Unexpected: Feb 2021 Update

The human mind plans the way, but the Lord directs the steps” 

Proverbs 16:9 NRSV. 

UNEXPECTED

Greetings from Nicaragua, everyone. This visit has been all about the unexpected. It has included many challenging including losing expected days to truck repairs or minor illnesses. We remain grateful, as these experiences are shaping our hearts to God’s path for OBGM. 

The best part of the “unexpected” are stories like this one about our friend, Marlon (see below video). Marlon is the husband of a good friend who was hosting the mission house when Rochelle arrived in January. He’s also a pastor and bean farmer in his village, which is near the Costa Rican border. The entire village goes to sleep around 7pm because it has no electricity. Prior to leaving the US, TJ sent a message to some local church friends asking if anyone had an extra men’s wristwatch (a gift for Marlon) that would be of great use to him. When no watches emerged, TJ went to the Goodwill but found only ladies’ wrist watches there. As TJ was leaving the store, a church member texted TJ saying he had a watch. It was a diving watch that, when new, cost $500. WOW! We were so honored to deliver this unexpected treasure to Marlon.

At the time of this newsletter, TJ returned to the USA while Rochelle stayed in Nicaragua until March 10, to meet personally with all the families in our programs. Scroll below for an update on the steps we’re taking to deliver on our core pillars of Mind & Body and HOW you can help. There is LOTS more to share about what’s happening here – we suggest you subscribe to and follow our Instagram/Facebook feeds for more stories, videos & updates. On this trip, we were also happy to have some in-person time for planning with our colleagues, Cory & Stacy Martin, who are currently serving in Masatepe, Nicaragua. They’re already an essential part of the OBGM team on Ometepe (see Stacy below) and hope to be on the island one weekend a month to help out. Click here for their latest newsletter. We’re also grateful to Tom & Esther Fritz of Island Breeze Nicaragua for opening their home to us in this phase of OBGM’s ministry.

Thank you for your ongoing prayers for OBGM. Please continue to pray for provision and wellness for our communities in Ometepe. THEY are praying for YOU! We hear it from their lips during our visits. Their unshakable faith touches our hearts.

We hope it moves your heart like God moves the wind.
Love, Rochelle & TJ

Ometepe school children started the new school year on February 1. In three days, we managed to get the majority of the 53 kids, who were enrolled in our primary & secondary scholarship program, “ready” with the required uniforms, shoes backpacks and supplies. It was a whirlwind, but the kids had a blast riding in the truck & shopping with their parents! During our interview process, we’re able to determine if certain children have specific needs. For example, one student will receive 1:1 tutoring for reading & writing to help ensure his long-term success. We still have some students who are not yet sponsored, click here for more info on this program.

MINDS – ENGLISH PROGRAM & VILLAGE SCHOOL

Our kids’ English classes resumed on February 15, and the adult evening classes in Santa Cruz will follow soon. For a taste of a typical class, join our Facebook Live Stream on Wednesday, February 24, from approximately 9:30-10:00 AM ET. During the stream, we’re seeking donations to help pay for the fiberoptic internet for the school which serves 130 children and four teachers. This will HUGELY impact learning in the Primary School. The wifi connection will also bless the secondary school students & college kids in the entire village by providing a place to conduct online research. OBGM will use the wifi in future English classes to enhance learning AND engage volunteers abroad. Our Facebook Address is: https://www.facebook.com/onebodyglobalministries

Level Two Kids’ English Class: Lesson on can and can not / can’t

MINDS: COLLEGE SCHOLARS

Our 5 college scholars & staff met the other day to discuss challenges during this pandemdic. Online learning is not natural for most Americans, but add the challenge of having to navigate computer programs like Word, Excel or online conferencing with ZERO computer experience. All of the students had to find, borrow & share computers while learning on the fly. They DID it, and we are proud of their endurance. In addition, these dedicated young adults work all week & currently attend in-person classes on Saturdays (4am-7pm incl. travel). They are all disciples of Christ through their humble service to their families & church community. Each student is required to achieve good grades, set goals & volunteer.

OBGM is still seeking monthly sponsors for one existing student & one wait-listed student.- See below – It’s a $50/mo commitment to cover tuition, travel, supplies & food. There is also a $250 upfront cost for the Chromebook laptop which is a necessity and not a luxury. If you can only sponsor a Chromebook, you can direct purchase it from our Amazon Charity List

Cynthia is 19 years old living in Santa Cruz and is starting her second year majoring in Accounting. Click here for a video update as Cynthia shares her dreams to use her education as a professional to further Ometepe Island. She attends college on Saturdays, starting her day at 4:30 am to catch the bus & ferry to Rivas (mainland) attending day-long classes returning home by 7/8pm.
Heydi is 23 years old and has already finished two years of college. She is studying Tourism and hopes to help manage hotels in Ometepe one day. Tourism is the #1 source of employment on the island. She had to stop her studies in 2018 when she had her daughter, Alison. If Heydi is able to attend college from 4:30 AM -7PM on Saturdays, her mother has agreed to babysit Alison. In addition to caring for her daughter, Heydi also helps her family in the fields with farming.

