Posted July 1, 2011 by visionnicaragua
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Vision Nicaragua Trip Report

June 2011

Douglas P. Van Wirt

Dear Friends,

I just returned from a mission trip to Nicaragua. Thank you for your prayers and support for this, my (amazing to me) tenth trip to Nicaragua. Thank you also for your thoughts and prayers for Sharon as she visited her mother in Birmingham while I was away. I had not been back to Nicaragua for over two years, so this was a significant trip for me personally.

Our team was the largest ever, with 24 members going! It was a mix of people from several churches, but the majority were from Bent Creek Church here in the Asheville area. I was the oldest person on the team; we had several families, which included a lot of youth. Except for becoming a Christian, God has used Mission Work as one of the most significant life-changing aspects of my life. I see this in others, as well, so that is why I am so passionate about others going on mission trips as well – to see God change their lives too.

Our team arrived in Managua, and boarded the trucks for the 3 hour ride North.

As in the past, the team stayed at the Mission House at the Vision Nicaragua Project, which supports the community of Bethel. Bethel is near Chichigalpa on the West side of Nicaragua.

The Mission House, which has a Men’s Dorm, Women’s Dorm and a large meeting space.

The first day, on Saturday, we settled in to the Mission House, and planned the week.

On Sunday, we went to church in Trohillo (Tro-Hee-Yo), which is a outreach church from our original community of Bethel. The local pastor allowed Sam to preach the morning service, while Enrique interpreted his message into Spanish for the church members.

Church in Trohillo

After the service, the kids had a great time with the Piñata we brought for them. Barney didn’t last very long, and candy was soon on the ground!

Piñata fun after church in Trohillo

On the way back from Trohillo, we stopped at the beach and went swimming in the surf. It was a refreshing relief from the heat, and our team had a great time. I rediscovered that it is a small world, when I ran into another family from Asheville at the same beach at the same time!

After swimming and boarding the truck, we discovered our truck had a flat tire, so we unloaded and changed the tire. The back tires of the truck were very worn, so the next day, I went tire shopping with my friend Juan Carlos of Nicaragua, while the rest of the team did children’s gift distribution, and visited a Special Needs School.

Gift Bags! Thanks to those who donated gift bags!

Another important ministry opportunity that we did as a team was food distribution. We purchased 100 pound bags of rice and beans, and then re-apportioned them into 10 pound plastic bags for individual distribution. Several villages received the blessing of food, along with an evangelistic message.

Giving Rice and Beans to some local ladies.

Many of you know of our desire to help the unemployed men of Bethel. We established a little concrete block making enterprise several years ago, and it is still running today. They currently make between 200 to 300 concrete blocks daily, and sell them to various customers.

“Bloquera Bethel” at the Project, where they make concrete blocks

Three years ago, our Project land was blessed by a donation from Samaritan’s Purse to obtain a diesel powered generator. The power goes out often in Nicaragua, and is needed for the water pump, fans, and lighting, as well as operation of the concrete block enterprise. The generator still runs great!

One of my projects was to change the oil and all of the filters on the generator while I was there.

The generator at the Project

One of the security guards that works at the Project (we have 24 hour guards for the property) is one of the “sick men” named Oswoldo. He has been a guard for 6 years now, and has been faithful to work regularly.

Oswoldo helped me change the oil and the filters, and also helped with the difficult repair of a small rubber hose attached to the bottom of the radiator, which was enclosed in a safety cage. It took us an additional hour to fix this small hose, which was chewed open by a rat several month ago, which created a leak. During this repair, a very strong storm came up, and we found ourselves huddled on the floor of the very small generator building while lightning crashed around us and water poured from the sky. While we were waiting for the storm to pass, Oswoldo asked me the question (in Spanish) “Are you a Christian?”

Hello! What a question to be asked! I responded “Yes.” and then asked him “Are you?” He said “No”. He then added that his mother and father are Christians, but that he is not.

So, I told him how I am a Christian (in my broken Spanish, of course), and that is based on how Jesus Christ died on the cross to pay for my sins. That God is holy, and we are not. Because of this we are separated from God. Jesus repaired that separation by paying for our sins when he died on the cross. When we trust in that payment for our sins, he forgives our sins, and our debt is paid. It is not based on what we do in our good works. It is only based on what Jesus did on the cross – he died for our sins, and trusting in that payment is only what makes us a Christian.

I then asked Oswoldo if he wanted to be a Christian. He lowered his head, and said no. I told him that this was the most important decision of life, and it determined if we will be in heaven with God or not, and that he should think about it.

So, please pray for Oswoldo as he thinks about it.

