Wednesday, December 21, 2011

El Zapote Christmas Party

What a day we had at our usual weekly outreach to El Zapote, we brought a celebration to the community.  Each week, our church - Nueva Restauracion, along with our neighbors who are associated with a local ministry and ourselves go to the community to teach the Word and just love on everyone we can.   This trip, we were blessed to be joined by another ministry who brought clowns.  We all joined up at the church; meeting time was supposed to be at 8AM.   I don't think we will ever get used to Nicaragua time, it was 9:30 before we left for the community.   I am starting to ask the question when someone gives us a time: "Is that Nica time?"  If they say yes, I now know I can add another hour minimum on to the stated time.  It's taken us 4 years to get this figured out.

Let's get back to El Zapote:  We arrived with lots of fanfare, horns blowing, calling out to everyone we passed and children running to greet us.  We had a day of fun with games, pinatas, candy, toys and painted faces for the children.  The women needed pampering; we cut and colored hair and painted nails.  We prepared lunch for everyone.  

As is typical in this country, the men are rarely involved in family activities, let alone anything to do with church.  There was one man that sat a safe distance away from the community center and someone presented him with a balloon which he placed around his neck.  We saw older teen boys also watching from a distance, but would not get involved.   

In time, we hope this will change.  As a ministry, our focus is all about these older teens and drawing them out.  

It was a fun day, fun for the kids, fun for the women and fun for us.  Every time we reach out to the village we walk away blessed to have spent time with them.  They teach us a lot about "community".  They are a very small village, they rely on and help each other.   There are a lot of old "traditions" handed down through generations that need to be changed.  This country is a mix of Indian, Spanish, Catholic and Witchcraft. We don't change them by telling them what is wrong (not at first), we befriend them and let our example influence them to wanting something "more".  To want THE truth and THE life.  Jesus spent more time eating and hanging with the people than he did condemning them.   We are growing to love the people in El Zapote, not because that is what we are commanded to do but because they have captured our hearts.

Merry Christmas El Zapote and Happy New Year!  We look forward to many years of celebrations together.

This video captures the day and says more than I could ever say in words.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Bautismo a Las Penitas

We experienced a momentous occasion, two of the young adults who live with us were baptized in the Pacific Ocean.  Aroldo and Darcy chose to publicly declare that they had made a choice to serve the Lord Jesus.

Our pastor and pastora, Jose and Danny, arranged for members of the church to accompany them on an outing to Las Penitas Beach a short distance from Leon.  Various members, young and old climbed aboard a chartered ruta bus for the 15 minute trip to the beach.  It's always fun to huddle together and travel as a group.  We stopped at various points in the city to pick up members as we headed out.  There were approximately 30 of us in the bus and other members joined us at the beach via their own transportation.  The day was perfect, clear skies, mild temperatures and light breeze.

Before the baptism, we all gathered in the ranchero for a time of prayer and a short teaching by Pastor Preston.   Pastor Jose prayed for Aroldo to have the chains of bondage broken off him.  There are pictures (in the accompanying video) that clearly depict Aroldo symbolically trying to break the chains, you see the strength in his arms.   He struggles with addiction to substances.  In the last couple of weeks, with each touch of the Lord upon him, there follows temptations and setbacks to a life that he is desperately wanting to leave behind.

Prior to stepping into the water, the condition of the ocean changed dramatically.  The waves became very strong and very high.  Many times, the pastors along with Aroldo and Darcy were swept off their feet by the strength of the waves.  Later, the Lord showed me that the waves were symbolic of the storms in their "former" lives; always being knocked off their feet by the conditions that they found themselves in or that were self-inflicted.  Like the sea that will polish rock and smooth it like glass, the water was washing over them to do away with their past.  Then came a moment when there was a break in the crashing of waves and the pastors gently lowered each one into the water, just like the Lord lovingly draws them to Him.  As they arose out of the water, new creations were brought forth into the Kingdom of God. 


Afterwards, there was a feast of fish prepared by Pastor Jose.  This was a true miracle.  He did not have enough fish to feed the entire group.  But as each time he put his hand into the bowl to retrieve a fish to put into the fry pan, he'd thank the Lord and ask Him to multiply the fish; there was always another, an endless supply.  