BODIES: FOOD PACKAGE PROGRAM

Many of our friends on Ometepe Island have returned to farming since the onset of the pandemic. We’re seeing lots of small crops of rice, wheat, beans, plantain and even veggies to help meet their most basic needs. Despite this, we continue to see malnutrition amongst the very young, sick and elderly. These are the people our 2021 food & baby milk distribution program will continue to reach. We are always seeking monthly support for this program. A donation of $20 provides a family of 4 food package of rice, beans, oil, sugar, salt & coffee for 7-10 days. 

January 2021 Update ✈ Visit

Happy New Year everyone. 2020 was a tough year, yet we saw the Body of Christ come together in creative and new ways to share Hope & Light with our brothers & sisters in Nicaragua. Your generosity impacted so many lives (see this update) and it’s still happening!!! Thank you for your faithfulness.

We welcome 2021 with a renewed commitment of walking in faith and thanksgiving and will visit Nicaragua soon. Rochelle left January 17 and TJ will follow in February. February 1 marks the beginning of a new school year for the 50+ children and college scholarship recipients in Ometepe Island participating with OBGM. Follow our Instagram and Facebook feeds for more frequent updates on our visit. For those of you who wish to write to your sponsored child, send it by email to rochelle@obgm.org

For those of you who donated in 2020, your Tax Summaries were emailed last week. If you would like your 2020 Tax Summary now, login to our system (using your email address) to request a printable copy.

We continue to pray for you and your family’s health as well as for peace in both the USA and Nicaragua.
Love, Rochelle & TJ

“I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called – his holy people who are his rich & glorious inheritance.” - Ephesians 1:18 NLT

HURRICANE RELIEF UPDATE

We were just as shocked as the rest of the world when two Category 5 storms slammed Nicaragua in November. Thank you for your generous support in late 2020. After Hurricane #1, $2,500 was raised for the Cosecha Ometepe Campaign. So far, 13 family bean farmers are receiving sow-to-harvest farm aid. Meeting this URGENT need now will help avoid future hunger on the island.

After Hurricane #2, you responded with $2,700 in 2020 for relief supplies to the Boom Sirpi community which is near Puerto Cabeza, Nicaragua. There are ~ 800 residents in this community and to our knowledge the village has received NO other outside aid. We’re coordinating our efforts with our US-missionary family who joined OBGM in October, Cory & Stacy Martin. They have a long-term relationship with pastors Diego & Esperanza Perez from Amor de Dios Church which serves ~200 residents. We hope to share photos in the future via enews and social media. It’s not too late to help by selecting “Nicaragua Hurricane Relief” campaign at https://obgm.kindful.com/

OMETEPE ARTISANS UPDATE

In 2020, we launched a microbusiness called Ometepe Artisans. Ometepe Artisans fights poverty by offering an ongoing means for well-established, indigenous artisans to connect to the global market and earn a fair income via an Etsy Shop and onsite events
From April to December, our two women artisans earned $1,330 when they otherwise would have earned $0 due to the pandemic! The project has also enabled reinvestment in more raw supplies for their craft and business cards for each artist to share when tourists return to Ometepe Island.

We look forward to fine-tuning this outreach in 2021 with our end goal focused on long-term sustainability. Follow them on Instagram or Facebook for more frequent updates. If you are interested in volunteering with this project in the USA, email us.

September Update

“The harmful effects of this pandemic will not be distributed equally. They are expected to be most damaging for children in the poorest countries…” – Unicef

Hello Everyone. Thanks to God and those of you who have participated in July’s Campaign 33 to expand our food distribution program through the end of 2020. We reached our initial goal and want to expand the program.

Food and medical assistance have become increasingly urgent in developing nations due to the pandemic’s impact on food systems and livelihoods. We have seen this first hand in Ometepe, with the borders closed around Nicaragua until recently. Families who relied on farming crops for income had little or NO market to sell their August harvests. Also, crop prices plummeted, while the cost of living in Ometepe for other food items and necessities have increased. 
Photos from August Outreach
During August’s outreach, it became obvious that more of our families are in need of baby formula/milk or medicine. We’ve seen children in the village of Sintiope, specifically, under- or malnourished. Eight (8) families have been identified and we can help as the Body of Christ.

What Can You Do?
Will you join us to pray for provision for these hardworking families? If you are in season to give financially, consider participating in our Milk & Medicine Campaign.

We’re already half way to our financial goal! This is only $20 per family from August – December 2020. 100% of your support is directly sent to Ometepe and is tax deductible. 

In August, our kids’ English Program resumed in Sintiope with some modifications due to the pandemic. On the first day, 14 kids showed up eager to learn. The young adult evening program resumes next week.

We’re excited to share that 4th Quarter classroom instruction will be partly conducted online with volunteers providing pronunciation help to the students in Nicaragua from here in the USA.  If YOU are interested in volunteering with us (from your own home), contact us for details. 