Another ongoing challenge at the Project in Nicaragua is water. Although we cannot drink the local water, it is good for showers and toilets, and very necessary for us “gringos” from the USA. When we first bought the land about 4 years ago, we ran a 1 inch water pipe up the side of the highway about a quarter mile. The project land is a high spot, so we get almost no water pressure, and the water is only on about a third of the time. We have a below-grade water storage reservoir that is kind of like a mini swimming pool that holds a total of about 8,000 gallons. The city water dribbles into it, and then we pump out of it for our water needs. The problem is that with larger groups, the need is greater than the supply, and we run out of water. Not good.

Enter Amigos for Christ. Amigos for Christ is a local mission organization based in Nicaragua. They help the poor people just like we do. One of their ministries is well drilling. They are currently drilling a well on our project land, but have recently hit hard rock. It is probably hard lava rock, since the volcano is only about 7 miles away. They are having very slow progress and need your prayers to penetrate this hard rock. They are using a 1940s drop-bit rig, which operates by dropping a heavy pipe with a carbide tip onto the rock, and then bailing out the rock fragments using water.

Amigos for Christ drilling a well at the Project.

One of our regular events our mission trips hold is a “youth night” at the project. We bring in several truckloads of youth from Bethel, and we have a great mix of fun, worship, and teaching. Before the worship time, the guys and girls competed as groups in a line-dance competition, judged by four of our gringo team members. It was hilarious!

Youth night worship

One of the great things about mission trips is the friends you make, both on the team, and local. Below is one of the ladies from the village of Bethel, who is like everyone’s grandmother.

Everyone’s “grandmother” when going to Nicaragua

A typical pair of shoes needing replacement

A special time with the local church in Bethel is to go to the natural spring pool in Campusano, about an hour’s drive away, to hold baptisms. After the baptisms, everyone jumps in to swim for the rest of the day!

In Nicaragua, you never know what kind of vehicle will be on the highway. It may be a brand new SUV, and old School Bus, a bicycle, or a horse and cart as seen below.

One of the most interesting team time we had together was climbing Cerro Negro, one of the volcanoes in Nicaragua. It is one of the smaller volcanoes which last erupted in 1975. It is a huge pile of rocks and gravel.

Climbing Cerro Negro Volcano in Nicaragua

The view is fantastic from the top. I made it!

As we partner with our friends in Nicaragua, I want to especially thank all those who thought about me, prayed for me, and gave financially to help me go. It was a great trip, and I am always amazed how God works in me and through me. Your partnership is a blessing from God, and I pray that He will bless you as you continue to help others go on short term mission trips.

God bless you all,

Doug Van Wirt

Ensayo

Posted June 25, 2011 by visionnicaragua
Categories: Uncategorized

June 9, 2011 (apologies that this post is out of order….)

Today we went to the village of Ensayo; it’s a small and very poor town here in western Nicaragua. We engaged the people in some activities that we had done earlier this week in the town of Trujillo. We colored books with all the children, learning about their lives and their culture. It was great to see the eagerness of the children and even some of the adults. I mostly talked with one little 5 year old girl, Jacqueline, who was very shy (“timida”) at first. But with some time and her mom’s help, she opened up a little. We also gave out rice and beans to each family and each child received a stuffed animal. We also brought with us a pinata made by the children in the Special School that we visited yesterday. These Nicaraguans take their pinatas seriously! You could tell that the little boys [and girls!!–comment added by Giedra] all play baseball as they had perfect stances and strong swings. Once the candy was released, it was chaos! Even some adults dove in to grab the “dulces” off the packed dirt ground. As we were leaving, they brought us several bundles of a fruit treat called “mamones.” These were obviously prepared to be sold on the street, but they wanted to give us a gift to show their appreciation and, of course, we gladly accepted :)

In the afternoon, we went to the beach in Corinto along with the entire staff of the compound where we’re living and their families. It was really great to get cooled off in the ocean, to play soccer and frisbee and to just relax and nap in a hammock. Some of us had some anxiety going into today’s activities as we knew bathroom facilities would be sparse and we’d be away from “home” all day. But, as usual, God provided us with plenty of water, shade and even an enclosed hole in the ground!

