Archive for March 2012 | Monthly archive page


Day 12 – Blessed

At 3:30 am we all wearily assembled in the motel lobby. There seemed to be a shortage of taxi service at that time of morning, so when one finally arrived, we loaded it with luggage, then walked the few blocks to the airport. This was one plane flight we didn’t want to miss.

There were many smiles and a sense of “being home” when we landed in Miami a little before noon. We didn’t have much time to waste though as we had quite a ways to walk between gates and getting through customs lines was slow.

Arriving in Chicago a little after 4 pm, our group began to disperse. Several families were eager to pick up their returned missionary and met us at baggage claim.  The reunions were happy ones, yet there was a twinge of sadness as we realized our adventure was ending. Soon Arlen Mekelburg and his wife, Melissa, arrived with the Wisconsin Academy bus and drove the rest of us back to Columbus.

The trip is over. In conclusion, Jimmy Carter, Nicaragua mission trip coordinator and Bible teacher/chaplain at Wisconsin Academy has some closing comments:

Dear Friends,

What an incredible and invaluable experience we had in Nicaragua! If you have ever been a missionary or on a short-term mission trip, you know it is difficult at best to describe the sights, sounds, and life-changes one experiences. You have to be there yourself to really understand the flood of emotions accompanied with a “God adventure” like this.

On March 11, forty-two people journeyed to Chinandega, Nicaragua with the purpose of bringing hope, joy and change to a country teaming with beautiful and caring people. On March 22, we realized all-to-soon that our trip had come to an end. As we reflected on how our lives had changed and talked about what God had empowered us to accomplish, the entire group agreed that if given the opportunity to participate in another short-term mission trip, we would do it in a heartbeat! It seems that people go on mission trips with the noble intention of changing the lives of the people in other countries. However, through the hard work, sweat, frustrations, team building, and interaction, I believe that every person also ends up being blessed themselves. After all, “It is more blessed to give, than to receive.”

Through God’s grace, your prayers and financial contributions, our team was able to:

  • Build two one-day churches
  • Repaint a very dirty and worn out Chinandega Central SDA Church
  • Provide three churches with deluxe felt kits from “Little Folks”
  • Conduct VBS programs at two different locations
  • Host a community medical clinic at four locations
  • Give HOPE Kits, diapers, clothing, bedding, etc. to a very poor and deserving community
  • Provide hope and the assurance of salvation to people through handing out GLOW tracts
  • Touch the lives of many people through our words and actions

On behalf of the faculty, students, and parents of Wisconsin Academy, we would like to say thank you. Your constant prayers, words of encouragement, faithfulness in giving, and everything else done behind-the-scenes made this trip a reality. We couldn’t have done it without you.

To my students: As I’ve told you before, I am SO glad that you chose to give of your spring break to do many incredible things for others. Thank you for being model students! We’re all very proud of you and all that you did on this trip. May God continue to give you a heart of service.

To the adult leadership team: What a pleasure serving with such gifted professionals! Without you this trip would have never happened. Thank you for sacrificing your vacation time as well as donating financially. I am forever indebted. Your attention to detail, Christ-like attitude and hard work made this mission trip successful. May God bless you.

Finally, to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and Forever Friend: Thank you for sustaining me, keeping me healthy and providing me with a great team of service-minded people. Thank You for Your unending faithfulness.

Until the next “God adventure,” keep serving others starting in your own home and local communities!

 Look for mission trip pictures in the gallery and photo tour on the home page.

Day 11 – Almost Home

As we prepared to leave Chinandega this morning, Grace had our worship thought saying, “Through building churches of worship, through the children’s laughter, through serving amidst poverty, we’ve had to opportunity to find another piece of the heart of God here in Nicaragua.”

We loaded our bus and headed to Granada for a canopy tour. Ask anyone in our group and they will tell you, it was awesome. Eleven canopy guides harnessed us up and zipped us over two kilometers of cable suspended between 11 trees. It was great to relax and enjoy a fun time together.

Next, we did some shopping in the quaint little town of Granada. Historic Spanish churches, elaborate architecture, cobble-stone streets, and brightly painted houses combined to create a unique cultural experience. This was the nicest area we had seen since coming to Nicaragua. Lizzy said, “This is nice, but I’m glad we’ve been able to see the real Nicaragua.”

Back in Managua, we found our motel, ate supper, went swimming in the pool, and made plans to meet in the front lobby at 3:30 tomorrow morning. We’re almost home.

That was day 11.

Look for more mission trip pictures in the gallery and photo tour on the home page.


