Summer of Glory – May Update

In last month’s e-news, we reflected on Jesus washing the feet of his disciples as a reminder of His humble servanthood and precursor to the cross. This month, we are preparing to host a roster of four (4) short-term mission teams visiting Ometepe this summer, representing the body of Christ to “wash another’s feet.” (John 13:14 NIV). Scroll down for more info on who is joining us for a #summerofglory. We look forward to sharing many examples of His glory showering down on the poorest communities we serve on Ometepe Island, Nicaragua.

Speaking of Glory, we would like to introduce you to “Gloria,” the ministry’s pre-owned truck in Nicaragua and answer to many of your prayers. The day after Rochelle’s return from Ometepe in April, our tax service advised us that the State of Illinois owed us a sizable refund! This refund provided much-needed transportation that is already being used to help others in Ometepe.

The last tidbit of glory news is we plan to launch a young-adult English program in the barrio of Santa Cruz. Joining Hilder will be our new assistant teacher, Leydi, who is a fourth year English university student and Jesus lover. We look forward to watching Leydi grow in her new role in the Santa Cruz classroom.

T.J., Rochelle and family depart for Nicaragua on June 6. Rochelle and her oldest son, Andrew, plan to stay through July 28.  While there, we expect to share many updates on social media as internet is available. Follow us on Instagram or Facebook.
 

Last, please join us in prayer this Season for:

  • Our OBGM ministry & stay this summer
  • Continued peace for Nicaragua
  • Visiting mission teams for June & July (see below)
  • Supplies & payroll for new Santa Cruz English Class program commencing in June
  • Structural housing upgrades for two young families (See previous e-news). 
  • Safety rails for our pre-owned truck
    Love, Peace & Joy
    T.J. and Rochelle

JUNE
Matt & Margareth Hoey have been supportive of our vision for the people of Ometepe when we first helped as short-term missionaries from our NJ church over ten years ago. We are humbled by their their ongoing support and now honored they will join us to serve for one week all the way from Wilmington, Delaware.

Matt & Margareth Hoey – June Missionaries

JUNE
Welcome Mike Palmer of First United Methodist Church in Cocoa Beach. We are thrilled to have a member from our home church to serve as God’s faithful steward in Ometepe.
Mike has participated on many on short-term mission trips, including serving in Uganda, Tanzania, Mexico and the Amazon. He’s a current sponsor to five (5) of our primary education scholarship recipients. We look forward to see Mike experience Ometepe and the many blessings he will bring to those we serve on the island!

Mike Palmer – June Missionary

JUNE
Welcome Julie Isobe of @isobe salon in Indian Harbor Beach, FL While cutting hair during her stay in Ometepe, Julie will be exploring options for a permanent trade school to teach hair styling and technique, with a major emphasis on sustainable living. As part of the curriculum, she she will teach locals how to treat hair with oils derived from the natural produce found in Nicaragua.

Julie Isobe and Rochelle at Julie’s FL salon hatching plans for a Nicaragua school

JULY
A team of three young families from Kula Yoga will spend a week in Ometepe this July. Kula means “family” or “community” and we are honored by their passion to share their time and talent to help raise much-needed funds for our programming and their visit serving the poorest of the poor. We will share more info about them in future e-news. In the meantime, you can support their efforts by attending donation yoga classes (in Florida)

Kula’s Fundraiser Poster

Washing Another’s Feet

During my recent visit to Ometepe, we were invited to meet our local mission team at a young family’s house in Balgüe (See Christian’s Family video). It was in the middle of the afternoon and April in Nicaragua is the peak of the HOT, dry season. What I found astonished me. The entire 10-person team, PLUS Christian and her family, were moving giant rocks to form a drainage system in preparation for the rainy season.

This was such an act of humility and servant hood beyond evangelism, modeling Jesus’ directive, I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you (John 13:15 NIV) to build up Christian’s home (literally) with love.

It was the next day that the team received their new walking shoes, water bottles and ponchos from your generous donations.  These vessels of Jesus were so grateful for your donation of supplies, especially the walking shoes. As I watched each of them try on their new shoes, I was overwhelmed with humility and the vision of Jesus washing their feet – just as He did on Maundy Thursday saying, Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. (John 13:14 NIV). 

THANK YOU to all who made it possible to bless these people and metaphorically “wash another’s feet” (John 13:14 NIV).

March Update

Wow Ometepe is all we can say since our return from Nicaragua on February 12. We were greatly encouraged by the continued stability of the nation since 2018’s civil & economic unrest – the biggest surprise was a strong return of tourism to Ometepe.

