Rummage Sale Day on Pochocuape

Last Sunday, the Iglesia La Gran Familia De Pochocuape held a Rummage Sale. The proceeds were to complete the building of the church. I took them some things to donate and stayed to fellowship and offer my help. It was such a blessing to watch them come together, men and women alike, as a church and work to raise the money to complete the building; leaning in to each other in times of need and excess as we have been commanded. It reminded me of 2 Corinthians 8:14; “At the present time, your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need.”

Some brought clothes and household items to sell, some brought food to sell, some brought money to purchase and all played a part in building their church, both physically and spiritually. I am so honored to be part of this ministry. Though I am technically here working to start my own ministry in Mangagua, as I believe I have been called to do, I am honored to be doing it beside, with and for the people of Pochocuape.

 

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Warm Greetings from Nicaragua

dock & Norma

by Dock Caton

Here we are once again in lovely Nicaragua, enjoying the abundant blessings of our wonderful Maker and Master.  We traded the -7 degree Chicagoland tundra for a 70 to 80 degrees spring-like paradise.

Norma was on the tail end of a case of shingles and I was experiencing some pretty severe back pain when we arrived. But, once we got settled in and soaked up some much-needed sunshine, we are back in the swing of things and feeling good.

God continues to bless our ministry partners in Managua in spite of the challenges they face. As usual, Pastora Maria of the New Jerusalem church sends her love and prayers to all her friends at Ginger Creek Church. Norma and I were present at the opening ceremony for the beginning of the new school year at the New Jerusalem grade school Guadalupe, what used to be La Chureca, the Managua city dump.

school kids playingSchool director, Josefina Bricenos, did an excellent job of welcoming children and parents in the opening celebration for this year’s 274 enrollees. She opened with prayer for the students, parents and teachers.  She then encouraged the students to study hard so their futures would be secure and instructed parents to be diligent to keep their kids in school and church.

Maria, Josefina, y Megan

Megan McKinley joined us for three days, as she came to make plans for an internship with Triple Threat Mentoring.  Ginger Creek is hoping to form a partnership with Triple Threat in Nicaragua in the near future.  Pray that God would show us exactly what is our role in this partnership ministry.

Jorge y Monica church

On Pochocuape Mountain, pastor Jorge and Monica send their love and prayers too.  In 2013, they spent the year teaching the church leadership how to walk daily in an integral faith that touches all aspects of their personal lives. The results are visible and inspiring. We were touched to watch adults joyfully teaching the kids the Creation story. As a result of the adults’ enthusiastic participation, the kids are vibrant and joyful as well.

The Pochocuape congregation has made great strides in their agricultural efforts and gardening skills.  They made their first income from the banana crop recently.  Though it was a meager crop this time, the potential has greatly encouraged them in their business plan to teach the kids a future skill, to provide income for the community, raise food to provide for the needy and foster healthier eating habits.

Norma and I plan to be here only three weeks, and there is a lot of business to get done.  One of our major goals during the remaining time is to shore up our plans for the group trip in August.  We are looking for this Service Learning Team to be one of the best short-term trips ever.

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Learning to Say Whatever to God

Learning to Say Whatever to God, By Heather Martinez

Psychologists and social workers say that one of the worst words you can say in any relationship is whatever. I have come to realize that whatever is one of the best words that I can say to God. Whatever you wish, Lord. Whatever you want me to do. Whatever your plan for me is. You see, two years ago I heard Pastora Maria from Nicaragua speak at Ginger Creek and just as clear as day I heard God speak to me. I knew that I was to go on a mission trip to Nicaragua.

Suddenly everything made sense. This was why I hadn’t been able to conceive a child. God had other plans for me. We had to put our own plans for starting a family on hold. Maria spoke in February and I quickly applied for a trip that October. But that trip was rescheduled to January and then March and then, one year after hearing God’s voice, I learned that the March trip was cancelled indefinitely. My heart was broken.

My husband and I talked, and we prayed, and I came to realize that if God meant for me to go on a mission trip he would open the door. Jerry and I decided to do the same thing with trying to conceive a child. We decided that if God meant for us to become pregnant we would. Not long after we made this decision, I got a phone call about a possibility for a trip in the summertime. Norma and Dock Caton were spending six months in Nicaragua. And they thought it would be a good idea if I came down for a week while they were there. I would be traveling by myself without my family down to Nicaragua. One thing you have to know about me, I have an anxiety disorder where I have issues with dizziness, and I’m scared of flying. But God still chose me. Me of all people! Can you believe that? I wouldn’t be traveling with a group. But I would be meeting Dock and Norma and Kerrie Kuntz down there. Was I ready for that?

God gave me incredible peace getting ready for the trip. I was excited to go. Excited that God chose me. Finally the day came when I boarded the plane to leave the country for the first time ever in my lifetime. I left my husband, my family, my friends. I couldn’t believe that I was doing this. But I knew that God would take care of me and would be with me the whole time.

