Category Archives: Nicaragua – July 2012

Wednesday, July 11, 2012- Day 6 Nicaraguan Sports Team

Today was a great, great day- but sad. It was the last day for us to be with the new friends that we have met. The day started with a great devotional given by Rob McEwan from Matthew 6. It was a great starting point for the day we were going to experience.

For the third straight day we started off at a local park playing baseball with kids and other members of the church. It was, again, a great time of laughter and competition. While we were playing a group of kids from a local public school walked over to see what was going on and we were able to minister to them. David did a great job talking and getting to know the kids. During the week I have been extremely impressed by David’s ability to connect with each and every kid. He can relate so well and every kid he comes into contact with seems to open to him so easily. It was no different with these students. By the end of our time together a group of boys was doing a dance together that they rehearsed and performed for their school. We passed out large balloons to many kids and headed back to the church to visit homes for prayer and food distribution. What an experience…

We divided into three groups and each headed out with 7-12 bags of food to walk the area of Ciudad Sandino that the church serves. My particular group carried 7 bags and headed down a hill to serve people who were somehow connected to the church. There a so many stories from each team member that it is nearly impossible to come close to providing a clear picture of what it was like. We provided food for and prayed with people with many different stories, all of which touched our hearts. So, please ask a team member when you see them about their experience. You will not regret taking the time hear what we all experienced.

Our friends at the church also provided us with a fantastic send off that included prayer, a drama, and a traditional pinata break. There were many hugs and tears- a sad end but an end to a full week.

We ended the day watching our friends play basketball. It was a great experience that brought smiles from the members of the team…well worth the time and our friends won the game.

Tomorrow we have a fun day and prepare to head out on Friday morning….what a great week and I hope that you all enjoy catching up with loved ones upon their return.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012- Day 5 Nicaraguan Sports Team

Before getting into the activities of today, I’d like to get into the basketball game from last night. I know that this might seem like such an insignificant part of what is going on here- but for me it is a highlight of this trip and, quite honestly, one of the top ten moments in my life. I will try, with the help of David Cupp, to explain why this was such a meaningful event for two has-been basketball players and coaches.
First of all, there are not many moments that we can play an extremely competitive basketball game. The team we played was an adult team from Los Brasilies- a local city of about 10,000. They brought 10 players who play on a regular basis. In fact, we are going to attend their league championship game tomorrow (Wednesday) night to cheer them on. The game was also officiated by local Nicaraguan officials. There were two men who refereed the game and one woman who was the official scorekeeper- she kept the scorebook. Neither David nor I have played a game with real officials since high school. Another feature that was significant was the presence of fans. While not many, there were those present who cheered for both sides. Although the spirit of competition and friendship was more significant, both teams wanted very badly to win. At the bottom of the scorebook it read “USA wins 57-53…” There are just not many opportunities for men who are not athletes for a living to play a game like that.
Second, for the first time in my life I got to experience, in a very meaningful way, how sport can break down language and cultural barriers. In spite of all the differences between the men that played on the two teams we shared the passion to play basketball. I believe very strongly that the Nicaraguan team felt the same connection that we felt and that there was a deep respect between both teams at the end of the game. The coach of the team and their best player, Isaac, came to me after the game and said “I wanted to win that game very badly but more important for me was the experience of playing.” For us it was an opportunity to play the US style of basketball in a Nicaragua and for them it was the chance to play their style of game against men from the United States. Although far, far, far from the quality of an Olympic contest- I think I have a small understanding of what it feels like to play on that stage. I know that might seem dramatic, but we got to experience sport connecting two very different areas of the world.

Lastly, since I was in high school I have wanted to be able to play sport as a ministry. It was beyond incredible to have the chance to play this game in the name of the Lord. While our entire team was made up of missionaries, the other team had three men who were Christian. In fact, for Isaac it was an opportunity for him to minister to men and attempt to get them to church. He said that the men come to church on occasion but are not regular members of the church. So, the fact that there was a prayer in English at the beginning of the game, a short devotional thought from David after the game, and a prayer said in Spanish after the game allowed us two great passions in our life- the Gospel message and basketball. Further the game was played with a great spirit of sportsmanship and my hope and prayer is that our example can strengthen the claim that Isaac makes with his teammates. So, again, God has granted the desires of my heart and provided a great opportunity to bring glory to Him through the sport of basketball….and those days of me playing basketball like this are much closer to an end than they were five years ago.