There is still room for caution, but the situation has brought increased cooperation and partnership among the Nicaraguan people, churches and other ministries, including OBGM. This IS the body of Christ in action and it’s so good! Just as Paul, shares in Romans 12:5 SO IN CHRIST, WE WHO ARE MANY ARE ONE BODY, AND EACH MEMBER BELONGS TO ONE ANOTHER.

Scroll down for more details of our recent visit and program updates. We are currently praying for for the following needs:

  • Sustainable support to 2019’s nutrition program
  • Pre-owned 4-wheel drive truck for transportation of bulk nutrition supplies, materials, outreach team members, visiting team members and general needs. The vehicle must be purchased in Nicaragua.
  • Walking Shoes & Ponchos for Outreach Team
  • Start of a 2nd English Class program in Santa Cruz

Also pray for travel safety as Rochelle returns to Nicaragua March 21 – April 4. Her travel is possible thanks to frequent flyer miles TJ receives via American Airlines. We will do our best to keep you updated (including shenanigans) via our Facebook PageInstagram orblog.Love, Peace & Joy
T.J. and Rochelle

Thank You Tom Davis

Thank you to Tom Davis of Grand Junction, CO for joining us in Nicaragua from February 2 – 12, 2019. The people of Ometepe were so blessed with his presence and contributions throughout his visit on the island. 

We especially appreciate Tom’s input with our children’s English school program, including lesson planning and materials given to our English teacher, Hilder. With 30+ years as a professional educator, his experience was invaluable and timely since the new school year in Nicaragua commenced February 4.

Tom managed to have some fun, too! We squeezed in a waterfall hike and a fishing on two afternoons. Best, of all, he plans to return to Ometepe in the future with two his grown daughters and son-in-law! We look forward to his return and how each of his family members bless the beautiful people of Ometepe. 

ARE YOU INTERESTED IN SERVING WITH US THIS SUMMER IN NICARAGUA? CONTACT US FOR MORE INFO.

MINDS:  College Scholar Receives Laptop

Thank you Cocoa Beach Daybreak Rotary Club for the Toshiba laptop awarded to Lisbeth Issamar Bravo Garcia, age 19. Lisbeth is a deserving student attending her 3rd year at the University of Managua (UNAN) majoring in architecture. She was both humbled and thrilled with receipt of this assistance as she had NO computer to complete her upcoming coursework! She plans to graduate in 2021.

Fully-functioning laptops and unlocked smartphones are in great need. If you would like to donate one of your own items, please contact us.

MINDS:  21 Kids Start English Classes!

Words can not describe the sight of 21 kids crammed into a classroom on a hot Saturday morning eager to learn English! The below video is from February 9th’s first day of school and celebration. We hope you can see the value and love this program brings to the children in Sintiope. Please consider helping us expand this program which helps the community seek better employment.

BODIES:  Your generosity helps to nourish ~ 80 bodies/month  – many in some of the hard-to-reach communities and with family members who are very sick.

BODIES & SPIRITS: Nutrition Program & Outreach Team Needs

One of the most humbling & educational moments during our visit was the time we spent with the local mission/outreach team from God’s Assembly church in Santa Cruz, Ometepe. This team of 10 dedicated volunteers go out into the “mission field” 2x/week from 5am – 6pm, seeking residents in under-served communities as far as 10km away from their homes. Many of those reached include the extremely sick and/or poor farmers who have no access to a church, bible study, healing prayer or simply in sharing in God’s word.

In addition to a small travel stipend they receive from OBGM, the team hosts their own fundraisers to support their program. We are honored to have this dedicated team help us sort, weigh, pack and deliver food kits to those most in need. Each kit feeds a family of four (4) for 1.5 weeks, and on average 20 families receive the aid per month according to our current budget.

But it’s not about the food. This is really about working together as the Body of Christ to share God’s relentless love…providing comfort, peace, healing, joy…all of the gifts available to us by His sheer grace. 

NEEDS  – We need help outfitting each team member with appropriate walking shoes and rain ponchos during our next visit. To accomplish this, we’ve set up an Amazon Wish List with specific shoe sizes for each team member as well a link for the rain ponchos. If you chose to donate, please order before March 15 to ensure timely delivery to us, prior to our visit. Prices range from $15.99 – $41.

MINDS:  7 primary school students were fully sponsored last month to supply school uniforms, backpacks, shoes & supplies for the 2019 school year.

