In-Country News

Alexander and His Big Prayer!

 

Alexander and His Big Prayer…

We LOVE to share stories from the field with you all! We couldn’t hold this one in…here’s a story of God’s faithfulness!

Meet Alexander!

Over the past two years, we have been blessed through supporters to be able to build homes in the annex of Bethel. From the first home we started, Alexander was there. Overseeing the construction and watching every move that was being made. From start to finish, he was there.

He started to tug on the shirt of Mario (VN’s Project Manager) and began to ask“do you think I will have a home one day?”

Mario, looked him in the eye and told him “Jesus can do anything. Just ask him to help you! He knows our needs.”

So, he did. Alexander began praying and continued to follow the construction from house to house. Continually asking Mario. “do you think I’ll have a home one day?”

This past December we were praying for the Lord to show us where the greatest need was as we were notified we were going to be able to build another home.

We have many families that are in need, but one woman kept coming to mind. Her name is Maria. She is a young woman with three boys. Their home was held together by plastic, tin and pieces of wood. After praying we felt certain that this is where the Lord was leading.

When we went to her home to share the good news. There was a little boy who saw us coming and ran and told his Mom. Yep, you guessed it! It was Alexander!

We didn’t know until that day the connection that Alexander was Maria’s son!

There we were sitting in their front yard and we said “Alexander, is there something that you’ve been asking Jesus for?” A smile came across his face and very timidly he said “Yes. I’ve been praying for a home for my family.”

We shared with him that Jesus heard his prayer and provided his needs. His family was going to have a new home!

He was beyond excited! The whole family stopped right there, we prayed together and thanked the Lord for hearing our prayers and meeting our needs!

Needless to say, Alexander ran to Mario and gave him a giant hug!

We serve such a good God!

We hope this encourages you today, that no matter where you are, what your circumstance you’re facing…Jesus sees you and he hears you when you call on him!

-VN Family

118 Lives Changed

 

For the whole month of February we were given the gift of working alongside C- Squad from The World Race. The World Race, a ministry of Adventures in Missions; an 11-month mission trip that takes you to 11 countries in 11 months around the world.

Each squad is comprised of smaller teams. They start their journey together through training camp, travel to the different countries together before they are divided into their smaller teams and team up with missionaries and host organizations all over the world. Throughout their 11-month journey there is at least one of the months which is “all-squad month,” where all the teams are together for the whole month of ministry.

Where, VN has hosted many teams before, this was our first time where we had a whole squad together. 35 wonderful people in total!

THEY WERE INCREDIBLE!! 

We were continually encouraged at the ways we saw Jesus in them. Their willingness to do ANYTHING that was put in front of them and they did so with love for each other and those they served.

The majority of ministry this month (February) started with our mornings separating into two teams where our days were packed with anything from medical clinics, kids activities, door-to-door evangelism, Bible studies, praying, visiting schools, etc. The opportunities Jesus gave us to be an extension of his love and goodness were endless.

It is always encouraging when we are able to see the fruit of ministry. Although that is not promised, what we are promised is that “it is so with [his] word, it goes out and it doesn’t return void” (Isaiah 55:11). We are so beyond excited to share with you all that JESUS is moving mightily in Nicaragua and we saw so much fruit this month as….

118 people responded to the Gospel messaged and we celebrated alongside of each of these new believers!!!

 

 

Also, thanks to the efforts of the World Race squad, each one of these new believers have their very own copy of the Bible!  (Read more here: Bibles for Nicaragua)

Thank you for your prayers and your partnership in sharing the Gospel to the nations!

-VN Family

Getting Ready for a Great Week!

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Hola from the Indianapolis team!

We are actually made up of 12 people coming from various places in Indiana, Kentucky, Georgia & Canada.
We arrived on Saturday (or early Sunday morning) at the Vision Nicaragua Mission Center. We are tired, hot, and hoping that it rains, but most of all we are excited about the ways the Lord is going to use us here in Chinandega as well as how the Lord is going to transform us all as we are here.

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We have a lot of things we would love to get to do here this week, and today we took time to get ready for the week. We started our morning with a delicious breakfast then we hurried off to church that Vision Nicaragua’s, Doctor Michael helped plant in Chinandega. Some of us got to experience their Sunday school and all of us got to stand up in church and share our favorite Bible verse!

We then came back to enjoy a little siesta as well as enjoy another wonderful meal prepared my the kitchen staff!

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Lunch fueled us to explore the market in Chinandega where we bought beans and rice so that we can distribute it out to families later this week. Picture the 12 of us (well some stayed in the car) trying to load 100lb bags into a truck. It was quite comical.

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After exploring the market, we made our way to Bethel, a town that Vision Nicaragua helped to rebuild after a devastating hurricane. We were given a tour of the town and played with kids! We are going to be spending a lot of this week here & we cannot wait to go back to spend time with them.
We all are well. The weather here really has been beautiful and we are excited to keep you updated with the ways the Lord is working.

