Monday, October 6, 2014

Helping the Poor

In Nicaragua, all improvements and necessary changes are the responsibility of the renter.  At the end of the lease, the renter can remove and take with him all materials used in any improvements.  We however, leave all improvements in place.

In the community of El Paraiso, two days prior to our finding the rental for the carpentry school and cabinet shop, a woman's husband had committed suicide. She was reluctant to rent us a building she owned because the roof was collapsing.  She said she had no money to fix the roof.  In the case of the new roof for one of our landlords, we were following scripture to look after the widows.  We made an agreement to rent the building and make the necessary repairs.  She blessed the ministry with free rent until all repairs were completed.

The ministry installed new electrical wiring, receptacles, lights, replaced block, installed new roof, replaced fencing and built an outhouse.

When the time comes for us to end our lease with her, she will have a fully functional dwelling to rent out in order to generate income for herself and her children.

Friday, September 12, 2014

A Journey to His Past

Every orphaned/abandoned child and adult are curious about their past. Where did they come from, who are their relatives, are they still around? These were questions that were on the mind of our spiritual son, Jack Noel Martinez Diaz.  After we successfully obtained for him a "manufactured birth certificate" a couple of months back, his past has been weighing on his mind.

He has a brother, Freddy, whom we have written about often in our blogs.  About 10 years ago, together they left the home they once shared with Freddy's father - Jack Noel's stepfather.  Their mother had passed away and they lived in the home with the father/stepdad and younger sister.  The father was prone to drinking and not able to properly care for the boys; so the boys left and left behind their little sister.  The details of their leaving are still sketchy to me.  The boys spent time on the streets and eventually ended up in a rehab facility that also rescued orphans.  The facility was miles from their home and the boys were never reunited with family.  They virtually just became a statistic to the governing body that "tracks" homeless and orphaned youth.

It was while Jack Noel was attending our carpentry class, known then as Noel, that we first met him.  He bonded with us immediately and often would make comments about how he would love to live with us.  He eventually ran from the facility where he lived and was gone for 6 months.  Our hearts were broken until one day he showed up on our doorstep.  His time with us has not been without incident, but fast forward to present day and he is very comfortable with his life and in our home.  He really believes that he will live with us forever; that is the Nicaragua way.  However, we have told him that our purpose is to teach him how to live on his own - that is the American way.

Having laid all the ground work, let's get on with the story.  On a recent Sunday morning, we took our boy to the terminal station to board a microbus to travel to the interior of Nicaragua. To get to his destination required him to change buses 2 more times.  With each bus change we received phone calls from him detailing the events and reassuring us that he was fine.  I think he just wanted to hear our voice for assurance because he did not know where he would be going once he got to the town of his birthplace.

He called us when he got off the bus in Rio Blanco, 7 hours after he left Leon, to say he didn't know where he would be staying the night.  That was unsettling to us but there was nothing we could do but trust him to the Lord.  After the call, Jack Noel walked the streets of the small town praying to God to refresh his memory and hoped that he would find someone he knew.  We were relieved and overjoyed when he called us within an hour to say that he had found is birth father's house.   His father, Natividad, was not home but there was a step mother, 2 stepsisters and they invited him to stay.  

Jack Noel spent 2 nights with his family catching up on the years.  They had been convinced that he was no longer alive.  They were grateful for the goodness that accompanied Jack's life and the educated young man that he was growing into.  He loved to dazzle them with his English that he used whenever he called home.   It was also a way for him to communicate with us without them knowing what he was saying.   The poverty that his family lived was painful to him.    The phrase "they are so poor" would be echoed many times to us in each conversation.

Then it was on to another much smaller community a 3 hour bus ride to try to find the only father he had ever known, his stepdad, Pedro - his brother Freddy's father.  The home he had once known was no longer in the family and Jack had to ask around for information to find Pedro.  When he found him, he was shocked and very sad, but happy too.  The home he found Pedro in was made of black plastic, it was small and he lived alone.  The little sister that Jack remembered was no longer around. She had left home a couple years before and lived in Rio Blanco - the town he had left earlier in the day.  His happiness was because Pedro had quit drinking; he was a couple of years sober and trying to regain his life.   Pedro was so overwhelmed to see Jack, he too had been sure that he and Freddy had died.   

When Jack called us that evening he was sad because of the terrible conditions that his stepdad lived in.   He said he had wanted to help him do some repair work on the house, but he was not allowed.   It was raining; mud was everywhere and Pedro did not want Jack to get his shoes and clothes dirty. They talked a lot about the past and the future.  Pedro is concerned about Freddy and wants to talk to him.  Jack spent one night with Pedro because his desire was to get back to Rio Blanco to find his younger sister, Mirian.  

