Yesterday, Glenbrook’s mission team arrived home from a two-week mission trip during which they helped our Christian brothers and sisters erect a new church. The team also tried to alleviate some of the despair of poverty by providing medicines to a local Children’s cancer hospital, food and clothing to those in need and much more. Today is Nicaragua Liberation Day. One of Glenbrook’s congregants, Debora Rolls was visiting Loyalist Landing - a beautiful B&B in Bloomfield,Ontario in Prince Edward County. To celebrate Glenbrook’s safe arrival home, to honour their work and acknowledge Liberation Day, proprietor Robert Leek flew the Nicaraguan flag outside his establishment today. Thanks to Robert and Gillian for a great stay and this lovely show of solidarity!!
Today’s correspondent is Team leader Conrad Fujimoto.
Barbara Taylor led our devotions by reading the creation account in Genesis 2. Her interest in macro photography has shown her the uniqueness and beauty in even the smallest of things.
When we arrived at the build site we were surprised to see the progress that was made while we were away the previous day. The ground inside the church was leveled and work had started on the platform at the front. Annette (the Executive Director of PAN) told the congregation that God wanted to start a new thing with them. She said that God wanted them to reach out into their neighbourhood and bring people into their new church building.
Although I have been on several mission trips to Nicaragua, this was the first time I saw how the walls are parged. This is the process whereby a thin layer of cement is directly applied to the block walls.
It was Noel’s (one of the construction workers) birthday today, so we brought him a cake to celebrate. Afterwards, he asked to speak to the team. He was almost in tears as he told us that this was the first time in 44 years that anybody celebrated his birthday.
During our farewell worship service with the church, we sang two songs for the congregation, one in English and one in Spanish. Susan spoke with the congregation how much more we wee blessed by them than they were blessed by us. She also talked of the deep connections that had formed between the women of the congregation and the mission team.
It has been our team tradition to prepare a hot dog luncheon for the congregation on our last day. This trip was no exception. Around 11 a.m. we started cooking the hot dogs for this special lunch. There was a little more work required in the preparation process than we first planned; we found that each wiener had its own plastic wrapping that had to be removed before cooking.
The meal was followed by a time of celebration and worship. Here three girls from the congregation did a dance they prepared for us.
The team was asked to do the actions to a children’s song about penguins. There was a lot of laughing, but I think they were laughing with us and not at us.
Afterwards we distributed food bags to the families of the congregation. These bags contained pantry basics: corn meal, oatmeal, sugar, beans oil and toilet paper.
Later,the women of the congregation were given the opportunity to collect clothing for their families.
We even had a pinata for the children.
We finally had to say our goodbyes. I believe very close connections and bonding occurredbetween the team and the congregation this time. There were lots of tears.
When we arrived back at Jardin Shalom we were greeted with a pleasant surprise. Pastor Pablo, whose church we had built in 2015, his wife and one of his daughters had come to visit. He was so disappointed that he wasn’t at home when we were in Niquinohomo that he drove to Jardin Shalom to try to catch up with us. He told us how his congregation was growing and shared some pictures of the completed church. Just before he left he prayed for us and gave us each a small keychain as a keepsake.
It’s humbling to realize how much the Pastors and congregations from previous mission trips continue to think about us and express their appreciation. They have often told us that our mission teams were answers to years of prayer.
This will be our last blog. We are looking forward to returning home to you. We thank you for all your prayers and support.
Dios les bendiga, (God bless you)
No blog available for the team’s final day in Nicaragua.It was a hectic day of farewells and packing, and poor wi-fi connections prevented our faithful correspondents from filing a report. But they are all fine and will be heading to the airport to return home in the wee hours of Thursday morning.
Stay posted to this site…a final report and photos will be forthcoming hopefully tonight or perhaps tomorrow.
Today’s correspondent is Geraldine McCauley.
Our day started out with a bit of an overcast sky, but soon turned to sunshine as we all gathered for breakfast. Even though we were not working today, we still kept to our morning routine of breakfast , followed by devotion time. Sue was our devotion leader for today, and we had the opportunity to share our favourite moment from our trip and a "God" moment that we will remember for a long time. For me…
Today’s correspondent is Heather Boyd.
we were returning to the construction site to help with more building and playing with the children. The children and their mothers had loved colouring earlier in the week so we coloured some more today. When more children were coming to colour some of those who had already begun pulled the 3 square tables apart so other chairs could be placed around the table. I thought that was something special!…
Today’s correspondent is Christine Etchu-Njang.
Today was a busy day for the team!
