On our first full day we had the incredible opportunity to worship in the barrio (like a subdivision) called Flags. This is the barrio where JFCA raised funds to build wells. Chosen Children has been working in the Flags barrio since 2013 and JFCA has also been a part of working in this community since October 2013.
An instrumental pillar in the community is a women named Alba. She gave Chosen Children some land to build a church. A rough church structure was established along with an outhouse and Sunday school classroom. In January 2015, a group of JFCA seniors painted the Sunday school classroom. To our amazement, we arrived today to find a fully constructed (in a rustic sort of way) church with block walls, a tile floor, corrugated tin roof, and a drum set which added to the sound system and keyboard.
Carlos (who we know from previous trips), with Chosen Children is the worship leader and Guirellmo is currently the pastor and there are two men being discipled to eventually pastor the church. Today, Chris preached on some names of God:
1. Elohim - the strong creator God
2. Jehovah - the relational God
3. Adonai - the God who rules
4. Jehovah Jireh - The Lord provider
5. Jehovah Shalom - The Lord our peace
6. Jehovah Rohi - The Lord my shepherd
7. Jehovah Tsaba - The Lord our warrior
8. Jehovah Nissi - The Lord my banner
9. Jehovah Rapha - The Lord who heals
10. El Shaddai - Lord God Almighty
We spent several hours there singing and worshiping. Brighton Thompson and Michael Maiocco gave testimonies, and following the service there was a Minnion pinata filled with candy for the kids. They had a lot of fun taking turns trying to break it open. We also got a chance to purchase some food from Alba's store, a micro business through Chosen Children and the Genesis Project where she received a small business loan with no interest. We gave the food to a young 14 year old boy who is the only provider for his family. He had to drop out of school last year to work odd jobs to provide for his family.
We finished out the day with a very late lunch at El Eskimo (an upscale ice cream place in Managua) and were able to treat our translators to some hamburgers and ice cream (we all enjoyed it too!).
That night our Bible study was on Joseph and we focused on Genesis 37.
The challenge for the evening was for everyone to reflect on how they have spent the years of their life so far, have they trusted in the Lord, have they sowed good seed?
The students reflected on the day and the poverty, the beauty, the children and their contentment.
Chris taught in the Bible Institute this morning. The institute is a three year commitment by men who are looking to pastor.
The rest of the team went to the barrio, Paradise. This is a community I love very much. For our 20thwedding anniversary, Chris and I built a Christian school there as a gift to each other and after it was built, one of our JFCA groups got to paint it. There is a special young women there in Paradise, her name is Gabriella, she is 16 years old now. Over the last six years I have been able to see her. Gabriella's mom had been in the hospital last year. She has 9 brothers and sisters, a brother (who is a drunk) lives with them and only one brother helps send them a little money. At times, Gabriella sells candy and other items she can get to make money. When I asked her what I could do for her this time, she said they needed food.
We split the team up, Nathan, Kellie, Connor, Josh, Aaron, Matthew, Joseph, Michael, Asf, Gabby, and Ricky (Guirellmo's sons), Julia W., Brighton, Chelsea, Katherine did sports outreach. The guys played some competitive soccer and the girls played soccer and taught the children frisbee with the younger children. There were about 30 from the community playing soccer and Nathan shared the gospel.
We visited 5 homes, each person we visited with were new Christians, several were to regularly attending church. We had the opportunity to invite them to the church and to pray for them.
Thomas, Heather, Julia R., and Nicole with translator Juan and another women from the church also went door to door. They were rejected at one house, they prayed for several sick people, and they also got to encourage a man that was arthritis.
That night our Bible study continued in Joseph and we focused on Genesis 39-40. Great study, great day, great night!
Today the team went to Marvin, another barrio that was a special place in my heart. There is a precious lady named Blanca who lives next door to the church there. She has twin sons, Christian and David (Kevin). I am endeared to them all because my oldest son is Christian David.
Her husband has left her and her divorce should be final this month. It is a blessing that she will get the house; however she does not have any work to provide for her family. She made food and sold it, but was hospitalized for kidney stones and the $150 medical bill took all the money she had. She also used borrowed pans to make the food as hers were stolen. Last year, we paid to have bars put on her windows and a barred door and lock.
Abner drove us all to Managua to the new Walmart there to do some shopping. We splurged and bought bicycles for each of her boys! You should have seen their faces!
They had not eaten, they do not have any food, so we stopped at a Tip-top (Nicaraguan chick-fil-a) without a grilled chicken :)... They were full with just a small amount of food and packed up the rest for home.
On the way back to Marvin, we stopped at a side market and purchased two large cooking pots and spoons. We then went to a market outside of Paradise (the one we took Gabriella to yesterday) and purchased some additional items, chicken, and vegetables for her business, cleaning supplies for her house, and some food for the family. We also found them some school pants since Walmart was out of their sizes. We spent more today than she can make in one year. When business is good, she can make $70 a month and food for her family costs roughly $30-40. You can see that the math doesn't add up and any thing that comes up simply drains any extra funds and leaves no room for emergencies.
It was such a joy to spend time with my sister in Christ and to be a tangible representation of Christ in their lives!
The community was eager to take the field with our team and even brought out baseball equipment for a fun afternoon. In the morning, a group of 10 high school age boys led a few of our team to a distant pasture to play soccer while the little ones hung back at the church and learned freeze tag in a group of about 20. The afternoon brought the opportunity to play a friendly game of Nicaragua's national sport of baseball with about 20 locals. The game ended with the sharing of the gospel and testimony of our college baseball player who made a real impression.
VBS went off without a hitch! Faith shared the story of Daniel and the lions den, then Morgan shared how she found a relationship with Jesus. After Morgan shared about how that relationship has impacted her, Ivy told the children how they can gain that relationship for themselves. Many of our students made personal connections with kids today I know they were sad to leave, but they will forever be in their hearts!
Tonight we focused on Genesis 41-42. We learned that God does to waste difficulties in your life. We also learned that we are not immune to calamity. There are times in our life that we feel that God is not listening but He reassures through scripture He is always near and faithful to use calamity for His glory and our good.