February 2008

February started with groups continuing travel on the river. We especially appreciate the work that Victor Linscomb has done in a specific area of the Rio Bocay. He and some others spent two weeks in the area with the primary focus of continuing the parasite treatment of the children of the river.

After many delays in February we were finally able to get the seed provided us from Children Meds First released from customs and the start of distribution. Originally we were to receive around 12,500 packets for distribution but because of another organization unable to receive their seed we received the total shipment of six different garden variety seed with a total of over 25,000 packets. The seed packets contain seeds for tomatoes, cucumbers, cantaloupe, squash, peppers and carrots. The plan for distribution is:

1. All 16 schools in our network will receive seed for a garden at the school. We will involve parents to help children learn gardening and the children will be responsible for the care of the garden.
2. 52 communities on the Rio Coco and Rio Bocay will receive the seed to develop community gardens. The Community Health Promoters will provide the oversight of the gardens. The majority of the seed will be used here in Jinotega. We estimate that we will touch over 7,000 families using this seed this way instead of individual family distribution.
3. 27 Community Health Promoters, not on the river, will receive seed for a community garden for their area.
4. Congregations will receive seed to develop gardens for their congregations.
5. Seed for 150 families were sent to Puerto Cabeza for distribution.
6. The remaining seed will be distributed by evangelist to more remote areas where families are not living in communities.

On the 13th we renewed our Covenant Agreement with the Ministry of Education for the Jinotega Region and the new Minister of Education for the region, Leyla Moreno.

The basic agreement sets our working relationship with her office and gives accreditation to our schools. Sra. Moreno was very accommodating with our requirement of a daily Bible lesson. She also agreed with a statement made last year to us by the Minister of Education, "An uneducated child spiritually is an uneducated child."

We start this school year with 16 schools and 550 children and the opportunity to open additional schools as we are able. The Ministry of Education has made a formal request to us for 11 additional schools they would like us to open. In the Jinotega Region there are 48 communities that do not have a school. This year there are, according to the Minister of Education, 117,000 children in school but she estimates somewhere around 42,000 children will not have the opportunity to go to school this year. We know that we cannot open all of these schools but our goal continues to strive to open, “Just One More…” $300 a month provides support for one school, can you help?

In the meeting Sra Moreno gave the mission and the church a great challenge and a great
opportunity. In the Jinotega Region we have one of the highest illiteracy rates in Nicaragua. Our region has a population of around 300,000 and 35% of the adult population of our region cannot read or write. The Minister of Education has material to teach the people to read and write but has a limited distribution system or ability to get the material to the people. She offered to provide us with all of the materials and training necessary for those who would teach this material. WHAT A CHALLENGE! WHAT AN OPPORTUNITY! We feel that there are three ways in which we can work with this material: congregations we work with, our schools and the Community Health Promoters. We presently have a direct presence in 72 communities in the Jinotega Department. She was especially interested in ways that we can get the materials and training to the river area where the illiteracy rate is the highest. She also gave us permission to use the Bible as part of the teaching material. We need to 12,000 Bibles for this project.

For additional pictures for this school year go to our picture site…
In March we will start the construction of the school in Santa Barbara, notice the pictures on Santa Barbara. They have not had a school there for the last two years and are meeting in the house with bamboo, plastic, mud and stick walls in the pictures until construction is completed on the new school.

The highlight of the month for us was having our family together for the wedding of our daughter Tiffany Elizabeth to Daniel King in Shreveport, LA on the 23rd. Elizabeth and Daniel will be making their home in Shreveport….Amy has posted these pictures of the weekend…

We returned to Nicaragua the end of February with the arrival of our first Spring Break groups. We had two groups from Harding. Dr. Nancy Clarke brought with her two nursing students and we had 14 other students as part of the Spring Break Campaigns from Harding. There will be more about their efforts in our March Newsletter.

Our arrival back to Jinotega saw some chances and challenges. They started the process of building a new market by moving the bus station across the street from the church and mission. And the market has moved to the streets in the surrounding area and that includes the street in front of our house we moved to last month.

In February God bless us with opening of a new congregation in Raiti, which is the last community on the Rio Coco in the Jinotega Region. Plans are being finalized for the starting of the congregation in Apansas and in Wamblam. The work in Wamblam will also involve serving the community Plan de Grama. The report of the churches in the northern Matagalpa and Jinotega regions has almost 1,000 adults and children.

This month we were able to pick up copies of the new Bible Bowl material that was translated and printed by Spanish Literature. A very special thanks to John Kimbrough and the Big Three Bible Bowl for the ability to translate their material. Plans are to distribute the material and plan at the Uplift Nicaragua in July. We need to 1,000 Bibles for this project.

As we said last month our website www.misionparacristo.com is going through reconstruction. It should be back online in the next couple of weeks. If you would like to see current pictures Mike has posted go to http://mpc-works.smugmug.com. Also thanks to Katrina Weatherly the mission now has a “blog” to help in communication among those that work with the mission in different ways: http://www.mpcnicaragua.blogspot.com. I like what she says on the blog, “in the words of those that make this mission possible.”

We are thankful for four new congregations partnering with us: the church in Farmington, NM (who had a special contribution for the mission in December), the church in Duncanville, TX, the Monterery congregation in Lubbock, TX and the Westgate church in Dothan, AL. Also to the Grapevine congregation in Grapevine, TX for their increase support. This month we were able to visit the Hampton Road congregation (formerly Rose Hill) and the Highland congregation in Texarkana who both have been partners with us for a number of years.

As we look at our list for this month, we have three main things that are at the top of the list:

1. The securing of 13,000 Bibles.
2. The need for an additional vehicle to replace the truck.
3. Medicine, which is always at the top of our list.

We are blessed beyond measure with the support and encouragement of so many. We could not do what we do without each and everyone of you. Please continue to keep this Mission for Christ in you prayers.

Blessings in His name:
Benny and Donna