Arriving at Manolo Morales hospital, we saw a lengthy line of people waiting outside for treatment. Young and old, men and women, this public hospital serves the community of Managua. More specifically, it serves those who cannot afford treatment at the private hospitals and who do not have health insurance.
Once we entered the hospital, the rooms overflowed and hallways were full of movement as doctors and patients made their way to their destinations.
As we made our way to the rear of the unit, patients peeked though their windows to welcome us with warm smiles and friendly waves.
With the guidance of Marta, our chef and children’s program director, patients greeted us with singing, and Pastor Cecilio said a word of encouragement to the people. The team was invited to sing a song for them in return. We were shown their outdoor kitchen and laundry area, as well as their outdoor shower.
We laid hands on each patient and prayed with them, offering them reassurance and comfort as they battle illness.
Huembe’s market overflowed with goods. Products ranging from guitars to rocking chairs to children’s toys and exotic spices lined every inch of the many booths and at times spilled into the aisles! A piñata was picked out for the children at the build site from a man who helped during a previous build.
Once we reached the build site, we were up and off to work! The construction is progressing faster than expected. Today we laid down a layer of concrete, transferred bricks from one end of the site to the other and made space for the church’s stair entrance.
Jonathan, one of our interpreters, helped to make our day of play with the children of the church a breeze. Fun games such as musical chairs, hula hoop relay and over-under were enjoyed by children and adults alike!
The day at the site came to a close with a jelly pop for each child. Corina, Pastor William’s wife, said that they are all growing sad because the team is not going to be there for many more days and they do not want to see us go.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,” Galatians 5:22 NIV
Today’s correspondent is Laura Fujimoto.
This evening begins our second week of ministry here in Nicarauga.
God has been so good to us throughout our journey showing us His hand in so many things we do.
Our day started with Annette (PAN Executive Director) leading us in devotions. She showed us how the number 7, the number known as the number for God can be seen throughout scripture in the original text. She also talked about how the chosen lambs to be sacrificed in the temple and tended by the shepherds who came to see Jesus were also swaddled to protect them while they were young and growing.
Off we went to the job site to spend some time with the women and children who were patiently waiting for us The men were busy preparing for the top row of cement and the columns for the front door. Such amazing workers who are so grateful for the gift of a church where they can worship together.
The rest of the team as spent time with the women and children doing crafts.They do love their stickers and sparkles. They are so creative.
Too soon we had to leave to get to our appointment at the rehab center where certain offenders go to get rehabilitated.
If they mess up however, then they go to jail. We were all quite surprised at the young age of some of the residents. Jessie, Pastor Ernan's wife, lead in a few praise songs after which pastor Cecilio gave a brief message about the importance of God in our lives and how he helps us everyday and forgives us. Two young men came forward for prayer. We then we gave each person a toiletry kit and left them two cakes to enjoy with their lunch.
We decided to stop for pizza on our way home. A nice treat and a change from sandwiches.
After lunch we sorted more clothing and prepared to go to the barrio where most of Pastor Cecilio's church people live.
We spent some time with them and had a brief time of worship.
[Afterwards, clothing was laid out on two tables and each family was given time to pick out some adult and children's. After the clothing was distributed, we cut up another cake into 70 pieces to share with this church family.
Home we came just in time for a yummy dinner of oxtail and squash soup. Try it sometime; it was delicious as have been all of our meals here at Jardin Shalom.
Tomorrow is another busy day, with a hospital visit and activities at the job site.
Thank you all for your continued prayers.
Dios te Bendiga,
Today’s correspondent is Sue Aristone.
During our devotion time this morning Pastor Cecelio shared an illustration with us of how God has led him to reach out to his barrio (neighbourhood) to bring people to his new church Pan de Vida (Bread of Life) located behind Jardin Shalom (where we are staying). If a farmer cannot get a mother cow to follow him to another field, he picks up her calf and starts walking. Of course the mother cow follows her calf, and therefore follows the farmer to where he wants him to go. So Pastor Cecelio gathers the children up to come his church, and prays that their parents will follow!
When we arrived at the work site, we continued on with our work from yesterday- preparing the steel beams. The beams have to be scrubbed, rubbed with turpentine, and then painted. We had quite a system going, and finished the last of the 50 beams by noon.
Our lunch is a time of great blessing. We join the PAN construction crew and practice our Spanish (you would be so proud Debora). We are learning a lot about them and their families.We learned that Jorge is an assistant pastor to Pastor Cecelio and lives on a pineapple farm with his family. Our foreman Mauricio is a Deacon in Pastor Cecelio's church as well.
