Wednesday, June 14, 2017
This morning in Jamaica started with a light mist and turned into a full fledge down pour at breakfast time. After another yummy breakfast from Pinto this morning, I led the devotion for our group. We were treated by worship songs from Brad where he sang “Live for Jesus” and “The Dream”. The lyrics are very powerful and really make you take stake of how you are living your life. The rain stopped just before we headed out in the morning to finish the house. We were able to get the roof on, the window louvres installed, finish the trim, hang the doors, and get the stairs installed. Marie’s home is now finished. We will be doing the house dedication tomorrow in the afternoon. It is great to see the ownership and pride that she takes in her new home.
After finishing the home we headed back to the mission house. A few of us headed for a short walk to RAISE to check out the animals. The kids checked out the goat pen and met Mary the donkey, who they had heard a lot about. Then we headed out to VBS for another great day. The kids led worship, and had an opportunity to have the Jamaican’s lead a few songs too. Kathy taught the kids about how Jesus fixed it. Joe helped the kids decorate the large cross that a local Jamaica made for us. We were able to play games in the front yard of the church today with the kids. Parker entertained the kids while playing games with them.
At dinner time our group had the opportunity to serve the staff for CSI and their families. Chad and Jodi took family photos of the staff as a special gift for them in the back yard of the mission home. After an enjoyable dinner of fellowship, our group did our happy and crappy where we share our highs and lows from the day. Our group tends to drag these out as there is much laughter and teasing involved throughout these team sessions.
We are looking forward to a great day tomorrow where we will have breakfast, a team devotion lead by Madison, local elementary school devotion, a trip to the local beach to take in the scenery before we head to the house dedication and our final day of VBS.
We have had a busy time while here and it somehow is already Tuesday. I am going to backtrack just a bit to give you an idea of our journey thus far. It all started Saturday morning when we arrived at the airport at 5:00am. We were excited to get to our destination and you could feel the energy in the air.
As we moved through the line at the airport and got to the ticket counter we found out that our flight had already left. Long story short, we were able to get a flight out at 8:00pm that same evening, but once in Charlotte we would not be flying to Jamaica until early the next morning.
We left on time (8:00pm that is) and had an uneventful flight to Charlotte. After landing, needless to say, we were all tired (13 team members; 5 kids and 8 adults) and so we looked for a place to rest until morning. It ended up being in the international arrival section of the airport on the floor below the stairs leading to the departure gates. We slept for about 4 hours and then got up and went through security and up to our departure gate.
We had an uneventful flight to Jamaica and were thrilled to touch down and meet our hosts for the week. We stopped about one hour into our drive to the CSI house for jerk chicken and then drove the remaining 2 hours to the house. After unpacking and an orientation we went to the Pringle Girls home where they ranged in age from 8 to 18.
We took indoor and outdoor games and played with the girls at the home for a little over an hour and then went back to the CSI house for dinner. Although exhausted we sat up and visited with one another, talked about our adventure so far and the day ahead.
Monday morning we were up bright and early, loaded up the truck with lumber, tools and paint for the work site and had an early breakfast. Following breakfast we had devotionals out at the chapel and then headed out to the site to start our day.
This year we are building a house for a lovely lady with 7 children, 6 of which live with her. Right now she lives with her brother. We are here to provide her with her own living space and a home to call her own. Our ‘mission’ is to build her a new 10’ x 20’ house with two doors, 4 windows and a divider down the center. Currently she and her 6 children sleep in her brother’s kitchen on a bed smaller than a twin. The kitchen itself is so tiny and 7 sleep there!!
When we finish at the site we return to the CSI house and those that are continuing on to have Vacation Bible School with some of the local children shower and prepare for the lesson of the day. They then load up their materials, travel to Clonmel Baptist Church, and play for a couple of hours with the children. They teach them about the gospel, sing and worship together. Once they return we have dinner and gather for our “happy / crappy” hour to share our experiences of the day.
Tuesday is much of the same, but after dinner this evening we went to the local potter’s home and gift shop. The potter does a demonstration of creating pottery using a mold and creating pottery with a potter’s wheel. We get to see the finished products in their gift shop and purchase items for ourselves and our family and friends back home. Afterward we went into the town of Highgate and had ice cream. After day 2 of hard work and loving on the locals, our team is turning in early. I can’t wait to see what tomorrow will bring.
I must say that the 5 kids on the trip this year are amazing! Their resilience, their willingness to try all things new, their love and their faith fills me with such happiness and joy.
Soon I will turn in and let the night sounds lull me to sleep. The tree frogs sing and the crickets add their rhythm to the song and it is most pleasant to hear as our day comes to a close.
We are so blessed.
In His name,
We have been learning that biblical justice flows out of a heart of mercy and a heart that truly realizes the grace and mercy that it has received. Through the parable of The Good Samaritan, we also saw that it has a component of building a relationship and often going out of our normal path, in order to see a person’s whole situation and the impact it has on their physical &/or spiritual healing. Time after time, we saw Dr. Karla live this out humbly as she would try to understand how her patient’s family situation and almost total lack of resources would impact these special needs childrens’ medical conditions. Her young patients are the defenseless and the vulnerable that the Bible often talks about in relation to biblical justice. When there is a need to be met, she can always tell us “the whole history and situation” because of her caring relationship with the families at the clinic. She cares deeply about the hands that care for these special children and knows they are often the lifeline that God has provided to help with their day to day needs. The 6 members of our medical team will go back to their jobs or school with “new eyes” for their patients because of the what they have been a part of here.
