Friday, July 11, 2014

Life in The Dominican Republic!

So, I know I haven’t updated my blog in a long time!  I have been sharing Alicen’s blog as a link on Facebook, but I know that not everyone can see that.  I don’t particularly love writing and she has been doing a much better job at posting updates. Her blog is  We also have a page on Facebook called The Dominican Experience where we put pictures and post updates. I am only going to write about a few things on here that she didn’t mention in her post.  Therefore if you would like to know all that we have done you should look at her blog!


Monday: prepare activities for the coming week of the summer program

·         Alicen has some English lessons with members of the community

·         Susie is working on an undergraduate research project associated with our summer program.  She is interviewing households to see what foods they eat and where they get these foods.

·         When the girls are busy doing these things, I usually play baseball or just simply hang out with the kids.

Program Days: Tuesday-Thursday

The kids with the sign we made!


·         We have our program at three different schools in our area from 8:00-11:00 in the morning.  This program is focused on nutrition, gardening, and recycling.  The theme of our program is Sunflowers.  We have a theme that most of the kids have memorized and translated into English it is something like this: “We are sunflowers; we have to turn ourselves towards manners of living that sustain our bodies, family, community, and the world.” It makes a little more sense in Spanish because the name for sunflowers is girasoles.  The verb for turn in Spanish is girar and the word for sun is sol. The fact that sunflowers turn to face the sun throughout the day is in the name, making the connection easier.  So far we have planted sunflowers in containers made from toilet paper rolls, explained parts of plants and their responsibilities, talked about photosynthesis, explained the purpose and importance of recycling by differentiating between things that decompose and things that do not, and we have talked about organs and their role in the body.  Alicen’s blog has pictures and descriptions of most of the activities that we have done so far and she will continue to post more as we continue. 

Tuesday: El Callejon

Wednesday: Empujador

Thursday: La Capilla

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday:  Relax, clean, do laundry, beach trips, run errands in Nagua or Cabrera (neighboring cities) and just hanging out with the community.

Random Other Things


Alicen’s cat, Hunter, had kittens! So now we have four precious babies living in our house with us. They just opened their eyes today.  Thankfully, they really haven’t been keeping us up at night.  They only squeal and make noise when their mom sits on them.  She is not even a year old and probably wasn’t ready to be a mom, so it is funny seeing her have to be responsible.

The kitties!


Visiting Lauren

One of my roommates and best friends, Lauren, is doing an internship with a ministry called Manna Global in The Dominican Republic.  It is crazy that we are both here in this country doing separate things.  Also, we are only about two hours apart! We were talking about how we would have to find a way to visit each other.  It is hard because we are both very busy and transportation isn’t the easiest to find. She had a few days free this past weekend and told me she would be in Rio San Juan for the weekend, which is about 45 minutes from us.  We decided to head there early Saturday morning to find her.  Access to phones and internet is somewhat rare here, so we essentially went to Rio San Juan knowing that she would be in that city somewhere.  We arrived pretty early in the morning and went searching for an internet center to be able to send her a message to say we were there.  At 8:30 in the morning on a Saturday, none were opened.  Even though we knew it wouldn’t work, we were just walking the streets of Rio San Juan yelling, “Lauren!” to see if we could find her.  We eventually went to a restaurant that had Wi-Fi and I was able to get in touch with her.  She told me that her and her group were heading to the beach and would be there around 12:00.  So we took public transportation to Playa Grande and waited for them.  They eventually showed up and Lauren and I were beyond excited to be reunited! We spent the afternoon hanging out with her and her group catching up and getting to know them and what all they had done!

Lauren and I at Playa Grande!



A few nights ago, I spent about an hour watching a pig give birth. I have never seen an animal give birth and I really enjoyed seeing one of the women in the community help deliver the piglets. It was dark so I don’t have any pictures from it, but hopefully I’ll go take a picture of them soon.  I’m sure some of the community was wondering why I was so interested in something that is such a normal part of their life, but I absolutely enjoy seeing and learning so much from the people in this community on a daily basis by living alongside them and allowing them to share so much of their knowledge with me.