Jack was able to find his sister living and working in an old bar as a cook.  She had a one month old baby with no one to help her.  When we talked he was very concerned that he had 2 sisters who had children.  He kept repeating "they (his sisters) are so young".  We've spent many conversations in the past years talking about the difficulties and consequences of having children while young and out of wedlock.  Now the conversations were hitting home in a real way.  

He cut his trip short by a day because of the upcoming national independence day festivities that could disrupt travel AND he was ready to come home.  Home to his dry warm house, home to "civilization", home to a life that he embraced. He came home with lots of pictures and lots of stories.  Unfortunately the pictures are on an old cell phone that we cannot download to our computers, so we have nothing to show you.  He came home full of gratitude and love for his life.  

He understood more clearly what our purpose as a ministry is about in Nicaragua - to change the destiny of a man and his family.  He senses the responsibility on his life to become the best man possible so that he can help his family.   He said he was treated like a king by his family and felt "shame"; that was the term he used.   We told him to not feel shame nor guilt.  God had protected him all the years that he had been wandering and separated from his family. His unique life was a gift from God and there is a purpose in it.  We love the 2 photos (above & to the right).   We added no special affects; just evidence of God's love for him.

The family wants him to visit at Christmas for a week.  Jack has assured us that he will be back for New Years Eve because we are his family too.  He is conflicted about wanting to help his family but burdened by the fact that they perceive him as wealthy living with Americans.   He has had to work hard to get to the place he is at in his life with us.  We have instilled in him that we are here to help, guide and counsel, not to give welfare.  He needs to carry that same principle with him as he goes forth in his relationship with his family.  It will be difficult for him, just as it has been for us.  Our natural human instinct is to give, give, give to those in need.   We've had to hold back more times than we can count.   But, the giving would never end if individuals are not expected and/or taught how to do for themselves.  There are older brothers by another father and also an aunt who have been calling our home frequently since Jack's return; he was not able to see them.  No matter the poverty, everyone has a cellphone.  He is understandably excited by all the attention that he is getting.

In the short time of Jack's return we have had to put some requests and expectations back on to him. When he asks if there are ways that we can help his family.  We turn the question to him - "What are you willing to do for your family?"  The purpose of the ministry is to change one man and that man is the one who is to bring about change in his family.  Together we will help him come up with a plan for his future and hopefully that of his family.   

Saturday, August 23, 2014

He SEES His Future

4 years, 4 long years and there have been times when we ask ourselves "Do they understand why we are here,  Do they get what we are trying to teach?"

We came here to educate a generation that has been abandoned or rejected by their families, overlooked by their own society and not recognized by other visiting ministry organizations.  They are the young men of Third World Nations that no one wants to devote time with or spend the energy trying to educate them about life and life's principles in order to inherit a life that would be more abundant.

Working with the orphan and addict has unique challenges, so can working with a youth from a household with both mother and father.  Maybe the family is so poor that the child was never allowed the privilege to go to school or he might live in a remote area far from opportunities.

Such is the case of Mario Perez.  He comes from a loving family with mother, father, siblings all intact.  He lives way out in what we all would call the boonies.   He has had some education, but opportunities for work and career are beyond his grasp because of his location.  We met him when he joined our carpentry class to learn a skill.  It became apparent very quickly that Mario was serious about learning.  He was faithful in his attendance, precise in his work and very interested in more.

Our desire was to bring to the community (El P on left side of road) along with the vocational school an opportunity for work; an opportunity to begin to grow the economy within the community and the small surrounding towns. So we shared our vision with Mario and the other classmates about a carpentry shop - a business that would allow them to earn income. You could see it in their expressions that it made sense to them and excitement began to build.

We searched for a building to house the carpentry shop and entered into an agreement with the locals on 2 buildings.   One for the school and finishing work; the other for woodworking and assembly.  There were improvements that needed to be made.  The guys pitched in with gusto.  Through the weeks of work to fix and repair the buildings, participation was spotty.  But there was always one constant, Mario.

During one of many conversations, Mario shared that the guys don't see the future, they think only of today.  We had structured a schedule that would allow the guys to continue to work in the cane fields for income and allow them to participate in the work of building the carpentry business until it would sustain them all.  Mario's comment was the confirmation that we needed as to who would ultimately own the business.  The other guys were not willing to do the work necessary to build their future.

God has opened doors of opportunity for the new business which has yet to have a name.There is a church that has undertaken a huge remodel project and needs work for wood flooring to cover the steps to their platform/altar. There is a developer that is building a new community right outside of Leon that is very interested in having the cabinets in their model furnished by the carpentry shop. This ultimately would lead to supplying the future homes with cabinetry.

