Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Highlights from Nicaragua

Ernie with Chano
Nicaragua is Ernie's 'first love' in Latin America.  He is more Nicaraguan than Mexican.  You meet a different Ernie went you meet him in this country.  Every time he gets to return, his heart returns to this warm place he holds in his heart for them.

While he loves gallo pinto (rice and beans mixed) and fried plantain, that is not what makes Nicaragua so special.  It is, and always has been, the people.

The picture here depicts a deep friendship.  Ernie and Chano hiked into the mountain villages together to share the gospel.  They have some funny stories of things they did; great memories of good times in the ministry together. To stay with this man, and hear stories of how God is working in Nicaragua, using him and his family, brought great joy.

The Olfert's and us along with the Pastor, Roland (mountain church pastor) and his family 
The picture above is very dear to Ernie because of the man, Roland (white hat).  Roland is a pastor with a heart of gold.  He lives in a village (Llano Grande) outside of Managua which, back in the day, was a gruelling 3.5 hr. up hill hike.  I am told that you can now drive there if you have 4 wheel drive! They also have cell service now! Ernie hiked up to this village every 2 wks.  Every time a church was asked to identify itself, at the anniversary celebration, Ernie raised his hand with those from Llano Grande!  This is a man of God.  He knows hardship, has a missional heart, loves God, and desires to serve Him faithfully.
Ernie with Dona Deborah

This 'young lady' is one of Ernie's greatest joys! He surprised her three years ago, showing up at her place, exactly on her 80th birthday.  She is a pillar in the church (San José).  She is a woman of deep faith and great joy.  They say good bye every time they separate, thinking it will be the last time they see each other, this side of glory.  And then she laughs. What joy it was to share a visit with her.

Ernie with Pablo

If a picture can say a 1000 words, this one goes beyond that.  This was Ernie's partner in church planting. They hiked many a mile together, with many a story to tell.  They were a duet known as "Cafe Con Leche" (Coffee with milk).  You can't tell in the photo, due to the red tarp, but Pablo is very dark skinned.  They sang many a duet together and enjoyed doing so again at this event.
The previous time they saw each other Pablo was in prison (traffic accident, long story) where God gave him a big ministry.  Free once again, he continues to serve the Lord.
The friendship runs deep and, Lord willing, will continue to grow.

Juanita Lara and I
Just so you don't think that it's all about Ernie...I will share two special relationships that I had.  Not that I only had two, mind you.  I would say though that I am more Mexican to Ernie's Nicaraguan.

Pictured here is my deepest relationship in Nicaragua.  For you see, Juanita lived with us.  She was supposedly our maid.  What she was, in actuality, was the person who took care of us.  Sure she cooked and cleaned for us but we LIVED together.  As you can see from the picture, she was a joy.
 I would say that she kept me sane and helped me through some pretty rough waters.  I couldn't even make rice and beans when I got there.  Newly married, living in a foreign country, with all things new and strange.  She was a godsend, literally.  She recently got married and is living in Costa Rica with her new family.
Aleyda and I 
This young lady was a little girl when I arrived on the scene.  She lived next door to Ernie, along with her younger sister and her parents.  During the semester break in my language training, we went to Nicaragua and, upon arrival, her mother passed away.

These young girls became like daughters to us.  We have kept in touch with Aleyda over the years (her sister Maria José married and moved to Guatemala).  Not always were things going well.  So it was so rich to spend time with her and catch up.  She has since become a believer and one could see the joy on her face.  She is the mother of 3 children and has a good job.  It was such a blessing to be reunited.  God has been faithful as always.
Myself, Anita and her husband Bayardo, and Ernie

Lastly, this is a couple (pictured above) with which we have been friends for a lot of years.  They have been in the Fraternity (EMC) for many years.  They have pastored, they have been on committees, they have been leaders throughout the years.  They love the Lord and want to grow His kingdom.  Ernie and Bayardo are a little too similar, say Anna Maria and I.  We have laughed together and shared in grief together.  Friends, over what seems a lifetime.

There are so very many more pictures I could share, and so many more stories to be told.  Celebrating 50 years of EMC in Nicaragua was good.  For us it was seeing God's faithfulness and seeing brothers and sister in Christ walking faithfully in God's kingdom.  Pray for the Nicaraguan church as it continues to grow, with all its inherent struggles and challenges.





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