Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Nicaragua Sports Ministry - May 19, 2012

Prayer team:
I'm sure you are all aware that our team is now back safe and sound in the USA . We had no serious injuries, no illnesses, no infection in the scrapes our soccer players got on the gravel and concrete fields, no infection in a nasty cut sustained the dump, and no harm sustained (other than, perhaps, a few broken hearts). God kept His children safe in Nicaragua and we are grateful for your prayers
I believe God also blessed our time and efforts. We had 20 + hands go up to accept Christ after one soccer game, and 4 more came forward and accepted Christ as their savior Sunday morning. Ours was the first American soccer team that Oscar has hosted in his ministry, and doors were opened by our presence and servant's heart.

Among the Americans, we had 20 who were obedient to go to Nicaragua, we saw amazing ministry in action, and while I will let each of them tell you, their prayer partners, in person how they were impacted, I am confident that each of our 20 has grown closer to the Savior, and adjusted our American compasses a bit to better align with God's compass. Thank you so much for your prayers for team unity and harmony. This was a wonderful group of guys and gals that worked very hard and got along great - as well as any short term mission team I have ever led or been with. A remarkable feat for such a large team.

As our final prayer requests, please pray for the team as they process what they've seen and done. Re-entry into the states can be a bit difficult or disconcerting after a trip like this. For at least half the team, it was their first time in a developing or 3rd world country, and reentry tend to be more complicated after that first trip.  Please pray also that each of the 20 will embrace the many opportunities they will have to share what they did, and saw God do, in manner that is pleasing to the Savior and glorifies Him.

Thank you again for your prayers. We are most grateful and humbled for your willingness to lift us up these past 10 days.

Nicaragua Sports Ministry - May 18, 2012

Thank you to all of you who have prayed for our team during this incredible mission! This has been a life changing experience for each and every one of us, so be prepared for stories and many, many details of how the Lord is working in Leon , Nicaragua . Most of us wouldn´t be the people we are today without you and the love you´ve shown us, so on behalf of the entire team, we sincerely thank you for the role you´ve played in our lives. God absolutely ordained and blessed this team of people to come together on this trip. I´ve been continuously amazed at the degree of patience, love, service, and selflessness that I´ve witnessed. (Which means a lot regarding a team composed of mostly college-ages boys...)

This morning we were able to sleep in later than 7 or 7:30am for the first time all week! (Which is actually like 9 or 9:30 EST, so we can´t really complain...) It was refreshing for everyone to wake up on their own accord and get as much sleep as they needed on our last day, which turned out to be less strenuous than most of the days we´ve been here. We started out by watching a rare women´s game, Leon vs. Managua . It was really interesting to go from watching men´s soccer (futbol) to watching women on the field. After the game we enjoyed yet another ridiculously good meal prepared by the lovely ladies cooking for us all week, then relaxed for a bit until we headed back to the market for the team to find some gifts for family and friends at home, and to just enjoy the architecture and sights of the city. The lifestyle and culture is so vastly different from what we´re all used to, and it´s been really good for us to experience life outside of the daily routine. No one really seems to be on a time crunch or working from a strict schedule, which is something most of the team is dreading going back to. (Including myself.) We drove to a soccer field where the boys set up different soccer training sessions for the local boys depending on their ages. To our understanding, they don´t receive weekly skills training like boys in the United States do when they´re on an organized team, so the boys were extremely appreciative and receptive to what our team was offering. Those of us on this trip not skilled in the ways of soccer broke out some balloon animals, bubbles, and passed out Silly Band bracelets for all the younger kids to enjoy. Seeing a child who has close to nothing hold their own balloon animal or put on their own bracelet is the most humbling and special thing. I was overwhelmed when a young boy insisted I have a bracelet he already owned as a gift. As best as I could tell, he said it was a joy to have us and he needed me to take it as a token of his appreciation. I also saw a family I met the first or second day we arrived (all the days run together...) that I didn´t think I would run into again. I just heard some children yelling my name as they came up to our group and I realized instantly who they were. The fact that they remembered my name was such a blessing for me, and I could tell they loved that I remembered all of their names, too. We headed back to the house after a wonderful afternoon and had dinner before the boys headed out to play their last game of soccer against Oscar (our host) and his team. The score was really close and it was a great game to watch. Seeing our boys smile and shake hands after losing was awesome to see. It was too hard for them to call it a night that they ended up playing another game in the rain with a team that was practicing on the field. They have been playing for the glory of God this entire week and are going to continue to show that when they return home. We can´t wait for you to see all the changes in our lives!

