by 4 year old “Hennessey”.  She would hold my hand and whisper in my ear for agua or a crayon for the coloring book throughout the morning.   Then she saw my Bible had pics in it and started paging through, stopping on any page that had “Jesus” on it, pointing to and saying “Jesus” out loud, then fastly paging through more and pointing and repeating it over and over and when she reached the end she did it over and over, a few times.  The other kids arrived with their buckets, about the size of a beach sand bucket, and lined up for them to be filled with rice and beans so they could bring it home to their familia.  Then they came back again for colouring time and then a Bible story skit put on by us. 

 

   This little Nina,Hennessey impressed me with her zeal for the Bible and inspired me to think about “Jehovah Raffa” the God who is a healer and how HE was using her to get this message out to the ministries we were conducting.   Her word “cuda” got me thinking about the Lord speaking through Isaiah when HE said that Jesus came to heal the brokenhearted, to set the captives free, to give beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. 

  We thought we came to Nicaragua to help them out, but we were being blessed by the Nicaraguans! Their love for each other and the friendliness and the way they interact with each other has really blessed our team.   During our nightly debriefing, every member of this team  agreed — we all have been truly blessed by the people here.   As it turns out,we were getting more blessed by a little girl named “Hennessey” or recovering addicts in the “Vida La Luz” “live the life” ministry, such as Miguel,Jorge, Rolando, Luigi or Allan who sung his heart for Jesus at the nightly service or Lester leading the music ministry, lifting the roof of the little church appropriately named “Torre Fuerte, Strong Tower”

  As followers of Jesus, we are called to be a “hospital” that helps those who are going through life’s storm’s and need the restoring power of Christ.   In God’s economy, we are Blessed to be a blessing!  

There is so much more to say but not the time.  Those desiring to read the daily blog and see all the pics can visit https://www.fieldsofabundance.org/  , click on “blog” or Nicaragua pics about 1/2 way down the page.

 He who observes the wind

[and waits for all conditions to be favorable] will not sow, and he who regards the clouds will not reap.  As you know not what is the way of the wind, or how the spirit comes to the bones in the womb of a pregnant woman, even so you know not the work of God, Who does all.  In the morning sow your seed, and in the evening withhold not your hands, for you know not which shall prosper, whether this or that, or whether both alike will be good.   Ecc 11:4-6

 Encouraging Courage,

Anthony J. Arminio


Day 9 Monday, July 16 2012

Today was our “day off”. Doug and Betty had our taxi driver David and his wife and daughter at the door by 8:30am. We boarded the van and headed off to the Masaya Volcano. This is one of Nicaragua’s many active volcanos. We were given hard hats and told we could only spend 5 minutes up there. The hole was filled with smoke, but the views were beautiful.

Leaving the volcano, we went into the city of Masaya where we spent an hour at the Masaya market to purchase a few souvenirs. There were many beautiful items hand made by craftsmen that took real pride in their work. It was great just to walk around and see all of that.

After the market, we headed to Laguna de Apoyo. This is a 8000+ acre crater lake from an old volcano.   The water is a beautiful crystal clear blue-green and full of minerals. The best part about it is the fact that the water is extremely warm as the springs that feed it are very warm. We swam and enjoyed the cool breezes and even took a brief excursion on a couple of kayaks. The hammocks also were great places for a brief afternoon siesta. On our way back from the Laguna, we were able to see a family of howler monkeys playing around in the trees.

Once we got back, Roy and Carole and Anthony and Sandy headed over to Torre Fuerte for one more session with the addiction ministry. Carole had a detailed plan regarding choices that was well received. Many people shared and shared and shared and really opened up. It’s amazing how relationships have developed as this was the fourth time that Roy and Carole worked with this ministry.

Here are some final closing thoughts on this week:

Anthony: “It’s been a blessing all week going from glory to glory day after day.”

Roy:       “My time being part of a father letting his son know that he loved him was the best moment     I’ve had in the many times I have been down here.”

Carole: “I loved learning about the Nicaraguan people AND from the Nicaraguan people.”

Sandy: “I just enjoyed being here and being with the people.”

Holly: “I’d love to come back.”

Abbi: “The week flew past. It was too short. I don’t want to leave yet.”

Aspen: “Mom, pinch me. Oww!! Just wanted to see if I’m really here in Nicaragua.”

Bill: “One of the most impactful things we have ever done for our family”

Well, we pray for safe travels and impacted lives as we head back early tomorrow morning.

Addios, Bill

Day 8 Sunday, July 15 2012

After a good night sleep, the men in Chacalapa were treated to an incredible breakfast of rice and beans, fried eggs, chicken and warm milk – this must have been an incredible sacrifice on their part. Roy reminded me of the saying, “Those that have the least, give the most”.