While in the air the plane experienced a little turbulence. The word whatever popped into my head again. I thought God, whatever you want of me. If you want me to die right now, fine. If you want me to make it through this trip and get to Nicaragua and do things down there. Fine! I made it to Nicaragua and was so excited to see Norma and Dock and Kerrie waiting for me. One of the first things I did when I got there was throw up. I was fine though.

On Tuesday we made it to La Chureca, the city dump. We went to Maria’s church and school and saw the children running around laughing and playing. We saw the people in the kitchen hard at work. And sweating with the heat. On Wednesday we went back to the church again and I helped teach English to some of the students. That afternoon I taught a sewing class, teaching the ladies how to make a T-shirt into something new. I had so much fun working with the ladies: Maria, the principal of the school, and a few students. We had a blast.

Later that evening I became sick. Thursday I spent most of the day lying down. Everyone’s plans were put on hold because of me. That night we prayed that I would feel better. The next day was a full day: visiting the Nehemiah Center in the morning, the mountain in the afternoon, and that night we helped  set up a movie night for the local children and families.

On the flight home I became sick again and was afraid that I had caught some bug while in Nicaragua. The next day I woke up sick. Monday I went to school still feeling sick. Tuesday I still didn’t feel well so decided to go to the doctor. After some preliminary tests the doctor came into my room and told me the reason for being sick. God had blessed my womb. I was five weeks pregnant and didn’t even realize it. Okay God. You said whatever. And you put your plan in action. I went on a missions trip. And came back to find out that my baby had already gone on his first missions trip. Sometimes we need to simply say to God, whatever. Whatever your will is. Whatever your desire is.

Read more about Heather’s week in Nicaragua.

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15 Year Anniversary of Ashes to Beauty

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Maria’s Story Part 3, by Dock Caton

Maria Magdalena Herrera Zeas has helped found the New Jerusalem church at Managua’s old dumpsite, La Chureca, and has also facilitated local pastors in founding three other churches in the immediate area, plus one mission church plant 30 miles away in the rural countryside of Villa Carmen. Having a passion for education and a growing knowledge of God and the Bible, Maria began theological training a few years ago in her home to equip six pastors and church leaders to grow deeper in their walk with God and care for their communities. The New Jerusalem Bible Institute quickly grew in number and had to move to a borrowed church building until now, it meets in the new New Jerusalem church facility. In April 2013, the Bible Institute celebrated its second 3-year graduating class. Over the few years it has been in existence, the Bible Institute has trained 50+ church leaders in theology, personal evangelism, a deeper personal faith walk and teacher training. The goal is to gain a deeper knowledge of God and His word, the Bible, and to continue following God´s leading them out of the bondage of desperation of years past and into a bright and joyful future of service to God, church, family, community and country.

For the New Jerusalem 15-year anniversary celebration in November, Ginger Creek Community Church presented Maria and the New Jerusalem congregation with a certificate of our support for the ministry of these past 15 years and for the years to come. On that certificate was the following scripture verse that Maria quotes. It’s her story and God’s Story.

Therefore, say to the people of Israel: ‘I am the Lord. I will free you from your oppression and will rescue you from your slavery in Egypt. I will redeem you with a powerful arm and great acts of judgment.’  Exodus 6:6

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15 Year Anniversary of Ashes to Beauty – Maria’s Story Part 2 By Dock Caton November 2013

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This week marks 15 years of Maria Magdalena´s faithful service in Nicaragua. It has always been Maria´s passion to teach about God´s love and to educate children toward a better life. Ginger Creek Church discovered her ministry in 2008 and came alongside her to assist in the development of the church and school by providing a building in 2012. The 47 acres of open city garbage known as La Chureca was documented as one of the largest open garbage dumps in the world. The piles of smoldering trash and garbage continued non-stop, day and night for years. Construction on the new multi-purpose building was completed and dedicated by the beginning of 2012. It was unknown at the time the building was being built that the government of Spain had previously taken notice of this huge open landfill and decided to donate millions of dollars in humanitarian relief to raze the site and build a modern recycling plant. The city of Managua then built hundreds of new houses at the edge of the old dumpsite for the 258 families from the dump plus refugee victims of recent floods. The last of these families has finally been moved in to the newly formed village of Villa Guadalupe. Guadalupe houses sit immediately across the street from the two-year old New Jerusalem ministry center, church and school that Maria leads. Also dedicated in 2012 were classrooms for the New Jerusalem elementary school. It began in the garbage dump with several dozen children with the Grand Opening of the new space, 212 children in four grades enrolled. From ashes to beauty is the way God works and we are not only referring to physical buildings of houses, churches and schools. We are witnessing the rebuilding of lives and families. Maria’s message is that God is faithful, much like when He led the children of Israel out of bondage into a promise land.

 

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15 Year Anniversary of Ashes to Beauty Part 1

LaChureca

Maria Magdalena Herrera Zeas has maintained a difficult, but faithful ministry in Nicaragua for years with the families in the Managua city dump. That ministry was born 15 years ago this week. Her vision and God’s calling on her life began when she brokenheartedly watched a newscast on local TV. She saw pictures of the dozens of people who lived in the garbage of La Chureca. At that time, she felt God revealing a long-range plan for ministry to these suffering people, many of which had lived among the garbage for generations. She faithfully and humbly followed the leading of the Lord by walking the hour to the dump and taking soup from her own kitchen to feed the sick and starving children. As she fed them, so told them of God´s love and plan for them to live a better life. This eventually led to the Iglesia Nueva Jersualen (New Jerusalem Church) and later to the beginning of the Fe y Esperanza (Faith and Hope) elementary school.

