|Final Report on Missions Trip to Nicaragua|
| ||Read the final report on the exciting adventure to Nicaragua! The report includes some great quotes from the students -- check it out by clicking the Read More link below...|
Greetings from North America! Northwestern United States, Washington State, Wenatchee, south of town, up Stemilt Creek Road and straight when the road curves ninety degrees left. In other words, Greetings from HOME!
We're not exactly world travelers and we weren't gone for that long, but I must tell you, it's good to be home.
I asked each of the students to write a paragraph about their time in Nicaragua. I'm going to include some of those so that you can "hear" their experience in their own words. People have asked me to summarize what we learned or what we got out of the trip. So here are a few summary points:
- People in the rest of the world live differently than we do. I knew that before I left, but it's hard to wrap one's mind around the differences between the U.S. and Nicaragua, a country that has very little infrastructure and virtually no safety net. Numbers and statistics don't really tell the story. Being with people living in poverty is different than reading about poverty. I know I sound like I'm stating the obvious here. But a number of people asked me, "Do you really have to leave the country? Aren't there plenty of poor people in the U.S., or even in Wenatchee?" That's a legit question, and it deserves a full discussion when people ask, but honestly, being in a "two-thirds world" or "third-world country" is a completely different experience. I am still experiencing reverse culture shock. I really believe that all seven of us are changed permanently from what we saw and did. When you've seen people living in those conditions, nothing looks quite the same again.
- I grew a lot in my personal boldness, willingness to look foolish (anytime I speak Spanish around Spanish speakers, there's a bit of that), and ability to trust God in difficult situations. One week in, the students felt really restless and isolated that "all" they were doing was painting and playing sports with the youth who came to the AMEN sports fields. They were right. So after I took a good look around and realized, "Oh, there aren't any other leaders here...or anyone else at this property speaking English...huh..." then I got to step out in some boldness and figure out how we were going to see and experience more of Nicaragua. Most of my contacts were with missionaries speaking English, but it was still quite a leap. God came through and put things together amazingly, almost as if He'd planned the whole thing. ;-)
- Time moves slow and fast simultaneously on a mission. The days felt like they crawled by, but the weeks went quickly. How is that possible? In the minute-to-minute, when I was feeling homesick or frustrated with our team (um, I mean...both times I felt that way), I wondered if I could endure the whole month. But then I glanced up and we were halfway done. Then it was Christmas (which was a genuinely miserable day for me--I can say that now, when I'm back here. My defenses for dealing with homesickness totally gave out that day, and frankly, teenagers can't relate to the experience of missing your ten and seven and three-year-old's Christmas), and then we were down to the last few days.
- God worked through us in ways I would never have guessed. Playing with the children in La Chureca (the city within the dump that I described last time) was what I had pictured doing on a mission trip. Contributing toward someone getting divorced was not. Isaiahs, the groundskeeper at Quinta AMEN, where we stayed, became my closest friend of the Nicas I met. He told me about his life and, while I could not understand everything, I got this: He had been the right hand man of a pastor, leading Bible studies. Then his wife left him for another man and took their child with her. Ten years later, he still has not been able to save enough money to obtain a legal divorce. Divorce costs $350 (6,000 cordobas), and Isaiahs earns $6 (108 cordobas) a day. Because he can't divorce, he can't legally marry Connie, his common-law wife. Isaiahs carries horrible guilt for this; he prays every day for himself and his family, but he wakes up each morning feeling condemned. On his income and her tiny store (the pics are of him, of their store, and of our team with his wife, Connie, the day before we came home), which they have open eleven hours a day, pretty much every day of the year, they support themselves, her eighteen-year-old daughter, Grizelda, and their 5-year-old son, Christopher. Grizelda has just completed high school and plans to begin at Universidad and estudia architectura in Febrero. She is a very intelligent girl, and should do well in school. Isaiahs and Connie are such generous, joyful people—Connie wanted to make us an authentic Nicaraguan dinner, but they didn't think their home was big enough to host us, so she cooked it all for us and Grizelda and her friend delivered it to us—on Grizelda's birthday! They gave us drinks and candy whenver we visited their store, refusing to accept money for them. Isaiahs was the most helpful person to our team, helping us do our work, watching out for us, helping us find our way around. Our team prayed about it and decided that some of the money we had left from our expenses, we could give them to help Isaiahs legally obtain his divorce. Isaiahs tells me he prays every day for God to forgive him and restore him, but he still wakes up every morning full of guilt again. He hopes God will forgive him and he thinks that, slowly, God is healing and restoring him. I and the team felt this was our opportunity to help him experience this restoration with Jesus more quickly. I know it sounds strange, but I really believe God let us be His instrument of Grace to Isaiahs.
We were also able to contribute money to sponsor one of the women at House of Hope, the ministry I described for women coming out of prostitution. We were able to cover only her first couple of months, but the students have talked about continuing this sponsorship now that they are home and finding jobs.
- In retrospect, God worked amazingly, even miraculously, to help us accomplish all that we did. Halle and Kathy August were very grateful and impressed with all the work we did on their property. The team had major breakthroughs in terms of of being community together, confronting and reconciling, dealing with our conflicts and differences and figuring out how to work together. This was not a group that would have naturally gravitated together and said, "Hey, let's go on a big trip somewhere where they don't speak our language!" No, this was a Kingdom community, a constellation of relationships that would only happen through God's Spirit. I really am proud of all the students.