Mission Trip - Day 10-6

Day 10 – Tonala Church Completed!

Construction Team B boarded their bus before 7:00 this morning. They headed for Tonala, site of the second one-day church building project. Tonala is a small town of about 6,000 people, located north-west of Chinandega. These people’s livelihood comes from the banana plantations, subsistence agriculture, and shrimp farming.

We began unloading scaffolding and tools at the new church site as the town began to wake. Roosters crowed, birds sang, and the smoke of little cook fires filled the air. Scrawny chickens scratched for bugs and an occasional bicycle or horse cart rattled down the narrow dusty road. Across the road was a large banana plantation, and beyond that, acres and acres of sugar cane.

As we began screwing metal church pieces together, a three-wheeled tricycle arrived. It was Julio Janes Romero, head elder of the Tonala Adventist church. After greeting us, he proceeded to hook up a pulley and rope to the open well on the property. Once in place he drew enough water from that well in five-gallon buckets to fill a 50-gallon barrel. This turned out to be useful later for washing hands and sprinkling on the ground for dust control.

The crew worked hard and by 4:00 pm there was a new Adventist church in the community of Tonala. Julio and his wife took us on a walking tour of the local community. They showed us their home, their garden and we were quite impressed at the thought and organization that went in to their simple dwelling. They had running water with a hand crank and were able to grow much of their own food on their own land.

Julio became a Seventh-day Adventist nine years ago after attending some evangelistic meetings held in Tonala. His wife Rosario, however, resisted, and did not join the church until three years ago. Prior to her baptism, Rosario had been sick with a large growth on her neck. She agreed to let the Adventists come pray and anoint her, and she was healed.

“I want to give all the glory to God for this church,” said Julio, as Melody translated for us. “We have 15 church members and 23 attending each Sabbath. We are also studying with three interested families at present. Thank you for coming and helping us. I had a dream of having a church here, and now that dream is complete.”

The medical clinic returned for one final day in Santa Matilde. They treated another 122 patients. “We saw a rat in the rafters,” said Dr. Shaw, medical director for our mission trip. “There were a few nests in the building. I suspect he was going after some eggs or baby sparrows.” One mother brought in her 8-year-old boy.  Kids at school were making fun of him because his nose smelled bad. This had been going on for four months. Evidently, he had gotten something up his nose, and that something was now black and putrid. The procedure requires special instruments, so he was sent to a local clinic.”

“I’ve never done a mission medical clinic before,” continued Dr. Shaw. “It was quite fun. It’s also a lot of work! I couldn’t have asked for better nurses and students to work with. Those students did triage, eye assessments, dispensed medication, and gave out clothing. The days were long, but the students were just tremendous.”

Vacation Bible School met at the Chinandega Central SDA School again. “These kids were so full of love they just filled us up,” said Pastor Greg. “We couldn’t get enough of them. You kind of expect some barriers as we are strangers from another country, but we just experienced love.”

Students from Redding Adventist Academy arrived in Chinandega today for a 12-day mission trip similar to ours. After supper, the Redding students joined us for some Nicaraguan games in the motel courtyard. Afterwards, Jair put on a fireworks show before our guests left.

Since today was our last working day of this mission trip, Pastor Greg asked us to share about our week. Here are a few comments:

“At home, kids have many things and are easily bored. Here, kids entertain themselves with less and seem happier.”

“I learned I’m not the only one that has problems to deal with.”

“It’s made me realize how much I have. It’s changed my life and outlook.”

“Next time I’m in Chicago traffic, I’ll remember Nicaragua and it won’t seem so bad.”

“I think the delay in getting our church building supplies was to test our faith. God worked everything out.”

“I’ve developed a new appreciation for flushing toilet paper.”

“These people are so generous with the little they have.”

After worship we packed up our suitcases and went to bed.

Day 10, and our time in Chinandega, is complete.

Look for more mission trip pictures in the gallery and photo tour on the home page.


Mission Trip - Day 9-13

Day 9 – “Joshua 1:9 Church” Completed!

Our worship thought this morning was from Ken’yun. He asked the question “Why we are so diligent in our work here in Nicaragua, yet we aren’t that way at home?” and read Ecclesiastes 9:10: “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.”

We finished the mural painting on the Chinandega church veranda today. Walls formerly covered with moldy, green, peeling paint are now covered with bright birds, butterflies, palm trees and flowers. The crew mixed their own paint colors.  Melody was the director and designer for this project. Check out pictures in the gallery.