Immediately following the game the Nicaraguan team was ready to play again. Maybe God will give me the chance to provide that rematch at another time…

The day today was very similar to yesterday. We opened the day with breakfast and a great devotional/discussion led by David from Philippians 2. We were challenged to humble ourselves- to empty ourselves of pride. It was a good start to our day as we continue to use sport and, for the women, manicures to build relationships. We played another great game of baseball and then it was off to a school to allow some of our team to meet students that they sponsor. We met seven students and took them to Pizza Hut for lunch. This was a fantastic thing for me to observe…I will let team members share for themselves their feelings maybe tomorrow in the blog or when they return. But as someone watching it was plain for me to see that there was an immediate connection of love and a great deal of gratitude from both sides. We went to another local Christian school where we were able to help teach English and play with students during recess/PE.

The day ended with a trip to Pastor Wilber’s church for Tuesday night service. It would have been great to experience hearing Pastor Wilber preach but instead he chose to include us throughout the service. One of our young team members, Andrew, read John 1:1-4, another team member sang a song and prayed, the entire team sang a song with motions, and David and I were asked to preach. Needless to say, it was fun but a bit stressful because we found out we were performing these duties literally minutes before we were on…

Tomorrow we go to the park for another morning of games. In the afternoon we will distribute bags of food to local families and have time to encourage and pray with them inside their homes. I think this will be a great experience for us all. Our day tomorrow will end with a surprise trip to watch our Nicaraguan friends play in their championship game bearing signs and wearing supportive t-shirts. We hope it works to build more trust with the men we played basketball against. Please stay in prayer for us…

Monday, July 9, 2012- Day 4 Nicaraguan Sports Team

Today the blog is being written by a TPCC member named Donna Frecker. Our usual Blogger, Bret, is too busy mentally preparing for the “big game” tonight (I’ll talk more about that later). We had another fabulous day here in Nicarangua. We started off the day with a wonderful breakfast. Just in case you’re wondering, the food here is great! It’s one of the few mission trips where you won’t lose a pound This morning was cheese omelets, beans and rice (a staple), toast, fresh watermelon and pineapple which tastes so much better than in the states, cereal, tropical fruit, coffee… We then moved to the rocking chairs on the porch for our morning devotional. This morning Bret led us and I can honestly say he’s an inspirational and encouraging speaker (and he didn’t even tell me to say that). We loaded the bus and were off to the park to meet our families. On our first day at the park, we realized that we weren’t just working with kids, but with families. We had plenty of activities for teens and young adults, but nothing planned for their mothers that came along. Therefore, we came up with an activity for them today. Pau, Dawn and I purchased supplies for manicures and spent the morning pampering these lovely ladies and some teenage girls. It was a blessing for the three of (spoiled U.S. women) to provide some TLC to these ladies. While we were massaging their hands with lotion and working on their nails, we were able to connect with some personal conversation. We talked about their families, a health concern (please pray for Nancy), their faith…. WE were blessed to be able to provide this special attention.
Of course the men and teenagers weren’t interested in manicures and spent their morning playing baseball with the young adults and teens at our camp. The teams were mixed with our group and the Nicas, so there was much bonding and encouraging going on. Some strong connections have continued to grow and develop. I would tell you who won, but I was too busy doing nails, so I don’t even know who won. No injuries/stitches today and only one bruised palm from our very nimble pitcher, so it was a great morning.
We stopped by McDonalds for a quick lunch on the way to our next adventure. We broke into two groups to visit local schools. My group visited Rey Solomon. During our afternoon, we visited/participated in two classes – English and PE. The English class made me realize, once again, how difficult the English language is (and I’m a reading teacher). As I spelled words to the students, they made many interesting errors such as: I would say “S” and they would write “es”, when I said the letter “U”, “you” was written, for the letter “t” they wrote “the”… These spelling errors were simple mistakes compared to deciding which tense of “ate” to write (we have many choices: ate, eat, eaten, eats, eating…) What a crazy language to learn. The gym class was outside in the courtyard and VERY hot, but similar to gym classes in the US. We do have a prayer request for one of the students we met. His name is Nathaniel and we noticed that he had a very enlarged left cheek. His teacher told us that he’s having surgery this Wednesday to remove a cancerous tumor in his muscle. This will be followed by chemotherapy so please continue to pray for him. His recovery will be long and difficult. The other half of us visited Tavernaculo Agua Viva. Many other interesting stories that may be mentioned by Brett at a later time.
Back to the Quinta for another great meal (chicken, rice, delicious beans and carrots, amazing guacamole, salad, bread, juice…) Bret barely ate a bite as he was too geared up about the big game tonight (USA against Nica). The guys have had fun “trash talking” in advance, but we’re hoping for a Christian game
We are now at the “big basketball game”. Our team is hyped and ready to go. We have MANY spectators to cheer along our team (over over 35 of us from the Quinta, not counting players). Our college aged girls even made signs to cheer along our team. At the end of the first quarter, the score was 15 to 11 (team USA). Half time update: Aaron just asked me to mention that his Uncle Bret cannot stop coaching and is ready to tell his team what to do… “Once a coach, always a coach”. Actually David is doing his best coaching too. The score is now 28 to 16 (team USA). End of the third quarter shows a score of 33 to 32 (USA). This is becoming some great competition! Only a few minutes left and the excitement is growing… We’re really witnessing some talented players on both teams. I’m sitting right behind Jackson and Aaron and they are going crazy! So much suspense and excitement! Aaron just yelled, “I can’t watch”! Only seconds left… And the final score is 57 to 53 – USA! And the crowd goes wild! Another quote from Aaron, “they never lost the lead the whole game, but geez they came close”. Both teams formed a circle and ended with great sportsmanship in a Christian environment. And a huge thank you to our new friends from Austin Christian Fellowship for coming to play with us!!

