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Day 12: Appropriate Technology


“I Saw Jesus in a Cup of Water”

Today marks the end of the first week of our ministry sites. It has been such a blessing to be able to help Students International as they bless the lives of the people in Nicaragua. It may sound a bit cliché when I say this, but the people we have helped have touched my life, way more than I could ever have helped them.

I work with the appropriate technology team, and one of our responsibilities is to build and distribute water filters. So far we have been sifting and cleaning a whole lot of rocks, big rocks and small rocks. We start off sifting big rocks. Then we take those small rocks that were sifted, and sift them into even smaller rocks. After that we have to wash those rocks. It is like cleaning the chocolate of Cocoa Pebbles by hand. These rocks will be layered in the filtering chambers.

The only source of water in the communities which we are serving is collected rain water which has been tested and always contains a number of different bacteria. Due to the poor water quality the people living there, especially children, have chronic intestinal problems. The wonderful thing about these filters is they are made entirely from locally available materials. With water filters the children miss fewer days of school, the families have fewer medical bills, and the parents are able to continue to work instead of caring for sick children.

Despite the fact that we are spending a nice chunk of our days washing and sifting rocks, the most important part of our job is BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS.

During our orientation at the ministry site this Monday, Lastman (Appropriate Technology site leader) opened up the meeting with “I don’t really care about the water filters.” I was kind of taken back by his statement, because the entire time I had set my mind to build water filters for the next two weeks, thus allowing people to have clean water. However, he continued by emphasizing that we are here to build relationships, and showing people the Gospel “and if we have to give a person a water filter, than that is what we will do.” It had to be one of the most powerful conversations that I have ever been a part of in my life.

Often as a college student, I get so caught up in tasks and deadlines, that I forget what is the most important task at hand, which is building relationships.

In order to keep relationships with people that will have water filters, we go to homes and do things (sweep, wrap bundles of fire wood, rake leaves etc…) around their homes and we talk about Christ. Another thing that we do is hold Bible studies for the people that have already bought a water filter from SI. There was a lady where we held a Bible study this week, and she had given her life to Christ during the process of receiving a water filter. Through these Bible studies, she had received Christ into her life; she was over 90 years old and the rest of her family had followed in her footsteps. In her home lived four different generations, and walking out of a door was a small child drinking a cup of water, which allowed me to see the reality. If they hadn’t received a water filter, they may have never have heard of Jesus Christ. That is when I saw Jesus in a cup of water.

Isaac “Django” Barber
Photos by Kat Kelley, Fallyn Paruleski, and Professor Jessa Wilcoxen

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Day 11: Micro Finance

When I was leaving for this missions trip knowing I was going to be working at the site of Micro Finance I had quite the idea of what I was about to do. I imagined myself in a room with a Nicaraguan trying to present their business idea to me and I was deciding whether or not they would get a microloan or not. Basically Missions Shark Tank is what I imagined, if you have ever seen that show. Thankfully, things have been quite different then how I imagined coming in. Emily Kaiser and I (Nathan Hood speaking) have been working with two locals who head up SI’s Micro Finance site, Holman and Katia, and Holman’s wife, Elianor, has been with us, as she is getting ready to head up SI’s new education site. A typical day for us involves crafts, parties, and home visits with some of the ladies involved with SI’s Micro Finance doings, with a few breaks and lunch liberally spread through there. First and foremost, SI’s Micro Finance is about building relationships with women that aren’t in the greatest of economic situations. Praying and scripture is a part of everything that we have done, and we always pray before we part ways with the ladies.

I (Emily Kaiser) had my own idea of the Micro Finance site as well. I imagined ladies coming to us and we giving out loans and running a bank for them. Fortunately, this experience has had a lot more fulfillment to it. Making relationships with the ladies has taught me more than I can ever teach them. They show compassion and gratefulness in so many ways. The ways that they praise God for the little they have is so humbling. We have also had the great opportunity to go on different house visits. Ladies open their homes to us and invite us to sit while they share their testimonies. Sharing their stories, food, drinks, and teaching us different crafts are just some of the ways we have seen God working here in Nicaragua. I realized how blessed we are and I have heard about the miracles of God’s healing hand.

(Back to Nathan) The microloans that SI does provide enables women in the community to start small businesses, like making bracelets, baskets out of recycled newspapers, or hammocks. Three of these hammocks hang at the SI base and they are pretty much the cat’s pajamas. We will be having a sale where students on this trip can buy the products made by these ladies on Saturday, and we are really excited to be able to bless these ladies, while we get to take some awesome things back home with us!