We also completed the Posoltega one-day church project. The construction crew put in a hard day’s work and felt a wonderful sense of satisfaction. Two hours before the church dedication, the people arrived. You could tell Pastor Fley and the thirty or more people present were extremely pleased with the church. At the dedication, Jair read scripture and chaplain Jimmy Carter presented the church with a large set of Sabbath School felts. Read the story of how this church began after the pictures at the end of this entry.

Vacation Bible School was held at the Chinandega Central SDA School today. You could feel the energy as over one hundred active first- through sixth-graders filled the gym. They came in very orderly and sat in a huge square. They wore blue and white uniforms and warm ready smiles. Voices echoed off the walls as they sang laughed and played games. “I don’t want to leave,” said Jonathan when it was over. “I love these kids!” Melody said, “It’s like they attack you with their hugs!” “I’ve never felt so loved by kids,” added Lizzy.

The medical clinic went to the Adventist church in Santa Matilde today. This was the nicest location for a clinic we’ve used.  It was clean, brightly painted, and surrounded by shade trees. One little boy brought a pet parrot for everyone to enjoy. Another boy did a belly dance. Kids climbed all over nearby mango trees picking the fruit for us. The people were extremely warm and hospitable. We treated 118 patients today.

It is very dry in Nicaragua. We heard there has been no rain since last September and they don’t expect more rain until May.

Here are some of today’s comments:

Melody: I really enjoyed painting the mural on the Chinandega church veranda today. It was nice to do something I’m good at and know other people can enjoy it. I got so much paint on my hands, at one point I looked like a smurf. But it was definitely worth it. I’m so glad we got the opportunity.

Jair: The highlight of my day was getting up early and getting ready to build a church in one day. One day! I got to be the translator for the project. It took us two hours to finish the first half of the roof, and only one hour to finish the second half. As we progressed with the project, we got better. I also read a Bible text at the church dedication today.

Vanessa: I really felt like I did something important today. I was part of a team that put up a church!

Pam K: Today we had a true experience of how some medical people around here may get paid for their services. Paula got paid in mangos, coconut, and artwork. We’ve seen 418 patients in the past four days.

Alan: We delivered 22 new chairs to the newly completed Posoltega church site today. These are chairs the group purchased out of our personal spending money.

At evening worship, Pastor Greg closed the day by continuing the thoughts Ken’yun shared this morning. “God has a role for you in the church,” said Pastor Greg. “Don’t let your ministry stop in Nicaragua.”

This was day nine.

Look for more mission trip pictures in the gallery and photo tour on the home page.



EXTRA: The Story of the “Joshua 1:9 Church”

About one year ago, Antonio Sandoval and his family were the only Adventists living in Posoltega, a village of over 6,000 people located 12 miles north-west of Chinandega. “We were very sad there was no Adventism in this area,” said Antonio. “So we began to preach God’s Word to these people.”

Antonio got in touch with a nearby Adventist pastor and told him he wanted to build a group of Adventist church believers in Posoltega.  Soon two missionaries, one from Honduras and one from Nicaragua, came to help. The missionaries started visiting, giving Bible studies, and within three months, people were ready for baptism. Then the money to pay the missionaries ran out. Antonio and his wife decided to use their own funds so one of the missionaries could stay.

The Posoltega believers met in each other’s houses for worship each Sabbath, but soon realized they needed a church home. They began praying. Then a newly baptized lady, Sandra Vargas, donated enough money to purchase land. They bought a 40 by 70-foot parcel of land for 8,000 cordobas. (about $340)

They now needed a roof over their heads for protection from the hot sun. They kept praying. Then a man in the United States donated money for a tin roof. They built a stick structure to hold up the tin but found they didn’t have enough tin to totally cover it, so they used black plastic. “We prayed for something better,” said Antonio. “We did not want to have a dirty shack for worshiping God. Then, out of nowhere, Maranatha Volunteers International came! We were very happy when they told us they would build us a church.”

Students from Wisconsin Academy, along with several experienced construction men, completed a Mananatha one-day church in Posoltega on March 19, 2012. A brief dedication service was held the same evening and all the church members were in attendance. “We are very thankful to God, Maranatha, and Wisconsin Academy for providing us a place of worship,” said Pastor Fley. “Our next challenge is to share the message of God’s love to everyone in Posoltega.”

The group has named themselves the Joshua 1:9 Church. They have 20 members, with 15 baptisms planned for next month. “As you can see the area is really poor,” said Antonio. “Most of our helpers are women. Many men in Nicaragua leave all the hard work for the women.  But there is much potential. Many children come and we have women who will preach and work. Many people have started studying the Bible. Next month we plan to hold evangelistic meetings.”

