Family events encourage Nicaraguans
NICARAGUA – In November 2015, a mission team comprised of individuals from four congregations in the East District traveled throughout Nicaragua sponsoring “family events” in eight Lutheran Church Synod of Nicaragua (ILSN) churches.
The concept had been tested in three churches in January 2015. With approval from Rev. Dr. Leonardo Neitzel, Lutheran Church–Canada’s Executive for Missions and Social Ministry, as well as the pastors of ILSN, the Canadians began raising funds in their respective congregations.
Supporting Nicaraguan pastors and deaconesses in their local ministries was the purpose of the events. Each pastor received $125 in advance to arrange meals and was challenged to use this money in a way to best benefit their congregation. Often they provided a full lunch made by members of the congregation for the event and applied the remaining funds to buy extras like confirmation gifts or to support other congregational programs like Bible studies or food programs.
The focus of the event was to help families plan a Christ-centred Advent and Christmas. Coached by the guest speaker Carmen Martinez (who traveled with the team) and local pastors, the adults learned how Lutherans prepared during Advent. They were encouraged to initiate fun activities during Advent like making crafts (chrismons and nativity scenes) to decorate their homes.
The events ran for about three and a half hours each. Following worship and a light snack, adults and children were separated. While the adults participated in the seminar, the Canadians with the help of ILSN music director, Marco Antonio Mendoza, rotated the children through games, crafts, and music sessions.
Then the Canadians and Nicaraguans formed an assembly line to put out about 100 lunches in 15 to 20 minutes. After this, the adults received a plastic dishpan filled with food and health items before heading home. It is estimated that more than 800 people participated in these events and about 15-25 percent were non-Lutheran.
Another aspect of the trip was a youth night in Chichigalpa. Since the Nicaraguans had just held their first Youth Convention a month earlier, this activity brought about 30 youth and their families together in worship. Pizza was served and then there was time for crafts and decorating t-shirts. The president of ILSN Youth attends this church.
ILSN youth throughout Nicaragua are organizing to help their churches in meaningful ways like playing electric pianos for worship, beautifying their churches, and remaining connected as a group to support their faith. One group in Jinotega planned to make jewelry boxes to sell at Christmas and piñatas at New Year’s as a means to plant a garden around their church.
For more information about forming a mission team to help Nicaraguan pastors, please contact Rev. Dr. Neitzel at firstname.lastname@example.org or Jane Ford of Faith Lutheran Church, Kitchener at email@example.com.