Sunday, July 8, 2012- Nicaragua Sports Team Day 3

My experiment with including quotes from other team members seems to be fizzling out. Yesterday I was able to include 7-8 other team members in the blog. Today- 0. This is not caused by a lack of meaningful events. It is because the team enjoys being around each other so much that they gather chairs around tables and begin to play cards…so they have good reason.

Before I get to the day I would like to share something…in my youth I thought that Christianity was such a boring thing. I remember hearing that there was a lot of singing in heaven and I just thought that sounded boring. Sorry, but that was my youthful mind. But as I sit here on the patio and reflect on the adventures I have been on the last year and a half I am grateful for the life that God has lead me into. I stood on the street corner after writing the first blog entry on Friday night and I was a bit awestruck by the fact that I was standing in Managua, Nicaragua. And I thought that only God could lead me on such an exciting journey. In the last year and a half I have traveled to three foreign countries and each time has been orchestrated and carried out by God. So, my initial belief that Christianity is boring has been proven wrong by my Creator…

The day started bright and early again for me. I was awakened by the crowing roosters at about 5 and went for another run through the neighborhood. After a breakfast that included pancakes, bacon, and more fresh fruit we gathered for our devotion given by David. He used Luke to remind us that Christ calls us to give up our material possessions to help the poor and then follow Him. It was a great challenge- one that I rarely live up to. Unfortunately, I can all too often relate to the rich young ruler who hung his head because he knew he could not fulfill the requests of Jesus.

Shortly following our devotional time we were greeted by a busload (approximately 25) Nicas ready to go have fun swimming in the lake. The honking of the horn on the bus brought excitement for the team as we waited to see which of our friends from the day before would join us for the day. And when the bus pulled into the compound we were greeted by many smiling faces (of course) and hands hanging out the window. The bus ride was a bit more than an hour long and Pastor Wilber decided to wake everyone up by encouraging us to sing songs. The Nica were the first to go, of course, and they all immediately began a catchy song that made it hard to sit still. The Americans found it difficult to think of a song with tempo (sad, I know) so we busted out “This Little Light of Mine” and then after another upbeat Nica song decided to go to the old favorite “Father Abraham.” The final song was a Nica preschool song about a chicken and a frog that included many silly movements. Some of us were photographed, but time prevents me from including those tonight—breaks my heart…

We took the group swimming in a beautiful lake located in a town (Granada) that was founded in 1524. It is a beautiful city with many colorful buildings. It is a vacation destination for some of the Nica families. Once we got people into the water we had a fantastic time. There were people teaching Nica kids how to swim, people playing catch with footballs and baseballs, and attempts at building a tower in the water- we were unsuccessful at the three level towers. We swam until about 11:15, ate lunch together, and headed home. The events of the day left many tired and many eyes fell closed on the drive home.

We had an hour to get ready and then headed into downtown Managua for an afternoon church service. I’d like to be able to describe all of the events, but I did not understand most of what was going on…I mean language wise. But their love for the Lord and and desire to praise Him was evident! It was certainly moving even though I could not understand.