Once again, be sure to check out Alicen’s blog and the page on Facebook for more updates!

Thanks again for all the thoughts and prayers; we are having a wonderful time here! Cannot believe how fast it is going by!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Continued Adventures in Nicaragua

I made it to The Dominican Republic! I am so excited to be reunited with all of my friends. I arrived in the airport late on Monday night and drove to my community yesterday. I wrote the following blog while in the airport but didn't get to finish and post it:

So, I am currently sitting in the Miami airport while I am writing this post. Today has been quite a whirlwind of emotions. I woke up this morning at 5:00AM to get to the airport to prepare to leave Nicaragua at 7:15AM. After saying an emotional goodbye to Walter, we (Kasey, Chris, and I) were on our way to Miami.  Just a few minutes ago Kasey and Chris headed on a plane that will arrive in DFW this evening.  As I am sitting alone in this airport, I am trying to just soak it all in.  Soak in all the memories, culture, love and joy, friendships, and life-changing lessons The Lord taught me in Nicaragua.  Also I am trying to soak in the fact that I will be leaving The United States again in just a few short hours to arrive in The Dominican Republic.  When I planned my summer, I didn’t think about this particular day and how hard it would be.  Leaving Nicaragua, Kasey and Chris going their separate way back to Texas, and arriving in The Dominican Republic all in one day.  I am very fortunate to have such a long layover to be able to digest and let all that I saw and experienced in Nicaragua have an influence on me, but I could do this for many days opposed to a few hours.  Just please be praying that The Lord continues to prick my heart with the lessons he taught me while in Nicaragua.  Pray that everything that I was exposed to continues to make an impact amidst the quick transition to another exciting and emotional experience.   Don’t get me wrong, I am super excited to return to The Dominican Republic to be reunited with family and friends, but I want to ensure that I do not get distracted and lose sight of the lessons learned and the impact made in Nicaragua over the last few weeks.  That little country in Central America and the people in it have once again stolen my heart. I am planning to write a summary post about the impact this trip had on my life, but right now I would like to focus on the other half of this incredible trip!

The internet is pretty slow here in The Dominican Republic and it takes forever to upload photos to my blog, so I may just have to add them later! I will still try to put some though!

This past week we spent much the same as the week before with families, schools, and exploring the country.

Yaris’ Story

This is Yaris. She is full of joy, always, amidst being deaf, partially mute, and other physical disabilities. With One Hope provides formula for her which has helped immensely with her mobility in her arms in order to do sign language while also helping her develop more mentally.  We did not spend a great deal of time with Yaris, but I was smiling and laughing the entire time.  Her joy is contagious and overflowing.

This picture doesn't capture her contagious joy but this is Yaris

Yaz School

One of the accomplishments of With One Hope has been building preschools.  We were fortunate to get to spend time with yet another school that this organization started.  Chris was feeling under the whether this particular day so Walter, Kasey, and I journeyed to the school.  This was an experience in itself not having Chris there as a translator, but we managed to do just fine.  On the way to the school, Kasey and I were practicing reading the story of Noah in Spanish to Walter to make sure that the kids would be able to understand us when we read it to them.  He suggested that we be sure to make some motions and actions to help the children understand even more.  After reading the story, we made bracelets with the kids.  This particular bracelet has beads that all signify something about God.  Green is hope, white is purity, yellow is light, black is our sin, red is love, and blue is heaven.  We all enjoyed spending time with these children sharing the love of The Lord. 

Guiselle and Lupita’s House

We spent an afternoon at Guiselle and Lupita’s house hearing their mom’s story as well as jokes and riddles from the girls. It is always fun to spend time with these precious children.  It is so awesome to see how much they have grown and developed over the last two years.  They are just such a joy to be around. We had a rock, paper, scissors tournament, braided each other’s hair and got excited about our trip to the beach that would be coming up!

