If you are in the Greater Philadelphia/South Jersey area this week, we invite you to join us on Sunday, December 29, 2019 at 10 AM-11:30 AM at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church located at 11 N. Monroe Ave. Wenonah, NJ 08090 for NINE LESSONS & CAROLS: A WOODBURY CONVOCATION EVENT – A Service of Readings, Music & Communion.
Holy Trinity’s congregation, choirs, and musicians will gather for this traditional Anglican service, including Holy Communion. Let’s pack the house and sing our hearts out as we remember the joy and hope of the Nativity of Our Lord! All are welcome.
After the service, stick around for a potluck coffee hour. During the coffee hour, we will talk about our work on Ometepe Island in Nicaragua with ample time for Q&A.
Nine Lessons and Carols is a service of Christian worship traditionally celebrated on or near Christmas Eve. Originating in the early 20th century out of the Church of England, the story of the fall of humanity, the promise of the Messiah, and the birth of Jesus is told in nine short Bible readings or lessons from Genesis, the prophetic books and the Gospels, interspersed with the singing of Christmas carols, hymns, and choir anthems. It’s a powerful service that speaks to God’s divine plan for the redemption of the world and the mystery of God’s incarnation 2000 years ago in Bethlehem. You won’t want to miss it!
Thank you to all those who helped us exceed our goal raising $6,723 on #GivingTuesday to empower two villages in Ometepe Island, Nicaragua through education. 100% of the proceeds raised go to Nicaragua to provide:
50 children with uniforms, backpacks & school supplies
Year-round English classes in two villages
School supplies for one village elementary school
Please know the gratitude of the students & families in Ometepe is equally matched by the outpouring of love shown by all who participated, including: direct supporters, volunteers, social media ambassadors, auction sponsors, taco eaters, acution bidders & winners.
We look forward to sharing more on the impact of your giving during our next visit to Nicaragua January 15 – February 18, 2020. In the meantine, we appreciate your continued prayers for this ministry during the Christmas Season. Love, T.J. and Rochelle so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members of one another – Romans 12:5 NRSV
A Final Thank you to our Auction Donors
The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex / 4th Street Fillin’ Station / Beachside Grand Prix / Golf n Gator / Preacher Soulful Food & Abbey Ales / The Crayola Experience / Lighthouse Cove Minigolf / Fishlips Restaurant / Sun Bum Sun, Skin & Hair Care / Kula Yoga Merritt Island / Isobe Hair Salon / WonderWorks Orlando / The Tiny Turtle / Michelle Lackore LMT / Exploration Tower at Port Canaveral / Cocoa Beach Helicopter Tours / Junkanoo Island Kitchen & Rum Bar / Rising Tide Tap & Table / Ace Hardware Cocoa Beach (YETI) / Grills Seafood Deck & Tiki Bar / Serenity Spring Massage & Body Work / Shore Lanes Merritt Island / Yoga with Martha / Cocoa Beach Aerial Adventures / Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra / Trent Art Gallery
We believe that education is a universal human right and a pathway out of poverty. You can help us to send 50 kids to school with the uniforms and supplies they need and to provide English classes on Ometepe Island Nicaragua for an ENTIRE YEAR to help young people participate in the growing tourist-based economy. Are you with us?
Below is a link to our Online Silent Auction that opens today and runs through #GivingTuesday, December 3. Participating is a great way to “give” a gift for the holidays but also to make a difference in the lives of children, teens and parents (like Jeyson below) who benefit from our educational programming in Ometepe: https://www.biddingowl.com/OBGM You don’t have to be present at the #GivingTacoTuesday event to win or to give.
In early November, we started packing our suitcases with donations and supplies for our November 6 – 20th visit to Ometepe, Nicaragua. T.J. was excited about the start of a pilot water filtration project, co-sponsored by our local Rotary club. In addition to the physical work planned for Ometepe, we were setting up for our 2020 goals and future visits.
On November 2, all our plans came to a HALT, when TJ fell off a ladder helping friends trim trees at our pastor’s house. His body was cut and bruised, a finger was broken and his wrist was shattered. Immediately following the accident, we thanked God that the injuries were not worse, considering he was using a chainsaw at the tme. Next, we explained to the physcian, ‘We’re leaving for Nicaragua on Thursday!’ Uhm…not so fast.
