Today is our last day here in Nicaragua. “It’s a sad day today, Dad” Aspen said to me, “We have to go home tomorrow.” I think our whole family feels that way.
Doug and I got up early and biked to Fortin to finish the very last part of the new electrical system. When we had left on Friday, we had a problem that I spent over an hour trying to figure out. We figured it out within 5 minutes of getting there today. Hallelujah. We said good-bye to Pastor Manfredo and the church at Fortin and returned back to the house.
The girls had gone to El Puente for morning church and Charles promised Aspen a beetle to bring home with her. Well, he came through in a big way later that night as he stopped by with it. Now, this is no ordinary beetle. It’s a rhinoceros beetle – 4 inches round and has a front horn that is probably 3 inches long in itself. Not bad for a first specimen of a future insect collection.
We had a great lunch together. Francisco, our interpreter, made the rice Nicaraguan style. They fry it briefly at first and it is really, really good that way. After lunch, we taught Francisco how to play Quiddler. He was a good sport as we played the game in English.
Abbi and Aspen and Holly left for church at Torre Fuerte a little early because they needed to practice their dance with three of their Nicaraguan friends. On the way to church, Holly and Aspen stopped at the houses that Aspen had done sidewalk chalk a few times previously this week.
They invited the little girls and their mothers to church to see them dance. Well, they ended up coming to church!! It was really awesome to see how God could use a 9 year old and some sidewalk chalk to bring a few people to church. I pray that the service and message may have had an impact on them.
The service was great. I continue to enjoy the passion that this church has for worship and the authenticity behind their excitement. They are genuine and seem to have a real zeal for the Lord. Doug brought the message from 1 John about living in the light and what it means to have joy, not happiness in your life. I see people in this church with real joy.
After church, Doug and Betty invited a bunch of people to stop at the house for ice cream. We went around the circle and each one shared a funny story about himself. It was a great time of sharing and hearing how welcoming the Nicaraguan people are.
In closing, my family and I have been blessed. Yes, we want to come down to serve the people here, and in some small way, I hope we did. But, we are the ones that end up getting blessed the most. We can learn a lot from this culture – their contentment and their passion for serving the Lord and leading others to Christ.
Doug and Betty have invested an incredible amount of time and energy working with these churches by providing training, support and resources. But they aren’t doing it for them. They are coming alongside the churches and their people. They have invested in relationships, not programs. They are having an incredible, deep impact with many of the people here. It’s been a privilege to serve with them the last 10 days. To God be the Glory. Adios, Bill
Day 9 Click here for more Pics
This blog will be brief as today we got to enjoy a change of pace by going south to San Juan Del Sur. It’s a coastal town on the Pacific Ocean. Near San Juan Del Sure there is a beautiful beach. If you are an avid fan of Survivor, you probably have seen the beach as they shot a lot of footage for the tv show there.
The surf today was big and it made the area even more beautiful.
Doug got a couple of boogie boards and before you know it, Abbi was getting the hang of it and giving everyone the “hang loose” hand signal. It was somewhat overcast and pleasantly cool – a perfect day at the beach.
Aspen collected seashells and built a rock pen where she and our driver’s daughter corralled about 15 hermit crabs. They spent an hour just trying to keep them all inside the pen.
After leaving the beach, we stopped in town at a pizza place that was also right on the shore. The wood stove pizza was fantastic and views were great too.
It was a great way to just have fun and fellowship together today. We can’t believe tomorrow will be our last day as we will fly back on Monday.
Hasta Pronto, Bill
Day 8 Click for more Pics
I got up at 6 am to study Proverbs 19 with the men from the addictions ministry (Vive La Luz). We all picked our favorite proverbs from this and one that we didn’t really understand. The guys really participated and offered insights that I took a lot away from. Just observing which proverbs really hit home with them gives me much insight on what they are going through and what they struggle with.
After about 2 hours in Proverbs 19, we at pancakes and headed out to Fortin to try and finish up the electrical. We made great progress and started to wire the bathroom and shower that we just installed on the property. We worked straight through lunch – the only break being when a team from another church came to minister to the kids and they asked Doug to do Goliath. Doug was pumped as this was the fourth time he got to play Goliath in 3 days.
