Nov 18

So, what’s next?

So we are coming to the end of our two years working here in Nicaragua with Amigos for Christ. Here is an update about what has been going on lately, and our plans for the future.

 

Jul 28

July 2014 Video Update

It has been a busy summer! We thought we would do things a little different this time, so our talented friend Lennox helped us make this video update!

 

July 2014 Video Update

 

 

May 06

Summer’s Almost Here…

From Elizabeth

This Saturday marks the first week of summer groups, and we are really excited about what God has in store for Amigos this summer. But before we jump into summer we wanted to share a few of the awesome things that have happened this spring. So far this year we have had 9 weeks of groups with over 450 people who have come down to serve the communities here in Nicaragua with Amigos. We worked in two communities this spring, San Marcos de las Pilas and Valle Los Morenos. We finished the main line in San Marcos and  they are currently finishing house connections. Hopefully we will be turning on the water there in the next couple months. We are currently working in Valle Los Morenos, a community of about 27 families at the base of San Cristobol, the tallest volcano in Nicaragua. It is a wonderful community of people that are working hard for the clean water system they have wanted for so long. We will continue to work there for the next few months until their system is finished.

_DSC0191Last year was our first year partnering with  OneSight, a charitable organization that works all over the world to provide free eye exams and new glasses in underserved communities worldwide. Over 2,500 individuals came through the eye clinic last year and on May 13 we will be begin the second eye clinic here in Chinandega. Folks from communities all around Northern Nicaragua will come to the clinic and receive a free eye exam and glasses if needed. I loved being able to see how the Onesight  volunteers cared for each person who came through the clinic and the amazing stories I heard throughout the week. One of my favorite stories was an older couple that had been struggling with blurry vision for many years, and after they put on their new glasses were overwhelmed with emotions at being able to see each other clearly for the first time in years. I am truly excited to see and hear all the stories that will come from this year’s’ clinic.

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For a long time I have wanted to complete a Beth Moore Bible Study, and this spring I got to start my first. In total there are 8 of us right now living full time, one of those women is actually our Spanish teacher who doesn’t work for Amigos, but has become a dear friend. We are working through the study, “Seeking A Heart Like His” all about David. I have so enjoyed having the time to spend with these women, get to know them on a deeper level, and mostly getting to know God’s word better. I have already been amazed at how God is using this time, and can’t wait to see how He will continue to strengthen the friendships and well as our relationship with Him.

From Jeff

The Healthy Kitchen Project Update:  In January, one of our team members,  Julio “Teacher”, moved to the education team.  The nickname says it all.  We hated to loose him but it was a good step up for him and his new work definitely fits his passions.  With his move and the demand of the project, we were able to bring 2 new members to the team.  Melvis comes to us from one of the Amigos’ farms.  He is a quick learner, very outgoing, and a great fit.  Santos comes to our team from his job working at our property keeping the grounds maintained.  Also a great fit for our team, his move allowed for his brother to take his spot at our property and giving another person a job.  With Alex “Daddy Yankee” (my kid brother), Gerardo “Cocero”, the 2 new members and myself, the Healthy Kitchen Project is in full swing.

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Back in September Amigos broke ground on a new dormitory that includes 15 individual rooms that each have their own bathroom.  I had the opportunity to do use some of the guys from my team to do the plumbing for the new building.  It was a pretty good team building activity for us as none of the guys knew much about plumbing but where very interested to learn.  We are putting the finishing touches on the new dorms this week and it will increase our capacity for groups from 90 people to around 120.IMG_2627

The men’s Wednesday morning bible study is in full swing.  We are still working our way through Proverbs reading and discussing a chapter a week.  We have anywhere from 8 to 12 guys showing up before work.  We are following a Youversion bible plan that we all are enjoying and always leads to good discussion

From Both of us

We thank you for your continued payers and support. We think about our family and friends back in the states every day, and pray for you often. We feel so blessed to have come from the community we have, and to be able to follow God’s calling on our life here.

 

 

Feb 13

What’s Been Happening….

January was an awesome month. We got back to Nicaragua on January 2nd and on the the 4th we had our first group of the year. We have had a pretty busy month and I wanted to share one of the most recent happenings.