No experience is necessary. Just a heart to a serve Jesus and a laptop computer or smartphone

Do you have a spare Chromebook or Laptop?

Our college scholarship recipients are either sharing or borrowing laptops in order to meet the new requirements of online learning during the pandemic. This is really challenging given that most of these young adults have tremendous responsibilities in addition to their studies. If you have an item to donate or you’re a College Scholar Sponsor who wishes to help, please email us.

Thank you First United Methodist Church of Cocoa Beach

On September 20th, FUMCCB will launch it’s Fall Engage Project to help Sponsor the 4th Quarter of our English program. See video for details.
You don’t have to be a member to participate.

New inventory for the Ometepe Artisans Etsy Shop is on the way!.
All of the proceeds from past sales have been a huge blessing to Rosita, Glady and their families during the pandemic.

If you have not already visited, check out the Etsy Shop or help us further empower these artisans by sharing their Facebook or Instagram feeds. 

July Update – Campaign 33

Hello Everyone. We hope this newsletter finds you safe & strong. We are filled with gratitude as our family and friends remain healthy, despite reports from other communities in Ometepe that COVID-19 is rapidly spreading and families are losing loves ones. We are also grateful we live in an age where technology allows for the OBGM team to work and pray together on where we can maximize our gifts to those most in need. We invite you to pray with us for this discernment and the continued strength for those in Ometepe and throughout Nicaragua.

During July, our amazing team of staff and college scholarship recipients coordinated a food package distribution to each child from our Primary Education Sponsorship program (see photos below). This was made possible from the support we received from some of their sponsors. THANK YOU. All the kids are doing well and are continuing with their studies as school remains open in Ometepe.

Unfortunately the need and urgency for food assistance is on the rise in our communities due to mass unemployment and skyrocketing food prices. It’s obvious that the 

expanded food program needs to continue beyond August. Our budget to cover 30 families is $333. This amount provides a family of four with enough rice, beans, oil, sugar, coffee & salt for 7-10 days. One way you can help is by by participating in our Campaign 33. If ten people donate $33, or one person gives $333, it would cover the month of September. If 20 people donated $33, then September & October will be covered, and so on .We will continue this campaign until we can ensure a consistent distribution through the end of 2020 with God’s help.

100% of your donation is tax deductible and directly benefits the most impoverished in Ometepe Island, Nicaragua. If you can not financially give at this time, please pray for Nicaragua. “Be strong and bold; have no fear or dread of them, because it is the Lord your God who goes with you; He will not fail you nor forsake you.: Deuteronomy 31:6

July’s distribution covered families in our Primary Education Sponsor Program. We have 53 kids in the program.

God VS Everything
Sometimes we don’t know how & when God is working through us to impact others. We were honored when TJ’s high school friend sent us these (and other) T-shirts in gratitude for helping him during a difficult season. We love these comfy God-centered T-shirts and the inspiration behind them: He is greater than any battle in this world. There is no easier way to spread that message, and hopefully impact, than wearing it on your shirt. Check out GOD VS EVERYTHING.

OMETEPE ARTISANS “ON LOCATION” & ETSY

We continue to be amazed with how God is moving in the Ometepe Artisans project despite this challenging season. Both Rosa & Gladys have earned a consistent income since April, empowering each woman to support their families by selling their handmade jewelry. In addition to the online Etsy shop, there are now two (2) Space Coast, FL businesses carrying these handmade treasures! (see below). We hope you visit these “local” small businesses in the near future. No matter where you shop,100% of all profits go our deserving artists. If you have any questions email or message us on social media @Ometepeartisans.

AmazonSmile can now support One Body Global Ministries Inc in the Amazon shopping app on iOS and Android mobile phones! Click here for instructions.

May & June Update

Hello Everyone. We hope you and your family are well. The recent weeks have been surreal with OBGM’s current outreach efforts (see below) and plans for a future return to Ometepe. As of today, we are sad to hear from many of our friends and extended family that the Covid-19 virus is rapidly spreading throughout Nicaragua with the contagion curve still on the rise. Their government continues to do nothing to help prevent the spread. In fact, there is an effort to cover up the deaths and some health care workers describe it as, “Nicaragua seems like a horror movie, only it is real life.”* Of course, many in Ometepe are jobless because tourism stopped. As a result, we will increase the scope our food assistance program starting in June. If you would like to provide a food packet, donate below. $20 covers a family of four with enough of the basic staples: rice, beans, oil, sugar, coffee & salt for 7-10 days. 100% of your donation is tax deductible and directly benefits the most impoverished in Ometepe Island, Nicaragua.

Thank you always for your continued prayers for Nicaragua and all of the nations during these unprecedented times. As Christians, we are called to unite by choosing to love our neighbors and our enemies. We are called to stop for the one, whether they be in our own family, community or across the globe without barriers. We are ONE BODY in Christ. Are you with us?
Rochelle & TJ
*Source: (https://trib.al/PbxynjY)https://app.moonclerk.com/pay/3fj3mgy0grs0

GREAT NEWS & NEW ITEMS for GUYS & GALS
 We are delighted to share that Ometepe Artisans Etsy Shop & project is off to a strong start with orders from friends and strangers throughout the USA. New inventory is being added to the shop each week!

