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.