Fasting and Feasting

I spent this morning with Sergio and Scarleth, the pastoral couple at El Manatial. Sergio and I hit it off very well when I was here with a team in January, so I was very excited to see him again and visit with him. Our visit did not disappoint. I had my Spanish-English el libro and a copy for Sergio.


Following our visit I attended a late morning “devotional” at Sergio’s church, which has dedicated to month of October to prayer and fasting. Part of the church’s commitment to prayer and fasting is a daily devotional service, which ran two hours and included a one-hour sermon. It was the first and only time I heard a Nicaraguan pastor preach. I will be back at Sergio’s church again tomorrow evening, but he has asked that I preach at that service.

Following worship, Sergio’s family graciously agreed to break their fast early so that we could enjoy lunch together. His daughter Maureen is learning English. We joked that she should translate tomorrow night’s sermon for me. She said she would if I promised to preach for an hour. It was great to hear about the IMPACT club she leads in another neighborhood in Chinandega and the church plant that is emerging there.

After a brief break at the Hotel, which included preparation for a meditation I was asked (just this morning on the way to El Manatial) to give to the leadership at Iglesia de Resurreccion y Vida this evening, I headed to that church for a meeting with the church’s ministry leadership. There were about thirty in attendance, roughly equal numbers of men and women. After our meeting, which consisted of worship, a short meditation, and prayer, we enjoyed dinner together for Pastor Evaristo’s birthday.


I ate dinner with Pilar, the church’s Sunday School director, whom I had met in January when she gave the group a tour of the neighborhood across the street and spoke about the work of the church’s IMPACT club. Faith Church had received prayer requests about changes to the IMPACT club and some struggles in the Sunday School. It was good to hear updates on those ministries and how God has answered prayers. Also at our table was Rodrigo, director of the church’s men’s ministry. I gathered in our conversation that men’s ministry can be as much a challenge in Nicaragua as it is in North America.

Tomorrow is my final day in Chinandega. It’s hard to believe how fast the time has gone. I will spend time with Paulino, pastor of Iglesia del Nazareno, in the morning. In the afternoon all of the pastors in the Friends of Chinandega partnership who are able will meet together at a farm outside Chinandega. And in the evening I will preach at the Tuesday evening service at El Manatial. Then it’s off to the airport very, very early on Wednesday morning…

Solidarity – Somos Uno En Cristo

Yesterday morning I visited Iglesia de Dios Central and participated in their Day of Solidarity. The church provides a free meal, free haircuts and hairstyling, instruction on dental hygiene, free clothes, and a piñata. Many thanks to Jean DeWaard for the baby clothes she sent along to Nicaragua with me.

I participated in the day by helping to serve food. As I stood on the street over a rickety wooden table, putting dinner rolls on every bowl of rice, I thought about our communion liturgy. We pray that we might be share a common ministry with all who gather around the Lord’s Table. Yesterday in Chinandega I had an opportunity to do that. We also pray that we might be send by God’s Spirit to be the body of Christ in the world, the very thing Iglesia de Dios does on its Day of Solidarity.

Earlier this year Faith Church took an offering to assist Iglesia de Dios with a construction project. I was able to see the two new second floor classrooms the church has added to accommodate its growing Compassion program. They are almost ready to use the rooms. They just need adequate fans installed. Please join them in prayer for God’s provision.


Last night I preached at Amor Viviente and enjoyed dinner and fellowship afterwards with the church’s pastor and his family. It was wonderful to hear their positive experience of the team that visited them in January.

This morning I returned to Iglesia de Dios for their Sunday school, which is actually a 2 hour church service. This morning the church was hosting a singing competition among all of the Iglesias de Dios in the region. I was asked to serve as a judge, which was a bit tricky given that I don’t speak Spanish and one of the categories for judging was the song’s message. Following Sunday school I went with the pastoral family and the director of the church’s Compassion Program and her family to the ocean where we had lunch together.

First Place Singer

Then it was back to Chinandega and Hotel Don Mario for a quick shower and change of clothes before heading to Iglesia del Nazareno where I preached their evening service. Afterwards I enjoyed dinner and fellowship with the pastor and his family.

Thus far time with the pastors and their families has definitely been the highlight of this trip. Praying with the pastors, praying for them and having them pray for me, has been a very rich blessing. Before I left Iglesia de Dios this afternoon, the pastor wanted to sing Somos Uno En Cristo (We are One in Christ), the song our team learned and sang in the churches in January. That, and so many other things, have been powerful reminders that while we are often separated by miles and language, we are one in Christ Jesus, all one body.

In Chinandega!

I arrived safely in Nicaragua on Thursday evening. Adrianna Oudman, CRWM partner missionary at the Nehemiah Center, picked me up and we traveled to Leon, where Adrianna lives. Some may remember Adrianna from her visit to Faith Church earlier this year over Tulip Time. She will accompany me to Chinandega as a translator and guide.

This morning I spend some time walking around Leon on my own, visited a couple of cathedrals, bought a smoothie, and exchanged money with a “coyote” outside the bank. Not bad for a guy who doesn’t actually speak Spanish! Late morning Adrianna and I headed to Chinandega on a “chicken bus,” though today we did not see any chickens on the bus. Adrianna’s friend Marcos accompanied us to help with our luggage as we also took two bikes, our mode of transportation in Chinandega.