The church has a goal of evangelizing every house in Posoltega by the year 2013. They will go door to door with literature and an invitation to learn about the love of Christ. Antonio hopes the Joshua 1:9 Church will be an example of how to evangelize and start churches across the rest of Nicaragua. “It is only by the grace of God that people can do this work,” said Antonio. “Only the love of God in the heart can work. Our testimonies and actions are like tiny seeds.”

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” Joshua 1:9.

 Special thanks to Jair for translation assistance.

Mission Trip - Day 8-10

Day 8 – Church Construction Begins

We began the day singing, “Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God.” Melanie gave us a devotional thought and then we were off to work in the rural town of Posoltega.

Construction supplies arrived and the crew eagerly went to work on the church. They delivered “Jimmy John” to his final destination, finished the trusses, mixed cement with buckets and shovels, and poured all the post-hole footings. Then they loaded up their tools and drove one and a half hours to Santa Matilde, site for the second church building project, and did the same there. “Now I’m sure we’ll get both churches finished,” said Rob Miller, construction superintendent. “The kids worked really hard. They didn’t let up for a minute.” The crew arrived back in Chinandega around 7:00 pm.

Half a dusty mile from the Posoltega church project, we held another medical clinic. A gracious lady who became an Adventist just eight days ago emptied a large room in her house for us to set up the medical clinic. It had a beautiful open-arched porch where we received patients. The people were warm and friendly. Several invited us to visit their homes. When VBS was not meeting, the students visited and played games with the children waiting to see Dr. Shaw.

Here are a few comments on the day:

Hannah H: Today we started the prep work for the one-day church in Posoltega. We started late, and it took us a while to get what we needed to do done. They decided we could only get one of the two churches done. That was pretty disappointing. But we all worked late and even did the prep work for the second church. It’s cool because now we’re still able to build both churches. God made that happen.

Melanie: I work in the medical clinic, so my days here have been pretty interesting. Today was one of those days that felt long but awesome. It was awesome because we got one hundred and eight people through the clinic today! I was very happy because that is the most people we’ve treated in a day. I can’t wait to see what the next two clinic days will bring. I’m excited!

Monte: A highlight of my day was riding to the worksite in the back of the pickup truck with “Jimmy John.” Later I got to pedal the little tricycle bike thing over to the clinic site to get more water for our construction crew. Then a lady gave me a wonderful, juicy mango. It was really good. We got all the church posts in concrete today. Today has been a highlight for me.

Shawna: Today was a lot of fun. We were busy all day with our construction crew. I’m very excited about getting these two churches built for these people to worship in. We are sunburned, but we accomplished a lot!

Alexandra: I spent all day entertaining some kids. It was so refreshing to see their smiling faces and hear their bubbly laughter. Today I played soccer, red light/green light, basketball, and freeze tag, which I learned they call “frozen chicken” here in Nicaragua. I loved this entire day, from meeting new kids to reuniting with ones I’d seen from previous VBS programs.

Keturah: I have really enjoyed working with the kids and just trying to communicate with them. Even though we don’t speak the same language, they love it when we spend time playing with them. They always have plenty of smiles to share with us.

After supper several youth from the Chinandega Central SDA Church came over and played games with us again. They love to laugh and act crazy.  Pastor Greg ended our day with prayer.

Day eight was great.

Look for more mission trip pictures in the gallery and photo tour on the home page.


Mission Trip - Day 7-1

Day 7 – Sabbath

The first blessing of this morning was having breakfast at 8:30 rather than 6:30. The later start after a busy week was welcome. After breakfast we drove to Chinandega Seventh-day Adventist Church to worship and praise God. Over one hundred people crowded into the little building.

At the beginning of church, Hannah, Melanie, Andrea and Rob shared testimonies of God’s leading in this trip. Then Alec, Grace, Andrea, Jonathan, Kristi and Michaela sang “Revelation.” Chaplin Carter presented the church with a large three-year-cycle felt set, cut out and ready for use. The children’s director for the church received the gift saying, “Thank you so much. We have been needing supplies like this for a long time.”

Choralaires  sang a beautiful acappella arrangement of “Esto Les Digo.”  Mr. Anderson would be proud.  Pastor Greg’s morning message brought smiles, laughs, and many amens. “The same God who parted the Red Sea is continually working on behalf of His people,” said Pastor Greg. “Things impossible with man are possible with God.”  We enjoyed visiting on the newly-painted church veranda, then headed “home” for lunch.

