After trip thoughts
Q. What is one lesson you would like to share that God taught you on this trip to Nicaragua?
Nate: “Not my strength but His, not my words but His!”
Chuck: “Humility and Grace!” The foot washing ceremony was very humbling and the Nicaragua people are very gracious.
Pam M: “Love is the universal language! The love of Christ is communicated through a smile, handshake, embrace, touch, deed, etc.”
Francisco: “The power of love can move mountains and giants.”
Andrew: “The power of prayer!” For instance – this week God gave good health and stamina, and we saw how God unlocked the gates and opened doors at Campo Gonia.
Katie: “Hospitality. The hospitality is very evident here!”
Justin: “God is good!”
Pam: “I am grateful for renewed friendships and treasure the vibrant worship and gracious hospitality. This trip has continued to impress complete surrender upon me.
Alan: “I need to wait for God and not try to push my plans ahead of Gods will for me”
Doug: “All we need is a little bit of faith! God can open gates without a sledgehammer or bolt cutter and God can soften the most callused heart with just a little bit of faith.”
Betty: “God is always Faithful! He fulfills His plans and we are blessed when He clues us in.”
Sunday July 27, 2014
Sunday is always a fun day. I never thought I’d say I would say, that going to church 2 times in one day for about 2 hours a service would be something I look forward tooJ. But seriously, there is something so sweet when you get to worship with others who just love to worship and hear from God’s word. I still don’t know all the worship songs in Spanish, but I can clap and join in with my heart and walk away blessed.
After our evening service Ezekiel and Francisco (2 Nica friends) put together a foot washing service for our team. They invited all the guys who worked with them at Campo Gonia this past week. Doug and I are so blessed when we see our fellow Nica’s bless our teams in this way. The service is humbling and each time I sit through it I am challenged to ask myself, “do I make myself available to wash the feet of my fellow brothers and sisters?” We never have words to describe the ceremony, but just imagine “Nica” men & women….on their knees washing “gringo” men & women’s feet… I think you get the picture!
We have found that each team has its own flavor and diversity picked by our Lord for the job He wants done. While each member faces their own challenges, they are different and yet each challenge is the one the Lord allowed so that all glory will go to Him in the end. We are so glad the Lord chooses who He sends, we could never pick such wonderful teams as we see how God moves through each person as they lift up their hands and learn to “let go and let God”.
The application and training process does do its part as it helps the team begin to prepare for the unexpected. And as we walk through the week with teams, we see how it is the “process” of serving that is at the heart of God’s intent. The question we all face at some point is, “can we enjoy the surrendered life during the trip?” “Are we willing to put our expectations aside, and let God do His work?” “Or are we going to be tense and irrational trying to make things work ‘better’?” We have found that by day 3 or 4, each of us learn that the only way to finish well, is to lift up our hands and enjoy our Lord through all the tears and joy. We serve, we grow, we fail, we learn, but most of all, our love continues to be turned back to the one who called us here…Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.
Sometimes these are hard lessons for us to learn, but I have never met anyone on the team who regretted the refining fire they had to walk through as they humbled themselves before our Lord. We serve a gracious God!
Monday will be our day off and debrief day. We’ll try to capture a thought from each team member and post it after they leave.
Adios and Blessings to all ~ Betty
Saturday July 26, 2014
Saturday, was a rather laid back day for the team. The guys went around town and invited about 15 guys to come over for a swim. Ezekiel didn’t think there would be enough left over pizza for lunch, so he decided to make mounds of rice, his words to me were, “look Betty, we need some “nica food” too.” After a quick look around the guys house, I decided it was a good thing Justin, Nate, Andrew and Francisco were in charge of that house. I left some sandwiches and told them to have fun. I heard it was a blast! And the Nica guys were able to see that missionaries serving God can have fun too! While that was going on, the rest of the team visited the Hammock factory and ran some errands.
At 4pm, two young mom’s, Jessenia and Sari, came over and cooked a delicious chicken dinner; we felt like we were at a 5 star restaurant. At 7pm we went off to church, because Torre Fuerte was having a special prayer vigil for families until 12pm. When we got to church it was packed, the worship lifted hearts to worship our creator. At one point the Miller family shared their testimony and the trial of Andrew’s (their son) cancer. They each shared their part of the story as they have been walking this walk with Andrew.. Andrew will face surgery when he returns back to the states, but he is so grateful for the strength and good health while here on this trip. It was a special night for the Miller family as they have felt the touch of our Lord in their own lives and they were thankful for the opportunity to share that with others. All glory is our Lord’s!
