July 26, 2014

Beautiful hope

Discover & Learn 2014 HANDS Team:

As we walked back down the mountainside Phil asked us how we would explain what we experienced today.  We all were quiet as it is so hard to describe what it was that we saw on the mountainside.  We decided ‘beautiful’ and ‘hope’ were the best words to use to summarize it all.  Let me explain.

Today we travelled into the mountains of northern Nicaragua.  After picking up two of our hosts in a quiet country village, we took a gravel road through a lush mountainside.  We continued our journey on a dirt road that required 4x4 assistance to make it around the sharp corners, over the washed out areas, and over the hills.  We arrived at our destination to find a number of community members waiting including 6-year-old Jefry who drew us pictures and wrote his name for us on the whiteboard.

The community shared their story with us.  Historically the residents of the area worked on farms for landowners with little chance of a different life.  Many of them never attended school as children.  Today the community is in the midst of transformation.

In 2010 a Christian school was established to meet the needs of the community.  They met in a 50-year-old shack.  By 2012 a building was erected through hard work, heart, and loving support.  The school offers preschool through grade 6 in two rooms with 3 teachers.  These teachers are funded by the government which is a very unusual situation brought about by a team of parents dedicated to creating a better future for their children.  The 24 families at the school also show their support by attending adult classes themselves to communicate the importance of education to their children and by providing food for the students, cleaning the building, and maintaining the property.

After this time of sharing, one of the parents brought us to his farm (a walk that I am glad I don’t have to make to school everyday and that I am even happier that I don’t have to carry 100 lb bags of coffee from).  Through a landbank program Melvin received some land to purchase and farm. He continues to receive support such as agricultural training, equipment, and advice.  On his nine acres of land Melvin has planted 4,000 coffee plants (which produce appx. 20,000 lbs of coffee beans each year) and a shade crop consisting of bananas, plantains, paprika, and cocoa.  Melvin has also built a beautiful home with a full and diverse garden and running water for his family.  When we complimented him on his home and told him he should be proud of it his response was “First is God, then all the rest.”  His conviction of this truth is beautifully portrayed in the small wooden cross that hangs above his home.

This community has experienced so much growth and transformation in the last four years and together we pray that God continues to bless them.

- Leanne Kersbergen

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