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Posts by Jessa


Goodbyes and Our Final Video

Posted Sunday, January 26th, 2014

Even though we have all arrived back home, we wanted to share one more blog post to our viewers. Below you find photos of our “Remember and Celebrate” banquet from Friday night. We all felt blessed to be able to work on the Students International mission teams and it was an evening full of tears as we expressed our gratitude to the SI staff. At the banquet the Media team was proud to show the “Memory Video” which is embed below. We plan to make a 3 minute version of the video this semester that can be used for fundraising for future Greenville College teams to go to Nicaragua.

God is at work in Nicaragua and he is at work in each of our lives.


Day 15: Social Work

A heavenly call, to bring the love of God to all people. And that’s what Maria Jose and Miriam are doing in different Masaya communities. They are bringing the women hope for a better life, one that doesn’t involve them relying on the men who have been abusive to them or have left them for younger women.

The Social Work site involves four groups, two women’s groups based in Nindiri and Piedra Quemada, and two girl’s groups based in the same locations. The women’s groups focuses on crafts that the women can use to possibly sell, while also having days that allow them to just relax and heal from the trials in their daily lives. On these days the activities range from complete spa days to teaching the women to do their own make-up. They also make sure to incorporate the Word of God into each meeting. With the younger group, Maria Jose and Miriam play games and do crafts that will give the girls something pretty to look at in their homes. Like the women’s groups, each meeting starts with a message from the Bible.

From spending a week and half with the Social Work group, I have seen the impact that they have had on their groups. I have even seen that a group can make in such a small time and without knowing the language. For example, after the girl’s group left last Friday, two of the girls had to stay later to wait for their rides. So they began to play with Jeanie May. Without having to say anything, the three of them began to have a tickle fight. They proceeded to play until their mother picked them up. It showed me that, even though I may not be able to fully communicate with the people I serve with, presence can bring all people together. Sometimes all it takes is a smile to share God’s love. In Social Work, God’s word travels in the smiles and laughs that are shared as the women and girls get to relax and forget about the troubles in their lives, if only for a few hours a week.

Lexi Baysinger
Photos by Kat Kelley, Fallyn Paruleski, Jeanie May, and Professor Jessa Wilcoxen


Day 14: Medical Ministry Sites

I was placed in the medical site for the two weeks of missions in Nicaragua. I honestly didn’t have a clue of what to expect. I wasn’t sure the type of work we would be doing or if we would be of any help due to the language barrier. When we arrived things weren’t at all what I expected. We began each day at the medical office of Doctora Celia located in Masaya. The first day we began by learning different skills, which we would need when, we visited each town. We learned how to take blood pressure, which is a lot harder than one would expect. We learned how to test one’s blood sugar levels and how to test urine samples. These were all things us Biology majors were excited about while other group members thought these things to be on the nasty side.

Our typical day consists of mornings spent in Doctora Celia’s office taking inventory of her medicine and other medical supplies. We remove them from the shelves, count them and then reorganize. So far we have counted over 250 different medicines that Doctora Celia takes back and forth with her from town to town. Our afternoons are spent in a local town. Celia visits 4 different towns week to week. We spend two days in each town. The first day in the town is spent collecting blood and urine samples. While the second day is spent handing out the medicines each person needs based on their test results from the previous day. Stephanie Gaide and Brittany Caldwell take people’s urine and test it for illnesses and other possible issues. During one of the visits, a cup of pee was spilt on my leg but I handled it like a champ no matter how nasty it was. Dr. Huston and I team up in order to test people’s blood sugar. I take their blood while Dr. Huston asks them about their diet that day since he is fluent in Spanish and I am at about a 1st grade level. We then head back to the base and share a nice meal with everyone followed by some sort of nightly activity.

God has moved in amazing ways at the medical site. Doctora Celia has been ministering to these towns for a while now. Building relationships with them while she treats their illnesses. To Doctora Celia, her ministry is less of treating people with medical needs but rather leading them to the one thing that will truly heal them, Jesus. Celia has found one family in each town to host her traveling clinics. Through her medical visits, she leads these families to Christ who then in return ends up leading many of the other families to Christ. These people open up to Celia and she then prays for them and ministers to them. It’s been an amazing picture of sharing the gospel. There has been such a great example of how to show and receive the love of Jesus even when you can’t speak the language. I have felt very blessed to be a part of such an amazing trip with such amazing God moments.


