JOY TEAM REPORT February 16 – March 2, 2018
“Back to the Future” This year’s JOY mission was a real “joy” with many God moments witnessed by our small but energetic team. Our team was excited to be going out to communities to serve, something that we did when first started the sports ministry in 2006. With Jonathan as our translator and Alvaro our driver using the PAN van we headed to the community of Sebaco. During week one we served with our MAC Sports volunteers in Sebaco through the Church of the Prophecy of God, the same denomination as Belkis’. Two houses owned by a member(s) of the Church were donated for our use with no charge, wow. Our Six MAC Sports volunteers stayed in one house while, Belkis, her son, her mom, Bertha and her aunt Isabel stayed with us (Melvin, Alvaro, Laird, Cathy, Jim and Myself) in the other house. Bertha and Isabel prepared all the meals and each were blessed at the end of our week with a financial gift from the JOY team. Pastor Melvin conducted two days of training for the local church and their community leaders. Throughout the week, Kid’s Games were held at the same concha, with the same children from the community. Snacks, including drinks were prepared by members of the church each of the five days. Thursday night, we attended the church service, Pastor Melvin shared his sermon based on John 21: 15-18. afterwards our MAC volunteers were treated to banana splits and ice cream. On the last day ice cream bars from MAC were provided to all the children who came during the week of Kid’s Games, a nice ending for all the children there. On Thursday our team also visited a local school where the children demonstrated their English speaking skills. We presented the principal with some boxes of school supplies. Afterwards we went to a local clinic. Here we learnt that they teach pregnancy protection and prevention There is a very high rate of teen pregnancy in Sebaco. They also monitor and care for high risk pregnancy cases as well as taking care and testing for Zika, Dengue and Malaria. Children who are sick also come to get examined and given medicine if required. Small gifts were given to those waiting in the examination and virus treatment areas. On Friday we visited a local dump, where a family of 25 members work hard and long to gather thin plastic containers, put them in large bags, holding 100 lbs, in which they would get paid $4.00. One bag takes one day to fill. Bags are picked up, taken to Managua and shipped to Korea. They could use masks, leather gloves, safety sun glasses and pitchforks to help with their digging and safety. Friday night we returned to QJS and prepared to go out on Saturday to Francisco’s (Cesar Lopez’s father) children Bible class. Each year our team has gone and sang songs, told stories and did a craft with the children. My wife Anne, although she was not on the team this year, sent the craft down with me and the children and adults enjoyed weaving their hearts. A presentation of a culinary knife set, donated by Canadian Chef Mark McEwan was made to Issac Benjamin Lopez, Cesar’s brother who is studying culinary arts in university. At 6:00pm, 12 of us including Pastor Ernan, Yessi, his wife, Pastor Melvin, Mauricio, Alvaro, Belkis, Jonathan, and the five Canadian JOY team members went to a friendly international ball game between Cuba and Nicaragua at the new Dennis Martinez stadium. On Sunday we travelled to Tisma and attended a service in a small “church” which was planted by Alvaro’s home church in Tipitapa. Jim Hills of the JOY Team and my church, shared his testimony which was about faith. We then went to visit Alvaro’s family at his new home near Tipitapa. Erica, his wife his two daughters Natalie, Julia and his son Elias. Monday was the start of week two and we were on the road again with our MAC Sports volunteers to Tipitapa, to serve in the community close to Alvaro’s home church which is also supported by Compassion International. We had different volunteers from MAC Sports from the first week, the others had returned to school. Pastor Melvin conducted training on Tuesday and Wednesday at another local church. There was three different groups of children during the three day Kid’s Game program. On the Wednesday, our last day, there were a group of local teens, I called them the gang, who were hanging around, playing some catch, and hitting a baseball. We had a chance to speak with them through Jonathan. I told them that I would bring some volleyballs, basketballs and soccer balls for them to use since they enjoyed all three. Deb had the soccer balls, I had the basketballs & found volleyballs in the bodega at QJS and were given to Alvaro to give to them as we did not have the time to return. Next year I have to bring a baseball bat. On Thursday we returned to Tisma to do a one day Kid’s Game event. Friday was our last full day in Nicaragua. What an awesome day we had. Before leaving QJS we gave Alvaro the last 2 boxes of Canadian Bible Society Children’s Bibles and two boxes of Teen Bibles for use in the church in Tisma. We left after breakfast to pick up our MAC Sports volunteers and drive over to Cuidad Sandino in the community of Tangara to help with a Compassion feeding center at Iglesia Bautista Sendero de Luz. The MAC Sports volunteers planned activities for the children as the rest of our team help prepare the food and pack gift bags for the children arriving at the church. The feeding centre operates four times a week, around 150 children coming to get a meal. The team met Jennifer, a missionary from Ohio. Along with her husband Mark and their two children have been at this location for three years. They do a lot of prep work with the vegetables. Jennifer was presented with a bag of Canadian Christian Gleaners vegetable mix and explained that the bag could feed up to 150 people mixed with meat or pasta. I hope that they will find this a useful and easier method for their special program for the children. The MAC Sports volunteers ran a mini Kids Games program with the JOY team as team leaders. Afterwards Pastor Valeriano, (Pastor V) took us around the barrio, one of the poorest I’ve seen in a while. Very poor, it made our MAC Sports volunteers think about how fortunate they were to live in a little better condition then what they had seen over the course of the two weeks. We left the barrio and headed for Rosti Pollo to treat our MAC Sports volunteers to lunch. We returned to QJS to a wonderful dinner and enjoyed it with Henry and his fiancé Heyder, it was awesome to see Henry and meet Heyder for the first time. So many wonderful experiences this mission had for us and many connections were made. God has a plan for our MAC Sports ministry and we will serve him and be guided by His spirit to bring more of His people to know Jesus through working in communities and the churches.