Meanwhile, Abbi and Aspen met with 3 girls from Torre Fuerte church to work on a dance routine for the service on Sunday. They had a great time, but Abbi did tell me, “Judith learned that Gringos can’t dance! They did some moves that I just couldn’t get and so they changed the dance for me”. Well, what can I say, she dances like her old man.
After dancing, Betty, Holly, Abbi and Aspen walked a few blocks away to visit with a girl that Holly had met last year. She hasn’t been going to church lately and seemed to be going through a touch stretch. Betty and Holly took her out for ice cream and just had a great time talking and fellowshipping with her.
On the way back, Aspen found a bracelet whose centerpiece was a coin. Aspen was ecstatic. She has spent the last 8 days walking around with her eyes glued to the ground collecting Nicaraguan coins. So having another coin on a bracelet was “the best find ever, Dad”.
Aspen also was able to walk down the street and invited a few neighbor girls to come to her “casa” and do side walk chalk. Holly went with and the parents agreed to let them do that and they made some incredible designs and enjoyed being together.
Back at Fortin, Doug and I worked as late as we could, but I hit a wall with one the bathroom light wiring. We ended up leaving without finishing as I was scheduled to do some teaching with the men’s group that meets at Torre Fuerte. We biked back to the house, stuffed our faces with a sloppy joe, and headed off to church. We sang together and I shared a little from Luke 9:23.
Well, it’s late and it’s been a very full day (a good day), so
Day 7 Click for Pics
Pantanal – This barrio of Granada has one of the highest crime rates and is one of the poorest in the Granada area. It sits at the base of the Mombacho volcano. Today we learned and experienced this barrio first hand.
We began the day by meeting with Charles and Sarah Kaye and their friend Jerry for breakfast. Charles was kind enough to give Holly and I a little time so that we could learn more about the vision for a Christian school. And they want to build it in Pantanal. I can’t help but be excited for the impact that a Christian school could have in an area like Pantanal. Their vision is to provide a quality education and to impact students’ lives to live for Christ. They currently have built a pavilion on the 50 acre site where they have started an informal preschool to start getting the kids familiar with the property. It was great talking with people that are as passionate for Christian education as I am.
After breakfast, we met up with Jennifer, another missionary who just moved to Granada. Jennifer goes into Pantanal 2 to 4 times a week and just meets with a few families. So we grabbed a taxi and headed out to Pantanal. The first family we met with had taken in two young girls whose mother had just passed away. The father/grandfather was quite old and had a hernia that hadn’t been fixed and that they couldn’t get fixed because he didn’t have the proper identification papers. Two of the grandchildren had also been sick for quite some time. Jennifer made some notes about getting some medicines and then we prayed over that family.
We went to the house of another family that she was building relationships with. A mom raising 8 kids, one of which had a previous surgery that went bad and now has some serious health issues. And in addition to that, she was going to undergo surgery for cancer in August. She was very apprehensive about caring for her family, but she knows that she needs the surgery. We prayed over her for a while, then left.
We visited a few more families in this area, and Holly and I left with heavy hearts. We only visited a few families in a barrio of thousands of families. For those that have committed long term to work in this barrio, I pray for their continued passion as the work before them is so immense that they must feel helpless at times.
We returned to the house for lunch, and then returned to Pantanal for a football (sorry, no quarterbacks here – this is soccer) outreach. Abbi and Aspen were ecstatic that they got to ride in the back of an S10 pickup truck with 8 other guys. Abbi said to me, “Dad. If we did that back home we would get in so much trouble!!!”
When we got to the school property in Pantanal, Jesse, from the El Puente church, goes into the neighborhood and invites kids that want to play football. We played with them for a while and the highlight was that I actually scored a goal (For the wrong team)! Right after that happened everyone was shouting Spanish and the only word I recognized was Gringo. Draw your own conclusions.)
We finished our football outreach with our David and Goliath skit; followed by Holly, Betty, and the girls working with the young kids, and Doug and I sharing a little more with the older teenage boys.