We were then asked to meet with the 15 year old son of one of the men to share the gospel with him. Roy later met with him and his father, and the father did share with his son that he loved him.   This is not something that is often done by the men of Nicaragua. I am sure that this was one of the highlights of the trip for Roy. After that we shared the gospel with a young father named Yorlando who liked religions, but only wanted to make a decision with his wife. He listened to us intently for over 45 minutes – I am praying for a seed to have been planted that this family can continue to minister to. We also spent a shorter amount of time with another father of a family down the road who liked to “talk about religious stuff”.

The ladies went to church at El Puente – a sister church that also has mission teams come down periodically. They experienced a great service with great teaching and worship.

The men returned home, cleaned up and then we attended a phenomenal last church service at Torre Fuerte. The music, even though we don’t understand it, is pure, full of passion, and from the heart. You can’t leave without it tugging at your heart strings. The service ended with the church presenting the team with individual gifts that were made by the men from the addictions ministry. The men also received hats that read “Jesus is my boss”. It was an emotional time – generous, happy people genuinely thankful for us partnering with them for 8 days. And yet we all were as thankful, if not more thankful for the blessing we received from them.

After the service, quite a few church members came over to the house for ice cream, cookies and pop. Everyone individually shared something in the past month that was the most memorable. It was a great time of fellowship with some tears. Even Aspen and Abbi shared. I’ll finish this day with what Abbi shared near the end of this time. She said through some tears that she loved being able to come to share the Word of God with the Nicaraguans and that she was leaving people that she now considered to be family. I think this statement sums up the week for every single member of this team.

Addios, Bill

 

Day 7 Saturday, July 14 2012

Saturday morning the team could catch a few more zzzz’s since we had the morning free. Everyone found things to fill their time with, whether it was running to the store for food, the market for a piñata, running down to the church to say hi to new friends, designing an electrical plan for the ground work for the new church building project out at the CC Fortin Fellowship, playing with the neighborhood children using the sidewalk chalk to draw beautiful murals, or just getting ready for the afternoon activities.

We, the females of the team, invited the youth group girls over for a swim, pizza and fellowship in the afternoon. We had about 20 girls, one interpreter and believe it or not, none of us were lost for words or conversation. We ended our time with making the bracelets that Abbi so lovingly prepared for the girls to make, Holly was able to captivate hearts as she shared the story of Rahab one more time, and our time was over before we knew it.  

I (Betty) am always so amazed at how the Lord continues to bind hearts, cross culture barriers, cultivate fellowship and bring us all to the same place of acknowledging our Lord and thanking Him for the sweet time of fellowship.   It is humbling and exhilarating all at the same time. I continue to be lost for words as I sense the presence and love that our God has for us, for those around us who know Him and for those who still do not know Him.

Once again we thank you for your prayers.   Addios , Betty

The guys left for a 3 hour bus ride to a village called Chacalapas – near the city of Rivas — a village that desires to start a church. Each Saturday Pastor Flores or another Bible church leader heads out there for a Saturday night Bible Study. Doug, Bill, Roy, Anthony, and Roberto joined Pastor Flores. We arrived at the family’s house to a very warm welcome. Pastor Flores gave us a walking tour of the town. At about 6pm, we gathered for a Bible Study outside since the power had gone out (very common here).

This gathering reminded me very much of the church of Acts. Let me describe the setting for you. The church members consisted of an extended family, a neighbor, four Americans, and interpreter and Pastor Flores. We were outdoors sitting on plastic chairs. Since it was dark, a few candles were brought out for light. Pigs and dogs were walking around amongst us. The sky was a heavy blanket of stars – incredible. And yet, there was no question as to the truth behind “Where there are a few gathered in my name, there I will be also”.

Our time together started with some singing during which each of their two daughters (8 and 10 years old) blessed us with singing solos. We also spent some time sharing. Doug was especially encouraging as he spoke about the courage of this family to start a church and how God was going to bless their efforts – not necessarily with great numbers of number of people, but with growing their faith. I am sure they came away from our time together encouraged that they are doing the right thing. I know that I was blessed by that time together – a church setting that was pure in its intent to worship God and increase in faith.

