By Beverly Nolte
Click here to see more images from the trip!
Fourteen Iowans flew south of the border to the land of coffee, corn and tobacco—Nicaragua. From Bloomfield to Lake Park, Gray to Wilton, this United Methodist Volunteer in Mission team was laden with sewing machines, a variety of vegetable seeds, school supplies, a large replica of Noah's Ark, as well as work tools...all part of the luggage.
Tucked in between Panama and Honduras, Nicaragua is one of the poorest countries in Central America. Jalapa, our destination, is in the northwest corner, near the Honduran border in the middle of cowboy country. Oxen carts, cowboys on horseback were regular scenes in this rural farming area.
Working with Interfaith Service to Latin America (ISLA), this mission program works with local communities to serve in the field of education, health and construction. To whittle down our “to do” list we divided the crew into five work groups to address the ISLA projects. Two concrete ramps were constructed at a clinic and classroom for handicapped youth.
A painting crew tackled the interior of the “Promised Land” Church and the exterior of a classroom building at the Technologico Agropecuario del Norte. If it didn't move we painted it...a bright blue!
For two hours each morning our school crew enjoyed telling the Noah's Ark story to disadvantaged elementary children. Their enthusiam for being animals on the ark, flying like the dove and making rainbows was contagious. These kids arrive at school with no breakfast so a snack was appropriate.
Working at the Martin Lutero Universidad, team members interacted with middle grade students as they learned English. Sport games, playing Uno
and Go Fish
were part of the fun. These twenty-five selected students will take English classes for two hours daily for two years in a program sponsored by the U.S. Embassy.
Fifteen local women learned to thread the sewing machine, sew straight and zigzag seams during the five day sewing classes. Upon completion of a market bag, blender cover, oven mitt, sanitary pad and skirt, everyone enjoyed a “Fiesta” to celebrate their accomplishments. These women want to form a cooperative to continue learning to sew and eventually make marketable items. Lots of fun and laughter as the machines busily hummed away!
All work and no play? The group enjoyed soaking in thermal hot springs, purchasing pine needle baskets and vases, attending the National Poetry Festival in Granada, visiting Finca Las Neblinas, a coffee plantation to see the dry milling process and standing at the top of smoking Masaya Volcano.
There was no Methodist Church in Jalapa so we attended the Assembly of God Church with our translators and many friends we met and made. Realizing that we share one God with one abiding faith, our binding love united us all in Christian unity. So, goodbye, Cris, Jeaneth, Javier, Michael, Win, Antonio, Mercedes, Irma and many others as we left our hearts wiith you in Jalapa.
If you are interested in opportunities to serve with Interfaith Service to Latin America click here to learn more
Flaunting jaunty plumes of rust and gold
—Lori Shannon, Manning, IA, Feb. 21, 2017
Brash bantams herald Nicaraguan day
Their predawn song persistent, hoarse and bold
The village yawns to life each day this way
An oxcart lumbers down a dusty street
A housewife scrubs bright clothes and hangs them high
They wave with her to travelers she might meet
As breezes dance across Jalapan sky
Those blessed with steady work begin their toil
While wistful others watch their daily jaunt
Not much to do save wait or work the soil
Their days too dear to be depressed by want
With rhythms of their lives relaxed and slow
Jalapans know a joy most never know.
Rooster, Rooster, why do you crow?
You don’t even wait till dawn’s early glow.
From bedtime till morn you sing to the sky
Only to be answered by a friend by and by.
You crow back and forth all night and more
I hear you at ten, two-thirty, and four.
But, hark, you’re joined by a dog no less
Barking at nothing and making a mess.
More and more dogs join in the fray
What do they do? Sleep all day?
As light bathes the sky, a new sound is heard.
Parrots and wrens join a strange-sounding bird.
They warble, they sing, they call all the morn
Till the sun appears and a new day is born.
Across the grass and having fun
Comes a small herd critters on a dead run.
They sound like sheep but they act like goats.
A crossbreed we’re told, would that be a shoat?
I crawl out of bed, it’s time to get up.
Lots to do from now until sup.
The roosters subside, the dogs roam the streets.
The silence is golden, till tonight it repeats.
—Judy Taber, Lake Park, IA, Feb. 16, 2017