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Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Reminiscing with Roy

Our journey is drawing to a close. While everyone would have liked to spend more time with the students from Centro de Fe, it was good to spend time together as a team. The experiences of preparing for this trip, having the preparation become reality in deep and genuine relationships, and feeling the pain when relationships need to come to an end, at least in person, have developed in us a deeper appreciation for what genuine relationships are about. Each person on the team has grown and the truth that God intended us to be in relationship has become clearer in each of us. It has given me great pleasure to see this transformation take place, and to be part of it with such an amazing group of students. But more on that a bit later. You want to know what we did today, so here goes.

After breakfast, Lester and Peter arrived to take us out for a day of activity and to experience more of Nicaraguan culture and beauty. It was good to have Peter join us for a full day. In past trips, we saw more of him and I was glad this group would get to know him a bit. Our first stop was at a local potter in San Marcos . This is a family business run by a mother and her sons, one of whom demonstrated the process by which this pottery is made. We were all amazed at how quickly he was able to create a vase on a foot powered wheel. He then explained the 21 day process of drying, applying pigments, firing the pottery before it is brought upstairs to the shop. Some beautiful pieces were purchased. Susan also tried her hand at throwing a pot on the wheel.

We then went ziplining. The crew that assisted us through the course were so helpful and cheerful as we all did typical rides, got to experience being superchicas, superchicos and one superpapa. Gliding upside down also added to the variety and excitement of the experience. Through it all, our safety was always obviously the top priority.

Then it was on to lunch in Granada on the corner of the market in the town center. Think Nicaraguan A&W, though I think the chicken has Chubby beat. Fortunately, it was fast as we all wanted to get on the boat for a tour of some of the 365 islands on Lago Nicaragua. Besides seeing the vacation homes of some of the richest in Nicaragua, we enjoyed visiting the monkeys on their own special island. Egrets gliding above the water and vultures soaring high overhead added to the beauty.

Then we returned to the center market, had some good coffee, bought a few more locally made items, and wandered around taking in the sights. However, we didn’t take too much time here because we were off to one of Nicaragua’s most famous natural wonders.

Volcano Masaya is an active volcano with a parking lot right on the rim. The smoke rising out of the crater makes it difficult to see very far down, though we did see down to the second rim. The other side of the parking lot offers a great view of the plain Managua and the lake, plus the northern tip of Lago Nicaragua.

That completed a busy day except for a small taste of home as we went to Pizza Hut for supper. We returned to the Nehemiah center to do some packing and wrap up activities. We will get to see most of the students at church tomorrow so we are looking forward to that.

I want to end with a short personal reflection. I realize again how much I enjoy spending time with high school students. They certainly keep me young with their energy and good natured teasing (I can’t count how many times I have heard “classic Roy” in response to a picture or a memory). What I love more is their sincerity, thoughtfulness and unreserved expression of feelings. Trips like this make me realize God is so clearly at work in the lives of these young people and give me hope. It is so gratifying to see them internalize the importance of the focus on relationship in this trip, especially as we once again heard of examples where helping hurts when it simply involves throwing money at the perceived need. In the context of developing relationships, I have grown to love each one of these students. God be praised.

  • Roy

Friday, 20 March 2015

Almost time for goodbyes...

Well today was one of those days where you just need to cry and let your emotions show just a little. Today we had to say goodbye to the Centro de Fe students, let’s just say many tears were shed and it was a bitter sweet day. The upside is we get to see our grade 11 friends one more time on Sunday at church; more tears will be shed.

This trip has been one of the best experiences, if not the best experience of my life. I have never met people and fell in love with them so quickly; Gods love is so evident in the students and the staff at Centro de Fe. I instantly felt love when we first walked into the school; everyone knew we were coming and were ready to welcome us.  It was so exciting and I have to say leaving this place will be near impossible.

When I signed up for this trip I never expected the life changing relationships that have been built to happen. Today, once again, we were able to see how important relationships are and how much they are valued here in Nicaragua. The people here value relationships way more than the materials things; this is something that has challenged me. It has also helped me to realize how much more important relationships with people are. There is love among the students and the staff, there is a love that is real and affectionate. We were able to see that again today when we were painting and doing service to the school. Even during work we laugh and play and that is a blessing from God.

This whole trip has been a blessing and couldn’t have asked God for anything different. I have been challenged and filled with joy and love during this trip; God is good. So much has been learned during this trip and I think I can speak for everyone when I say that this trip has changed our lives. Everywhere we have gone we have been able to see and learn how God is working in Nicaragua which has been a blast and a blessing. This trip is coming to an end and it is unbelievably sad but we all have so many memories and we have built relationships that I hope will never be forgotten.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

La Makina

From the moment we stepped out of the airport into the warmth of Nicaragua, I knew I was in love with this Country. Throughout the entire trip, our group has bonded closer, and our team has gotten so close with the students at Centro De Fe. Every day goes by too fast, and every moment is cherished so much. The culture in Nicaragua is so different, but so exciting and fun. The way they express their love towards each other is different and much more emotional than relationships you usually see. The moment we all met was somewhat scary, but in just a few minutes we were already warmed up to each other.  Every time we are together is more exciting and you learn so much about different people every day.

