“One of our RMS Safety Managers, Eric Hartley, with a group of 9 people left from Indianapolis to serve the people Bethel, Nicaragua and a few surrounding villages. These team members are representatives of Seerley Creek Christian and Common Ground West Church in partnership with Vision Nicaragua. There were several teachers from the Indianapolis schools (IPS and the Oaks Academy) who were in the group to come alongside to serve the native teachers in Bethel. Quickly it became obvious the teachers were unfunded with resources, but their passion for their students was inspirational. The team identified some needs that could be met and purchased globes, pens, paper, folders, rulers, and other items that we just take for granted to be in a classroom. This was the first time the school had a globe in a classroom. As you can imagine the difficulty to teach geography without maps or a globe? This was a simple example of needs that went unmet until just a few weeks ago. “Eric Hartley, June 5-13, 2019
John Seppala (works at Chik-fil-A off of Southport Road) and I worked on houses of widows in the village of Bethel. Their house was made of block walls, the roofs were timber-framed with a zinc metal roof. We replaced wood that was damaged by termites or water exposure. The damage was greater than anticipated, and as work was completed on a home, the neighbors would come and ask if there were some scrap pieces of wood they could use to replace damaged at their houses. In total there were 5 houses that were repaired. Some of the previous repairs that were previously attempted by the villagers composed of broom handles and tree branches to help support sections of roofs. It was humbling to see that they simply used what was available to them.
Another project that was started and completed after the team had left was making a bread oven at the school. This will allow people of the village to make bread for their families and have a micro-business to fund the needs of the village.
On the 2nd day of being in the village, we worked on some houses, visited the school, and got an introduction to the work that was ahead of us. In the early afternoon, we met with a small house church that was holding a children’s camp where we played games, kicked soccer balls, made pipe cleaner jewelry, and had a piñata for the kids. That night we visited with a church and I preached a sermon on our needs and value as people. We all need food, water, and air to live, but we need Jesus in our lives to truly begin to live. This is the truth for all people, regardless of where they live or what position they have.
There were three acts of service we also performed throughout the week where we bought food for the people of the community. We bought several hundred pounds of beans and rice and bagged up five pounds of each to deliver to people in need. It was the first reflection of how far our American dollars will go in their economy. For approximately $250 we fed 300 people for a week! We were driving down the main highway and would stop and would give people a bag of rice and a bag of beans and people acted as if we had just delivered Christmas early for them We would deliver a piece of paper to each family that stated “Dios te Bendiga” which mean God Bless You”.
The second food delivery that we shared was with the widows in the village of Bethel. The farmers use a pesticide on their crops that causes a form of kidney failure for those exposed to the chemical. Once the worker’s kidneys start to fail they have just a few years left to live. We took baskets of chicken and vegetables to the widows to make a chicken stew for their families that would last for 3 to 5 days. Their gratitude was so heartfelt and genuine. Many of these widows are struggling to meet their basic needs on a daily basis.
The third event was to take fruit baskets to the men who had been diagnosed with kidney disease. Some of them struggled to pay for bus fare to go through dialysis, which translates to them being financially strained to buy food for their family. Again, these random acts of service and providing basic needs to the amazing people were humbling and life-changing for me. I am like the people in the villages than I am different. They need food, water, and air to survive. The difference is that we have more options for food and water.
In my searching for a practical way to help the ministry of Vision Nicaragua and the people I met, I have decided to do “15 on the 15th”. For $15 anyone can sponsor a student to pay for their tuition at the village, so on the 15thof each month I will not eat lunch or dinner on to carve out time to pray for these people and to create space in my budget to meet the basic needs of incredible people.
You can find out more about Vision Nicaragua at http://visionnicaragua.org/