Unfortunately, Aroldo and myself (Sandra) were not able to stay and eat with the group.  Aroldo has a job and we had to get him back into town.  So we hopped on a bus that would take us back into Leon.  It was a beautiful, warm night with the wind blowing in our faces as we stood in the aisle of the very crowded bus. When we got off in Leon to walk the last couple of blocks to his work, many times  Aroldo would look at me and say, "Feliz, muy feliz".

Sunday, December 4, 2011


Darcy Coulson, age 25, was formerly in the women's division at Remar-Leon.  She is from the east coast of Nicaragua, Bluefields.  She has a son who is 11 years old that lives with his father whom she never married.  I well remember all the months that we would see her during the weekly worship services that we attended at Remar.  She always had a big smile, was very friendly and loved to worship the Lord with her whole heart.
Several months ago, I felt the Lord had put it on my heart to approach the director of Remar to talk with him about the women in the program.   Often when a person is about ready to leave a rehab program they are apprehensive about going back to the neighborhood where they once lived.  They know that their are friends and conditions that are not healthy for them.  I asked the director to consider whether or not he would mention to any female who was about to leave Remar if they would like to live with us in exchange for helping with the housework.
Many weeks passed without a word about my request.  One day, I was talking with Nelson in the park and asked him the name of the lovely, black woman who was in Remar.  He gave me her name and said she was no longer there.  I asked him that if he ever saw her, to have her come talk to me.  She came to our door one Sunday afternoon and has been with us since.  She is the one I felt all along that God had in mind to help us.  He knew what we needed, He knew the future.   There is something that I did not know about Darcy, but God knew; Darcy is bi-lingual!!
Darcy was only with us for 2 days, when she met our pastor, Jose.  He was here for the usual Tuesday study with the school.  After school, he came to talk to me.  He stayed for 2 hours, talking and ministering to Darcy.  Preston claims he went to teach school and when he came home, he saw a miracle sitting in his house.  We have no pictures of Darcy before that meeting with the pastor, but take our word that her physical appearance changed dramatically.   We have in our home a person who has been set free of all the pain, disappointments, rejection, shame and sin of her past.
Throughout the evening she would talk to us about the pastor.  She was in awe of the fact that he told her about specific incidents in her life that happened when she was a child. "How did he know that" she would ask.  "I never knew him before today".  It was her first experience of receiving Words of Knowledge.  She would say "I feel so different, so free". The next morning she told us she "slept like a baby". During the first couple of days, when friends would see her, they remarked about the changes they saw in her.
Darcy is a young woman with a vibrant personality, quick wit and loving.  She is confident in her abilities and herself.  She takes charge of situations and people; she is a leader.  She came to us seeking employment and has given us so much more in return.  We now have a house full of young people and she runs a "tight ship".  The boys listen to her, but what is most impressive is their relationship to her.  They look at her as their sister, they have respect and love for her.

Within a month of her time with us, she had an opportunity to interview for a job in Managua.  The boys have been sad and "fearful" of her leaving.  We have told them that her stay with us was always to be temporary; just a safe resting place until she could find her way in life.  They need to be glad for her.  As opportunities might come their way, they would want everyone else to wish them well, too. 

For now, Darcy is still with us.  The interview was encouraging and it is a tremendous job opportunity for her that pays extremely well.  However, she needs official documents to prove her identity before she will be considered for employment.  She is accepting this time of waiting as God's plan for her.  She continues to pursue her relationship with the Lord and strengthen herself in order to be able to handle life on her own out in the world.

You've heard me say this before about so many of the people that I write about; we are so blessed to have her in our lives.  God knows who we need to accomplish all that is before us.  He had planned long before we ever came to Nicaragua that Darcy would be a part of our lives to help us. It's awesome the way He tends to details.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Greetings to everyone on this Thanksgiving Day.

We have been in our new adopted homeland of Nicaragua for 2 Thanksgiving holidays.  The weather this day is just as beautiful as we remember it from last year.  The sky is so deep blue with no clouds and the temperature is 82 degrees with 40% humidity.  This time of year in Nica is so wonderful.

