Monday, April 2, 2012

Medical Team Trip Recap

"You have no idea the impact you make when you visit our school. Not only do you help children's health, you have changed hearts." This was a quote from Luis Reyes, the principal of Managua Christian Academy (MCA). Our team of 14 could easily say that we are the ones equally blessed and changed in heart. We provided medical, vision and physical/occupational therapy health screenings for over 500 children and family members in 4 short days (One afternoon we did a women's health clinic!). This was made possible by dedicated medical staff and an excellent translation team.
Radius Nicaragua served very much like a small group. We prayed and studied the Bible every morning. At the end of the day, we hit the streets surrounding the school, gave away 100 free waters and shared testimonies. We replaced the tin roof of a school volunteer. We visited a nearby pre-school and shared the gospel and some medicine. We even spoke and performed a skit for the youth group. Most important of all were the relationships we made that gave full meaning to the gospel.
On a short-term trip we can go and get a lot of things done, but incarnational giving is the sort of giving that empties the self in a relational sense. This is why Radius continues to return to Nicaragua. We want a deep and lasting connection where we become doers of the word and not just hearers (James 1:22). Ask Mary Catherine about her dolls in Nicaragua. Ask Tina about Yarissa. Ask Nicole about Ashley. Ask me about Junior. Lastly, ask God if He is calling you to be His hands and feet to Nicaragua, so that we may continue to be the church and have our hearts changed.

Thoughts From Managua

There is a beauty in being content and joyful with what God has provided for you and we definitely learned much about this from our Nicaraguan family this week.  We learned how to be joyful in relationships without having fancy things like TV’s, gadgets, and large clean homes and to keep us entertained.  We learned that joyfulness is possible without hot showers, air conditioning, or fancy medical machines and we all hope that as we return to live life with our family and friends in South Carolina we are able to add more of this joyfulness to our relationships with them.   We learned that God is gracious and constantly gives us reminders of how well He has orchestrated His Big C Church: through the ease of playing games of hopscotch and soccer with our Nicaraguan family; through the ease of expressing love and compassion across language barriers with our expressions and hugs; through the ease of using our minds and hands to clean homes and build new roofs; and through the ease in which we were able to work together, meshing our talents without much hands on practice as being a team before landing in Managua on Sunday.  These pieces of the Big C Church gives us a glimpse of what we hope to experience once we enter His eternal kingdom one day!  We thank our Nicaraguan family much for this.

We also live in a fallen world, where often times our bodies, minds, and spirits are broken.  Sometimes we have been broken for so long that we come to accept our broken-ness as normal- as good, forgetting that God has more in store for us if we just acknowledge our brokenness and push forward.  Everyday, many in our Nicaraguan family would walk into the medical clinic and say they felt good and had no complaints.  When we dug a little deeper, we would find that our brothers and sisters have had upset stomachs and muscular pains for months or years. Their pain and discomfort had become a part of their normal daily life.  Because it was so common, they no longer saw it as painful, and stopped pursuing help to alleviate it.  We had a blast this week being a part in God’s plan to help our family find hope in improving their physical health, taking the time to reassure them that they can live life here in earth in better health.  It also opened our eyes to just how broken we are spiritually. How easy it is for us to conform to the ways of this world, acting and believing like our pridefulness and selfishness is normal; what God intends for us.  We take credit for the works we do as our own, forgetting that God is our breath and life.  As we return to South Carolina, we feel driven to take steps to improve our spiritual health so we can function and do the things God has in store for us. Because if we base our normal good spiritual health like we do our physical health, we are missing out on so much.


Saturday, March 31, 2012

Where did you see Jesus this week?

That was the question that our host Estuardo asked us on Friday. We saw Him at church last Sunday. We saw Him in the ladies giving thanks for their dinnerware. We saw Him in an older gentleman working as hard as he could to make sure we had supplies. We saw Him again in the same gentleman when he shared an egg with one of us – the only thing he had to give. We saw Him in the LWI staff as they took care of us. Last but most definitely not least, I saw him in our team. Luke 9:10-17 really resonated with me this week as I was reading through the book. There weren't exactly 12 of us and we didn't feed anyone baskets of fish and bread but we were able to serve our friends in the village just as Jesus and His disciples had done.  Who are you going to serve?  That's the question I want to leave you with as we wrap up this trip.

Our current physical task has been completed. We dedicated the well with the help of a pastor from a nearby church during a ceremony where locals from the village and members of our team had a chance to speak whatever God put on their hearts. We now have a responsibility to share what we've learned with others and continue to impact the kingdom of God.