Please continue to pray for our focus to be on the opportunities God is trying to give us and not on our flesh. And pray for continued safety and protection as we fly back to reality tomorrow! We are leaving our host home at an extremely early hour (4am-ish) so it will be an interesting day tomorrow to say the least. It´s going to be difficult to leave, and I wouldn´t be surprised if some of your loved ones come home with plans to return next year at the very latest. The work God is doing here through Oscar and his family is astounding, so please pray for continued mission teams and the financial support they will provide to feed and clothe so many people. We love and thank you, and we´ll see you very soon.

Nicaragua Sports Ministry - May 16, 2012

Hola Amigos,

Greetings from our next-to-last day in Nicaragua , which still seems a
bit surreal. It´s going fast, but on Nicaraguan time, in which, we´ve
learned from Oscar, *everything* takes place ïn thirty minutes.

After a 6-6 tie in a pickup game last night -- these guys don´t turn
down games -- we went ot bed (but not to sleep) a bit earlier after a
devotional by Shawn.

Bright and too early, we woke up and dined on a more familiar
breakfast than yesterday´s beans, rice, fried cheese and plantations
cooked some way none of us were familiar with.This time, we
appreciated the simplicity of cereal, papaya, melon and bananas before
heading off to our day´s feeding of kids.

Wednesday´s site was at a church whose name translates to ¨Thanks
God,¨and it was its first anniversary. We anticipated a coupl of
hundred people at the celebration, which featured six pinatas among
other destivities.

So there were a plethora of kids as well as adults who took part in
the soccer ¨clinics¨(these turned out to be, I´m told, more of a
´tackle-the-American´ than anything). The girls stayed inside and put
together another round of puppets, which turned out to be a little
more orderly this time. A good number of mothers took part, too, which
was fun for us and them. Nicaragua , like a lot of developing
countries, it seems, doesn´t have a lot of creative outlets to
encourage kids and it was nice to give them a clean slate of something
to do with as they wished. ¨

The food cooked a bit slow at the feeding and we left before delving
out the rice stew, but not before we saw a lot of smiles on the
kids´faces. And again, our dependable Hyundai, even though it bottomed
out and must have left bumper parts based on the horrible scraing
noises we heard, did just fine.

On the bus, Skylar has kept us entertained from time to time with his
video of Bubba, the opera-singing parrot. It´s the funniest thing and
all it takes is a couple of notes and half the bus is howling.

By 1 p.m. or so, we had arrived at the beach: a rare afternoon off and
a lunch in a restaurant right on the Pacific. Most of the guys had
huge hepings of fresh fish or shrimp, then a handful -- Chris, Shawn,
Matt, Stephen and Phil -- headed out to surf as the rest of us just
meanered on the beach, played in the waves and searched for seashells.

Next up, we headed to the town square area, where there´s an outdoor
market for some to pick up souvenirs. Even though we plan another trip
tomorrow morning, it was nice to check out the old cathedral and the
little tourist stalls to shop for yáll back home.

Tonight´s game didn´t have the hoped-for outcome -- we lost, 7-4 --
but the guys did great on the indoor court (it´s really outside but
enclosed in netting). The team they challenged had just won some kind
of international championship against other Central American teams, so
those of us watching felt it was a pretty impressive performance.

As usual, the food´´s been amazing. Tomorrow we´re planning on a
little late of a breakfast, though, and a slow morning. There´s
another trip to the market in store, then we´re planning on taking in
a women´s game before running clinics (for the guys) and bubbles and
balloons (for the girls).


Nicaragua Sports Ministry - May 15, 2012


It´s now Tuesday and we´re closing out another day here in Nicarauga.
Between yesterday afternoon and now, it feels like we´ve touchd a few
million souls, but really it´s only been hundreds.

At the devotion last night, it hit that we´re halfway through our
mission trip, and it was a shock. We *just* got here, didn´t we? But
when we thought about it, it seems kind of like we´ve been here
forever, too.

