Vision Nicaragua Trip Report
Douglas P. Van Wirt
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!
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.
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