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.

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

Bearing Fruit

Last year I bought a citrus tree at a local nursery who assured me it bears fruit each year. I brought it home, replanted it in a large pot and placed it where I thought was the perfect location on our deck. A few months later, a few blossoms appeared. I was so excited, and my mouth salivated at the thought of our family eating organic citrus grown in our back yard. Weeks went by, and I noticed there was no new growth or fruit on the tree. What went wrong? Months passed and nothing happened. In fact, at times the tree was knocked over during strong summer storms.

Remain in His Love & Joy!

Eventually, I moved the tree to a new location which was closer to our home. This location received less Florida sun and was among other plants and shrubs residing in the earth.

Just before Christmas, I added some newly-harvested compost and wished the tree well before leaving for the holidays up north. Upon my return, lo and behold the tree started to blossom! Today it bears heaps of blossoms, fruit and new growth. When I think of what happened to this tree, I can’t help to reflect and praise God’s amazing creation, promise and grace. I would like to share two points with you here:

  1. The tree needed to be around other life to help protect it. In this life, we need to trust God, our family and/or community when we are vulnerable. Whether we are the receiver or the giver of help, we need each other. Jesus knew this and commanded us to love our neighbor, and even our enemies, as ourselves. 
  2. Like Jesus’ death and resurrection, the decomposing compost helped to yield the most beautiful blossoms and fruit on this tree. Thank you, Jesus, for your ultimate sacrifice, so we may blossom, bear fruit and remain in your love!

John 15: 1-17

Not The Forgotten Ones

One of the goals of our late-Fall visit to Nicaragua was to strengthen our relationships local pastors/ministries in the communities we serve in Ometepe. Of our three guiding pillars, Spirit, we recently committed to walk alongside one local mission team who minister to “the forgotten ones” (that is their term) into the outlying communities from their base church.

This week, I received an update from the field that we had enough in our local budget to purchase & prepare 20 more food kits (rice, beans,oil, sugar, coffee, salt).  Each kit feeds an entire family for 7-10 days. This amazing team not only spent countless hours securing, measuring & packaging each meal kit, they spent 20+ hours going to four separate communities (3 in Mérida, 2 in La Palma, 12 en Madroñal and Santa cruz and 5 kits in Sintiope). Each visit was less about the food and more about relationship, prayer and loving on the sick & elderly.

It is truly an honor to witness how our trusted team & friends in Nicaragua work together to honor the greatest commandment to “love thy neighbor”. Since June, One Body Global Ministries made it possible to supply at least 220 food kits to the most poor and sick families in Ometepe. To put it in perspective, if each kit feeds 4-6 people for a week, that is approximately 1,100 mouths!

In the words of our project administrator, Erlin, he shared today, “I see God moving in our ministry… I spoke with each one of the beneficiaries and I see the real needed not only of food, they need love. They need God.”

I just had to share this good news and ask you to pray for these amazing (and probably exhausted) people who help us love on those who would otherwise feel alone, unloved, or forgotten.  We are One Body in Christ!

Sonya, Nahum, Julio, Francisca, Cynthia, Pricila, Alvaro, Yaneris,
Diega, Francis, Olivia, Erlin  and Yovelsi

T-Minus 7 Days

One week from today, I return to Nicaragua and I have mixed emotions. Part of me can not contain the excitement, yet there is another part of me that feels anxious. It’s not a fear about safety and those physical aspects of the visit. It’s an anxiety of sharing in the suffering of those families and friends on Ometepe who have been adversely impacted by the civil unrest and economic crisis. Some of the questions that arise include: Will I be able to keep it together? How can I be a source of comfort if I become sad?

When I experience this type of anxiety, I  know I can dig into The Word, meditation and the wisdom of my mentors. Recently, I’ve consulted advice from one of the world’s most recognized missionaries and Jesus lover, Mother Theresa.  Shemother theresa shares it so wisely in No Greater Love, “when you feel in your own heart the suffering of Christ, remember the resurrection has to come. Never let anything so fill you with sorrow as to make you forget the joy of Christ risen.”

Wow!  How could I so easily let myself get in the way and so easily forget the joy of the resurrection?  It’s that simple, yet so hard to put into practice in our daily lives.  Let’s keep pressing into it to together to find strength, so we may joyfully share His light and keep His commandment  “Love each other in the same way I have loved you.” (John 15:12 NLT).

joy