Once we were back at the house, Holly and I shared with Doug and Betty our heavy hearts over what we had experienced and the immensity of the work that could be done in Pantanal. They shared the story of the Santa Rosa barrio and how the work of Torre Fuerte Church has had an incredible impact in the last 8 years. What used to be a very oppressed barrio now shows signs of life and walking through the barrio you now get a sense of hope. I just continue to be impressed at how God is using this small church (small in number, but huge in heart) to impact hearts and lives for Christ in the midst of their own barrio. I do believe that, with dedicated people like Jennifer and Jesse, with existing churches in that barrio, with a Christian school and with the power of the Holy Spirit, an impact for God can be made in Pantanal.
Highlights – Holly loved talking about the Christian school and being on the property at Pantanal. Aspen’s highlight was riding in the back of the truck (her low also was riding in the back of the truck – it was raining then…) Bill enjoyed being on the property and catching the vision for the impact a Christian school could have in Pantanal. Abbi also loved being in the back of the truck and working with the kids at Pantanal. Doug continues to enjoy his “Emmy” award performance of Goliath. The kids just can’t get enough of it. Betty also enjoys her husband’s performance and enjoyed being able to work on a few things at the house in the morning.
To close tonight, please pray for the Mom who is having upcoming surgery. Pray for the people that have committed to working in Pantanal. Pray for the school, that God would supply the right people and resources to make it happen. Pray that lives in Pantanal may be changed and hearts won for Christ.
Day 6 Click for Pics
Today I had the privilege of waking up at 5:30am for a Bible Study with some of the guys at Vive La Luz (“Live the Light”). This is the addictions ministry of Torre Fuerte Church. They allow these men to live in the back of the church for 3 months at a time as they try to get clean and stay clean.
Doug had us work through Proverbs 17, since it was July 17. “One proverb chapter away keeps the doctor away” he told the men. After reading the chapter, he had the guys pick 3 of the proverbs that meant something to them and had them share those three with the rest of the group. Some of the guys were highlighting like crazy and really devouring the scripture. I think we spent almost two hours pouring through this chapter. It was great seeing them excited about the Word and hearing them share openly with the group.
We then enjoyed breakfast with them and left for Fortin – today is the day where we put in the new electric service for that church.
The existing service had about 15 different splices with about 4 different sizes of wire. So we cut the wire back, and installed new wire. When I was on the pole hooking up the wires, Roberto noticed that things were almost done and said, “Hallelujah!!” I replied back to him with, “It’s not Hallelujah time yet. I’ve still got the hot one left!” And when I had crimped the last connection, it was refreshing to hear another “Hallelujah!!” from Roberto.
During this time, Betty, Holly, Abbi and Aspen arrived to help with the feeding program. Before the children get fed, we perform a David and Goliath skit.
I am quite confident that if Hollywood would show up (I guess that’s fairly ironic, isn’t it), Doug would win multiple Emmy awards for his acting job. As soon as he pops his head around the corner, the kids start laughing and you can feel the energy and excitement go up. They are laughing hysterically. This is good for the soul. To hear children’s laughter as they receive food that they don’t get themselves at home much, touches my heart.
Doug and I continued to work on the new electric service as we installed a new breaker panel. We were not able to finish our work with the lights and receptacles, so we plan to return on Friday. I did find myself, drenched completely in sweat, thinking how old I have gotten. When I was 18 working for my Grandfather on the fruit farm, we went all day in the heat and humidity outside, and I had enough left to pack apples in the barn after supper until 9pm. Today, at 41 years of age, packing apples was not going to happen. I was wiped.
Betty cooked another phenomenal dinner, and we headed out to the Vive La Luz family Bible Study.
The wives and children of current and past men who have been involved in Vive La Luz are invited for a time of worship, Bible Study and children’s activities.
So we performed David and Goliath yet again (this never gets old and I think Doug just keeps getting better.) I led a brief study on the actual passage from 1 Samuel 17 about how David responded when confronting with his Goliath. Many of these men are right now in the thick of it facing their Goliath – addiction.