The Chinandega youth department invited us to join them for an afternoon at the beach. It was a fun cultural experience. They politely waited for us to board their bus, then they finished filling it: the seats, the aisle and even the steps. We didn’t think any more people could fit. Yet they stopped twice on the way to pick up more.

As our hot, noisy group began jostling down the streets, our Nicaraguan friends began singing a spirited song in Spanish. Then they sang another. For the next 30 minutes, Spanish and English singing spilled out the open bus windows.

The beach was beautiful. On a sandy bluff we prayed, sang, and played Bible games.  As the sun began to set, they lit a large bonfire, and Pastor Greg closed the Sabbath hours with a brief worship and song.

Back at the hotel we ate fresh pineapple on ice cream and played table games with some of our new friends from Nicaragua.

Today was about God. Today was about friends. Today was Sabbath.

Breakfast is at 6:30 again tomorrow. The church building supplies are scheduled for delivery in the morning at 6:00.  No more delays, please. We are ready to build!

Blessed day seven has ended.

Look for more mission trip pictures in the gallery and photo tour on the home page.


Mission Trip - Day 6-9

Day 6 – Perspective

This morning we painted walls and sketched the mural for the church veranda. We also cut out more felt sets to leave here in Nicaragua. Then about 10:00 am we left for an outreach project of passing out clothes, diapers, balloons and toys door to door.

As we drove down the dusty road in this neighborhood, our talking and joking quieted down. The shelters these people called home were not fit for dogs, cattle or even farm equipment. They literally build and furnished their homes from the town’s trash. The septic drainage ran alongside their homes. This was poverty like most of us had never seen.

So we got off the bus and walked from shelter to shelter sharing with them everything we brought. We even gave them the cantaloupe we had prepared for our lunch. We wished we had more. Everyone was warm, friendly and welcoming. One family let us tour their plastic shelter home. They roll out old cardboard pieces on the dirt to sleep on.  We won’t soon forget this experience. Take time to check the picture gallery.

Next we enjoyed a refreshing swim in the Pacific Ocean. The water provided a great place for surfing, gymnastics, and jumping the waves. We left with lots of sunburns.

On our way home we stopped at International Children’s Care Orphanage, toured their campus, gave them bubbles, stuffed animals and other things, and put on a brief gymnastic show. The kids seemed to enjoy it.

When we arrived back at the motel,  we were treated to an authentic Nicaraguan meal prepared by two kind church ladies. It was delicious!

Here are a few end of-the-day comments:

Jonathan: Today just really opened my eyes to a lot of things. I don’t want to say I’ve never been appreciative, but now I realize I should be way more grateful for things that I have.

Kelah: For me one of the biggest things was to go from one of the worst neighborhoods to a beach resort. It was like, what a contrast! It really makes you appreciate things. Goes to show how unfair everything is.

Gricelda: The kids were just so happy to get anything. I gave one little boy a balloon, and his face just lit up. It was just awesome.

Michaela: This morning I helped paint the veranda on the church. The painting is gorgeous. My dad told me to look over the wall. So I walked over and looked…. and it was just trash! Yet it was a home. It is so close. Just over one wall you went from nice to trash.

Rob: What impressed me today was the little kids. They had so little, yet they were still so happy. They have so little, yet they have so much joy. Makes me realize I need to cherish what I have.

Pastor Greg: I thought it was cool how they were so willing to let us just come into their houses. You’re our guests. Glad you’re here. That was cool.

Grace: When we were passing out stuff, I gave out the last of what I had to a lady with a baby. She tried to say something but I couldn’t understand her very well. I showed her that I was out of stuff, then started to walk away. But she was like, no, and she tried really hard to find English words she knew and said “Thank you.”

Melanie: Being here really makes me grateful for everything I have. Especially school. Today in the bus we saw a little boy taking care of the house and all, and many kids have to stop going to school before they get much of an education. It just makes me really grateful and it makes me want to strive more to do well in school. I want to go to college and become a doctor and someday be able to do mission work. I’ve always thought about going as a missionary, but now I’m really sure. Dr. Shaw has really inspired me. I just want to say thank you to him as well.

Pastor Greg ended the day with this Bible passage from I Corinthians 13.

“If I speak in tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a sounding gong, or a clanging cymbal.  And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.  And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.

“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil;  does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never fails.”

Day six is ended.

Look for more mission trip pictures in the gallery and photo tour on the home page


Mission Trip - Day 4-14

Day 5 – Helping People in Need

Melody had worship to start day five. Once again we were painting, constructing, seeing patients and teaching children. We received word that construction supplies will leave the border Friday. Please continue to pray with us that they do.

