Continuing the Journey: Nicaragua Update
Good afternoon from Managua, Nicaragua!
Now, a few weeks into the New Year, seems like an appropriate time to give you a quick update on life in Nicaragua. Jen and I returned to Nicaragua on January 7th after a great time with family and friends over the holidays. Shortly after arriving in Nicaragua, a team from our home church in Maryland, Crossroads Community Church, came to Nicaragua for their annual January trip. In January, Crossroads focuses their time primarily on investing in the kids at the orphanage and in the community of El Canyon. It also acts as a great introductory trip for people who have never been to Nicaragua. The team had a great time and impact while they were in town. In addition to spending time with the kids, the team hired some of the teenagers from the orphanage to act as translators. This was a great opportunity for the young people and a neat chance for the team to get to know some of our friends. In the end, it was a great trip for everyone involved and certainly gives our ministry in El Canyon a boost.
In addition to the team visiting, 2014 has been a time of excitement for our work in El Canyon. The biggest announcement is the addition of a new team member, Jarol, who will be focused on partnering with Pastor Josue, Yamileth and Maria Jose to have a greater impact on El Canyon. Jarol is very familiar with El Canyon as he has been a caretaker for the teenage boys at the orphanage for the past two years and will continue in that role as he partners part time with us. Jarol has a great heart for Christ and a great desire to partner with our team to impact the people of his country. In addition to the new team member, we have restarted the agriculture classes under the direction of our agronomist, Job. Currently, Job is working with the teenagers to grow radishes and cucumbers, and will be planting papaya trees shortly. We hope to continue to improve our agriculture classes and expand them to reach more of the community. Job is also managing the community gardens that were started over the summer. Our plan is to expand the community garden program in 2014. As always, we desire to partner with the church in El Canyon to bring spiritual and tangible hope.
The New Year also brings a new level of excitement to the Veracruz Farm. After two years of hard work and growth, Junior, one of key people in our commercial agriculture project, has been promoted to Farm Manager and will be overseeing the commercial agriculture operation. We are thankful to have Junior on the team and believe he will be successful in his new role. Advancement at the farm has not been limited to our staff. With a goal of having the commercial agriculture operation producing year-round, Junior and his team are managing approximately three acres of papaya trees with another acre and a half (approximately 1,000 trees) to be planted at the beginning of February. This will allow us to continuously harvest papayas and become a main supplier to the supermarkets and other local markets. Additionally, the greenhouse is currently housing approximately 1,000 tomato plants that are in full harvest, which will be rotated out over the next month. As with the papayas, our plan is to keep the greenhouse in constant production. In 2014 we also hope to increase our sales of propagated plants as well as continue our crop rotation in the fields. Based on our current projections, the commercial agriculture operation is very close to complete self-sustainability, which will allow the Veracruz Farm to reach its goal of being a model farm and a training ground for future commercial farmers. In addition to the commercial agriculture, the staff at the Veracruz Farm has continued with their agricultural training program, carpentry training and spiritual training.
As in 2013, I have continued to meet with a group of guys for discipleship purposes. I believe we all have benefited greatly from it and look forward to continuing to grow in Christ in 2014. Having fellow Followers of Christ to lean on has been a great blessing during my time in Nicaragua.
Jen and I are excited to see what God has planned for 2014, both personally and in ministry. We look forward to continuing to share the journey with you in the coming months!
– James Belt