We have had a very busy month.  School goes on as usual, our weekly outreach at El Zapote with the class and members of our church, a brief 5 day trip to Orlando to satisfy the temporary residency requirements of the Nicaraguan government (I have no sympathy of the illegal immigrants plight at this time in the U.S.) and our household has grown by 4 persons.

At the end of October, a young woman who was in the Remar program came to live with us.  She is an answer to many months of prayer in our desire to have someone help with the housework.  How Darcy came to be with us and her first days in our home is a story worth telling and I will do a special post on her very soon.  During Darcy's second week with us, she brought Aroldo home.  We had been looking for him for weeks and she was able to locate him.  I have done a post about Aroldo last week, please review our blog.

Yesterday morning, during breakfast (we love to linger and talk), Darcy and Aroldo were talking about Nelson.  He, too, once lived at Remar and has been on his own for about 3 months.  We would talk to Nelson on a regular basis because he worked at the Hamburguesa stand in the park where Aroldo use to work; Aroldo trained him.  Darcy told us that Nelson was living in the Hamburguesa stand which is about 5 x 7; sleeping on the floor under the counters and washing in the market place.  Well, I cannot stand to hear something like that and as usual I start to shed tears.  After some discussion amongst us and talking about our already stretched to the max budget, we all agreed that we would ask Nelson to come live with us.      (Nelson is wearing #72 shirt in the video)

After our evening meal, I was at my desk and Aroldo came to me announcing that Noel (see October 2010 blog) was outside our gate.  I could not believe my ears; Noel was here!   For the past 4 months, every time that I would sit down to write a story about Noel, Pablo and our 2 spiritual sons Andres and Kervin, the sorrow was too great.  These four boys exited from our lives.  In September, Andres and Kervin went to finally be with the mother they have not known since Andres birth; they now live in Costa Rica.  Pablo ran away in early July by himself during the night in a thunderstorm.  Later in July, Noel ran away with another of our students, Douglas.  Douglas was at Remar only a couple of months and did not like it.  He talked Noel into going with him and promising him to help once they reunited with Douglas' family.

Noel had lived at Remar since he was 9 and at 16 years of age,  he wanted a different life.  His time in Granada, a city near the southern border, was spent working and living without the security of a stable home.  He came to Leon and to our door with a friend who lives in Leon.  His friend, Angel, was a "graduate" of Remar.   Like all teenagers, they were hungry and luckily we had left-overs.  Angel certainly enjoyed his food, he kept commenting 'rico', 'rico'.
Noel wants to come back to Leon and it was unanimous that he should live with us.

What are we going to do with a house full of young people, all trying to build and rebuild their lives?  With God's guidance, we will figure it out.  NOTE: PT came to tell me that a dove just now flew into one of our courtyards, landed on the walkway, looked at him and looked around the area and then flew into the ficus tree to perch.  Hmmmmm, do you think it is a sign?

What we do know is that these 4 young adults are safe and happy in our home.  They all slept well in their beds and had a good breakfast this morning.  Darcy is learning that she is loveable and valued for who she is. Aroldo is learning that even when you mess up, real families don't toss you out, you work things out (there was an incident while we were in Orlando). Nelson is learning that there are people in this world willing to give you opportunities to help you towards a better life.  And, Noel, he is learning that when people love you, they always welcome you back with open arms.

On this Thanksgiving day, we miss our own children and grandchildren very much; it has been a very long time since we have seen them.  I pray that in our absence they will know how much we love them and we would not be away from them if God had not chosen us for this work.  In the mean time, God has blessed us with 4 individuals to spend the day with us.  We are thankful.

Monday, November 14, 2011


We have a new addition to our home, Aroldo Yuriel Sandorval Gomez, age 20. We met Aroldo for the first time last February when he attended the carpentry class, beginner's phase. At that time he was living in the Remar facility. God immediately joined our hearts to Aroldo. He was eager to learn all that was being taught in the our vocational school.What was more astounding was his hunger for more knowledge of God and the desire to enter into deeper intimacy with Him.

