Tuesday, January 28, 2014

If you are local to Pittsburgh, we invite you to come and be a part of our celebration which is being held at New Community Church, 3100 Wexford Road, Wexford, PA 15090!

On Sunday, February 23 in between the Sunday morning services at 10:00am, the January 2014 Nicaragua mission team will host a time to report on their recent trip to Tierra Neuva, Nicaragua.  This will be a great opportunity for you to hear how God is at work in the lives of his people, and to consider how God might be calling you to be a part of a future trip as New Community Church continues to support this new village!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

As we travel back home to Pittsburgh, PA over the next few days, please continue to pray for the people of Tierra Neuva.  They have taught us a great deal about living a life devoted to God, family and community.  We will never forget this place or these special people and we look forward to our people returning next year...

As we said our goodbyes, Chuck Kovac hugged the spiritual leader of the village, saying in spanish "We are friends", and he replied "We are brothers!"  Yes, these are truly special people.

We encourage you to consider coming on next year's trip to this special place.  God has used this community to draw us close to Him and has given us a beautiful picture of a future heaven with Him and all His people.  We wish everyone could share in this experience.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

A final set of images from our last day in Tierra Neuva…
Beautiful land filled with bean crops.

The men patiently showed us how to clean the beans 
(pull the weeds) in order to protect the bean crops.

They cut the stalks of the weeds instead of pulling the weed, roots and all
because they do not want to disturb the soil.  This area gets so much rain, 
and the crops are harvested on hillsides, so the soil must stay firm 
and not be disturbed.

We used knives and machetes to carefully cut the weeds.

Natan is not only our translator and guide, but a very special friend.
He was slightly concerned about Lisa's joy over using the knife!

A beautiful bean crop!

When we returned from the bean fields, all the people were gathered.
This was our biggest crowd this week because they all came to hear what
our experience was like for us, and to share our last meal together.

We were honored to be able to serve the meal to our friends of Tierra Neuva.

Once again our kids played together one last time before we said our goodbyes.

A special thanks to our Agros friends, the "in country" staff, for all they do!

Hasta luego (see you later)

Today was our final day in the village.  It began with us all gathering together in their common area for a time of worship.  We were delighted to see a large number of people in attendance.  The children seemed particularly excited for our time together given how much fun they had yesterday playing games and doing crafts.

A man named Jacinto (sp?) led our devotion time.  He read from Genesis 3:19- "By the sweat of your brow, you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return."  He shared how hard their work is on a day-to-day basis and how they were glad that we were able and willing to participate in the work over the last couple of days.  My sense was that he wanted us to know that they are hard workers and that they are grateful for the help they have received.  He thanked the people of New Community Church for partnering with Agros to 'give them a hand up.'  He compared this to the 'hand up' they gave us during our long, challenging walk on the first day.  The land gives them hope for a better tomorrow and hope that by working hard and sacrificing, their children will be able to have a better life than them.

Following a few songs, our team and the entire community were asked if they wanted to share any thoughts with the group.  One-by-one, our team took turns thanking them for their hospitality, providing them with encouragement and thanking God for our time together.  Our students did an excellent job standing in front of a very large crowd and sharing their faith and gratitude.  Members of their community then stood and thanked us for making the journey to Tierra Neuva.  It was a wonderful moment of feeling connected to one another.

Next, we all went into the fields to help 'clean the beans.'  Each of the families use about one-quarter of their land to grow beans and other items for their personal food.  One of the families allowed us to work on their land and our team spent a few hours helping to cut out the weeds from around their bean plants.  The men and boys stayed by our sides and helped us throughout the process.  It was interesting to continue to learn how they do their work day-to-day.

The entire village was invited to lunch today.  Our team had the privilege of serving the food to the villagers.  Once again, the ladies of the village did an excellent job preparing the meal and it was delicious.  Following lunch, they invited us to sample their coffee.  While most of the families are still a year or so away from their first coffee harvest, some coffee had already been harvested and we were able to have a cup.  It was excellent coffee.

For our final event prior to our departure, the villagers asked us to form a line and then they all stood in front of us.  Several ladies presented each of us with handmade bracelets as a token of their thanks.  The men then sang several songs while the villagers came over and gave us hugs and their thanks.   There were many teary eyes in the group, including my own.  Katie Kovac then lightened the mood by trying to dance with some of the young boys.  Most of them tried to escape and this brought good laughs to us all.  It was hard to believe that our 3 days went by so quickly, but I know that the people of Tierra Neuva are already looking forward to seeing the NCC team that will come down next year.  So rather than say 'adios', we simply left with 'hasta luego' or 'see you later.'

This morning… Day 3 in Tierra Neuva.  We will only be there a half day and then we need to say goodbye as we travel 3 hours to Granada for a day of rest and fun together as a team on Thursday.

Pray for us as we say our goodbyes to the people of Tierra Neuva.  They are a wonderful, 
kind, and gentle people who we have grown to love.  It will not be easy to leave.  Here is just a 
fraction of the hundreds of pictures we have taken of these dear friends.
The men are hard workers so kind and gentle with the women and children...