This has been a humbling lesson on many levels. Most importantly, in all the busyness of what we think is our plan, it is not. Neither is Plan B or Plan C in our control. It’s always God’s plan, (“Plan G”) and we need to trust His plan and know He has our backs. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways. Isaiah 55:8
So now, we seek your prayers as TJ has surgery on Friday, November 8 to repair his wrist. We also seek your prayers for the people of Ometepe and “Plan G” for this beautiful island. Are you with us? Love, Peace & Joy T.J. and Rochelle For more frequent updates from the field, follow us on Instagram or Facebook.
#GIVINGTUESDAY – EDUCATION FOR OMETEPE #GivingTuesday is an international day of charitable giving that occurs at the beginning of the holiday season. This year the date falls on December 3. OBGM is participating with a fun Taco Tuesday event, including a silent auction to help raise the funds to sustain our 2020 educational goals & budget. We believe that education is a universal human right and a pathway out of poverty. You can help us:
Supply 50 children with uniforms, backpacks and school supplies
Provide year-round English Classes (teachers, supplies & dictionaries) in two villages to:
40 Children on Saturdays (Sintiope)
20 Young Adults in Evenings (Santa Cruz)
Provide school supplies to one Primary School (Sintiope) and to 5 teachers serving 116 children (ages 3-14)
Stay tuned in the coming weeks to see how you can help make this happen. We’re lining up some great items for our Online Silent Auction featuring restaurants, services, tickets and gifts for the holidays. As always, 100% of funds we raise are applied to programming.
As always, you can make your tax-deductible contributions at any time the year. You can set up your secure, encrypted donation online as a one-time gift or a monthly-recurring gift that you may cancel at any time. Donations can be made in Tribute or Memory of a loved one.
We hope you are having a good Fall season filled with gratitude and good health. We remain in continual contact with our team in the field on Ometepe Island, Nicaragua and have lots to share. Scroll down for all the updates on each of our core mission pillars of MIND, BODY & SPIRIT.
Our next visit is scheduled for November 6 – 20, 2019. We are also planning for 2020. Some of our goals will be bold, but we have witnessed miracles in the past, especially when the needs were the greatest and met with unconditional love. In the meantime, please continue to pray with us for:
Continued peace for Nicaragua
Recovery of those hospitalized
OBGM ministry, staff & local volunteers
Remaining 2019 funding for:
December Food Distribution Program ($350)
Five (5) Sponsors for Micro Loan Project ($250)
Structural housing projects finish (See below).
Discernment for our 2020 Plan
Love, Peace & Joy T.J. and Rochelle For more frequent updates from the field, follow us on Instagram or Facebook.
MINDS: ENGLISH PROGRAM EXPANDS & NEW ASST. TEACHER
A new evening English program commenced late-September in the classroom space of Iglesia Nueva Jerusalen church led by Hilder Barrios and assisted by Leydi Rios Alverez of Ometepe. This is an exciting milestone for OBGM investing in young adults in the community of Santa Cruz. Leydi Rios Alverez’s new role is a paid student-teaching job. She’s an incredible young mother who works full-time at her church’s program with Compassion International while finishing her college degree in English on Saturdays. We are excited to watch Leydi grow in her new role and our hope is that in the future, Leydi will assume full responsibilities for our Santa Cruz English program. Click here for her full bio.
BODIES & SPIRITS: SEPT & OCT OUTREACH
22 Food Packets (20 lbs. rice, 10 lbs. of beans, 5 lbs sugar, 1 lb coffee, 2 ltrs. oil) were prepared and distributed at the end of September – early October to six communities by our amazing team from Iglesia Nueva Jerusalen church. Earlier this week “Gloria” provided transport for the local mission team to visit & pray with the sick at hospitals – some suffering from dengue fever. In fact, the two hospitals on the island were full. The mission team provided their own donations of food and supplies to the sick as these items are NOT provided in Nicaraguan medical system (not even toilet paper).
BODIES: WORKING TOGETHER FOR THE GOOD We’re delighted to share last month’s construction for Christian and Marisol’s homes are almost complete thanks to generous donations. Unfortunately, both homes had to be 100% demolished and most existing materials could not be reused. Each family now has a firm foundation, posts and a roof that no longer leaks. Our local mission team and the homeowners labored hard with the materials preparation and construction to keep costs down.
Despite this, Marisol needs more help with brick walls, windows and a floor. We believe that anything is possible when “we know all things work together for good, for those who love God, who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28 NRSV).
The current budget to complete: Walls $720 Windows $315 Floor $225 Total: $1,260
If you feel implored to help Marisol’s family, consider gifting all, or part, of the above budget with your tax-deductible donation direct to OBGM or through a future Facebook fundraiser (contact us for more info)
‘…I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink.” Matthew 25:35
When we visit Ometepe, we are exposed daily to how the locals struggle to have the basics, such as clean water to drink. In June, we “trialed” one (1) family with a lightweight water filtration kit and the feedback has been amazing.
