Blog

Christmas Baby Shower for New Mothers in Nicaragua!!

The women’s ministry at Bent Creek Baptist Church in Asheville, NC are hosting their annual Christmas Tea. Their theme this year is centered around celebrating the birth of Jesus by having a Baby Shower for New Mothers in Nicaragua!

Everyone who attends the tea is asked to donate a baby item that will go directly to new moms in the communities that we serve.

We are so thrilled to be able to spread the word on this upcoming event that is going to be such a blessing for these new moms!

If you are interested in joining us for the event or would like to donate we’d love to have you! Here are the details:

Where: Bent Creek Baptist Church

1554 Brevard Road  Asheville, NC 28806

When: December 8th 2-4pm

Baby Items Needed:

  • Cloth diapers & pins (not disposable diapers)
  • Birth-2yrs clothes, onesies etc. (lightweight & can be gently used)
  • Baby Soap Baby Washcloths
  • Baby/Kids Vitamins
  • Lightweight blankets
  • Baby Socks

If you have any questions you can email us at inquire@visionnicaragua.org or you can call Bent Creek Baptist Church at (828) 667-9818

Our next team is heading down in December and will be handing out the baby gifts during that time. So, keep an eye out for those pictures and stories!

Concord Bonner Scholars Visit Nicaragua

Sunset from the Kitchen

Coming into this service trip, I had no idea at all what to expect.  Now that we are at the halfway point of our journey, I am so very thankful that I approached the trip in this way.  I realize that nothing I could have ever pictured would have matched the greatness I have witnessed by being a part of this experience.  Not only is the scenery of Nicaragua absolutely breathtaking, but the people who live and work here have such beautiful, kind spirits that totally match the magnificence that I’ve seen throughout the countryside.  In just a few days, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting so many friendly and welcoming individuals—each and every one full of their own unique personalities.  While it has been incredibly difficult to communicate at times because of the English-Spanish language barrier, everyone has been incredibly patient and understanding with us all.  On the first day here, someone from another team said to a few of us, “Don’t worry about speaking Spanish.  I’ve found that two things translate effortlessly: smiles and hugs,”  I didn’t think much of it at the time, but now that I’ve been here for a longer period of time, I realize what great advice that was!  Even though we don’t always know what the other is saying, I think the group as a whole has bonded significantly with the Nicaraguan youth we have been spending so much time with, because we all understand things like smiles and hugs.

Our Team at Cerro Negro

It has been so interesting and inspiring to get to know these youth and their stories; it makes it even more worthwhile to know the people here on such a personal level and be able to help them in whatever way we can all while spending time with them.  I am a firm believer that everyone on Earth has a remarkable life story to tell and the people I have met this week have been even further support of that.

As a person who has done virtually no international travel, or really been outside of their comfort zone whatsoever, I think this trip has been completely perfect to start out and get a good grasp of what it’s like to be in a place totally different from the home one is used to.  Even though there are quite a few differences between the culture of Nicaragua and the culture of the US, the similarities in relationships and interpersonal interactions are without a doubt the same.  The balance between alike and unalike works really well to make it easy to adjust to an area that isn’t quite like home.  Yes, the climate is different here, I’ve traded a mountain scenery for one with exotic trees and volcanoes, and the money I use at home holds an entirely different value here, but overall, when you step away from all of that and look only at the people, and their spirit—we are all much more alike than we are different.  While I’ve been here, I’ve seen a lot of things from both the Vision Nicaragua workers and the Nicaraguan natives that I hope and strive to take home with me to the United States.  Some of these things are the sense of endless compassion and faith I have witnessed, the prioritization of the event—rather than the time spent on the event, and the uninterrupted positivity that flows through the mission center, the area of Bethel, and most every other place we have been to thus far!  (And if there’s any way I could sneak a suitcase of Estela’s rice and beans home that would be a good bonus too!)

spotlight on VN medical clinic—common ground blog #4

Within the walls of the Vision Nicaragua compound there is a medical clinic run by a very compassionate Doctor.  Dr. Michael assists the men and women of Chinandega with their health needs.  During the week, Dr. Michael saw multiple patients from Bethel, a neighboring village, who have been affected by chronic kidney failure due to the pesticides used in the sugar cane fields.