Today we had the chance to go to La Makina, which is a beautiful waterfall in the mountains of Managua. The bus ride up was a little over an hour and filled with interactive times with the students of Centro de Fe.  When we arrived it was such a cool and different site than anywhere in Canada. The way the waterfall tumbled down the rocks, and flowed into a small river at the bottom, and at the top a little pool of water formed which made for great times. The moment we got out of the bus, a group of us started climbing the waterfall right away. The sound of the water crashing down, and the feeling of it on your feet was so relaxing and nice. At one moment, another little group of us were sitting on one big rock overlooking the biggest part of the waterfall. We sat in silence just observing how gorgeous and unbelievable the site was. God’s creation and glory was so visible in that moment and it put a permanent smile on my face. I’m usually one to worry about the next day and not take in the moment. I have never felt so relaxed and calm then I have in the moment of observing Gods creation in that moment.

Everyone has bonded with the students from Centro de Fe so well, and some people were much freer and open than usual. At one point, we were all in the pool area at the top playing volleyball and football. Everyone was so happy and excited to be in such a lovely place having such a great time. Seeing every one bond with one another and get to know each other so well was such a blessing.  The relationships that have been formed over the trip have been unbelievably eye opening and life changing. The way you can come to a school in a different country and get to know a group of people is so amazing. I am so thankful for this trip, and this opportunity I have been given to be a part of this unbelievable experience.

Danica Stark




Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Working hard or hardly working…

Sam: I have to admit, I wasn’t super excited about this whole work day idea to begin with. I didn’t quite understand why we were spending days apart from the Centro De Fe students especially doing a work project because our trip wasn’t supposed to be your typical “missions trip”.

Sam: But this work project was not about coming in and taking the place of local workers, it was about standing alongside them. We want to support the Nehemiah Centre and their desire to transform Nicaragua through enabling local leaders, which includes Christian educators.

Susan: Working together is also about building relationships with our team members. We were always having fun or joking around, but a work project is more serious, and we are actually working toward something.

Sam: ACS has always been “what a school is” to me. Having countless lockers and a massive gym has always been what I thought all schools had. Today my eyes were opened to what the majority of schools in the world most likely look like. These classrooms that we have seen have been small spaces and open to the outside which completely makes sense for this climate, but seems so out of the ordinary for a place like Abbotsford.

Susan: Even though they have small classes, they are closer with each other because the whole grade is together. They also seem to know all the people from the school, not just their own grade.

Sam: Experiencing visiting these schools and seeing some of the teachers so passionate about transforming these student’s lives, makes me want to experience it myself. At the same time, there are so many things at my school that I take for granted, such as our bipolar heating system, but it helps me to see that I am so blessed by the Lord.

Sam: Although today had its high’s, a low for me was not being able to see our friends at Centro De Fe. Only having 4 full days left here and we only get to spend 1 full day with them tomorrow and then we say goodbye on Friday morning. I am dreading it. Even though we’ve only been here for 7 days I do not want to leave and I just want to spend every day with them. The relationships that have been built will hopefully last a lifetime, and I just really hope that one day we will all be able to see each other again. I believe that God is weaving his presence between each relationship that has been built between all of us. I see God in the brown eyes of the amigos that I have met and I see his glory in their smiles every day we spend time together. I am excited to see the works he has planned for these students in the future.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Talents and Testimonies

I know nobody wants to say it, but we are halfway through the trip. We are so close with the students of Centro de Fe that we already dread the day we have to say goodbye. Other than that (I can speak for most of the members on the team), we are enjoying the sun, the delicious food, and the beautiful country of Nicaragua.

It was another early morning with a 6:00 am breakfast. We started today with a short devotions, and left to spend time with the third and fourth grade students. With the kids, we made a simple memory game, and yet it was so much more enjoyable and memorable (no pun intended). Every day I’m noticing the similarities between Nicaraguans and Canadians. Really, other than language and some small cultural differences, we are exactly the same. Some are shy, some are talkative; some are energetic and some just like to spend time alone with themselves. I have already noticed some qualities in my Nicaraguan friends similar to those in my Canadian friends back at home.

After recess, we shared Language and Spanish class with the grade 11 students. It was interesting trying to do discussions and other typical Language Class activities in a foreign language. Altogether, though, it went smoothly as we finished up our two-day project on bullying and healthy friendships.