MINDS: College Scholarship Awarded

Meet Prisila Rios from Santa Cruz, Ometepe Island. Prisila will assume a full course load of classes in Rivas, Nicaragua commencing this month. She will commute from Ometepe & attend classes on Saturdays. 

In addition to her other responsibilities, Prisila is a dedicated volunteer in her community in Santa Cruz, including serving on her church’s mission team twice per month.

If you would like to sponsor a college student like Prisila, we are seeking financial support of $50 per month,or $500 per year per scholarship. When donating, please specify “college scholar” on the designation line.

SPIRIT: Youth In Training Graduates
Congratulations to Denis and Hilder of Ometepe who completed Youth With a Mission’s (YWAM) two-week training program in Managua on January 31, 2019. The program, Save to Serve and Transform (SST), is specifically for young people who want to make God known with their lifestyle, families, community, nation and the world. This is accomplished through not only study and reflection, but also through outreach.

Rochelle had the privilege of serving along side these two young men in an outreach day in the trash dumps near Managua. We are delighted to watch them transform and grow in their relationship with Jesus. We look forward to helping each of them continue in their journey and we ask for your prayers.
 “SO IN CHRIST, WE WHO ARE MANY ARE ONE BODY, AND EACH MEMBER BELONGS TO ONE ANOTHER” – ROMANS 12:5

January Update

2019 Off & Running!
We hope you all had a meaningful Christmas season and Happy New Year. Since we returned home from visiting family and friends in NJ & PA, it’s been nonstop planning for 2019. Rochelle leaves for Nicaragua on January 28th to prepare for our first visiting short-term missionary, Mr. Tom Davis, of Grand Junction, CO (see below), who arrives with T.J. from Feb 2 – 12.

Scroll down for more details since December’s update. Please continue to pray with us and for travel safety as we team up with our partner ministries, friends and staff in Nicaragua. We will do our best to keep you updated via our Facebook PageInstagram but sometimes online access is not consistently paired with our busy schedule in the field.
Love, Peace & Joy
T.J. and Rochelle

Welcome Tom Davis!We are overjoyed to have Tom Davis of Grand Junction, CO join us in Nicaragua from February 2 – 12!  Tom’s passion for youth and  30+ years in education will be a huge blessing to our ministry, especially with our English students and teaching staff. Tom currently works as an adjunct professor at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction,teaching education to prospective teachers.He also works in his church with middle school, high school and young adult age students. He holds Bachelor’s degrees in Theology and Education as well as a Master degree in Music Education. 
Tom has traveled the world and loves serving in missions. He has two adult daughters who also love serving the Lord.  We can’t wait to see the impact of Tom’s contributions on Ometepe Island in February.  

BODIES:  Your generosity helped to nourish ~1,100 bodies in 2018.
The economic crisis is slowly improving, but food assistance and outreach to the elderly & sick is still needed in 2019. Can you help us?

Minds:  Cocoa Beach Daybreak Rotary Club

Thank you Cocoa Beach Daybreak Rotary Club for the Toshiba laptop donation for our scholarship program. The recipient is a female college student from the University of Managua majoring in architecture. Fully-functioning laptops and unlocked smartphones are in great need. If you would like to donate one of your own items, please contact us.

MINDS: Thanks to your support in 2018, each and every one of our English class students will have their own textbook in 2019.

Also, February is back-to-school time in Ometepe. It’s not too late to help us fill our suitcase BEFORE JAN 31, we need children’s (sizes 13 – 3) black school shoes. They can be gently USED or or purchased via our Amazon Wish List and shipped to:179 Jamaica Drive
Cocoa Beach, FL 32931
Spirit: Youth In Training Jan 19 – 30, 2019 
Please pray for Denis and Hilder of Ometepe who will start Youth With a Mission’s (YWAM) two-week training program in Managua, commencing January 19. The program, Save to Serve and Transform (SST), is specifically for young people from ages 13 to 20 who want to know God and make him known with their lifestyle, families, community, nation and the world. 

We are delighted to invest in these young men and look forward to watching their relationship with Jesus grow and flourish for years to come! Stay tuned for more details as Rochelle will meet up with Denis and Hilder in Managua before the end of the month.
Santa Suitcase Update!
Below are some images from the Santa Suitcase distribution in December. The art supplies and Barbies were a huge hit! We look forward to visiting with many of these children in February and hope to share more stories with your via our blogInstagram and/or Facebook page. It is so amazing to see the Body of Christ working together to help fill & deliver Santa’s Suitcase!
Our English students received art supplies and personal letters from the Youth Group at First United Methodist Church, Cocoa Beach, FL

Bearing Fruit

Last year I bought a citrus tree at a local nursery who assured me it bears fruit each year. I brought it home, replanted it in a large pot and placed it where I thought was the perfect location on our deck. A few months later, a few blossoms appeared. I was so excited, and my mouth salivated at the thought of our family eating organic citrus grown in our back yard. Weeks went by, and I noticed there was no new growth or fruit on the tree. What went wrong? Months passed and nothing happened. In fact, at times the tree was knocked over during strong summer storms.

