Just the Facts

Good morning again from Managua, Nicaragua!  Today’s post is going to be a quick update on ministry in Nicaragua.  Today I am just going to hit on a few of the highlights so, if you are short on time, this post is for you.

If I were to describe the past month in Nicaragua in one word it would most definitely be “hot”.  The months of March and April tend to be very dry and very hot in Nicaragua.  To give you a little perspective, every day during these months would carry an extreme heat advisory with warnings not to go outside unless completely necessary if this was Maryland.  It is, however, not Maryland so life goes on as usual here in the tropics.  In reality, your body adjusts relatively well to the heat so don’t feel too bad for me.

Another word I could use to describe the past month of ministry is “advancing”.  This word specifically applies to the Farm at Veracruz and the planning process on which we have embarked.  I am very thankful for the people God has put in place to go on this journey.  We have taken significant steps towards clearly defining the vision and mission of the farm over the past month.  Additionally, we have more clearly defined four key areas we believe will help us reach our vision.  Now that we are complete the initial planning process, we are in the implementation stage.  I believe God will continue to guide and direct our steps as we remain faithful to the vision we believe he has given us.  I am very excited to see how God uses the farm to impact the people of Nicaragua for years to come.

Advancing would also be the best word to describe the agricultural operation at the Farm at Veracruz.  With the formal hiring of Aldo, our farm manager and technical expert, we have begun to build on the great work that has been done by Junior, Alex and the rest of our staff.  As of last week, we have an additional 1,000 papaya trees in the ground and will be planting another 500 trees within the next three weeks.  We will continue to expand our papaya production at a relatively quick pace over the next six to twelve months.  Additionally, we are in the process of hiring another staff member to take care of day-to-day operations in the greenhouse.  Once the hiring process is complete, we will begin the propagation of vegetable plants to be planted in the greenhouse.  Our hope is that we will begin cycling crops of vegetables in the greenhouse for the foreseeable future.  By taking these significant steps forward, we believe we will be able to achieve self-sustainability in the agricultural operation as well as make necessary improvements to the farm and create an internship program to train people to operate their own agricultural operation.  In addition, we will use funds generated by the agricultural operation to support other ministry opportunities at the Farm at Veracruz.  We are very thankful and blessed to be a part of this great project and look forward to celebrating all that God will do through it.

Ministry in El Canyon also continues to move forward in important ways.  In our agriculture classes, we have planted a crop of cucumbers that are doing really well.  We are using organic techniques to teach the young people the basics of agriculture so it has been neat to see the plants grow and produce fruit with only naturally derived inputs.  We plan to continue to improve and expand these classes.  The carpentry classes taught by Victor continue to take steps in the right direction.  In fact, we are in the beginning stages of a planning process to create a small furniture production operation that will focus on “pallet furniture”.  While that might sound strange, we believe it could be a great opportunity to fill a need for quality furniture that is functional and relatively inexpensive.  By creating this small operation, we can train young people in the building of furniture as well as the operating of a small business.  In addition to training young people in tangible ways, we continue to provide spiritual training through our weekly discipleship classes.  Through the joint leadership of Pastor Josue and Victor, young adults continue to learn more about their creator and who He created them to be.

In addition to the ministry itself in El Canyon, Crossroads Community Church is excited and blessed to be hosting Pastor Josue, his wife, Yamileth, and Maria Jose for the next two weeks.  Each year Crossroads holds a dinner and auction to support ministry in Nicaragua and specifically in El Canyon.  This year we are thankful that our ministry partners from El Canyon could join us to provide a firsthand account of the ways God is working in El Canyon and using our partnership to impact that community.  We are also happy that our friends from Crossroads get an opportunity to meet some of our great friends in Nicaragua and vice versa.  I will be leaving for Maryland tomorrow to join them for the festivities this weekend.

Overall, life in Nicaragua is good.  There are certainly challenges and setbacks, but I look at them as opportunities to grow and signs that I am a part of something bigger than myself.  On a personal note, I am excited to announce that I am now engaged to Jen Lauver who will join me in Nicaragua after our wedding this fall.  Jen has been a blessing to me over this past year in Nicaragua and supported me every step of the way, despite the fact that it meant living in different countries.

I am looking forward to the next part of the journey and look forward to continuing to share it with you!

– James Belt

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