Thank you for your prayers!

8

Medical Grant to Provide more Clinics in Remote Villages

Every now and then you just need to hear some good news, right? We think so too!

This past week we received GREAT news from Common Ground Church in Indiana that we were choosen for a $2,000 medical grant that will allow us to provide more medical clinics in remote villages!! That’s worth sharing!

Our medical outreach opportunities have grown within the last year and this will help expand our ability to serve even more! Basic medical care isn’t readily available to the families that we serve in our outreach villages, so holding clinics allow us to be able to go where the people are! A little modern day spin on Mark 2 if you will.

I’m sure you all remember the story of the young man who was paralyzed and his friends wanted to take him to see Jesus so he could be healed. Although there was a crowd that surrounded Jesus that didn’t stop them. They made an opening in the roof and lowered their friend to see Jesus. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man “Son, your sins are forgiven” (vs.5) Jesus not only forgave this man of his sins, but also healed his physical aliment. He told him “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” (vs. 11) The physical condition of their friend was what brought them to Jesus but they left with much more than they came for.

The Lord has allowed these medical clinics to “open the roof” of opportunities to minister to not just the physical needs but spiritual needs of the patients we’ve seen. From sharing the Gospel, praying, holding a sick baby, or simply taking the time to make conversation with an elderly woman who needs someone to listen. He uses it all. And he uses them to bring about hope and express His love for his children.

We are so grateful for the heart and leadership of our in-country doctor and nurse, Dr. Michael and Conny. Dr. Michael helps us find the communities that are in the greatest need and his heart is for seeing people come to know the great physician. He never leaves a patient without first pointing them to the one who is able to bring wholeness!

Anyone who knows Conny knows that she is a gift. Her contagious love for people is such a reflection of Christ. She loves people deeply and treats every patient as if they were her own family. Not to mention she brings an incredible amount of joy and laughter wherever she goes.

We are truly blessed as an organization to have the privilege of serving alongside people like Dr. Michael and Conny. But, we are also blessed by each of you. Supporters who believe in what God is doing in Nicaragua and want to be a part of it!

So, to the Common Ground community and to each of you who faithfully link arms with us in serving in Nicaragua, thank you!

And take the time today to share the good news about what God is doing in Nicaragua! It’s worth sharing!

6

Sponsor Letters Coming Soon!!

It gives us no greater pleasure than to share with you all the newest addition to our sponsorship program! It has been our hope and prayer for quite some time to create more opportunities for our sponsors to engage with the students and individuals that they faithful sponsor yearly!


That day has finally come and this fall we will be launching “to Nica with Love” which is simply opening up the opportunity for you to send and receive letters to/from Nicaragua.

What will this look like?

Over the summer we have been working on collecting updated pictures, bios, and letters of everyone involved in our sponsorship program. Since returning from Nicaragua we’ve been hard at work compiling all our this info to send to you…our awesome sponsors!!! We are in the last stages of  putting the finishing touches on welcome packets (for new sponsors) and translating the 1st batch of letters to send out to each of who who are involved in the program!

We will be mailing out all the information you will need to get started writing! Be on the look out for more ideas, tips, and ways you can creatively communicate with our Nicaraguan community!

The heartbeat of Vision Nicaragua has always been building relationships. That is why we are so excited about launching this new opportunity! You will have the opportunity to: be a voice of hope and encouragement into the lives of those you support and most importantly share the love of Christ! That is an impact that is truly immeasurable!

So, stay tuned and check your mailboxes! It’s coming soon!

8

Finding Jesus

Each night of our mission, our team would come together to pray and process the day. One of the standard questions became, “Where did you see Jesus today?” It not only got me thinking about where in fact, did I see Jesus – it made me actually start looking for Jesus throughout the day. It’s amazing what can happen when you slow down and pay attention long enough to actually “look” for Jesus. What’s even more amazing is where I found Him.

One of the first villages we visited, and the one I visited the most was Bethel. Bethel is a small village closest to the mission house. On the first day when I took a walking tour of the village, I was in shock. Seeing photos of what dwelling conditions can look like in a third world country and actually being there are two totally different things.  Honestly, it was some of the worst conditions I have ever seen, and yet the people were some of the most gracious. They welcomed a group of foreign strangers, who showed up unannounced, with hugs and open arms. The pulled out their best (and often only) chairs and encouraged us to sit. Cony, a woman whose kitchen we worked on all week, actually unplugged her small refrigerator so she could plug in a fan to keep us cool. That’s where I found Jesus.

