Archive for July, 2012

Looking Back, Looking Ahead

(Final Post for the July 2012 trip)

Friends of Chinandega Clay Symbol

Following vacation Bible school and a tropical shower, we create a circle of chairs in the Nazarene Church courtyard. A woman sweeps leaves and VBS debris from the newly laid cement that surrounds us. In an adjacent corner sound the scraping shovels of four men mixing stones and mortar to lay another section.

This humid Nicaraguan late afternoon we are meeting with leaders from the five Chinandega churches to discuss our ongoing partnership. Nicaraguan pastor Henry Cruz distributes sticks of colored clay and tells us to separate into a North American and Nicaraguan team and construct a symbol of our relationship.

Our team talks and molds, talks and molds—and what emerges has a cross, two stick figures, and a globe.  The cross is three winding strands, representing our two nationalities and our Creator. Two people kneel before it, holding joining one hand at the cross and touching the globe with the other. Where their hands touch the globe, it is a verdant green—springing to life and spreading down to over the globe’s black underside.

When we join our Nicaraguan friends we are surprised by the similarities in our clay creations. Their model, too, has a cross. And it tops two touching hands. One flows from a US flag and the other from the flag of Nicaragua.

Nicaraguan churches’ clay symbol

In the conversation that follows this and our reading of the story of Ruth’s commitment to Naomi, we all talk about our learning from our cross cultural interaction, our unity in Christ, and our desire for an ongoing, long-term relationship.

We will pray for each other. We want to learn more about each other, perhaps even each other’s languages. And we want to meet again.

We do not set the date for that or make specific plans. That is still to come.

But this much we know: In the power of the cross of Christ we want to continue hand-in-hand for Him.


Travel Sites and Scenes

Today (Saturday) we returned to Managua from Chinandega. We think it’s a good day to share with you memorable sights and scenes from the week.

Nicaragua: Land of Tropical Trees and Flowers

Nicaragua has tropical beauty year-round, but now—toward the end of the rainy season—the vegetation is especially lush and rich. Below is a small sampling.

A Week of VBS in Five Different Churches

In our week in Chinandega we helped five churches with a day of vacation Bible School. Each church planned its day, and we helped them in the roles they asked us to do. In some churches we told a story of three trees that became a manger, a boat, and a cross for Jesus. In other churches we helped with crafts. And sometimes we helped to serve lunch.

The programs varied, but often included songs, Bible stories, crafts, outdoor activities, snacks, and lunch. After completed today at the fifth church, we have worked with 300-350 children.

Below is the story in photos and captions.

At Manantial de Cristo several groups of children sang Bible songs without accompaniment.

At Assembly of God church, children made a picture frame, a basket and a folder.

We told the story of three trees at several churches.

At the Nazarene Church, children participated in a poster contest.

Children at Living Love church made a mobile that says Jesus loves them.

The Church of God blocked a street with desks for outdoor games.

At every church, the children enjoyed hamming it up in front of the camera.

Tulips and a Dike

This post is especially for our U.S. friends in tulip towns. We have stumbled across tulips in two churches–and today a dike. Photos are below.

Next to the pulpit at Manantial de Cristo, we found a bouquet of red tulips.

In the ceramic floor of El Viejo Basilica we spotted a tulip design.

Today from our ocean-side restaurant at El Corinto, we over looked a sea wall that, according to our Nicaraguan waiter, was built by the Dutch.

Kathy and Larry Groenenboom found a windmill on a Chinandega mural.

Our Visit by the Numbers

This week we have:

  • Met wonderful Nicaraguan pastors and staff and members from 5 churches
  • Worked with 4 vacation Bible schools, and will work with 1 more on Friday
  • Helped Chinandega churches teach 250-300 children
  • Attended 3  energetic Chinandega worship services
  • Eaten  18 Nicaraguan meals
  • Acquired 3 cases of mild diarrhea (That’s too much information, we know…)
  • Said good-bye to 1 couple from our team (Harley and Jessica Janssen) who were scheduled to return home early.
  • Had 4 VERY USEFUL translators, who also helped lead Bible school as needed.
  • Said goodbye to 1 translator who has another assignment
  • Had 2 lodging locations—1 in  Managua and 1 in Chinandega.
  • Been transported in 7 different modes: airplane, taxi, public transportation bus, microbus, re-purposed school bus, and on our very own feet. We have not used the bicycle-powered taxis that are popular in Chinandega.
  • Drunk 36  gallons of water and miscellaneous other soft drinks  (4 gallons per day per person) and lost every one of those gallons through our sweat pores.
  • Taken 162 cold showers (2 per day)
  • Said “Hola, gracias, Dios le bendiga, and adios” 354 times (OK, we confess—we made up that number.)
  • Were awakened at 5 am  2 times by amplified Nicaraguan band music
  • Have eaten 20 servings of Eskimo, Nicaragua-made ice cream.

Piñata Party

Manantial de Cristo is a smaller, younger church than the previous day’s. Twenty children and a half dozen adults greet us. They lead singing. Then with the help of interpreters we read a story and supervise crafts.

Manantial’s teachers hand several members of our

team the stick and blindfold us. The children laugh and shout Spanish directions to us: arriba (above), abajo (below), and detras (behind) above the high-energy music that echoes from the cement block walls and aluminum roof.

Eventually, the kangaroo is just half a torso and a head. They give the stick to Sandy Palmer—and, without a blindfold, she finishes the job.Pastor Sergio’s son rescues piñata pieces and transforms them into a sleeve, hat, and monocle. He wears them through the lunch of vigoron, pork rinds, cassava, and shredded cabbage.

For food safety, for North American guests our hosts substitute cooked carrots and beets for the raw

Kangaroo pinata, re-purposed as a costume.


A trip to a basilica and rosquilla factory follow. The basilica is beautiful, the rosquillas—doughnut shaped cornbread cookies—are tasty.

As we ride the re-purposed school bus toward the Don Mario hotel, we agree:  This, too, has been a good day.

El Viejo Basilica