Our mission remains the same, but the execution has looked a little different.
All our work centers on the goal of strengthening the communities where we work and making Disciples of Jesus. That might include soccer games, celebrations, meetings with parents or CAPS, discipleship, and retreats.
The big word there is Community. On any given day, our staff could be hanging out with hundreds of kids, visiting the homes of a dozen families, or rubbing shoulders with volunteers digging for hours in the hot sun.
But when the global pandemic started, we had to quickly pull-back from our normal way of doing things and get creative to keep our programs and projects going.
As of August, Nicaragua still has not issued any formal guidelines for COVID 19. However, businesses and schools have been employing their own protocols to ensure public safety. There’s been a lot of confusion and misunderstanding around how to respond to the pandemic, and as a result, many families have been devastated by a disease and many feel helpless and hopeless in the face of it.
So our staff masked up and stepped into the gap.
Within the first week of cases appearing in Nicaragua, our team was delivering bags of hygienic supplies and educational materials to every single family across the four communities we work in. First and foremost, we wanted these families to feel empowered to know how to protect themselves, their friends, and neighbors, and to be equipped to do so.
Next up, the Discipleship staff created at-home Discipleship packets for our kids to engage with and share with their families. These included weekly devotionals, scriptures and crosswords that went along with the messages, which were delivered in lieu of our weekly Discipleship classes.
We’ve also been mentoring our volunteer Leaders over Skype every week. These Leaders have even taken the initiative to record and send their own devotionals to each other, sharing lessons from their personal walks with Jesus over WhatsApp. It’s the first time that Leaders from all four Discipleship communities have come together like this, and we couldn’t be more excited and proud of them!
Prior to the pandemic, our Water & Sanitation team expected to have the Salinas Grande Water Project completed by now. However, to keep the community safe, we had to stop digging back in April. The project is too massive in scale to accomplish with one or two people, and there’s still tons of community engagement and outreach necessary to make sure the citizens are ready to manage their own water system once we Turn On The Water. But we’re working on a plan behind the scenes, and hopeful that we can resume very soon.
Some exciting news is that the Modern Bathroom project in El Porvenir is still trucking along. Building a bathroom requires only a couple people to construct, and it’s easy to maintain social distance practices. Since the start of the pandemic we’ve completed 16 bathrooms and are still going strong!
While this interruption to our everyday routines has forced us to adapt, it’s also given us time to reflect and open up with one another in our staff meetings — which we’ve started to host under the El Limonal Community Center roof where everyone can properly spread out. Over the course of the pandemic a few members of our staff have opened up and shared that God’s been working in them and challenging them to figure out, “who are they without their work?” It’s a humbling and hard question, but it’s ultimately drawn us closer to our mission and closer to God.
Written by Megan Dionne