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.
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.
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.
In last month’s e-news, we reflected on Jesus washing the feet of his disciples as a reminder of His humble servanthood and precursor to the cross. This month, we are preparing to host a roster of four (4) short-term mission teams visiting Ometepe this summer, representing the body of Christ to “wash another’s feet.” (John 13:14 NIV). Scroll down for more info on who is joining us for a #summerofglory. We look forward to sharing many examples of His glory showering down on the poorest communities we serve on Ometepe Island, Nicaragua.
Speaking of Glory, we would like to introduce you to “Gloria,” the ministry’s pre-owned truck in Nicaragua and answer to many of your prayers. The day after Rochelle’s return from Ometepe in April, our tax service advised us that the State of Illinois owed us a sizable refund! This refund provided much-needed transportation that is already being used to help others in Ometepe.
The last tidbit of glory news is we plan to launch a young-adult English program in the barrio of Santa Cruz. Joining Hilder will be our new assistant teacher, Leydi, who is a fourth year English university student and Jesus lover. We look forward to watching Leydi grow in her new role in the Santa Cruz classroom.
T.J., Rochelle and family depart for Nicaragua on June 6. Rochelle and her oldest son, Andrew, plan to stay through July 28. While there, we expect to share many updates on social media as internet is available. Follow us on Instagram or Facebook.
Last, please join us in prayer this Season for:
Our OBGM ministry & stay this summer
Continued peace for Nicaragua
Visiting mission teams for June & July (see below)
Supplies & payroll for new Santa Cruz English Class program commencing in June
Safety rails for our pre-owned truck Love, Peace & Joy T.J. and Rochelle
JUNE Matt & Margareth Hoey have been supportive of our vision for the people of Ometepe when we first helped as short-term missionaries from our NJ church over ten years ago. We are humbled by their their ongoing support and now honored they will join us to serve for one week all the way from Wilmington, Delaware.
JUNE Welcome Mike Palmer of First United Methodist Church in Cocoa Beach. We are thrilled to have a member from our home church to serve as God’s faithful steward in Ometepe. Mike has participated on many on short-term mission trips, including serving in Uganda, Tanzania, Mexico and the Amazon. He’s a current sponsor to five (5) of our primary education scholarship recipients. We look forward to see Mike experience Ometepe and the many blessings he will bring to those we serve on the island!
JUNE Welcome Julie Isobe of @isobe salon in Indian Harbor Beach, FL While cutting hair during her stay in Ometepe, Julie will be exploring options for a permanent trade school to teach hair styling and technique, with a major emphasis on sustainable living. As part of the curriculum, she she will teach locals how to treat hair with oils derived from the natural produce found in Nicaragua.
JULY A team of three young families from Kula Yoga will spend a week in Ometepe this July. Kula means “family” or “community” and we are honored by their passion to share their time and talent to help raise much-needed funds for our programming and their visit serving the poorest of the poor. We will share more info about them in future e-news. In the meantime, you can support their efforts by attending donation yoga classes (in Florida)
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 Page, Instagram 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 Listwith 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.