Today was our free day… We started out at Monkey Hut for a nice swim after a VERY hot week-followed by lunch and a little walking around at Caterina, followed by a visit to the Masaya Volcano. It was a wonderful day.
At the end of every day we spent about an hour debriefing, talking about the blessings we saw, sharing emotions we felt, and all the places we saw God working. On Friday night our last night in Nicaragua, we talked about the strengths we saw in each person through the week. We shared some tears, we shared some laughs, we shared how we saw God working in us and through us. It was a very special time that really can’t be put into simple words. This was an amazing team, we have nick named ourselves the “Fun Team” because we had so much fun serving our AWESOME God in this awesome place!
Rod Duncan left very early in the morning to continue with the BILD program. He spent his day at Chinendega with the group of pastors and had a very successful day with all his teachings.
The rest of the team went to the Agape Clinic and spent a couple of hours talking with Dr. Karla about her visions for the clinic. We shared a nice lunch with the entire staff.
We were so blessed to be able to do 15 food deliveries later in the day to some beautiful, Christian families who were in much need of food, love, and fellowship. Upon our arrival, we were greeted at a very small church in the city by a Pastor Lazarus who shared his very powerful testimony with us. He took the team to the homes of some of his congregation where we were able to deliver the food, tell them about the love God has for them, and end with some prayer. We had the opportunity to pray over 2 very sick people, it was a powerful time, and the Holy Spirit’s presence was definitely felt by us all.
Rod Duncan left early to continue with the BILD program. The Pastors at TAV West finished strong. The rest of the team went up to La Concha to visit the school. We noticed the change in the temperature pretty quickly as we ascended into the mountains. Upon arrival we were greeted by the principal of the school and received a tour of the new office and new library. Both of which were considerably better than before. There is still much work to be done but we saw a lot of progress. Unfortunately one of our team members Greg Rothchild came down with a bug of some sort and we sadly had to leave him behind at La Quinta for the day. Greg had prepared a biblical teaching on the importance of the words that come out of our mouths to present to 4th and 5th graders. (Ephesians 4:29)
Thankfully, because Greg was prepared he was able to send everything with us and we were able to carry on the teaching. In his place, Collin Maher, Katie Williams, and Ryan Kelly went to several classrooms and gave this visual example. They took a tube of toothpaste and squeezed it out onto a plate. Then they asked for a volunteer (4th and 5th graders) from each class. The student volunteer was then asked to put the toothpaste back into the tube, which of course was impossible. The lesson: The toothpaste squeezed out of the tube represented our words. Once they come out, you can’t put them back. Harmful words to someone are not good! And not what God wants us to do with our words.
After leaving La Concha we were incredibly blessed to be invited to our facilitators home for lunch where his wife fixed us a delicious meal.
The middle of the day was spent at Ciudad Sandino with Pastor Wilbur and his wife Maritza and their two sons.
Wednesday evening Mark and Theresa Thompson presented the marriage training portion of the trip at Pastor Oscar Jr.’s TAV Bethsaya Church. With the help of our entire team we were very excited to host 30 couples. The topic was on the struggles we face in our marriages. We ended in a special time of prayer with the couples.
Rod and the team did the first day of BILD pastor/leader training in the TAV North churches. Nine churches were represented by their pastors and two key leaders from each. The BILD training material focuses on strong Christian development with a strong leadership emphasis. The program has been received well with full support by Pastor Belcer, the over-seeing pastor of all the TAV churches in Nicaragua. The rest of the team was blessed with the opportunity to hang out with our sponsor children for the day. We met the kids at Rey Solomon and packed them into a bus… next destination Chocoyero (a nature park in the rainforests of Managua). God’s plan works in interesting ways and when our bus temporarily broke down we had a great time playing soccer and baseball with the children. The nature walk included many wildlife including lizards, exotic birds, and even termites! The walk was capped off by a magnificent waterfall and soon we were on our way to Pizza Hut. The kids were very grateful for any gifts and appreciated all the activities because many of these things are new experiences. After dropping the kids back off at school or their homes, we were able to spend time worshiping with the congregation at Rey Solomon. This was an incredibly powerful service filled with singing and praise. After the singing, there was a significant time set aside for prayer. Everyone was encouraged to pray over another person who was there. This was a very emotional experience for our team, and we could very tangibly feel the Holy Spirit among us. Theresa gave a short lesson about the brevity of life compared to eternity and our need to strive towards heaven. Mark followed this with a lesson about character and the value of raising children with good character by setting a quality example. The night concluded with a meaningful team debrief.
We woke up with the sun and went to see the new AGAPE clinic headed by the awe inspiring Doctor Carla. Traders has the privilege of sponsoring the Clinic and now seeing the early fruit of medical work being done for these under-served. David shared his touching testimony with the parents of special needs children, which was eye opening and empowering for these struggling families. Our group then placed our hand prints on the walls of the clinic and left a memorial handprint for Barb Duncan. After our time at the clinic we attended a youth worship service at Rey Solomon and following some wonderful music David spoke to the youth about what God desires for our dating lives. After lunch at the Quinta we were driven by Juan-Carlos to the sponsor homes of the Maher Family…this was a humbling experience for all of our team. We were overtaken with God’s love in these homes; even though these families didn’t have many material blessings they were rich with joy.
Our day started bright and early with a wonderful breakfast prepared by the incredible sisters, Yolanda, Juanita and their helpers. We then went and joined Pastor Wilbur’s congregation at Cuidad Sandino lead by the angelic voice of Martin. Mark Thompson and Rod Duncan met with the men, while Teresa Thompson met with the women to discuss God’s role in their marriages. David Cupp, Ryan Kelly, Katie Williams, Greg Rothchild and Collin Maher met with the young adults to share about what it looks like to date as a Christian. All three groups had great participation and in depth conversations…it was a GREAT success. Following lunch we attended service with Pastor Belcer at TAV Central Church where we danced and sang to praise the LORD. The day came to an end with a musical surprise of Mariachi to celebrate Rod’s Birthday and delicious tres leche cake.