For the past three years, Dispatch has gathered together a team to fly down to Nicaragua and spend time with the three Nicaragua Christian Academy (NCA) schools, The Nehemiah Center and Tesoros de Dios in conjunction with Christian Reformed World Missions. The trip allows those participating to not only work with the schools on special projects, but to also help out in classrooms, learn about the history and culture of Nicaragua and to develop relationships with both locals and missionaries living in Nicaragua.
The team left Sioux Falls on June 19th and consisted of 8 team members (including one from Amsterdam!) and after a full day of travel landed in Managua, Nicaragua. The next morning we had the opportunity to attend church with International Christian Fellowship which worships at NCA International. Attending service with other missionaries was a great way to kick of the trip!
Over the course of the trip we were to spend our first 3 ½ days in Managua at NCA Nejapa, The Nehemiah Center and Tesoros de Dios before moving onto Matagalpa.
Monday morning dawned quite early with wakeup calls around 5 am so that we could have breakfast and team devotions and be ready to leave the guest house at 6:30 AM to make our way to NCA Nejapa and from there the group would split into two with the other half going to Tesoros de Dios. At NCA Nejapa the team’s time was split between helping out in classrooms, painting around campus and working on various technology projects.
Tesoros de Dios provides services for children with disabilities in the Managua community and also provide support the families, training classes, disability education, home economics and bible study. During our time at the school we joined the staff and students for their morning walk and helped with their physical therapy sessions. Tesoros also offers horse therapy, which has been shown to promote physical, occupational and emotional growth as horses have similar social and responsive behaviors as humans which allows for a natural connection between patient and horse. Watching the young students participating in the horse therapy was one of the favorite things the group was able to do. You could see their faces light up when it was their turn and they had so much fun while on the horses and were really engaged with the activities.
The school is also creating a prayer garden in a quiet corner of the yard and so we spent some time while we were there helping to weed and clear out the space. This will provide the family members of the students a quiet place to sit in prayer while they wait.
On Tuesday afternoon we said goodbye to Managua and made the 2 hour trek to the beautiful mountain town of Matagalpa where we spent the remainder of the trip. NCA Matagalpa is the newest of the NCA schools and was just wrapping up its third year when we were there. There is an almost tangible spirit at the school that you can feel immediately upon entering the gates. The school is currently adding a row of 4 new classrooms which will serve as the preschool classes and also allow for the school to add 10th grade classes with the goal of eventually going through 11thgrade. One of our projects was working alongside the local construction crew and helping them by moving rocks, sifting sand and building rebar for the new classrooms.
We traveled to La Finca, a coffee farm, on Saturday which is about 2 hours from Matagalpa further into the mountains of Jinotega, which is a Young Life (Vida Joven in Spanish) Camp sitting on a working coffee farm. The coffee produced on the farm is award winning and all of the profits made from selling the coffee go to sending a young Nicaraguan to camp in the beautiful surroundings of the farm. It only takes one bag of coffee to cover the costs of one day at camp for a young child to have the opportunity to learn about the Christian gospel. If you like good coffee, I highly recommend checking out beyondbeanscoffee.com and ordering some!
Our last full day in Nicaragua was our 2nd Sunday in the country and we were able to attend a local church in Matagalpa. While most of us do not speak Spanish, it wasn’t necessary as music crosses all boundaries, languages and cultures. There was a scheduled power outage for the day due to a Festival over the weekend that used more power than usual, so church was held without lights or microphones and the band played acoustic – it was a lovely worship service despite the obstacles!
After church, we were able to spend the day together as a team enjoying the beautiful scenery of Nicaragua and reflecting on our time there. It was so great to see the work that God is doing in Nicaragua and the impact these schools are having on the youth in preparing them to be future leaders of Nicaragua.