Profits from all sales go directly to Rosa and Gladys. This project provided them nearly $400 of income since April when they would have otherwise earned $0due to crisis. The amount may seem modest, but it is enough provide for their sustenance. This project is not only empowering these women, it is providing much-needed hope in the community.

Help us continue this success. Please share the online Etsy Shop with your friends and family. Purchase a small treasure that will empower these deserving women. Items range from $8 – $55. Also, you can follow new posts and updates on their Instagram or Facebook page.

If you have any questions email or IM us on social media.
Does Your Employer Have a Match Program?
OBGM has been vetted and approved as a charity in good standing for many corporate employee-match programs through Benevity.  If you work for one of the following companies, your employer may have a matching program through Benevity. 
logos for ADP, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Cargill, Ameriprise Financial, CocaCola, Honda, CP, Purdential, Samsung, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson
For example, if your employer’s policy is to match 2:1 and you defer $25 each month to OBGM, we will receive $75 each month. The extra $50/month would sponsor a young adult for a college education! 

If you have any questions, email us or contact your HR Dept even if your employer is not listed below.
COVID-19 & Community Outreach
During May we invited our college scholarship recipients to assist OBGM continue to help with community outreach and education. Our first attempt at DIY disinfectant wipes failed, however the the second attempt was a success.
Thank you to Erlin, Hilder, Leydis, Prisila, Cinthia, Escarleth, Joshua and Andres doing all the hard work to pack, organize and distribute the following all while social distancing with masks in the brutal heat:
36 high-risk families 52 disinfectant wipes, soap & COVID-19 prevention handouts
13 family food packets of rice, coffee, oil, salt and sugar
10 dog food packets under our Donations for Dogs program
College Scholarship Recipients
We currently have 13 enrolled on AmazonSmile that generated $42.00 in the first quarter of the year. We we would love to double that number by the end of 2020 Can you help us?  Use this linkhttps://smile.amazon.com/ch/83-084001.

Also, AmazonSmile customers can now support One Body Global Ministries Inc in the Amazon shopping app on iOS and Android mobile phones! Simply follow these instructions to turn on AmazonSmile and start generating donations.
Open the Amazon Shopping app on your device
Go into the main menu of the Amazon Shopping app and tap into ‘Settings’
Tap ‘AmazonSmile’ and follow the on-screen instructions to complete the process
If you do not have the latest version of the Amazon Shopping app, update your app. Click here for instructions.

April’s Update (published May)

We’re Starting with some Good News! Introducing an outreach project partially facilitated by students enrolled in the University of Central Florida’s Program in Women’s and Gender Studies. Thank you UCF!
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_5265.png
Ometepe Artisans fights poverty by offering an ongoing means for well-established and indigenous artisans to connect to the global market and earn a fair income via Etsy. All of the net proceeds from each sale goes directly to the artisan(s). The first two Ometepe residents are female jewelry artists, Gladys & Rosa, who hand craft one-of-kind pendants, bracelets and earrings from organic materials found on the Maderas volcano of Ometepe (items range from $8 – $35). Gladys and Rosa also received a small micro-loan to get started! Go to the online Etsy Shop to view all the items/purchase a small treasure that will empower these deserving women for weeks to come. Also, you can follow new posts and updates on their Instagram page.


CHILD SPONSOR MATCHES MAILED
If you participated in our year-end Education for Ometepe Fundraiser, you should have received a letter including information about your child match and his/her family as well as a photo(s) of your child  If you did not receive the packet, please email us.  For info on the program, click here.

No Pandemic in Nicaragua?
Hello Everyone. So much has happened in the world since our last update of March 11. Some days have been overwhelming with adjusting to work, school and “life” during a global pandemic. The best we can do is offer prayers of thanksgiving for our daily blessings and keep fixing our eyes on Jesus, because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:18 NRSV

The most diffiult news to share is, that unlike most countries imposing social restrtictions to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 virus, Nicaragua has chosen the opposite approach. In fact, the country is promoting large-scale sporting events, large public gatherings and school is in session. At this time, Nicaragua has only “reported” a handful of COVID-19 cases and only two deaths. Like most developing countries, Nicaragua’s public healthcare system falls well below developed standards, with some reports indicating the entire country has only 10 ventilators.