Clinic

As a health care worker, I began to see the major differences between Nicaraguan health care vs. the U.S health care system.  I am a physical therapist in the U.S, but in Nicaragua I was a pharmacist, nurse, respiratory therapist, as well as a physical therapist.  Despite the people inside that clinic being very sick, they greeted me with a smile and attempted to talk with me despite the language barrier.  Other than playing multiple roles at the clinic, another difference I noted was the “patience” the patients had while waiting to see Dr. Michael.  They waited over half the day to see him, and never once got upset about their wait time.  Prescription medicines are much easier to be distributed (I didn’t need a pharmacy doctoral degree).  I just needed to know where they were located in the small medicine cabinet in the clinic.  Working with the assistant of the clinic was by far a huge blessing to me.

Cony & I

Her name was Cony, and despite my inability to speak Spanish, we found an effective way to communicate.  At the end of my time working in the clinic, she would say a few of the only English words she knew and I will never forget her saying, “I love you.”  It was amazing how things can be accomplished and deep relationships can be formed when communication with words is limited, but with God those things are possible!

Working w/Cony in a nearby village

Medicines made travel friendly!

feeling at home—common ground blog #3

The team is beginning to feel more at home in the Vision Nicaragua complex, as we have begun to pour some of our own labor into it.  We’ve been painting and performing other small tasks, including the construction of a multi-level scaffolding reaching 12-14 feet in the air.  I, for one, was glad to see that project completed as I spent a large portion of one day painting ceiling beams on the scaffolding’s predecessor, a shaky structure that shifted back and forth with each small movement.

The scaffolding we constructed

The Vision Nicaragua complex was also the scene of of fun and joyous celebration, as children from four small villages gathered for a day of “footbol” and fellowship. As the majority of the village populations travel by foot, bike, or bus, the gathering was facilitated through truck transportation provided by Ronaldo “El Jefe” Read and Mario Chang, who manages the facility.  Our group offered the children a chance to develop and demonstrate their soccer skills in the areas of dribbling, heading, and goalkeeping.

Kids Arriving for the Soccer Clinic

We also led the children in a round of some of the team-building activities that we practiced before departing to begin to bond as a team.  However, the highlight of the day was the opportunity for each team to test their skills in games against the other villages.  While the villages of Bethel and Piesco remained tied in the final game (despite multiple shootouts), each group of kids represented their communities well, achieving high levels of sportsmanship and spirit.  At the end of the day, all the kids clearly enjoyed the opportunity to come together at the complex and simply play around with each other for a few hours, while our team loved the chance to revel in their energy and to begin to form some relationships with them.

Ryan Elmore

rich in faith—common ground blog #2

This trip has been extrememly fulfilling already, and we’ve only been here a few days.  My favorite experiences have

been the times spent with the children.  Unexpectedly, after church on Sunday morning, we spent an hour or so doing

crafts with the kiddos from the community.  It was rewarding to see their smiling faces as they posed for pictures

and showed how proud they were of their newly-created crafts.

A second opportunity to hang out with kiddos happened during the soccer tournament.  One station was for

team-building, and we enjoyed activities like a trust circle, a teamwork ladder, and the human knot.  Giving

directions to them was challenging due to a limited Spanish vocabulary, but they all caught on fairly quickly.  God

was certainly calling us to have patience through this experience when the kids weren’t working together as a team.

Thankfully by the end of it, though, they were really able to trust each other through a bit of practice!

Soccer Camp Kids

Lastly, we spent an afternoon in a village called Ensayo.  Ron and Marty began and have continued a relationship

with the people of the community, and the rest of the group was excited to jump in with support and love.  We

crafted balloon animals, blew bubbles, flew paper airplanes, enjoyed a pinata, and handed out beans and rice to the

families.  James tells us in 2:5 that “God chose the poor people of this world to be rich in faith and to possess

the kingdom which he promised to those who love him.”  This verse seems very fitting for our friends in

Ensayo because their love for the Lord shined through their dusty feet and tattered clothing.

El Ensayo

Also, we’ve been serving alongside a World Race Team while we’ve been here….check out the link to the video they put together while  we were in Ensayo. I think you’ll enjoy it!  Click Here to Watch

Words cannot begin to encompass everything that we are experiencing, but I hope that these few stories paint a

small picture of the beauty we have been able to enjoy.

Meg Perryman

Common Ground Heads to Cerro Negro

Cerro Negro

Today we journeyed to Cerro Negro, the site of the most active volcano in Central America.  The drive up was long and bumpy.  We had to wait for cattle and pigs to cross the dirt road but we received cheers and smiles from every Nicaraguan child during the trip.  Even when we were being jolted around and ducking to miss branches that brush past, God sent His message of love in the most beautiful ways.