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On January 21st we had a group of five from Lifepoint church come down to Nicaragua on a preview trip. The lead pastor Jeff and his son Riley, the executive pastor Daryl and his son Philip, and the youth pastor Brad. Once Jeff and I heard they were coming down, we we so excited to be able to share this place with our Lifepoint family. Before moving down to Nicaragua, when we were still in the early phase of finalizing our decision and working out the logistics, our church family provided so much encouragement and support. So many of our friends from Lifepoint have supported us through prayers, encouragement, and financially. When we heard they were coming to check out Amigos for Christ we began planning the best three days we could, in an effort to show them as much as we could about who Amigos is and what we do here in Nicaragua. Our prayers were that God would have the time they spent here be exactly when He had planned and that as excited as we were, we could get out of the way and let Him work.  What a wonderful three days we had. It was very similar to the time our family was here last July. Being able to show the people that we care about what we do and have them understand and be excited about what’s going on down here.

 

The first day we spent in El Moto helping dig the main water line for the water system. It was a hot day, but amazing to see the guys jump in and work hard along side the Nicaraguans. _DSC0072At lunch we all jumped in the back of the truck and drove into El Moto and ate lunch with some of the families there. I always love this part of the day, partially because I am famished and ready to eat, but mainly because we get to see the faces of the people who’s lives will change the instant they have running water at their home. We went to my friend Yara’s house and she pulled out chairs for us, and we sat and ate and talked with her for a little while.

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We asked were she got her water and she walked us down to the well she uses. A few of the guys took turns with the pump, and I imagined what her life will look like when she no longer has to walk to the well, pump the water, then carry the bucket on her head back to her house, multiple times a day. Not only will she have water at her house, but clean water at her house, so that she never has to worry again about the water her children are drinking.

_DSC0077 That afternoon we headed back out to the line, and got back to work. Riley and Philip took some time to hang out with a few of the kids, Junior and Juan, and tried to master the game they were playing…it looked pretty challenging. At the end of the day we loaded back up on the bus and headed back to the property.

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The second day we headed out to Miguel Cristiano to help out with the Modern Bathrooms. The contrast in between the two communities was apparent. Miguel Cristiano turned on their water system in June of last year. That day we helped mix concrete for the foundations of the Modern Bathrooms.

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Mixing concrete is one of the hardest jobs, but the job was done all day with smiles, jokes, and laughs, as we got to meet each of the families and work beside them preparing the base their modern bathroom. At lunch we took a break and ate over at Don Antonio’s house, checked out the tank, and played some Frisbee.

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Our third day we spent some time in the morning reflecting about the week then in the afternoon we headed out to Cerro Negro for a sunset climb. Climbing an active volcano is a challenge that can’t be described, it has to be experienced. That day we all reached the top, enjoyed our PB&J’s and we able to look out to the Pacific Ocean. It was the perfect ending to their three days here in Nicaragua. We are so excited about having a larger group come down in August and all the things God has in store for this year at Amigos.

Jeff and Elizabeth

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Jan 01

Happy New Year!

One of my favorite parts of New Year’s is the idea that we get a new beginning. We can make this next year turn out differently from the last. We can let go of the things that weren’t so great about this last year, and think of the ways that this next year can be better. We can have hope for better…. what ever that better might be. This was an amazing year with so many experiences and challenges.  We are so thankful for all that God blessed us with and are looking forward to what He has for us next. We are also so thankful for all those who have come on this journey with us, and we are looking forward to sharing this next year with you. We wanted to end this year with a few our favorite pictures from this year. Thank you so much for all your prayers and support and we wish you a very blessed New Year!

 

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Dec 28

The Water is on in La Chuscada!

We began working in La Chuscada in the spring this year and continued working there through the summer. It is a big community of 130 homes. It was such a blessing to work there this summer because of the awesome community members we got to meet. The beautiful shade that kept us out of the blazing sun this summer was also a blessing. If you came to Nicaragua with Amigos for Christ during the summer then you worked on the water line in La Chuscada. The community leader Sebastian was an amazing man, with a huge heart for improving his community. He was out there every day encouraging the community and the missionaries working side by side. La Chuscada is a big community so there was a lot of water line to dig, and in some parts where the water will erode the soil, the water lines had to be as deep as the shovels we were digging with.