Adios & Blessings ~ Betty
Friday, July 25, 2014
Wow, it is Friday already. This means it is the end of the work week for Campo Gonia. After a great breakfast, the Campo Gonia Team left to begin another day of clearing land. They finished with satisfaction. Their hearts were content as they ended the day by putting up a sign carved with a chainsaw by Nate and Andrew. It was a special moment for all, and tonight after the guys cooled off in the pool and had some dinner, Ezekiel led the debrief. I would say that we can all conclude that this truly was another special week! No one seems to be able to put the right words together to describe it.
Looking back over the week, Monday, the gates were locked and by Friday more than 2 acres were cleared and a sign “Campo Gonia” was placed in the entrance. Jamie and Monica know they are planted in Nicaragua for a time. The Nica guys are thrilled to be a part of this building process and discipleship program. As we went around the room and shared moments of the week, many of the guys told us that they feel at home and are thankful for the new family God has put together. The FOAM Team rejoices in how God continues to answer prayer after prayer. We are excited for Jamie and Monica as they lead this awesome ministry.
Earlier in the day, Pam M, Katie, Fatima and I had a great Bibles study together. It is amazing how experience can encourage the younger ones. Fatima is a lovely young woman who translates for us. She is learning the ways of the Lord, is married and has one child. Her gift of teaching children is developing quickly and I’m sure some day she will be teaching women tooJ. Later in the afternoon, Pam W. and I visited her family. The Nicaraguan hospitality warmed our hearts and it was fun to share with her mom how much we appreciate Fatima. We also visited Francisco’s mom who lives in the same neighborhood. As we share how much we enjoy Francisco and the importance of his job as an interpreter, his mom smiled and gave all the glory to God. We so appreciate our Interpreters!
We are looking forward to the weekend; we’ll let you know how it unfolds.
Adios and Blessings ~ Betty
Thursday July 24, 2014
As a team, sometimes we have to pinch ourselves when we see how God is moving mountains and changing lives. Today the team followed the same routine as the day before. However this morning after bible study, Felix, a new guy who joined the team yesterday, received Christ as his Lord and Savior. He has been caught up in the street life for many years; the substance abuse has taken a toll on him. He is delighted to know that he is a “new man” in Christ. There was smile was on his face all day long as he cut and chopped through the jungle at Campo Gonia.
In the afternoon Monica, Pam M, Katie and I headed off to Campo Gonia to see how things were progressing. Once off the main road it took about another 10 minutes of slow driving on the new road/path that led us to the 6 acres for the camp. Imagine the picture… 18 guys, swinging machetes, raking or hoeing and a chainsaw whirring in the back ground. It was an amazing picture as I reflected on how God is providing the laborers for his field. Justin, Nate, Andrew, Alan, Chuck, Doug and Jamie have blended in well and look a little “Nica” too. The guys are loving the idea of working together, I can’t say it enough, but it is a beautiful picture of how God takes the broken things of the world and makes everything beautiful. May all glory be His!
After our visit there, we headed for another small community, San Juan Jose de Gracia. Pastor Manfredo has started a Bible study there at the home of Francesca & Guillermo. The men from the camp joined us after work and so the porch was full. Andrew and Ezekiel shared testimonies, Jamie shared a message from the Word and Katie and I went off with the children.
During our prep work for the children’s lesson, it occurred to me that Fatima, our translator was the one to be teaching. A few years ago, she came to know the Lord through missionaries, and now she is working with missionaries. Fatima did a wonderful job with the children and she has a special love for them. She also has a heart to learn all that the Bible has to teach about being a mother and wife; her excitement for the Word is contagious. She is such a blessing to all.
In the evening our team reflected that we serve a wonderful God and we are so grateful for the opportunities we have been given to get to know the people of this country!
Addios ~ Betty
Wednesday July 23, 2014
The day started off with a great time of worship and Bible study at the El Puente Church. David “VanVerde” picked the guys up in the van, they grabbed their lunches from the house and off they went to Campo Gonia.
What started out with 11 guys has now grown to about 18. As we reflect on this whole process of clearing the land before any construction can start, we see that God is already breaking ground and the building has begun. Jesus is our cornerstone and the body of Christ is built on Him. God is assembling and building the body of Christ . Daily these men are learning what it means to be a disciple of Christ. The growth and bonding that has developed with the guys is beautiful. Each morning after breakfast, Jamie has a Bible study and then they load up the vans and head to Campo Gonia. The men who are joining us, are men who have heard about the 9 month discipleship program and are asking, “How do I sign up?” I want to come here. They come home tired after a long day of machete work and tree trimming. Our dinner table is full of laughs and great conversations. The discipleship has already begun.