Our devotion ran late last night because we got started late.
Yesterday was go-go-go up until another wonderful Nicaraguan meal (oh!
the fabulous juices!) and then we went again.

Our last stop before devotion was a night out at Rose of Sharon, where
they have their weekly youth group meeting on Mondays. We´d seen
Reggie and Oscar wearing shirts with ¨Zumba!¨on them, but honestly, it
hadn´t occurred to us why.

We learned Monday night.

The kids at the Rose of Sharon church rocked, Central America style.
Although most of the group has no idea of what a ¨mosh pit¨is, that´s
pretty much what happened at the front of the church. All our players
joined the local kids who were dancing Zumba-style at the front of the
church, feeling the Holy Spirit in the moves. June in particular held
her own, living every minute of it.

Drenched in sweat after about an hour, both Justin and Chase gave
their testimonies before Shawn again delivered a powerful message,
this time with a ¨futbol theme.

Today, the team had ä long day out, heading from one feeding/VBS to
another, and at both the skies opened, monsoon-style, as soon as the
cauldron of food was ready to serve.

No matter. Even with impending rain the hundreds of kids enjoyed
another rendition of ¨David and Goliath¨ (with Alec in his theatrical
debut role as the protagonist), creating puppets afterward. A fairly
overwhelming number of kids came out, which was both inspiring and
depressing, since we were seeing the joy we brought to each child at
the same time as his or her only meal of the day.

Songs, bubbles and candy makes for a good pre-meal routine, and the
kids enjoyed every minute of it. Some of the team chipped in to cut up
the vegetables to be added to the usual rice, of which -- for the
first feeding, anyway -- we used 30 pounds of rice.

Just as the food was ready to serve, the skies opened, forcing us to
move ¨indoors,¨which is simply a roofed structure with a hard dirt
floor (as to how hard, ask Allen, who, in his role as Goliath, gets to
fall to the ground in the skit´s finale).

After the kids and their parents were served, our team had a more
modest meal of ham and cheese sandwiches before heading out in our
Hyundai bus through flood-soaked roads for another hour or so of
driving. The feeding stations aren´t in the suburbs. They´re in the

And the dumps. Our second stop was to feed families at the local dump,
where 200-250 families make their homes. They earn a living picking
through discarded items, scavaging plastics, metals and such for sale
to recyclers.

To the kids, the life seems normal, and they came en masse out to see
Team Gringo and their bubbles, balloons puppets and futbol players.
But this time, we had another project -- to provide them with a
toilet/shower combination. One for the whole community, as there
hadn´t been one before.

So a handful of the guys mixed cement, Nicaragua-style, which involves
mix, water, shovels and a lot of elbow grease.

And again, as they were working, the skies opened again, letting loose
a second monsoon of the day. No matter. A roof on the stall was the
first thing to go up, so the guys kept working through it.

After the feeding, we did have a few trepitatious moments, as the
flooded roads hit new highs (in our eyes, anyway) and the van slogged
through brown running water that looked knee-high in some places.

Tonight, the guys picked up another game and tomorrow we plan on
setting out again for another feeding, this time of about 200 more
kids. Then, we´re planning a well-deserved break, taking the afternoon
off to check out the waves and do some shopping for our friends back

Gracias for your continued prayers!

Nicaragua Sports Ministry - May 14, 2012

All is well here in Leon , Nicaragua .

After last night´s big victory, everyone returned home for some well earned rest and relaxation.  Our host, Oscar, gave an incredibly moving testimony after the devotional. 

Today we went started off going to the children’s ward of the primary hospital in Leon .  Needless to say, it was a very touching and sobering experience for us all.  The parents were very gracious and appreciated the clothing and toys given to their sick or injured children.  One young child had severe burns over her chest and neck from spilling soup.  Although the medical treatment in Nicaragua  is free, the medicine and follow up care is not.  Members of the group purchased wound medication for the child and prayed with the parents.  Please pray for all of these children and specifically pray that this child does not end up with infections from her burns. 