Fernanda and Emily

One afternoon we headed to Managua to spend some time with Fernanda and Emily and what made it even more exciting is that Johana was able to come too! We had lunch at Tiptop, the KFC of Nicaragua.  We just all shared a big bucket of fried chicken, French fries, and rolls. Later we headed to the mall to walk off all the fried food and to have more time together with the girls.  It was great to be able to catch up with them and see how they had changed since I had last spent time with them.  We enjoyed heading into a department store and basically playing the price is right.  We would pick out a particular item, like a piece of furniture, and then all guess the price.  After walking around for a while we decided to stop and get some ice cream.  It was such a refreshing treat! It was such a fun afternoon talking, laughing, and making memories with such sweet girls. 

Me, Emily, Fernanda, and Kasey



This past Thursday we headed to Tipitapa to hear a few stories from the community.  Tipitapa is one of the poorest communities in Nicaragua.  After being hit by a flood in 2010, this community was left devastated.  Over 1,000 people were shoved into living in a factory with only 5 bathrooms while the government built them new places to live.  Now, this community has become little poorly built houses that were just basically plopped down on some land.  They recently have been provided with running water, electricity, and a new school.  Previously the children were going to school in a stable type thing with a huge cattle trough in the middle, a home for many animals.  Although Tipitapa is starting to develop more, it is still a very isolated and impoverished community. 

Maria’s Story

We first headed to Maria’s house to hear her story in Tipitapa She has 15 children and a husband who recently left her.  Although only 6 of the children currently live with her, she has been through a great deal during her lifetime.  She does not have an education because she was forced to work to support her family as a young child.  Her husband would continue to tell her that her only worth was found in having kids and raising them.  When With One Hope first got into contact with Maria she said she did not know how to do anything except raise a family.  Walter and Chris decided she would be a perfect addition to the With One Hope family.  About a year and a half ago, Walter provided her with many seeds to plant in her backyard.  She continues to try different plants out to see how they will grow in the area.  She then is able to use the fruits of the plants to provide for her family or sell in the market.  She enjoyed taking us through her yard showing us what different plants she is growing and the work required to maintain them.  Their yard resembles a jungle. It is insane.  The Lord has truly reached his hand into her soil to make it more fertile.  Also, she is beginning to see that she is smart and has value which is incredible to get to experience firsthand.

Maria sharing her story

Maria and her youngest boys in her jungle (garden)

The Community Leaders

In the afternoon we headed back to Tipitapa to hear the stories of two more women.  These two women have become community leaders for Tipitapa.  During the times living in the factory, these women united together to work for the good of their community.  They are very strong women who love The Lord with all of their heart.  While Walter and Chris were listening to their stories, Kasey and I decided to distract the kids so they were not interfering with the serious conversations their mothers were trying to have.  We started by just asking them simple questions like, what is your name? how old are you? What is your favorite color? And more.  Later, Isaac came out of the house with a game.  He or someone else had made a checkers board out of a piece of cardboard using bottle caps as the game pieces.  I do not have much experience with checkers, but do not believe we were playing exactly right.  Sometimes Isaac would make moves for us or just go wherever he pleased.  At some point he would just announce a winner.  Two other kids, Stephany and Ris were just running around being our entertainment during the game.  It is awesome to see how comfortable these kids are opening themselves up to people who can only attempt but not necessarily excel at speaking their language and that they just met. 

One of the community leaders, Amada, and her precious big baby boy!

Amada and the other community leader, Jenny, sharing their story

Amada's son Isaac and I

Playing checkers with the kids
The School
After visiting with these two families, we headed to the school in Tipitapa to spend some time with one of the preschool classes.  We introduced ourselves and Walter shared the story of David and Goliath. These kids were so full of joy, it was great to spend some time loving on them!

Me attempting to teach kids letters and numbers


It has been a very awesome experience for Kasey and I to be able to utilize our degrees we are pursuing here in Nicaragua.  We have worked hard assessing the food packages developing ideas and recommendations to increase the nutritional value that With One Hope is giving to the families each month.  Also, Walter presented us with the challenge of creating a menu for a pilot preschool.  It was neat to use our knowledge of nutrition and the culture of Nicaragua to create a school menu we feel is best for preschool children in Nicaragua.  We have loved gaining some real world experience in Nutrition!