One guy told Jamie that he loves to work hard and hang with this group, because he likes to learn how Christians live, he has seen a lot of hypocrisy and is trying to figure it all out. This young man has been smiling for the last 3 days and when he goes home at night smiling, his family is wondering what drug he is on now. He tells them, “ Nothing man…I’m hanging with Christians.” Today he even brought a friend who is trying to turn his life around. At the end of the day of hard work and sweat and hard work, he said, “this is what I need for my life, how can I sign up to come live here?” We are in awe, God is putting all the pieces together.
The ladies had another awesome day of home visitation. They visited with Angel’s family, and his wife was so encouraged and even shared what God was putting on her heart concerning how she could fit into the ministry at Torre Fuerte. Jacquelyn, Angel’s wife is the 2nd person who told our group, that she wants to help start a women’s ministry. Now the church has 3 ladies who are going to pray about how best to start some type of ladies ministry in the church. They too are learning that if it is God’ s plan, then God will guide them along the way. As Pam M. said, “we are so blessed, to be invited into the lives of these beautiful people.” They truly are an encouragement and a blessing to us.
Adios ~ Betty
Day 5 – Prayers Answered
Tuesday July 22, 2014
This is the prayer praise sent in response to the prayer request on Day 4.
Wow…. your prayers have been answered!!! After a day of prayer and petitions at 9:30 PM last night, Doug and Jamie were able to drive through the open gates at Loma de Gracia! They were able to have one of those difficult kind of meetings with those in opposition. And after a couple of hours they were able to clarify all the misunderstandings. The meeting ended with prayer and hugs. If the Lord wills, today the team of Nica’s and Gringo’s will begin the process of clearing the land for the Discipleship program. The Nica young adult guys are loving the one on one interaction with the “gringo” guys. God has kept the moral of all on the up side. May we all give glory to our Lord! Thanks for joining in with us in prayer.
After a long day of hard labor, the guys came home, tired, content and hungry! It was and awesome day of clearing land in what looked like a jungle. You can check out the pictures on Team Pics.
The ladies were blessed by house to house visitation in Cana Castilla. One mom had recently lost her 13 yr old son due to a bike accident. We were sensitive not to bring it up but after a while the mom herself, brought it to our attention. It was a beautiful time for the ladies to share their heart with her.
Monica could speak her native tongue and the softening of the heart began, and then Pam shared words of love and understanding as she herself is praying for her son Andrew as he walks through his cancer trial. Andrew (29) and on this trip, is doing remarkable well; his faith to trust God for everything through this trial is ministering to so many here in Nicaragua.
It is our prayer that all glory will be our Lord’s and as we walk through these days of ministering, we know it really is all God who sustains and brings words of truth, encouragement and healing to those we minister to.
By the end of the day, we are tired and hot. The heat has taken a toll on some of the team. But I am reminded and take comfort from a quote I once heard, “when we are depleted, we see God do His mighty work!” We are so blessed to serve a God who never gets tired!
We pray you enjoy the pictures of today.
Day 4 Team 2
Monday July 21, 2014
At 6 AM 3 friends from Torre Fuerte came to bless our team by preparing breakfast. Fresh squeezed juice, French toast, eggs and pinto gallo filled our plates and bellies.
The team grew as 8 Nicaraguans joined us desiring to work with our team. Jamie shared the vision the Lord gave him for Campo Gonia. The guys listened, their hearts were stirred as a few of them are thinking they want to be some of the first students.
Ready to roll in the van, we received news that the Camp’ gates would not be open, nor was there any intention of them ever opening for this ministry. Disappointed but not discouraged, Doug quickly called Charles Kaye a local missionary and the guys were welcome to clear a fence line at Pantanal.
We were able to send out the following prayer email, and the ladies went to do some house to house visitation.
(Prayer email sent Monday morning).
Dear Friends and Family,
We are asking you to pray against some opposition we have been facing. As you know we had plans to start clearing the land at Loma de Gracia, the place where Jamie and Moncia will begin the Discipleship program for men. Ready to start the week with clearing the land the team from the US and 10 guys from Granada were a little disappointed to find out they were not able to go there today. Even though the land is designated legally for the program, there is opposition and the care takers will not open the gates for the guys to start clearing land. Fortunately, the team could help out the gardeners at Pantanal today, another huge property that is designated for the Christian Education Center for students.