I have to cut it short because I am about to lose my opportunity for internet access. Tomorrow includes more sports with the kids, a trip to a Nica Christian school to play and teach English, and the all-important basketball game in the evening….it’s getting pretty serious!

More to come later- probably not tomorrow because the game will probably last longer than my availability for internet….

Meeting the Nicaraguans- Day Two of the Nicaraguan Sports Team Trip

Saturday, July 7, 2012- Nicaraguan Sports Team Update

“Today was the first day with the local kids. Seeing the smile on their faces brought an even bigger smile to me. I can’t wait to see what we get to do the rest of the week!” Will Norton, Indy Youth

Buenos dias para Managua, Nicaragua. One of the things that I would like to do this week is to include comments from as many of the team members as possible. The quote above from Will is a good introduction to the day. It started for me with a quiet morning run through the neighborhood and a fantastic breakfast that included some of the best fresh fruits that I have eaten. We loaded up our bus with a sound system, sports equipment, about 50 lunches, drinks, and our team of 17. Our job for the day was to begin to build relationships with young people from a local church and community. The tools included baseballs, futbols, basketballs, and volleyballs- sport is the vehicle we are using to connect. We took a ten minute drive to the sports facility where we spent our day. We arrived about 30 minutes before the kids and a great game of Knockout (Gotcha for the Tennessee crowd) began that included most of the team members. A short, fun bonding experience for the team. This takes me off the beaten path for a few lines- as I type this I am sitting on the porch at La Quinta Primavera in the middle of three different card games going on at the same time. Young and old; Nashville and Indianapolis all playing Phase 10, Euchre, and other games together. The group is getting along extremely well!

Back to our day…our group arrived at the sports complex at about 9 am. The team formed a line to welcome our new friends and we walked with them to a covered pavilion for instructions and a few ice breakers. We played two games that caused us to move around and have fun…

“The one thing I will remember about today was the faith that my partner showed while we were playing Railroad Tracks game and how she ran up to me and jumped into my arms trusting me to catch her.” Dawn Fair, Indy Adult (I’ll let Dawn explain Railroad Tracks to those who are curious)

After the games we divided the kids into 4 groups each with 9-15 and it was off to sports. The kids rotated to new sports every 30 minutes. So we had 52 Nicaraguan kids, some parents, and some very small children playing sports or sitting and talking with members of our group. The moments that I got to stop teaching basketball for a minute I would look at all the activity and I felt so filled by what I was seeing…kids from different backgrounds playing soccer and baseball together. Kids learning new things at their basketball and volleyball stations. And Nicaraguan mothers sitting and talking with our team members. After two hours of sports we ate lunch together, enjoyed a devotion by David Cupp, and headed out for an hour of just playing and hanging out. Here is what some others have to say about the day:
“Today was awesome! The Nicaraguans were so friendly and are really good at sports. During prayer they all looked thankful. Again today was awesome.” Andrew Nelson, Indy Youth

“Besides learning that I am really bad at baseball, I had so much fun meeting our new Nica friends for the first time. Even though we couldn’t communicate with words we really connected. I fell completely in love with the kids and had fun trying to talk to the ones my age. I am so excited to go swimming with some of them tomorrow.” Autumn Fair, Indy Youth

“I was working and playing soccer with all the kids today and had such a great time. The kids were so fun and lovable. The most rewarding part was at the end when a group of girls wanted to go play baseball. I have never in my life played baseball but it was so much fun! They were so excited and cheering for everyone on our team. I think that’s when I really realized it didn’t matter to them who knew their language or not, they just want to love and be loved.”

I gotta say that I learned a lot about communicating without talking. It was great! I was laughed at several times as I tried to recall Spanish from my three years I took in high school and played unofficial games of charades trying to teach squaring up to the basket. Others learned things as well…

“Today I learned patience. By not being able to speak the same language as our Nica friends I had to be patient. Almost every time I tried to have a conversation I had to as a translator for help. This was very difficult for me because I am used to everything being so instantaneous. Also, not being able to understand them the first time they said something was frustrating. I had to ask them to repeat themselves multiple times so I could understand when a translator wasn’t around. Although it was frustrating I am glad I experienced some different barriers and that my eyes were opened to new things.” -Kerri Loftis, Nashville Adult (kind of)

I think that I can speak for the entire team when I say that the highlight of the day was our Nicaraguan friends. They are so accepting of us and so ready to love and have fun. I could spend many paragraphs talking about Cristian, Joseph, Judith, Jorge, Marcos, Eddy, Francis, and a lot of others. But I will spare my stories and end with one from Rob McEwan, Indy Adult: “Today I met a two year old named Allison. She reminded me of my daughter but also made me think about how young children can be so accepting of others because they don’t have any preconceived notions or prejudices. God calls us to greet everyone the way Allison greeted me- with a smile and an outstretched hand.”