On Monday afternoon, I visited Ensayo, another small village for women’s Bible study. The Bible study took place in a small clearing, underneath some fruit trees, off of the main dirt road. The women walked in the heat to get there and were taught by two young women from the village, who had been working closely with another missionary. While the women were having Bible study, we entertained the children, and they entertained us. They sang us songs and we did our best to pick up the words and clap to the beat. We blew them bubbles and they shrieked in delight as they chased after them. That’s where I found Jesus.

On Tuesday afternoon, we bagged up 90 7lb bags of rice and 90 7lb bags of beans to distribute to families in Nuevo Amanecer (New Dawn). When we drove up, we were surprised at the number of people who came out to greet us. It ended up being a great day. Pastor Antonio said a few words, followed by our team leader, Ron. We wanted to stress that the blessings did not come from us, but from Jesus. We were working for Him! After the distribution of food, one of my group members read the story of Jesus walking on the water in Spanish. Imagine 60+ kids sitting in the dirt, listening to Bible stories. We smiled as we saw some of the parents move in closer so they could hear as well. We followed the story with a piñata and activities for the kids. My activity was making little beaded bracelets. The kids crowded around us so much I thought someone was in danger of being trampled. I thought a lot about American kids that day, as I watched the Nicaragua kids scramble to take part in making paper airplanes, tissue paper flowers and the bracelets. Something so simple brought so much joy – to us and to them. That’s where I found Jesus.

This trip made me realize that Jesus isn’t found in fancy churches with stained glass windows. Jesus doesn’t care about you wearing your Sunday best. I am here to testify that I found Jesus on a dirt path, in a small village underneath a fruit tree. I’m sure if you look hard enough, you can find Jesus too in places you never thought you would.

He never stops teaching me.

Team Member Jared from Common Ground Church in Indiana shares  about…”Understanding God’s Will First Hand” during his trip with Vision Nicaragua.


Today, God proved that he never stops teaching me. He shows me profound truths that my mind would tell me that I already know but my heart has never really understood. My relationship with God seems to be in a constant balance between knowledge and understanding. I know things to be true but my heart just does not get it. The beautiful thing about Nicaragua is that God is so present and moving here that it is impossible to escape him and the ways he wants me to understand…Truly understand.

Joy

Today the word Joy manifested itself over and over to me. We worked on Connie’s kitchen today. Connie is a member of the staff at Vision Nicaragua and she assists Dr. Michael with the medical clinics they have on the project sight as well as around the villages. Connie has had a dream for some time now to add a kitchen on to her house. Vision Nicaragua stepped in and said that they would provide a loan for her to purchase the materials and provide the labor to install. We were building the back wall. As we all struggled with non-uniform blocks and out of square concrete columns, Connie came up behind me the only phrase in English I thinks she knows, “OK People!” which for me I heard “It’s ok, Jared”

You see Connie does not care that the wall is straight or that it looks pretty, she is just joyful it is there. She does not complain about her leaky tin roof or the smells coming from the pig in the backyard. She is just is joyful to have these things.

In the afternoon we went to a village named Nuevo Amanacer . I watched as Kim Neidigh read the children a story about when Jesus calmed the storm. She read and 60 kids and parents were mesmerized.

They were so joyful of the story when she got to the part about the boat rocking the kids were chanting, “Derecha, izquirdea, derecha (right, right, left) and leaning that way to mimic the boat rocking… Joy, true joy, in a way that is beyond material things. How much better would life be if we smiled this much, laughed this much, rejoiced this much?

Community

Real community, the kind where a group of people love each other so well that through the ebb and flow of the relationship God interacts with us. Personally, for me I am all about community when I can control it. When I can control how much and how little of the true “me” people get.

I have always had a passion for service. It is a very natural thing for me to do. Being served is something different all together. I am ok if I can decide when and where I am to be served. As long as I can control how much I am vulnerable. Unfortunately for my pride God doesn’t work like that and this place has a way of bringing that to my attention.

I had a conversation the other night with a girl who is down here from another group about my struggles with this. We were washing dishes for the group and she would not let anyone take over for her. Instantly I knew how she felt and how she is because I am the same way. Serve… Don’t be served. I was discussing this with her and I told her how last year while I was on this trip I lost my wallet and was forced to rely on my community for money, for food, water, cash to get out of the parking lot at the airport. God has a way if he wants you to learn something you will, first hand.

One day later this girl was sick. So sick she could hardly get out of bed. When we came back from the village she was laying in the main room on a mattress with five or six girls sitting around her, laying with her, cuddling up next to her… Compassion…Real community.

I understood then that God’s community has no give and take. There are no favors. This is not such a thing of owing somebody. In God’s world there are no such things as I.O.U’s. Only love… Completely free of possession.

One thing I have learned on the two trips that I have been down to Nicaragua is my impact on the people here is small. Their impact on me is eminence; the joys, the smiles, the community. Vision trips are appropriately named. It’s a vision of what life could be like and in many ways what life should be like. The people here give me so much more than I give them and I now understand that is ok.

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

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