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. 

You did it! HE Blessed it! We made it!

Thank you to all those who helped us exceed our goal raising $6,723 on #GivingTuesday to empower two villages in Ometepe Island, Nicaragua through education. 100% of the proceeds raised go to Nicaragua to provide:

  • 50 children with uniforms, backpacks & school supplies
  • Year-round English classes in two villages
  • School supplies for one village elementary school 

Please know the gratitude of the students & families in Ometepe is equally matched by the outpouring of love shown by all who participated, including: direct supporters, volunteers, social media ambassadors, auction sponsors, taco eaters, acution bidders & winners.

We look forward to sharing more on the impact of your giving during our next visit to Nicaragua January 15 – February 18, 2020. In the meantine, we appreciate your continued prayers for this ministry during the Christmas Season. 
Love,
T.J. and Rochelle
so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members of one another – Romans 12:5 NRSV

IMPACT OF YOUR SUPPORT

A Final Thank you to our Auction Donors

The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex /  4th Street Fillin’ Station  /  Beachside Grand Prix  /  Golf n Gator  /  Preacher Soulful Food & Abbey Ales /  The Crayola Experience  /  Lighthouse Cove Minigolf  /  Fishlips Restaurant  /  Sun Bum Sun, Skin & Hair Care  /  Kula Yoga Merritt Island /  Isobe Hair Salon /  WonderWorks Orlando / The Tiny Turtle /  Michelle Lackore LMT / Exploration Tower at Port Canaveral / Cocoa Beach Helicopter Tours / Junkanoo Island Kitchen & Rum Bar / Rising Tide Tap & Table / Ace Hardware Cocoa Beach (YETI) / Grills Seafood Deck & Tiki Bar / Serenity Spring Massage & Body Work / Shore Lanes Merritt Island / Yoga with Martha / Cocoa Beach Aerial Adventures  / Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra / Trent Art Gallery

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.

One Month and Still Going

It’s just over one month since we arrived in Nicaragua on June 6th and it’s been a roller-coaster adventure in this #summerofglory.

First, we would like to thank our June short-term mission volunteers, Matt & Margareth Hoey from Wilmington, DE and Mike Palmer from First United Methodist Church, Cocoa Beach.  Their presence and donations continue to bless Ometepe Island today. Scroll down for detail & photos on each visit.

Next, continue to pray with us and for us. This journey has been filled with challenges, but in all the situations, we remain grateful to God’s faithfulness in providing exactly what is needed.The JOY far outweighs the challenges and we would not change a thing.

Matt & Margareth present one of the new students with his own dictionary.
The most profound moments have been serving in relationship with the local mission team when we distribute food, donations, visit and pray with families in need. Some of the stories are heart wrenching. Last year’s sociopolitical crisis continues to hit families hard today. People who previously worked in tourism-related jobs are still un- or under-employed. There is no room in a family’s budget for “extras” like shoes, medicines, clothes, etc.

The people of Ometepe and throughout Nicaragua are teaching me so much about keeping a heart of trust and grace. In outreach, we encounter aging, sickand/or single-mother families — some who have to choose between receiving assistance for food or medicine from us. OBGM does not yet receive enough financial donations to provide both at this time. 

We had our own personal emergency a few weeks ago, when our youngest son, Jake, had a severe allergic reaction. He is 100% recovered now, but we were officially baptized in the Nica emergency medical “system” where the conditions (and smells) were deplorable by US-standards. However, the clinic supplied the ample IV-medications and care. Also, accompanying us was our amazing local friends who helped us manage the language barrier. We had to put our trust in the hands and feet helping us, even though it did not look or feel normal to us.

Recently, one young father came to visit seeking only 200 Cords (~U$6.00) for asthma medication for his 12-month old baby.  I could see the panic in his eyes and body – just like ME during my son’s recent allergic episode.  The dad was so grateful for the medical assistance and promised to visit us when his son was well!

In each example, it is apparent that the physical presence, support, prayers and donations coming through OBGM (down to the last penny or donated pencil) is a blessing to our deserving brothers, sisters &children here in Ometepe. We are so grateful forGod’s faithfulness for bringing us to this place and opening our eyes. Last, please join us in prayer for: OBGM ministry & staff
mission team & remaining stay this summer
Continued peace for Nicaragua
Remaining 2019 funding for: Payroll for ongoing English program & new Santa Cruz English Class program commencing in the weeks to come ($350/mo)
Food Distribution Program ($350/mo)
Medical Assistance ($100/mo)
Funding for structural housing upgrades for two young families (See below previous e-news). 
Love, Peace & Joy
T.J. and Rochelle

For more frequent updates from the field, follow us on Instagram or Facebook.

JUNE VISIT
Matt and Margareth Hoey came to Ometepe with such servant hearts and a ton of fun-filled surprises for our kids in the Saturday English program. They brought the remaining supplies for making our “You are So Loved” personal photos, dictionaries, loads of field toys and a full tray of Ferror Roche chocolates. Matt & Margareth took charge of both English class lessons with such confidence and fun. The kids’ LOVED it (see photos below). It was also a joy to watch the kids decorate their photos & taste fine chocolate for the first time! Thank you so much Matt & Margareth. We hope you were as blessed as the people on Ometepe Island.

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

SOS – The rainy season is here — Marisol & Christian’ Families (see previous enews) are struggling to stay safe & dry during the rough downpours. Below is a 26-second video clip showing Marisol’s family (with their permission). We are seeking only $1,600 for both families to ensure structural repairs to keep these families safe & dry.
Click here to securely donate.

Mike & First United Methodist Church Cocoa Beach

Mike Palmer of First United Methodist Church in Cocoa Beach (FUMCCB) enjoyed meeting his primary education scholarship recipients, teaching multiple English classes and serving with our local mission team. So many families were blessed by the food packages that were sponsored this month by FUMCCB. It was an honor to have Mike there to help secure the bulk food supplies, assemble the packages as well as distribute the food and pray with families in three (3) different communities. 

A huge thanks to Mike for his generosity, time and sharing his testimony at our home church.  Mike hopes to return to Ometepe one day on a future short-term mission trip.

MINDS:  FIRST MALE COLLEGE SCHOLAR

Congratulations to Jeysin Alvarez Gonzalez who is our first male college scholar program recipient. OBGM now has a total of four (4) young adults participating in this program. Jeysin attends the Universidad Hispanoamerica Recinto in Rivas. He is grateful to God, foremost, for the opportunity to stay enrolled in college. He promises to work hard and volunteer with OBGM when available. Please pray for Jeysin and his family.

It’s simple. Education reduces poverty. Consider becoming a Sponsor to a native Ometepe Island college student. It’s typically a 5-year commitment of $50/month.  Contact us with any questions, or set up your online recurring monthly donation today.

Jeysin receives his first scholarship payment. He has since volunteered many hours and hard work helping others on Ometepe.