Thanks to the Cocoa Beach Daybreak Rotary Club for co-sponsoring a small-scale water filtration project with us in Ometepe. Rotary’s motto is Service above Self and the Club’s Mission Statement is to make lasting improvements to people’s lives through service.
The project will kick-off in November 2019 when 12 families will be equipped with a Sawyer PointOne Filter kit, a 5-gallon bucket and a food packet. Each family will receive training on how to use and maintain this lightweight system that filters up to 300 gallons per day and can last 10+ years. Our goal is to help improve the health of families and children as the filters are certified to prevent harmful microplastics, bacteria, protozoa, or cysts like E. coli, Giradia, Vibrio cholerae and Salmonella typhi (which cause Cholera and Typhoid) to pass through.
We’ll keep you posted in the coming months on this project’s impact and future plans.
Here is one example of how a small micro loan / grant of $75 can empower others and help many people in a community. The below is how one women’s group from the USA helped another women’s group in Ometepe Island, Nicaragua. We appreciate your prayers and if you feel led, consider making a tax-deductible contribution to us by clicking here. 100% of the proceeds we receive go towards programming to help the impoverished in Nicaragua.
It’s been a few weeks since Rochelle and our son, Andrew, returned from their extended visit in Ometepe Island, Nicaragua. We are grateful to have our family reunited and ready to enter a new season as stronger disciples of Christ.
Reflecting on what we experienced in June and July on Ometepe, the biggest surprise was the severity of the desperate economic situation that many of our neighbors, volunteers and friends are adjusting to on Ometepe Island (Scroll down to Micro Loan section below for reasons). The impact of this includes a large amount of families being unable to provide basic needs such as medicine, food, shoes, reading glasses and/or hygiene items. As a result, we are encouraging more teams to serve with us and to bring these items. At the current time, we can NOT ship to Nicaragua. IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN SERVING IN NICARAGUA CONTACT US.
Not a day passed without God showing us His heart while helping families & children on Ometepe. For example, people in the community would show up at our house with eggs, limes, nacatamales (a local dish), cookies, mangoes, avocados, and even a Nicaraguan dress! The extended visit also enabled us more opportunities to share in authentic family moments such as after-school homework time, a day at the beach, or preparing a meal together. These are a people JUST LIKE US seeking unity in family and nation. Unfortunately, they have much less in terms of choice, opportunity or advocacy. We remain committed to God’s plans for His people as the living Body of Christ: plans for hope and a prosperous future (Jeremiah 29:11). We thank you for your continued prayers & support. We thank our amazing on-site staff, volunteers & fellow missionaries in Nicaragua who fill in the gaps when we can’t. See below for more details on what’s happening NOW in the field.
HOUSING PROJECT UPDATE
As mentioned in last month’s e-news, one of this summer’s visiting mission teams had to reschedule their visit to Ometepe to a future date. However, catalysts for their decision to serve were the stories of two very poor, single-parent families in desperate need of structural housing improvements. In July, this mission team sent $1,600 to OBGM, and we immediately secured budgets. Supplies were delivered and construction is underway. This is a double blessing as the projects will employ people in their local community as well. Each project also requires volunteer hours which both the homeowners and OBGM’s local mission team are contributing.
Our extended stay in Ometepe this summer revealed that the economic climate in Nicaragua continues to worsen, due a steep decline in tourism and tax reform imposed by the current government. The tourism industry will likely take years to recover, and tax reform has out-priced most family farmers from getting the needed supplies for their crops. These hard-working men and women are very poor, and therefore have no access to credit. Sometimes the credit needed is a modest $100, $250 or $500 that could be repaid at harvest time.
This is just one example of a very complicated issue that we can NOT solve. However, we can expand peoples choices so that they may have the ability to do what’s best to provide for themselves. See the above video as an example.
Therefore, we will pilot a micro loan program to three to five families in Ometepe. Our goal is to provide & administer a pool of no-interest loans that continually sustain the program for poor on Ometepe. . If you have a heart to help someone help themselves, Click here to securely donate. We are seeking five $250 Sponsors.
It’s just over one month since we arrived in Nicaragua on June 6th and it’s been a roller-coaster adventure in this #summerofglory.
First, we would like to thank our June short-term mission volunteers, Matt & Margareth Hoey from Wilmington, DE and Mike Palmer from First United Methodist Church, Cocoa Beach. Their presence and donations continue to bless Ometepe Island today. Scroll down for detail & photos on each visit.