After lunch, our 3 young people, Christine, Emilie,, and Heather, prepared crafts for the children at the work site. The children especially loved the colouring pages! We are told to expect mucho (many) more children tomorrow to make more crafts!
Because our team had finished our job of painting the beams, we decided to do an afternoon of "pampering" with the ladies from the church. We pampered them with nail polish and hand and neck messages. These ladies work so hard! When we are working too slow, they just go around us!! If we put down our pliers, paint brushes, or rags, they are snatched up and our place in line is taken. So they deserved to relax and be pampered! It was so nice to see them enjoy it .So we were surprised when after we had finished they turned around and did the same for us! It was delightful- and we were indeed blessed. What a great time of fellowship- women from 2 different countries sharing friendship, love and laughter!
Our construction project is ahead of schedule! The framing of the front door needs to be done, and then they can start the peaks on the front and back of the church. We may even be able to see some of the roof started (which would be a first for everyone on our team)!
We ended the day by treating the kids, ladies, and men from the church and the construction crew to candy floss- a street vendor "happened" to walk by with 30 bags of candy floss on a stick- so we just had to buy it!! He was very happy that he had sold out!
Had better sign off as we are getting ready for a busy day tomorrow, but it was certainly another day filled with many blessings. God's hand was at work!
Today’s correspondent is Barbara Taylor.
Hola from Nicaragua, where our fifth day included visits to a hospital and orphanage as well as work at our build site.
In our morning devotions Pastor Erman read the story of Jesus healing Peter’s mother-in-law, and reminded us that into the difficult circumstances of our lives Jesus brings hope that leads to miracles that lead to opportunities for service. And so we began our day with a visit to La Mascota hospital where we deliverd 4 MediPaks from Health Partners International.
While at the hospital the team visited three wings distributing toiletry kits and soft toys to the children and their parents.
From there we headed to our build site to join our Nicaraguan friends in another day of mixing cement, screening sand, making rebar and finally beginning to paint beams.
We broke for lunch and siesta and were treated to fresh sliced banana and watermelon by the pastor’s wife.
Emilie took sometime to blow bubbles with the children
and Sue got to pet one of the horses:
Our afternoon’s work took place under the hot sun but we completed our quota of beams for the day and were pleased with the overall progress of the build:
From the build site we drove to Remar Orphanage where we enjoyed interacting with the children — blowing bubbles, throwing beach balls and engaging in a well-played and energetic soccer game! (Editor’s note: It is clear that the Holy Spirit is upholding our team…. otherwise I’m sure they wouldn’t have energy for a engaging in a soccer game after a hospital visit and a few hours on the build site in extreme heat!)
The children had drawn a beautiful thank you sign for us:
and we were pleased to leave a cake for them to enjoy!
We returned home to Jardin Shalom hot and tired but feeling blessed to have been the hands and feet of Jesus today. Gracias, for your prayers and support. Dios te bendiga! (God bless you!)
Today’s correspondent is Geraldine McCauley
Monday started off with birds chirping, roosters crowing and the beautiful Nicaraguan sun shine. Our devotion time was a special one today. It started off with a few songs of praise in English & Spanish songs of praise. Sue had each team member fill out 1 thing about themselves on a sheet of paper and folded it and placed it in a baseball cap; then she read one at a time and the group had to guess who it was that had written the clue. Such a great exercise in team building. Also, lots of good laughs as well were had.
Off we went to the build site. So many happy smiling faces to greet us, such a wonderful greeting. We passed out baseball caps to all. Then the team broke off to start the many tasks that we had to do today. A few of our team members had been told last week that steel beams needed be painted. As every good painter knows, the surface must be prepared first; so 40 beams needed to be scrubbed with a brush.
More blocks were laid, cement was mixed and we completely finished preparing all the rebar work that is needed for the entire build. We are moving along quite quickly as there are many hands helping us out. Emilie is seen here with Samuel(translator) on the make shift scaffolding that is often used in Nicaragua.
Our driver Allan (who also helps at the build) arranged for the team to go for rides in the "moto taxis" that drive around in the local neighborhood. All had a great time, even though it started to rain on us. The team treated all our Nicaraguan friends onsite to a cold sherbet treat from a local vendor driving up & down the road. Such a wonderful feeling to share our gifts with our Nicaraguan christian friends.
The afternoon went by fairly quickly, and we were soon on our way back to the compound with tired feet & backs. We are looking forward to a delicious dinner prepared by our two wonderful cooks Marta & Myrna.
Blessings till another time as I must go reapply bug spray!
Today’s correspondent is Conrad Fujimoto.