San Juan del Sur

This past Saturday we headed to the beach with Guiselle and Lupita! First we were able to enjoy a nearly two hour car ride joking, playing, and continuing to build relationships with the two girls until we arrived in San Juan del Sur at the beach.  Both girls were a little hesitant to come play in the water with us, but after a little coaxing by Chris and Walter they started to feel more comfortable.  We enjoyed jumping over waves, swimming, splashing, and lots of laughing.  After playing in the water a bit we decided to head up to a restaurant on the beach to have lunch.  It was good to just relax and gain some more energy to continue to enjoy the beach.  After lunch, we decided we had had enough of the water and that we just wanted to walk along the shore to search for some shells.  Our final destination was a bridge over a small river that feeds into the ocean.  We spent some time crossing the bridge, taking pictures, and watching some crabs, birds, and fish.  The sun was really beating down hard and leading to very exhausted little girls.  On our way back to Jinotepe, both girls were laying all over Kasey and I trying to fall asleep.  This is just another example of how comfortable the children feel with people after only spending a short amount of time and especially limited conversation together.  I absolutely love that With One Hope takes the time to bond and build relationships with the families they support in order to make an even greater impact.  Chris and Walter are both outstanding examples of Godly men to these young girls.  They truly treasure them so much and you can see it in the girls’ faces and actions how much they know that they are loved.  It is incredible to see these girls recognizing their value at such a young age, especially considering Latin American culture.  I am so thankful for Walter and Chris for encouraging these two girls as well as many others of their worth.  

Chris walking along the beach with Guiselle and Lupita

Absolutely love this picture of Walter and Chris holding hands with Guiselle and Lupita!

Walter and I at the bridge at the beach

This picture cracks me up, don't the girls look like they are absolutely having a blast?


The girls actually smiling!


Guiselle falling asleep on the way back from the beach

Preparing to Leave

Sunday was a day full of cleaning, packing, and getting ready to leave.  After church we spent the afternoon washing clothes, finishing some nutrition work, and just enjoying our last evening in Jinotepe.  Yesterday we had a debriefing time with Christ to talk about the trip.  Then, we headed to the church for one last lunch with Johana.  After an emotional goodbye, we headed on our journey.  We stopped in Catarina at an overlook to take in more of the beauty of Nicaragua.  We then were able to spend some time in a market to get some souvenirs.  After that, we headed to Managua to go to the hotel.  We decided to allow Walter the evening with his family and had to tell him goodbye.  Many tears were shed and hugs were given.  Little did Kasey and I know that he would be meeting us in the airport to see us off in the morning.  After dinner, Kasey and I finished the details of our nutrition project and then headed to bed.  This morning we woke up early to board our plane to Miami!  And now I am preparing to get on my flight to the Dominican Republic!  I am looking forward to writing my post about the summary and the impact this trip had on me, be expecting it soon. Thanks again for all of the prayers!

Sweet Johana and I

Kasey and I at the Catarina overlook

Walter and I at the beautiful overlook

Hopefully I will update soon about how The Dominican is going!


Monday, June 2, 2014

Nicaragua Adventures

Hola de Nicaragua!

We are having a wonderful time in Nicaragua so far! Sorry it has taken a little bit to write my first blog. We have pretty limited access to internet here. Currently I am typing this up on a Word document and when I find a time to connect my computer to wifi I will post it! It is crazy that we have already been here for almost two weeks and we only have one more!  Although we have accomplished so much in such a short amount of time it is getting sad that we are through a lot of our time in Nicaragua. Anyway, in the next few paragraphs I will explain what all we have been able to do during our time in the country thus far.  First, I am going to describe a little bit more about the organization, With One Hope, which I am working with here.  I know I mentioned some in a previous blog, but I think it will help you to better understand this blog if I explain more about the organization again. Also, if you would like to learn more you can go to to read more about the organization.