After lunch with Marcos – and a wonderful conversation about the IMPACT club in which he is involved and how the church does (or does not) minister to single twenty-somethings – Adrianna and I visited our first pastor: Porfirio and Suyapa, the pastoral couple at Amor Viviente. They are Honduran missionaries ministering in Nicaragua. Unfortunately their son Antonio was at school. Antonio knows English quite well and facilitated conversations between me and his parents in January. I’ll be back at Amor Viviente tomorrow night, preaching at their Saturday night worship service, and plan to have dinner afterwards with Porfirio’s family, so I should see Antonio then.

After the visit with Porfirio and Suyapa and a quick visit to Hotel Don Mario to change clothes, I visited Evaristo and Ignacia, the pastoral couple at Iglesia Resurreccion y Vida briefly before preaching at the church’s Friday evening service. After church Adrianna and I had dinner with Evaristo and Ignacia at the home of a church member.

I was richly blessed by my conversations with each pastor. Both deeply love the Lord, his church, and its ministry. We talked openly and freely about challenges in ministry. The similarity between the challenges churches and pastors face here in Nicaragua and in North America is striking. Both pastors offered wise counsel, encouragement, and helpful perspective.

Tomorrow promises to be another rich day with participation with Iglesia de Dios’ Day of Solidarity in the morning, lunch with its pastor, Adolfo, and his wife, Martha, preaching at Amor Viviente, and dinner with Porfirio, Suyapa and their family afterwards.

Heading back to Nicaragua!

In January I (Pastor Ryan) was blessed to be part of a team from Faith Church that traveled to Chinandega, Nicaragua to visit Faith Church’s five sister churches there. It was a wonderful experience. We participated with the Compassion program at one of the churches, and were involved with a jewelry making class for woman at another. At two of the churches we did painting work, and at one we poured concrete. Most evenings we worshiped with one of our sister churches. I preached at three of those services.

I am excited to return to Chinandega next week to again visit our sister churches and their pastors. One disappointment in January was that I did not spend much time with the pastors or their families. I am eager for one-on-one time with them as colleagues in ministry.

I am also looking forward to seeing the progress at the Christian school connected to Iglesia del Nazareno and at Iglesia de Dios Central. When we were there in January, the school was in the middle of a construction project as they are expanding to offer high school classes. Since our January visit, Iglesia de Dios began a construction project, for which Faith Church took an offering, to expand their classroom space to accommodate the growing Compassion program that the church hosts.

On this trip I expect to participate in many worship services. I have been asked to preach at a couple. I am especially looking forward to the services at which I will not preach, because I would very much like to hear Nicaraguan preaching. I plan to spend time with each pastor and his family, and participate with them in some of their ministry activities, such as Solidarity Day at Iglesia de Dios. I’m sure there is much that I can learn from them.

I plan to post updates and pictures here regularly while I am in Nicaragua, October 22 – 29.

Map of Gateway to Hope Garden Tour


Garden Art Available During June 19-21 Gateway to Hope Tour


Pearl Menninga, Lenora Schutt, and Neva Groenendyk have created garden art to be sold at Heartland Church during the June 19-21 Gateway to Hope Garden The flat Lenora holds was created by Sheryl Hixson (not pictured).

Three women with creative spirits and nimble fingers are enhancing the June 19-21 Gateway to Hope Garden tour with a selection of garden art to grace area gardens and patios.

Several of their creations recycle discarded items for new purposes.  A flag uses old window blinds and fabric scraps. Tufa pots are made by dipping old blankets or towels in a cement-like mixture. Metal flower sculptures appear out of old hubcaps.

Lenora Schutt, Pearl Menninga, and Neva Groenendyk, friends who meet throughout the year to create new crafts, are using their skills to benefit local gardeners—and add to the funds being raised for Nicaraguan children and youth.

The garden art will be for sale—along with flowers, soil block makers, and Nicaraguan Ceramics— at Heartland Reformed Church of Pella—3 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday, June 19 and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m on Saturday June 20.

Central Iowa residents unable to take the garden tour are welcome to simply stop in and shop during these hours.

Local Engineer to Demonstrate Garden Invention at Gateway to Hope Tour

Marlo Van Klompenburg demonstrates making four-inch soil blocks. The smaller soil block maker sits on the table and completed soil blocks fill the tray.

Marlo Van Klompenburg demonstrates making four-inch soil blocks. The smaller soil block maker sits on the table and completed soil blocks fill the tray.

After several years of experimenting with making soil blocks for starting plants for his garden, mechanical engineer Marlo Van Klompenburg has decided to  demonstrate his soil block maker at the June 19-21 Central Iowa Gateway to Hope Garden Tour.

Van Klompenburg uses soil blocks instead of pots to start seeds for his vegetable garden. He first plants the seed into a 2-inch soil block. A few weeks after the seed germinates, he inserts this small block into a 4-inch soil block where the plant grows until it is ready to be placed in his garden. Because the plant does not need to be removed from a pot, its roots are not disturbed and it grows better after transplanting.

It grows better for another reason too. Van Klompenburg explained, “When the roots reach the edge of the soil, they sense the air and stop growing. The plant does not become root-bound as in a plastic pot. And there are fewer plastic pots that need to be tossed into landfills.

Van Klompenburg, who was a mechanical engineer at Pella Corporation before retirement, saw the soil block makers online and thought he might be able to create a similar device that was better and less expensive—and he believes he’s succeeded.

He’ll be demonstrating soil block making on Friday June 19, 3 p.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturday June 20, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Heartland Reformed Church. The soil block makers and the soil mix will also be available for purchase. All profits from sales of the soil block makers will be used to fund programs for children and youth in Nicaragua.

Also for sale at Heartland Church during the same hours will be flowers, garden art, Nicaraguan ceramics and jewelry.  Area residents who are unable to take the full garden tour are welcome to visit these retail shops.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.