Mission Trip Reflection - 2018
Our return trip to Quebrada Honda, Nicaragua was very rewarding and the community has asked us to continue the relationship. Half of our mission team had served in Nicaragua several times, and half were T2A2 members who had never visited the country before. We completed the electrical wiring of the school we had built over the last two years; then received a request from a nearby community to build a classroom complete with electric wiring. This creates a dilemma. Should we focus our efforts on one community? Or should we go with what we do best – electricity – and wire as many communities as we can?
Throughout the trip our team reflected on, discussed, and strove to build and serve through person-to-person relationships – with our team members and the Quebrada Honda community. During morning devotions and evening discussions, we reflected on the joy of actively including community members in our electrical work as well as listening to and prioritizing their needs, dreams, and goals for their school and community. Local residents worked tirelessly – drilling holes, gluing conduit, and cutting wires. Working side-by-side with members of Quebrada Honda brought much joy. At the same time, we supported each other as a team. We formed friendships, encouraged each other, and openly discussed challenging topics with honesty. All involved in the project worked as members of the same body of Christ, each with their own gifts and functions.
The Council of Protestant Churches of Nicaragua (CEPAD) works with six other communities in the state of Pantasma, besides Quebrada Honda. When we initiated our partnership in Pantasma, we chose to focus our efforts in one community so we could develop a closer relationship with the people. We learned from our previous assignment in Nicaragua that spreading the energy of our small team over eight communities prohibited close ties to any of them. However, now that word of our success has spread to the other communities CEPAD works with in Pantasma, we are hearing of resentment from other villages. Our team will have to wrestle with this problem before our trip next spring.
- Nicaragua Mission Team Member Marti Wendler and T2A2 Member Miriam Ernest
Bringing Light to Quebrada Honda (2016)
Like many Nicaraguan women, Norma seems ageless. She has little gray hair and her face is unlined. Her smile can light up the room. She is a terrific cook! But what makes her remarkable is her vision for herself and her community.
Norma is a wife, mother and land owner. Her farm is perched on a hill overlooking the school in the remote community of Quebrada Honda. She is a well-respected leader in the community.
After doing her daily chores and making tortillas and cheese for the market, Norma teaches preschool in a neighboring community. On Saturdays she makes the 4 hour trip, walking many miles to catch a bus, to attend the university in Jinotega, after classes makes the return trip. With each year completed at the university, Norma becomes qualified to teach another grade level. That’s how it works in Nicaragua.
In 2016, the Nicaragua Mission Team in collaboration with CEPAD and the community members, helped construct a new classroom in Quebrada Honda. In 2017 we painted the classroom and built 5 much needed bookcases for the school. We spent time talking and dreaming with the community about the future and what is resoundingly clear is that the community considers education for their children a high priority. They have expressed desire to bring electricity to the school, to light up the classrooms.
With God’s grace, careful planning and with cooperation of the Nicaraguan government, the Nicaragua Mission Team hopes to light up the classrooms in Quebrada Honda.
Para Aprender, Para Construir, Para Entender
To Learn, To Build, To Understand
April 2-10, 2016 - 12 FPC members, including 3 teens traveled to Nicaragua. Our delegation leader was Justin Sundberg, a PCUSA mission co-worker assigned to CEPAD, Council of Protestant Churches of Nicaragua. After spending a day in Managua learning more about the country, we traveled to the small community Quebrada Honda where we worked shoulder to shoulder with local community members mixing mortar, cutting and laying concrete blocks and making rebar reinforcements for a small classroom. We also painted two existing classrooms. We enjoyed getting to know the Nicaraguans as we shared meals, played soccer, read story books, taught lessons, sang and laughed together. We were certainly blessed to see God every day in the faces of our Nicaraguan brothers and sisters. Each day we had devotions and reflections led by Melissa Anne Rogers and on our last evening in Granada we worshiped and celebrated communion together. We all felt our time in the community was too short and we’ve begun planning our next visit in 2017. Read the full mission report here!
We are pleased that Justin, his wife Renée and their four children will be visiting First Pres on Sunday, June 12, 2016. Justin will be giving the Faith in Action at the 9:30 service and the Sundbergs will enjoy time with us during the church picnic. Let’s make them feel welcome!
About the Nicaragua Mission Team
The Nicaragua Mission Team is happy to welcome new members, and encourages interested people to attend a meeting or contact the current leadership to find out more about future trips and other important work that needs to be done to make this group successful.
