Team Nicaragua with our Rama hosts
Mondongo (tripe soup) Nicaraguan style
Daniel at work in Rama
IM Colleagues: Ketly, Patti, Tim, Laura and David
Noah's ark craft
Special education class in Bluefields
Nine children presented in first baby dedication in Rama
It was an exhausting 12 days in June, jam-packed from the beginning with tours of Managua, Granada, Masaya and Lake Nicaragua plus learning about the ministry of Amós, headed by our IM colleagues, David and Laura Parajón. Then we headed to the eastern coast of Nicaragua, the main reason for our trip, to accompany Ketly and Vital Pierre, also our IM missionary colleagues, in their Bluefields, Kukra and Rama ministries. We were kept busy leading workshops with pastors and church leaders from Kukra and Bluefields, worship and preaching opportunities, children’s ministries, workshops on behalf of special needs children, and five days of labor on the new church/school facility being built in Rama.
Patti, as group leader, began planning for our mission trip to Nicaragua over a year in advance. There were nine of us in all, Patti, Tim, and Daniel along with six others from First Baptist Chula Vista and First Baptist Pasadena. Yet in a real sense it was a trip 27 years in the making. We were new missionaries in the Dominican Republic when we first met Ketly in 1985. She was a volunteer from Puerto Rico serving in La Romana when she visited us in San Cristóbal to help with a medical mission group from the United States. Then in January of 1986 we met again on a plane to Puerto Rico. Ketly was returning home and we were visiting friends in order to comply with visa requirements. But it was no coincidence that we were on the plane together. Due to weather problems, the flight of less than an hour ended up 12 hours late and to top things off, phone service was out in Puerto Rico upon arrival. So there we were, all five of us including two preschoolers and a new baby, stranded in the San Juan airport with no way to contact our hosts. Ketly never hesitated and took us all home, hosting us until we could make the necessary contacts the following day.
It was much later that we learned how instrumental that time with Ketly and her mother had been. Ketly’s mom had reservations about her daughter’s eye toward missionary service. Hosting a young missionary couple with three small kids proved a turning point in the blessing that Ketly would receive from her own parents as she continued to prepare for that call God had placed on her heart. Eight years later Ketly joined us in the Dominican Republic as an IM missionary and of course, since that time we have kept up with her and Vital as they moved on to a new ministry of church planting in eastern Nicaragua.
Yes, twenty-seven years in the making, but now the count only continues as we all became a small part of what is happening in Nicaragua. But more importantly that count continues in the lives of nine men and women who will never be the same. We all came away with minds expanded, a desire to one day return to Nicaragua, questions about the way we live and what God has to say to us regarding the world in which we live, and a great appreciation for the dedication and vision of so many we met in Nicaragua:
…David and Laura, along with all the fine women and men at the Amos Project, as they respond to requests for help with clean water and primary health care from so many rural, poor communities.
…Ketly and Vital and their commitment and dedication over the last decade as they plant churches that seek to serve their communities through multi-faceted outreach and who have been used by God to raise up and mentor Nicaraguan missionaries.
…Joel, Argentina, Escarlet and Oneil, Nicaraguan missionaries, all of whom responded to God’s call through the encouragement of their pastors, Ketly and Vital. Theirs is a story of Seminary preparation and incarnational missionary life as new work is begun in Kukra and Rama. They help with construction, lead children’s ministries, preach and pastor, teach and administer. They serve as leaders among the other pastors of the community and grapple with most troubling social issues such as huge spikes in prostitution and teen mothers as a result of the influx of thousands of workers in the palm oil production close to Kukra Hill. At the same time they look to the future with the hope of bringing not only a grade school, but a junior high, a high school, even university studies for a poor, hurting community that is full of young men and women, but with so little to offer them.
We will let the accompanying pictures tell some of our story and close now with an excerpt from the blog of Randy Hasper, pastor of First Baptist Chula Vista:
Questions occur in my bifurcated, image-torn and now partially disturbed mind.
What does it mean to not have enough?
What does it mean to have too much?
How does too-much, help not-enough in ways that empower and maintain dignity for not-enough, and that are sustainable for both?
I don’t know for sure, but I know that doing nothing, nothing for the poor in my own country and nothing for the poor in other countries is not an option that I feel comfortable with anymore.
I am thinking about another trip. I am thinking about clean water filters.
This comes from having seen it, not on a computer or in the movies, but with my own eyes.
I am uncomfortable.
My world is ripped.
I am not okay with doing nothing.
This is a good thing.