Remain in His Love & Joy!

Eventually, I moved the tree to a new location which was closer to our home. This location received less Florida sun and was among other plants and shrubs residing in the earth.

Just before Christmas, I added some newly-harvested compost and wished the tree well before leaving for the holidays up north. Upon my return, lo and behold the tree started to blossom! Today it bears heaps of blossoms, fruit and new growth. When I think of what happened to this tree, I can’t help to reflect and praise God’s amazing creation, promise and grace. I would like to share two points with you here:

  1. The tree needed to be around other life to help protect it. In this life, we need to trust God, our family and/or community when we are vulnerable. Whether we are the receiver or the giver of help, we need each other. Jesus knew this and commanded us to love our neighbor, and even our enemies, as ourselves. 
  2. Like Jesus’ death and resurrection, the decomposing compost helped to yield the most beautiful blossoms and fruit on this tree. Thank you, Jesus, for your ultimate sacrifice, so we may blossom, bear fruit and remain in your love!

John 15: 1-17

Not The Forgotten Ones

One of the goals of our late-Fall visit to Nicaragua was to strengthen our relationships local pastors/ministries in the communities we serve in Ometepe. Of our three guiding pillars, Spirit, we recently committed to walk alongside one local mission team who minister to “the forgotten ones” (that is their term) into the outlying communities from their base church.

This week, I received an update from the field that we had enough in our local budget to purchase & prepare 20 more food kits (rice, beans,oil, sugar, coffee, salt).  Each kit feeds an entire family for 7-10 days. This amazing team not only spent countless hours securing, measuring & packaging each meal kit, they spent 20+ hours going to four separate communities (3 in Mérida, 2 in La Palma, 12 en Madroñal and Santa cruz and 5 kits in Sintiope). Each visit was less about the food and more about relationship, prayer and loving on the sick & elderly.

It is truly an honor to witness how our trusted team & friends in Nicaragua work together to honor the greatest commandment to “love thy neighbor”. Since June, One Body Global Ministries made it possible to supply at least 220 food kits to the most poor and sick families in Ometepe. To put it in perspective, if each kit feeds 4-6 people for a week, that is approximately 1,100 mouths!

In the words of our project administrator, Erlin, he shared today, “I see God moving in our ministry… I spoke with each one of the beneficiaries and I see the real needed not only of food, they need love. They need God.”

I just had to share this good news and ask you to pray for these amazing (and probably exhausted) people who help us love on those who would otherwise feel alone, unloved, or forgotten.  We are One Body in Christ!

Sonya, Nahum, Julio, Francisca, Cynthia, Pricila, Alvaro, Yaneris,
Diega, Francis, Olivia, Erlin  and Yovelsi

A Boy and his Bike

I’m still reflecting on the interactions and images during my ten day visit to Nicaragua. One profound moment occurred on day two in Nueva Vida, as I sat beside a group of mothers and their very young children. One child, a little 2 year old boy, was playing with a dilapidated bicycle tied to a baby walker with a tattered rag. I think they were tied together to keep the boy close to his mom and infant siblings.

Image-1The little boy was so happy playing with this bicycle. You could tell how much he cherished the bike by the care he was taking in handling the wheels and handle bars. It was precious to him, despite the fact that this bicycle had NO chain, NO seat and NO pedals. In fact, it was covered in rust and dirt. Yet this child adored the broken, pieces-missing, rusted-out shell of a bike.

Through this child at that moment watching, I saw our loving Papa God. Our Father loves us just like this little boy loving on the bike. He loves us despite all of our rusted bits, missing parts, sins and imperfections. We are his precious children and he wants the best for us no matter how battered we are from our journey.  He is a loving Father. He is a good Father. In fact, that love runs so deep, He sent His only Son to this earth to die for all of our messy sins.  Wow!

I am grateful to be His child. And hope you are too.

