Unity In Chist

In late February 2017, the Owen Sound First Christian Reformed Church sent, for the 5th time, a short term mission trip team to Nicaragua to assist World Renew and the San Lucas Society.  This was the third time helping with an initiative to bring sustainable potable water to various communities. For 2016 and 2017 the community we served with was Ochomogo, in the Carazo region of Nicaragua, south west of Managua. What a joy to be in the same community and renew friendships made the previous year.

The ultimate goal will be to supply potable water, via individual water hydrants, to more than 50 families. In 2016 we started the project with preparing a concrete base to hold the water holding tank  and constructing some of the water meter boxes, threading pipe for the water hydrants etc. Throughout the course of 2016 we joined with community members through prayer and dedication to the Lord and accomplished an amazing amount of work. Upon our return in 2017 we were thrilled to see how far the project had proceeded. The holding tank was in place, the well drilled, solar panels in place and a good portion of the main trunk line trenching had been dug. It was an exceptionally hot year and community members would get up well before dawn to dig. Our team would arrive around 8:00 – 8:30 to find the community swinging pics and shovels, assembling the oxen to pull out a rock, etc.

What is such a blessing and inspiring to us was the unity of the community as they worked together, telling stories, sharing of the labour, lots of sweat, lots of laughter, no complaining! Simply joy and enjoyment in all they did. It could be they actually dug the trenches faster than we could in North America, even with our excavating equipment. Truly impressive!!

By the end of the week, more than a dozen homes had potable water to their doorstep! God is Great! What an inspiration to the community to finally see years of prayer, preparation, fundraising and hard work come to fruition. What an inspiration to us as outsiders looking in. If we had started with pride in “helping the community” we were now humbled by this community and the faith they showed towards God and the blessings they received. Faith CAN move mountains!!  What an honour to be part of this process, all to the Glory of God.

Another blessing was to see the respect that the community and the San Lucas Society was receiving from other NGO’s, local and regional governments and other communities in Nicaragua. Hats off to the staff at San Lucas! Their thought and organization of each step of the process from conception to completion is like no other. Their understanding and respect of the culture, infused with a complete dedication to the Lord, has been evident each and every year that we attend.

Finally, without World Renew, Mark Vanderwees and David Rios we wouldn’t be able to witness the Lord at work in these communities. When there is unity in Christ as there is in the partnerships established with World Renew and San Lucas Society, feeding off of each other’s strengths while unified as the universal church of God there is nothing that cannot be accomplished!


a new begining

Carmen Making cakes with the help of her children

In the small rural village of Niquinomo 40 minutes from Managua Doña Carmen lives. A mother of 4 children.  she has been living with her partner for 15 years. They’ve never been married.  A few months ago Doña Carmen came to our office crying cause of the phisical and emotional abuse that she has been suffering by her parter. A friend of Carmen from the same locality where the CCDH office is located  advice her to come and visit us because there she would find support.

Once in our office Doña Carmen opened her heart to Fanny Quintanilla who is the coordinator of the House of Justice of this municipality. Doña Carmen shared how her partner repeatedly threw her out of the house and humiliated her because she did not have a job even when Carmen has given her life complete for her children and for her partner. Doña Carmen suffered infidelity and physical abuse to the point that she was losing her self-esteem, losing the faith and felt unworthy and came to the point thinking  that suffering all of this was normal. That a woman had to tolerate all these things.

Fanny advised Carmen in the word of God and mentored her about the laws that protect women. Through the multiple disciplines acquired by the coordinators of CCDH.  In this case Fanny who knows how to make cakes. She taught Doña Carmen this practice so Carmen started a business of baking bread and pastries Fanny our coordinator was able to support and empower Doña Carmen. Now there is no more fear to feel less than anybody else, she has now left behind the abusive relationship in which she lived.  She and her children now have a business, a new beginning. She currently lives in the House of her father who gave her a piece of land. CCDH assists not only with legal cases but also provides counseling according to the word of God. It is a Bridge where God can set free many people of the chains of ignorance just as Fanny helped Carmen by teaching her how to fish.

Today I Have my Own Farm

Cocoa pods on the tree

Lucía Salmerón Méndez was born in 1982 in Nazaret I, 70 km from the town of Bilwi, and she was one of the founders of the Production and Technology Transfer Centre in her community. As a child, she was sent out to sell corn tortillas and fruit, and learned early the value of hard work. Now, she and her husband have 4 children of their own.Through working with AMC’s Food Security program, she learned how to rotate crops, and how to plant some crops together to make better use of her land, and how to prepare organic fertilizers, compost and pesticides. Lucía now has her own farm, with rice, beans, corn, root crops, oranges, lemons, papaya, coconut, coffee and cocoa, and raises chickens, pigs, pelibuey and cows, with the help of her husband and kids.Apart from cocoa and coffee, she was also able to sell vegetables, and with the U$80 income bought flour, salt, sugar and school supplies for her kids. In the future, she plans to plant more cacao and coffee, because these products are in high demand from the visiting buyers. Some of her neighbours in the community have requested government help in establishing cacao and coffee production. Lucía hopes that her farm can be serve as an example and inspiration to other families.




