San Pedro Del Norte, Nicaragua Part III

By Jeep Collins

In the morning Sergio, who was to be the permanent missionary to San Pedro, came to pick us up.  We were having breakfast so he sat and had coffee with us.  He told us of a trip he made to Honduras on the northern border of Nicaragua.   

Sergio's story
     “There was a church there with a vision to evangelize the villages in the region surrounding them.  They issued a call to churches from Nicaragua and northern Honduras to send people from their congregations with hearts for evangelism to come and help in this work.
     I answered the call and committed to go, but in the days preceding my departure my foot began to swell.  The day before I was to leave my son asked me why I still planned to go when there are plenty of people from the church in good health.  
     ‘I am going because God has something He wants to teach me, this swollen foot is the devil’s work trying to keep me from doing what God has planned for me.’
     The day I left my foot was so badly swollen that I could hardly walk, when my bus reached Managua, thirty minutes away from Crusado, the swelling in my foot had gone down, and an hour later was back to normal.
     When I arrived at the church the others that were to travel with me to my assigned church were not there.  ‘I will go by myself,’ I told the leaders.  After a six hour bus trip I arrived late at night.  The next morning I met with the pastor and his wife and one other couple, the entire remnant of the church in this town.  I spent that day in the neighborhoods close to the church going from house to house preaching the good news of the Savior, Jesus Christ.  That evening at the special church service there were twenty five new people in attendance.  Three more days of working in the neighborhoods and there were one hundred and fifty.
     When the devil gets wind of the good work that God has planned he will do everything he can to stop it.  He uses discouragement, pain, fear, whatever God's people are susceptible to.  We all have  weaknesses and that is why we must always rely on God to sustain us to go forth in His strength.”

We worked in the neighborhood in the morning until 11:30 then went down to the wharf to meet Sammy and Lupe coming back from downriver.  While we waited for their return Abdiel, Marcos, and I hired a boat for a short trip down river to see where the two rivers come together.  The river is muddy and large in the height of the rainy season and when we came to the place where the two rivers met its size doubled. We cruised further down river and a man hailed us from the shore and the boatman swung over to pick him up. He had a load of bananas slung over his shoulder and he climbed into the bow that was run up on the sandy shore.  After he was settled in the front seat the boatman turned his motor around and revved his engine to pull us back into the current.  As we continued down river we passed by a ferry being pulled across the river by a huge cable.  On board were three cowboys on horseback. I looked carefully at these men thinking that John Wayne might be among them.

Coming around a bend we got an open view ahead and saw a thunderstorm coming toward us.  The boatman turned and we raced back upriver to the wharf.  It caught us as we arrived and poured down on us. I pulled wet Cordoba’s from my pocket and paid the boatman then ran to catch my mates who were already headed to shelter.  When I arrived they were huddled under the overhanging roofs of the buildings that lined the street leading up the hill into town.

We waited for a while and soon we saw another boat coming up the river with Sammy in the bow like George Washington when he crossed the Delaware; not really.  He was seated and wearing a plastic trash bag with holes for his arms and head to protect him from the rain.  Beside him sat Lupe with a similar plastic poncho.  The rain let up and we walked back down to greet them.  For three hours they had been in and out of showers, there was ankle deep water in the bottom of the boat and the passengers had had to take turns bailing to keep the boat from swamping.  Their trip had been a success, the conference went well and they were able to share the gospel with passengers they picked up and dropped along the way.

The drizzle picked up again as we walked up the hill into town.  At the top Sergio was waiting with his truck to pick us up.  We piled in and rode the short distance to the school.  We arrived soaked through but excited about what we would be doing.

Norvin, the principal took us as a group to the first classroom.  When we walked into the room the kids all stood up and when we were introduced they greeted us respectfully. Tommy and I spoke in turn and then Sammy presented the gospel.  Several of the kids indicated they wanted to pray to receive Christ.  Because of so many classrooms ahead of us we split into two groups.  Abdiel, my translator and two others from our group went with me in one group, while Tommy, Sammy and some others went to the row of classrooms on the other side of the yard.

In the next classroom and in a loud voice to overcome the sound of pounding rain that had returned, I told the kids that their lives were like the empty marker board behind me. Each decision that they make would determine what gets written on that board.  Good decisions would have good things written while bad decisions would bring undesirable consequences.

I told them that their friendships would play an important role in the writings on their board.  Good friends would encourage them in good directions, while the wrong friends would lead them into trouble.  A good friend is there to support us and keep us accountable.  My best friend is Jesus Christ and as I have built a relationship with Him I know I can always count on Him to guide me in the right direction.   

As I told them the gospel message I pointed out that the bible states that no one is perfect, we all make mistakes, otherwise we would not need the erasers on our pencils. There are things I would like to erase from my life’s marker board, but even though I cannot erase those things, through Christ I can be forgiven and begin anew.

The kids were very respectful and listened as I spoke.  When I asked who would like to pray to receive Christ nearly all of them raised their hands.  Then I led them in prayer and told them that this was the most important decision they will ever make and encouraged them to be accountable to each other and read their bibles.

There were 8 or 10 classrooms that we visited with the students getting progressively older as we worked our way down the outside hallway.  Between classrooms across the lawn we could see the other group as they worked their way down the row of buildings in the older section of the school.  This was a very emotional and spiritually uplifting time for me.  It seemed as if the words just flowed from my mouth without thought and Abdiel, who translated for me seemed to have the same enthusiasm.

When we had been to every classroom we rejoined the other group at the office where Norvin, more enthusiastic than ever, told us again how good it was for us to be there. We encouraged him in his work and asked if it might be possible for the newly formed church to meet here at the school.  He nodded and said “it is possible.”  

We talked about the education of the kids; "the textbooks we use currently are very old," he told us. "We would like for the students to learn computer skills.  We have no internet in San Pedro but there is talk that it will be coming soon.  We told him we would somehow get him a couple of computers.  

When we returned to the states after this trip, a friend of Tommy’s gave him twenty five refurbished laptops in new cases that we brought down on a later trip.  They were confiscated in customs, but with the help of a woman named Mercedes; a professional importer, they were released after three months of red tape.  Tommy and I returned again to get them, and  give them to Norvin who met us in Managua to take to San Pedro.

After the school visit we returned to the house for a late lunch and a little siesta.  The plan for the evening was to show a movie so we went down to the park to set up a screen and projector.  The young men were well prepared, they even had a battery pack in case electricity was not available.  At the park were young men playing soccer and they challenged our guys to a game.  Our team made a valiant effort but the local boys were too strong for them.

The word of a movie had gone out and there were lots of people waiting in the park when we returned just before dark. This would be a special treat for them as there is no movie theater in San Pedro.  The showing was complete with cartoons; the kids loved it and it brought back memories of my early days when there were cartoons, newsreels and sometimes other shorts at the local theatre.  Afterwords Lupe explained on a loudspeaker our purpose for being in San Pedro, and his desire to establish a church. Not a just a church building, but a body of believers in Jesus Christ.  Then he explained how they could be a part of this by trusting in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  Many people expressed a desire for all this to come about and put their faith in Christ.

The next day we made the 10 hour trip back to Managua and rejoined the other group. We worked with them till noon the next day in an orphanage, and then went up to Crater Lake, a volcano, now a beautiful lake and were tourists for the last afternoon.

photo.  Sammy talking to the students in San Pedro Del Norte.