Our time of knowing Aroldo has not been without incidents. He has lived in and out of the Remar facility.  A month after we met him, he showed up at our home late one evening with another student.  They had been out in the neighborhoods trying to sell products for Remar (which is a source of income for that ministry).  Sales were non-existant on that day, so they decided to head to Managua thinking sales may be better.  After another attempt of selling and still with no results, they hitch-hiked back to Leon and came to our doorstep, afraid to go to Remar because of the consequences of being past curfew and blowing what little revenue from the day's sales on transportation and food.  Once back at Remar, we did not see their presence in class for a month because of the discipline.

Fast-forward a couple of months to when he ran away from Remar.  After a couple of weeks on the streets, he came to our door.  We let him stay with us, but he was only in our home for 2 days, he preferred his life of "freedom and sin" on the streets to safety in our home.

He came to us one more time in the middle of the day, after another month on the streets. He was drunk, tired, hungry, thin and in need of a bath.  After he showered and washed out the clothes he was wearing, he tried to give us a few cordobas to show his gratitude.  We fed him, put him to bed for a nap and kept him hidden from the students during class time. After classes, we had Pastor Jose come over to our home so that we could converse with Aroldo about his life.  We convinced him to return to Remar and we all escorted him over to the facility.  He stayed only one week.

After that time there were two more attempts of him having extended stays at the rehab facility.  Each time, we saw positive change, his health being restored and his relationship with the Lord being renewed.  Then he abruptly left the facility in September and we found him sitting on a park bench where he had slept.  He did not want to go back to Remar and we would not let him come to our home.

He was able to get a job as a cook at the small local hamburger stand in the park.  The owners of the stand helped him with a place to live.  It was a good beginning for him.   He worked alone seven days a week from 7AM to 10PM.  One of the things we have learned in working with people in recovery is they need to avoid getting lonely and tired.   Whether it was burnout or the lure of the streets, he vanished from the hamburger stand after two months.

As of one week ago, he has been in our home.  The people in the park knew that we had been looking for him and he was brought here.  After a conversation about his current circumstances and explanation of what we expected of him, he settled into his OWN room.  One night during dinner a couple of nights ago, he said he was grateful that we did not bring up his past bad choices and making him feel worthless.  

He is adjusting to a life of rules and procedures with us.  He is back in class, making friends with the newer students.  He plays soccer in the street out front of our home with the other neighborhood boys, which he loves.  We spent an afternoon at the beach with our neighbors and their sons.  He's reading his bible, watching a lot of Christian TV and attending youth group at our church.  He went with us to the weekly Remar evening service and connected with some of his old friends. He's experiencing life as a normal teen and we are seeing him flourish.  

There is a lot of work ahead of us.  Teens here are very independent and unsupervised; I have yet to see correction, no matter what the age (toddlers on up).   A new life of rules, correction and discipline is a huge adjustment for someone like Aroldo.  

His mother moved to Costa Rica and left him when he was 4 years old.  He has five siblings from different fathers.  He was raised by his paternal grandparents until his grandmother died.  He lived for a brief time with his father but he said his father drank a lot and would take Aroldo with him.  This may have been the start of his drinking habit.  He left his father because he did not like his life there.  Thus he ended up on the streets trying to survive.  

Aroldo's mother is coming to visit her other children this month.  She always spends time with the others and sends money to the others.  This is very hurtful to him, yet he says it makes no difference because he doesn't know her any way.  No child likes the feeling of abandonment, that stigma stays with you forever. 

Pray for Aroldo, for his healing and recovery.  Pray for us to have abundant wisdom to take care of him and guide him. He's a very special young man and we want him to grow into all God has planned for him.  
Would you consider helping monthly to defray the costs associated with Aroldo living with us?  As a young man, he EATS a lot and is in need of toiletries and clothes;  $2 a day.  If you have a desire to help in the care of and changing the life of this fantastic young person, please contact us direct at 336-793-1617 to discuss the arrangements and length of care, or email and we will contact you.  