A number of our team members cleaned the medical clinic and added lots of cheery paint to the dividing walls which make up offices for staff, the pharmacy, entrance, and lobby. Dr. Karla’s staff seemed so very excited to have things inviting for the kids who come. The clinic is such an amazing resource…and one that is so rare in Nicaragua.
Half of our team split up and delivered gifts to kids who are sponsored by TPCC people back home. Gifts were taken to TAV and Rey Solomon schools today. As the children came individually, team members asked them about their favorite subjects, hobbies, and what careers they were thinking about. They were told that we were delivering a special gift that their sponsors had sent for them. The kids were giggly and excited to know they had a special sponsor who thought about them and who was praying for them. They went away beaming about the gifts and care they had received. This is such a wonderful way for people to be “on mission” even if they cannot come to Nicaragua.
We have been very busy with our 2 college retreats. On Saturday, we spent the day with 1st and 2nd year college students from La Concha at the sports complex called El Solero in Managua. We repeated the same program Sunday with college students who had been from TAV & Rey Solomon. Activities consisted of Ice Breakers games, a game of Nuke ‘Em on the volleyball court, worship teaching, soccer, small group discussions, sports, a water balloon fight, crafts, and art. The goals for the retreats were to build relationships with sponsored college students, encourage them to finish college well, and continue to deepen their relationship with the Lord.
The college students seemed very excited since the programs were all led by our young adults near their own ages. They responded well when they realized that many of the issues they deal with at college are similar our team’s experience, even though they are from very different places. We spent the whole day laughing, learning, sharing, and playing together. It was a day of mutual encouragement. It was so much fun for all!
Our day started early again this morning, as we ate breakfast and spent time together as a team in devotion. Our primary facilitator, Val, leads our morning group time, walking us through what God says in His Word about justice and mercy toward the vulnerable. It prepared us for our day in La Concha, volunteering our time at the local health fair, where children and adults come to see Dr. Karla and her team for reduced cost services. The lines were long and the need was great. Our medical team performed and assisted with a wide range of medical tasks and procedures. Some team members drew blood and took specimen samples, while other helped take sonograms and assisted in other women’s health procedures. A couple members assisted the dental staff with oral health education and tooth extractions. The rest of our team engaged with the children in song, dance and play. We have a wonderful team of translators with us all the time who help facilitate communication and relationship with the residents of the community. However, we’re also learning ways to love and serve without our words. The Nicaraguans love having us here and are so willing to share their hearts and lives with us.
Tonight, we will be preparing for the weekend ahead, as we bring 60 college students over two days to a college retreat to encourage them to remain committed to their studies, despite the pressures from their families to stay home and care for their parents and siblings. We will join them in teaching and worship, and cover them in prayer before sending them back to their universities.
We very much appreciate your continued prayer today and over the next several days. It has been
Today was a great day. We started the morning with a devotional continuing the theme of justice. We have been looking at how our view of justice compares to God’s version of justice and how we to see it as He does. We were looking at Zech. 7:1-10 and discussed how “ritual without obedience and justice fueled by mercy is empty” and how mercy is what forms the relationships that allow us to bring justice. An important note is how the justice we are speaking about for the vulnerable is not all purely “fixing” and “making things right” but instead coming alongside people, encouraging them and building a relationships with them. This really showed up at the parks where we took the kids who are sponsored by team members or other TPCC people. The kids were so joyful, appreciative, witty, and like any other kids you would meet. They were eager to know and build relationships with their sponsors or people from their sponsor’s church.
In the evening, we went to church and that was such an incredible experience. Something that was talked about in the team prep meetings, was “God is their life” and that was so apparent. When they have very little – they still have God and that light shined so bright in them. Their band and our 4 musicians leds worship, some of the kids from the church sang solos as their expression of worship, Madison and Jeannie helped with offering and prayer, and Zach Graham read the Word and preached. Lynette shared a praise for the high schoolers and young adults that are rising up to lead worship for this church and bring their friends and neighbors to know Jesus. When we started coming to this church, many were just children running around. We are thankful for God’s work within this church and the people He is bringing to His kingdom through the faithful people there.
After returning from church, we sat around and discussed the next day’s events and laughed while telling stories from experiences we have had thus far. The group dynamic of this team is so great. Today we learned and experienced many things. Some of those include; the value of spending valuable and genuine time with the needy to provide for them spiritually and emotionally, that God shines through any and all circumstances, that heavy rain on tin roofs is louder than the falling mangos, and that it is more clear than ever that God’s hand is on this team and we are so thrilled to be partnering with Him in Nicaragua.
This morning, our 6 team medical group went to the medical clinic in Los Brasiles to assist Dr. Karla in whatever capacity she needed. Dr. Karla is only in Los Brasiles once a week to offer free medical care for the community, so she had a long line of children and adults anxious to visit with her. Integrated with the medical clinic was Agape, the school in Los Brasiles that provided special education services. We were given a tour of the facilities and introduced to the staff. We assisted Dr. Karla in providing routine medical treatments to elementary students at the school down the street. The students were so joyful and well behaved. We had a blast with them! We were able to spend more time at the medical clinic and with the children with special needs. Dr. Karla is a delight to work with! She is very knowledgeable, joyful and has a huge heart. She feels called so strongly by God to be here. We had a productive morning at the clinic before meeting back up with the rest of our team at the church.