Heaps of Joy

My first few days in Nicaragua were spent with our friends from the Beauty for Ashes Project. This ministry shares the love of Jesus with children and families in the heaps of trash in the capital city of Managua. On the day we arrived, the group had plans to visit a family in a community called Nueva Vida to celebrate birthdays of three (3) children. I was honored to be invited to attend with the group.

IMG_4577On our drive into the community, I was overwhelmed by the sheer size of the trash heaps alongside the unpaved roads. They were like mini-mountains of garbage, plastic and rubbish ranging approximately 8ft. to 15 ft. high. Each pile cascaded down to become part of the dirt road beneath the wheels of our truck. It was not your typical Main Street welcome.

However, the real welcome came when we arrived at the home of Salva & Henri, their 11 children and 6 grandchildren.  Salva, in particular, was filled with so much joy to see me. I briefly met Salva in April at an event in another town and I had forgotten about our encounter. The interaction in April, however, had meant so much to Salva. She almost squeezed the breath out of my lungs as she hugged me in Nueva Vida. It was such a surprise, and yet her Joy was so pure it brought me to tears! As we continued our greetings, Salva sIMG_4548hared her testimony of accepting Jesus fully into her heart and living in relationship with Him. The fruit of that intimacy was obvious in the joyful nature within her family as we spent the afternoon celebrating the birthdays and Jesus’ love.

It did not matter where we were, how many flies swarmed the birthday cake or what smells occasionally floated by with a strong breeze. Nothing compares with Heaps of Joy, Love & Peace I found in Nueva Vida that first day!

May God, the source of hope, fill you with all joy and peace by means of your faith in him, so that your hope will continue to grow by the power of the Holy Spirit – Romans 15:13

 

 

T-Minus 7 Days

One week from today, I return to Nicaragua and I have mixed emotions. Part of me can not contain the excitement, yet there is another part of me that feels anxious. It’s not a fear about safety and those physical aspects of the visit. It’s an anxiety of sharing in the suffering of those families and friends on Ometepe who have been adversely impacted by the civil unrest and economic crisis. Some of the questions that arise include: Will I be able to keep it together? How can I be a source of comfort if I become sad?

When I experience this type of anxiety, I  know I can dig into The Word, meditation and the wisdom of my mentors. Recently, I’ve consulted advice from one of the world’s most recognized missionaries and Jesus lover, Mother Theresa.  Shemother theresa shares it so wisely in No Greater Love, “when you feel in your own heart the suffering of Christ, remember the resurrection has to come. Never let anything so fill you with sorrow as to make you forget the joy of Christ risen.”

Wow!  How could I so easily let myself get in the way and so easily forget the joy of the resurrection?  It’s that simple, yet so hard to put into practice in our daily lives.  Let’s keep pressing into it to together to find strength, so we may joyfully share His light and keep His commandment  “Love each other in the same way I have loved you.” (John 15:12 NLT).

joy

 

 

The Cog Challenge

I want to be a cog! Do you?cogs1

If you’re not sure of the definition of a cog (not the urban dictionary version), it’s the little piece that projects from the wheel of a gear. It is an integral part of the moving gear or wheal. It engages with all the other projections of the other wheels in motion. Cogs can be big or itty bitty.

What made me appreciate cogs were two recent interactions with people I see as examples as Jesus in action. The first event was a sermon from my pastor, Mark Reynolds (click here to see why Pastor Mark’s sermon spoke to me). The second was a conversation with our beloved friend, Tom Fritz. Tom, his wife, Esther and their family have spent the last 30 years as missionaries in Central America.

I can’t speak for Tom or Mark personally, but I can imagine there must have been seasons, where they felt that God’s purpose for them and their community was at a standstill. I have felt this way before. Have you?

Well maybe it’s just that the cogs on the wheel are moving slower than our expectation, but the gears are still turning to His timing. Or, could it be that some of the cogs between the wheels have broken off, or worn down, because we allow situations in our lives (or the news) to distract us from serving a His purpose?

I can only guess, but one thing I do know is that God IS on the move and it is through us, his little cogs!  We can make a choice to not only accept Jesus into our hearts but also practice his teachings in our daily interactions with others. (1 Corinthians 12:12-27) It can be as simple as a smile to a stranger, being more patient/forgiving with others – especially ourselves, or finding more gratitude in your daily life (Matthew 5: 5-7).  I suspect God loves the tiniest and most diverse acts of kindness and compassion.

How fast would you like to see God moving in our world and in your life? I invite you to take the “Cog Challenge” (Luke 10:25-27) to make this world a better place. Will you be a little cog with me? The rewards will be amazing!