(Now to throwing the keyboard to Emily for the wrap up)
In order to qualify to be a part of the site the person must be single or widowed, woman, or in a rough relationship needing help. Many of them are single moms, raising more than one child. They come to the SI Micro Finance site to learn how to start their own business. They can learn different crafts and other skills so they can start turning their life around. Some of the things offered are classes for cooking, making piñatas, sewing, and designing other crafts as well. Then the ladies can take out a microloan, which they all pay back within six months. The interest rate is only 1% per month. This is drastically lower than the banks here in Nicaragua. The lowest rate a person can get at a bank is about 34% annually. They also have to have quite a big chunk of money or collateral to even be able to get a loan from the bank. Most of the women do not have enough money to even consider getting help from the bank. Thus, the Micro Finance site that SI runs is an incredible option for these ladies and helps them with their future goals as well.

Needless to say, Micro Finance is dabomb.com. We get to test out products (laying in hammocks), talk to some pretty rad ladies, hold babies (Nathan generally hogs the baby holding), walk around villages, make piñatas and of course demolish the piñatas as well. Seeing the smiles on the women’s faces as they worship or do crafts reminds me of why God called me here. I am so honored to be a part of this ministry site and to work alongside with Holman, Katia, and Elianor. God is working in miraculous ways and we have the privilege of seeing it first hand.

Nathan Hood and Emily Kaiser
Photos by Kat Kelley, Fallyn Paruleski, and Professor Jessa Wilcoxen

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Day 10: More Than Just a Picture: Guillermo, My Sponsored Child

Posted Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

Our day started off as it always does with a time of personal devotion and group prayer and worship. The group is going through a devotional on Philippians every morning and that has been an amazing way to start our days with the Lord. Today I had the opportunity to meet the boy, Guillermo, which my family has sponsored through Compassion International for the past seven years.   Abby Maurer and Dr. Huston joined me as we went to Managua to visit the Compassion International base here in Nicaragua as well as visiting the home of Guillermo and his family.  I have always seen pictures of Guillermo displayed on our refrigerator, but there was something completely indescribable about meeting the child that you have been praying for, writing to, and sending money to.

We started the trip by visiting the Compassion International base in Nicaragua.  They were so welcoming and hospitable to us.  The group of children organized a program including Nicaraguan music and dance to perform for us.  We then went to Guillermo’s home and to visit with his family and exchange gifts with him.  Guillermo and his family were some of the sweetest people I have ever met. They welcomed us into their house with open arms and showed us all of the ways that the sponsorship has helped their family. We were then able to share a meal and get to know each other better, despite the language barrier. It was an amazing experience to get to sit down and talk with each other about life and God. It was hard to say goodbye after such a short visit but it was reassuring to know that we are all believers who will someday see each other again.

After our amazing afternoon with Guillermo, we headed back to the SI base and waiting for all the others to return from their work sites. We ate another delicious meal prepared by our cook Ruth and her daughters and then wrapped up our evening with some team time. Our professors led us in a time of reflection on what we have experienced so far.  Our group time was concluded with an EMAP (Greenville College Football) original, put ups. We shared what we have enjoyed about the people in our groups and ended each “put up” with some pretty nice cheers. Adios amigos.

Kristen Lynch

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Day 9: Culture Night at the Base

“Culture makes us human” (anonymous).  We became a little more human tonight in Nicaragua.  Lastman and Maria José, a married couple who are site leaders for Students International, hosted “culture night” for the Greenville group.  This came at the perfect time, almost half way through our three-week experience, and on the heels of some cultural advice from Austin Hofsommer, one of SI’s field directors.  Austin told us, among other things, that:

  1. Personal space is non-existent in Nicaragua.  In busses and taxis, in lines and at the markets, be prepared for people to invade your personal space.
  2. Greetings are very important for validating each other, establishing relationships and affirming friendships.
  3. Relationships are more important than tasks.  Nicaraguans are relationship-driven, not task-oriented.

As we completed our first full day of work in the ministry sites, we are beginning to see the value of adapting to the local culture as a means of getting the most out of this experience, as well as putting ourselves in a posture of being the most help to the ministries of SI, which will continue long after we leave.