The Organization

With One Hope is an organization that was started by Chris Cunningham, an A&M graduate of 2006 and member of Aggies for Christ. I heard about this organization by going on a mission trip through AFC my spring semester of my freshman year.  Chris has taken many trips down to work with his organization over the years and I am so glad The Lord influenced me to go! Anyway, With One Hope is an organization that strives to alleviate poverty by encouraging sustainability.  Although it was started by an American, With One Hope is becoming completely Nicaraguan run with monetary support coming from The United States.  This organization provides monthly food packages to families as a supplement to their nutritional needs. Currently, With One Hope supports seven families each month with the full food package.  Secondly, they provide three families that have children with disabilities with a formula such as Ensure to make sure that these children are receiving the proper vitamins and minerals they need.  Thirdly, the organization gives one family monetary support for the work the mother does growing and maintaining a garden in her yard to try out many different fruits and vegetables and how well they grow.  With One Hope has also started many preschools in different cities all over Nicaragua to increase the amount of children attending school. With One Hope sees the benefit in quality over quantity and the importance behind building relationships.  There are two individuals, Walter and Johana, who work full time with With One Hope here in Nicaragua.  Walter is responsible for all the paperwork and documents that they need to send to the government as well as delivering the food packages to all of the families.  Johana is in charge of purchasing all of the items for the food packages as well as cooking meals for any groups that come down.  She also lives at the church and is responsible for cleaning and maintaining it.  Walter and Johana work together to visit the families during the month to continue to develop relationships with the children and their parents.  There are two words to describe who Walter and Johana are to everyone they encounter and these words are love and joy. They speak so much truth into the lives of these children who have come from incredibly horrible pasts and who are still dealing with so many trials today. They are wonderful examples of what it looks like to live a life loving The Lord. This is very important in a culture where this is rarely seen.  Walter and Johana work hard to show these children that they are loved not only by them but by their Holy Father.  These two also strive to show them how important, intelligent, beautiful, funny, and creative each one of them are.  It has been amazing to see the transformation that these children have had since I was last here in 2012.  Along with the materially support that this organization provides they also ensure that all of the children are attending and making good grades at school, ensuring that the parents are no longer involved in the crippling parts of their past by providing new avenues to earn money, and using encouragement to lift up the families and teach them about Jesus. The majority of the families that With One Hope supports are single-mother households and it is very important for the young girls especially to see Walter as an example of a husband who loves his life with the love of The Lord and truly cares for his little daughter with all that he has. He instills in the young girls the knowledge that they are very valuable and lovable and should never have to give themselves up for a man.  There are many other examples of how Walter and Johana embody who Jesus was by sharing his love and his amazing grace to these families.  Although this little paragraph cannot capture the huge impact that With One Hope has made in Nicaragua, hopefully it helped provide some knowledge for you to understand a little bit more about the tasks of the organization. 

Our Trip

This is Kasey and I''s precious house that we are absolutely enjoying to be able to call ours! It has two bedrooms, a bathroom, living room, and kitchen area. It is so nice!

This is a view of a little walking trail that is in the compound that we live in. It is beautiful and all the trees make the temperature feel wonderful!

This is Chris and Walter's house, known as The Watermelon House. However,  they believe it is purple.
Now I will move on to what we have been able to accomplish on this trip so far! I will be posting random pictures amidst all my words as well.  First I will introduce you to the team a little bit so you will know who I am referring to when I mention people’s names. It will be pretty easy because there are only really four of us doing a lot of the work together.  The first person is Chris Cunningham who started With One Hope.  He spent a little over a year living here and appointing people from here to work for his organization.  He still comes down to Nicaragua somewhat frequently to see how things are going and to continue to form relationships with the families.  The next person is Kasey McLenna, she is also a nutrition major at A&M who is Aggies for Christ with me.  She developed an interest in using her nutrition knowledge overseas and after hearing what I was doing this summer she decided to join! The fourth member of our team is Walter who I already mentioned above.  The four of us have been working together along with a few others like Johana.  

