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

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.