So, the timing could not have been better.  Nicaragua is different.  For one thing, poverty is widespread and endemic.  But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a rich, varied and beautiful culture.  In fact, in some regards, their poverty makes their culture more human.

The entire evening was a hit, in part because it appealed to all five of our senses.  The sights and sounds, smells and tastes, the feel of Nicaragua experienced tonight gave us a new appreciation for the rich variety in Nicaraguan culture.  This experience of becoming more human makes us anticipate with even more eagerness, what God has in store for us in the days that lie ahead.

-Dr. Richard Huston

 

Today was Culture Night for our team. It was hosted by two of the SI Nicaraguan Staff members, Maria José and Lastman, who are also married. The night started off with Maria José showing us a traditional Nicaraguan dance, this one specific to the Masaya area. She explained that each region of Nicaragua has its own folk outfit that accompanies a distinctive style of music and its own special dance.  Maria José danced to the tune of the marimba and guitar, showing us a dance that used to be a way for girls to flirt with guys. The dance involves a lot of spinning, footwork and a fan. After she finished dancing, she offered a chance for the girls of the group to dance with her. Smiles abounded as they convinced each other to get up and follow Maria Jose in the dance. After the girls finished, the guys took the floor, even Dr. Huston, to follow the marimba player for the men’s part of the dance. Everyone who danced did very well and had a lot of fun. After the dancing, the group got the chance to try their hand at the marimba. Isaac was the first one to grab at the opportunity and did well, following the lead of Don Silvio, the marimba master. Nathan and Lane followed and also played well and had fun. For the girls, Jenna and Brittany played. Jenna was surprised at how heavy the instrument was and Brittany danced along to her playing.

What came next may prove to be the most memorable part of the evening: tasting Nicaraguan foods and fruits.  Joseph, site leader for the boys club, explained how two of Nicaragua’s most typical and well-known foods are made: naca-tamal and quesillo.  The naca-tamal bears feint resemblance to the Mexican tamal, but is three times the size, loaded with rice, cheese and pork, and wrapped in a banana leaf to cook.  Only the crumbs were left of his samples!  The quesillo is Nicaragua’s version of fast food.  A corn tortilla is loaded with fresh cheese, cooked onions and heavy cream, rolled and stuffed into a plastic bag.  It’s sold in market places and at bus stops.  Then Lastman took over to show us some tropical fruits, desserts and candies. The two fruits that we had we passion fruit and a fruit that looks like a plum but is much sweeter and stickier. After the fruit, Lastman fueled the sugar rush and served us cajeta con leche, churritos, and a peppermint candy. We finished the night with Pinolio, a drink made with corn meal and chocolate, but that lasted like a cross between and chai tea and coffee.

After tonight, our group has even more respect for the culture here. The night was definitely enjoyable and will be an experience that all of us will take back to the states with joy.

-Lexi Baysinger

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

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Day 8: Ministry Site Orientation Day

After our long but enjoyable weekend on the island of Ometepe, we were blessed with the gift of extra sleep as we had breakfast scheduled at a later time than usual. When we finished our breakfast of french toast and a variety of fruits, we gathered under the gazebo for personal prayer time and worship. Today we were given an orientation from Jill and Austin about our different ministry sites and cultural differences we may experience. At lunch, we were introduced to all the site leaders and we got to enjoy a meal with them as well.

While everyone else left for their specific ministry sites for orientation, Kat, Jessa, and I stayed here at the base to start creating different promotional items for the staff members to use while they are here in Nicaragua. Today, I worked on creating brochures featuring each of the staff members for the organization to use for fundraising purposes. Kat worked on designing prayer postcards for all the staff members and Jessa designed a logo for the micro-finance site to use on their financial planners and other branding items.

The photographs featured on this post offer a glimpse of everyday life on the SI Nicaragua base. The base includes a general indoor meeting space with 3 bunk beds and 2 cabins with 4 additional bunk beds each. We conduct the majority of our meetings and worship under the outdoor gazebo.

In our last two weeks here in Nicaragua, you will get to read different blog posts of someone’s day at their ministry site. There are six different ministry sites: micro-finance, medical, appropriate technology, boy’s club, social work, and media. Some blog posts will also explain daily life here at the base in Masaya. We will all be participating in various Student International long term ministry projects which aim improve the lives of Nicaraguans by meeting their physical and spiritual needs. As a person on the media team, I can’t wait to start my work and share what I can create with everyone I interact with.

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

 

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