Highlights – Betty’s highlight was seeing a boy at Vive La Luz from years ago who came up to her and asked if she remembered him. Betty of course remembered him and asked him if he still had Jesus in his heart. He said he did. You just never know how God is going to use someone’s effort to build relationship. The time Betty spent with him must have had a large impact on him as he went right up to Betty and wanted to talk with her. Bill – Proverbs 17 and not getting electrocuted. Holly – The David and Goliath story and having fun with the kids. Abbi – When one of the children said, “Here comes the dancer!” (Abbi entertained these children on Sunday with some crazy dancing and this obviously made an impression…) Doug – Being Goliath, spending time with one of the members from Vive La Luz and having him share some of the struggles he is going through right now after having last been in Vive La Luz two and a half years ago. Aspen – handing pencils out to the children for coloring.
Hasta luego, Bill
Day 5 Click for Pics
Today was a great time of fellowship. We started the day and ended the day, just spending time with some brothers and sisters in Christ. Nicaraguans have got this figured out. Doug and Betty say that it is part of a “hot-climate culture”. They spend a great part of the day, just sitting and spending time with their friends and neighbors. I can’t remember the last time I pulled up a couple of plastic chairs, invited myself over to my neighbor’s house and just sat there with them. It happens all the time here.
One of the families from Torre Fuerte came over for breakfast in the morning. Along with them came Pastor Flores and his wife. I was inspired by Angel’s family. Their whole family is on fire for the Lord and they are very involved in their church and Young Life-Nicaragua. Angel has a magnetic personality and you find yourself really enjoying being around him. However, Aspen told him that she didn’t remember him from last year, and you can tell that didn’t sit well with him. So now, he has been doing all kinds of crazy stuff to her, so that she would never forget him again!
After breakfast, Roberto and headed over to the supply house to check on our order of electrical supplies for tomorrow. It seems that there is always some things that never quite get translated correctly, so I wanted to check the order over. Turns out, it wasn’t coming in until 3pm that afternoon, so we headed back to the house and then walked over to the bus station to take the bus up to Cana Castilla.
The Bus – I have learned that there is no limit for the number of people that can fit on a “45” passenger bluebird bus. We were packed like sardines. And I also learned that there may not be a hotter placer on earth than a packed bus with absolutely no breeze while it was loading passengers. I looked at my arm as it was hanging on the overhead bar and watched as rivers of sweat made their way down my forearm before hitting the floor. Death Valley might just be a walk in the park after this.
Once the bus moved and the breeze started blowing, it was a great ride up the mountain. This was the church in which we installed a new electric service last year and put it underground so that it wouldn’t be stolen. Well, they tried anyway, but Roy’s (on last year’s team) idea of spray foaming the wires inside the conduit foiled them as they tried to pull the wires out. They haven’t tried to steal it since.
We conducted the first David and Goliath skit and it was a big hit. Doug makes a great Goliath. My highlight from the skit was seeing Aspen (David) put her foot on Doug’s leg while pumping her fists into the air, celebrating the fact that she slayed Goliath.
I provided a brief lesson to the adults while Holly, Betty, Abbi, Aspen took the children for some activities. After the lesson, I jumped on the back of a motorcycle to get back to Granada to check on electrical supplies. Now, I haven’t ridden on the back of a motorcycle ever before. Riding down this particular highway made it even more thrilling. I saw many memorial crosses on the side of the road as we weaved many obstacles. These included 3 wheel taxis, bikes, pedestrians, water trucks, buses, and my favorite – very large cows. I couldn’t help but project what it might be like to hit one of these at 50 mph with me with a skull cap for a helmet, one that had no chin straps whatsoever….
We made it down in fine shape- Roberto is actually a very safe driver. Of course there were a number of things that didn’t quite show up as I had envisioned them, but here in Nicaragua, we’ll make do with what we have tomorrow.
On the bus ride back for the rest of the team, Abbi had an older gentleman talk nonstop Spanish to her for the whole 30 minute ride. A couple of other English speaking people commented to Holly how impressed they were with Abbi’s Spanish. Abbi had simply been nodding her head in affirmation with wide eyes throughout the whole trip.