Here is what our team is saying about day five:

Noemi: Today was not as busy as yesterday, but I still enjoyed it. I loved watching the reaction of people when they received glasses. They felt so glad to be able to see again. The smile on each person’s face made my day. After an exhausting day, I thank God for everything He gives me!

Kimberly: Today was an awesome experience. This was our second day for medical clinic, and it was extremely hot. We prayed that this day would be helpful for the people that came and that we could learn from them. We are blessed in having Dr. Shaw with us. God is obviously giving him the knowledge he needs for every case. God is keeping us safe. The most important part about this trip is helping people in need.

Ken’yun: Today turned out to be a very good day. I went with the VBS group and felt there was nothing much I could do to help with the kids. So I just tried with all my might to make the kids happy. I met this little guy named Alleito. He didn’t seem to care what language I spoke. With laughter, smiles, and soccer, we bonded. He was so awesome even though he looked like he was sick. He was so happy and filled with joy. Even though I was super hot and exhausted, he brought energy out of me I didn’t think I had. He touched me and helped me decide no matter what I’m doing, I’m doing it to the fullest of my ability to help others and to praise God.

Kelah: Today in the medical clinic, I was given thirty pairs of a combination of reading and sunglasses. So many of the people here need reading glasses, and they all need sunglasses. It is so hard when we run out. While talking to Rafael, a local translator, I found out that glasses cost from $100 – $200 a pair, which is a totally unrealistic amount for most Nicaraguans. It is hard to put ourselves in their shoes and feel how deep their need is, but their smiles and simple words of thanks go right to our hearts. It is hard to decide who is more blessed.

Laurina: We’ve all used the term “tongue-tied” when we can’t think of what to say. Today a five-year-old boy came in and his tongue was truly tied. The thin piece of skin under the tongue extended out to the end of his tongue so he couldn’t lift it. His dad, Pam Krueger and I, held him, and Andrea held the flashlight, Dr. Shaw snipped that skin and loosed his tongue. He’ll be fine now for the rest of his life.

Alec: Today at the painting project the painting crew took one of the last steps towards finishing painting the church. The main color is tan with a maroon trim. We had a lot of people helping today, including some church members. One, whose name is Ricardo, was a very helpful willing person who took us to a place to get ice cream. Later he led us around town. That’s what I think this mission trip is about. Meeting people in the church who help each other and are really friendly.

Krista: It is interesting the amount of cars, bikes, trucks, horses and carts in the streets. The drivers have no fear.

Melissa: VBS today was AWESOME! We started with crafts and games because yesterday we told the Bible story before many people had come. There were over 100 kids there today, and everyone was able to do the craft, plan, and listen to the Bible story and skit.

Melody: I really like passing out stickers to the kids. It makes them so happy.

Andrea: One of the highlights I have had here is when we finally started the medical clinic. It felt amazing when people would have this light in their eyes to see us. People hugged me like they actually knew me. People would say “God bless you and this ministry you are doing.” I love helping people, and this is definitely helping me with my future

Janelle: My favorite thing to do is VBS. I like the children and passing out stickers to them. It was great seeing the kids and watching them sing and play.

Alan: Painting ended early, so we decided to ride a taxi instead of walking back to our motel. Then we decided to take a tricycle. This is a three-wheeled bicycle with a bench seat in the front. They transported us two kilometers through the city with the cars, busses, motorcycles, horse-carts, people and all. They went full speed over bumps and all. Both me and the peddler were out of breath when we arrived at the hotel. Cost of ride: 40 cents. Trip to Nicaragua: priceless.

Hannah M: Today we went to a local SDA church again to paint and pretty much finished. Even though I was tired, it felt good to finally accomplish something. When we left the job site, we got to ride in little bike taxis. It was a really cool experience.

Shawna: I am really enjoying my time in Nicaragua. I love being with the little kids at VBS. They’re so sweet. It’s special for me.

Elizabeth: Working in VBS is such an amazing experience. It’s so neat to interact with the kids and communicate with them even if we don’t speak the same language.

Keturah: When digging the hole for the church outhouse, we were in the poorest neighborhood I have ever seen. The houses were made of basically sticks and plastic, yet the people were so thankful for what they had. Back in the states, we take everything for granted; like flushing toilets. Here the people are thankful if they just have a covering over a hole in the ground. Even though these people can’t afford even the most basic necessities, they are always smiling. It really makes me wonder: if we were in their shoes, would we be able to be as happy as they are?