Friday, September 30, 2011

Abundant Fruit

This last month has been utterly amazing in the classroom and amongst the students. During the last 2 months we were without four of our students for 3 weeks.  They were being "grounded" for some disciplinarian reasons at the Remar facility where they live.  We missed them so much in their absence and were sad that they did not have the opportunity to attend classes.  They have told us that being in class is the highlight of their day.  We were also without our four missionary students who attend class.  They had a month's vacation visiting back in the States.

During the month we had three new boys come in and out of the class.  They come in due to curiosity, a primary care giver brings them to class or they are part of the Remar rehab program.  They stay for a day or two, or in one case, they slip out silently after a half hour.  Sometimes we learn the reason for their departure which range from intimidation by the work to non-interest to laziness.  Some weeks the classroom is like a revolving door, you never know who will enter and you certainly don't know how long they will stay. This has presented a challenge to making a schedule for the week's teachings and work.  Flexibility, has been the one word that we have had to adopt into our lifestyle.

Israel, our student who has just passed his one year attendance, is stepping naturally into the role as instructor in carpentry.  We have always noticed him to watch over the new students and be helpful to the other guys during work on their projects.  It has been our desire from the early concept of the school that one or two students would evolve into an instructor.  As the class size enlarged and we are in different phases of learning, we knew that we needed additional help. When we asked Israel if he had interest in assisting with the teaching, he was happy and proud.  He is very helpful with the new students who come in and need instruction in the basics of carpentry.

Franklin is a student who started in the class 2 months ago.  He came just as we were beginning the electrical instruction.  He was our primary student and was able to receive intense, one on one training.  He is older than the other students and catches on very fast. He, too, has naturally stepped into the role of instructor in electric.  He is teaching the basics to the boys who desire to learn about electricity.  As they master a prinicple, we step in to demonstrate another teaching.   From that point, Franklin reinforces the teaching and oversees the assignment.  He mastered the math skills that were taught him in his first weeks and he now teaches them to the other students.  Math is critical in doing electrical work.

This is an answer to prayer, to have our students "reinvent themselves" through teaching others what they have learned.

When the Remar students reappeared after their time of being grounded, only one of the students came back.  One of the boys ran away, one decided he did not want the vocational training and another is still under further discipline.  However, with the one returning student came 3 new boys one week and another the following week.

Each time new boys come in, it's like seeing a deer caught in the headlights or an animal going to slaughter.  They don't know what to expect; all they know is that some gringos are going to try to teach them some skills.  It's also a time for us to catch a glimpse of them in their state of being on guard, with all their walls up and totally suspicious of us.  Sometimes it takes weeks to have the masks come off them and most recently it takes only days.  This is the miracle of God working in our lives and theirs.  We are learning how to relate to them and they are learning how to trust us.

I don't have the adequate words to describe the changes we are seeing in all the boys who come to our school.   We see changes in their relationship to each other and to us.  We see changes in their appearances.  And, we see changes in their relationship to the Lord.  

We are not doing anything special, what we teach them practically is what Preston has been doing his whole life, construction.  We just made a decision to make ourselves available to be used by God to impart hope, understanding, validation and love to young men.    Boys, who mostly have been neglected and overlooked throughout their young lives.

We love what we do!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Electrical Training

We feel like we have hit a milestone this week, we began a 2nd phase of vocational skills with the introduction of electrical.  We are combining the electrical training with the carpentry two days each week.  

When we questioned the class as to who was interested in learning electrical, we had 4 students express a desire to learn and a couple of maybes.  The first day of class we were short 2 students and the maybes.  The maybes seem to be apprehensive about getting close to electricity; in time they may change their minds.   The two boys who were keen on learning really showed enthusiasm on day one. Basic theory of electricity was taught.  We are talking REAL basic because the "maestro" as Preston is referred to by the locals is without an interpreter.   Quick Spanish 101 is a story of its own; the lack of an interpreter has accelerated Preston's language skills.

By the end of day one, the boys had cut wire and added ends to make an extension cord which was so needed by the entire class. They have learned how to calculate loads on a circuit so that they can size the wire in a circuit breaker.  They were taught how to use an electric meter.  

