A New Year in Nicaragua
Good morning and happy 2013 from Nicaragua!
As we move into 2013, I thought it would be the perfect time to provide a quick update on how ministry is going in Nicaragua and what we are looking forward to in 2013. Last year, 2012, was one of the most challenging and molding years of my life. It would be easy to say that I never second guessed my decision to move to Nicaragua in March of 2012, but I would not be being truthful. Over the course of 2012, there were quite a few moments that I wondered why God had called me to take this step. It was in these moments, however, that God grew me the most and made clear that he has me in Nicaragua for a reason and that real life and joy is found in following God’s call, wherever it leads. It is with that spirit that I start the New Year and anticipate all that God will do in me and in Nicaragua.
Much has happened over the past couple of months. On the Verbo Farm in Veracruz, we started the harvesting phase of our first papaya crop. This was a very exciting step as it was a major step towards the realization of a goal we set out to accomplish seven months prior. I can’t say enough about the job Junior has done managing the day-to-day operations of the project and the leadership and expertise my partner in ministry at VNDF, Alexei, and the agricultural experts such as Aldo and Josefina have provided. We are also very blessed to have a great team of people to work with at the Verbo Farm such as Heberto, Josh, Andrew and Mark who have stepped up in some key ways to make this project successful. The Lord has truly blessed us in some incredible ways. That’s not to say that there haven’t been any challenges or that more won’t come, but we have been able to work through them and improve because of them. The harvesting phase for the first set of papayas will last approximately twelve months and should help to provide funds to continue moving the project forward.
In 2013, we plan to continue to increase production at the Verbo Farm. This includes the propagation and planting of the next set of papaya tress, approximately another 1,000 plants. Additionally, we are in the process of reactivating the greenhouse and hope to begin rotating vegetable crops early this year. By moving forward on these projects, we hope to continue to work towards sustainability and the ability to fund other projects on the farm such as vocational training, spiritual development and education. This year we also hope to partner with the Verbo staff on the farm to implement a formal agricultural training program as well as other vocational training opportunities. In addition to incorporating training into the agriculture project, we hope to create a formalized training program at the very successful Verbo Veracruz Bike Shop. In all of these training opportunities, we plan to take a holistic approach to give the young people being trained the best chance for success. We believe this approach and an emphasis in spiritual development can help to give people the full picture of hope necessary to overcome the challenges they will face. We believe 2013 brings a new opportunity to move towards something that could bring about real change in Nicaragua and, because of that, we are full of anticipation for all that God will do.
The end of 2012 was also an exciting time in El Canyon. In addition to continuing the discipleship program we launched on Saturday mornings with Pastor Josue, we kicked-off a formal organic gardening/agriculture training program. Through the assistance of a plan created by UNICEF to teach organic gardening in rural school areas, we launched our first class. Through this process, we have completed land preparation and planning necessary to begin our first garden in El Canyon. Victor and Alexei have begun teaching classes twice a week and will continue to in 2013. Through this first teaching period, we hope to refine a plan that can be used to teach basic agricultural skills at different locations in El Canyon. In addition to the organic gardening classes, Victor has started teaching formalized carpentry classes to both the boys and the girls at El Canyon. With Victor’s prior experience in carpentry, it only made sense to have it be one of our first vocational training initiatives in El Canyon. These classes are going well and will continue into 2013. As is true in Veracruz, we plan to take a holistic approach to our training programs, including the skills necessary to run a business. In addition to Victor and Alexei’s hard work, we are incredibly blessed to partner with great people in El Canyon, including Maria Jose and her staff, and Pastor Josue and his wife.
Moving into 2013, we hope to continue to expand the training opportunities at El Canyon and to partner with Pastor Josue and Maria Jose to impact the community. Over the course of the next few months, we plan to refine both the carpentry and the agriculture training to allow them to be more repeatable and effective. We also plan to continue to expand the spiritual development program through the help of Pastor Josue, Maria Jose and their staff. We truly believe working together as a cohesive team towards one vision will allow us to bring hope, both spiritually and tangibly to the community of El Canyon. We are very excited for all that God is going to do in El Canyon in 2013.
In addition to outward development, we have continued our commitment to inward development. Our Wednesday night study group meetings with many of the leaders involved in these projects have been a true blessing in my life and, I believe, in the lives of everyone involved. We plan to continue these meetings and look for other ways to continue growing as leaders and disciples of Jesus in 2013. We believe our own commitment to growth, both personally and spiritually, is essential to the success of the work to which we have been called. I am looking forward to all that God is going to do in us in 2013.
In the end, 2012 was an incredible year, but I know it is just the beginning. I can’t wait to be a part of all that God is going to do in Nicaragua in 2013!
– James Belt