Food Packages

We have spent time putting together the food packages and delivering them to the families, talking with Johana and the families to see how the utilize each ingredient in the package, checking the status of a new school being built, exploring the beautiful country of Nicaragua while learning the culture, and beginning a documentary to share each family’s story.  The two biggest purposes of this trip are to create the documentary and make any modifications to the food packages to create a healthier and more substantial package.  We have a nutrition survey that we have created that we are going to ask each family to see what they eat in a normal day and how they prepare each item that we provide in the package.  The packet contains rice, beans, sugar, oil, spaghetti, sardines, coffee, Ramen noodles, chicken soup mix, soy meat, and drink mixes made of barley, oats, and corn.  The diet of Nicaragua revolves around these four main items: rice, beans, sugar, and oil.  It was very interesting to discover the reasoning behind this.  While talking to Walter one day, he explained to us why these four ingredients are essential in the diet here in Nicaragua.  During the 1980s, there was a revolution in Nicaragua.  I do not exactly remember who it involved but that is not too important for this right now.  Anyway, the conditions were very rough for the population of Nicaragua and food was very scarce.  The main access to food was from the government that consisted of food packages containing rice, beans, sugar, and a little bit of oil.  During this time, the country had to learn how to use these four ingredients to survive.  Even after the war, the country still chose to utilize those few ingredients more than others.  Walter said this was a huge shift in the culture and has remained roughly the same for over 30 years. The biggest concern from a nutritional stand point is the amount of sugar these families consume daily.  After talking to Johann, she said a family of average size, maybe five to six people, would use a pound of sugar each day.  A big challenge for us is to figure out ways to make small incremental changes in the sugar content without changing the culture.  Although there is much more that can be said about our ideas for the food package, I will save it until later after we have discussed more with the families. 

Although it is hard to see, this is an example of the food package that With One Hope gives to the families each month.

This is an example of the milk/formula With One Hope provides to some of the families. This is the type given to Ruth

Going to Leon

 The weekends are a time of rest for us so the first weekend we went to a city called Leon and stayed with Walter and his parents.  We were able to tour the city and spend the majority of the afternoon and evening relaxing at the beach. Also while we were in Leon we were able to check the status of a school that With One Hope began building in December.  We did a few activities with the children in their old school while workers were finishing a few touches like doors and windows on the new one.  It was awesome to see the huge difference in where they are having school now and where they will be able to have school soon.  It was good to be able to see another aspect of With One Hope that we are not really focused on with this particular trip. 

This is Kasey and I hanging out one of the many times in the car.  We spend a lot of time driving all of the country of Nicaragua to visit schools, families,  churches and beaches.

This is us working with the children at their old school in Leon.
This is part of downtown Leon

One of the many lions outside of one of the churches in Leon, which means lion in Spanish

The beach we spent the majority of the afternoon at in Leon. It was so relaxing and beautiful.
This is the new school that is almost finished for the children in Leon. We were able to watch workers install the windows and doors.
This is the inside of their new school.

This is what farmers do in Nicaragua to ensure that their pigs do not escape their property. Also, behind the pig to the right is where the children in Leon are going to school while their new school is being built.
 Sunday was also a pretty relaxing day.  We went to church in the morning and then Kasey and I washed our clothes the old school way during the afternoon. It was really fun to experience the culture here in a new way.  It is so nice to distance yourself from technology every now and then. 

This is Kasey washing clothes the old fashioned way.

The result of Kasey and I's hard work washing our clothes!

