Dear Nicaragua Sponsors,
I wanted to take an opportunity to wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy upcoming New Year from your Project Hope Worldwide (PHW) Nicaragua Family! We’ve had many exciting changes this year in our project. I wanted to share where we are and our vision for the future!
First, we want to thank you for the ongoing sacrifices you continually make with your sponsorship. We are always aware of you and the investment you are making in the lives of these precious children. We strive to be excellent stewards of your investment.
I have the great privilege of serving these children and staff as U. S. Director of PHW Nicaragua and partnering with Arlen Zelaya, our In-country Director. The Lord has led us to build a team that really has been handpicked by HIM,
Roger Funes: Project Development
Lizandra: Child Psychologist
Jorge: High School Pastor, English Teacher, and Coach
Prof. Anna: Special Needs Teacher
Prof. Leydy: Elementary Education
I cannot say enough positive about our team. They couldn’t be paid enough for the work they do. BUT, that’s the beautiful thing: they are not there to just earn a paycheck. They are called by God and have invested themselves fully to the discipleship of our children, and I see the hand of God moving and working in the lives of our children and staff.
We have many other local churches, ministries, pastors, doctors, and pharmacists that have partnered with us and invested their time and talents with us. If you have been to Nicaragua with us, I’m sure that you met some of these brothers and sisters.
There is an ongoing war for the souls of our children. We’ve had many battles spiritually, physically, emotionally, and financially for the lives of the children that God has entrusted to our care. We continually see God move swiftly and justly on behalf of his little ones. For me personally, I feel that I have seen the Words of God jump off the pages of the Bible and play out in the lives of our children and staff.
I have assembled some pictures of our children over 2017. I want you to see the differences in their lives and the fruit of your investment. I want you to see the smiles, the joy, the HOPE! For many of these children, their home situations haven’t changed all that significantly…the struggle is real. BUT, if you look into their eyes, you will see true joy and hope for the future that God has for them. Sadly, there are many Christians today who will never experience this joy in their own lives; the victory to rise above one’s circumstances and receive joy and hope from their relationship with God, no matter their circumstance.
As a staff, we are busy doing our part. We look at these children as our own and we shape our plans around that mindset. We labor intently in the physical areas: health/medical, emotional/psychological, education, food/nutrition, clothing, shelter, and protection/justice. We have learned that when you are in a fight with the destructive forces of poverty, you must fight with the Full Armor of God. We may have all the money and good works in the world and still we will lose to poverty. BUT GOD has seen these little ones in their great need and is calling them out of their dark places.
Discipleship remains the #1 thing we do throughout our entire program. Teaching the Word, leading in prayer, worshiping Christ with songs of praise, and following Christ daily are the most life-changing gifts we’ve had the privilege of giving to our children.
Many of you have had the opportunity to come to Nicaragua and meet your child, our staff, and me. I pray that your lives were touched and forever changed by your time spent with us! This upcoming year we have multiple trip opportunities and we would love to see you in the field serving with us.
Some examples include:
- Dr. Alexander ran a vet clinic on the October trip. Two of our students who are interested in becoming vets were able to work beside him. It was an incredible experience to watch, seeing the light in their eyes and the flame of hope in their hearts. Thank you, Mike, for your service.
- Jared and Melinda Tabb came in October and Melinda gave haircuts and helped our girls prepare for a Quinceañera!
- During the February team trip, eleven of our children celebrated their relationship with Christ through baptism. My personal thanks to Pastor Glenn Krispense for baptizing my two sons.
Please consider bringing your gifts and talents to serves with us! Dentists are needed. Teachers, engineers, handy men/women, and people who like to hug kids are all welcome. Prayerfully consider taking a few days to come and serve. You will not leave as you came.
We were able to purchase a piece of property through the great generosity of donors at Ripple 2017. We claimed the property in the January for the glory of God and prayed that we would be the people to do His work on His land. We took ownership in September. We are super excited. The children participated in dedicating the land, have taken ownership of their property and they look at it as their “Promised Land.” We are planning a new building as we have outgrown our current facility. Many of the pictures that you will see in the later collection later were taken on the new property.
Beginning this year, our high school children are able to attend a private Christian school in León. They learn English there and it is considered a college prep school. It was such a happy first day of school. We are so proud of them. They are all doing well and adjusting quickly.
Out of our high school experience, we realized just how far behind the children of Tomas Borge are compared to the mainstream culture in León. We realized that we need to help our children in basic social skills and take them out of the project, introducing them to the world outside the confines of Tomas Borge.
We have added emphasis to our older students as our time with them is growing shorter. I started etiquette classes with our older girls, and after a few months, they all graduated with excellent skills. Roger and Jorge are working intensively on discipleship with our older boys. We have to teach them how to be godly men, husbands, fathers, and servants of Christ.
In an effort to expand the visions of our children, we have started doing field trips with the middle schoolers! We saw two movies this year in the León theater: Cars and Minions! That was a total trip! We visited an ecological park and had a trip to the beach. Watching their faces as they saw the ocean for the first time was mind-blowing! We celebrate birthdays each month with great fiestas and make every child feel loved. We tied Jorge to a stake and splashed him with water balloons. The middle/high school girls started a spiritual interpretive dance team, and women from a local church made their dance uniforms. The younger children are learning their native cultural dances and had the opportunity to represent Tomas Borge in a parade.
As the “Grand Finale” to our October team visit, we held the first Quinceañera ever held in Tomas Borge at our new property. This is the celebration of a girl becoming a young lady at the age of 15 and is most significant in the Nicaraguan culture; she is literally considered the “Princess of Nicaragua.” The young lady is brought by her father and mother before the Pastor and dedicates her life to the Lord. She has a dance with her father. Beautiful gowns and decorations abound. A feast for kings is prepared.
Our girls were never allowed to even dream of having Quinceañeras. They were the “trash diggers.” These outcasts would never have such a value or worth placed on them.
I am proud to share that we had our first Quinceañera for our Karina. She is a beautiful girl with an unbelievably powerful testimony that I know God will use mightily. The October team helped pull off an amazing Qinceañera. Melinda, Mindy and Christine poured themselves into our girls and made it a night that will be remembered by our children for the rest of their lives! I loaned my daddy to Karina for her presentation to Pastor Fausto and her first dance. She chose a beautiful song that says, “dance with me Jesus as you are my Father.” There wasn’t a dry eye to be found! The community was stunned and they lined the streets trying to catch a glimpse of Tomas Borge’s first Quinceañera! It will not be our last.
This picture below features Nayeli’s transition from the dump to Project Hope Worldwide! She was born and raised in the dump and treated more like and animal than a precious child. She’s 14 and now in the first grade! She’s leaning to read and developing a personal relationship with the Lord. She loves going to youth group! She is just one of the 51 testimonies represented in the lives of our children.
So, I know this video at the end is long and fast moving. It captures a whole year in the lives of 51 children. I just wanted those of you who were unable to come this year to catch a glimpse of the lives changed through your generosity and sacrifices. You won’t see a lot of poverty, doom and gloom, abuse, etc. It’s not that those aren’t still struggles, BUT, God has touched these children and turned their mourning to JOY and replaced their despair with HOPE eternal. I wanted you to celebrate with us in the magnificent work God is doing through Project Hope Worldwide because of you. Thank you so much. Blessings to you and yours this Christmas.