San Pedro Del Norte, Nicaragua Part II
After our time of preparation Lupe and Sammy took a dugout canoe with an outboard motor three hours downriver to another town where several pastors and lay workers were gathering for a training conference. There is very little opportunity for the training of pastors in this area, so the teaching of these two men of God is a blessing for them. They would spend the night and come back mid-morning the following day.
Tommy and I formed two evangelism teams, each with our translator, and two of the young men who came with us to visit the people in their homes in the neighborhoods around the church. Most of the people we saw were either “too busy” to listen to us or were already Christians that had not been going to church and not practicing their faith. We spent a lot of time encouraging these fallen believers and told them of the church we hoped to establish.
Around noon we came back to the house that served as our headquarters for lunch. After rice and beans, and about an hour of dozing in our chairs, Tommy and I expected to go back out into the neighborhoods to continue our evangelism. As no one was moving toward this end we asked Sergio what the plan was and he told us that there was to be a church service at 3:00. That sounded good; it would be the first in San Pedro for quite some time.
As the time for church approached people started drifting in and the musicians began their music. At 3:00 Abdiel asked me if I could give a short message and what verses would I use so they could be read before I spoke. A bit surprised I said ok and gave him verses from John 4, the story of the Samaritan woman at the well.
There were little kids sitting all around the room, one tiny little girl came up to me with a smile so I patted my knees and she turned and backed to me indicating that she wanted me to pick her up and put her on my lap. She sat there during the time of prayer and singing until time for the kids to go to the other room to make a little cross to wear around their necks.
"Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." John 4:13,14
It was my time to speak so I told them the story of Jesus’ conversation with the woman at the well in Samaria. Water sustains life for a time but physical life always comes to an end. The water Jesus offers is spiritual water; the well of His life, from the source that never runs dry. If we will receive it, it will be our daily sustenance, and when our time on earth is done our lives will continue for eternity.
I told them how to attain this water. With a simple prayer they can begin a new life in Christ. I told them that this was a prayer that could be prayed in a church, or alone; wherever they may be when they decide that they want to trust Jesus as their Savior.
This was an encouraging time; a gift after the morning in the neighborhood that left me discouraged and wondering why I came all this way. One of the most important things I have learned on mission trips is that there are always ups and downs. Gods’ work seldom goes as man plans. There are times of discouragement, but if we are persistent in doing what we are called to do, we will often see amazing things.
There was good news for the next day, Sergio had gone to the local school and talked with the director to see if we might come to his school and speak to the kids. He was open to our coming so after the church service we went to the school to meet him. I was surprised at how nice the school was. There were two rows of classrooms separated by a grassy yard. One a continuous building with an outside hallway extending the length of the yard painted bright blue and white. Across the yard was another row of much older wood frame buildings still in use as classrooms.
At the front of the school were two administrative offices, inside the first we found the director, a very enthusiastic young man by the name of Norvin Castro Calero. He was so happy to see us and spoke so fast that any hope of understanding his Spanish was lost. Abdiel translated as he told us how rare it was to see Americans in this remote part of his country and he was surprised but honored by our visit. We in turn expressed our gratitude for the invitation to come to the school and speak with the kids assuring him that the honor was ours.
There was so much he wanted to tell us about his school and he spoke so fast that Abdiel had to keep slowing him down so he could translate. What I remembered was that there were 900 plus students from grade 5 to the high school level and he wanted us to speak to each classroom and to give them the gospel message. Now it became clear to me why we drove 10 hours to this place. As we walked down the row of classrooms to leave I noticed one was filled with drums of all sizes and types; these were the drums of the band that passed by during our devotion earlier that morning. Norvin explained that they were practicing for the upcoming celebration of the revolution. We left with an appointment to return after lunch the next day.
With plans for the next day, dinner of rice and beans, and the sun going down we went back to our hotel. The moon was almost full so Tommy and I found a couple of chairs and situated them in front of the double outhouse, the only place where we could see the moon over the row of laundry strung across the small yard of the hotel. This location was not as bad as it may seem as the odor was no worse there than the rest of the place. Tommy broke out a couple of cigars and we smoked there in the moonlight; yes we have some rough edges, but I smoke only on rare occasions. The air was still and I demonstrated my talent of blowing smoke rings by the light of the moon as we reminisced about our experiences and the miracles that God has shown us time after time on our trips together.
After our cigar we went up the outside stairway to our rooms separated by a single board wall. I don’t remember ever staying in a hotel quite like this one. On one end of the upstairs open air hallway was a room with the doorway covered by a plastic curtain that served as a shower. To shower we fetched rain water from a 55 gallon barrel in the courtyard below. After carrying the bucket upstairs we used an empty plastic water bottle to pour the cold water over our heads. Showers were quick; no one lingered and the songs coming from behind the curtain to demonstrate that the cold water was not a bother had a vibratory quality to them as the cold water ran down our backs.
The rooms were about two feet longer and the same amount wider than the bed. There was a fan without a guard that worked until shortly after we went to bed when the electricity went off. There was a mosquito net that I tucked around the mattress but after the first night I began to notice little bites on my stomach and back. I am not sure but I think it must have been fleas. All this for only $3.00 per night.
Sleep came easy despite the discomforts, not just because I was tired but because I was content. What I missed physically God more than made up for as I knew I was where he wanted me to be. Tomorrow would be a good day; his plan seemed to be coming clear to us.
Part III. Big day at the school, and the movie in the park.
photo. Lupe, second from left, and Sammy in the red cap coming back from downriver.