Day 9, Wednesday, August 1, 2012

A day of rest and fun for the team was experienced at San Juan del Sur. The breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean invited all to soak in the beauty of Gods’ creation and of course we also sank deep into the refreshing waters. Jim’s brother, Charles who lives in San Juan del Sur, met us at the beach and joined us for dinner. Jim plans to visit his brother for a few days and waved goodbye to us as we headed back to Granada.

As all teams go, this one was special too. They prepared their hearts for any job, they fulfilled it and the community was blessed.

Bob & Kathy shared their gratitude for this opportunity to come and experience Nicaragua through missions. Their hearts have been touched and they are trying to figure out how to share 2 weeks’ worth of God’s handiwork in one sentence.

Jake’s one sentence line – “the Nicaraguans are really nice people!”

Alan & Pam couldn’t imagine that the second year back would be as great as last year. We know God always shares his treasures with us if we look, and the Whalen’s got to experience the treasures of this trip!

Todd’s shoulders grew this trip as he was always ready to carry little kids on his shoulders for hours. He didn’t even complain when they held onto his hair as he tried to lower them to the ground.

Andrew came in November and shared that he wanted to come back when a church structure was going to be built. True to his word he came to build and he encouraged others as he shared his testimony of God’s faithfulness and healing from a bout of cancer he dealt with after his November trip.

Jim was glad he came to Nic, and shared how he continues to be encouraged by the intricate details of our God and the way He applies scripture into our lives.

Justin led the team here and back, often quiet but never caught off guard keeping watch over his teammates and the other Nica’s on our team. Along with Andrew he desired to help build a church at Fortin, they did and also bonded with some of the church leaders as they realize they all have a common goal. Heaven! His comment, “it was a great trip!”

Day 8, Tuesday, July 31, 2012

On Tuesday morning the team gathered together for prayer seeking the Lord for guidance. We were heading to a new church community with Pastor Flores. We were told it is a community that could use some encouragement. We were not sure of what to expect, but brought our children’s supplies and Bibles. When we got there we gathered with about 100 people for worship and then Pam and the children’s ministry crew went outside with the children. Doug was given the microphone and asked to teach the adults bible study.

The morning unfolded and we had well over 100 children in the field with us, singing, listening to Bible Stories, coloring and even playing soccer. The adults were blessed as Doug had opportunities to share some of his life and why we sometimes don’t have when we ask (James 4). Andrew along with Todd befriended Isaac. Isaac is 20 years old and just moved back to Nicaragua from Costa Rica after living there for 8 years. Meeting our group was an answer to prayer for him. Two years ago he started attending a Calvary Chapel in Costa Rica and now he was looking for a place to worship and minister to. We were able to introduce him to the Pastor of this little church, pray with him and thank God for these divine appointments!

In the evening we were able to attend our last praise and worship at Torre Fuerte with Team 2. It was raining and at first it seemed like it would be our team with about 10 others. In Nicaragua, no one likes to go out when it’s raining. By the time the second song was done, the church was filled and we had an awesome time together. The Torre Fuerte Church blessed the team with gifts and thanked each one of them for helping them fulfill a vision the Lord burdened their hearts with – planting churches! Our God is the “Lord of the Harvest”. He does send His workers to do the work. We are always refreshed and renewed by the verse the Lord burdened our hearts with 6 years ago.   “…look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.” John 4:35b

Adiós and Blessings, Betty

Day 7, Monday, July 30 2012

It’s Monday morning, the construction work is finished and now the team has shifted focus and house visitation is on the agenda. With a little apprehension of not knowing the language everyone willing prepared to go. The ladies went off to visit with Jessinia, Lester’s wife, with Amy being our interpreter. Three months ago they had a baby, and Jessinia has made a decision to step back from church ministry to care for her baby. She shared that it is not always easy; she has been involved with full time ministry at the church for at least 8 years. Now her focus is not the church but her family. Jessinia is young but Godly woman and both Kathy and Pam (mom’s themselves) encouraged her, reminding her that she had made a wise decision. As other mom’s watch Jessinia, I believe she will be a great teacher by example to many Nica women here.