Next, continue to pray with us and for us. This journey has been filled with challenges, but in all the situations, we remain grateful to God’s faithfulness in providing exactly what is needed.The JOY far outweighs the challenges and we would not change a thing.
The most profound moments have been serving in relationship with the local mission team when we distribute food, donations, visit and pray with families in need. Some of the stories are heart wrenching. Last year’s sociopolitical crisis continues to hit families hard today. People who previously worked in tourism-related jobs are still un- or under-employed. There is no room in a family’s budget for “extras” like shoes, medicines, clothes, etc.
The people of Ometepe and throughout Nicaragua are teaching me so much about keeping a heart of trust and grace. In outreach, we encounter aging, sickand/or single-mother families — some who have to choose between receiving assistance for food or medicine from us. OBGM does not yet receive enough financial donations to provide both at this time.
We had our own personal emergency a few weeks ago, when our youngest son, Jake, had a severe allergic reaction. He is 100% recovered now, but we were officially baptized in the Nica emergency medical “system” where the conditions (and smells) were deplorable by US-standards. However, the clinic supplied the ample IV-medications and care. Also, accompanying us was our amazing local friends who helped us manage the language barrier. We had to put our trust in the hands and feet helping us, even though it did not look or feel normal to us.
Recently, one young father came to visit seeking only 200 Cords (~U$6.00) for asthma medication for his 12-month old baby. I could see the panic in his eyes and body – just like ME during my son’s recent allergic episode. The dad was so grateful for the medical assistance and promised to visit us when his son was well!
In each example, it is apparent that the physical presence, support, prayers and donations coming through OBGM (down to the last penny or donated pencil) is a blessing to our deserving brothers, sisters &children here in Ometepe. We are so grateful forGod’s faithfulness for bringing us to this place and opening our eyes. Last, please join us in prayer for: OBGM ministry & staff mission team & remaining stay this summer Continued peace for Nicaragua Remaining 2019 funding for: Payroll for ongoing English program & new Santa Cruz English Class program commencing in the weeks to come ($350/mo) Food Distribution Program ($350/mo) Medical Assistance ($100/mo) Funding for structural housing upgrades for two young families (See below previous e-news). Love, Peace & Joy T.J. and Rochelle For more frequent updates from the field, follow us on Instagram or Facebook.
JUNE VISIT Matt and Margareth Hoey came to Ometepe with such servant hearts and a ton of fun-filled surprises for our kids in the Saturday English program. They brought the remaining supplies for making our “You are So Loved” personal photos, dictionaries, loads of field toys and a full tray of Ferror Roche chocolates. Matt & Margareth took charge of both English class lessons with such confidence and fun. The kids’ LOVED it (see photos below). It was also a joy to watch the kids decorate their photos & taste fine chocolate for the first time! Thank you so much Matt & Margareth. We hope you were as blessed as the people on Ometepe Island.
ARE YOU INTERESTED IN SERVING WITH US IN NICARAGUA? CONTACT US FOR MORE INFO.
SOS – The rainy season is here — Marisol & Christian’ Families (see previous enews) are struggling to stay safe & dry during the rough downpours. Below is a 26-second video clip showing Marisol’s family (with their permission). We are seeking only $1,600 for both families to ensure structural repairs to keep these families safe & dry. Click here to securely donate.
Mike & First United Methodist Church Cocoa Beach
Mike Palmer of First United Methodist Church in Cocoa Beach (FUMCCB) enjoyed meeting his primary education scholarship recipients, teaching multiple English classes and serving with our local mission team. So many families were blessed by the food packages that were sponsored this month by FUMCCB. It was an honor to have Mike there to help secure the bulk food supplies, assemble the packages as well as distribute the food and pray with families in three (3) different communities.
A huge thanks to Mike for his generosity, time and sharing his testimony at our home church. Mike hopes to return to Ometepe one day on a future short-term mission trip.
MINDS: FIRST MALE COLLEGE SCHOLAR
Congratulations to Jeysin Alvarez Gonzalez who is our first male college scholar program recipient. OBGM now has a total of four (4) young adults participating in this program. Jeysin attends the Universidad Hispanoamerica Recinto in Rivas. He is grateful to God, foremost, for the opportunity to stay enrolled in college. He promises to work hard and volunteer with OBGM when available. Please pray for Jeysin and his family.
It’s simple. Education reduces poverty. Consider becoming a Sponsor to a native Ometepe Island college student. It’s typically a 5-year commitment of $50/month. Contact us with any questions, or set up your online recurring monthly donation today.
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
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.
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!
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.
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)