I know this seems trivial, but sometimes the small things really get your day off to a great start. So I have one word for you – PANCAKES! That’s right, Antonia cooked us up some pancakes and we even had Aunt Jemima syrup. I don’t even buy that stuff for my house. We always get the cheapest syrup on the shelf.
So after a good breakfast, we got our stuff together for the village and waited for our taxi. Charlie was to be our interpreter again for the morning. Honestly, I was bothered that Julio would join us later. I expected Julio to be with us everyday, but God will show His perfect plan very soon.
We took the sowing materials into Santa Matilde that day and the other trunk had showed up as well. So now we had all the sowing trunks, but we were still waiting on the baseball equipment.
Pastor Walter and his wife, Claudia, were waiting for us at the church. The name of the church is Fuente de Vida (Fountain of Life). It sits near the center of the village beside a large open field. There is a school across the field as well as a basketball court (more soccer is played on it than basketball). It is in a great location and is easily accessible to the whole village.
We unloaded the three trunks full of sowing materials and three sowing machines. Claudia took a meticulous inventory of everything in the trunks. There are about 10 ladies in the village who want to take a sowing class. There is a lady from another village who can teach them to make clothes. Claudia was very excited.
Like the rice harvest and chicken coop, sowing will be an opportunity to create some income for those in the community. The sowing class will be open to those who attend the church as well as those who do not. We are trying to find ways to create employment and raise the morale within the church and the community.
Then we gathered up our backpacks and headed off into the village. The first home we stopped at was the stick and plastic variety. But you should have seen their garden! All kinds of fruit growing on their 40ft by 80ft piece of property. Vines suspended off the ground and small cloth hammocks to hold what looked like watermelons.
But that wasn’t the fruit Pastor Walter was looking for. Today we found the man of the house actually there which evidently is a rare thing. Pastor Walter had been praying for him and declared to him, “Today salvation has come to your home.” When asked if he was ready to become a Christian, he responded “Yes”. Then I was asked to lead him in the prayer to ask Jesus to forgive him of his sins and lead him for the rest of his life. He prayed and became a Christian right there!
Talk about the fruit of the harvest! The Bible talks about the different roles in the harvest. One person plants and another waters with God making things grow. I had the joy of picking the ripe fruit off the vine and walking him into the kingdom. We also prayed with the wife who had some things that were heavy on her heart.
So we spent the next few hours walking through the village, stopping in homes and praying at each one. We found one of the wells that no longer produced good water. Justin was brave and drank some of it just to see how bad it was. I took their word for it. (More about wells on Friday)
We made our way back to the church property around 1:00pm. Antonia had packed lunch for us like she did each day and we shared what we had with those who were around. It wasn’t exactly like when Jesus fed the 5000, but it was very cool to see how we had enough to share with everyone who was around.
Linda Gable drove up shortly after lunch. For those who don’t know, let me explain how Independence Hill connected with Tommy and Linda Gable. In 2004 a small group of members interested in an international mission trip started looking at options. We went to mission fairs, called other churches and started gathered information, but nothing seemed like a great fit for us.
Then we met Linda Gable. Linda and her husband Tommy were ministering in a village called Candelaria. Tommy had pastored in Charlotte, but was currently in Ashville. For two years, Tommy and Linda had worked to plant a church in a village called Candelaria under the name of New Song Mission Nicaragua. She came to IHBC and presented their ministry to our group in the summer of 2004. We had found our opportunity.
Independence Hill’s first trip was in 2005 as we partnered with New Song working in Candelaria. During our 2007 trip, we made our first visit to Santa Matilde and returned to pray about our church helping to plant a church there. We felt that was how God was leading and have focused our church’s efforts there ever since.
The beautiful thing about New Song is they are able to provide us with a local presence. They handle any money we send and keep up with receipts for accountability. They also provide weekly training for Pastor Walter as well as assist the ministry when needed.
New Song also helps us find people like Julio. Julio isn’t just an interpreter; he is also our church’s liaison to Pastor Walter. He sends us updates and coordinates ministry while we are not there. He also makes the arrangements for our groups went they visit. So Julio’s job is very important to us.
Tommy and Linda Gable moved to Nicaragua June 2007 and they are so vital to our effectiveness. We are able to learn from them and they are excited to multiply the ministry by starting churches in other villages. Now you know some of the history.
As I am catching up with Linda, Julio arrives. He informs Linda and me that he will be taking a job in Managua in a week. When I ask Linda, who should we consider as a replacement she says without hesitation, Charlie. God knew exactly what He was doing by having me spend the first two days with Charlie. I was able to see his heart and his skill. And I remembered when he stepped out of the cab our first day in the village he said, “I love this place.”
I was sold. Here was a young man – recommended by Linda, proven very capable to me and loves Santa Matilde. God really does “work all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose” – Romans 8:28. That verse summarizes our whole trip.
I know I haven’t talked much about Justin, but during these first two days he was right in the middle of everything. He quickly connected with members young and old. Never timid, but woke up excited each and every day. But today had been the day, he was looking forward to.
Pastor Walter wanted us to connect with a group of young people in the village who played baseball. And even though the baseball equipment had not arrived, the afternoon we had planned to play baseball did. So Justin and I made our way over to the baseball field.
Let me describe the baseball field. It was a flat patch of weeds with a worn path to outline the infield. There was a pitchers mound, but that was it. The field was littered with trash, but those guys didn’t care. They loved to play ball. They played in their flip flops or even bare feet. And they were good.
Justin stepped in and played. I was content to play catch with kid who wasn’t old enough to play with the bigger kids. I’m not saying I was scared to step up to the plate (or in this case dirt with some lines in it), but they were throwing heat and the batters didn’t have helmets. I concluded a game of catch with the smaller kid was exactly where God wanted me.
The afternoon wore on and the suns started to get low on the horizon. We gathered the players together. I shared a devotion with them and asked if I could pray with them. We prayed and then I shared with them about the equipment Justin had collected. It would be kept at the church for them to check out and use. Yet another way for the church to connect with the community.
We headed back to La Bloquera for another great meal from Antonia. I don’t know that I ever felt really clean during the week, but it was nice to rinse the dust off. It was even nicer to have no television. So once again we read, talked, prayed and then called it a day.
Each day was becoming better than the last…