We expect the impact of COVID-19 in Nica to be severe in the upcoming weeks. How you can help is to PRAY WITH US. Also, we expect the demand for medical and nutrituional support to increase the coming months. Consider sponsoring a family of four ($20) for a 2-week supply of food, or providing a tax-deductible gift of $50 to help with preventative/medical expenses. 100% of your donation directly benefits the improverished in Nicaragua. Donate

Thank you always for your continued support. May you keep your eyes fixed on Him and stay safe during this difficult season.
Rochelle & TJ


SEEKING COLLEGE SPONSOR
We are currently seeking a College Sponsor for our Hilder Barrios! The commitment is $50/mo for a period of five years. Hilder is enrolled in Rivas college pursing law. In addition to teaching English for OBGM, Hilder is always the first to volunteer in the community. Hilder’s faith in Jesus is unwavering. Despite being 24, he’s the sole provider of his family of 8.  Will you help change this man’s life?Our COVID-19 ResponseOur English Program is suspended until further notice. The majority of our students lack the technology to move to an online format. We are praying on an alternate solution so that we may offer continued learning during COVID.

Both Hilder & Leydi transitioned to our “COVID-19” team focused on education and ditribution of santitation supplies in several communities. We acquired 126 bars of soap and 4 gallons of bleach and started visiting immunocompromised families. In addition, the local mission team from Bethel Iglesia Nueva Jeruselen is also distributing these materials to reinforce the urgency of thorough handwashing to prevent the spread of the virus.
 
A friend of mine recently recommended a crowdfunded TV series called, The Chosen. It’s available FREE via YouTube or App. After the first episode, I was hooked. The series is unlike no other show about Jesus and the disciples. At times you find yourself chuckling and at other times teared up. The show’s creators made the character’s issues real and relatable to today. Whether you are Christian or not, you may find yourself binging on this show. We hope you are blessed by it.  #BingJesus #Getusedtodifferent 

The Tapestry

Our Jan-Feb visit to Ometepe Island was nothing short of amazing. The time we spent together with the locals and other missionaries, it was clear that God is weaving the most splendid & beautiful tapestry for His Kingdom through all of us. (Luke 17:20-21)

We were most encouraged by the progress of the English students enrolled in our three (3) ongoing classes. Many of the students are gaining confidence in their pronunciation and using their skills outside the classroom. Knowing English provides future employment opportunities, as tourism continues to return to the island.

The hardest aspect of our visit were the family interviews for our primary school scholarship program. This program now covers 53 children in 9 communities. Many of these families are surviving on less than $1 a day, with a handful reporting no income altogether. All of the children were not ready for the new school year and thanks to the Body of Christ, they started on Feb 3! We will continue to monitor each child’s progress, and family situation, throughout the year. We will also be in touch with you shortly about your child if you are participating in this program.

Finally, you will continue to see a shift of our activities away from strict programming into a model of community development. Instead of doing for others, our focus will continue to build on doing with others through our core pillars of MIND, BODY & SPIRIT. Like the tapestry, our end goal is sustainability weaved into the fabric of these communities yoked with Christ’s unconditional love.

Will you be a thread in this tapestry?  We have some fun ways to participate including soon-to-launch online indigenous jewelry store in which the proceeds support local women. We are also seeking school & teacher supplies for Rochelle’s next visit on April 6. If you would like to come to Ometepe in the future, send us an email. Scroll down for updates on each of our core pillars of Body, Mind & Spirit. 

Peace & Love of Christ be with you,
Rochelle & TJ

Follow us FacebookInstagram or Twitter for almost daily updates from the field. See below for some of those details if you’re not on social media.

MINDS: SUPPLIES NEEDED by MARCH 31
Our Saturday children’s English classes migrated to Monday & Wednesday mornings at the Sintiope primary school (Pre-K- 6th), concurrent with the regular learning day. During the process, we discovered the school had NO supplies. We were able to secure some during our visit but the needs are so great. Consequently, we’re holding a school & classroom supply drive UNTIL MARCH 31, seeking the following items (gently used is fine). Many of these items can be purchased on our AmazonSmile Charity Wish list and dropped shipped to us:Reusable plastic cups, dishes & utensils
Wooden Puzzles & pre-school toys          
Games, Baseball Bats & Gloves, Soccer Balls (size 4). legos, blocks   
Pens, pencils, paper, notebooks, crayons & colored pencils
Whiteboard markers & other classroom supplies (check dollar store)     
Chess Sets (plastic)   
BODIESPilot Water Filter Project with the Cocoa Beach Daybreak Rotary Club. These Sawyer bucket adapters (see above) eliminate 99.999999% of bacteria, protozoa & cysts like e.coli, cholera & typhoid. Each recipient was trained on how to maintain & clean the filters as they can last 10+ years & filter 300 gallons/day. This past visit a total of 8 kits were granted to 2 schools & 3 households giving clean water access to 300+ individuals. All the recipients were so happy to access clean water & surprised at how easy to use & maintain. We will be closely monitoring this project & keep you posted.
YOUR INVITED
Do you live near Cocoa Beach, FL? Join us on March 21 from 3:30pm – 5:30pm for casual tea, lite snacks and preview of the handmade master artisan jewerly from Ometepe Island, Nicaragua. The earrings, necklaces & bracelets are made by Rosita & Gladys, two indigenous women from the community of Santa Cruz. Both artists use natural materials found in Ometepe, including fossils, stones, seeds and amber found around the Maderas Volcano. ALL of the profits will directly benefit Rosita & Gladys, which in turn will help their families, church & community.