God started working in Maria’s young life years before. She was born in Matagalapa, the northern rural area of Nicaragua, on November 21, 1971, to a farming family of 11 children. As an adolescent, she fled to Managua with two of her older sisters when military raids began in her village and extended family members and friends were killed.  She taught herself to read from a Gideon New Testament that someone had passed along to her. She married at a young age and had two toddlers when her husband abandoned the family. Now years later, she and her two grown children Cesia and Jose and granddaughter Cesia Maria live in the village of Las Brisas, which borders the old La Chureca dumpsite.

By Dock Caton

(Stay tuned for Part 2)

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Reconciliation – Part of God’s Plan and Story

I’d like to tell a story of how God’s been working in Nicaragua this year. It reminds me of the story of Paul and Barnabas on their missionary journeys and the struggles they faced, even with each other. Personally watching this story unfold in Nicaragua this summer has inspired me and touched me deeply.

Some people guess that the population of Pochocuape, Nicaragua, is about 2,000 people, but it’s hard to find out because extended families live in these 1 and 2-room houses that are scattered deep into the forest and underbrush. Pochocuape is a very poor rural mountaintop village on the outskirts of the capital city of Managua, Nicaragua. Although it’s 30 minutes distance by car, it’s world’s apart from the busy city life of Managua. Some people who live in Pochocuape have never gone down the mountain into the city.

My husband Dock and I serve on the Ginger Creek Global missions team. We just returned from 5 months in Managua. Much of our time there was spent with Pastor Jorge and his wife Monica and the Iglesia Gran Familia of Pochocuape — the Big Family Church. Jorge and Monica are missionaries in the real sense of the word. They were born and raised in the city of Leon to the north of Managua. Six years ago and shortly after marrying, they moved from city life to this very different and poor rural culture to minister among the people. Through a string of difficult ministry situations, God has been teaching them about reconciliation, restoration of relationships and endurance and longsuffering. God has for some reason kept them on a learning track about his desire to heal brokenness, broken hearts and broken relationships — broken relationships with God and with each other. Their ministry has focused this year on bringing healing to relationships in this small community because historically, Pochocuape is comprised of four major family clans. These clans have increasingly been at odds with each other..to the point that gang activity has started to infiltrate the community. And these family feuds and disagreements eek over into church relationships, proving that the fallen aspects of human nature is the same worldwide.

This summer, 11 of the church leaders committed to an intensive, 8-month self-diagnosis study called La Iglesia Saludable (or The Healthy Church) led by Nicaraguan Director Henry Cruz of the Nehemiah Center. In July and in the middle of this study on how God might want their church family to serve him and each other better, one family in the community, not in the church, had a sudden and difficult situation happen. Their 12-year old daughter developed a heart condition and had to have open heart surgery. The surgery was successful and Selenia was sent home to recuperate. She tearfully testified to her family and community of how God had been so gracious to her. She was grateful to God and wanted her life to be a testimony to others of God’s love and grace. Shortly after coming home from the hospital, her heart stopped and she was rushed back to the hospital. They revived her, but the long trip down the mountain and to the hospital had deprived her brain of oxygen, so brain inflammation and other complications started setting in. Today, after all these months, Selenia is still in Intensive Care and has been put on life-support.

Over the years, one family from the Pochocuape church had experienced offense and broken relationship with others in Selenia’s family so there was a rift in relationships and lots of hard feelings. Relationships were very strained. As the summer went along, Monica led the women of the church in coming around Selenia’s family and helping in practical ways and with prayer and encouragement. One day recently, this one family from the church approached Selenia’s family at the hospital and asked for forgiveness for their part in the broken relationships between the two families. God works in mysterious ways to bring about healing. And sometimes the healing we ask for physically becomes healing spiritually. So you could say that Selenia’s prayer was answered. She wanted her life and experience to be a testimony for God’s glory. It has been a beautiful beginning for much healing among God’s people. Because of the insurmountable expenses to this very poor family, the church recently walked through the community and received an offering to help with expenses. In a community where the average household income might reach $4 per day, they raised and unbelievable $50 for the family in just a short time.

The hospital does not want anyone other than family to be in Selenia’s room, but in October and despite the hospital’s wishes, Selenia’s mom asked Dock to pray with Selenia. During the prayer for God’s love to surround and care for Selenia, and although she could not speak, Selenia’s body language and the monitors she is hooked up to indicated definite signs of her awareness of that moment. The Big Family Church of Pochocuape is committed to continue walking with Selenia’s family through their journey with emotional and prayer support. For them, it’s an ongoing part of God’s story of healing, forgiveness and restoration.

¡Dios reina y toda la gloria es Suya!

Norma Caton

 

selenia

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