The first quarter of 2015 picked up where we left off in 2014.  It seems like we are always saying the best yet:  “the best group,” “best week,” “best year” and 2014 was just that the “best year” in any way we could ask or measure.

In January, we finalized distribution of “Smiles-2014” with 12,800 + “Smiles”. These pictures tell the story of the blessing of the smiles you send to Nicaragua. Thanks for the blessings!
We were able to be at the Medical Mission Conference in Dallas and Sunset Forum in January and the first of February we were able to attend the lectureship at Freed-Hardeman.  In March we attended the Tulsa workshop and visited with congregations in Dover, Morrilton, Texarkana, and El Dorado.
In January, the Institute for Preparation of Workers (IPO) started its twelfth year. This year we will continue to have locations in Jinotega, Waswili Prison, San Andres, Ocotal, Chinandega, and San Jose Bocay with over 200 students.

We had the blessing in February to continue our Bible distribution at the Las Mercedes Hotel with the addition of the first lesson of World Bible School in Spanish (EBM).  Be watching for details on how you can help us secure an additional 10,000 Bibles this year.
In February, we had our first guests from Texas Tech with us.  Five fourth-year medical students, who will graduate in May.  Of the five that were with us, four of them came to Nicaragua when they finished their first year of study.  In February, we also had with us Vince Admires and his family from Florida. 

March had our first groups for 2015.  Texas Tech Medical School, Harding University and Dallas Christian were with us.

In March we celebrate two ten year milestones: March 1st marked ten years that Donna and I have had the privilege to work with the mission full-time, and March also marked ten years for our school outreach.  Our first school was in Hattilo, south of Jinotega, and now we work directly with 31 schools with over 2,500 children in conjunction with the Ministry of Education.  Harding helped open the school ten years ago, and help this year with the celebration.  Over the last ten years, we have built or remodeled over 25 schools across the Jinotega department.  We started this year an effort to refurbish all our schools as needed.

It was good to have Mike Faris back with us in March.  He was here to help with the two weeks we had groups and also taught one week in IPO.  Mike and Ann will be returning this summer to continue to work with the mission as they have in the past.  Please keep Ann in your prayers for full recovery from recent knee surgery.

Over the last five years we have used a soup mix to address the need of hunger and malnutrition.  Thanks to the efforts of a number of different individuals and groups, (a special thanks to Esther at Global Samaritan and Randy Souza at Feeding the Nations), we have had the blessing of distributing over 5 million servings.  In March thanks to Bev at One Child Matters we have been able to develop a direct relationship and become Distributing Partner for Stop Hunger Now in Nicaragua. Thanks to this new relationship with them and Kids Against Hunger in Florida we will be able to expand the distribution and provide better on-going support for feeding programs and schools that we work with as well as develop new avenues of distribution.  In 2014, we distributed over 1 million servings, in 2015 our goal is over 2 million.  It is amazing what a cup of water and a bag of soup can do to change the health of a child.
Several months ago Jonathan started working with Juan Carlos in Apanas to help the congregation there develop a Children Bible Program.  That program now has over 100 children meeting on Saturday afternoons.  After that, Jonathan started working with the youth in the congregation in Jinotega to do the same, that Bible program meets on Sunday afternoon with over 100 children.  In an effort to help the other congregations
develop similar Children Ministry projects, Jonathan and Sheila presented a Children’s Ministry Seminar in March that had 45 individuals from 13 congregations in attendance.  Please keep this continued effort for the children in your prayers.

It was with regret that we said “see you later” not “farewell” to the Counts in March.  Chris, Jill, Zach and Maggie came to Nicaragua in 2011 with the Hennigers and Browns to develop Hope4Life, and develop they did.  God has truly blessed that effort.  It was sad to see them leave but we rejoice that we will see them again.  May God bless and be with them as they transition back to the states.

One Child Matters celebrates one year in March continuing to impact children and families.  Of the first 250 registered for OCM we have sponsors for 225.  We are looking to open a third location in Yali soon. 

One thing that OCM provides for the congregations is the ability to touch the families of the children and share the message of our Lord.  Ana started attending the church in Jinotega when her daughter started in OCM, in February Ana made her decision for the Lord.  What a special day.
Jonathan and Sheila have been working with the Ministry of Family in pursuit of adoption.  That process continues as they now have two children living with them.  We cannot give many details other than that they are two very precious children that everyone has already fallen in love with them. Please keep the continuing process of adoption in your prayers.
Looking for a place to take a group this summer?  We have one week still available.  The first week of June, June 6 – 13.
1. Jonathan and Sheila and the continued adoption process.
2. Donna will be having additional back surgery April 15.
3. Prayers of thanksgiving for the new agreement with Stop Hunger Now!  Contact us on how you can help provide servings of soup at 3 cents a serving.
4. Vehicles:  Before the summer season, we need to purchase a van and repair two of our trucks.  The white van, which has carried many people since 2005 now has over 150,000 miles. A used van will cost us around $24,000, we have received money to cover half of the cost of the purchase of a van. We also have to give two of our trucks major physical overhaul; the motors are both still good with over 125,000 miles.  We have had both trucks since 2007. The cost of the repairs will be around $5,000 per truck.  Anything that you can do to help would be greatly appreciated.
5.  We still have 25 children in OCM that need a sponsor, contact us today or go to our website, www.misionparacristo.com and click on the OCM link and choose a child.  The children listed there are all in Apanas.  Also be in touch with us on coming to your congregation and make a OCM presentation.
6.  Please keep the Children’s Ministry development in your prayers.
7.  The work with the Casa Materna continues to grow and expand.  Many ask what is needed.  This is the latest list from Janese…cloth diapers, bags to put everything in, sanitary napkins, ivory soap, baby wipes,  disposable diapers, socks, wash cloths, bibs, baby body wash and lotion.
The January - March Newsletter is loaded with pictures for this edition. Please download the PDF version to see more pictures and read about all that is being done.

Thanks for your continued support. Because none of this would be possible without God’s blessings and your partnership… by you doing something, we doing something and God putting it together, we can do something we could not have done apart from each other.
Because of Him:  Benny and Donna