Nicaragua Highlight Video

Watch a video about our most recent trip to Nicaragua here!

Activity Summary

We have stayed in Nicaraguan homes on this trip, resulting in limited access to Internet. And that access has not been friendly to posting photographs.
Since the last post we have helped Compassion Children with crafts, walked a neighborhood evangelizing, learned how to cook Nicaraguan food and taught how to make popcorn and rice krispie bars (with corn flakes–rice krispies are not common here).
We performed a Dutch Dance and watched a traditional Nicaraguan dance.
We have learned new Spanish words, and enjoyed the generous hospitality of Nicaraguan Christians.
Want to hear more? Ask us when we return. We will even be able to show you a few photos!

Waterfall and Woods

Early Monday morning we again board a refurbished school bus, along with Nicaraguan pastors, church leaders, and their families.
Our destination is three hours from Chinandega–Matagalpa, the most mountainous region of Nicaragua.
Our first stop is Selva Negra (Black Forest) a high elevation rain forest, which provides all of us with relief from the heat and humidity of Chinandega. As we walk the paths and enjoy its lush foliage, rain and sunshine alternate every 15 minutes.
Our second stop is Cascada Blnaca (White Waterfall). When we walk behind its thundering water, it is as powerful as the rain forest was tranquil.
Along with our Nicaraguan friends, we relish the sights and sounds of the day. As we talk, we realize that this was the first visit to Matagalpa’s sites for many of them.
Enroute back to Chinandega, we sing “How Great Thou Art.” We sing it first in English.Then our NIcaraguan friends sing it in Spanish.
Two different languages, two different countries. One God. And we praise him together.

At a Baptismal Pool

It is a hot and humid Sunday morning in Chinandega. We crowd into an old school bus, three people per seat, with additional riders standing in the aisles. Packed overhead are satchels and bags with towels, swimwear and food.
Our destination: Campuzano, a half hour from Chinandega. Our purpose: immerson baptism for 18 new members of the Nazarene Church.
Alonside the spring-fed pool, we worship, and then church leaders join hands in a large circle wiith the 18 baptismal candidates, ages 12 to 63. One by one, each of them walks to the center of the circle and is submerged by Pastor Paulino and an elder. As each emerges, dripping, the congregation responds with a verse from a hymn.
As the 18 file out of the water, in pairs we form a tunnel of blessing, holding raised hands above them in pairs, wishing them “benediciones” as they file through, lsmiling.
A picnic follows under the palm-leaf covered shelters bordering the pool.
After lunch, Kathy and I walk to the edge of the pool, remove our sandals, and cool our feet. Around us church members swim, wade, throw beach balls, and splash in the wather. Near us, three children toss water at each other from their picnic cups.
I sweat and muse. We remain alongside the water of baptism and it refreshes us. The symbolism touches me.
A child’s voice interrupts my thoughts. She lifts her cup of water, smiles sweetly, and asks permission to wash my feet.

Pella-Area Garden Tour Opens Today


The sign says it all: Garden Tour Today. You can find these gardeners in their Pella-area gardens today, and enjoy their gardens with them. Left to right, they are: Rhonda Kermode, Cindy Willemsen, Teresa Rietveld, and Sandi Vander Molen. Not pictured: Stan Vermeer.The tour runs June 24-26. For details see earlier posts on this web site.



Nicaraguan Jewelry and Ceramics Offered on Gateway to Hope Garden Tour


The purchase of jewelry or ceramics during the June 24-26 Garden Tour benefits Nicaraguans in two ways. It supports the Nicaraguan artisans who painstakingly craft the items with simple tools. The profits from the modest mark-up is used to support programs of Nicaraguan churches for neighborhood children and youth. And buyers get to enjoy beauty for years to come.  It is a three-way win!

Gateway Garden Tour Information:


  • Fri June 24, 3-8 p.m. Evening meal available for purchase at Pella Victorian Villa.
  • Sat June 25, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Noon meal available for purchase at Pella Victorian Villa.
  • Sun June 26, 1-4 p.m.

Tour ticket price: $10. Can be purchased at the first garden you tour.



  • Kermode Garden. David and Rhonda Kermode, 510 Broadway, Pella
  • Pella Victorian Villa. Stan and Alma Vermeer, 1261 185th Street, Pella
  • Rietveld Garden. John and Teresa Rietveld, 906 Vermeer Road E., Pella
  • Vander Molen Garden. Gary and Sandi Vander Molen, 1806 Bayard Ave., Pella
  • Willemsen Garden. Ron and Cindy Willemsen, 1543 West Third Street, Pella

Special events at Victorian Villa on Friday and Saturday

Friday and Saturday Lunch

From 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Friday and from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, a picnic meal  is available to be enjoyed on the villa veranda.

Sandwiches, chips, a cookie, and bottled water can be purchased at a cost of $5.

Friday and Saturday Retail Shop

Open during all Friday and Saturday tour hours.

Plants.  Our thanks to De Jong Greenhouse, and Faith church gardeners for their donations of perennials and annuals. Plants that remain unsold at the end of the tour will be available for purchase during normal business hours in the foyer of Faith Christian Reformed Church, 215 East University in Pella for several weeks following the tour.


Nicaraguan Ceramics and Jewelry.  Ceramics are handmade by artisans with local clay and glazes, shaped on a foot-powered potting wheel, and fired in a wood-burning clay kiln.  Jewelry includes macramé, seeds, fossils, handmade metalwork, and semi-precious stones. The purchase of these items provides income for Nicaraguan artists.

Garden Art. Locally made garden art includes hub cap flowers on stands, hypertufa pots, flags from window blinds, decorative bowling balls, glass garden owls, and table coasters.


One-of-a-Kind Garden Art Available at Victorian Villa During June 24-26 Garden Tour

Birdhouses from gourds, owls from glass trays, flowers from hubcaps, fairy gardens, and many more handcrafted garden art items will be available for purchase at the Victorian Villa during the Pella-area garden tour June 24-26. Thanks to the handiwork of crafters Neva Groenendyk, Pearl Menninga, and Leonora Schut,  visitors can not only enjoy the villa and the gardens on the tour; they can also take some garden beautifiers home with them.

Visitors will also be able to enjoy an old-fashioned picnic lunch on the villa’s wrap-around veranda.  A sandwich, cookies, potato chips, and a bottle of water will be available for $5.  Food will be served on Friday from 4:30 to 7 pm and on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.