Tomorrow we head to a local lake (clean) to take most of the group we met today swimming. Then we get cleaned up for a 3 pm church service at a local congregation that is apparently going to be quite the experience.

Exciting news for the day- there will be a basketball game at the sports complex between members here at La Quinta and a Nicaraguan team put together by a local high school coach. I am excited, but a little concerned. Talk about a major road game….and the word on the street is that the Nicaraguan that is arranging their team has connections to the Nicaraguan National Team. It could get ugly….and I hope that I won’t end up in a Managuan hospital…yikes.

Nicaragua Sports Team, Day 1- 7/6/2012

Welcome to the Nicaragua 2012 Sports Team blog. During the week I will attempt to provide daily updates of the team’s activities. Let me first tell you a little bit about me so that you know a little about the person who is writing. My name is Bret and I am the son of Darrel Schierling of TPCC. I was raised in Indiana and moved to Nashville, TN in 1996. I married that year and currently have three children. My oldest, Jackson, is with me on this trip. The fact that there are three generations of Schierlings on this trip is exciting for me. I also started working as a teacher and coach at a Christian school in Nashville in 1996. Next year will be my first as a principal at that same school.
So who would have thought that I would have to travel about five hours by plane to find temperatures in the 80s. When we landed at 11:20 am local time it was 80 degrees- a far cry from the 100+ temperatures in Indianapolis and Nashville. It has been an overcast day and has actually included some rain- something that I have not seen in more than 3 weeks. But let me backtrack a bit…
The day for most of us began with a 2:30 am wakeup. We met at TPCC at 3:15 and left the parking lot before 3:30. Needless to say, there are a lot of tired folks this evening but the mood is light and cheerful. After the younger generation played a card game on the floor of the airport we boarded a plane leaving for Houston a little after 5:00 am. A short layover in Houston and we were in Managua, Nicaragua before the afternoon. The airport, let me just say that using that word to describe where we landed might be a bit of a stretch, but we made it through customs quickly and were on our way through the busy traffic to our home base for the week- La Qinta Primavera. It is a bit hard to describe, but it is a quiet mini-oasis with Cracker Barrel rocking chairs and exotic plants. The afternoon has been busy with organizing the sports equipment, clothing, sponsor gifts, and getting settled in rooms. The plan for the week is to work with the same group of kids for five days and also spend some time at a local Christian school helping students with English and playing with them at recess and PE. Details on that will follow…
Two things that have stood out to me today- these words/phrases were laid on my heart as we traveled by plane from Houston to Nicaragua: preparation and the unity we experience in Christ.
It first struck me that each of us here have been prepared for a “time such as this.” Before this trip was planned and before we signed on there were events in our lives that were preparing us for this week…and since we have agreed to be a part of this mission God has been working in all of our lives to get us ready to do the work He has set out for us. And I, for one, have probably not been aware at all that the preparation has been taking place. It is a time for me to hold to the promise of Romans 8:28- “ And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose.” God has been and will continue to work through all of the events in our lives…we have people on this mission trip aged 12 to 68 and God has met each one at whatever point in each life to work for good and prepare us for this purposeful calling.
The second thing that struck me was the wonderful unity we have in Christ. There are people on this trip who do not know each other well- some from Indianapolis and some from Nashville- but we have a unique bond of shared purpose. So my prayer for this group at this time is found in Romans 15:5-6…”May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
I am a bit slow to speak for everyone on this trip- but I believe that everyone here would appreciate you praying that scripture into our lives during this week.
Members of our team: Indy Contingent- Darrel Schierling, David Cupp, Rob McEwan, Dawn Fair, Autumn Fair, Pau Nelson, Andrew Nelson, Will Norton, Olivia Norton, Will Flecker, Donna Flecker, Aaron Hardy, and Daniel Sima…Nashville Contingent- Kerri Loftis, Leighton Williams, Jackson Schierling, and Bret Schierling…As Paul wrote to the Colossians “Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.”

All of this coming from a Nicaraguan ice cream shop called Pops…