Mario has worked with Preston learning the process of estimating.  They are also setting up the policies and procedures of owning and operating a business.  He is seeing first hand the importance of reliable help and will not allow friendship to influence his decisions when hiring future employees.   Not one time have we shared our apparent choice with the other guys as to whom the owner would be. In the beginning stages, they had talked about a 3 way partnership amongst themselves.  However, people have a way of showing where their priorities lie and without knowing, they seal their own fate.

This young man, can see his future and he is doing everything to make it a reality.  Encourage him in your prayers.

If you desire to help with the costs of completion of the repairs to the building that will house Mario's carpentry business, donations can be made securely online at:

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Material Deliveries, Nica Style

We are in the process of refurbishing 2 small dwellings for the carpentry shop in the community of El Paraiso.  There are no stores in that area, so all supplies need to be transported 30 miles from Leon.

One lesson we learned, NEVER shop and transport on Mondays.  The buses are already loaded down with supplies.  

After doing the necessary shopping for the supplies we needed to take out to El P., Preston spoke to the bus driver about stopping at the Ferreteria to pick up the materials.  He showed the driver the bill of sale and the driver, said "not today, there is not enough room".

So, home he went to salvage the day with a list of "honey dos".   You know that list - honey do this, honey do that.  I needed the office moved within our home.

On Tuesday morning, Preston along with our "son" Noel and other "adopted" older son, Nelson, went back out to the terminal.  Preston had conversation with the bus driver, the supplies would be picked up that morning and taken out to El P.  The guys helped load the bus for the 1 1/2 hour trip to El Paraiso.  

Once at El P., the supplies were unloaded and placed at the edge of the road.  One board at a time, the boys walked everything 2 blocks down the road to the dwellings.

Work to install new rafters was accomplished in 3 days.  3 days, you say?  Well, the trip to the village takes 1 1/2 hours.   IF the bus is on schedule and the guys arrive out at the village, they have only 4 hours to work before having to catch the last bus back into Leon at 1:30pm.  There were plenty of delays during this work week; continue reading.

On Wednesday morning, all was well, the bus was making good time going out to El P.  Just as the bus was turning left on to the final road to take them another 30 minutes to the village, a pickup truck  decided to pass the bus; there was impact.  The pickup while trying to gain control as it swerved  wildly out of control down the highway, ejected one of 3 men riding in the back pickup bed. The man hit a metal road sign and landed on the road. He was a grotesque sight and there was no clear evidence that he was still alive while waiting for an ambulance.

The bus was delayed an additional 2 hours; all passengers waited on the dusty, sunny, HOT road for another bus to arrive to pick them up.   It is beyond anyone's imagination as to how it is possible to pack an additional bus load of people into another already overcrowded bus.  Once they got everyone shoved into the bus, Preston and the passengers had to wait still another 20 minutes while both bus drivers discussed the details of the accident.  Visualize human "sardines" packed into a hot, stuffy bus.  If Preston's cell phone had rung, he said there is no way he would have been able to get to his pockets to answer it.  

Once at El P, they had just 2 hours to work before catching the return bus of the day.  That was the first week of installing a new roof on one of the dwellings.

The next week, there was roofing tin to buy and transport to El P.   There was a problem with one of the buses needing to change out the drive shaft before being able to leave the terminal, there again yet another delay.   Preston arrived at the village shortly before 11am, only to have to leave at 1:30pm.   Later in the week, everyone was offloaded from the bus at the turnoff and shuffled onto another bus; something about the bus needing repairs.   Each week has it's own unique events that prevent a full days work.  

The final cap on this 2 week adventure, was Preston being hit by a taxi that ran a stop sign.  He was riding his bike to the hardware store to buy his supplies for the next day's work.  A very scared young taxi driver jumped out of his vehicle and ran to help Preston who was laying on the pavement after being thrown from his bike.  There were some scraped knees and nothing that seemed too terribly wrong.  So, Preston righted his bike, put the chain back on and rode home.  Once home, he discovered that he had more pain that he originally felt; some very sore ribs.

For the last year, the other ministry that we have been working alongside in El Paraiso has been very generous to allow us to accompany them in their vehicle.  The problem now is their work schedule is different from ours.   We want full work days, 4 days a week and a visit on Sunday mornings.  Which leads me to say, we need our own means of transportation.   Each day Preston leaves the house at 6:15am to catch the 7:00 bus.  If there are no delays,  once he arrives at El Paraiso he has 4 hours to do the work for that day.  He arrives home at 3:30 each afternoon.  That's 9 hours out of his day to accomplish 4 hours (if he's lucky) of work.  It is time for our ministry to have a vehicle.  Can you help?  We are dreaming big,  we are wanting a new, trustworthy, very efficient vehicle to handle all of our needs - room for passengers and plenty of room to haul materials.