Life in Nicaragua

  Ok, so what does a normal day in Nicaragua look like?  The first few days were a little different but then we somewhat created a consistent schedule. We spent the majority of the first few days putting together the food packages and delivering them to the families. Usually during the week, we leave our houses around 8:30 to start our work for the day.  We do some sort of work in the morning, eat lunch at the church made by Johana, do more work in the afternoon, hang out at our houses for about an hour, head to the church for dinner, and then relax at home preparing ourselves for the next day.  One day this past week we spent the morning going to the market with Johana.  It was neat to experience the way Nicaraguans shop and the craziness of the market! We spent the afternoon asking Johana questions from our nutrition survey to grasp initially a usual diet in Nicaragua.  Later, we began filming her while she told her story.  Walter and Chris asked her a few questions, but it was mainly her taking the time to share where she had come from and how The Lord had strengthened her into the woman she is today.  Although, I could not understand every word she spoke in Spanish, it was incredible to see the emotions and the tears she shed while sharing her story.  We were a little bit nervous about asking people to share their stories figuring they may be camera shy or just think that no one would care to know where they have come from but it is wonderful to see how empowering it is for someone to share so much about their life.  I am so thankful that The Lord encouraged Chris to make this documentary.  I am so excited for the finished product and for many people to be able to see and hear how The Lord is working in Nicaragua.  I will probably not go into great detail about each individual family’s story in order to allow you the opportunity to see it the first time when you watch the documentary.  Johana is an amazing cook and we are so fortunate to have her cook our lunch and dinner everyday.  She even spent one morning teaching us how to make some of her specialties.  

This is one of the many examples of how crafty Johana is. She made this card by hand and has many more things like this that she made to decorate the church.

Here is Chris working on the documentary with Johana.

Johana showing us how she makes scarves.
Walter holding all of Johana's scarves she made.
Johana teaching us how to make maduros, which are fried mature plantains.
Maduros are Chris' favorite Nicaraguan food hence the huge smile on his face.

Harby's Story

 We spent some more time this past week visiting families in the program and capturing their stories.  Each family has a unique story that just shows the creativity of our God.  One family that With One Hope supports right now is really hurting and has been hurting for the last several years.  Silvia has an 18-year old son named Harby who has been battling with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma for about four years.  He currently has two big tumors in his lymph nodes by his groin which causes him a great deal of pain when he walks.  We were able to visit him in the hospital and pray over him and his mom.  He had been in the hospital for a few weeks receiving morphine for his pain.  About a week ago, he was kicked out of the hospital.  The health system is essentially free in Nicaragua which makes it not always the best.  The doctors basically told Harby and his mom that he is not going to get better. They explained to him that they could not waste any more morphine on a kid who is just going to die.  The reality is they said these exact words to him and his mother.  They said it would be best if he just went home to die.  Isn’t that just awful? Our prayer is for either a miracle or for God to take Harby home.  The suffering he is going through is unbearable.  Please take a few minutes to pray for Harby and his family.  Ask that God be big and perform a miracle or that He take Harby into his comforting arms of rest. We were able to go visit Harby and Silvia at their house a few days ago. Silvia said that Harby was actually eating and seemed like he was doing better.  Harby even called on his mom to go help him out of bed to walk out into the living to greet us and thanks us for coming to visit.  It is amazing to see the joy that this family has amidst the trial they are going through right now.  They have such a strong faith in what The Lord has planned for their lives. 

Ruth's Story

 This week we also spent a great deal of time this with Ruth’s family.  Ruth is the mother of five children.  Four of these children currently live their house with her and her husband.  Ruth has a daughter who is also named Ruth that has special needs. Taking care of Ruth while also raising her other children is very demanding job. Like I mentioned earlier, I won’t go into huge details of their story because I want the documentary to have a big impact on you.  This is a family that With One Hope supports with formula that has helped Ruth a great deal in her development.  It was an incredible opportunity to hear Ruth share the many trials she has encountered and overcome while raising a child with special needs.  We also got the opportunity to spend time with the young boys while they shared with us what they do to help out with the family.  They love to help out with the animals.  They have pigs, chickens, roosters, ducks, bunnies, and dogs.  What is also incredible is the piglets, chicks, ducklings, and puppies that also come with those animals.  The boys absolutely loved showing us all of the animals and telling us their names. We were sure to capture that on video as well.  We also were able to here Ruth’s daughter Virginia tell her story.  She is 18 years old and is studying English.  She is one of three girls from her class of twenty four girls that started school.  All twenty one other girls have become pregnant or are mothers and will not return to finish school.  She has incredible dreams and desires and it is awesome to see how confident with who she is and how valuable she is as well. It was absolutely wonderful to spend so much time with Ruth getting to know her story while loving on her children. 