Look for more mission trip pictures in the gallery and photo tour on the home page



Mission Trip - Day 4-8

Day 4 – Making A Difference

Krista started our day with worship. She shared that without glasses, she has no depth perception and can’t see yellow colors.  She used to stumble and have her colors all messed up. Glasses take care of the problems. “Just like I need to wear glasses to see things right and not fall down, we need to see everything in life through God’s eyes,” concluded Krista. “Without Him, we’ll fall.”

Today was the first of five for the medical team. After a half hour, hot sticky ride, the bus turned off the paved road. We slowly made our way down the dusty road through 10-12 foot high sugar cane stalks. We passed a horse-drawn wagon loaded with sugar cane, rickety old trucks and people riding bicycles, before finally arriving at “Iglesia Adventista del 7th Dia”. The church already had forty or more people clustered around the front door waiting for care. We hauled in supplies, set everything up, and started handing out numbers to patients. There was no line, as everyone wanted to wait in the shade.

“For sure the most critical lady we saw today had a blood sugar of 518,” said Pam Krueger, as the crew took a much needed lunch break. “She had very blood pressure and blurred vision. We offered to pay for a taxi, as she needed to receive fluids and care, but she refused. She only wanted vitamins.

“These people work so hard for so many years in the heat their joints are shot, they have arthritis, everything hurts,” continued Krueger, one of the four RN’s at the clinic. “Their knees and backs wear out early. We’re seeing lots of bronchial type stuff, rashes and parasites, pregnant women with headaches who can’t sleep—and it’s no wonder in this 90 degree weather. All right, we’re moving on. We can take number 47…”

Over 100 patients were seen at the clinic today. Here are medical team comments:

Andrea: There was an 87-year-old lady there today and everyone sensed her presence in the room. She was so lively and went around hugging and smiling at everybody and she looked so happy. She came because something painful was in her throat. Dr. Shaw examined her and said she has throat cancer. I felt bad.

She stopped and grabbed my arm once and said, “We’re going to see each other in heaven, aren’t we!” I said, ‘Yeah, I guess.’ That just touched me so much I wanted to cry.  I said, “God bless you,” and she said, “God bless you, too, for what you are doing. You guys are helping a lot of people.” She hugged me and then went on, but it just hurts to see someone so alive dying of cancer.

Michaela: One lady walked in with two kids, but she only took one number. By the time her number was called, we couldn’t take any more patients for the day. We had to tell her she needed to decide which child would be treated. It was hard. She chose her daughter.

Gricelda: I was on the medical team too, and it was just really hard to say no to the people. We gave people numbers when they arrived, but we didn’t have enough time to see all of them. It was just sad to see their faces when we told them we could not treat them.  Some people tried really hard to be seen even after we had packed up everything. They were just hanging on to us. It was hard to say no.

The “Jimmy John” crew bought, built and painted the church outhouse frame today. This crew, previously known as the construction crew, is doing everything possible to be ready when supplies cross the border. We’ve received word that supplies will be released no later than Friday. That means we will be able to get the churches built before we leave, Lord willing.

“Our team continued painting the Chinandega church veranda,” said David Wilson, paint project manager.” It’s a big veranda. We’ve put on 57 gallons of paint by hand.”  Wilson and crew came up with the idea of painting a mural on a long stretch of the veranda. Melody drew up an artistic plan, and everyone is sharing some of their spending money to so they can buy colored paint. Melody will lead out in this project.”

“On break, a funny thing happened,” continued Wilson. “We were sitting on the church steps and saw this little six-foot-long, three-foot-wide car chugging up and down the street. The wheels were crooked and the whole back-end was shuddering. It moved so slow a horse-drawn cart passed it! The funniest part was the sign on it said ‘Drivers Education.’”

“Kelli loves making the evening meal special for everybody,” said Donna Hubert, assistant kitchen staff. “She went all out making fajitas for supper. Maria, the local assistant cook from the church, made fresh plantain. I took a bite of plantain before she cooked it. Yuck! I spat it out. Maria had a good laugh over that. I’ve learned so much. I’ve even squished lemons with my hands to make lemon juice.”

“You guys are making a difference here,” said Pastor Greg as he closed the day with worship. “It may seem like the parable of seashells being thrown into the sea. You can never get all of them, but you are making a difference for some.”

That’s day four in Nicaragua.