Then it was Talent Night! We Canadians enjoyed watching a variety of singing acts, traditional and not-so-traditional dances (Julio and Zoyla performed a very interesting dance). In return, we performed some handstands and a mix of humorous “dances” as well. Jared and Kirsten both shared their testimony, which moved everybody, including Rafa, the husband of Sandra (the principal) and Art teacher. Rafa shared a response with Jared and Kirsten, stirring their hearts and the rest of the students’ as well.

Before devotions today, the grade 11 students talked about Genesis 2:18, which reads “The LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a suitable helper for him.’” This verse really made me understand the importance of community, and creating relationships with one another. This is evident everywhere in the Bible, from Ecclesiastes (4:10), to Matthew (22:37-40), to 1 John (2:9-11). This is the purpose of this trip: to create relationships with each other in Christ. That is what makes this trip different from the typical short-term mission’s trip we are used to hearing about. And so far, even though we are only halfway through, that makes all the difference.

Greetings to all of you from the Nehemiah Centre, Managua, Nicaragua!

~Bethany Vaags

Monday, 16 March 2015


Just like all the other days on this trip, this day was loads of fun.  When we went to school Jorge taught all the students about Daniel.  He shared Daniel 1:8 “But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way.”  Jorge talked about how Daniel made very important and right decisions even though he was young.  He told us that they can and should do the same.   

Our team woke up early in the morning to make it to the school for math class.  Most of you are probably thinking about how boring that sounds, but it was super fun getting to attend a class that is taught in Spanish with the Nicaraguan students that you have built friendships with.  The students are really fun to talk to and I am constantly wanting to know more about them and their lives as they are interested in mine.  At the beginning when we first arrived, for some reason I wasn’t looking forward to interacting with the students as I thought that it would maybe be boring and I felt a lot of pressure coming up to this.  But every day we are there, I enjoy being with the students and they are the highlight of the trip.  I look forward to seeing them every morning!

The rest of the day was a sweaty mess but such a blast.  After our class we went down and just hung out with all the children in the primary wing of the school on their break.  I have never given so many piggy-backs in my life.  It was good to be able to interact with the much younger grades for the first time.  The main highlight of my day would have to be playing sports with the grade 11 students in the afternoon at a park that was walking distance from Centro de Fe.  We played ball hockey, volleyball, soccer and other games.   The sun was hot but that didn’t hold us back from committing and making an awesome day even better.

God has spoken to me through Ecclesiastes 11:4-5.  “Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap.  As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the maker of all things.”  This whole time I have been here, I have not really been sure of how God is working through me.  I think in the evening about what I can do to influence the students’ lives but nothing comes to my mind that will make a huge impact.  But I know now that God is doing marvelous things through me and the team and I realize that I don’t need to understand how, or see every amazing work of God that occurs.  God works in mysterious ways.  Honestly, now that I think about things, there were so many highlights of my day.  But the biggest one for me now, is realizing how much God is doing for these students and our team in Nicaragua.   

Wesley Brown

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Falling Fast...

Nicaragua has been such an amazing experience. We are finally settling in, and getting into the swing of things. We are falling in love with this country, and all its people.

Today as a team, we went to Lester, our translator’s church. The church is nothing like we are used to. When we walked in, we were welcomed and instantly felt loved and at home. We found our seats and began to sing. People were so excited and enthusiastic to worship God. The people went crazy, singing and dancing full of joy. Although we didn’t understand the words, we could still worship because we all had one thing in common, a love for God. This reminded us about a verse in Revelations that talks about all nations worshipping together. Revelation 7:9 says “After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one count, from every nation, tribe, people, and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes, and were holding palm branches in their hands.” It was an unforgettable moment, which we will never forget. The people here are so full of love, and invest their time in meaningful relationships. As the singing went on, an elderly Nicaraguan lady came up to Jamo, put her hand against his chest, and starting praying for him. This lady didn’t speak English, but she really felt the urge to pray for and with him. Nicaraguans are just so caring for others, as this lady and Jamo were complete strangers but still shared an incredible moment together.

Our team went to this beautiful beach today, on the Pacific Ocean. We had a lot of fun swimming in the waves, embracing the saltiness of the water, sharing a delicious meal and most importantly, laughing together. It was a relaxing afternoon, and just what we needed to prepare us for a long week ahead of us.

When we returned to the Nehemiah Center, we watched a movie called Reporando. It is a documentary about Guatemala, and how relationships are affecting their community. This movie ties in with what we are doing at the school, Centro de Fe. Our friendships are impacting us and them greatly, aiding us all in our relationship with God, and how we live our lives.

Malorie McGrail


Megan Baars