In our bible study times, we are studying Philippians and also taking things “to the cross” to hand over to the Lord. We’ve drawn a cross on an old bedsheet and have been putting the things we’re taking to the cross on it. This evening, we took our communion juice and literally poured in on the sheet to symbolize how Christ’s blood covers all our sins and washes us white as snow. Thank you, Lord! :)

(Written by Claire Burgardt – Nicaragua, June 2011)

Stop and Smell the Roses

Posted June 25, 2011 by visionnicaragua
Categories: Uncategorized

June 21, 2011

Lauren with her Nicaraguan hermana (sister), Yahaira

Traveling to Nicaragua was like experiencing life without the concept of time. Everything is done at a different pace. We spent hours waiting on simple processes to get accomplished and were forced to live in community. It was beautiful. Not everyone could speak the language, but we could all communicate with love. A simple smile broke down centuries of walls built up since the tower of Babylon. I think God destroyed that tower so we could stop being so selfish. We become so worried about succeeding to become like Him, that we forgot what actually being like Him is truly like. Jesus never had a planner or scheduled His daily or weekly ministries. He just loved on people.

While in the city market one day, we saw a man who was pretty visibly mentally handicapped. He kept standing in front of cars and didn’t seem to grasp the concept of the fact that they can hurt you. I think he wanted attention. He then looked at a few of us and first right directly at me and headed toward us. He then gave me one of the best hugs I had ever had. He wasn’t one of our planned tasks scheduled for our mission trip. He had nothing to give and gave all he had. He reached out and loved me and by receiving that love, I was able to let go of some of the ridiculous selfishness that makes us feel better off without disabilities. We constantly battle a love disability. It is only when we decide that we are low enough creatures, that God allows us to see the true beauty that He has designed us all to possess, which is an infinite capacity to love.

(Written by Lauren Crafton upon return from Nicaragua, June 2011)

What Does Becoming Jesus Christ Look Like?

Posted June 25, 2011 by visionnicaragua
Categories: Uncategorized

June 11, 2011

Jesus Christ is alive in Nicaragua! I have been able to travel to several developing countries up till now, but this is my first official mission trip and it has been a blast!!!! There have been many trials, and headaches, but God is alive and has been speaking to me. I’ve noticed over the years that back in the states people come and go and we (me included) end up basically throwing money to countries and organizations to “do our good deed”….or “provide for the poor.” While money is needed, I believe LOVE is needed mucho mucho more. I have seen the people here, we have visited several villages of different financial statuses, and what I see they need most is LOVE. They need people to love on them, and be the face for Jesus Christ. Jesus would go to the worst places and show his love. He didn’t throw money at people, he provided and then taught and spent time with them. He would bend over backwards, and help people beyond their expectations. He spent lots of time in prayer, and meditation also.

We have gotten to do all this in Nicaragua. We have done countless projects on the mission project land including pila repare (water collection site for the project), we loaded and delivered and unloaded 500 brick blocks that were made on the project land to a village where they were starting to build a house. We have painted several buildings on site. We have also gotten to work on and turn an extra room into a couple’s bedroom by sledgehammering the foundation and digging under the foundation to connect drain pipes. Off site we have gotten to do many things like reading and drawing with kids, providing food to hungry families, and playing futbol (soccer) with kids in the villages. We have made trips into town to get supplies (much harder than you think), and gotten to see what it’s really like to be more of a “local” in Nicaragua. Most all these are physical things, but you do them in the name of Jesus Christ, just as he would have done.

Spiritually, Jesus has torn my worldly view of developing countries, and worship with other brothers and sisters apart. Its unbelievable to sing and learn Spanish worship songs. It doesn’t matter what language you sing is, you are making a joyful noise and singing with the Nicaraguans praising God united despite the language barrier is beautiful. He has shown me that the American way of efficiency and quantity is worthless. If you don’t enjoy the here and now how on earth is Jesus going to be shown through your actions. I have learned to SLOW DOWN and have patience. Stop and smell the roses, pray continually, let God speak to and through you in everything you do. All this can happen if you do tasks and walk through life at a normal rate. You will be rewarded by just working at your speed and not doing too much in one day.

The people of Nicaragua are wonderful. Everyone is so loving and generous. The staff here on site are the most unselfish, friendly, and happy people I have ever met. They themselves are a great portrait of Jesus and how he loves others. I have been blessed by all of them.

On this trip, I have gained another family. Everyone on this mission trip I love like a brother or sister. We would have each other’s back at any moment. We have grown together despite all the trials, difficulties, and HEAT and lack of water. But Man, I love everyone so much!!!! I hope I never lose touch with everyone on the trip and I pray that we can continue to do in Indy what we have done here in addition to continually keeping the country of Nicaragua in my prayers! This is a short snippet of what Jesus looks like.

(Written by Josh Henry)

El Señor es mi pastor; nada me faltará. (Salmo 23:1)

Posted June 25, 2011 by visionnicaragua
Categories: Uncategorized

June 11, 2011

Giedra with Glenda in the village of Bethel

On Tuesday of this week, the psalm of the day during our individual quiet time was Psalm 23.  When we got to the church in Trohilo, I was tickled to find that the first verse was written on the back wall in Spanish. When you look at the literal translation of the Spanish version, it’s a little different than the traditional English “I shall not want,” which in our culture we take to mean “I will not desire anything” instead of “I shall not want for anything.”  The Spanish makes this clear, since the second clause literally means something more like “nothing will be missing for me.”