The guys did the guy thing and went to visit Frank. Frank is young, has four children and when these guys showed up he was blessed beyond words. I believe our guys were just as blessed, and of course Todd and Jake had a blast playing with the kids.

In the afternoon we had a down right competitive game of softball. Nica’s and gringo’s mixed together and our guys shared that they love to play as hard as they workJ. Justin was called “Justin powerful” after hitting two home runs; there were a lot balls hit to the outfield, lots of double plays and slides into home. After sharing the wins in the double header, the team came home hungry and full of great stories to share over dinner.


Day 6, Sunday, July 27 2012

Psalm 100:4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his Holy name. If you can imagine 50 little voices singing “Jesus te ama” (“Jesus loves you”) you will catch the sound of music that flowed out of the new church “courts” in Fortin. Psalm 100 came alive for us today and the words of Jesus rang through my (Betty’s) head and heart when he said, “Let the little children come to me.” It was a picture of love and adoration; I pray I’ll never forget how priceless these little children are.

Justin’s quote for the day – “what did the monkey say when he jumped off the boat? Cheese and crackers!” For real… after lunch the team enjoyed a boat ride on Lake Nicaragua, the driver knew how to coax a monkey into the boat and before they knew it the monkey opened Jim’s bag and found some cheese and crackers. He ate the cheese, threw the crackers in the water, shook some hands and then off he went back into the jungle of trees. It was quite an experience for all.

Tonight the church service captured another high point for all. God’s Spirit flowed. Worship was led by Lester, the teaching from Pastor “Dooglas” and hearts were softened. Many people stood to receive a renewed filling of the Holy Spirit, one young lady made a decision to receive Christ as her Lord and Savior and more seeds were sown. I’m not sure how to capture in words just how God’s Spirit is moving here, the only thing I know is that Psalm 100 has touched all of us in a new way today and we caught a glimpse of His desire for all to “enter His gates with thanksgiving” and for that we are grateful.

After church we invited the workers from the Fortin Church project to our house. Miguel from Torre Fuerte and the work crew leader shared his gratitude for the “blond gringo’s”. He shared; that on the first day of work he was concerned about what the “blondie’s” could do, but by the end of the day his assumptions were proved wrong. Tonight he told them you look like “blondie’s” but you work like “nica’s” and we “nica’s” had to work hard to keep up with you! We all agreed that with God’s Holy Spirit we can work together with or without words. God connects our hearts, He guides our focus towards eternal values and we get blessed. It really doesn’t get much better than this!

Bob’s response to the Nica’s was – “I hope we can come back and build a church every year!” We have to wonder if that is prophetic… we’ll just have to wait and see what the Lord has down the road.

Kathy’s quote for the day –“it was an awesome day!” and all of us agreed. We have a few more days of ministry and are looking forward to house visitation and whatever the Lord has for us tomorrow.

Thanks for praying, Adiós – til next time.   Betty    

 Day 5 Saturday, July 27 2012

Alan’s low point of the day — “we had to move a huge pile of dirt again for the second time with shovels and buckets; and my high was when it was over” Bob’s high point for the day – “I got to move dirt with buckets today and my low is that we finished the job and there’s no more dirt to move”.   Andrew’s high – “The project is finished!” Andrew’s low – “The project is finished – no more nica banter with the guys”.

It is always fun to watch each team learn how to adjust to their work here. We continue to be blessed as we watch and see how God handpicks each person for the job He wants done. Each team that comes has its own flavor and as God’s intricate plan unfolds we know He is the one who picks and sends his workers here into the field. Bob, Alan, Justin, Andrew and Jim have earned the respect of the Nicaraguan construction guys, and this is a huge honor.  As we observed this “gringo” crew, we had to smile when they seemed a little bummed out when their hand labor came to an end. The Church construction job is finished and tomorrow we will worship there. It will be a day of worship and rest; we are all looking forward to it!

