March 2004 Newsletter
The Month of Two Groups
This month we were visited by two work groups from the U.S. The first was sent by Harvester Christian Church in St. Charles, MO. The second came from the Crossroads Christian Church in Corona, CA. Both groups worked on a new classroom at the Christian Primary school in Tipitapa. Both took an over-night trip across Lake Nicaragua to remote communities for an evening presentation of an evangelistic film.
Thanks to the efforts of these volunteer crews, the new classroom went from a pile of materials to being 80 % complete in just a few weeks. The school grows every year and we are glad to have a leg up on space for next year’s expansion.
In addition to the construction work, each group did some teaching in the churches and schools. Tom Plog from the Harvester group, taught one evening on “Bible Interpretation and Worship” and also preached at Sunday’s evening service in Granada in Spanish. The Crossroads group brought 2 women, Jessica and Carol to do teaching with the women. They prepared a workshop on “Biblical Perspectives on Sexuality and Related Topics.” They presented the workshop 9 times during the week with excellent turnouts of women from the churches and young girls from the schools. There is a profound need for Biblical teaching on this difficult subject and we deeply appreciate them for taking on this task.
We were excited that both groups took the boat trip across Lake Nicaragua to present the “Jesus” film. Although I travel to remote areas periodically, this was a new experience for me. I had never brought a group of visitors to an area like this with so few contacts in the community. Praise the Lord, both trips went very well, although during this part of the year they were very difficult. High winds made for 3’ to 5’ swells on in the open lake. Several hours of this in an open boat is quite exhausting. We were well received by the communities, Puerto Diaz and Morrito. The films were well attended and it was a big encouragement to the small groups of Christians who live there. These 2 trips are the second contact we have had with these 2 communities. I do not know what future ministries we can do in these areas, as they are small and remote, but at least we were able to bring a bit of encouragement to the brothers there and plant some seeds in others’ hearts. The groups appreciated the chance to get back to some unspoiled areas where few foreigners visit. I explained before we left on these journeys that we were making this great effort to travel back to these villages mostly because there isn’t anyone else working back this far.
Supervising the building work at the Christian Primary school in Tipitapa, I was reminded how much a ministry the school has in the neighborhood. Seeing over a period of days the way the director, teachers, and students interact brought home how much of a testimony the teachers have with the students. The children were excited to see the men working and often during recess they would come to check out the progress. With smiles all around, there was much appreciation for the men’s efforts.
In February we said ‘Adios’ to long time employee, Pedro Arias. He started out as a construction helper and caretaker 4 years ago. Since then, he learned to weld, do mechanic work, operate the backhoe and drive a truck. He and his wife Jasmina lived on our property and kept an eye on things during the days we were working away from the house and also when we were back home visiting in the States. Pedro is 26 years old. His earliest memories are of war. His father and uncles were Contra guerillas, fighting against the government Sandinista Army. He remembers the Sandinista soldiers coming to their house, tying his mother up to a tree and threatening to hang her if she didn’t tell them where her husband was. He remembers a parrot they had that could imitate his mother’s voice so well that it would fly out to the pasture and call the cows in. That was handy since many times it wasn’t safe to go out for fear of roving bands of soldiers.
Later, as a teenager, he went illegally to Costa Rica to work, as do so many. He worked there for a few months but didn’t like it. He tried to get deported by the Costa Rican authorities to avoid paying bus fare back to Nicaragua but apparently the immigration authorities couldn’t be bothered that week to deport anyone so he had to pay his own bus fare. Back home he worked odd jobs until he began working for me. Pedro is the nephew of Reynaldo Arias, also a long time employee. I half joke that the Arias Clan has adopted me as their “Godfather” so many of them have worked for me over the years.
With part of his severance pay, Pedro got his driver’s license and is looking for full time work as a driver in Managua. He still helps me out from time to time when we need an extra hand. We wish him the best.
In other areas, we have purchased land in the city of Granada for the new church there. The land is a little over an acre. We hope to begin building a simple tent-like shelter where the church there can meet. The community center where the church has been meeting has been hiking their rates for use of the facility so we thought it best to get out as soon as possible. We are thankful to have a piece of land to call our own.
Prayer Requests and Praises:
~ Praise for the donation of a truck from Grace Hauling
~ Prayer for funds and drivers to get it here
~ Thanksgiving for 2 great groups of working volunteers
~ Thanksgiving for the continual healing of my arm
~ Prayer for wisdom for the Granada Church team in a church discipline situation confronting them
~ Prayer for leadership for the Children’s Project in Managua, as the current director would like to retire leaving a big gap in their administration
Thanks so much for prayers and support.
Marcus, Ann, Will, and Amelia