Thanks for praying, our hands are tied, please be praying for hearts to soften and gates to be opened.
Blessings and Peace, Betty & Doug
The day continued on the guys bonded and relationships were being built as the guys had opportunities to share their own life testimonies while they ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in the field. The ladies loved the house visitation, I think they left each home more encouraged than when they went in.
In the evening the team debriefed and around 8 pm with grateful hearts and our prayer was, “Lord, where will you send us tomorrow. We thought it was Campo Gonia at Loma de Gracia, but if it is not, please show us what and where.” We closed with a sweet time of fellowship, by 9 PM, a phone call was made and a hesitant invitation to come and talk was made. With hopeful hearts Doug and Jamie were off to Loma de Gracia for a late night.
See day 5 for the results ~ Adios Betty
Day 3 Team 2
Sunday July 20, 2014
Sunday was another great day of our team getting to know the Nicaraguan people. Church in the morning at El Puente was a blessing as Francisco, a dear friend of ours, gave the Sunday morning message. He was a bit nervous, but the He made himself available, and God spoke to the hearts of men and women as he shared from John 16 about the Holy Spirit.
After the morning service we split up into groups and visited some families for the Torre Fuerte Church. My group, consisting of the older generation, we had a sweet time of fellowship with Miriam, Pastor Flores’ wife. Sometimes the burden of being a pastor’s wife can weigh one down. Miriam is quiet, but her love and faith is evident to all, as she stands beside her husband and pours out her heart to the young and old as they come to the church. She is a great example to all.
The other group consisting of mostly young adults, visited Lester and Jessenia, the pastor of youth and worship. The team enjoyed their time and walked away humbled by the contentment that this young couple has as they pour out for the church, and live a simple life with Jessenia’s family. After this visit, they also stopped by some neighbors who Jessenia and Lester have been ministering to. The group encouraged the family about the God of the universe who desires to have a relationship with them. The fruit of this visit was evident to all at the evening service as mother and father, daughter in-laws and grandchildren all came to church in the evening. And the mom who was in a wheel chair earlier in the day, stood up in church to make her faith in Jesus public to all.
That evening during our debrief of the day, we had many highlights to share; including the services at El Puente and the Torre Fuerte Church. The fellowship was sweet, the Spirit was alive and many people have returned back to the churches. One consistent low seems to be the heat. We hear that it is now affecting all of Nicaragua; the crops have stopped growing due to the hot dry weather of El Niño 2014. Many are fearful of what that will do to their food prices and economy over all. Please continue to keep our team in prayer as the heat is taking a toll on their physical wellbeing as well.
Gracias for the Team, Blessings to all, Betty
Day 1 & 2
Firday July 18, 2014 & Saturday July 19, 2014
Team 2, Pam, Chuck, Katie, Justin, Andrew & Nate, arrived safely Friday night and was greeted with the warm humid breezes that flow through the streets of Granada. By day 2, they have come to grips with the fact that the next 10 days will be hot.
Saturday morning started with orientation and a tour of Granada given by Francisco.
In the evening we held a parenting seminar at our house. Pam Whalen, put together a wonderful presentation from Boundaries with Kids, while Alan, Pam’s husband, prepared a beautiful dinner.The kicker was the husbands had to serve their wives.
We closed with question and answers, it’s amazing to think that Doug & I have been parents for 28 years and are now of the age that can give insight to young parents as they tend to the children the Lord has entrusted to their to their care.
While the parenting seminar was going on, Justin, Nate, & Andrew walked the streets with Angel and Ezekial to visit some young guys who have recently left the church. They invited the guys to come over for a swim and Fratanga (an awesome chicken take out dinner cooked along the streets of Granada). They planned on inviting 5, but had a 11 come over. It turned out to be a great time as many of them thanked the “Americana’s” for taking time to visit and get them out of the typical Saturday night rut.The guys look forward to the next swim night.
We closed the evening with team time reflecting of the high’s and low’s of the day. Monica Arista, said it beautifully, as she shared some of her struggles with losing luggage and the disappointment of not being able to move to her new home in Loma de Gracia yet. She shared how the Lord spoke to her thru a devotional from Oswald Chambers… “There can be no real disobedience, nor any moral virtue in obedience, unless a person recognizes the higher authority of the one giving the orders.” Monica and Jamie just moved from Mexico. They left everything behind and came with 2 suitcases each. They know this is a refining moment and are grateful for the reminder that our Lord is the highest authority; and to Him they desire to obey with willing hearts. It was a great word for all of us.