Once the construction crew finished at Fortin today, they took a bus and joined the rest of the team at the Cana Castilla Church. In the morning the team had gone house to house visiting people in the area. We love their warm and open hospitality and realize we have much to learn from them. Prayers were offered and many were blessed.

After lunch, Amy seemed to find her “nitch” with all the little girls sharing their favorite fruits and colors, Jim, Jake and Todd got to play soccer in between all the trees and at 2 PM we prepared for the Children’s’ Bible program and adult study. Kathy kept the colored pencils flowing and Pam shared the story of Caleb and Joshua. The children seemed to desire more of God and once again a few more hearts opened up and some prayed to receive Jesus into their heart.

Now it is Saturday night and as Pastor Flores would say, we are “muy contento” (very content). We know there is rest for the weary and we are glad to partake in it.

Adiós and Enjoy the Sabbath! Betty

Day 4 Friday, July 26 2012

The days seem to run together, time flies and one day feels like two or three. Friday morning the team was able to enjoy the Bible Study at El Puente. Even though Jake was fearful that he would be cutting his time short at Fortin by an hour, by going to the Bible Study, he agreed that the worship and the study, was really good. Todd agreed with Jake; and we have to say that hearing this from Jr. highers, completely warmed our hearts.

Friday was a great work day at Fortin, the borrowed generator kept the welding and electric hand tools going all day and by the time the guys were ready to go home, the church pavilion was finished and the guys were looking forward to finishing the kitchen on Saturday.

The rest of the team walked out to Fortin and ministered to the children. Kathy continues to teach the children English through the colored pencils, Amy makes sure they take only “uno” at a time, Pam always has more than one craft in her bag, and Jim, Shaylee, Jake and Todd somehow seem to make a game out of nothing. I am always amazed that by the time we say good bye, our little friend’s hearts have softened, more have come to receive Jesus as Savior and we get hugs and kisses good by.

We are looking forward to going back on Sunday, it will be a joy to join with them under the new church pavilion for their first church service there.  Oh what a blessing that will be!

Till tomorrow~~~ Betty

Day 3 Thursday, July 25, 2012

“Mezclar! Mezclar!” (mortermix), has become one of Andrew’s favorite Spanish words as he and Peppo banter back and forth while mixing the concrete. One block at a time, one rebar at time, one weld at a time and one new Spanish word a day is bonding the construction guys as they all desire to see the house of God become a reality for the community of Fortin.

Jake, one of our youngest team members, seems to love just keeping the children at Fortin occupied all day long. When he found out that he could spend the whole day out there on Friday, his eyes got big and with a sparkle he yelled, “yes! Todd and I get to stay 4PM!”  We will let you know how his day finishes, it does get hot and buggy sometimes, but so far the team has taken it all in without even a “sigh”.   And I have a feeling if there was a sigh, Justin would encourage them by saying, “eat more chicken!”

In the afternoon, the other part of the team left Fortin to do an outreach at the Emmanuel Church, this is the church Francisco our interpreter and friend attends. Soccer in the street with Shay, Todd and Jake, coloring with Kathy and Jim, song’s and the story of Caleb with Pam and Francisco captured these little hearts. Francisco was beaming from ear to ear and his comment to us was, “I wish my pastor were here to see all these children.” His Pastor has a full time job in Managua so he lives there. On Wednesdays and Sundays he travels to Granada to Pastor this little congregation. The church is small in numbers but their faith is a lot like Caleb’s, and it truly is an encouragement to see so many willing servants serve day after day to reach their fellow Nicaraguans with the hope of Jesus Christ.

Thanks again for your prayers, we are heading into the midweek and this is about when we start to feel the weight of the heat and lack of sleepJ!