We arrived at the base of the volcano excited and nervous.  We had sleds and knew we were going to get very dirty but had no idea what would lay before us on our ascent to the top.  The crest to the top was 2200 feet.  It was
hot and there were loose rocks everywhere but we were ready to begin. I took my first step, ready for the challenge.  It didn’t go well.  I sprained my right ankle and went down hard, bruising my left knee as well.  A brief
scream and then the tears came.  Some were from pain, most were from the realization that I would not be able to hike the volcano which I had been anticipating greatly.  Immediately I was surrounded by my group in prayer.
I realized that I would not be climbing the volcano but God would be my entire strength in getting to the top.  He appeared in Marty as she immediately prayed for my strength.  He appeared in Nora as she taped my
ankle and helped practically carry me up the entire ascent.  He was with Jen as she encouraged me and carried my board.  He was with Jared who carried two boards so others could help.  He was with Ryan who ran down a third of
the volcano to retrieve tape and bring it back up.  I saw Omar with his encouragement and selflessness to keep me motivated.  He was with Meg who was taking pictures to capture the joy of our journey.  He was with Ron who
came up last to make sure everyone was taken care of.  God was in so many moments today that we could sum up our day with one word, Awe.

Common Ground Team

When we ascended to the top of the crest, we were absolutely breathless taking in the scenery.  The land was lush and green with beautiful peaks all around.  Smoke billowed up from parts of the volcano letting us know it was
safe for now but immense power and destruction loomed close enough to fear the power of God and appreciate His provision.  We knelt down to feel the intense heat from actual lava which was just underneath the loose layer of
rock.  God absolutely blew our mind today.  His glory was beautiful and we were truly grateful to behold it.

Lauren Crafton

Tuany

Hey everybody! Ashley Jenkins here, writing from the mission center in Nicaragua! Here’s a few of my thoughts about the trip so far.

Friday night when we arrived, I was so exhausted and I didn’t feel well. The flight seemed so long and boring. I was a little anxious about arriving at the airport knowing there would be 15 Nicaraguan youth so excited to see us, but most of our team had  no energy. When we finally arrived, I think all of us had a second wind when we got to hug our Nicaraguan friends.

Although we kind of got thrown into the youth retreat, it turned out to be a good thing because we were able to create relationships with the Nicaraguans right away (I guess being packed in the back of a cattle truck with 30 people forces bonding). This experience allowed me to create friendships more so than last year because we spent so much time with them, whereas last year we got to see them here and there for a few minutes in Bethel. I also think this was a really good opportunity for the Nicaraguan youth to get away and do things they normally don’t get the chance to do. For example, ZIP LINING THROUGH A CANOPY RAINFOREST. This was such an awesome adventure and everyone had so much fun.

Zip Lining

It was also good to grow in our faiths together. Several of the youth really opened up and it was a time of refreshing for all of us. One thing that I thought was so cool was that on Sunday morning, the Nicaraguans sang a song in Spanish and then we Americans followed by singing the same song in English. It’s so cool that we serve and worship the same God in different languages.

Since we’ve been back at the mission center, it has been a time of re-charging and spending time with the people of Bethel. I’m excited for the rest of the trip!

P.S. “tuany” means cool 🙂

The “hands” of Vision Nicaragua

One of our first groups this summer was the Butler University Team, from Indianapolis, Indiana! Butler’s team helped pave the way for a packed summer of teams. They were a tremendous help with making cosmetic improvements to our Mission Center. One of those “cosmetic” changes or improvements was placing a fresh coat of paint on the Mission Center’s walls.

Many times we have groups come and go and a lot of you never get to hear or see each other’s impact. God really is moving, here, in Nicaragua! He is using so many people to bring glory to His Kingdom!

So, we’ve decided to change that – to make a statement! Butler University’s Team set out with an idea, one that leaves a mark. They decided to paint the Vision Nicaragua logo (Thanks to Beth Werge!) with the words: “The Hands of Vision Nicaragua” inscribed above it. Whenever a person or group stays at the Mission Center, they are asked to paint up their hand and leave their mark – their handprint on the wall of the Mission Center.

We are so pumped about this idea! It brings to light Corinthians chapter 12, verses 12-14. In this passage Paul depicts for us the unity and diversity within the body of Christ: “Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free —and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.” (NIV)

It will be such a beautiful picture to look back a year from now and see the handprints of people that the Lord has brought to Nicaragua! Each handprint tells a story….it might just be time for yours to be written!

