Good morning from Managua, Nicaragua!
Going into 2015, I am excited for all that God has prepared for us to do in Nicaragua. In March of this year, I will reach the end of my three year journey to Nicaragua, but that does not mean the work in Nicaragua is finished. While Jen and I will be moving back to the US, we will continue to be committed to working with and serving our friends in Nicaragua. I am thankful for all of the great people we work with in Nicaragua and look forward to seeing how God continues to use them to advance His plan after we leave. With that said, we still have two months to go and a lot to do. The following is a quick update on our adventure in Nicaragua. I hope you enjoy it!
The work in El Canyon continues to move forward thanks to the work of our great team. We are continuing to grow and improve the community gardening program we began in 2014. Through the guidance of our agriculture specialist, Job, and the hard work of Jarol, Yamileth, and Pastor Josue, many of the gardens created in 2014 were successful. Beginning this month we will be bringing on eight new families to participate in the program. We have also created more structure in the program by developing contracts as well as expectations for the people who will be participating in the program. We believe this will allow the program to be more successful and will give the participants a better shot at independence. Additionally, our hope is to develop a cooperative over the course of this year so that the community members can better partner together.
In addition to community gardening, the agriculture classes with the youth of El Canyon continue to advance. It has been great to see a number of the kids and teenagers excited about learning and growing their own fruits and vegetables. In fact, in 2014 the gardens created by the agriculture classes were able to supply the kitchen at the orphanage with a large amount of fruits and vegetables, allowing them to save a lot of money. We are excited to see how the classes continue to grow in 2015.
The carpentry classes also continue to be a blessing to the youth in El Canyon under the direction of our carpenter, Luis, and our Community Development Manager, Jarol. Luis has done a great job of investing in the young people, both in carpentry and in spiritual development. In 2014, among other things, the young people involved in the classes worked with Luis to build a large dog house, refinish cabinets, fix chairs, make cribs, and make and install closet doors. Currently, the participants in the carpentry classes are making an entertainment center and bookshelf that will be used for English classes and other activities at Puente de Amistad. It is exciting to see the kids continue to develop their skills. We look forward to more great stories of success in 2015.
In addition to agriculture and carpentry, Jarol and Pastor Josue continue to lead discipleship classes to invest in the kids spiritually. Additionally, Jen and I have continued to lead a short devotional time at the orphanage on Monday nights. In 2015 we hope to continue to look for opportunities to spiritually invest in the young people in El Canyon.
The New Year also brings new opportunities to our work in Sebaco. In conjunction with Roger Orozco and his Just One Opportunity team, we are planning to launch a community gardening training program in Sebaco. One of our agriculture specialists, Junior, will be working with one of the Just One Opportunity team members, Jose, to develop a small training model. Our hope is to use this model farm to train people in the surrounding villages to create their own gardens for consumption and sale. By developing small gardens in the village it should improve food security during lean months. Junior will also continue to work on developing a commercial agriculture operation under our new small business creation enterprise, ICVF.
Speaking of the International Cultivator Venture Fund, our first development project under the new development company, NicaBike Shop, continues to do well. Josh, William, and their team continue to grow and learn as they develop NicaBike Shop into a successful small business. In fact, December was their best month yet and they are preparing to receive their third container of used bikes from the US. I continue to invest in Josh and William through spiritual and business mentoring, which has been a really neat opportunity for me. We are excited to see what 2015 holds for the NicaBike Shop and ICVF.
Personally, Jen and I are doing well. Jen continues to work with House of Hope Nicaragua in a number of areas, including communications, graphic design, and jewelry design. We are excited to have a few visitors over the next couple of months, including a group from our home church, Crossroads Community Church, and a few great friends who will be helping us transport stuff back to the US. While our time in Nicaragua is almost over, we are excited to see what God does over the next two months. I look forward to sharing more great stories with you soon!
– James Belt