Day two, brought review and a little more instruction.  Application consisted of taking apart an electrical receptacle to see how it was wired.  Then it was on to building two electrical circuits consisting of a receptacle and light fixture with a switch.  This teaching was accomplished by the boys looking at the diagrams that were drawn for explanation.   They shared the work equally which is still something we marvel about.  Time and time again we see team work, boys working together; sharing the work as well as helping one another out.  

As work progressed with the electrical, the boys who were working on their wood projects were starting to show an interest in the work that was being done at the far end of the workroom.  Quite often they were peering over to see what and how the electrical work was being done.  There may be more interest later, but for now, working with these 2 boys is an excellent start for the maestro.

When the work was completed and it was time to flip the switch, there was instant light.  It was a very proud moment, not only for the boys for their accomplishment, but the maestro, too, was able to teach in a way that was understood.

Yes, milestones!  The beginning of electrical training and teaching in Spanish.  It was a good week, a very good week. With God all things are possible!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Michael E. - Advanced Student

Let me introduce you to our longest attending student Michael Espinoza age 18.  He is starting his 2nd year in the carpentry program. Michael came to us via the pastor of his church.  He came with a desire to learn woodworking.  We saw from the first day we met him that he truly had a desire to learn.  He seemed to be sincere in wanting to change the path of his life.

Michael lives the farthest distance of all the students.  He was commuting to school by hopping onto the bicycle of another student and sharing the ride; that student no longer attends. He now walks 45 minutes in the hot sun and occasionally in the rain.  He had perfect attendance for the first 2 months of school.   We have given him money daily to take the bus home each evening.   Because of the effort that he has shown in his attendance and his participation in class, it is now time for him to receive bus fare for round trip transportation which amounts to about 25 cents a day U.S. You might call it an anniversary present from the school.  He has been an exceptional student.  Michael takes his work seriously and is precise in all the things he has created in the shop.

Michael's story is typical of so many of the boys in this country.  He lives with his mother, siblings and extended family members.  We have taken him home on several occasions and notice that they have an outdoor kitchen; meaning they cook over an open fire.  The shavings and scraps of wood the students leave  behind from their projects help to fuel that fire.  He is basically quiet, but loves to join in on any of the fun or conversations going on in the group.  He has a smile that will brighten a room.  His mother has done an excellent job of parenting him, he is very polite and respectful.

During our initial interview when we met him, he was very honest with us.  He said that he has used alcohol, pot and cigarettes.  He was the only member of his household who attended church.  In the year we have known him, he still continues to demonstrate honesty.  Early on, their was a hammer missing from our supply. When the class was told that no one could leave without finding the hammer, Michael was the student who produced the "missing" hammer.

We've seen a lot of changes not only in Michael's physical appearance as indicated in some of the photos, but there have been big changes in him spiritually.  There has been an increase in a hunger to know more about the kingdom and develop his relationship with the Lord.  He enjoys Wednesdays when Pastor Jose comes to teach the boys more about God and His Word.    Occasionally he has attended the evening services with us at Remar and fully participates in the worship.  We love when short term mission teams come for a visit; all of our students receive the blessing of prayer and prophecy over their life.

Our greatest regret is that we cannot communicate more with Michael, our Spanish is SO limited.  We've had the pleasure of Michael spending the night in our home a couple of times.  I guess when you are comfortable with one another, language isn't really that much of a barrier.

Michael says he wants to have his own woodworking shop one day.  He is acquiring the skills to be a very fine craftsman.  We will continue to teach him principles of setting up his own business.    There are tools that he has earned during the last year with more to come that he will be able to take with him when he completes his training.  This will allow him to work for someone or start on his own with the basic tools.  He is working on some projects that we hope to sell.   We will split the net proceeds between the school and him.  He loves the idea that his skills will begin to produce income for himself and be able to share it with his family.

We are extremely proud of Michael and his commitment to educate himself.  We love having him in our lives and look forward to seeing the man evolve that God has called him to be.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

July Newsletter

Greetings from Nicaragua,
We have entered our 4th year of being involved in the lives of the young men of Nicaragua. Over a year ago, we moved to Nicaragua to be full time missionaries and now we are more than half way through 2011.  
In planning our move to Nicaragua, we were to drive from the United States in our large truck loaded with tools and equipment to be used in the workshop of the vocational school.   When it became apparent that the plans were changing, we sold the truck and donated all the tools and shop equipment to another ministry.  We arrived in Nicaragua empty handed.