We look forward to seeing all of you and sharing stories and pictures. We love all of you and thank you for your prayers this week. We couldn't have done what we did without your support. See you Sunday.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Providing Comfort - Real Life

 One of the many things we have been reminded of here in Nicaragua is that living in community and providing comfort is often more important in growing God’s kingdom than being physically healed.   We wanted to share one of the many real life stories today:

 A young lady showed up for a clinical visit.  She explained that she was having heart palpitations with chest pain.  She was worried because her mother, grandmother, and great grandmother also have the same palpitations and pain.  She came to the clinic because she had become more fearful because her great grandmothers passed away because of her heart condition.  During the doctor portion of the visit, Melissa recommended for her to have an EKG to see how well her heart was working.  Instantly, the young woman began to cry, because she thought that an EKG was something to be afraid of.  Melissa took the time to listen to this young woman’s concerns and speak with her.  Melissa helped her to understand that her concern was normal and reassured her that the EKG would be beneficial.  She took the time to explain the procedure and reassured her the test was safe.  The young woman instantly became happy and began to smile.  We could see that she realized the EKG would be a great step in confronting a fear that spanned four generations of her family! 

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Let There Be Water and Hygiene

Today was definitely the most rewarding and possibly difficult day we've had during our trip. We showed up at the village at the usual time and installed the pump. You can see the time lapse video of that here:

 Once that was completed we asked one of the men from the community to test it out for us. Thus, the first bucket of water was drawn from their new well.
Since the drilling team was finished we went over to see how the ladies on our hygiene team were doing. As we walked up, we witnessed the most heart-wrenching and intense prayer and praise that we've ever seen.

In the morning on our way to the village we stopped by the market to pick up a few items for the ladies. This particular village was wiped out by a hurricane some 10-12 years ago and never really recovered. The people lost everything. If they have guests they typically have to go around to the neighbors for plates and bowls because they're lucky if they have enough for their own family. As a gift, each of the ladies got some personal care items and a few plates and bowls for their families. The intensity of their prayers truly displayed the strength of their faith as they praised God for the few things they received which we would consider to be basic essentials. The Holy Spirit's presence was definitely evident.

Once the gifts were handed over the ladies prepared to go over the week's hygiene lessons with the kids that have showed up. The men from the drilling team were enlisted to help out with the review.

Community Loving

We spent Wednesday spending more time loving on the communities surrounding the Academy.  In the morning we sent a small group to a preschool located in the neighborhood where many of our kiddos are from.  The kiddos had a blast coloring pictures, throwing balls, and learning how to play hopscotch.  It is so cool to see how God creates His kids in Nicaragua to enjoy many of the same games as His kids in the USA.  What a reminder of what’s to come in heaven when we will all stand together as one family! 

After lunch we opened our doors to serve the families of our students by offering a women’s clinic and had the chance to serve the school’s neighborhood by throwing a mini Radius parade by loading a wagon with water, walking the streets, and handing out about 130 bottles of water.  It was a great way to love on our community and let them know that as refreshing as a cool bottle of water is on a hot and dusty night, accepting Jesus can offer so much more.

 John 4:14
14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Germs, what's that? - Well Drill Team Update

Casi terminado. Almost finished. After stopping at a depth of 100' yesterday, this morning we decided to go looking for water since it is an area LWI is familiar with. We made sure that the hole we drilled didn't collapse by sinking the drill bit back down the hole we drilled on Monday. Once we were sure that it was still clear, we set the screen along with the casing and began to flush the muddy water out of the well. It wasn't long before the water started turning clear and soon after cleared up completely. By our driller's estimates, it is capable of producing about 100 gallons per minute.

While the dirty water was getting flushed out, we took the opportunity to clean up all the equipment that we were done with. After flushing was completed, we sealed off the area around the casing to prevent the well from getting contaminated and poured the concrete pad that will serve as the base for the well pump.

The well drilling process has been incredibly easy compared to the experience we had last year. We are a full day ahead of schedule. With the down time that we've had, we've been able to engage the kids that have showed up for the hygiene classes and also some of the men.

The ladies on the hygiene team are total rockstars. They've put a lot of effort into teaching the women how to take care of themselves and their kids better. When they got around to teaching about hand-washing and being careful with transferring germs, the hygiene team discovered that the ladies in the village had no idea that germs existed nor that they were harmful. There were also many other things that they learned for the first time.

Thank you all for your prayers, it's evident that we're being lifted up. We ask that you keep praying for us to continue to make progress as we take care of our Nicaraguan brothers and sisters. Pray that we continue to stay healthy and get enough rest as we cope with the temps that are in the mid 90s.