Day 10, Sunday, August 12, 2012
Airport and The Green Van – Team #3, packed themselves in the van at 4:45AM and headed to the airport. In the van I tried to capture some “one liners” from them (see below). All in all it was an awesome week; we thank all of our sending teams for the prayers said on our behalf and we thank the Lord for sending wonderful teams to work with us in Nicaragua this summer. Many lives were touched, many were challenged, others were encouraged and many souls were saved! As Anthony from Team #1 would say with his hand in the air, “Hallelujah, praise you Jesus!”
Adiós – Betty
One liners from the Team…
Amy – 20 years old, a student, an artist and worship leader. Amy spent 6 weeks in Nicaragua on a vision trip – her comment, “I’ll be back!”
Shaylee – 15 years old, in Nicaragua for 6 weeks because her parents did not want to leave her at home in PA, became a translator for her mom, a friend to the young children and encourager to the youth – her comment, “My time here went fast. The people are warm and friendly compared to our culture which is kind of cold.
Chris – Youth Director, dad to 4 and a business owner, in Nic for 10 days with some of his family -“I felt loved and well received by friends in Nicaragua. I have been encouraged by their passion for Jesus Christ!”
Jill – Youth Director, with her husband Chris, and mom of 4 – “It was a fast paced week, full of action and a lot was accomplished!”
Jake – 17 years old, a bass player who played with the Torre Fuerte worship team as we went from town to town. Jakes comment, “I got a refreshed sense of worship!”
Morgan – 15 years old, loves to play with children and sees the need for an orphanage for the children who live on the street – “I would have loved to stay longer!”
Day 9, Saturday, August 11, 2012
Granada – We returned from Leon by 2:30 PM on Saturday and quickly prepared for our time at El Puente for the youth conference at 5PM.
The worship and message was great and even though the rain came, our spirits were not dampened. We left the night a bit tired but glad for the connections of working with our Nica friends. Our hearts were content and as we reflect on the ministry that goes on here in Nic and in the USA. We realize we all face the same “ups and downs”. Some hearts are open and desire to hear God’s truth and some are not ready to hear. However, our job is to “press on” in the Lord and trust Him; the bottom line is, our victory is in Him and not our experience.
Day 8, Friday, August 10, 2012
Leon – at 1PM we loaded the bus and headed to Leon. There were 21 of us, some were the same people that went to Dario with us and in addition we were also excited to see some of the old youth group kids join us. Many of these young adults have not been around this summer. Jessinia, Lester’s wife, told us “this is a miracle!” The reason being, many of them have jobs and are trying to make a living. This makes it harder for these young adults to come to church and serve in the ministry. Two weeks ago, a bunch of them met with Lester and Jessinia for some fellowship. During their time together, they realized they were missing out on something that was really good! They ask Pastor Flores for forgiveness and shared that they want to be faithful and continue to help in the ministry wherever he needed help. They realized that they had to make the choice, trusting God to help them figure out how to work for a living and still be part of ministry.
As we watch this unfold, Doug and I realize this is another example of the Holy Spirit moving; the Spirit in us just yearns to be a part of God’s work; and when we listen to that nudging we come to that surrender to our Lord is all we need! Our spiritual walk with God is no different in the USA than it is in Nicaragua. We are all born into spiritual poverty, poverty of sin and separation from God.
And it is only by “His Grace” we have a life beyond poverty. As preacher and author Watchman Nee would say about living in the Spirit, “we are just living the Normal Christian life”.
So in closing, Pastor Flores extended grace to his early disciples sent them off to Leon with us and we had a really sweet time as we joined in with Ezekiel, our friend, med student and contact person in Leon. We were able to join in with his church’s youth/young adult service and it was a sweet time!
Day 7, Thursday, August 9, 2012
Pantanal – Once again we loaded the yellow school bus. Today the Torre Fuerte team joined in with El Puente and we went to Pantanal. Pantanal, just outside of Granada, is the property that the El Puente Ministries have purchase for a future Christian Education Center and Church.
We invited those from the barrio and then headed our way to the top of the hill. Once there we spread out on the flat piece of land that is big enough for a soccer field or two. The scenery was breathtaking and I think I counted 5 different ball games going on at once. Young and old were having a fun time just playing together.