After the hospital we traveled for about an hour to the rural areas outside Leon to provide food and entertainment to children.  It was mostly agricultural and the kids were amused by seeing huge pigs and reptiles that looked like smaller versions of Komoto dragons.  We arrived at one school and played games, made puppets, and put on an Oscar worthy performance of David and Goliath.  Goliath was played by none other than 6 foot 4  Allen against the 5 foot 7  David played by Alec.  The story was narrated by the mission translators while the actors played out the story.  Many cheers and smiles were had by the kids when the triumphant David slew the monstrous Goliath with his slingshot.  Afterwards, the group helped prepare the food which included fresh vegetables, chicken and fruit drinks.  Most of the year the childen eat only rice so the vegetables were a very welcome sight. 

We then went to another church after lunch and fed another large group of children followed by soccer clinics which were put on by the boys for the aspiring local soccer stars.  Finally, candy was dispensed via a parachute that spra
yed the candy into the air creating a wild frenzy.  A truly blessed day indeed!
Tomorrow we will be feeding in the morning and building in the afternoon.  Oscar keeps us busy, safe and well fed.

Nicaragua Sports Ministry - May 13, 2012

On Sunday morning, the mission team attended the worship service at
"Rosa de Saron" (Rose of Sharon) Church, Mr. Oscar Corea´s home
church. The worship service was well attended with standing room
only. The worship music was contemporary and was accompanied by
dancers with colorful flags and streamers during some of the songs.

Mr. Matt Foster (of the mission team) shared a testimonial during the
service entitled "I can handle this" describing his addiction to
chewing tobacco which started in his college days and extended for
years. Matt shared that he was able to overcome this addiction after
he humbled himself and prayed to God for strength.

Mr. Shawn Meek (of the mission team) presented a message from John
1:1-5 emphasizing the truth of Jesus Christ. The message was very
powerful and was heartily received by the congregation with several
responding "Amen"s.

The Pastor spoke after Shawn and several Nicaraguan people came
forward to the altar. The Holy Spirit was at work through the worship
service even though the electrical power in the building went off in
the middle.

During the afternoon, the Real Florida soccer team headed back out to
the soccer field to compete against a local team in a full field (11
versus 11) match. Mr. Oscar Corea and two other Nicaragua players
joined the Real Florida soccer team. The Real Florida soccer team won
the tightly contested match 2 to 1. A good number of spectators came
out to watch the match.

As the day is coming to a close, a portion of the mission team is separating VBS crafts in preparation for the mission work scheduled for tomorrow with the children at the feeding programs. God is good and we see his hand at work in the Nicaragua people.

Nicaragua Sports Ministry - May 12, 2012


Last night was a melee of soccer starting with a rematch against the local high school kids playing an indoor version of 6 on 6  that was reminiscent of a human pin ball game. The boys played well and earned the respect of the local players and evened the score.  Our team showed good sportsman ship and represented our mission and County well.  Prayer followed with testimonies and heart felt kinship in His name. 

Oscar, has done a wonderful job of motivating the local teens and young adults to participate in his sports ministry.  In fact, they spent Friday on the field playing and worshipping rather than hanging out on the streets.  Many are from broken homes and have no one to mentor them or steer them away from local gangs. Oscar has proven to be an amazing role model showing how kids from broken homes can find a safe place and experience God´s love.  It´s great to watch!!  It´s even better to be a part of the experience.

Fortunately, no injuries to report in today's game but the heat index was over 100.  Lots of water kept them hydrated on fields of mostly dirt.  The heat drained the players who will get some well deserved R and R this evening.  During the big game today the non soccer players entertained the children with ring around the rosey, the limbo, and bubble busting, The kids had a great time but the adults had even more fun.  Big smiles!

Tonight we are off to the city after supper for ice cream and a bit of sight seeing. 

Nicaragua Sports Ministry - May 11, 2012

Greetings, all! Thank you for all of your continued prayers and support. We feel so blessed to be a part of this mission and are having an incredible experience! God placed each of us here at this time for a purpose, and has also placed each of you in our lives for a purpose. The family we are staying with are such gracious people. We visited a local market today and passed out flyers to dozens of people around town and at local schools to announce the upcoming soccer games that our team will be playing. We´re expecting a huge turn out of children and their families, and cannot wait to minister to those we come in contact with. Please pray for the soccer team´s primary focus to be serving our Lord and witnessing to others, not just playing a game. And we also ask for prayers that we focus on those around us, and not on our comfort and what´s convenient for us. We cannot wait to see what else the Lord has in store for our team.