My name is Aureliano Spelman Richard, I’m 40 years old, and I’ve been living in the community of Yahbra Tangni on the Coco River for 18 years.My wife and I have 9 children, 3 boys and 6 girls, and this year we sent our eldest off to study agriculture. I fell in love with farming at a very young age, but did a lot of slashing and burning new land.With the training that the technician gives us, I’ve changed my way of farming over the last five years. I was chosen as a voluntary promoter for AMC’s program, and I put 100% into helping my 4 farmers. I’m very grateful to AMC for the idea of saving seeds from one planting season to the next, because it has benefitted me greatly.I’ve learned to make soil retention barriers to prevent erosion and nutrient loss from the soil, using both pineapple plants and scrub. We plant vegetables between the barriers.We are growing a great variety of food plants, including oranges, grapefruit, mangoes, cashew fruit, guava, waterpears, and other tropical fruits, almonds, cocoa, bananas and plantains, sugarcane, cotton, beans, rice, wheat and root crops. I grow trees for both wood and shade. As part of a revolving fund, we were given 6 hens and a rooster by the AMC program. Our greatest income right now is from selling the chocolate that my wife makes from our cocoa – it sells quickly in our community.Our family is happy and healthy; thanks to the produce we eat from our own farm and the income it brings us.

Lasting Changes For Douglas

My name is Douglas. I’m 43 years old, married with 3 children, and I’m a member of a Farmer Field School. I’ve worked the land all my adult life, growing corn and beans on my 5-hectare (12-acre) plot. We used to have set planting times, and prepared the land by burning and raking. Our yields weren’t so good, so we had to go to pick coffee on other farms for a few months a year to earn money for food and home expenses.
Thanks to the training workshops, I’ve made a lot of changes over the past year. They include waiting for the best time to plant by consulting with others and listening for crop and weather information on the radio. And instead of burning and raking, leaving the ground naked, I use careful placement of organic refuse to protect the soil from erosion. I’m also trying out different drought-tolerant seed varieties.

Now, I don’t just grow corn and beans, but have filled our land with other food plants. Corn and beans are expensive to cultivate, and have not yielded well in past years. Instead, we are planting more crops for our families to eat, and we are also learning to grow coffee, cocoa and other cash crops. In fact, I’m even intercropping my bananas, chocolate, coffee, and cassava to use my land more efficiently. These changes have helped my family’s wellbeing. We’re improving our house, have bought a cow, and have replaced a part of our land that we had sold. Now we only go to the coffee harvest for a couple of weeks a year. I am working at convincing more of my neighbors try these new techniques so they can know the same success I have had.
FRB’s local partner, AMC, says that an initial needs assessment on each farm allows them to invest resources wisely. AMC staff has learned that adapting new practices is a long-term process with the farmers, so individualized technical visits to farms are a priority. Attendance at workshops is not necessarily an indicator of success, so follow-up with participants after workshops is a must to promote lasting change in attitudes in the farming families.

‘Learning New Techniques’ in Los Garcias community

The following is the testimony of participant Martha Elena Angulo García in Asociación Cristiana de Jóvenes de Nicaragua (ACJ)’s Climate Sensitive Agriculture program.los-garcia-2

I’ve always enjoyed having plants in my yard, and used to try to grow vegetables but without much success; they would wilt and not produce. I figured my soil wasn’t any good, or I just didn’t have a ‘green thumb’. I got discouraged when the animals would eat my plants. Then a year ago, I participated in a training with ACJ about how to grow vegetable garden, and they showed us pictures of how folks like me had done it in other communities where they work I agreed to give it another try, so the technical staff showed me how to prepare the earth for planting and how to use recycled materials like plastic bottles and other containers to plant in.      We constructed raised soil beds out of the way of the animals. I was worried about getting enough water for my plants, but the ACJ staff assured me that they wouldn’t need as much in the containers.

acj-los-garciaIt was very satisfying for me to find that I could harvest lots of vegetables like onion, cucumber, beets, peppers and tomato after all!    What’s more, our family can enjoy eating all our fresh produce without any nasty chemicals. I’ve also learned how to keep my own seeds for planting and I’m saving money because I don’t need to buy vegetables any more. My kids are learning right along with me, since they help me with our garden, and they like to make good use of our plastic garbage, because they learn about recycling at school. I’m grateful to God for giving me strength and perseverance, and I hope to continue learning about how to grow more healthy, tasty food in my garden.

An interview with Petrona Chavez

petronaIn the past, we never grew anything in our yard of our house. We only grew beans, corn and sorghum on land that we rented. After paying rent, the profit was very marginal, especially after having to pay for fertilizer.

The San Lucas organization’s agriculture promoters taught us how to grow our own gardens to produce food we can consume in our home. Today I have 14 types of vegetables and plants in an area of about 150 square meters. We were taught techniques to make use of organic fertilizers and insecticides that don’t cost any money. This gardens produces food for us all year round, even in the dry season when we must carry water from about a kilometer a way.  Now we have fresh and healthy things to eat all the time.

Everyone in our family works in the garden. Before our garden, we would have to buy vegetables at a very high price or go without. We hope to grow more things in the future, we are considering grapes and a few more fruits. It’s a blessing to be able to share with others as well.

In the last two years, our community has seen a lot of changes. The two most significant changes is the access to water and now access to fresh food.  With the food we produce, its ours!  We don’t have to pay for it.  It doesn’t mean it doesn’t involve a lot of work, but its something we can count on.