January 2011 - The Harvest Initiative

The New Year

The new year is off to a good start! I was able to spend a couple of weeks in Nicaragua to make sure that the projects have what they need. So much of our work is in primary education that the beginning of the school year in late January is a critical time. The schools in Granada and Tipitapa are busy registering kids and getting classrooms ready.

The most noticeable progress is in the newest site, KM 34 as we call it. A new classroom is being built with the help of the Nice Foundation to allow for expansion. So many children live in the new settlement that we will offer from preschool to fourth grade this year. We expect 120 kids to register. While we were working on the site parents were bringing their kids to sign up. It is also good to point out that the community is helping volunteer labor to build the new classroom.

Ami Wilson and a team of students from Missouri State University worked on the site in Tipitapa to build a new section of the security wall. The old wire fence was falling down. Also as the area has become densely populated there have been problems with our neighbors water runoff,, noise and other issues. Like the old saying goes, ”Good fences make for good neighbors.” Ami’s team spent time doing VBS with children in several area churches. Everyone I spoke with was very impressed by the students and their work, so a big thanks to Ami, Bradley Fischer, and Dave Embry as well as the Nicaragua team.



Countdown

Our family is beginning to make plans to return to Nicaragua for another two year term. We plan to move in the last part of July. Obviously there is a lot to do to prepare for this move both in Nicaragua and in the USA. During my visits to Nicaragua I have been looking at houses and schools trying to get some ideas of the best options. We truly ask for everyone’s ongoing prayers for this whole transition process.

Also stateside we are planning to send a large shipment of food and equipment in February followed by another shipment probably in May. The schedule for shipping is compressed a bit this year due to the presidential elections in the Fall. As the voting grows nearer all government work will grind to a virtual halt. We don’t want any goods stuck in customs here during the last part of the year. There will be opportunities for volunteers to help pack the containers in Highland, Illinois.



The Harvest Bags

Valeria and Abby Lopez are doing well with their ladies sewing groups the main group in Managua has increased the quality of the ladies handbags that they produce enough that we are able to help them begin to market them. The sale of the bags provides employment and helps finance women’s training workshops in rural areas. Quality control is a big stumbling block for many products from craftspeople in the developing world. We have emphasized with the women that they much produce a consistently high quality article to ensure repeat and referral business. As much as possible the “pity purchase” needs to be avoided. Yes, these women are poor but people that buy the bags need to know that they are getting a good value as well as directly benefiting the poor.



Digging a Little Deeper

One of the things that struck me this last trip to Nicaragua was a comment by Armando Reyes, one of the preachers. He is working on three new church plants in the area of Tipitapa. He said that the hardest barrio for evangelism right now is the Cristo Rey neighborhood. He cited the continual giveaway “ministries” that come in and pass out food, clothes and other goods. The people have become so accustomed to handouts from Christians that if there are no goodies it is hard to get a hearing for the Gospel. Jesus faced the same dynamic, in John 6 after the feeding of the more than 5000 he said, “you seek me not because you saw signs but because you ate and were filled.” It is regrettable when good intentions turn into stumbling blocks. My preacher friend’s words were a reminder to me that we must be very wise as we work with the poor. Recently we have been blessed to meet and work with a Christian organization called Opportunity International to help start a new Vocational High School. One of their guidelines is to invest with the poor in ways that help communities use the resources available to them in more appropriate ways. If people don’t learn to be good stewards of what they have it is unlikely that just giving them more will produce any long term benefit. In fact, too many giveaway programs result in just the opposite: dependence and spiritual hardening.

the Mayan glyph for “Harvest”

Marcus and Ann Pearson

www.Cosechanic.com

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