Pastor Algenor of the Church in Chacraseca

My obsession with bad, bumpy roads is wearing thin, I’ll admit, but I have one more story, and I promise, that will be it. Actually, I can’t promise that since I am heading to Kenya in July, but for now, let’s say that this is the last one for the spring. I actually think there is a good book in me somewhere that talks about the people I find at the ends of these bumpy roads I’ve traveled on.

This post is about Chacraseca, Nicaragua. Chacraseca is at the end of a very bad road, probably the worst road I experienced in all my travels, not just in Central America. The roads are carved out of old lava fields. The lava is sharp, jagged, and very hard. It is hard to get them very smooth, so the roads weave in and out of the lumps of lava that were deposited millenia before. When our truck finally pulled off this road, we found ourselves in front of the Church of Christ in Chacraseca. CRF donors sponsor about 14 kids in this community, and I was about to meet many of them. School was out and the word went out that a CRF person from the U.S. would be at their church building to meet people.

Most people in Chacraseca are “campesinos”, or farmers, including the minister of the church, Algenor. That is him standing in front of the church building. He was telling us that the rainfall in that region has been almost non-existent in the last 3 years. The farmers there rely on nature to water the plants because they cannot afford irrigation. They have lost crop after crop because after planting a field, the needed rains didn’t come. They are unsure about when to plant because of the spotty weather. Many are blaming global warming. The changes to their climate have confused them. When there is no farming, there are no jobs in Chacraseca, none. The community tries to band together to help each other out. The group had just gleaned a commercial peanut farm behind the mechanical harvesters. They all share in what is gleaned. They also recently shared in one farmer’s successful squash harvest. Hard-working, honest, faithful, but poor. This describes many of the people I find at the ends of these hard roads I travel.

The fourteen children we sponsor have huge hearts.  One of the things that makes CRF child sponsorship different is that our sponsors are actually assigned a child. That child receives monthly support individually, and we encourage our sponsors to build a relationship with them. In this community, our children have decided that they will share with the church all they receive.  After we provide the 14 packages of rations, they have chosen to help their entire community. After hearing about their generosity, I wanted to make sure our children had enough to eat, and were attending school. I got a “yes” answer to both those questions. Not only the children, but  family after family came to thank CRF, to shake my hand, hug me, and take my picture after our devotional and prayer time. They asked if we would find sponsors for more of their children. I couldn’t promise them we would get more children sponsored in Chacraseca, but I am sending our Nicaragua guys there today to take more pictures of unsponsored kids like the ones in this picture and record their information. I have faith that our sponsors will understand and respond in the way they always do…with generosity, faith, and most importantly, love. I think God will be able to provide CRF with sponsors for another 15 children in Chacraseca. If you want to help in any way, please contact us and let us know how you want to help. At the very least, please pray for rain in that entire region, they could use it.

Adiós a Mis Compradres

This is a post from Larry Wu on his trip to Central America.

Esteban Valle taught me the real meaning of the word, “Adiós” yesterday. If you know him, you know he knows a lot about a lot of subjects. He said it is a contraction of a longer string of words. I guess our latest generation isn’t the only one to shorten their communication blurbs. That string of words is, “A Dios vais” or “To God you are going.” It was meant as a blessing to a traveler and in effect it was intended to let someone know that you are wishing God travel with them. It is a nice sentiment, much better than just “goodbye” (which probably means the same in olde English).

So when he said it to me at the airport in Managua, it had a special meaning to me. I really feel as if God is with me after spending two weeks seeing how our CRF workers in Central America really put God first as they serve all the kids in the CRF programs. Through their faith and their love for me, I know God will answer the prayers they said over me. I traveled with Esteban and Christian Toruno every day for two weeks. They went with me wherever I was to go. They translated for me, they made me laugh, and they made sure we got where we were supposed to be. I could not have accomplished much without their help, assistance, and generosity. It is weird for me to feel helpless, and even weirder to be served so selflessly. I am not used to that.

God did get us safely through so many difficult travel conditions. I love the spirit of the people here…they suffer without complaining. They are used to being uncomfortable as they travel. They know how to handle the hot, dry, and then the hot, humid weather…sometimes in the same day. They are a patient, generous, hard-working, and faithful people. After two weeks in the cities and countryside of Honduras, El Salvador, and Nicaragua, it is hard for me to hear the loudness of English as I sit here in the waiting area of the airport. This is the sign that my trip is over. My brain is quickly converting from a placid, even-tempo of Central American rhythm, to that staccato of a faster-paced life in the U.S.

I pray that God stays with me.

What a Difference a Sponsor Makes!

Sometimes I get questions from sponsors whether their monthly contribution really makes a difference in helping these kids. I saw for myself the difference in a very compelling way today in El Salvador. Our CRF coordinator for El Salvador, Miguel Arguera and the Coordinator for all of Latin America, Esteban Valle, took me to the community of Jucuapa in the eastern side of the country. The 2+ hour drive from San Salvador was beautiful. The volcanos, valleys, lakes and forests were lovely. There were street vendors selling the local specialties…fruits, vegetables, coconuts, sugar cane, and even iguanas! Our goal in Jucuapa was to meet a group of kids hoping to find sponsorship in the near future. We were going to take their pictures, get their pamphlets built and then find them sponsors. We met and photographed about 12 children all together that morning. One girl in particular stuck with me. (more…)

The Hard Road

The past 2 days, I have been touring around El Salvador to see some of the great projects we have in this country. We are making our base in San Salvador, the capital and making day-long trips around the country. I think this is the best name a country could ever have…translated from the Spanish it means, “The one and only Savior.” I wish all countries could have a name like that. The story of how this wonderful country got its name comes from Christopher Columbus. Legend has it that when he left Honduras, he ran into a major storm and didn’t think he or any of his ships would survive. When they finally made it to land, he thanked “El Salvador” for delivering him safely, and the name stuck. (more…)

Bienvenidos a Centroamérica!

Larry Wu, Director of Field Operations, and Milton Jones, CRF CEO, are visiting CRF programs in Central America this week.  Here is Larry’s first blog post from the trip.  Keep checking back for more!

Flying into Tegucigalpa airport, I was thinking to myself how much the mountains around the city looked like the mountains around Kisumu, Kenya. I am familiar with traveling in Kenya, and am equally unfamiliar with travel in Central America. But the similarities don’t end with the topography. It FEELS like I am in a familiar place, meeting familiar people, and hearing familiar stories.

Everywhere CRF goes, it seems that poor people live similar lives. (more…)