Friends often ask me what are you going to be building on your mission trip to Nicaragua?  Are you going to be constructing or painting houses or perhaps repairing homes that have been damaged due to neglect or natural disasters over time?  Many are surprised when I tell them that our mission team will be building new relationships and strengthening the foundations of organizations that we have supported in many different ways over the past years.

Our team of seven travelers, which included, the Rev. Brooks Smith, the Rev. David Jahnke, the Rev. Edwin Estevez, Gerry McKenna, Pam Heady, Tom Strowe, Jr. and Skip Winter, accomplished all of our objectives in our eight days in Nicaragua, and as always happens, new doors are opened and opportunities presented that make us anxious to return home to celebrate and spread the word about the good work that is being accomplished.

We worked with our four mission partners, Corazon Contento, Fedi-Camp, Axayacatl and Inhijambia.  Corazon Contento is an organization in Granada that specializes in working with special needs adults and children. They are the only such organization in Nicaragua that focuses on working with special needs individuals.  Fedi-Camp is an organization in the northern Nicaragua town of Esteli.  Fedi-Camp works with communities on improving their accessibility to clean water, better sanitation facilities and better agricultural practices. Axayacatl is a women’s organization in Masaya that works with women that suffer from domestic and sexual abuse.  Aside from providing counseling and advocacy, they also provide micro-financing to help women become more financially independent. Inhijambia, which is located in Managua, works with children who live in squalid conditions and who are often drug addicted and who also have suffered from domestic and sexual abuse.

Our team was very pleased to reconnect with Celia, the seven year old deaf girl that we met three years ago in the community of Rio Grande, outside of Esteli.  We were able to receive her family’s contact information, which will enable us to help her receive the treatment that she needs.  Local recording artist, Kelli Bruno, who has been on two of our past trips, has been a strong advocate for Celia and also wrote a song called “Corazon,” in her honor.

Finally, we were honored to spend time with the Mayor of Granada, who graciously allowed us a great deal of time to discuss life in Granada.  Tom Strowe, Jr., who is the Economic Development Manager of Scotch Plains, presented her with a proclamation written by the Mayor of Scotch Plains, Al Smith, with an invitation to begin the process of becoming “sister cities.”

This is just a snapshot of the highlights of our trip.  Stay tuned for an Adult Education Nicaragua presentation in the coming weeks.

Skip Winter