Team Member Blogs . . .
Pat Owens - First of all to all the ladies who helped prepare materials, you had a part in this trip too. To everyone who donated supplies you had a part in this trip too. Every mission trip to Central America is unique. This year was no different. We had a team that came together from Oklahoma, Kentucky, Missouri, Florida, Alabama, Nicaragua, and Georgia. We all came together for one purpose to serve God. Our team worked together as though we had known each other for ever. Each person was constantly fulfilling his or her assigned roll. Everyone was flexible and adjusted to our task. I am so grateful for the opportunity to work with these fellow Christians and learn from each of them.
The children are my heart. Both of the two places we worked had precious children who wanted to learn about God. On the first night, I asked John Farber where the VBS team was to teach. He showed me an area on the street/sidewalk with the two vans separated. We strung caution tape to define the area. The children were off the street and the teachers were between the two vans. There is always a first and this was it for 2015. For the next 2 nights that was our classroom. April Peden talking to a neighbor across from the building volunteered their front of their yard for our class. Two days and 1 night that was our classroom. The last night the rain came and a neighbor to the left of the building offered us their large garage. It's a good thing because that night we had 91+ children with their mamas too. I can't say enough about Silvia our translator, she was so enteric in helping us teach the children. Hallie was so valuable in stepping in wherever she was needed.
But the best part of this trip was we treated the physical needs, we taught the children and souls were saved. The preachers proclaimed God's word and now there are 4 new souls added to the kingdom. There was no congregation in Somoto, Nicaragua and now God has given the increase for this new congregation. A special thank you to Buford Congregation and ourElders for the opportunity to go. Pray that the work in Somoto to grow as God would have it to grow.
Laura Nichols - There is great work being done in Somoto, Nicaragua! I had the privilege of assisting with the medical campaign to help meet physical needs while a new congregation was started to reach spiritual needs. Throughout the course of the week we saw hundreds of patients and prescribed thousands of medicines! The gratitude and attitude of the locals was so encouraging. The new brothers/sisters we now have because of the growth during that week need our prayers and continued support; but are focused on keeping the light in Somoto shining. It was a privilege be a part of the team.
David Lovell - In Ephesians 4:15-16, Paul exhorted the church at Ephesus to again focus on growing in their relationship with each other found through Christ. Verse 16 of this chapter reminds each of us that the church will only function as God intended when each member recognizes his role and works together in a proper manner to accomplish the goal of spiritual growth.
As we began our week in Nicaragua, we focused on the words of these verses during of first devotional together. You see, it is only through the power of God that He is able to bring strangers from many different backgrounds and many different parts of the world together to accomplish His work.
God brought 43 individuals from various parts of the States together in Somoto, Nicaragua to work along side of the brethren there to carry out the work of a medical campaign. But, the physical well-being of the people of Somoto was not our primary focus. It was simply an avenue which allowed us to assist with the most important aspect of a individual's well-being - their spiritual health.
Despite a few obstacles, we were able to serve almost 1100 people in our medical clinic and provide over 3700 prescription medications over a 3 day period. More importantly, almost 500 Bible studies with over 550 souls were conducted leading to 5 baptisms and 2 restorations. Additionally, the cumulative attendance of kids participating in the day and evening VBS-style classes was almost 500.
As many know, there was no church located in Somoto prior to the campaign there. Thanks be to God that He provided the increase to our efforts! The Somoto iglesia de Cristo held its first ever Sunday worship service on the morning of July 26 with an attendance of 9 precious souls!
Please continue to pray for the church in Somoto and for William and Luis, the ministers proclaiming God's word there. On behalf of the mission team, thank you to the Buford congregation for sending us "into all the world." And thanks be to the Creator for allowing us to use our God-given talents, each "working properly" together, to accomplish His work!
Becky Strickland - I would have to say that the thing that stood out to me the most on this campaign was the welcoming attitude of the people of Somoto. All the neighbors of the new church in Somoto were all so willing to help out in anyway with whatever we needed. They allowed us to use their front porches, garages and front curb areas to hold our children classes, and bible studies. I was always so uplifted when I would hear how many people were willing to open up their homes wanting to have a bible study. One day I was able to go on one of those bible studies when we weren't having a children's class. So, I'm including my favorite picture which is of of the little lady we studied with. And then, the children are just amazing! Can't wait for next year! I pray that God continues to bless the efforts of the new congregation in Somoto. I know I was blessed by being a part of it!
Juan Garcia -
The week of July 17-25 has come and gone but the experience of attending a Medical Campaign will stay forever. This was my first Medical Campaign. I have attended so many Gospel Meetings in the past but never both at the same time. I felt I was really serving my God as our Lord Jesus. Mark’s Gospel describes Jesus’ ministry, “Then the multitude came together again, so that they could not so much as eat bread.” (Mark 3:20). When the word got out that Jesus was a Great Healing, people were lining up to see him. The lines were so long that a group of men decided to jump the line and opened up a hole in the celling so Jesus could heal him (Luke 5:17-20).