Addios, Bill

Day 6 Friday, July 13 2012

I think Betty’s scripture said it well about “pressing onward…”. Yesterday, the trench got dug, and the materials still hadn’t arrived for putting the new electrical service in at Cana Castilla. We returned back to Granada before the materials arrived, so I didn’t really know what got delivered. Well, we didn’t receive enough couplings (connects two sticks of pipe together) and most of the couplings we did receive were for water pipe. So we had the company deliver more couplings and while they were making the delivery, we ordered a 6meter (about 18 feet) long piece of steel pipe to go up the power pole so that it would be tougher to hack into, to steal the wire. Little did we know that it got delivered by two guys on a motorcycle!   Now, keep in mind that it was a 10 mile ride up the mountain with a 18 ft long stick of steel pipe. Reminded me of the medieval knights jousting…

Once we had all the materials arrived, things finally started happening (this is the North American-task oriented-self speaking here). Roy was phenomenal in working with the Nicaraguans. He would show them how to do it, and they really liked being able to do things like mount the panel, strap the conduit to the house etc… The new electric service for the church will be great, but the relationship built while working together is the most important thing. Anthony got to spend a lot of time with Rolando and was able to really minister with him.

While I was on the on the ladder up on the pole making the final connection to the power lines and the thunder heads were rolling in, one of the guys told Doug that if the electricity didn’t get me, the lightning will. Well, neither happened and I finally crimped the last connection at about 6pm (it gets dark here at 6:30). The lights came on soon after, but by that time the last bus to Granada has already gone. One of the family members was able to call someone from Granada that had an old Isuzu Trooper that we could strap the 24ft fiberglass ladder on to give us a ride back. This was just another example of the heart of the people here. They didn’t think twice about dropping what they were doing and driving up the mountain to come get some people that they barely knew.    

Addios, Bill

All of the girls on the team had an amazing day at the Nazarene church. We walked over with a small group from Torre Fuerte ready to help with a children’s outreach. We were told to expect about 200 children. Not sure of what to expect, when we arrived we were a little awestruck by what seemed like a sea of children. However with the help of the ministry workers from the Nazarene church and Torre Fuerte, we kept 230 children busy for 2 1/2 hours and they had a blast. We ended with songs and the story of Rahab. Each one of us walked away blessed and touch by how much fun it was. If you check out the pictures you should be able to capture some of the sweetness that flowed thru the church grounds that day.

Addios, Betty

Day 5 Thursday, July 12 2012 – Today we experienced another great day! The 4 guys, Doug, Roy, Anthony & Bill, bonded with the Nicaraguan’s from the Torre Fuerte church as they put their hand to some intense labor. The Church in Cana Castilla was robbed of their 100 meters of electrical wire; this is the 3rd time it happened. In order to put a stop to the thievery, a new plan was designed. Twelve men put their hand to picks and shovels and dug a 380 foot trench (about the length of a football field) it was about 18” deep. The trench was finished in span of about 5 hours. I (Betty) am told that the soil was hard clay and some of the hardest soil our team has ever seen. God graciously gave each guy the strength and joy to dig and finish the job. Tomorrow if there are no snags; they will lay the wire in conduit, seal it up, and have the electricity up and running.

The girls on the other hand, had opportunities to hear about the Jicaro Projects. This project helps support youth and women.   This program was started by Sarah Kaye, a missionary here in Nic. You can check out their ministry by going to http://www.thebridgegranada.org/ministries/the-jicaro-project.   The girls also enjoyed a little rest as we had Veronica (19 yrs old) come to our house to give us pedicures. Veronica and her sister work in the ministry with their parents at the Fortin church. You can find out a little about her family if you watch the video of Testimonies from Nic Friends; February 2012 at https://www.fieldsofabundance.org/what-we-do/in-video

The highlight of our day definitely was going to Francisco’s church. Francisco is our interpreter; he is 24 yrs. old and is burdened for the lost souls in Nicaragua. His church is small and meets in the living room of a local house. The family allowed us to set up our tables and chairs in preparation. Then off we went to invite the children in the neighborhood for a fun afternoon at the church.   Door to door personal invitations have their special appeal despite the down pouring rain. Numerous children came to the first outreach at his church.  

The Bible story of Rahab captivated the children hearts, and then when we presented the Gospel message, we sensed God’s Spirit being ever so present. When I asked if anyone had a question about the Gospel message, one little girl raised her hand and asked, “Can I ask Jesus into my heart?” My answer, “yes, absolutely, lets pray!” We know that others joined in the prayer to ask Jesus in as well. We ended the afternoon with a fun filled soccer game in the street and coloring at the table.

As team leaders, Doug and I have sensed the prayers that have been petitioned for the ministry here and the team members. We have faced obstacles along the way, yet the battles are won and we know our Lord has the victory! Hearts everywhere are encouraged to continue to press on, lives are set free from the chains of bondage, and souls are filled with joy as individuals yield their hearts to the Lord!

