Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Newest additions!!!

I am sure that most of you have heard by now that Villa Esperanza,"Village of Hope", has added eight more beautiful girls to their family this past October. We were so happy to be able to welcome these girls with open arms. The house was ready with new beds, clean bathrooms and plenty of food to eat! We have a new house mother named Evelyn and she was prepared to welcome the new girls by covering the herself and the house in prayer. She was able to meet the new girls before they moved in as Gloria was in the final selection process. And I know many of you would like to now how the girls are selected as there are so many that are in need.
Gloria, director of Villa Esperanza, was the one to search out and ask for advice from a couple of ministies we work with inside La Chureca. She worked very closely with the principal and teachers of Colegio Cristiano La Esperanza that is located inside the community of La Chureca. With a few girls she already had in mind and armed with a list from the teachers at the school, Gloria walked around and visited various families and began the interview process. Due to heavy rains, she was not able to visit as many families as fast as she would have liked, but in God's time she managed to visit them all and so began the selection process. Which, of course, was a  very challenging process. How do you choose only eight girls when you have a list of 15? And the more you learn about these girls stories the more you realize there are 100 more that need to move out of the dump too. During this process, as we all covered it with heavy prayer, Gloria would share that the Lord was leading her to the right girls for our new home. He would clearly shut doors where it was needed and open others to the girls He had in mind. Thank you Gloria for being connected to our Lord and letting Him guide you every step of the way.
We work directly in agreement with the girls families, so it was important to interview them and find out why they think their daughter should live and be a part of Villa Esperanza. Many of our girls have suffered abuse of all forms and many of their parents are desperate for their girls to have a better life. Many of the girls are at the tender age where older "men" begin to hunt and prey on these girls. Literally sending communication to them enticing them to come away with them, but without knowing they would live a life of abuse and most likely pregnancy would be in their near furture. After the "man" is done with her, the girl is returned back to her original home, now with another mouth to feed and no education or means to support their new child. So continues the cycle and you can see the crisis that has been going for generations in this community. The parents of our new girls (and many other families in the dump), realize this and yearn for a better life for their daughters. I am often struck by the ability of these parents to sacrifice and let go of their children. Can you imagine giving up your daughter to live elsewhere? To not see or talk to her everyday? Pray for these families that have submitted to what the Lord would have for their daughters. Pray Jesus would fill the emptiness and lonliness as only He is able and Worthy to do so!
The girls have been living in Villa Esperanza for about 3 weeks now and are doing very well. We have been able to spend some special times with them and are learning more about their personalities everyday. They have much to learn. Seeing the new girls helps me realize just how much our original 16 have grown and changed into amazing young women! I am excited to see the changes and watch the growth of the new 8! Watching their skin and hair change and become more healthy, watching the opportunity for their education to advance and most of all I am super excited to see these girls come to know our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The One that will heal their hearts and the deep wounds they have had to live with for so long! Please pray for these girls daily that they would come to know Him and the Love He has for them. They are truly precious gems! If one girl stands out to you please pray for her daily!
And now to introduce our eight new treasures!!!

Gissel (pronounced jee-sell)

 Crisbel, sister of Maria de Jesus who lives in Mama Alba's house
 Diana (pronounced dee-ana)
 Geysel (pronounced Hazel)
 Guissel (pronounced jee-sell)
 Kenia (pronounced kenya)
Maria del Carmen

 Mama Evelyn

I am growing to love these girls more and more everyday! They are a little rough around the edges, but that is what is going to make their transformations so special! And they have learned so muach already in the last few weeks. Here are some more pics of their first days at Villa Esperanza.

 Fun at youth group

 Next up: Life in the Villa with 8 new girls. (how are we all adjusting...)

Thank you all for you prayers and support! We could not do this if it wasn't for your faithful support of Forward Edge and Villa Esperanza!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Short time, no see.....

Hello again!! So happy that I am able to write again in less than a year's time! It is almost a miracle! haha So continue on with the happenings of summer time teams, we had a a small team from Tacoma, Wa come and fill the Villa with hard work and lots of fun and silly-ness! They loved the girls form the Villa, played, talked, prayed and they sang A LOT! Our theme song for the week was "Never gonna Give You Up' by Rick Astley...My question was how did these kids know this sing so well? That is a song I grew up singing and I am no spring chicken. They were thrilled when they found out I knew every word! :)This team had the honor of planting an endangered species of trees at the school "Cama de Piedras" in Chiquilistagua. This is the school a majority of our girls from the Villa attend. We had an assembly with all the students from the school and then we had a planting ceremony. Each team member partnered with a chosen student and they planted trees together. Altogether I think we planted 60 trees in total at that school. We then planted some of the trees at other surrounding public schools.
This was a team that had a good time no matter what they were doing! They were 100% themselves and 100% accepting of all people. They had the advantage of having 2 Spanish speakers on their team which helped the team to connect with many of the people we served. They shared their powerful testimonies with our girls from the Villa, other teams and with each other. I learned a lot from this group and what it means to be saved from a former life that does not have to define who you are. That knowing and loving Christ changes your story the moment you surrender to Him. I knew that, but sometimes I think we don't get to SEE it played out in front of us and especially see it played out in young people. It is powerful for the people of this country to know that we have struggles in our country(USA) and culture as well. Sometimes Nicas watch TV and think that that is the culture and lifestyle for all North Americans. Through our teams they are able to see and learn about what most of our country lives like. They can hear about the struggles, hardships, and issues we have with in our own country, and alongside that, they can hear about how our Lord Jesus has overcome  it all  and has changed lives forever. We have a common bond that I don't think many of us think about or realize. We are given the opportunity to touch some one's life in profound ways if we only keep our eyes and ears open to God's leadership and guidance for us. This team knew that and I believe it changed and touched the lives of both the team and the Nicas they came to know and love.