We started the first class with the “loaves and fish” premise.  We asked ourselves, what do we have to work with?  We had a tape measure, a saw, a hammer and some scrap wood.  We literally were teaching the students that you can, in time, start a business with whatever you have on hand.  It was important that the students learn how to work with hand tools; not only from a cost savings but also because electricity in this area can be undependable.  Even now, after we have acquired electric tools, it is important that the new students master using the hand tools.

The school was started with “nothing”, much the same way that our students will begin  to work if they choose to make carpentry their life vocation.  We now have saw horses, work tables and storage closets.  The boys have built a workshop from scratch.  We have been blessed by givers that have provided us with power tools to use in the shop.  We have the beginnings of a very fine teaching facility and workshop.


In the last year we have had 36 teens and young adult men attend the carpentry course in the vocational school.  There was an adult pastor in our first class.  He has since taken what he has learned back to the village where he pastors. Currently we have 12 students in the class.  We discovered very early that fatalism and a depreciation of physical work and those who do it, is a mindset that needs to be altered in this culture.  As a ministry we have learned that it is not the numbers that determine success or failure, but change and growth.

In our current group of students, there is one boy who was exploited by family members and forced into prostitution before the age of 9, another boy killed a family member after years of sexual abuse, and another boy was involved in a group mugging that resulted in the death of a person. There are others who tried to escape the harsh realities of their existence by turning to drugs, glue AND alcohol.  Yes, all 3 substances; it’s common to have more than one “drug” of choice and to use them all in a day’s time.  Whatever they can get their hands on to help numb the pain of abuse, loneliness, abandonment and hunger, the substance makes no difference to them. 

We have witnessed an extraordinary group of teens transform from invisible “nobodies” to embracing confidence and self-acceptance.  They have been willing to allow the Lord Jesus to enter their lives and walk along side them in their journey to find themselves.  We recognize the miracles that have taken place in their lives and are sure that they are recognizing them too.  It is a miracle that a couple of these boys are alive today.  It is a miracle that they are thriving and coming to believe that they are worthy individuals.  Worthy of a second chance and most important, worthy to be loved.   

These precious boys are God’s chosen.  They’ve been chosen for a second, third, and maybe a fourth chance.  God sees value in them.  God has plans for them.  We, too, see the potential in them; and where there is potential, Satan lurks to destroy their future.  

Everyday there is a battle that rages to get these boys to forsake the commitment they have made to the Lord.  We see weekly if not daily, one or more of the boys struggle with issues.  No matter how much truth they are learning, sometimes it is easier to believe the lies.   We’ve seen them self-destruct before our eyes and at times it seems there is not enough prayer that will overcome the situation.  We can only keep praying and give them up to the Lord’s care.
Not only does the battle rage on for the boys, but we, too, fight a constant battle in attempts to get us to withdraw.   We have been attacked in our marriage, in our relations with our own children, in our finances and in our thoughts.  As, I said in the above paragraph, where there is potential, Satan lurks to destroy the future.  

We came here to help make a difference in the lives of the teen boys and young men of this nation that society didn’t want to bother with.  We call these young guys the “forgotten generation”.  Their families don’t want them, their community does not look out for them and most all mission minded ministries overlook them. We are accomplishing what we came here to do.  We are making a difference in the lives of a few.  We can’t reach or touch all the young men of Nicaragua.  But, we trust that God is bringing the boys to us that He has chosen to rebuild their lives.  If we can help to change these lives, we believe that they will give back to their country what they have received.  

There are a lot of stories and events that we have recorded and posted on our blog  The stories range from team visits, to biographies of some of the students, to life as we experience with the boys.   The best way for you to stay informed would be to subscribe to our blog and you will be notified of all new postings automatically.