Abby Maurer
Photos by Kat Kelley, Fallyn Paruleski, and Professor Jessa Wilcoxen


Day 14: “Go Down to the Potter’s House”

Posted Sunday, January 19th, 2014

Today, Sunday, was a memorable day.  We went to the First Baptist church of Masaya, where most of the Nicaraguan staff of SI worship.  Approximately 500 people attended the service.  During the opening announcements and singing, I was asked to translate the sermon, because the person who usually does it when groups of Americans are visiting, was gone.  Pastor Luna preached a great sermon about gifts, service and ministries.  The Holy Spirit bestows gifts that we are to employ in service to others.  Several Christians working together to offer their gifts in service make up ministries.  Our verbal witness is made much more effective when carried out in service.  One thing the group noticed is that when Nicaraguans pray, they do so with considerable fervor.  When the pastor’s wife led the pastoral prayer, her prayer was characterized by deep feeling and great energy.  SI’s Nicaraguan staff members who lead devotions also pray very fervent prayers.

We ate lunch at the church: bistek encebollado, (steak with onions) lettuce, tomato and onion salad, and rice.  For our afternoon activity, we drove about 30 minutes to San Juan del Oriente, a town that’s entirely dedicated to making pottery.  We went to the house/workshop of a particular potter, Don Maciel, who demonstrated for us the entire process of making pottery, from mining the clay to firing the finished products.  He related the process of making pottery to the story of the gospel. Like the clay with all its impurities, God takes us and purifies us and molds us into instruments useful in his Kingdom.  Kat Kelley noted that instead of being a demonstration of the process for making pottery, it was the story of God working in our lives, using the symbolism of a potter molding the clay.

Don Maciel invited anyone who wished, to try their hand at throwing a pot on one of two wheels he had ready.  These were foot-driven wheels.  You had to spin a large circular stone on the bottom with your foot, to drive the smaller spinning wheel on which you worked the clay.   More than half the group had a chance to work the clay.

The rest of Sunday afternoon we had a chance to relax.  Sundays are laundry day, which means we load our clothes into individual plastic bags to be taken to a washer-woman’s house.  She washes everything by hand and hangs it up to dry.

Since the cooks have Sunday off, today’s supper was … depending on your perspective, great or not-so-great.  First our cook.  Doña Ruth is a Nicaragua woman, who with two of her daughters, cooks our breakfasts and dinners.  If only time was allowed to sing Doña Ruth’s praises!  We have eaten some delicious Nicaraguan meals from her kitchen.  But she has Sunday’s off, so we had Nicaraguan-style, Pizza Hut.  Those missing the taste of home were happy.  Those devoted to the hearty, flavorful, delicacies of Doña Ruth’s kitchen, were disappointed.

Regardless, we all feel energized to dive into our second week of ministry sites.

Dr. Richard Huston
Photos by Kat Kelley, Fallyn Paruleski, and Professor Jessa Wilcoxen



Day 13: A Long Day of Exploration

What? We get to sleep in one extra hour? That’s how this weekend started. Some even went for a jog this morning (kudos for them). We all got a little extra sleep, energized ourselves with some coffee and breakfast and then started on our busy day. Our first stop after breakfast was the Masaya Volcano Park. In the park there are three volcanoes, one of which is active and releases sulfur into the air. That volcano last erupted in 2012; there was no lava that came out, only rock that was shot out of the mouth of the volcano. So, because of the sulfur being released into the air by the middle volcano we went for a hike around the dormant volcano. The hike up to the mouth of the volcano from the parking lot was tiring and lasted a good 15-20 minutes. Though some didn’t do the hike around the volcano, most of the group did. The path was up and down, rocky, slippery (due to little pebbles), and extremely windy for most of hike around the mouth. All in all it was a fun experience for a hike.