The Nicaragua Mission Team works in collaboration with the CEPAD (Council of Evangelical Churches of Nicaragua). To learn more about the current CEPAD mission co-workers in Nicaragua, visit: http://www.presbyterianmission.org/ministries/missionconnections/sundberg-justin-and-renee/
Carol Smith firstname.lastname@example.org
Nicaragua Trip - February 2015
A team of twelve First Pres missioners is in Nicaragua for a week of service and Christian witness from February 14 to 22, 2015. Our team will be working in a rural community. First Pres is a partner with CEPAD, the Council of Protestant Churches of Nicaragua, an organization helping rural communities and individuals to be the principal actors in their own development. CEPAD’s ministry model relies on teaching over hand-outs and giving people the tools they need to sustain themselves and their families. Follow our Mission Team on Facebook and visit http://www.cepadnica.org/ for more information.
Nicaragua Trip - February 2014
Ten representatives from First Pres (including 7 adult members, 2 youth, and 1 resident minister) traveled to San Jose de los Remates to begin a partnership with eight communities located in the Boaco Department in Nicaragua. Carol Smith, Paul Smith, Marti Wendler, Karen Walter, Sue Jeffers, Richard Lord, Lenore Webb, Oscar Webb, Tavo Webb and Lal Rodawla spent eight days working together to provide a foundation for future First Pres mission teams as our church establishes a relationship with members of the eight communities. Through visits, conversations, and the building of eight bookshelves for schools, we managed to touch base with a large number of residents of the communities.
The trip followed two exploratory visits made by First Pres Nicaraguan Mission Team members in August 2012 and April 2013. As a result of the information gained during those trips and an initial meeting with leaders of the eight communities, the mission team made the decision to send its first work team to the area in February 2014. It was also decided that an attempt would be made to incorporate youth on the team. Accordingly, the trip was planned for the Ann Arbor area winter school break.
To read more about the Nicaragua trip view the full report here: Nicaragua Trip Report - February 2014 (pdf).
Nicaragua Trip - April 2013
From April 14-17, 2013 four members of First Presbyterian, Sue Jeffers, Marti Wendler, Tim Wendler and Carol Smith spent time in the San José de los Remates region of Nicaragua meeting with delegations from a recently formed cooperative of 8 small farming communities with whom we are exploring a long-term relationship. This trip was a follow-up of the initial exploratory trip made in August 2012. The introductions and meetings were facilitated by CEPAD (Council of Evangelical Churches of Nicaragua). The representatives we met were diverse in gender, age and economic status yet all were respected and used the opportunity to express their ideas, hopes and dreams. Their love of God was openly expressed during the worship service and business meeting.
Our group toured several organic farms that are successful in growing coffee, tomatoes, peppers and cabbage as well as cattle and chickens. The farmers are trained in sustainable and innovative practices which include worm farming to create compost, Nicaraguan honey bee-keeping and drip irrigation. The farms are a testament to the farmers' hard work and respect for the natural beauty of their land. We also visited the Nicaraguan version of a "one room school house." All the children, first to about eighth grade were being taught in the same room by the same teacher, a difficult task in the best of circumstances. While the school is in need of general repair, paint and supplies, the children were well behaved and engaged in class. We learned that many children walk more than two hours each way to attend school. For some, the hot meal they receive at school may be their only meal of the day.
The Nicaragua Task Force is beginning to discuss the next trip which we hope to make early in 2014. We plan to continue the process of getting to know the communities and understanding their needs and how we might be able to assist them. Early discussions have included the possibility of making tables or bookshelves for each of the eight or nine schools in the region. Working side by side on the farms and assisting in the coffee harvest are other possible options.
It has become evident that the people of Nicaragua and particularly the people of San José de los Remates are very interested in a long term relationship based on their strong faith in Jesus. We hope to gain their trust and respect and ultimately enter into a covenant agreement with the members of the cooperative.
In 1999 First Presbyterian Church of Ann Arbor started the Peru Task Force. Its purpose was the development of a long term relationship with MISIUR (Misión Integral Urbano Rural), a Presbyterian agency in Peru that provides much needed support for underserved families, particularly women and children affected by the Shining Path terrorist movement in the highlands of the Andes. The group made 9 trips to Huanta to provide support, develop relationships and help with the maintenance of the property. At its peak, the project provided spiritual, educational, medical and nutritional support on a daily basis to more than 80 children. In 2010 the political situation became more volatile and MISIUR was compelled to abandon the project. The Peru Task Force mourned the loss of the project and especially the relationships built with the children, mothers and teachers. The group reflected on its desire to continue serving and sharing God's love with people in Latin America and following more than a year of prayerful research and discussion with PCUSA mission leadership, the group decided to focus its efforts in Nicaragua, the second poorest country in the western hemisphere. In 2011 the Peru Task Force officially became the Latin America Task Force. The change in focus and subsequent name change was supported by FPC's Session. In 2013 the name was changed to Nicaragua Task Force.