That's a good segue to letting them speak for themselves.
"Coming down to Nicaragua has been the most eye-opening mission trip I have been on. Even though our 'main mission' is to do a lot of painting…through going down to La Chureca to see the people down there and their living situations, I have seen more need of love and emotional poverty than I have seen in Mexico and New Orleans. I have seen the parallel between America's spiritual poverty and Nicaragua's financial poverty."
"The team got to get together with an organization called MANA, mostly a spirit-moved man named Dan. Because of Dan I got my eyes opened to some of the neglect and devastation of La Chureca (a civilization of people in the city dump) and how God has been working through people there. My favorite divine appointment was when we all got to play with the love-deprived children at the elementary school in La Chureca. We all also got the pleasure of meeting Ruby, an amazing godly woman we met and prayed with. This was a very strong session of feeling God's spirit speak through His open vessels. Then we all got to help with a feeding program in La Chureca. This took a while, and some patience, but it was only possible by God's holy organization. Then a lot of fun came all at once. Not to say that any of the above things were not fun but this is what really got me going. SURFING ON CHRISTMAS yeah baby." [Remember, we were away for the Holidays.]
"This is my first mission trip to another country. I am the type that usually makes an effort to minister in everyday life, but this trip has been an amazing eye-opener. Everywhere I have been, as soon as I even got off the airplane, I can see the need. On the way to our residence, I saw nothing but trash, beggars, and dead decomposing dogs. In the parks, there is more garbage visible than grass. We have seen schools for the less fortunate, places of refuge and empowerment for prostitutes, places of vocational training for those who can't provide for their family and facilities that provide basic healthcare for those who live in the dump. The Lord is doing powerful work here, but as far as I can see, there are limitless opportunities to impact, or even save, a life, or many lives."
"I have never been out of the country before. I didn't have much culture shock, but it has been extremely difficult to shed a feeling of superiority in how my culture does things. I have encountered the fact that how our culture does things is neither the only way nor possibly the best way. This has been a difficult shift in my thinking. Being isolated from my culture (though not totally, I still live with 6 other Americans), I have had the opportunity to look at it from a distance. This has been invaluable, and I hope to keep this train of thinking when I get back to the States. Through this view I have become ever-increasingly grateful for what God has given me, both materially and all the relationships that he has blessed me with. I pray that I will be able to make the most of what God has given me to the glory of His' Kingdom. Coming to a country such as this one has opened my eyes to the immense needs that are in the world, and this is just one country. One of the most valuable insights I have had is that I have been blind to many of the needs in my own community, and I am anxious to see how God can use this new awareness."
We had a really powerful debriefing time together the two days before we flew out (our property is a bit nippy for a meeting just now). We talked about how we wanted to live differently when we got back home and how we had seen one another grow during our five months together. I would love to tell you all about it. But I'll just say this: at the beginning of the session in August, I told them that I hope to see God change the world through them. They looked a little dubious, to put it mildly. During the debriefing, they reached the conclusion that if you wholeheartedly pursues discipleship to Jesus, you will change the world; it's a natural consequence of loving God with your whole heart, soul, strength and mind. Of the six Foundations students, two hope to become missionaries—one as a nurse—one wants to be a youth minister, one desires to pursue music, one wants to go into real estate, and one wants to "be an open vessel waiting God's direction in my life," maybe in the field of psychology. They know better now what part of the body they are—thanks to you. Most importantly, they have learned to love God more. And that's the point.
I'm not going to add any prayer requests this time. I just ask that you pray for Devin, Tad, Jacob, Celeste, Ben, and Trish as they transition to their next chapter of life. I'll send out another email in the next week or two (so...start holding your breath...NOW!) and shift gears from completing the Guinea Pig Session to moving forward with Foundations Ministries in all its complexity and glory and challenge. We've got a lot to do between now and August!
Okay, I hope you all know how much I appreciate everything you've done . I preached at our church, Columbia Grove, on Sunday (I Corinthians 12:20-27), and told everyone there what you need to hear, too: we are Christ's body, together, and by supporting and praying for and ministering to my family and the Foundations team, you made this mission to Nicaragua--you make Foundations itself--possible. God designed us to work for His Kingdom together; thanks for faithfully being your part of the body so that we could be our part of the body. We were able to hold and feed the children in La Chureca and play sports with the youth at Quinta AMEN and have our eyes changed by God through your partnership.
I'm going to give the last word to one of the students...I think this captures what I hope to see God do in the young people at Foundations...and in all of us.
"Many of the ministries have needs like new teachers, bigger facilities, teams to come build, skilled craftsmen, but most of all, people with the compassion of the Lord weighing on their hearts. I plan personally to aid some of the ministries financially, and also to seek out those in need in our own valley. My eyes are opened, the shades are down, the track before me, the flag goes up…"
In His Joy and with you for His Kingdom,
P.S. The sermon didn't get recorded, but I have the manuscript. I'm not attaching it so let me know if you want it.
Mike Rumley-Wells, Director
6380 Stemilt Creek Road
Wenatchee, WA 98801
If interested, please send financial gifts to the below address:
Foundations Ministries, Inc.
c/o Bob Floyd
517 N Mission St STE 2i
Wenatchee, WA 98801
Electronic giving also available through our website.
(Yup, I think that's every way to get ahold of us except invading our dreams.)
| || Posted by timd on March 17, 2018