Donations can be made securely online by check or debit card: 

The dreams and future of several young men in El Paraiso depend on our continued work in their community.  We are there for the long haul, years are in our future at El Paraiso........

Friday, March 28, 2014

He's Finding His Way

It's been 4 years of ups and downs, sharing and separation, hope and disappointments, laughter and heartache.  I think, at long last, our spiritual son and prodigal is finally coming to his end of running.

I remember back to when I first met Aroldo, our hearts connected instantly.  He was staying at a facility to deal with his drug and alcohol problem at the age of 20.  In that first year, he left the facility at least 3 times and since that time he has been in 2 other facilities outside of our area.  We have visited him on Christmas Day twice; once in rehab and most recently while he was in jail.

He has lived in our home a number of times, only to walk away unexpectedly.  One year it was on Thanksgiving Day.  We had a wonderful day of celebration. While Aroldo was sitting on our front step alone watching his friends play soccer, he got up and walked away - with one of his friend's iPod which he ended up selling for drugs.   Fast forward a year, to another time when he was living in our home.  I was in my office and he came in to say he was going to visit his ailing father for the afternoon, which he had been doing for over a week.  He said good by, stood and looked at me.  Then he walked across the room, came to where I was sitting and slipped his arms around my neck, gave me a strong hug, a kiss and left.  He never returned that night.  

Sobriety, peace and happiness is not something that comes easy to Aroldo.  He has had to fight for every minute of his sobriety.  Of all the boys that we have cared for and educated since our arrival in Nicaragua, he is the boy that has been the most hungry to know God and His Word.  He has experienced the presence of the Holy Spirit in his life.  Preston has had the privilege of baptizing Aroldo.  And yet, the demons still haunt and capture him; leading him to live a life that is destroying him physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

Recently, while Preston was in the States, Aroldo and I spent a day together.  He came over and fixed me breakfast; his passion is cooking! We talked about his life, past and future.  He said that he carries too much shame and he felt it was too late for him to have any hope for a future.  He also said that he was afraid that God would not forgive him.  I spoke to him about our friend Benjamin and his program of rehabilitation for addicts.  He promised that he would think about the possibility of spending time at Benjamin's farm.

A month later, I received an email from Aroldo saying he had spent 4 days in the hospital.  No mention of what the problem was, but in my heart I knew - he'd been beat up.  Why else would he not tell me what the problem was.  We exchanged notes and he promised to come see me soon.  It just gave me more of a confirming sense that he did not want me to see him in his condition.

A week ago, he came to our house for breakfast after a doctor visit.  When I opened our front door to him,  it was apparent that he had indeed been beat up.   After eating, we talked about what had happened and asked him if he was finally ready to go to Benjamin.  He asked "when", we said "now".  After a quick call to Benjamin to ask him to pick us up at the town square where he lives, we were out of the house in 10 minutes heading to the bus depot.

We spent the entire afternoon on Benjamin's farm tucked away amongst the sugar cane.  He spoke to Aroldo about his addiction, his sins and God's plan for his redemption.  There was a visiting pastor friend at the farm which was by God's divine appointment.  We all spent time praying over Aroldo; the pastor had a Seer gift and spoke against the secret sins.  Aroldo renewed his commitment to follow God and we saw a miracle.  One of the injuries that Aroldo sustained was to his eyes; his left eye had been hit repeatedly with a rock.  God in His Mercy restored the muscle coordination and the redness of the eyeball was fading.   Aroldo had 2 doctor appointments that were scheduled during the upcoming week and we all agreed that he needed to continue with his doctor visits because of internal injuries.   We left the farm with a promise that we would return in a week with Aroldo to begin his time of restoration.

Yesterday, we took Aroldo out to the farm to begin a 20 day stay.  Benjamin has a son named Ishmael who is involved in the work of rehabilitation and restoration;  he joined in the conversations.  It was important to talk about the nightmares that Aroldo had the night before;  the devil is not going to let go easily.

We left Aroldo knowing that he was comfortable about where he would be staying for the next 3 weeks. He was hopeful about what he would learn and said that he knew it was important for him to get a firm foundation in the Word.  He said he wanted to improve his relationship with God.  He's in very good hands with Benjamin and Ishmael;  God now has Aroldo's undivided attention to show Himself.