We went back to 'The Refuge" ministry with a few more teams and were able to help complete the renovation of the building and the yard. God transformed this location with the gifts of many teams from many partnering ministries. 
We also had the privilege to visit HAT with a few of our teams this year. HAT is a temporary protection center run by the Nicaraguan gov't. In the past they had children with special needs living in their home for a longer period of time than the 21 days that supposed to be the amount of time children would reside there until they are placed back with their families or placed in a different more permanent location. Many of the children we came to know in the last year have been moved to other locations and HAT is now more of a temporary home for kids off the street.
The center has been upgraded leaps and bounds from last year. They now have two dorms for boys and girls, working lights and electricity throughout, AC in a few rooms used as classrooms. New paint inside and out. The new director has really stepped up and fought to improve the conditions to help the well being of the new children living there. Our teams helped by doing various small projects like yard work and painting, but mostly our focus was to build relationships with the children and workers. Spending and investing time one-on-one with the kids is really valuable in a place like this. We did crafts, played baseball, painted faces and just spent time sharing smiles with the kids. They in turn shared their gratitude by dancing for us. They danced national folklore dancing which as always is a pleasure to see. And it is always so good to know that they are learning about their culture and heritage in a place like this. 
 The Refuge in Los Brasiles

 Face painting at HAT

They go crazy for candy!

I have to close for this episode....My gardener just told me there was a big snake in my backyard and he wants to show me the skin it shed!! I just saw it and it's was at least 3 ft + long.....he says it won't go far and that it will come back at night and I should look for it with a flashlight or maybe it is in the house rolled up in a shoe....huh??? What the hecks?!? You want ME to look for the snake (big poisoness snake he says) at night??? And do what?? So he says he will come back at night and look for it with machete in hand, Praise You Lord!! Thank you for sending me people who look after me!! 
Soon to come: Eight new girls move into Villa Esperanza!! Yeah!!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Almost a year.......please for give me!

Hello all! Please forgive me for not posting in almost a year! I cannot believe time has passed so fast! It came to my attention many times this past summer, that a number of people randomly find my blog by doing searches for information about Nicaragua and La Chureca. Through meeting new people God showed me how He can work in such different ways. I guess I never thought of folks randomly running into this blog and being touched by what I share. That set aside I SHOULD be writing regularly to keep my friends and family updated, this where the forgiveness comes in...:) Thank you.
 So life has been very busy, for the last few months especially. During the months of June, July and August we have a majority of our teams visit and serve here in Managua. This year was unusually busy, praise God. We had more teams visit in a shorter amount of time than ever before. We had 14 teams come in the time of 12 weeks. Many of those teams overlapped, and Villa Esperanza was a hub of action! We were honored to have many returning groups as well as welcoming new teams that have never served with us before. I would like to thank all of them for coming and putting all their hearts and souls into what they accomplished.
This year more than ever were able to share that the value of relationships is so important in the ministry that we are called to do. Many times the rain dictated what we were able to do for the day or the afternoon. That meant that we needed to start impromptu games of soccer or kickball, be prepared to share a blessing in our lives or give a testimony. Sometimes we can can get so caught up in the 'do' and  we forget about the 'why'. The 'why' is so important! We are called to love. And in our culture we show love by 'doing' most of the time, which is a good thing, but sometimes that isolates us from the relationship part of things. In a culture where relationships are so important I find myself struggling to understand what that means. That sometimes my 'doing'  is seen as an act of love, but most of the time it's just what is need to be done and everyone else is doing the same. But when you take the time to invest in a life the picture changes. When we take the time to create and build relationships, God gives us the opportunity to help 'change the story of someones life'. This is a saying used often by Wilbert, our director here at Villa Esperanza. Think about what that means! We cannot change what has happened in the past, but we can help someone grow and move forward in a way that can change the story of their lives. Was there ever anyone in your life that helped change your 'story'? A teacher? A Pastor? Your parents? A stranger? I have seen it with my own eyes....people come down to work and serve, leaving here having touched someones life in a way that has changed that persons 'story'. And in  turn God has touched and changed the team members story forever. Powerful.
You may know I am not a wordy type of person. I like to share photos. So here we go!
We visited a new ministry this year called The Refuge run by imagine ministry. It is in a place called Los Brasiles, just outside Managua on the way to Leon. The run a preschool, feeding program and have after school tutoring to help many of the older students in this community. We covered the kitchen(below)...

We filled in the backyard and helped build a new basketball/sports court.

We went to Leon and worked with a church called Vida Y Luz. New Hope Church out of Texas is going to invest much of their time and support to this area. We had a medical clinic, working with 2 Nicaraguan doctors. They also worked with many local men in building a tower for a water storage tank. We palyed with kids...A LOT!! The most powerful part of what God did during this visit was that the men of New Hope bonded and built strong relationships with the local men. Patora Dolores (the Pastor) has been praying for the Lord to bring more men to this church for the last year. And what a privilege it is see Prayers answered right in front of you.
Mario adding written prayers requests and verses to the to the concrete of the columns.
Our time ended with feet washing... and idea of the men of the church. New Hope washed theirs and they washed ours. What a wonderful time together.
Our tent city. We were soaked....it rained a lot!

We are having our first Talapia fish fry today in a Villa. I must go and eat...More to come later. I will explain the Talapia fish fry.
Blessings to all and thank you for your love and support!