When we set out, a little over a year ago, to begin a small-team, short-term missions sending group, there were a lot of things that we felt were central and would be needed to make a good start. Group training events facilitating team unity, team members from different areas, physical readiness, and a good destination for our first trip. As Yuri and I sat down to discuss the state of things toward the end of our time in Nicaragua, we realized that what we had felt was needed to prepare a team for our first trip had all been assembled and put in place, but not by means we envisioned from our original plans. The LORD had done it his own way, and brought it all together by His grace. This feels good, and right.
We were ten members on the team, though there was a good bit of last minute changes in the line-up. It seemed, however, to all be covered by grace, and to be the team that the LORD intended to put on the field. Our members, with a little description, were like this:
Citla (from Oaxaca, Mexico who is an awesome worship leader and one of the toughest girl I have ever known)
Yuri (from Carolina, from California, from the Soviet Union – which was a really big hit in Nicaragua!)
Heather (an awesome young woman who has a very proud father)
Jeff (from Blanchard, LA and who was in Nicaragua for his 4th time)
Alex (from Mexico City area, “El Guapote”, el precador grande)
Greg (a missionary in Monterrey, Mexico who is originally from Concord, NC)
Zack (Greg's oldest son, and an awesome team member)
Jason (from Shreveport, LA area and who has Latin America in his heart)
Jonathan (also from Shreveport, but is living in Mexico as a missionary)
and me, Scott (who's been to Nicaragua once before in 2006).
We were across the age spectrum from 19 to early 40's and from two different countries, but the team came together fluidly and worked very well together. Our host ministry was an awesome bunch, and we were so blessed to work with them. Here are the three key leaders we worked with while on the ground, though we worked in six or more churches and encountered many powerful leaders.
Victor and Angela (pastors of Centro de Fe in Masatepe, Nicaragua)
Oscar (youth pastor of Centro de Fe, Masatepe and coordinator of Youth Pastor's Retreat we held in Masatepe, which was our primary event)
Victor is one of the most powerful leaders I have ever met… enough said.
Our team trickled in over two days, and we assembled, reviewed plans and schedules, and started our ten day trip with a meeting at a fellowship that was small and remote. We were met with a strong hospitality that was common throughout our time. Yuri shared a testimony, and Alex spoke. We ended the meeting in the same way that most of our meetings were ended, a meal. Everyone's health held up. From there we headed down to a crater lake near Masaya volcano in four wheel drive vehicles, and saw some very beautiful scenery.
Later that day we went to the church meeting in Masatepe at Centro de Fe. There was a drama team of 25 missionaries from Mexico there who did a drama that brought me to tears…. I wept as I sensed the hand of the LORD in what they were doing. There was also a few other folks from the US there that night, and one of them who is a pastor spoke. His name was RIP.
Early in the rotation we had a tour day around the immediate area, including hiking around a volcano, a visit to a coffee plantation, and zip lines under the canopy on the side of this same volcano (Mombacho). For more info, click the photo of Mobacho:
We helped move a house of full of furniture the next morning from a house RIP had in Managua to the finca (farm house) the guys from our team was stayed in. After this we left for Terrabona.
Terrabona, a few hours ride to the north (and then you turn on the dirt road and go for another hour or so) is a place that throws you back in time. Most of the vehicles we saw in the small town going up and down the paving-stone streets were horses! Fascinating place. We were greeted by Pastor Octavio and his wife. Right away he told us we would remember Terrabona, if for no other reason, for the meal we were about to eat. How right he was!
We sat down to a SERIOUS feast. I joked with the guys that they must have killed that chicken in it's sleep to make it so tender. It was the most tender and delicious chicken I have yet eaten, and all manner of delicious side items were at the right and left. Somehow you know when food is prepared with love. We were fed in the very same way that I am sure that Jesus and his crew would have been fed if they showed up in Terrabona. We ate and were filled.
We had some great meetings in Terrabona, and the LORD's grace was strong as preaching, worship, and prophetic words flowed team -style. Many were touched and blessed, and we met some interesting and awesome fellow believers. On our second day of meetings we did a little clinic on the prophetic with dreams, personal words and the like. One brother told of how God warned him of a dream a major test he was going to face, which materialized as a threat to depart from his faith at the threat of death. His persecutor fired the weapon toward him in a spray style, and he felt a strong heat come over him from the top of his head to the bottom of his feet. He walked up to the man, unharmed, and rebuked him in the name of Jesus, identifying him as a son of the devil, and walked straight out of the captivity that he was being held in, and went home. We were all blown away, and knew we were in the presence of one of the LORD's great champions. Not very long later, we left Terrabona and our brothers and sisters who had received us so warmly.