That night, we headed over to Doug and Betty’s friends, Charles and Sarah. They are fellow missionaries in Nicaragua and are founders of the El Puente church. It was great fellowship. The highlight was Charles taking out his Nicaraguan insect collection. He has a rhinoceros beetle that is ridiculous. It’s huge. I mean huge. Aspen couldn’t get enough of the insect collection. I got a feeling we may be purchasing some materials to start a Michigan collection….
It was a great day spent fellowshipping and serving. A great picture of Christ’s church.
Day 4 Click for Pics
Relationships! One thing that I personally feel that is hard about doing short term mission trips is that it is difficult to build relationships that might make a difference. In saying that, I’m not limiting God. He can surely use anything to further His kingdom; but, there definitely is a difference being here 10 days, versus Doug and Betty who come here regularly 4 to 8 weeks at a time. And, by the way, it is completely evident that they live out the mission of their organization of “We work closely with people…”. You can see their passion for relationships in the very faces of the people they are conversing with. They absolutely light up when talking with Doug and Betty. The Nicaraguan people with whom they are working closely with, love and respect them – because they have put a priority in coming alongside them and working with them as equal brothers and sisters in Christ.
Today, our family tried to build on two relationships that previously were started about a year – one through a child sponsorship program, and the other through a few neighbors that share a sidewalk with the house where we stay, here in Granada.
A little over a year ago, we decided to sponsor a child, through World Vision, that lived in Nicaragua. We were unable to see her last year because there was not time for World Vision to conduct the necessary background checks. We have communicated via letters a few times over the course of the year. So, after we had made a commitment to return to Nicaragua this summer, Holly immediately started the process of taking a day to visit with the family of this child – her name is Michelle and she is twelve years old.
So, at 8:30am this morning, Gustavo – a program advisor from World Vision – met us at the front door of our house. We threw a fairly heavy bag of clothes, school supplies, and groceries, into the back of an extended cab Nissan truck, squeezed Holly, Abbi, Aspen and myself in the back seat of the cab, and left to meet with Michelle and her family.
Michelle, her Mom Sandra, and her brother Carlos, were waiting patiently for us when we arrived, and you could sense that they were quite nervous. After some formal introductions, we started talking and then took out some sidewalk chalk for Abbi, Aspen, Carlos and Michelle to try out. They played for a while and then we got in a couple of vehicles and drove to one of the area schools that World Vision is supporting. This gave us a greater sense for the bigger picture of the World Vision development program that is in place here. One of the teachers spoke with us about how much she has appreciated the training and supplies that have come through World Vision and that has enabled her to do a better job of teaching her students. Meanwhile, Abbi, Aspen, Michelle, and Carlos were kicking around a soccer ball in the field.
Afterward we stopped at a home to see how World Vision was teaching homeowners how to garden and raise chickens and pigs in their own yard, to help them become more self-sufficient.
Upon returning to the World Vision office, we ate lunch with them and enjoyed an authentic Nicaraguan dance by three girls. By the time the kids had warmed up to each other and were coloring and jumping rope together, it was time to head back. While it was great to give them some gifts, I really hope that our relationship with them can continue for a long time and I pray that they can continue to experience that hands and feet of Jesus through us and through World Vision.
In the afternoon, back in Granada, Roberto and I went to the construction supply store to order materials for some work at Fortin scheduled for Wednesday. Meanwhile, Aspen wanted to start her sidewalk chalk ministry. She did this once last year and wanted to return to the same houses and do it again. Aspen actually took the initiative herself to invite children that she saw in the house to come out and join her making pictures on the sidewalk with chalk. A few adults grabbed some chairs and sat down with Holly as their children lost themselves in drawing. Later on Aspen told me that they needed a phone because, “We needed Francisco, like NOW, Dad!!!! It was a nightmare!!!” Francisco is a wonderful interpreter that works for Doug and Betty and was desperately needed as the adults were trying to communicate with Holly and Aspen and all they had was a Spanish-English dictionary.
