CEPAD Partners Create A Great Cloud Of Witnesses

This month, welcomed 56 partners from Nicaragua, the U.S. and Canada to Managua for the International Encounter. This event, which we host every two to three years, is a chance for those partnerships with longterm commitments between individual international churches/organizations and individual Nicaraguan communities/associations to reconnect, share with other partners and learn more about CEPAD. Together, we created a declaration of our experience, and you can read it in English and Spanish below! Thank you to these awesome partners, whose longterm commitment to CEPAD and Nicaragua teaches us so much about sustainable development and accompaniment.

A Cloud Of Witnesses: Reflections From The 2015 CEPAD International Encounter

To address poverty, we have to talk about it. The stakes are so high for the millions of Nicaraguan people who cannot meet their basic needs. And we remember the ways that we experience poverty of spirit and in relationships. For a few days in Managua, 75 partners from rural Nicaraguan communities, the U.S./ England, and CEPAD’s staff talked honestly about poverty, its consequences, and the role of personal relationships in development work. We represented 14 international relationships, some as young as three-years-old and others with more than 20 years of experience.

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Calling all Donors to Travel!

We are excited to announce the opportunity for supporters of CEPAD to travel to Nicaragua to see, first-hand, the programs you make possible. Click the link below to download a brochure to learn more, we hope to see you soon! Donor Trip 2015 Brochure

At The Heart of Short Term Missions: Reflections From A CEPAD Volunteer

By Olivia Holt, Summer 2014 CEPAD Volunteer Summer 

Throughout college I questioned the value of short-term missions. I mostly wondered if the price involved was worth it. Short-term mission trips can be expensive, and they consume a lot of funds.  Couldn’t the host ministry better use those funds to advance their work? That money could be feeding hungry tummies, training pastors, or employing locals to build homes for those without shelter.  I also wondered how much of a burden it was for the host to take care of a group of foreigners for a week. How are a ministry’s daily activities affected when everything is put on hold because a mission team has arrived?  By no means can I address this issue in full, but those questions were on my mind.

I also wondered about the results.  I had no doubt that short-term trips were beneficial for the visitors; I myself am a product of short-term missions. I have been changed because of my experiences on mission trips, and my passions have been shaped by what God taught me in those weeks. But, were they really good for the hosts?

A trip to Bluefields, Nicaragua, during my junior year of college eventually won me over to the realization that a short-term trip can be beneficial for everyone involved and a worthwhile financial investment.  While my team was in Bluefields, we asked the leader of the ministry, Adrian, about this topic. His simple response meant everything.

“You can send money in an envelope, and it can do lots of things,” he said. “But you can’t send a hug or a smile in an envelope.”

For me, the relationship and the mutual encouragement that comes out of short-term missions is at the heart of these trips.

Last Saturday that took on a whole new meaning for me as I accompanied a delegation from the United States to a community in Jinotega.

For newcomers to CEPAD, a visiting delegation always meets with the community board to hear firsthand about life in rural Nicaragua and their experience with CEPAD. These boards are comprised of community leaders who have committed to working together to improve their community. These are always insightful meetings, but one statement in particular hit me this week. A board member was explaining why her community wished they could have a partnership with a church in the United States.  In the midst of her explanation she said:

“When people come here we feel like we exist. We feel like we are part of the world.”

“We feel like we exist.” Wow. Existence. Feeling like you belong. Is there any price too high for making a person feel like they matter to someone in this world? For making a person feel like they are a human who is dearly loved by their Creator and made in his image?

The community leader realized how far off the map her community was. From the international airport, you arrive in her town after five hours weaving through vibrant Nicaraguan mountains, an hour on a brick road and another hour on a dirt road. The delegation spent 4 full days traveling in order to spend 3 days with the community. There are no toilets there. There are scary critters that bite and sting. It’s hot. The closest store or medical clinic is nearly an hour away. Who would want to go to all that trouble to spend time somewhere like that?

Yet for the visiting Californians, any sacrifice involved was entirely worth the opportunity to be with these people. The visitors’ fresh eyes took in the beautiful landscape in awe. Their interest in the community’s progress reminded the community that progress had been made. Their enthusiasm for the ingenious agricultural techniques the farmers used recognized the local peoples’ skills. Their inability to make perfectly round tortillas and their amazement at the local women’s tortilla making talent was both amusing and encouraging. There was laughter. Their actions said, “You are a person who matters. I am here because I want to be with you and learn from you. And not only do I respect you, but I care deeply about you too.”

In return, the visitors came away with their eyes wide open to ways God is at work around the world. They learned about another culture and lifestyle. They experienced a common bond that unites all people. They made new Nicaraguan friends. As they return to their lives in the United States, the hope is that they will think back on their time in Nicaragua and they will be changed.

Sounds like a win-win to me.

 

For Two Decades, Brentwood and Bluefields Work Together

The partnership between Brentwood Presbyterian Church and the pastoral committee APASUR in Bluefields has taken many forms in the last 21 years. This summer, both groups are recommitting themselves to the partnership, and the tangible results are already clear.

In June, a group of 36 people of all ages traveled to Bluefields to get to know the pastors of the committee, visit schools and churches, and simply share time together. At CEPAD, we believe partnership is more than a one-way transaction of financial support to a community — it’s a commitment to work together for radical transformation of both the physical realities of the two communities and the spirits of all involved. Read more

Student’s CEPAD Photo Wins Congressional Prize

Madeline Lynn, a recent graduate of Ursuline Academy in Dallas, won the grand prize for the 2014 Congressional Art Competition for Representative Pete Session’s district. Her gorgeous image is a composite of photos she took in CEPAD partner community Cañas Blancas last summer during her delegation trip with the Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church youth group.

