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On last Thursday (8/8/13) we awarded certificates of participation to eight participants in our Escuela de Campo training program at Fincas Canto Nuevo and Santa Matilde. The program here is different from the one at Carazo. This curriculum is driven by the specific small farm business plan and is less formal. However in January we intend to begin the regular two year curriculum. Canto Nuevo will eventually become part of our future Instituto Vocacional Agropecuario Sostenible.
One of the most rewarding things about this work is that it allows us to have a part in training that is truly life transforming and empowering. One of the students, Encarnacion Centeno, was resisted by friends and family because his training would not yield any immediate income. However when he is done, he will have the knowledge to manage his own farm with the potential to yield 1 1/2 times the amount required for a typical family’s basic needs. Just look at his picture with the field of corn and see the dignity that is reflected in his countenance. All the students are being lifted in a hundred ways and their financial reward will be only a part of the benefit they will receive.
After graduating 25 students from our first 6 month module, we began our 2nd with 46 students at Misterio Peniel in Carazo. The young boy is Ernesto Junior, our chief trainer and agronomist’s son.
It was a great day in February when Ernesto Martinez, our chief trainer and agronomist, and I loaded the vehicle with tools and supplies for the start of our new school in Sustainable Agriculture in the department of Carazo. On June 30th, we were thrilled to graduate our first class of 25 from Module No. 1, including training in soil and water conservation, agroforestry (hardwoods, fruit trees, etc.), organic fertilization, and swine management. The school was established as a supplement to the wonderful work of Ministerio Peniel, a life transformation center near the town of La Conquista, where Frank Vallejos, his family, and associates are used by God to rebuild lives that have been devastated by disaster, especially those dominated by drug and alcohol addiction. We have been blessed to come alongside them with a vocational training program that can help the residents become productive, economically and socially.
One of the students, Jose Luis, oversees the squash crop. His enthusiasm and ability to share what he has learned with others has been very impressive. After a lively presentation on the progress of his crop, I began to ask him about his life.
“Jose Luis, how long have you been here at Peniel?”
“Ten months,” he said.
“When did you come to Christ?”
“Nine months ago.”
“Where were you before?”
“I was on the street. I lived in the street. I wandered the streets, slept in the streets, relieved myself in the streets, did my habit in the streets. The streets of Managua were my home.”
“How about your family? Where are they?”
“I have no family. I have no brothers, no sisters, no father, no mother.”
Think about this! In less than a year’s time, Jose Luis’ life has been restored. He has been brought from the streets into the family of faith and to a life filled with purpose and promise by the grace of God. We get to be a part of it, and Jose Luis is only one example. In addition to the 25 who graduated, over 20 more students who completed their stay at Peniel without completing the agricultural training module took skills and experiences home with them to fill a new roll in their families, churches, and communities.
How blessed we are! And, how grateful we are for you who encourage and support the work here!
Leck and Cynthia
As we walk down the streets of Matagalpa we pass beggars all the time. Most of them are professional beggars or opportunists that become beggars when the make you as a possible American. Often parents will hide around the corner while they have their children with their practiced pitiful expressions begging from the customers at a gas station. Many are doing fine, especially the pros who sit by the roadside all day with their hand out, or walk the street accosting one person after another. They will plant themselves at a pharmacy and claim the need for medication. Sometimes there is a genuine need in that scenario but the attitude of the professionals and the truly needy is usually quite different.
There are also the drug and alcohol addicted and the mentally disabled. Some of the mentally disabled are harmless and to offer them some food is a simple grace. Others are raving and delusional and we must steer clear of them altogether.
If we don’t allow ourselves to become jaded we will occasionally have the opportunity to help someone who is truly needy and not trying to game the system. Today was one of those days.
As we left our Spanish class with friends and headed down Bank Street, we passed a young mother sitting in a doorway of a business, talking on the phone and seemingly in distress with an infant in her lap. The baby was apparently having trouble breathing and very pale and weak. We stopped, waited for the mother to finish her call and asked if the baby was ill. We then asked if we could pray for the baby. At first she was reluctant and wanted to know what church we were with. “Solo Cristiana” we said. She asked which denomination; we said again, “no denominacion, solo Cristiana.” “We would just like to pray in the name of Jesus.” She was still somewhat reluctant but consented, so we prayed.
As we prayed for the young boy to be relieved of his distress and enabled to breathe, she had mentioned bronchitis so we prayed that God would reduce the inflammation. We watched to see what God might do. We’ve seen quick results at times but this time we didn’t see any recognizable improvement. When no change was apparent simply from our prayers, we asked her to allow us to take her and her baby to a nearby clinic. Again, she was reluctant but consented. On the way we carried on a very limited conversation and prayed as we walked. At the Clinica Santa Fe we saw the emergency room entrance. Little Vicente was being admitted for care within 10 to 15 minutes. The care was excellent. His 102.2 fever dropped to 97.7 after he received medication and cooling rags. The staff began taking blood and ministering medication and fluids, he was severely dehydrated. We decided not to take him to a nearby hospital but to keep him at the clinic infirmary overnight and to decide tomorrow morning whether he needs to go to the hospital. There is little doubt the care is better where he is.
When we checked on him early this afternoon Vicente was much improved and we are hopeful that he will continue to improve overnight. All of you who pray for us and support in whatever way were part of this with us today. Thank you. Please continue to pray for little Vicente David and his mother Diana Rachel. We don’t yet know what relationship, if any, God will enable us to build there but we want to follow up and see their progress and to be able to help them find His care in Christ if given the opportunity.
Luis and His Platain Crop
The farm is a huge success as one of two prototype projects. This farm was begun in August 2006. It has seen two crop failures, one from fungus and one from high winds. It has fully recovered from both from its own profits. This project began producing again in May and is about a month away from full production from 2500 plants on just over 2 ½ acres. This kind of recovery is built into our model but this performance actually exceeds our expectations.
The farm provides income to Santos’ growing church and helps them advance their work in city of Leon and of his ministry as he works with Pastors throughout the country. In addition it has supported a number of workers over its nearly five years of operation.
Luis, for example, lives with his mother and young sister. He is their primary means of support and they are sustained by his salary. I’ve included a photo of Luis with his crop. He is so pleased with the fruit of his labors. He would represent a “hired hand” on one of the family farms we will establish in the near future. There are three such hired hands on this one farm plus a boy who is about half time. It dawned on me yesterday that our two prototypes are the perfect place to prove our first program participants. When I return to Leon in about a month, I will talk to Santos about finding some land and helping me oversee the placement of 3-4 families on small farms of about 7 acres each.
We need to start raising funds for that purpose so please start praying for us in that regard and considering whether you might participate in the sponsorship of a farm. It will cost approximately $4,000 per farm and is designed to repay over a seven year period. As the funds are repaid out of the profitability of the farm, they will be used to start new farms in various locations around the country.
In addition to our two prototype farms in Leon and La Conquista, we are in discussion with another ministry for the possible use of up to about 200 acres near Tipitapa (east of Managua). We have great advisors in each location who are more than capable of overseeing the development of these three locations.
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