 

The Friday after Thanksgiving, the water was turned on in La Chuscada. More than 130 families will now have clean water at their homes. Their lives will be changed forever. God used so many people in this process. One of those was Sabastian, the community leader in La Chuscada, who was willing to approach Amigos for Christ with the hope that his community could have a chance for a better future. God used the community members from La Chuscada who were willing to dig trenches all day long with the hope that their children would be able to have clean water every day in their home. God used the hundreds of short term missionaries who were willing to travel far from their homes to dig trenches and encourage the community by showing them that God loves them enough to send hundreds of people to walk beside them and say “you are worth it”. All these people were willing to say “here I am” when God asked “who can I send?” It still amazes me when I think about all the people who’s hearts will be forever changed because they were willing to be used by God, even if they didn’t know. I am amazed at the scope of this project.  God was able to pull everything together so that several families from the states could be there to celebrate with families from La Chuscada. The families from El Moto and Las Bresas were also present and got the chance to see what they have to look forward to at the completion of their water system.

 

God is faithful. God was faithful to see the completion of the La Chuscada water system. He is going to be faithful to see the completion of the El Moto and Las Bresas water system. “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6 God will be faithful with the projects, but He is also going to be faithful with the projects he has begun in all of us.

 

I am so grateful for all the people God brought together through this project. Thank you for your continued prayers. Here are a few pictures from that beautiful November day!

 

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Nov 15

El Moto

In October we started working in a new community called El Moto. Amigos for Christ first went out to El Moto about a year ago and made this video: El Moto Interview – Drinking Dirty Water  In a few months this community along with Las Bresas, will have clean water. The drive to El Moto takes about 1 1/2 hours on the main road, then about 30 mins on the main dirt road, then about 15 mins on a road that makes it clear that our bus drivers are incredible. Once we get to the entrance of El Moto, we have to either ride in the back of a pickup or walk the two kilometers into the actual village. El Moto is small, there are about 10 families living there, but is one of the most beautiful and peaceful places I have been. I love the people there, especially the kids. To be honest, most days I find a way to sneak away from digging the trench and go to Yara’s house and color or play games with her precious kids. I know my words can’t do much to describe the people or what it’s like there, so I thought I would share some of my favorite photos from the last month.

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I remember watching the video of El Moto last year  before we moved here. I never imagined that things would come full circle and I would be standing in front of that water hole. It has been a blessing to be a part of the work that God is doing in both the community of El Moto and the missionaries that get to work along side them.

 