This is a prelude to the creation of an online Esty platform designed to provide an ongoing, sustainable income for these deserving & faithful women.  Click below button for event details & more photos of the goodies!
March 21 Jewelry Event

BODIES
A note from TJ:  On this trip I met Maria Antonia a precious little girl who seemed very sick.  Her parents were told she had hepatitis and couldn’t go back to school until she was well.  And the new school year started the following week. 
We had lots of questions.  Was it A, B or C?  How contagious was she?  We took her to a private clinic to find out.  The cost for the visit and blood tests was greater than the average monthly wage in the village Maria lived. 

Long story short, it was Hep A – thank God.  We prayed over her.  Her symptoms subsided, and she was in school the next week.  But now her brother had it.  And I suspect nearly everyone she came in contact would eventually have it.  My dilemma now is, how do you get people to frequently wash their hands with soap, when very few in that community have soap.  The school didn’t even have any.  We had a great response to the immediate need and were able to supply Maria’s family and the school  with soap.  We are moving forward with the school to ensure it has ongoing access to clean water, supplies, utensils and soap.  Stay tuned…

 
$37.67
We recently received a quarterly disbursement from the AmazonSmile Foundation for $37.67. It may not seem like a lot, but we stretch these dollars to help cover bus fares or a water filtration kit capable of filtering 300 gallons per day.

Thank you to the 13 people supporting our charity. Imagine the impact if this number was doubled or tripled? Please consider adding us to your Amazon purchases by going to: https://smile.amazon.com/ch/83-0840019

SPIRITS

Do you have an extra musical instrument & willing to donate it?

We’ve been approached by two different groups seeking worship instruments. Please contact us if you’re interested. You can also make a designated financial gift by clicking below. All gifts are tax-deductible.
Donate Now

JUST LIKE US

Just Like Us …

Photo of beach day with OBGM kids' English students

It’s been a few weeks since Rochelle and our son, Andrew, returned from their extended visit in Ometepe Island, Nicaragua. We are grateful to have our family reunited and ready to enter a new season as stronger disciples of Christ.

Reflecting on what we experienced in June and July on Ometepe, the biggest surprise was the severity of the desperate economic situation that many of our neighbors, volunteers and friends are adjusting to on Ometepe Island (Scroll down to Micro Loan section below for reasons). The impact of this includes a large amount of families being unable to provide basic needs such as medicine, food, shoes, reading glasses and/or hygiene items. As a result, we are encouraging more teams to serve with us and to bring these items. At the current time, we can NOT ship to Nicaragua. IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN SERVING IN NICARAGUA CONTACT US

Not a day passed without God showing us His heart while helping families & children on Ometepe. For example, people in the community would show up at our house with eggs, limes, nacatamales (a local dish), cookies, mangoes, avocados, and even a Nicaraguan dress! The extended visit also enabled us more opportunities to share in authentic family moments such as after-school homework time, a day at the beach, or preparing a meal together. These are a people JUST LIKE US seeking unity in family and nation. Unfortunately, they have much less in terms of choice, opportunity or advocacy.
  We remain committed to God’s plans for His people as the living Body of Christ: plans for hope and a prosperous future (Jeremiah 29:11). We thank you for your continued prayers & support. We thank our amazing on-site staff, volunteers & fellow missionaries in Nicaragua who fill in the gaps when we can’t. See below for more details on what’s happening NOW in the field.

add us your charity: https://smile.amazon.com/ch/83-0840019

HOUSING PROJECT UPDATE

As mentioned in last month’s e-news, one of this summer’s visiting mission teams had to reschedule their visit to Ometepe to a future date. However, catalysts for their decision to serve were the stories of two very poor, single-parent families in desperate need of structural housing improvements. In July, this mission team sent $1,600 to OBGM, and we immediately secured budgets. Supplies were delivered and construction is underway. This is a double blessing as the projects will employ people in their local community as well. Each project also requires volunteer hours which both the homeowners and OBGM’s local mission team are contributing.

See below photos for progress. There are NO WORDS to express the gratitude from these local families and OBGM to: Kula Yoga Merritt Island, Kula Yoga Port Orange, Kula Yoga New Smynra Beach and Bula Kava Cocoa Beach for their fundraising efforts and generous hearts. We look forward to hosting them in the future!

MICRO LOAN PILOT PROGRAM

Our extended stay in Ometepe this summer revealed that the economic climate in Nicaragua continues to worsen, due a steep decline in tourism and tax reform imposed by the current government. The tourism industry will likely take years to recover, and tax reform has out-priced most family farmers from getting the needed supplies for their crops. These hard-working men and women are very poor, and therefore have no access to credit. Sometimes the credit needed is a modest $100, $250 or $500 that could be repaid at harvest time.

This is just one example of a very complicated issue that we can NOT solve. However, we can expand peoples choices so that they may have the ability to do what’s best to provide for themselves. See the above video as an example.