However, not having language allows everyone to just be together. There is something beautiful about two different cultures, just sitting together as adults and playing together as children, not having to say anything. Upon wrapping up the sidewalk chalk ministry, the kids were already asking if she was going to come “tambien” (again).
The culture and experiences here have been great reminders of how important relationships are. Not only for the mission field here in Nicaragua, but also the mission field we have back home in the US.
Day 3 Click for Pics
Whew. It was a very uplifting day today. We got to take part in 3 worship services, starting at El Puente at 8:30am. Pastor Darryl preached on the story of the Samaritan woman at the well. It’s a story of Jesus reaching out to the least of these. What we saw today was three churches doing exactly that. El Puente church brings in a truck FULL of kids from one of the poorest barrios – Pontanel. Fortin church is feeding the young children in the barrio. Torre Fuerte church just finished a week of evangelism where they saw 52 people come to the Lord. These churches are truly being the hands and feet of Jesus and providing hope to their neighborhoods.
Following the service at El Puente, we changed, jumped on our bikes, and headed out to Fortin. They had already started their service, but we wanted to be there for the youth programs that followed. Upon arriving, I was amazed at how much had happened there in one year. Last year, it was just an open field. Now, there is a pavilion, a kitchen, water, electricity, and bathrooms under construction. But even more importantly, there were 52 kids learning verses under the shade trees.
They finished and recited the verses for us and then we helped hand out the food. I am humbled by the fact that this small church is able to pull together what resources they have and feed these children. Abbi and Aspen were immediately interacting with the kids. It was a real highlight for them. Doug and I also checked out the electric service as it has been having problems. We hope to fix the situation on Wednesday.
We said our goodbyes and headed back to the house. We had a great Sunday dinner, rested and then headed out to attend Torre Fuerte 5pm service. Entering the church, we immediately felt a great energy. The worship leader, Lester, did a great job in leading us in song. There is nothing like singing praise songs in a small building with concrete walls and a steel roof for powerful acoustics.
There was a real sense of the Spirit in that place. During the service, the Pastor announced that they had been working with a mission team to go to 26 different houses in the church’s neighborhoods and as a result of that, they saw 52 people come to the Lord and 6 of those people were now in attendance at that service. Pastor Flores then preached on the Great Commission from Matthew 28.
Highlights of the Day – Doug, Bill and Betty really enjoyed seeing the progress at Fortin and loved the worship at Torre Fuerte. Holly’s highlight was seeing familiar faces at Torre Fuerte and the people remembering her and genuinely being happy we are back. Abbi’s day was all highlights – playing with the kids at Fortin church and seeing some of the kids she met last year at Torre Fuerte. Aspen loved swimming with one of the girls from Torre Fuerte after the church service.
In closing Day 3, one of the members said to me on the way out of church, “Bill! Did you feel the power in there tonight? I felt the power. It was great tonight!” Well, I did feel the power. It’s the power of God working through ordinary people in three churches, who are willing to answer God’s call to them to serve the “least of these” right in the neighborhoods that they have been placed. Incredible examples for us.
Day 2 Click for Pics
Lindsay, a missionary that works with Doug and Betty, brought a team of interns over to the house for breakfast and a Bible study right away at 7am. I got up and joined in as they were studying the book “Humility” by Andrew Murray. They were working through chapter 4 that talked about Jesus’ teachings on humility. In one of Jesus’ very first great teachings – the Beatitudes – he starts right off with Blessed are the poor in spirit and Blessed are the meek. Doug brought to our attention that meek means we might have power to do something, but we choose to not use it for our own purposes. What a great way to start our time here!! It really hit me that this trip isn’t about what we came to accomplish here (our own power). It isn’t about going back home to tell what we were able to do. Rather, it’s about how we need to get out of the way, remove ourselves, and let God go to work in whatever way He needs.
After they left, we went and climbed the bell tower (Aspen really, really, really wanted to do that since it was closed last year when we were here) and headed over to the bike shop to rent bikes. One the way we stopped in at a storefront where hammocks were being weaved – you could also get a cup of coffee there too. This was a ministry in that it sought to employ folks that were deaf and mute. They make the hammocks there and serve the coffee.