Lots of Love from Nicaragua,

Elizabeth

Nov 09

The Kitchen Crew

_DSC0407So we find ourselves in the middle of November with a little down time between groups and a few days where we are waiting on a stove order (I’ll explain that more in a bit) with a little time to breath and to take in what has happened since we have been here.  It has been 10 months.  Hard to believe.  So much has happened.  So many good things, so many hard things, so many things we didn’t see coming.  But when you take all of those things, mix them up, run them through all the “filters”, it has been a blessing to be here.
_DSC0331As we have said in past blogs the support group that we have here in the other American staff is amazing.  Living in a different culture, you tend to rely a lot on the people from your culture to help things along.  Just as amazing are the Nicaraguan staff that Amigos for Christ employs here.  From the leadership in the office, to all of the workers on the property, to all of the workers in the communities, the family atmosphere that has developed among the around 70 of us in total is nothing short of a miracle.
jandyFor me personally, the most rewarding thing has been getting to know the guys on my team.  As I have said in the past, I am leading a team where we are installing a clean air stove and a food preparation table in communities all around northern Nicaragua.  The goal is getting smoke out of houses as respiratory disease is huge here due to people cooking over open fire stoves.  I have been very blessed with the team that I have.  There are 5 of us now.  It started out with Julio (Teacher),  Alex (Daddy Yankee) and myself.  Due to the demand in the communities for more “kitchens”  we added 2 new members, Flavio (Flash) and Gerardo (who, much to my delight, is the Nicaraguan Jeff Schutte).  Those if you who know Jeff will know  why that makes me happy.  As a team we work well together and to be honest we are pretty good at what we do.  So much so that we can now install a “kitchen” in a house in 1 1/2 to 2 days (also why we are waiting for more stoves).  I say that to say this.  When we got here, I was looking forward to making an impact and relationships with the people in the communities.  The truth of the matter is, I’m not with them that long.  Of course they know that we are with Amigos for Christ and they know what we believe and stand for and we definitely make a lot of friends in the communities but as we all know deep relationships take time.  I quickly realized that my biggest purpose as a missionary here is to invest in guys that I work with.  I’m with them a lot and we know each other really well now.  Looking back, it is crazy how it all started, “here is a stove, some bricks and some tile, couple of guys who don’t speak English, a guy who is going to be the leader who hardly speaks Spanish, so… go get ’em”.  Truth be told, I wouldn’t have changed a thing.  I asked for some bilingual bibles to be sent down and we recently started a Wednesday morning bible study where we are working though Proverbs.  First day we started with about 6 of us but by the end of the meeting there where around 10 as people coming early were curious as to what we were doing.  I am very excited about how it is going.  010
Also, as you might have already seen the video, we were blessed with a truck specifically for our project.  Here is a link to the video we made about the truck: Truck Video  This has been a huge help with amount of kitchens we are able to do.  I really believe in this project.  Every time we drill a hole for a new chimney through a roof that is just covered with years of soot from cooking over an open fire, I think about the families lungs.  I think about the 1 1/2 or 2 days that it take us to finish or the 30 seconds it take to drill that hole.  Not to be over dramatic but I do think about how their lives and health will change.  We recently finished a kitchen in a community called El Chonco. The lady of the house told us how earlier this year she had a miscarriage at 8 months and she was told by a doctor that a big of that was due to problems with her lungs.  She was so excited about her new stove because she is pregnant again.
Elizabeth and I are really looking forward to our upcoming trip home for the holidays.  We will be spending time with her family, my family, and our family in Wilmington for the better part of December.  Please remember us in your prayers.  Pray for our marriage, our relationships with people here, and specifically for me as I really try to step into being a spiritual leader here and especially in our home.
We sincerely love and miss all of you!
From Nicaragua
Jeff
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Sep 19

Celebration

So here we are at the end of our first summer in Nicaragua and I am still trying to catch my breath at all that happened during the whirlwind that was summer. We wanted to share some of the incredible things that happened this summer with everyone. We are so thankful that God has allowed us this chance to be a part of what He is doing here in Nicaragua.

The first thing we want to share is that two communities turned on their water systems this summer!  The first is a community called Miguel Christiano. We began working there in the spring. The feeling that we all got on our first trip there, was what a beautiful community it was. The people there turned out to be even more beautiful than the scenery. Miguel Christiano is about a two hour drive from Chinangeda. Miguel1 Once you get there you have to cross a river to actually get into the community. The reason we started the water system there in the spring was because we had to finish it before the rainy season started and we couldn’t cross the river. Some amazing things happened there including an “Overnight Extravaganza” as we liked to call it, where we took a group of 60 people and camped out in the community. One of my favorite memories made in Nicaragua also happened there this spring. One day we had a group there that had several mothers and daughters together. We went to the home of the community leader Don Antonio and his wife Dona Nuvia.

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(Don and Dona are the Nica equivalent of Mr. and Mrs. with respect) The mothers and daughters and I spent the whole day there cooking cosas de horno in her kitchen. Cosas de horno literally translates to “things from the oven”. They are all kind of different cookies and savory treats made with corn flower and baked in the oven. It was such a beautiful time. Here is a short video of that day: Cosas de horno Then at the end of the day, all the missionaries that were working in the community came and we ended the day at their house eating a few to many cosas do horno. Because of the hard work of the community members and the short term missionaries that worked in Miguel Christiano there are 52 familys that will never have to worry about drinking contaminated water again. Here is the video of the water celebration in Miguel Christiano: Miguel Christiano has clean water!