We take comfort as we are reminded that “greater is He that is in us, than he that is of this world”, and we are challenged to forge ahead by the words Paul wrote in Philippians 3:12 “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”   We serve a mighty God; we press on and thank you all for your prayers!        

Blessings and Love,   Betty & Doug

Day 4 Wednesday July 11, 2012 – Already on Monday, Aspen made the comment of “I’m just a sweaty mess all the time”. Yes, it continues to be hot and we sweat a lot, but it is a good sweat!

Breakfast again at 7am, so we knew the day was going to be full – or maybe Betty has figured out that getting the whole group moving is like herding a bunch of turtles. J

Sandy, Carole, Holly, Anthony, and Francisco were out the door soon after and biking over to another church that is at the outskirts of town. The church’s name is Fortin which is Spanish for “fortress”. It is a new church that has recently purchased property, but does not have any building on it yet. The group biked over there to help with the Children’s feeding program. Everything went well and the Rahab story was a hit – we even did it a second time!!

Anthony started a new ministry – a Band-Aid ministry! During the time of food preparation – Anthony gave a Band Aid to one of the children and he had a bunch of kids playing with him and the Band-Aid for an hour. Spending time and interacting with this church was a highlight of the day from many of the team members.

It was really fantastic to see a real sense of pride from this church community. They are working hard to make use of every single inch of their property. They have many new plantings of trees along the edge of the property and much work has been done just getting the property cleaned. It is a beautiful setting for a church in the midst of a community that it is dedicating itself to ministering to. God is going to do great things through the people in that church.

During a good portion of this time, Doug and Bill spent a good part of the time developing a materials list and going to a local hardware store. We were able to get estimates on parts to put a new electrical service line in for the Cana Castilla church that we spent time with yesterday.

We returned home for supper – spaghetti was a big hit tonight – especially with Abbi and Aspen

Roy and Carole had been preparing most of the day for their work with the addiction ministry tonight at Torre Fuente church. The night began with Carole sharing her testimony of how she has dealt with a family member that struggled with addiction. She was able to share how healing was a family process, in addition to the individual with addiction needing healing. It was a powerful time for many of the families in attendance who are currently working through their own addiction stories.

After the testimony, the group split up. Roy took 15 to 20 men that are working through their own addictions to the back room of the church, while Carole met with family members that are being affected by the addiction. Roy encouraged the men to be accountable to each other and most of all having a real thirst for God. Even when Roy had finished and the evening was done, many of the men hung around and just wanted to talk and share with Roy. It’s clear that this ministry of the church is having a great impact on the community and on these men.

One of the special moments with the family member group was the time Sandy, Holly and Carole spent sharing and praying with a woman named Rachel whose life has been turned upside down with addiction in her family. She was really encouraged to keep coming back.

This was another good day in Grenada. I am just awed by the work being down by these small community churches that are so focused on being God’s hands to the people right in the community that are in the greatest needs. I pray that God keeps encouraging them and that they continue the work that has been started.

adiós, Bill

Day 3 Tuesday July 10, 2012 – Today, breakfast got moved up to 7am as the agenda was very full with the team splitting up and going to multiple places. Sandy, Carole, Holly, Anthony and Francisco headed up to Cana Castilla to help cook for the children’s feeding program. Doug, Bill, Roy and Roberto (interpreter) headed to a different church to investigate a request to help them with some electrical needs.

At Cana Castilla, the team helped cook the meal and then they went door to door inviting people. During that time Anthony shared his testimony of his terrible car accident in the past year and how God saw him through serious injury and healed him quickly only in the last few weeks so that he could be ready to come to Nicaragua. He hasn’t missed a beat and has kept up with everyone! The people loved his story and were moved by how God worked in his life. Anthony’s message in his testimony was how the Joy of the Lord is His strength – the only reason he was able to make the trip to Nicaragua.

The “electrical team” hitched (literally…) a bus ride out to Cana Castilla. Our bellies were full as the governing board of the church we had just worked with, treated us to a Tip Top (name of restaurant) chicken dinner! It amazes me how generous the people of Nicaragua are with so much less 11means.

When we got to Cana Castilla, everyone had been fed already and it was time to spend time with that church. We sang together, and then acted out the Rahab story (Its getting better… J). Betty shared a passage from Ecclesiastes (off-the-cuff) with the adults, while the rest of us helped the children color, make their bookmarks and receive smarties and bandana bracelets.