It is also the home of Nicaragua’s largest hammock. So, of course, Aspen had to jump right in it and experience it.
After renting bikes, we got lunch (Betty’s unbelievable chicken fajitas – it’s worth the trip alone:), joined up with some people from the Vive La Luz ministry, and proceeded to head up to Chacalapa for a 6:30pm worship service. Chacalapa is well outside of Granada and is a fledging church. I had gone up here with our team last year when the church was only about 6 months old.
Once we unloaded, we headed out to invite some people to the service. I am just amazed at Avel’s (one of the leaders) gift to evangelize. He was able to walk right into their homes and talk beautifully about the love of Christ and how we are all one in Christ. One young family agreed to come – it was going to be their second time. And yes, they did put on their Sunday best and come and worship with us. While we were out making invitations, Abbi and Aspen stayed behind to play with Avel’s daughters and nieces.
Worship at Chacalapa is difficult to describe. I find it remarkably refreshing. They gather as many white plastic chairs as they can, set them down in an open area with a single light bulb strung from the trees, and have church. Avel introduced our time together as – “We might not have a guitar, we might not have a roof, but we have the promise of the Holy Spirit in us when two or three are gathered in His name.” We sang a few songs in Spanish and they graciously agreed to have us sing a couple of songs in English. When we finished singing and sat down, I did notice that the number of people had doubled in size from our visit 1 year ago!!! It is very evident how God is using this “small in number” body of believers to further his kingdom in Chacalapa.
Doug shared some of his personal testimony – it’s a powerful testimony of God working in his life from the time he was 14 at a Billy Graham crusade. He shared a time when a radio program from Chuck Coulson had come on and talked about the need to see our own sin in our lives. And if we can’t, we need to pray and ask God to show it to us. Talk about humility again! First we need to be humble enough to ask God to show us our sin, and then the process of seeing that sin then helps us to further humble ourselves. I am sure that seeds were planted tonight for a few of the people that were gathered there.
Highlights of the day – Abbi and Aspen absolutely loved playing with the other girls there. I once looked over during the service and there were 5 girls sitting in a row with alternating skin color, holding hands, listening to Doug’s message. And they had just met 2 hours ago. It was beautiful. Betty loved getting to know the interns that have been working with Lindsay. Holly and Doug loved seeing what God was doing with the church in Chacalapa. My highlight was seeing one of the men from the Vive La Luz ministry from last year and he mentioned that he was still “taking it day by day – just liked we talked about last year”. That referred to a 15 minute conversation we had while digging a 300 ft trench last year. I am humbled that in some small way God used that conversation.
Today, in summary, I have been reminded of how we need to humble ourselves, get out of the way, and let God do great things – from morning devotions, to a 15 minute conversation, to a “Book-of-Acts” kind of worship in Chacalapa, to Doug’s testimony. God is good.
Day 1 Click for Pics
Team 1 –consisting of just the Postma family: Bill, Holly, Abbi and Aspen – departed Hudsonville at 8am. The flights to Houston and Managua were on time and all pieces of luggage showed up – including the two ministry suitcases that were great “finds” by Bill’s Mom from thrift stores in the Grand Rapids area. One bag contained 47 pounds of Spanish Bibles and the other bag contained items for a family that we sponsor through World Vision.
During the trip, we wore our Fields of Abundance Mission T-Shirts. The T-Shirts are great conversation starters as we had many people ask, “What are you planning to do in Nicaragua?” Our response was that we were working with Doug and Betty who partner with four churches in the Granada area. We also told them that our family has been praying that we would be “empty vessels” for our Lord. We have been praying that he would be preparing hearts in Nicaragua and preparing our hearts to do whatever He would lay before us.
When I was finally tucking Aspen in at 1:30am Michigan time, I asked her what the highlight of the day was. She said it was seeing all the city lights of Managua from a plane high in the sky. It struck me that in a way, I humbly hope that our family could live that out – to be lights in Granada that can be seen from high above.