The children are beautiful and love to connect with us and our students...

They also love to play and have such a joy for life - we have learned a lot from them.

The women are lovely, it was great to connect and love them this trip.

As the sun is shining on these children in this picture, so God's love is shining 
on these people as they venture to build their new land in Nicaragua.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Day 2 in Tierra Neuva was a BIG one - so enjoy lots of pictures!!!

Chuck Kovac gave a beautiful devotional relating Tierra Neuva to the Israelites promised land.

Elizabeth Greene presented a beautiful gospel message to the children as the women of the 
village listened.  The story was about how much Jesus loves each one of them.  After the story, Caroline, Katie, Abby, Haley and Mackenzie sang "Jesus Loves Me" in spanish, and taught all the children and women the words and motions (in sign language) so we could all sing it together.

The village children gathered around tables to color and decorate their craft 
which will remind them of how much Jesus loves them.  Again, the NCC kids were a
huge help in getting the kids craft organized and completed!
At the same time, Chuck, Ryan and Jeff were working with all the men of the 
village on laying a concrete floor in a new home for one of the women.

Jeff helped to level and smooth the newly laid concrete.

While Ryan and Chuck hauled heavy buckets of stone and dirt.

More activities were under way after the morning lesson...  Katy Kovac used a polaroid camera
to take pictures of the kids.  This was a HUGE hit because they don't normally have many
pictures of themselves.  The Tierra Neuva kids would grab our NCC kids' hands and insist
on getting their picture taken together.  It was beautiful to see!
At the same time, Lisa, Mandy, and Nancy were busy helping the women make 
beautiful bead bracelets with the supplies that Carol Kelley donated to our trip.

The bracelet bead craft for the women was a huge hit and
really brought all of our women together.

After lunch it was time for the sporting activities.  To get to the field, 
we all went on a walk down the road...

The kids loved to hold our hands as we walked.

The men got serious playing a competitive baseball game.  

We threw balls around with the children all afternoon.

We played lots of fun "backyard" games.

… and of course we played soccer (futbal).

The afternoon was a beautiful time of community shared by every person.  We were 
completely unified and having fun together like a big family picnic.  On our drive home 
some one from our team said "It felt just like Heaven will be someday"

Dias Dos (Day 2)

Written by Mackenzie on behalf of the Greene Family

Today was another amazing day as we bonded with the children while the men helped build and prepare a foundation for a new home. The weather was amazing ( not a surprise) and the landscape on the drive to the village was mesmerizing. We continue to be wowed by God's blessings showered upon us. When we first arrived Chuck (Carlos) led our devotion. He did a wonderful job talking about the Israelites being led out of the desert to the promised land. Then our men went to work with the men and leaders of the village mixing concrete and leveling it, which altogether was back breaking work.

Elizabeth prepared a great gospel message for the kids about how Jesus loves the little children. The kids took a cut-out of a little girl or boy, or a picture of Jesus with the children to color.  The five NCC students then taught the children the song "Jesus Loves Me" in spanish!

The polaroid camera was also a huge hit. Katie Kovac took pictures of the children and handed them out for them to keep. The girls loved posing with all the little children( at least 40 in all) and a multitude of them received at least two each. We also found a fun craft for the women to do. Mandy, Lisa, and Nancy worked really hard so the women could make little bracelets and not worry about their babies or children.

After we wrapped up our crafts the team and the village headed down to a big grassy field, their "baseball field." Baseball in this country is a "man only" game so Ryan and the men played baseball while the women entertained the children with games like red rover, duck, duck goose (pato, pato, ganzo), streets and alleys, red light green light, soccer, sharks and minnows, Mr. Fox and more. Nathan our translator was fabulous at explaining a lot of the games we played. It went way too fast for our team. Soon we were saying goodbyes and "hasta luego", which means see you later in Spanish. The kids had to cram into the inside of the truck while the adults rode in the back. Finally we made it back to the bus. At the end of every day the team plays a game where we share our roses and thorns. Roses are beautiful or fun things that have happened and thorns are things that plucked us out of our comfort zone or were hard. Here are some Roses:


Katie (Carlson): "I felt like a celebrity whenever the young girls would fight over who could hold my hand! I eventually made them take turns!

Elizabeth: "There are so many it's hard to choose from. I would say my biggest Rose was seeing the joy, attentiveness, and enthusiasm in the children's faces as I shared how Jesus loves them."

Nancy: My biggest rose was how dynamic the activities of the morning turned out to be; how the women, the men, the boys were all involved."

Mackenzie: A giant Rose for me was how I told this sweet little girl Tatiana my name. A couple minutes later she tugged my arm and said"Mackenzie?" That really touched my heart.

Katie (Kovac): Seeing the older people from last year; the leaders of the community.

Jeff: Mine was working with the men to lay the foundation and feeling like we were all connected and working toward a common goal.

Abby: " My rose was playing soccer with the boys.  It really helped Caroline and me to connect more with the boys"

We can't wait to head back to the village tomorrow for our last day. We would love prayers and thank Jesus for providing such unity and love between us despite the language barrier.