After the fun little adventure of a hike, we went to the museum on the park grounds. There we got a better idea of the layout of Nicaragua in terms of the placing of the volcanoes and we got a refresher on tectonic plates.
-Jeanie May

The second stop: the microfinance fair. We arrived in the Nindiri community and walked into the usual Micro-Finance site. Tables were set up with various crafts and homemade items. I (Emily Kaiser) immediately was filled with joy. Seeing the ladies that I had been working with this week standing by their own personal homemade items made me really see how SI’s Micro-Finance site was working. I greeted the ladies who smiled back, showing so much compassion. I just wanted to buy everything and support everyone I could. Even though there were only a few tables full of items, many people took this opportunity to buy souvenirs. These included handmade hammocks, aprons, baskets, bracelets, headbands, and more. I absolutely loved standing in line for once. It meant that people were helping the ladies I had gotten to briefly know and would get to spend another week with. It meant that these ladies could keep their businesses going and pay back any microloans they had. I know our group was just excited about the items they were getting, but to me, it had a much deeper meaning. I am so grateful for everyone who purchased any item today. These ladies put in so much love into their hard work and it’s great to see that they have a brighter future with our small purchases.
-Emily Kaiser

Our most sobering experience so far happened today. We visited a historical site that for most of its use was employed as a prison for political prisoners. Initially built in 1893 by Liberal-Nationalist President, José Santos Zelaya to protect the city of Masaya from their Conservative party opponents in Granada (20 miles away), the fort established a reputation for impregnability, until 1912, when aided by an invading force of 600 U.S. Marines, the Conservatives took possession of it and routed the Liberals. That same year, the Marines helped depose Nicaragua’s president and install a U.S.-backed puppet. Inn 1937, another U.S. puppet, Anastasio Somoza, turned the fort into a secret prison for political prisoners, which would give Coyotepe its notoriety. He also expanded the installations by adding three underground levels. By the 1970s, when the third in the dynastic line of Somoza presidents began to face a growing insurgency bent on his ouster, the prison took on ominous proportions.

Most of the tour of the lower levels of the prison took place in utter darkness, guided by flashlights. Political prisoners were kept on the level that corresponded to the seriousness of their political opposition. Protesting students and demonstrators occupied the top level. Higher-value political prisoners were kept in the lower levels. There was no running water or electricity. Holes in the ground were the only sanitary provisions. Prisoners were held in extremely crowded conditions, clothed only in their underwear. Most of the writing on the walls is graffiti by vandals. But we saw in one cell, a message attributed to a prisoner, traced with charcoal, that said “I want to die.” Another message, scratched into the concrete said, “Only Jesus saves, 1978.” Our guide took us to special areas of the prison where high-value political prisoners were subjected to some of the most barbarous tortures, without elaborating any details. Survivor testimonies are the only evidence that remains. These survivors were liberated when the Sandinistas toppled the Somoza government in 1979. The Sandinistas themselves held political prisoners there, until pressure from international human rights agencies led to its permanent closure in 1983.

Today, the one-time prison/fort is administered by the Boy Scouts. According to our guide, it is maintained for the purpose of reminding Nicaraguans of the inhumanity of which humans are capable, so that its conditions might never be repeated.
- Dr. Richard Huston

Our final stop: the Artisan Market. This was a place that we were able to get souvenirs of our stay here in Nicaragua. I (Jeanie May) personally went around and viewed all of the shops with Dr. Huston as my guide. He taught me the art of bargaining prices with different shop owners. With his help I was able to find and purchase different interesting items in the market today. After everyone had shopped till they dropped, we all met up at one of the few restaurants in the market. We had a feast for Kings tonight: rice, beans, steamed veggies, pork, chicken, French fries, and fried plantains. After the lovely dinner, we all walked to a local ice cream place for dessert. I got a banana split while others got cones or bowls. Going for a walk again we ventured over to the central park Masaya where all of the Saturday night crowds go for a good time. It usually consists of the lower and middle class. Now we all get to party till 11 instead of 10 tonight.
-Jeanie May

Photos by Kat Kelley, Fallyn Paruleski, and Professor Jessa Wilcoxen

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