Adiós, Betty

Day 2 Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Breakfast and a brief orientation got the team excited and ready to face the challenges of ministry that lay ahead. The team headed to the Village of Fortin, some rode bikes and others walked, and they were all pleasantly surprised to see the hustle and bustle that had started as the building project was well under way. You will have to check out the pictures on the blog; it very exciting to see so many projects going on at once.   By the end of the day, the Team was tired, high humidity and high temperatures are teaching them how to pace their work day like a Nicaraguan and we continue to make sure they are drinking gallons of “agua” each day.

Pouring concrete is not the only work that is going on, especially as the rest of the team reaches out to the cooks and the children in the community.   Ministry in Granada goes on as well, and Doug had the opportunity to teach at “Viva a Luz”, the “Live the Light” addictions ministry. Those in attendance were very interested in this “tall” gringo who was sharing his life testimony of how God plucked him from the pit and set his feet upon the Rock (Psalm 40). Worship softened their hearts, laughter brought in comfort and joy, and by the end of the evening 2 more young guys gave their life to the Lord. Over the last 3 weeks since we have been here, 7 guys have received Christ at these meetings. Torre Fuerte is not a very large congregation, but the name “strong tower” says a lot and we can tell God is the strength of this little tower.

We also know that with growth and joy there are times of pain and sorrow. Tonight we received notice that our friend Roberto who had a neighbor that he called his grandmother, passed away. She had been ill and in the hospital for 2 weeks, the Doctors were not sure if she would make it home to her house in Granada. She did not come back, but she is now in a far better home with her Lord and Savior. Roberto has told us that, “she was like a mom to me”. This is a big loss for our friend, so please keep Roberto and his family in your prayers.

Thanks again for all your prayers, till next time,

Adiós, Betty

Day 1 Tuesday, July 24 2012

Team 2 arrived safely late Tuesday night joining the Gallagher’s who arrived last Thursday. The Gallagher’s came a few days early so they could visit their daughter Amy who was working up in Dario (2 hours north of Granada). She was living with a mission family who operate a Christian School there.   Amy, 20 years old is praying about an opportunity she has been given. If it is the Lord’s will, she may come back to Nicaragua in January for 1 year to help in the art department and also with a discipleship program at the school. As parents we know it is a high calling to learn how to let go and let God lead your children even if it is a foreign land. FOAM is excited for the opportunity presented to Amy and the opportunity to prepare Amy for the field. Please keep Amy and her family in prayer as she looks for God’s will concerning her future.

We are excited for the Team to work alongside all the Torre Fuerte and Fortin church members as the construction of the Fortin Church and kitchen begin. This church plant began over 4 years ago when the Torre Fuerte rented farm land in order to grow vegetables for the children’s feeding program. Being that most of the church members grew up in the city, they soon learned that they were not farmers and so they decided they needed to invest their time and energy into the lives of the people the Lord wanted to “harvest” in. Thus, they started a new feeding program in the village of Fortin.   80 children attended the first day and many of the children’s parents came to listen to the Bible stories. Soon the parents desired an adult study. The Bible study grew and so did the feeding program. The program moved to a few different locations as doors closed and others opened. Sunday services began and last summer FOAM was able to help purchase land in the village of Fortin for this church. This year FOAM has been able to purchase the materials for construction of the building. And now this week FOAM volunteers are here to help construct a building for worship.

Doug and I, (Betty) are so blessed to have the privilege of watching this all unfold. Thank you for praying and supporting this endeavor. The Lord burdened your hearts for a ministry far from your home, for a people group you may never meet until heaven and we say “thank you” for helping to make this possible.

Pastor Manfredo Flores and his wife, Connie have been ministering to this community for over a year and the fellowship continues to grow. They have gone through some hard times and faced trials that most of us would not want to have to face, however the Lord has given them strength, He has encouraged their hearts, they are choosing to stay in the race and it is their desire to finish well. They are a wonderful example of Godly servants and we learn so much from them! It is a blessing.

Adiós, – till next time, Betty