God has been so faithful in providing for the basic needs of the ministry.  This has truly been a miracle because we have not sent out updates or newsletters in many months.  The individuals that have continued to donate have done so because God has quickened their hearts, it was not because of reading a newsletter.   It is important to know up front what our monthly committed support will be.  It is impossible to plan the programs each week for the school agenda without this information.  The ministry cannot grow because of the lack of funding.  To apply for grants it is required to have the basic budget underwritten first.  We are stretched beyond our physical, emotional, mental and financial needs to meet all the demands of this ministry.  There are a several needs which are essential to us right now:
  • We need a translator.  It is impossible for us to teach the boys in class.  We have a very limited Spanish vocabulary.  Not only to we need to be able to teach, but we need to be able to communicate with them.  This is SO important; they need to be able to talk and to be heard.
  • We need a housekeeper.  We dismissed our long time housekeeper last October because of lack of finances.   We spend a minimum of 3 hours each day cleaning house and laundry.  That is 2 people times 3 hours EVERY day.  We did not come to Nicaragua to clean, we came to teach.  This country is very dirty, there are 19 volcanos.  There is volcanic ash and dirt every where.  We can dust a table and within 5 minutes know where a glass or book had rested after being picked up. 
  • We need lumber.  We need a constant supply of lumber.  Wood here is very wet and it is necessary to have a small supply of lumber drying at all times.  Most projects require dry lumber so that it does not twist or crack.
  • We need school finances.  We have acquired a new building for the school.  For 9 months we have operated out of our home, it was time to move.  We needed more space for the students.   It was essential to regain our privacy;  we needed our home back.
  • We need funds for the students.  We provide them their own tools, we have snacks, we celebrate birthdays (this is the only cake that some of them have ever had), we are now including medical & dental care.  (see our latest blog on their 1st trip to the dentist)
  • We need 1 or 2 volunteer interns.  We need someone who has the ability to teach basic math, reading and writing to join us for a minimum commitment of 6 months.  We also need someone who can double as an instructor in carpentry so that we can begin to introduce the other phases of construction skills.
  • We need personal support.  We have need of dental & eye care.  We need clothing and shoes.  We both have lost a great deal of weight and our shoes are worn out.  We need to be able to budget for our tourist card renewals every 3 months.  Every 6 months it is mandatory that we leave the country for 3 days.  To go to Costa Rica it costs a minimum of $600.  We would like to come back to the states for a true vacation to see friends and family.  A trip to the States would cost in the thousands.
  • We WANT people to see what we are doing; organize a small group and come for a visit.  Your lives will be forever changed.  We need people to spend time with our boys.  They crave attention and recognition.  They need personal ministry and healing.  Whatever your gifting, we can utilize it.  There are communities full of young boys that need help.  We can tailor a mission trip for you.

We are aware of the change in finances among so many of you.  Times are difficult now for everyone.   It is not easy for us to ask you to commit monies out of your already stretched budgets.   We have learned that people hesitate to give when they cannot offer a sizable gift.   Ministries exist due to the multitudes of people who faithfully give $5, $10, $20 each month; these gifts add up.  Here in Nicaragua, the 2nd poorest nation in the western hemisphere, these kinds of gifts go a very long way in providing what is needed.  Would you consider partnering with us?  Lives are being touched and radically transformed by our presence in Leon, Nicaragua.  We need your help to continue our work.  You can donate safely online at  You can make a one time donation or sign up easily for a recurring monthly amount which makes it easy and convenient for you.
We all have a part in spreading the gospel and loving our neighbors.  Some have been called to physically go out into the world and the others have been called to send them.   This week, we have an outreach project that we will do with the students.  A local woman who sells hotdogs and snacks out of a vending cart in the park is in desperate need of work to be done on her cart.  The floor in the cart has rotted and she is in danger of falling through and physically harming herself.  The doors to the cart cannot lock at night and she is being robbed on a regular basis. This is an opportunity for the students to give of themselves into the community by rebuilding her floor and replacing the doors.  She works from 8 in the morning until 10 at night for a few dollars total every day.  She does not have the money to repair her cart.  This cart is vital to provide for her and her family.  She will experience first hand the love of Jesus through the efforts of our students.   You, too can be a part of what we do here.  You not only will be sowing into the future of our students, but you sow into the lives of our community through our various outreaches.  
In His Service,
Preston Barnum