As we were setting up the battery operated microphone system we realized we had the guitar but no worship leader due to some sudden changes. We all looked at Amy and yes, she rose to the occasion, trusting the Lord to give her the confidence and right cords to play, as two Spanish worship songs came to her mind. I am sure her flesh just wanted to run as her nerves wanted to thwart her efforts of pressing on, but God gave her just what she needed and true to His promises, worship on the hill with 100+ adults and children was precious.
Chris gave a message full of grace yet not skirting the issue that there is only one way to eternal life. Some of the men in the crowd came forward to receive Christ, others stayed in their seat. We later learned that 2 of the guys who accepted Christ, just happened to jump on the bus, just because…. no one knew them and as they rode the bus back to Granada with us they were thankful and excited about all that happened that day. We look forward to seeing them again at Torre Fuerte.
Tomorrow we leave for Leon, Ezekiel, a med student from Granada, wants us to come and share with the college age kids at his church. There will be twenty two of us including TF. We will let you know how it goes.
Adiós – till next time, Betty
Day 6, Wednesday, August 8, 2012
Fortin – Some of us headed out on bikes others on foot to the church in Fortin. It was an exciting day, we got to worship in the finished church, and today we were able to drink coffee from the kitchen, as Doug would say, “Café Latino a del Fortin!” Connie and Manfredo were so happy to greet us with the coffee. They love serving the food out of the new kitchen and using the church to teach children and adults. . Amy, Shaylee and Morgan were loved on by the kids and squeals of laughter rung from the trees until a branch with a few too many children on it broke. Fortunately no one was hurt. After that the girls kept them to “on the ground” games.
Today the children’s program was a little smaller than usual; we were told many kids were back in school after a few weeks of vacation. We still had a sweet time. Chris shared his “trick” out of a bag, it mesmerized the little minds, lives were touched and souls were saved. It was a beautiful moment under the roof of the new church at Fortin.
On our way home, we had the opportunity to pray for an older lady, Rosa, who was sitting on her porch but not looking too well. Her husband and children were trying to cool her off and she was as still as the quiet in the night. We stopped and prayed for her. Doug and I in our broken Spanish mumbled our hearts cry for this mother of three. The tears streaming down her face was the only life we saw. We know she was touched, we continue to pray she is healed and comforted. And so, we are trusting the Lord to speak to her soul.
We celebrated Jill’s birthday tonight since we know tomorrow is a full day and not much time for a birthday cake. Jill, being one who loves to welcome people with her gift of hospitality and words of encouragement has not let the language barrier stop her. We are witness to one who “rests” in the Lord and has learned the importance of just being and sitting among the Nica’s. Sometimes she is given little moments of blessing by helping a mom with her baby or comforting a down cast soul by a touch of a hand and sometimes it is just a smile. Yet God’s love continues to pour out and hearts are encouraged to move towards God! Today I realize that music is not God’s only universal language, it is body language too! I have a feeling God has many more to show me and I look forward to learning them.
Adiós – till next time, Betty
Day 5, Tuesday, August 7, 2012
A day of rest – knowing that the team was heading for a busy weekend, we took our day off in the middle of the week and enjoyed the coast of Nicaragua. It was a beautiful day and we all agreed that Nicaragua is one beautiful country!
Day 4, August 6, 2012
The Yellow School Bus continues to be our friend! Monday, 8:30 AM a bus full from Torre Fuerte and our team headed to the village of Chacalapa, just outside of the small town of Belen (Bethlehem). This is a new outreach in a village about one hour from Granada. A team of three, including Pastor Flores or another Bible teacher from TF, goes out every Saturday evening to teach a Bible Study to a community that desires to have a Bible teaching church then returns to Granada Sunday morning.
When we arrived in Chacalapa we were greeted warmly by Avel and his family and then we split off into groups for house to house visitation. Our intent was to let them know about the Bible studies and also the soccer game in the park that afternoon. Somehow house to house with new people in town leads to family visitation; we were able to share the Gospel and 2 mom’s received Christ into their hearts. 🙂
On the soccer field we realized we were working with some tough guys who played hard and made sure the Granada guys couldn’t beat them. We also noted that even though they were respectful of Lester’s worship time and Chris’s short message, they kept their guard up, smiled and left it at that. The host family shared with us that this town is burdened with alcohol and drugs; we even got to see it as some of the spectators came openly w/ their bottles in hand.