A big takeaway for me on this trip is that the Lord really is my shepherd, and while there may be things I think I want, He will provide the things I truly need. While I may have wanted at various moments to be cooler, to have less rain or more rain, to have water for a shower, to know what was coming next…..I learned that the heat wasn’t all that bad, that water would be provided, that Gatorade would be provided (sometimes even the extra-delicious blue GATORADE), that the water would come when it would come, that we’d do the activity that worked when it worked…..in other words, that we’d get what we needed.

Last night this lesson was underscored for me again when I was up from 2 to 4 experiencing the special illness that afflicts travelers. Strangely, I found myself thinking how lucky I was. I’m not vomiting! I have a flashlight with which to read this pamphlet about said special illness! I have an antibiotic to take! I don’t think I have ever in my life felt lucky to be sick, but last night I did. The Lord is my shepherd, indeed; there is nothing missing for me.

(Written by Giedra Campbell)

What I’ve Learned

Posted June 25, 2011 by visionnicaragua
Categories: Uncategorized

June 10, 2011

I have learned from the people here what it means to live out Phillipians 2. The ladies that have been cooking and cleaning for us have done it with such a joyful spirit, not seeking acknowledgement or praise but serving as Christ would serve. How many times do we do something for someone and expect them to be openly grateful for what we have done? Would Christ have done that? No. He would serve others, putting their needs before his own and wanting no recognition for it. I want to be more like that.

In addition, I have learned how much I have taken for granted. The people of Nicaragua live in small shacks, they ride bikes down very long dirt roads full of pot holes, the dogs run wild because they don’t have money to feed them, they don’t have air conditioning, they do not get to take luxurious vacations but are excited to have an occasional trip to the beach, they handwash their laundry, they cook over a fire… Americans have an attitude of immediate gratification. They need the latest and the greatest. This trip has taught me how fortunate I am and how much I need to reach out to those in need.

I also came to the realization that I have been too dependent on both my husband and also my family. My dependence should be upon God. If I seek to have my needs met through my husband or my family, I will never be satisfied. But if I call upon God, my heart will be full and overflowing with the joy only he can give.

As for my team members, I am so incredibly thankful for every one of them. We truly are family. It’s times like Omar doing the fountain pose in the airport, or watching Ron attempt to eat foods he’d rather not touch, or hearing Marty, Ella, Geirdre, Omar and Lauren singing some of my least favorite songs in the back of the truck at the top of their lungs, or riding in the back of a small truck with Lauren, Claire, Karina, & Connie sharing life as we fly in the air going over speed bumps that I will always cherish.

God is amazing and I’m anxious to see what is in store for the remainder of the trip. Btw…our time with the children here has been incredible! They are all so cheerful and loving despite the fact most of us know very little, if any, Spanish. One little girl was trying to tell me something and I couldn’t understand her. She eventually just smiled the sweetest smile and gave me a huge hug. It overwhelms my heart. I’d just love to bring one home! :)

Thanks to you all for your love, support, and prayers! We truly appreciate it.

(Written by Ashley Henry – Nicaragua, June 2011)

No Problema

Posted June 25, 2011 by visionnicaragua
Categories: Uncategorized

June 10, 2011

As each day passes, it becomes harder and harder to put into words the way that God is moving, both in my heart and in the hearts of the people around me. It was quite a shock to learn that God lives in more places than the United States! In fact, it can be easier to see Him here in the quiet and the chaos than in the well planned schedules I make for myself. I have experienced an awesome picture of a servant’s heart here in Nicaragua. It just feels like people are always willing to lend a helping hand, and the staff on the mission have truly warmed my heart. It does not seem like they ever stop moving, yet there is still time for a friendly word or a quick smile, a hello and a kiss. It doesn’t matter if everything is going right or if you’ve accidently cut the water pipe from the city, (yes, I actually did that…more on that later), they’re quick to say “No problema” and trust that the Lord’s hand is in everything and will take care of everyone.

I think my tendency is to think about the resources I need and perhaps later thank the God who provided it, on a good day at least. But here they’re more likely to thank God before a hand has even moved to remedy the situation. I have seen beautiful attitudes and hearts that long to serve the Lord and His children, and it is redefining what it looks like to joyfully serve in the tasks the Lord puts before us.

(Written by Omar Martin – Nicaragua, June 2011)