Welcome to Foundations Ministries!
Nicaragua Update #2 - After Christmas!
  Read more about the adventures of the first missions trip of Foundations Ministries to Nicaragua by clicking the "READ MORE" link below!

Hi, Beloved of God. I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas day and that the Season of Advent and the celebration of Christ's coming continues to fill your lives.

As promised, I'm sending you the description of our work here and our prayer requests. If this feels too soon after reading yesterday's description of Nicaragua, please feel free to set this aside for a couple weeks and return to it. God can work out that whole time thing, even if you pray for us after we return. He's pretty amazing.

I'm just coming in from painting. For our ministry with AMEN (Alongside Ministries En Nicaragua) where we are staying and housesitting, we are doing lots of maintenance work, primarily painting (roofs, walls, fences, one another) as well as burning off a huge field of weeds, helping getting a better internet connection into the house, installing a safe, and some groundskeeping. In the late afternoons, kids and teenagers come to AMEN to play various sports: soccer, baseball, basketball, volleyball, tetherball (I've never seen such intense tetherball matches, played 2 on 2 by the Nicaraguan teens. Seriously), foursquare, and--with a little encouragement from certain Gringo visitors--disc ("Frisbee"), so that's our opportunity to spend time with them, play sports and get to know them a little. The language barrier is challenging, of course. One nice thing about sports is that you can spend time together and have a great experience with minimal shared vocabulary. We've had some really good, exhausting games of basketball with a bunch of the local guys who seem to come regularly, and we've gotten to know a young man named William who loves baseball and speaks English better than any of us speak Spanish.

Two Saturdays ago, we decided (at Ben's suggestion) to go out and do some volunteer trash pick-up along one of the local dirt back roads. (Tangent: It's a little hard to describe the roads here. Some are pretty well-paved and driveable; others are just dirt and have huge ruts and holes and washouts. If you've been to the R-W's, you'll understand when I say that I feel at home driving on them! There are also many roads paved with something like cobblestones for seemingly hundreds of kilometers (and it's not that big of a country). We started out with some trash bags, and quickly realized we'd need to use one of our hosts' trucks and a lot more bags. The roads defy simply descriptions like "blocks," but we started on a back road/path and were planning to go from one end where it connects with a more main road to the other. We didn't make it. "Give a Hoot, Don't Pollute," was deeply impressed upon me as a child. Many Nicas have nowhere to dump their trash, can't afford garbage collection, and consequently the roadsides and even just beyond the backyards are either burnpiles, dumping areas, or both. I suspect that littering isn't as high a concern for people with more immediate physical needs, but we wanted to try to serve and make their living environment a little nicer. Here's what happened: we didn't really make a dent in the trash, even though we piled the pickup high with bags. But a dozen Nica kids came out to watch us, laugh at us, and then, to our great surprise and joy, help us. They started picking up the bottles and paper and rotting clothes and yogurt containers with us, even though what we were doing probably made no sense in the world to them ("Why do they want our trash?" "I don't know. Maybe Gringos collect gum wrappers and Cheetos bags?") and putting them into the bags alongside us. We all had rubber (painting) gloves on, while they were barefoot and all the boys were shirtless, going through this stuff, because this is where they live. They made a game out of it, and suddenly this hot, gross, seemingly futile chore became a means to connecting with beautiful children. After the truck was full, some of the team started making balloons and balloon animals (?) out of a few of the gloves and playing volleyball with the kids. It's amazing how God can break down communication barriers with things like garbage and lycra gloves. We're hoping to go back there this weekend and maybe put up a tire swing, and bring some craft materials to make bracelets for them (Celeste's idea).

A highlight of our time here is our developing relationships with Isaiahs (pronounced E-sigh-E-us), the groundskeeper for AMEN, and Roger (Ro-Hair in Spanish), the handyman. Both have been really kind and encouraging to us, helping us develop our Spanish and guiding us through everything from the hardware store (ferreteria) to authentic Nicaraguan food. Isaiahs, especially, has been a good friend (yeah, amigo, you probably knew that one) to me and developed good-humored relations with each of the students. We had him and his family over for dinner one night and did surprisingly well at getting to know them. I've also had some astounding (though not completely comprehended on my end) discussions with Tito, who is building a house next door with his cousins/construction company, and Victor, one of the night security guards (stealing is very common in Nicaragua, though violence is lower here than anywhere else in Central America. Almost all thieves flee if spotted). Tito was forced into the Sandinista army at the age of 10 (if I understood him correctly) with his 6 brothers. He was explaining to me why he has had so little schooling. They lived in the mountains as guerrillas during the war and had little to no food most of the time--which was five or six years (1984-89...if I got that right). I was collecting baseball cards when I was ten.

So our days are a funny combination of manual, repetitive work, sports with young people, and encounters with severely impoverished people and working people who have lived drastically different lives than we have. Add to this our occasional interactions with local ministries, the adventurous voyages into town to buy what we need ("Como se dice 'lettuce'? I think we bought cabbage."), and a visit to an amazing Nica woman named Ruby who has the gift of prophecy and prayed with us, and you have some idea what we've been doing in Nicaragua. Our team has learned a lot about living in community, much of it from not-so-easy lessons ( i.e. we've driven one another crazy), just as we imagined. We've had several truth-telling sessions in which we try to come to a better understanding of what we're all doing that rubs on those nerves. Through it all, I'm really proud of these jovenes (young people)! Working through culture shock, language barriers, homesickness and chore sharing, they've all grown visibly in their lives of discipleship. They have developed crucial skills of conflict resolution, which will serve them well in work and marriage and any ministry they enter (can I hear an "Amen!"?).

Prayer requests:

*Please pray for our team to continue working through our differences and reconciling with one another. We're here only a week-and-a-half more, but I really want to encourage them not to coast or just decide to ignore problems they should work through.

*Our last week at home, we looked at spiritual gifts and personal vision statements. I want to return to this discussion, now that they've seen and experienced so much here. Please pray for each of the students' as they consider their next steps after Foundations. I think they have some big decisions to make.

*I need lots of wisdom and the strength and focus to lead well till the end. I feel pretty good about how things have gone here. I'm also feeling pretty nearly exhausted. The couple days "break" for Christmas helped. I definitely feel I'm at the stage of needing to step into God's strength, especially for emotional resources. I don't have my usual cast of spiritual support in this context. It's a mission experience for me, too.

*Keep Kim and our girls in your prayers, please. Kim is getting her 20-week ultrasound today. She seems in good spirits and morale--but hasn't completely forgotten me. Thanks, again, for all your support and prayers for her. God is answering them.

Okay, that's us, here. I'm being called to dinner now. Much love to you all. Feel free to email me. It's actually easier to check here than at home. By far. Ironic, no?

God's grace and peace surround you, and may you know the abundant joy of following Jesus with your whole life. Let me know about your New Year's Resolutions (if you make any).

In Him,

  Posted by timd on January 22, 2019


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