Sunday is a day of worship and sabbath rest for our team. It is usually our practice to worship at a church built by visiting PAN teams, thus we went to Ernan’s church for worship. Ernan is the PAN administrator here in Nicaragua. When he’s not working at PAN, he is the pastor at “Iglesia Roca de Salvacion.” (Rock of Salvation Church) His church was built by a PAN mission team from Chipewa Presbyterian Church in 2017. Most, if not all Pastors in Nicaragua must work at secular jobs to sustain their families as the churches can pay them little or nothing.
We are often asked to participate in leading worship — often at the last moment! (You must be ready for anything to happen on a mission trip!) Here is a photo of the team singing “Father we Adore You” as a round:
Four members of the congregation sang “10,000 Reasons” for us in English:
Laura giving two girls a few pushes on the swingset just outside the church:
After the service we went back to Jardin Shalom for lunch. The rest of the afternoon was spent on some sightseeing at the Masaya Volcano and the Town of Catarina:
The edge of the Masaya Volcano crater is just to the left of the fence. Peering into the deepest part of the caldera you can see the lava:
From there we drove to Catarina to view the Apoyo Lagoon and to do a little shopping at the outdoor market. I tagged along with the ladies as they decided to do a little window shopping for dresses. (That was a lot of fun. :(
Meanwhile Christine and Heather decided to check out the horses.
This aloe vera plant (in front of a bench at Jardin Shalom) was planted by our 2015 Nicaragua Mission team as a memorial for one of Glenbrook’s founding congregants Hugh Thomas who died shortly before our trip. This plant has grown significantly and PAN Executive Director Annette Vickers tells us that members of teams that visit PAN have used the leaves from this plant to ease the pain of sunburns sustained while on mission trips. We believe Hugh would be pleased to know a plant planted in his honour is bringing healing to others.
Thanks to all of you in Canada for your daily prayers for our team!
Today’s correspondent is Emilie McCauley
Hola from Nicaragua,
The team was off to an early start this morning. We had a hearty breakfast of oatmeal and fresh papaya. We had a very busy day planned, so we decided to postpone our devotions until after dinner. Shortly after we left the compound, and we were on our way to the build site, we ran into a bit of traffic...
On our way there we also passed by a church that had sheltered students that were being targeted by their own government last summer. We could see bullet holes in the walls of the church.
We eventually made it to the build. We spent a few hours there, working on rebar and making mescala (i.e. cement)
We were only able to spend a few hours there as we had to go back to the compound to help out with a children’s program.
On our drive home from the job site we accidentally ended up joining in on the annual Sandinista Freedom parade! There were lots of flags and honking.
We had to eat our lunch (sandwiches) in the van, and as soon as we got back to the compound we went to the back of the property to join in with a Children’s Program. It is led by Marta, one of the amazing cooks at the compound. She read the children stories and sang songs with them. Once lunch was prepared, our team helped distribute food to all of the children
After lunch we did a few different crafts with the children. Everyone’s crafts turned out amazing.
. As the children left for home, they were each given an activity bag.
After the children left, we joined in on some soccer fun. There were a number of children's teams at Jardin Shalom for a tournament. Once they finished their games, a few of our mission team members played against a team of Nicaraguan adults. We don’t know what the final score was, but everyone had a great time! We even managed to score a few goals against the more experienced team!
After soccer we had a bit of downtime before dinner, and then after dinner we went out for ice cream. We will be doing our devotions tonight, and doing some laundry to get us ready for next week.
Sorry for the delay in posting this first blog…Wi-fi in Nicaragua wasn’t working at first, but is fixed now!
The team arrived safely and all flights went smoothly and the team and all their luggage is accounted for! Says team leader Conrad Fujimoto:
We arrived at the mission house, Jardin Shalom (Garden of Peace) late at night so most of us went to bed shortly after we got into our rooms.
We woke up to birds chirping and roosters corwing; I think most of us were still somewhat tired; it felt like a short night with the long travel the day before.
Some good progress had already been made in laying the foundations and the footings for the new church that the team is helping to build — so they were able to jump right in, as you can see from these pics:
The Nicaragua Team awaiting their flight yesterday afternoon at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport. Our thoughts and prayers go with them. Stay tuned for a daily update from the team!
At Glenbrook we strive to follow the teachings of Jesus and do what he has asked us to do. We don’t always do so perfectly, and sometimes we get distracted and need to get ourselves back on track.
A great way to serve Christ, is to do so in a group….and never does a group bond together better, and learn more about trusting Jesus, then on a short-term mission trip. That’s why, since 2005, Glenbrook Presbyterian Church (GPC) has participated in a two-week mission trip to Managua, Nicaragua.