Therefore, we will pilot a micro loan program to three to five families in Ometepe. Our goal is to provide & administer a pool of no-interest loans that continually sustain the program for poor on Ometepe. . If you have a heart to help someone help themselves,  Click here to securely donate. We are seeking five $250 Sponsors.

Knowing English provides better long-term job opportunities for rural Nicaraguans. We are honored to announce the official start date of a young-adult English program in the community of Santa Cruz commencing September 18.  

The program will be held in the classroom space of Iglesia Nueva Jerusalen church on Wed & Thurs evenings led by Hilder Barrios and assisted by Leydi Rios Alverez, both whom are young adults and faithful disciples of Christ.

March Update

Wow Ometepe is all we can say since our return from Nicaragua on February 12. We were greatly encouraged by the continued stability of the nation since 2018’s civil & economic unrest – the biggest surprise was a strong return of tourism to Ometepe.

There is still room for caution, but the situation has brought increased cooperation and partnership among the Nicaraguan people, churches and other ministries, including OBGM. This IS the body of Christ in action and it’s so good! Just as Paul, shares in Romans 12:5 SO IN CHRIST, WE WHO ARE MANY ARE ONE BODY, AND EACH MEMBER BELONGS TO ONE ANOTHER.

Scroll down for more details of our recent visit and program updates. We are currently praying for for the following needs:

  • Sustainable support to 2019’s nutrition program
  • Pre-owned 4-wheel drive truck for transportation of bulk nutrition supplies, materials, outreach team members, visiting team members and general needs. The vehicle must be purchased in Nicaragua.
  • Walking Shoes & Ponchos for Outreach Team
  • Start of a 2nd English Class program in Santa Cruz

Also pray for travel safety as Rochelle returns to Nicaragua March 21 – April 4. Her travel is possible thanks to frequent flyer miles TJ receives via American Airlines. We will do our best to keep you updated (including shenanigans) via our Facebook PageInstagram orblog.Love, Peace & Joy
T.J. and Rochelle

Thank You Tom Davis

Thank you to Tom Davis of Grand Junction, CO for joining us in Nicaragua from February 2 – 12, 2019. The people of Ometepe were so blessed with his presence and contributions throughout his visit on the island. 

We especially appreciate Tom’s input with our children’s English school program, including lesson planning and materials given to our English teacher, Hilder. With 30+ years as a professional educator, his experience was invaluable and timely since the new school year in Nicaragua commenced February 4.

Tom managed to have some fun, too! We squeezed in a waterfall hike and a fishing on two afternoons. Best, of all, he plans to return to Ometepe in the future with two his grown daughters and son-in-law! We look forward to his return and how each of his family members bless the beautiful people of Ometepe. 

ARE YOU INTERESTED IN SERVING WITH US THIS SUMMER IN NICARAGUA? CONTACT US FOR MORE INFO.

MINDS:  College Scholar Receives Laptop

Thank you Cocoa Beach Daybreak Rotary Club for the Toshiba laptop awarded to Lisbeth Issamar Bravo Garcia, age 19. Lisbeth is a deserving student attending her 3rd year at the University of Managua (UNAN) majoring in architecture. She was both humbled and thrilled with receipt of this assistance as she had NO computer to complete her upcoming coursework! She plans to graduate in 2021.

Fully-functioning laptops and unlocked smartphones are in great need. If you would like to donate one of your own items, please contact us.

MINDS:  21 Kids Start English Classes!

Words can not describe the sight of 21 kids crammed into a classroom on a hot Saturday morning eager to learn English! The below video is from February 9th’s first day of school and celebration. We hope you can see the value and love this program brings to the children in Sintiope. Please consider helping us expand this program which helps the community seek better employment.

BODIES:  Your generosity helps to nourish ~ 80 bodies/month  – many in some of the hard-to-reach communities and with family members who are very sick.

BODIES & SPIRITS: Nutrition Program & Outreach Team Needs

One of the most humbling & educational moments during our visit was the time we spent with the local mission/outreach team from God’s Assembly church in Santa Cruz, Ometepe. This team of 10 dedicated volunteers go out into the “mission field” 2x/week from 5am – 6pm, seeking residents in under-served communities as far as 10km away from their homes. Many of those reached include the extremely sick and/or poor farmers who have no access to a church, bible study, healing prayer or simply in sharing in God’s word.

In addition to a small travel stipend they receive from OBGM, the team hosts their own fundraisers to support their program. We are honored to have this dedicated team help us sort, weigh, pack and deliver food kits to those most in need. Each kit feeds a family of four (4) for 1.5 weeks, and on average 20 families receive the aid per month according to our current budget.

But it’s not about the food. This is really about working together as the Body of Christ to share God’s relentless love…providing comfort, peace, healing, joy…all of the gifts available to us by His sheer grace. 