 

The second community that was able to turn on their water system this summer was Mina de Agua. This was the first community that we worked in when we moved down to Nicaragua in January, so it will always hold a special place in my heart.photo 1 It is also the home of Marlene, whom I wrote a blog about earlier in the year. The thing that I always looked forward to in going to Mina de Agua was the kids. They were amazing kids who would come out every day we were working there and they just wanted to hang out with us. Mina de Agua is a community about an hour and a half from Chinandega. The ground there was so tough to dig through which made the process slow going. But they were finally able to turn the water on and now the 70 families that live in Mina will have clean water coming right to their homes. Here is the video of the water celebration at Mina de Agua: A Miracle in Mina de Agua

There are so many other thing to celebrate about this summer as well. Please take a few minutes to watch the videos from the water celebrations in these two communities. We want those of you who are reading this, who are supporting us through prayer, and who are supporting us financially to know what you have been a part of. We will send more updates soon…

 

 

Aug 30

Family Time

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Family Time

This summer we were able to have both my mom and dad and Jeff’s mom here for a week with us. We spent half of the week with the short term mission group that was here for a week and then we went to Granada for a few days to eat some good food, see the sites, and relax. When they left we asked them to write about their experiences here and this is what they had to say:

 

 

 

From Diana Hill:

My visit to Jeff and Elizabeth showed me how happy they are in their ministry with Amigos.  The rapport they share with the staff and the members of the Nicaraguan communities was heartwarming.  I discovered that the place and the people were just as Jeff & Elizabeth, and the Amigos website, described them. The needs of the communities and the best way to meet those needs with God’s love, are the focus of the Amigos organization.  To maintain that focus seemed to be the passion of all we met.

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Jeff and Elizabeth have made a comfortable, welcoming home in Chinandega. They were anxious to share with us all that they do.  It was an adventure-filled trip where we experienced the digging of water lines and saw completed and in-process stove projects.  We saw the communities they speak of so much and the people they speak of so fondly. We relied on Jeff and Elizabeth’s new Spanish skills to get us in and out of stores, taxis, restaurants and buses (where our lives were in the hands of bus drivers whose driving was a shock to say the least!)  Yes, it was quite an adventure.

 

Jeff had told me, “Mom, when you get here just go with the flow.”  That was great advice and I pass it along to you.  Go see the good Amigos is doing, participate in it, gain your blessing, and “go with the flow!”

 

From David Turk:

My words are not sufficient to describe the impact of our visit with Jeff and Elizabeth.  The experience was uplifting dad1as we watched them serve and at the same time disheartening to see the conditions the beautiful people in the villages tolerate just to survive day by day.  I watched as Jeff and Liz freely gave hugs and sweat to live Gods message of giving.  It was apparent that they are addicted to their mission of helping to improve the physical needs of the people. The people are then aware and open to seeing the spiritual poverty that only God and His Word can satisfy.  When doors opened, Jeff and Liz were there with a word, a tool, a touch, and a look of compassion, encouragement, and a confidence that they are there to guide and lead with love.  Candace and I are so proud of the sacrifices they are making knowing that their rewards only God can fulfill.

 

mom1From Candace Turk:

David and I were excited to visit Nicaragua knowing we would get to visit with our children, but also see what they had dedicated there lives to for a period of two years.  I came away from the experience with total peace, knowing God had called them to grow as Christians.  True Christians know that we have been directed to feed the poor, and care for the widows and children.  We have also been told to help people learn to work so they provide for themselves.  We are taught to give so that those who do not know God and his goodness will see that goodness through the love of God we share with others.  There is great need in Nicaragua.  There is great opportunity to love people so that they can learn about the truth of God’s Word.  We worked hard digging ditches so families could have water.  We visited with the people and really enjoyed their kindness and thankfulness.  We not only were able to give, but we received so much in return.  If you have never had the opportunity to visit a country like Nicaragua and volunteer with an organization like Amigos for Christ, you should take the step to enrich your life as well as that of people in need.

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It was such a great experience for us to be able to share our life here with our family.  We loved being able to show them where we live, what we do, and the people we live in community with. We also just enjoyed being with the people who have loved us and supported us through out our lives. Thank you so much to all our parents David and Candace, Diana, Bill and Deloris for encouraging us to live out God’s plan for our life.

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