All in all we left knowing God loves these people and how cool it is to know that God sent us to spend an afternoon with them! As I (Betty) was sitting in the spectator’s crowd, I couldn’t help but think of Chuck and Kay Smith 40+ years ago in California, praying to God…. “Lord how do we reach the the “hippies”?” Today, we were on the soccer field, praying “Lord we need you, we have nothing to offer, show us how to reach these young guys.” We were totally out of our league and the language barrier doesn’t help much. We know we were right where we were supposed to be and we left with God’s joy in our heart,knowing God is in control and has a plan for this little town.
In the evening Doug and Chris went to Viva la Luz (Live the Light). These two guys came home, bouncing as they walked in. The “place is on fire” was their comment. The night started out slow, but by the end of the evening the church was packed, more souls received Christ, testimonies of reconciliation were shared, one was from an 18 year old daughter about forgiving her father and the leader of the group was in awe of how in one weekend 2 of his daughters accepted Christ into their heart.
There is so much joy in this church body and we love how the whole church young and old is a part of “Viva a Luz”. Seeing what is happening here in Granada we know that the Lord has great plans for Chacalape too!
Adiós, tomorrow we have a day of rest and then Wednesday we head to Fortin ~~ Betty
Day 2 & 3, August 4 & 5 , 2012
Dario – Nine from the FOAM team, plus 11 from Torre Fuerte made our way to Dario in the yellow school bus. Amy Gallagher sat forward in her seat as she looked beyond the mountains in anticipation to the town of Dario. She was excited to go back and to see her friends from there.
Welcomed by all, Amy felt at home and so did we. Narly and Julio are the administrators of Dario Christian Academy. The buildings are beautiful and this school up on a hill provides an awesome education for about 300+ students K-11. Narly and Julio have shared that sometimes it gets lonely up there, but they know God has called them to this community and they are grateful for the mission groups who come and encourage them by working with them and have a heart for the ministry as well.
If you can imagine a city on a hill shining light into the valleys below, you will get a picture of what God is doing with this young couple as they have heeded the call to follow God’s will for their life. They are a beacon of light in a dark community; students are loved and are given a great education back with a strong spiritual foundation. The church Narly and Julio serve in is small and has faced some difficult situations, yet they press on and take their call to leadership humbly and with joy!
Saturday night we had fun with the young people from the school, Amy bonded with her friends through music, Chris shared from the word of God, and we all had fun playing “train wreck” at the close of the evening. Sunday we walked to church, the worship team was welcomed by all as was the message that Doug shared from the Word of God, and we left inspired as one women shared how the Lord healed her “sick heart”. It was a powerful testimony of God’s healing power. A reminder to us all, that God is the one who heals!
Sunday evening we were back in Granada worshipping at CC Torre Fuerte. The church was packed. Jill was amazed at the difference since November. I think the weekend inspired Lester the worship leader, because he was on “fire” and the worship was some of the best I’ve been too. Chris taught and we closed the evening with a few more songs of worship.
It was a full weekend and as we debriefed, we all agreed, that it is a privilege to serve a mighty God and watch His plan unfold.
Adiós – till next time, Betty
Day 1, Friday, August 3, 2012
Team 2 said good bye Thursday morning and Team 3 (Chris, Jill, Jake and Morgan Bonner) arrived in the evening. By Friday afternoon, we all loaded the yellow school bus along with 40 others from Torre Fuerte and headed to Managua for our first Youth Event.
The worship Team from Calvary Chapel Managua was practicing when we arrived and it wasn’t long before the church started to fill up and the service began. CC Managua shared the worship time with the Torre Fuerte team and Jake Bonner joined in with them. He has found the “Latino” beat to be different but fun. Jake learned the songs in the afternoon and the guys are happy to have a bass player join in with them. Jake’s comment to us, “it’s amazing how we can’t communicate with words, but when the guys sound out a beat, then I know what they are talking about!” Music is God’s universal language!
Chris’ message rang true and challenges all to live the Christian life in victory. The youth pastor at CC Managua encouraged his youth to take to heart the words Chris spoke. And despite the “disco” music playing full force across the street, we know God’s message went forward. The chatter on the bus is always a good indication of the joy and contentment we all felt.
Home by 10 PM, we made our plans for the next day; it is going to be an overnight stay in Dario!