Nicaragua Community Partnership – 2017 Mission Report

Dear Friends in Christ,

Our presbytery has been in partnership with a community of coffee farmers in Nicaragua for 17 years.  I had the pleasure of visiting that community for the first time by joining a group of 6 others from our presbytery including members from my congregation of Webster Groves and First Presbyterian St. Louis.  They are brave souls who guided me through this adventure and constantly offered me helpful tips to ensure I had a great experience.   (They are also brave for allowing me to go.  After all, who would want to spend a whole week with their pastor?)  I thank them for their love and fellowship!

The purpose of this partnership is to develop relationships and leadership.   The partnership has invested heavily in getting to know one another and learning to understand the gifts each has received from God to share with one another.  Solid relationships, sealed in loving friendship, have resulted in more Nicaraguan kids going to high school and college, AND privileged Americans being reminded of what is really important in life.  The increased education has helped develop leadership skills aiding in improving lives within community, while the reminders of what is important has deepened life’s meaning.  Sharing gifts and enriching lives through loving relationship, seems to me, to be the core of what experiencing the good news of the gospel is all about.

I will not soon forget the unbridled enthusiasm of the 60-70 children who showed up each day to color, play, assemble puzzles, blow bubbles, and kick soccer balls until they disappeared down the mountain side.  Nor will I forget the way in which they took care of each other or the deep feeling of community exuding from the Nicaraguans who live in Plan Grande #2.  To witness and experience true community is a blessing!

I am grateful for this experience and for what I learned in Nicaragua.  My heart has been touched by Nicaraguan hospitality and my life enriched by God at work in the world through the Presbyterian church and by better getting to know those I traveled with. If this opportunity comes your way, give it prayerful consideration, because one thing all who take this trip can agree upon is that God is good.  God is very good!

Peace,

Ed Zumwinkel, III
Pastor, Webster Groves Presbyterian Church


Report from Plan Grande #2 Delegation

Our Nicaraguan mission delegation had a wonderful trip to visit our partner community of Plan Grande #2 from July 7th-16th.  Representatives included Rev. Ed Zumwinkel III, Jeremy Spriggs, Jim Wood, Caroline Strand and Harriet Hall from Webster Groves Presbyterian and Andrew Loth and Roger Chamberlain from First Presbyterian St. Louis. We had a fun, rewarding time and definitely met our objectives for this year’s delegation.

Here are just a few highlights from our visit:

  • VBS for 60+ kids (and 40+ older siblings and parents as observers on two afternoons.  It was as loud and joyful as ever.
  • Met and played group games with current high school scholarship recipients.  They are friendly, eager kids. (We support 33 students with annual scholarships.)
  • Great conversation with 3 students currently benefiting from our college scholarship experiment  We learned a lot more about the college experience in Nicaragua and the commitment of these young people.  (Our funds are supporting 5 students this year.)
  • Reunion with 3 former scholarship recipients (2007-2012) who are now primary school teachers in nearby communities. A very impressive, passionate trio who still express appreciation for the support and love they’ve received from us.
  • Movie nights!  Pinocchio and Shrek did not disappoint, even in the rain!
  • Smores (aka chocolate icing fight) prepared in a traditional Nicaragua kitchen (wood burning, mud oven) by Caroline, Jeremy and other brave young people from PG2.
  • Lots of coffee talk!
  • Visited another community to learn how CEPAD is supporting farmers to develop more independent and sustainable farming practices.

All proceeds support the scholarship programs.  For more information, please contact us. We have speakers available for any group and of any size!  We’d love to share the story of this mission with you and your congregation.  Contact Harriet Hall at 314-963-7112 or pg2nicaragua@gmail.com.

Photos include: Roger Chamberlain, Andrew Loth, Harriet Hall, Ed Zumwinkel, Jim Wood, Jeremy Spriggs; Harold Blandon (CEPAD Coordinator), Caroline Strand, Juan Luis Gomez (PG2 Leadership), Luis Lopez (PG2 Leadership).

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