Madeline’s work will hang in the U.S. Capitol building, and she will attend a reception for winners from around the country this month. Juan, the man in the photo, hosted Madeline in his home when she visited Cañas Blancas. She said she felt inspired by the way he related to his land and animals, which provide his lifeline. Read more

Yale Alumni Bring Needed HealthCare to Leon Region

A group of more 68 people from the Yale Alumni Service Corps visited Trohilo, a small community near Leon, to provide medical care and other projects. In five days, they provided medical consultation and care to more than 400 people from Trohilo and nearby communities.
Jelen Yalisa Espinoza, 16, said she came to the clinic to get treatment for a headache and couldn’t remember when she had last been to the doctor previously. In Trohilo there is a health clinic with a doctor and a nurse, but the clinic is only open part time. They don’t have the capacity to serve everyone who needs care, said nurse Esperanza Quiroz, and there are no specialized doctors in the community, like cardiologists or internists. Many people have to travel to the city of Leon to receive treatment or medicine. “I feel confident to say they have saved lives by diagnosing people, like women with cancer, who never would have known they were sick otherwise,” Quiroz said.

She has been working at the clinic for 8 years and said the two primary health concerns in the community are women’s health needs like Human Papilloma Virus and the devastating Chronic Kidney Disease that kills many people in the community, especially men who work in the nearby sugar farms — dehydration and exposure to pesticides both greatly increase the risk for that illness, she explained.

“Everyone who lives here is at risk for CKD,” she said.

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"I am a strong woman"

On a recent delegation trip with Amos Trust, Jenny Richardson wrote this poem and meditation after meeting with women in a rural community to learn about their experience with Prestanic, a microcredit organization that has strong ties to CEPAD. We are thankful to share it here.
I am a woman.
I raise my family in one room and create our home.
The government gives us materials for a roof
and we can shelter from the rain.
I wash our clothes in the stream
and watch the bright colours dancing as they hang on the washing line.
I pick the fruit,
Growing in abundance,
to feed my family.
Do you think I am poor?
Do you not see, I am a strong Nicaraguan woman?
I helped my mother to sell the bread she made.
It was all too much
and I left to live on the streets.
I took drugs but have been given a road to a new life.
I want to be a fashion designer
and my mother will be proud of me.
Do you think I am poor?
Do you not see, I am a strong Nicaraguan woman?I meet with my friends
and we delight in sharing news of our business ventures.
We slaughter pigs,
sell clothes,
Bake bread,
And with our profits we repay our loans and provide for our children’s education.
Do you think I am poor?
Do you not see, I am a strong Nicaraguan woman?

I teach my children to harvest the ripe coffee,
To work the processing machine outside our home.
To sort the best coffee beans for market
And to carry the precious load to market.
Do you think I am poor?
Do you not see, I am a strong Nicaraguan woman?

I have lived through change in Nicaragua.
Friends have died in the 1972 earthquake.
Relatives have been caught up in the fighting between the Contras and the Sandinistas.
Yet I welcome the hope that the government gives me.
Do you think I am poor?
Do you not see, I am a strong Nicaraguan woman?

You ask me about faith.
I am a Catholic and an Evangelical.
Faith is a gift of God.
It is no ones property.
I live with dignity as a daughter of God.
My theology takes me out of the door of the church into the streets
To work for justice and reconciliation.
Do you think I am poor?
Do you not see, I am a strong Nicaraguan woman?

We nurture our children
And they are proud of being Nicaraguan.
As they grow stronger
Nicaragua will continue to flourish.
They are are our hope and our future.
Do you think we are poor?
Do you not see we are strong Nicaraguan women?

I am Mary,
A girl from Nazareth.
Engaged to be married.
I trust God.
He will liberate the poor.
He will bring down the mighty.
He has chosen me and I say ‘yes’.
I will be the Mother of God’s son,
With all it’s joys, challenges and responsibilities.

Do you think I am poor?
Do you think I am weak?
Do you think I am holy?
Don’t you see, I am a strong woman.

Water Flows at CEPANA Thanks to Baltimore Youth

A donation from the Christian Temple CYF youth delegation from Baltimore, Maryland allowed CEPAD to repair the potable water system at CEPANA, our farm in the Matagalpa region. We are so thankful for this water, and for Christian Temple’s gift!

Water at CEPANA Farm

Potable water is now available throughout CEPANA, CEPAD’s farm. CEPAD’s Matagalpa director, Juan Carlos Palma, shows off the system.

 

The system has been out of commission for more than a year after thieves stole the electrical wiring necessary to make the well run and to carry the water throughout the farm. CEPANA provides a site for training farmers in sustainable agriculture methods as well as hosting delegations and other groups. Read more

CEPAD Volunteers Learn Value of Community

This week CEPAD said goodbye to three fantastic volunteers who shared their talents with CEPAD this year.Wytske Postma and Julia van Riezen, recent Dutch university graduates who studied tourism, worked for six months in the Carazo region teaching English to students in two communities. They said they came to Nicaragua looking for a new adventure and left with a deeper appreciation for the challenges of poverty and the importance of education.
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