After supper, we had a prayer and testimony service at Torre Fuerte church. Anthony also shared his testimony again and the message of the” Joy of the Lord is our strength” really resonated with the church members. At the beginning of his testimony, Anthony said something that struck me deeply. He thanked the Nicaraguans for allowing him to minister to them. But even more striking for me, he made the statement that while he thought he would come to Nicaragua to help them out, he was the one being blessed by the Nicaraguans! Their love for each other and the friendliness and the way they interact with each other has really blessed Anthony.   During our nightly debriefing, I think that every member of this team would agree with Anthony — we all have been truly blessed by the people here.

Please pray for Roy and Carol as they are planning a very special night for the Addiction ministry at Torre Fuerte church tomorrow night. Roy is going to speak again with those that have had an addiction and Carole is going to speak with the families of those that have dealt with a family member with an addiction. Pray that their words may foster healing – for the family and for the person dealing with addiction.

Buenos Noches and Adiós, Bill

P.S. Bill was also asked to share at the Praise and Testimony service and did a fabulous job sharing about God’s faithfulness through all circumstances. He used his Grandfather (Betty’s Father) as an example who lived a very hard life but his life always pointed to the faithfulness of God! Thank you Bill for sharing from your heart and blessing all of us!

Day 2 Monday July 9, 2012 – We woke up and took a walking tour of Granada with our interpreter, Francisco. We walked down to Lake Nicaragua and then walked to the market where many, many people were selling just about everything you can think of in little shops. We got back in time to do some children’s outreach at the Bodegas (bodegas is Spanish for storage, and this is a neighborhood that used to be storage units for the city, but now has many people living there). We played soccer with the kids, while the younger children colored. Abbi, Aspen, Sandy, Holly and Betty jumped right in and colored with them and played jump rope. (I think Aspen spent most of her time climbing the tree.) Holly narrated the story of Rahab for the children while Abbi, Aspen, Sandy and Bill acted it out.   They learned that God has a plan for each one of them, just as he had a plan to save Rahab. After the “skit”, the children recited Jeremiah 29:11, decorated a bookmark with that verse on it and received a bandana bracelet (made in the US by Abbi, Aspen and many of Abbi’s friends) to remind them of Rahab’s rope and the fact that God has a special plan for them.

Roy was scheduled to talk to the addiction ministry at the Torre Fuerte church that night. To complicate matters, all of the notes that he had written for the last few months preparing for this talk were lost. I guess God needed to have Roy exactly in a place that he had to rely totally on God for the right words. And God provided as Roy spoke well to the people and 3 people stood up after and came forward that they were going to start to live for Christ.

Day 1 Sunday July 8, 2012 – After much planning, the day finally arrived and started extremely early for both the Pennsylvania crew of Sandy, Carol, Anthony, and Roy and the Michigan family of Bill, Holly, Abbi and Aspen Postma. Both groups met without incident in Miami airport in plenty of time to board their 10:40am flight to Managua, Nicaragua.

Holly ended up sitting by a Grandmother from Spain returning to Nicaragua where she grew up. She couldn’t speak English, but had read the back of our mission team T-Shirts and had mentioned through her granddaughter how she really like Holly’s shirt. They talked for a while and then when the plane landed she said to Holly, through the granddaughter, “God is really happy you are here.” A powerful statement as we landed in Nicaragua!!

Customs went without a hitch and all baggage made it on time. We met Doug, loaded up the van and took the 1 hour drive to Granada.   With all 8 of us, Doug and Roberto, and with a driver and his helper, it was a full bus! Aspen at one point, not being able to see the front of the van from the back, said, “Who’s driving this thing?!”  

On the road, my eyes were immediately opened to the vastly different culture we had just landed ourselves in. Livestock were grazing along side the road as we went speeding by. Aspen’s comment was, “Look at all the wild horses, Dad – I can tell they are wild because they aren’t in fences!” People were living in conditions that we just don’t see in the U.S. very often.

We arrived safely in Granada and ate a fabulous lunch – chicken fajitas.  In the afternoon we walked through the streets of Grenada to church. It was immediately evident how happy and friendly the Nicaraguan people were in this church. Pastor Flores made mention during the service of how this was a glimpse into what heaven was going to be like – different cultures worshipping together. It was a great observation of the family of God.

While much of the service I couldn’t understand, I definitely felt the Holy Spirit. I was struck especially by the story of Miguel. Pastor Flores wanted to celebrate his new life. He had broken his addiction through the church’s addiction ministry and had been clean for the last three months. They handed him an award and then announced that he was going to be given the job of watching the door and making sure all the electrical items were turned off when not in use. It was powerful to see a church reaching out and having effective ministry in its neighborhood.

Day 1 is coming to completion. The group finished its time together sharing highs and lows of the day. Most were only able to share highs as everyone was excited to be here and excited to see what God has in store for us in the next 10 days.

Adiós, Bill