NEEDS  – We need help outfitting each team member with appropriate walking shoes and rain ponchos during our next visit. To accomplish this, we’ve set up an Amazon Wish List with specific shoe sizes for each team member as well a link for the rain ponchos. If you chose to donate, please order before March 15 to ensure timely delivery to us, prior to our visit. Prices range from $15.99 – $41.

MINDS:  7 primary school students were fully sponsored last month to supply school uniforms, backpacks, shoes & supplies for the 2019 school year.

MINDS: College Scholarship Awarded

Meet Prisila Rios from Santa Cruz, Ometepe Island. Prisila will assume a full course load of classes in Rivas, Nicaragua commencing this month. She will commute from Ometepe & attend classes on Saturdays. 

In addition to her other responsibilities, Prisila is a dedicated volunteer in her community in Santa Cruz, including serving on her church’s mission team twice per month.

If you would like to sponsor a college student like Prisila, we are seeking financial support of $50 per month,or $500 per year per scholarship. When donating, please specify “college scholar” on the designation line.

SPIRIT: Youth In Training Graduates
Congratulations to Denis and Hilder of Ometepe who completed Youth With a Mission’s (YWAM) two-week training program in Managua on January 31, 2019. The program, Save to Serve and Transform (SST), is specifically for young people who want to make God known with their lifestyle, families, community, nation and the world. This is accomplished through not only study and reflection, but also through outreach.

Rochelle had the privilege of serving along side these two young men in an outreach day in the trash dumps near Managua. We are delighted to watch them transform and grow in their relationship with Jesus. We look forward to helping each of them continue in their journey and we ask for your prayers.
 “SO IN CHRIST, WE WHO ARE MANY ARE ONE BODY, AND EACH MEMBER BELONGS TO ONE ANOTHER” – ROMANS 12:5

January Update

2019 Off & Running!
We hope you all had a meaningful Christmas season and Happy New Year. Since we returned home from visiting family and friends in NJ & PA, it’s been nonstop planning for 2019. Rochelle leaves for Nicaragua on January 28th to prepare for our first visiting short-term missionary, Mr. Tom Davis, of Grand Junction, CO (see below), who arrives with T.J. from Feb 2 – 12.

Scroll down for more details since December’s update. Please continue to pray with us and for travel safety as we team up with our partner ministries, friends and staff in Nicaragua. We will do our best to keep you updated via our Facebook PageInstagram but sometimes online access is not consistently paired with our busy schedule in the field.
Love, Peace & Joy
T.J. and Rochelle

Welcome Tom Davis!We are overjoyed to have Tom Davis of Grand Junction, CO join us in Nicaragua from February 2 – 12!  Tom’s passion for youth and  30+ years in education will be a huge blessing to our ministry, especially with our English students and teaching staff. Tom currently works as an adjunct professor at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction,teaching education to prospective teachers.He also works in his church with middle school, high school and young adult age students. He holds Bachelor’s degrees in Theology and Education as well as a Master degree in Music Education. 
Tom has traveled the world and loves serving in missions. He has two adult daughters who also love serving the Lord.  We can’t wait to see the impact of Tom’s contributions on Ometepe Island in February.  

BODIES:  Your generosity helped to nourish ~1,100 bodies in 2018.
The economic crisis is slowly improving, but food assistance and outreach to the elderly & sick is still needed in 2019. Can you help us?

Minds:  Cocoa Beach Daybreak Rotary Club

Thank you Cocoa Beach Daybreak Rotary Club for the Toshiba laptop donation for our scholarship program. The recipient is a female college student from the University of Managua majoring in architecture. Fully-functioning laptops and unlocked smartphones are in great need. If you would like to donate one of your own items, please contact us.

MINDS: Thanks to your support in 2018, each and every one of our English class students will have their own textbook in 2019.

Also, February is back-to-school time in Ometepe. It’s not too late to help us fill our suitcase BEFORE JAN 31, we need children’s (sizes 13 – 3) black school shoes. They can be gently USED or or purchased via our Amazon Wish List and shipped to:179 Jamaica Drive
Cocoa Beach, FL 32931
Spirit: Youth In Training Jan 19 – 30, 2019 
Please pray for Denis and Hilder of Ometepe who will start Youth With a Mission’s (YWAM) two-week training program in Managua, commencing January 19. The program, Save to Serve and Transform (SST), is specifically for young people from ages 13 to 20 who want to know God and make him known with their lifestyle, families, community, nation and the world. 

We are delighted to invest in these young men and look forward to watching their relationship with Jesus grow and flourish for years to come! Stay tuned for more details as Rochelle will meet up with Denis and Hilder in Managua before the end of the month.
Santa Suitcase Update!
Below are some images from the Santa Suitcase distribution in December. The art supplies and Barbies were a huge hit! We look forward to visiting with many of these children in February and hope to share more stories with your via our blogInstagram and/or Facebook page. It is so amazing to see the Body of Christ working together to help fill & deliver Santa’s Suitcase!
Our English students received art supplies and personal letters from the Youth Group at First United Methodist Church, Cocoa Beach, FL