Look for more mission trip pictures in the gallery and photo tour on the home page



Mission Trip - Day 3-14

Day 3 – Work Begins

As materials for the Maranatha one-day churches are still at the border, everyone began the day organizing and preparing supplies. We cut out Sabbath school felts, organized for the afternoon Vacation Bible School, counted thousands of pills, dividing prescription doses in Ziploc bags, sorted hundreds of clothing items, folding and organizing them by size, and the list goes on.

The medical team spent a large part of the day organizing supplies, getting acquainted and sharing some of the miracles God has performed in bringing the team and materials together. “There are literally hundreds and hundreds of dollars worth of clothes, glasses, medicine, diabetic and dental supplies that have been donated,” said Brenda Duerksen, Coordinator for Maranatha medical clinics. “The stories are amazing.”

“Before this trip, we were doing a health fair at the hospital where I work,” said Pam Wilson, our team medic. “I asked what they were going to do with the 200 toothbrushes and 100 toothpastes that were left over. They weren’t really sure. I said, ‘I’m leaving for a medical mission trip in a couple weeks. Could I have them?’  And they said sure!

The construction team pressure-washed and painted the first coat on Chinandega’s Central Adventist church, checked out their one-day church building site, dug holes for the churches supporting poles, tore down the old outhouse, and shopped for outhouse building supplies. “We got to visit with some neighbors near the building site,” said Rob Miller, construction superintendent. “Seeing the poverty was almost more than I could take. I’ve never seen anything like it. The biggest impression on me is how much we have. I walk around neighborhoods like this and think, in our country many people are losing their homes, but they’re not having to live like this. To realize this is where they come home to and sleep every day…it’s just really humbling.”

The kitchen team enjoyed shopping in the local open-air market for our food supplies. “It was fun to see how the people here live every day,” said Donna Hubert, assistant cook.” It boggles my mind to how they make do with so little! They are such common sense people, and practical. We are so indulged in America. Makes me wonder what I can do without.”

The first Vacation Bible School started at 4:00 pm in the town of Posoltega. Melody, W. A. senior, and Pastor Greg Taylor began song service with 34 visitors, but the number soon increased to over 90. The kids enjoyed the Bible stories, games and coloring. This is the same town where a one-day Maranatha church is soon be built. “I’ve never done anything like this,” said Janelle, VBS team member. “This was awesome. I’ve got to go on more mission trips.”

After enjoying homemade bean burritos with fresh mango/pineapple salsa, several W.A. students shared highlights of the day:

Monte: “We were really hot and thirsty working on the church today, and Jose, a guy from the church we were painting,  brought us a five-gallon jug of water and a really really cold drink. It was awesome.”

Hannah M: “We went to the market place today. It was really cool to see the culture and how they do things. It was really crowded. Everyone seemed to stare at us, but people were really nice to us.”

Grace: We went to the suburbs of the area where we are building the one-day church. All the houses were made of tin and sheets of plastic. We met a lady who dug a 15-foot well by hand all on her own. It was amazing. She dug it all out and then lined the bottom with concrete bricks. At the top was a tractor tire. This was her water source, but the water was still really dirty and contaminated. Her house had sheets of plastic for walls. Better houses in the neighborhood had tin siding, but many just had mud with plastic. If any kind of natural disaster came through there, the entire community would be just gone!”

Monte: “I looked over the wall at the church where we were painting, and there was a bunch of scrap metal there, then I saw a bunch of chairs sitting out there, and  realized people lived there.”

Hannah F: “The outhouse at the church we’re building was just a cement block over a hole. There were tin sheets around it but we tore it down today because we’re building them a new one.”

Alec: “Materials for the outhouse we’re building were delivered by horse and cart.”

Monte: “In town I saw a guy driving around in his little tiny car. He had these two huge five-foot-wide speakers on top of his car. They were sticking up above his car and he was just blaring some advertisement for his business.”

Hannah F: “We went by this whole area where there were all these really run down houses…and they all had satellite dishes. There was like 20 satellite dishes!”

Grace: “When we went to the market and there were just a ton of vender stands. They all looked the same. Garbage all over the street…there were just these huge piles of rotting food. It makes you think ‘How can someone live like that?’ We saw this little boy who was like 3 or 4 years old…and it was just automatic to feel pity.  But he was so happy! He saw us and smiled really big.”

At evening worship and sharing time, Hannah F told everyone about her visit to the one-day church site. “They have an unfinished shelter that is just posts in the ground with a partial ten roof. I talked with Mr. Carlson and we found out if we each of us give just $3 of our spending money, we can buy the rest of the tin and finish their roof.” The tin is ordered.

Day three is over.

Look for more mission trip pictures in the gallery and photo tour on the home page