Every night we were dragging our tired bodies back to the Hotel. Jesus once said, “Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matt. 11:28). He said this in reference to sinners whose sin is heavy and burdens them. I took Jesus saying word per word and was coming to him every night praying the weariness will disappear next day. I liked the way Steve Miller, another member of the Nicaraguan Mission trip emphasized his tiredness, “I don’t speak Spanish, but last night I couldn’t even speak English.” As I went to bed every night in Somoto, I imagined Jesus also going to bed, two thousand years ago, telling his apostles of how his body ached everywhere. I thank God for allowing me to experience that kind of similarity. I felt humbled because I was following Jesus footsteps in helping the physical needs as much as the spiritual. I felt humbled because I was placed in a servant position similar to my Jesus, but I also felt ashamed because I came home after a week’s work, when my Lord did it for three years. I felt I left Jesus back in Somoto doing all the work by himself. As I came back home and resumed my Bible Studies and on Monday, 27 of July I was able to baptized Yumarlene Romero. Yuma and her family are the first family I encountered from Venezuela last November. Buford COC has helped greatly in helping this family and others that have come since then. I thank the Buford congregation for aiding my ministry and I want you to see that none has been done in vain. I thanked God for Yuma and that is when I realized that I didn’t leave Jesus in Somoto, he came back with me. I saw him in Yuma when she put him on through baptism (Gal. 3:27). Our God is good, our God is awesome.
Our first two days were spent just a few miles outside Somoto in a community called San Issabel. We had 268 patients on th first day and 311 on the second day. We were able to give out close to 1,900 prescriptions to the local people. Throughout the day we had evangelistic teams working in and outside the compound. We had a teen mission group out knocking doors and going as far as climbing what felt like a mountain to reach one family to share the good news with them. The same team came across the local well and was able to speak to several people there. Our team also noticed the old worn out 75 foot rope used for the well. LAM was able to assist in purchasing a new rope for the well. Then it took SEVERAL gringos to figure out how to "install" the new rope. (Crazy Americans...lol)
We had one baptism on the first day with a man who studied most of the day with our preachers. The next day we had to pack up the clinic to move to a new location. As we were leaving, literally just about to load buses, we had a man show up wanting to be baptized. He had been there earlier in the day and came back to be baptized. We had already emptied the pool but we happened to have a barrel of water. So, we made lemonade out of lemons. The man got into the barrel and we baptized him!
Today we were at our new location but because of complications we were unable to open the medical clinic during the day. We focused on evangelism. We broke into teams and assigned blocks to knock on doors and we hit the pavement and were out for most of the day. Many home Bible studies were conducted today resulting in some of those people then coming to the gospel meeting tonight! Today was filled with hitting the pavement and sharing God's word. Looking forward to the clinic being open tomorrow! - April Peden
Sunday at Somoto Hotel Colonial
Day 2 - We arrived in Somoto around 2:30am and most were in bed by 3:30. Our hotel is has all the amenities we need along with a beautiful outdoor courtyard. We arose this morning to the sounds of Somoto's town clock. We were very tired after such a long night but after a traditional Nicaraguan breakfast of beans and rice (and other sides) we were ready to get to work. The location for our clinic is about five miles away. Due to the long distance we will only be at this location for two days. We traveled a short distance on narrow dirt roads with some tight turns but our excellent bus driver got us to where we needed to be. Once the medicines were delivered to us we got to work. Placing medicines in bags, labeling, and organizing them in the pharmacy room. The location itself is fantastic. We have rooms where we can take patients for privacy along specific place to safely keep the medicines. We finished the work for the day around 4pm and headed back to the hotel. Right now we have a few minutes of downtime but plan to have Sunday service in just an hour and dinner after that. It has been a long day but a very productive day. Even with the lack of a full night's sleep everyone was up and willing to get the work done. Please continue to pray for our efforts here and also for good nights rest!
"Be devoted to prayer, keeping alert in it with thanksgiving."
Colossians 4:2 - April Peden
Day 1 - We landed safely in Managua last night with all of our luggage! We've already had quite a few memorable moments that have kept us laughing. Like Pat bringing a bubble maker GUN through TSA, Laura being pooped on by an owl during our short devotional last night, or when David froze Juan in the hotel room to the point his water bottle froze! Today we will await the arrival of the three other groups. The latest group will arrive after 8pm. Once we all gather at the hotel we will load our buses (or whatever our Nicaragua transportation will be) and head to Somoto. John believes we will arrive around midnight (2 am Georgia time). All medical supplies are in Somoto waiting on us. In the meantime, we have awoken to a beautiful day here in Nicaragua. We will take these few hours of down time to rest for tonight's journey to our destination. Thank you for your prayers and continued prayers of safe travel and open hearts. Please pray that each member on the team can use their gifts to the fullest extent to give glory to God. - April Peden for the team
"These are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all" 1 Corinthians 12:4-6
Please pray for our Nicaragua Mission Team headed today to Somoto to assist in an evangelistic and medical campaign conducted by Latin American Missions. Through the planting and watering of God's word and with His increase, a congregation of His people will be planted, as there is currently no congregation is in that local area. Through their medical services, the physical needs of many will be met which will provide an avenue by which they can share the true need that we each have - a relationship with Jesus Christ. Check back here for more updates as they serve.