Sunday, July 5, 2015

2015 Nicaragua: Going Home, Counting Blessings!

Pastor Alex writes: Happy Day of Freedom to Live, Love, Pray & Pursue Happiness as God calls you to do!

We are on our flight from Miami to LaGuardia feeling richer and tremendously blessed by the mission journey we just had.  There were many moments of grace and deep encounters with Christ Jesus manifested in people we met, reflections we shared, work we did, nature, prayer, meals and other unexpected ways.

Everything would have been absolutely perfect hadn’t three of our team members gotten ill, but even those moments of challenge were infused with the love of Christ and the faith that they would get well soon.  Actually, specially at those moments we were able to see that God was walking with us.  We were just a 5 minutes from a fantastic lab.  Additionally, our mission partner is none other than AMC [Christian Medical Action], so we had the best care available in Managua.

Last night we got to the hotel a bit late and as we were finishing our packing some of us felt a quick tremor under our feet.  It was a 5.1 earthquake; which is a common occurrence, so we even joked that it was the land of Nicaragua missing us already.

May Nicaragua never miss us too much and our sister and brothers there be safe from all natural disasters. God knows that have already suffered enough.

This morning we have an early start, and as usual a delicious breakfast prepared by Elvis [not the reincarnate king of rock, but the best cook in Nicaragua and the most generous, friendly and kindness hotel manager ever.

Pastor Martha Vink got to spend some more time with her Nicaraguan family at the airport while the rest of the team did some more shopping, an da light lunch before going through security.  At the gate I offered a financial report, and talked about practical ways to improve the experience for next year.  Then, we enjoyed one more devotional moment of reflection, prayer and witness to all that God had done for us on this journey.

The flight to Miami was uneventful… just lots of snoozing, mouths wide open, but I’m not telling who… because I was one them.

In one hour we land in LaGuardia, but the journey continues as God keeps calling us to partner in the transformation of the world, and in the deepening of our relationship with the Divine in all there is… beautifully and wonderfully made.

I thank God every time I think of you,

Pastor Alex

And thank YOU, Pastor Alex, for your exuberant leadership for the 2015 NYAC VIM Nicaragua team - and for a successful mission! May all of you and all who you have served be blessed.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

2015 Nicaragua: Days of Grace and Progress

This is the day that the Lord has made.
Let us rejoice and be glad in it.
This is the day; this is the day that the 
Lord has made.

Daryl Fitzgibbons writes:

Every day and moment of our time in Nicaragua is a blessing. We are truly thankful to be in this place of beauty, surrounded by friendly, caring and loving people. We also appreciate your support and prayers - you keep us strong.

We started this day with the "usual" fantastic breakfast: scrambled eggs, pancakes, rice and beans, fresh fruit, toast, jam, guacamole, plantains. We actually had a discussion about plantains. A plantain is related to a banana, but is larger and seldom eaten raw. Commonly, they are baked or fried. We have had opportunities to enjoy them both ways!

After breakfast, we headed for a full day at AMC. We were invited to join the staff for their weekly Devotional, coordinated and led by Dr. Francisco Gutierrez, Director of Organizational Development and the Pastoral Leader. We each joined one of three groups for study and discussion of material, presented along a timeline from the beginning of creation. My group focused on the time of Moses, his life, and his being chosen to lead the Exodus of the Israelites out of Egypt. Why was he chosen? Why was he not allowed to reach the Holy Land? Some observations from members of the group: "Our minds cannot understand the greatness of God;" "God never tires of taking care of us. Good things do happen;" "Why do we do bad things when God blesses us?" and "The Promise continues for everyone."
The discussion in the other two groups differed because they were at different points along the timeline.

The Devotional ended with some updates for staff and prayer. Please pray for Tasha Pri (which means "free land ") AMC site and its coordinator, Edith. The site's water supply is being threatened by a mining project for gold and some unrest has occurred. Pray also for the churches which have burned in the U.S., their members, and the families of those killed at the Emmanuel AME church in Charleston.

We spent the rest of the day working at the future training center and meeting room. Wood was cut for framing windows, mortar was spread on walls, inside and out, and we began to paint the primer on walls that were ready. Carlos, the contractor, was his usual, patient self. When I painted a section that I shouldn't have, he laughed and said it can be fixed! It seems that even with mistakes, we are accomplishing much more than they could do on their own! We had more laughs when the rain began. We were not only very dirty, but now soaked! We had to admit, it felt good.

We enjoy our time with our translator, Freddie. He likes to tell jokes and today on the drive back to our hotel, he sang "My Way" for us.

Tomorrow we will participate in a national disaster evacuation drill. More on that to follow!

Grace and peace,
Daryl Fitzgibbons

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Nicaragua 2015: Special Care for Special Children

Angela Moore writes:

Hello everyone,

First of all, did everyone say "rabbit" today?  Say "rabbit" on the first day of the month and you will have good luck for the rest of the month.

We all had another fantastic day.  Although we broke into two groups, it was evident when we returned to the hotel and listened to each other's stories, we all knew we experienced a rewarding day.

My group, Daryl, Ximena, Freddie, our interpreter, and Oscar, a representative from NRN, went to San Dino.  Daryl sponsors a special needs little girl through NRN.  Her name is Ruby.  The name of her school is Ministerial Jehova Jireh.  There are  8  students, one principal, two teachers, and one young man who volunteered.  They all wear uniforms; blue pants and a white shirt.  The name on the uniform is Agape.

We arrived at the school around 9:30.  We had just missed the horse therapy.  The students were all working on different lessons, depending on what level they were on.  The children had their snack at around 10:00.  The children bring their own drink and snack.  Most of the boys shared their drink and snack.  After snack, some played ball, while others found Minecraft on my phone.  Imagine, they recognize and know how to play Minecraft here.

After snack, the children completed a craft brought by Daryl.  It was a self-sticking cardboard cross that the students put gems and glitter on.  Everyone loved it. The children loved having their pictures taken.  They had a chance to take pictures with our phones.  School ended at 11:00.  All the children are brought to and picked up after school by a family member.  Just like home, there are a few stragglers.  While we were waiting for the children to go home, three butterflies "fluttered" by; one for Daryl, Ximena, and myself.

I thoroughly loved my visit to Ruby's school.  I felt right at home.  I met a beautiful little girl named Crystal.  She is 8 years old.  Luckily for me, she does not have a sponsor.  How great is that!

We took Ruby and her mom to lunch at Tip-Top, a chicken restaurant.  They also had a play scape, which Ruby loved.  The fried chicken was delicious!  Of course, Ruby did not want to leave.  When she heard she could show us how she rode her bike, that made it better.  At Ruby's house, we met her grandmother, uncle, and brother Ian.  We also met her dog,Baluzi.  Unfortunately for me, she did not want to come over.  Granger, a visiting dog, was not friendly either.  I was able to play with a puppy at the hotel.

Ruby's grandmother's house was very spacious; a front porch. 3 bedrooms, a living room, and a kitchen.  They were cooking in the back.  It smelled so good.  Her gran other let us taste some.  They also have two corn grinders; one for corn meal to make tortillas and one for cereal.  Ruby's grandmother earns some money when people come from the neighborhood to grind their corn.  Her son cuts hair on the side to earn extra money.  They are not afraid to work.

As usual, our breakfast and dinner at the hotel were excellent today.

It is wonderful how friendly and gracious people are here.  I think I have "out-written" my stay.  Peace to everyone.