Arms Held High

Wow, it has been a week since my return to the States. As I walk up and down the halls of my school (teaching summer school) or hang out with friends, I feel as if there is a fog invading my vision. I just can’t seem to get a clear picture. Meditation, prayer, and continually delving into God’s word are the things that bring me to a place of
peace and thanksgiving. Since returning home I have found myself reflecting over the book of Philippians.

We call it a book, but to Paul (I like to think) he would consider it more like a journal or a letter to friends. The pages of Philippians are a mere documentation of his relationship with the church and its’
congregation. By no means, was Paul simply preaching the “Good News”. Paul was not just preaching! No, Paul was carrying out a love relationship with the people he encountered. He was counseling, giving
advice, serving along side, carrying out Christ’s message, and building relationships with the people of Philippi. Which eventually lead to them supporting him in prison. Which is another story, one about his faithfulness and patience. In Philippians 1:14,

“Because of my chains most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to
speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.”


A life without fear – finding full contentment in Christ…

In Philippians 4:11-13, we learn that Paul’s contentment was in Christ. He states,

“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be
content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need,
and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of
being content in any and every situation, whether will fed or hungry,
whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him
who gives me strength.”

Paul’s contentment was not found in buildings, clothing, a personal checkbook or savings account. Paul declares that contentment is found in God’s loving embrace and a relationship with Him alone. Whatever
our circumstances or situations it is all manageable knowing: “Greater is He that is in me.” (1 John 4:4) Whether the situation is a literal prison or the chains of our personal bondage, with Christ we can come
through it and be in light. …But, we can’t do it alone!

Before returning to Nicaragua in May I was visiting with a close friend and his family. As we were preparing dinner, his son was in the kitchen floor planning with some pots and pans. The kid, very content with this “loud” activity, was matching the lids of the various pots and placing them a-top their rightful owners. He was very
successfully; he had fit five lids to the appropriate pots. One pot and one lid remained. I sat there watching the kid as he took the last lid and placed it on top the pot. It didn’t fit! The kid realized
this, so he took the lid and continuously striking it on top of the pot – trying to get it to rest on the lip. It wasn’t working! I watched the kid turn the pot a hundred different ways and use all his
strength attempting to make the lid fit the pot.

…Yet, nothing seemed to work.

Finally, the kid lifts up his arms and with a single cry pleads to his father for help.

It was one of those moments in your life, an “A-ha!” moment. I realized this is us as Children of God – this is me! I need to lift up my hands, surrender it all to God, and cry out for His undying mercy, grace, and blessed assurance. God has a plan, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to
harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11) This declaration is restated by Paul in Philippians 4:19, “And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”

God has a plan for me, for each of us, which will bring glory to His Kingdom. We often want to get ahead of God’s plan and we often forget how much we need HIM. We need to remember, whether we are in chains or
defending and confirming the gospel, all of us share in God’s grace. God can testify how I long to be in Nicaragua again, to be with each of the people there by the affection of Christ Jesus. Let us serve God
wholeheartedly wherever we are. All glory be to God, my blessed redeemer.

Vaya con Dios,

Derek Voiles

*Below is a link to a song by Shawn McDonald that really puts into song what God’s been teaching me.*

Shawn McDonald “Open Me”

family is where your heart is

Hola! Today’s focus was giving back to the staff that has given so much to us this week. We started our day traveling to Leon to work on Estela’s (one of our cooks) new home.

Once there, we installed electrical wiring so she and her daughter could have outlets and lights. Despite the smoldering heat, everyone was in good spirits because we could see how much joy this brought to Estela. We have gotten to know Estela at every meal throughout the week, so today felt as though we were merely helping a family member.

Estela's House (before remodeling)

For more on Estela’s house remodeling story check out “Tear Down the Walls & Raise the Roof.” A story from from World Racer Dan Matundan.

The theme of family continued back at the project where we celebrated our staff. We did this by giving each of them a bag of beans and rice. But, in Nicaragua a fiesta is never complete without a piñata and some dancing. The staff transformed into children, as they wore a bandana and swung at the piñata with all their might. They wrestled for pieces of fallen candy and buckled over from laughing. Now, we know where the kids get it from! It was a reminder that, as Americans, we sometimes take life way too seriously, but God calls us to have the spirit of a child. Mark 10:15 states,

“I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”

As we prepare to leave the project tomorrow and begin our journey back to the States, we reflect on the relationships built within our group and with the people of Nicaragua. We feel truly blessed to have seen the world from a new angle and realize how big the family of God is.

Some of the Vision Nicaragua Staff and I

—Derek Voiles

This Campaign has ended. No more pledges can be made.