This is Ruth's son, Brian, showing us a little chick, one of the many animals they have in their back yard.

Here is their mama pig and all of her piglets.
This is the backside view of Ruth's house from the backyard.
We have also spent some time in the evenings with these two young girls in one of the families named Guiselle and Lupita.  We played Uno, solved riddles, and even took them to the circus!  This past Friday was Mother’s Day here in Nicaragua so we took Walter to Managua to spend the day with his wife on their first Mother’s Day as a family.  Kasey, Chris, and I then spent the afternoon in Managua eating lunch and even going to see a movie! The movie theatre was so nice; each person had a full recliner to relax in while watching the movie. Sunday morning we went to Managua to go to church with Walter, his wife Rene, and their new baby Walkiria. Although the whole service was in Spanish and I could only understand bits and pieces, it was wonderful to worship alongside many brothers and sisters who love The Lord so much.  It was so great to spend the afternoon eating lunch with Walter and his family. I was able to meet Rene last time I was here so it was good to get to talk with her again and of course I love any opportunity to practice my Spanish with someone who is patient! They are such a wonderful and encouraging couple and their baby is absolutely adorable. 

This is Kasey, Me, Rene, and Walkiria after church on Sunday.

 It is very great to take some time to recuperate on the weekends in order to rejuvenate ourselves for the next week full of Spanish conversations, nutrition surveys, and documenting stories.  This next week will be much the same but only with different families that have different stories.  This morning we were able to go to one of the preschools that With One Hope help start in Jinotepe. Kasey and I were able to read the children the story of Noah, we made crafts, and sang songs. It was so much fun! I think this is all I have for now. Also, Kasey and Chris are more of the photographers and not me so hopefully I will be able to borrow some of their pictures so I can show you more!   I cannot thank you enough for all of the thoughts and prayers. More updates to come soon! 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

And the Journey Continues

So I am very thrilled to share that God is calling me to serve another summer abroad! I am beyond excited to have another opportunity to spend my summer loving on His people and learning so much from each and every one of them. In all honesty, I knew the second I came home from The DR last summer that I would be embarking on yet another adventure this next summer. The Lord has been very evident in the fact that He has great plans for me this summer. It is so awesome when you can feel The Lord's presence pulling you toward something and there is no doubt in your mind that is where you need to be. So I am sure you are wondering, where is He taking me? Well, excitingly enough He is taking me to two separate places. Of course, they are both in Latin/Central America/The Caribbean because my heart is there. First, I will be going back to Nicaragua, and if you know anything about my last trip there you know that this is very very exciting! I went on a mission trip with Aggies for Christ to Nicaragua Spring Break my freshman year and it is where my passion for foreign missions became so evident. I worked alongside fellow Aggies as well as individuals in Nicaragua with an organization called With One Hope. This organization was created by Chris Cunningham, a 2006 A&M graduate and member of AFC.  With One Hope is a wonderful organization that serves many families in various cities all over Nicaragua.  They support these families, usually single mother households, with a food package each month. With One Hope also provides resources to help the families begin to make an income and to eventually become self-sustaining. With One Hope has also partnered with other organizations to build many elementary schools in different cities in Nicaragua.  This has helped foster a much better learning environment for many children. More information about this organization can be found at I will go into the detail of the specific trip in the next paragraph. After leaving Nicaragua, I will head back to The Dominican Republic! I am just overflowing with excitement to be able to return to all my family and friends in La Esquina! I cannot thank The Lord enough for placing another incredible opportunity like this in my life. I absolutely love the passion He has placed in my life for foreign missions and am beyond ready to let Him use me in amazing ways this summer!

The tentative plan:

A. Nicarauga

I will be leaving for Nicaragua on Wednesday, May 21st! Some may think I am crazy because my brother gets married only 3 days before. I will be in the country for the wedding, isn't that what's important? Anyway, my trip to Nicaragua will be different than last time. I will only be going with a group of three instead of a group of about twelve people.  Although we will be working with many in Nicaragua, Chris, the founder of With One Hope, Kasey, and I will be the only ones coming from the United States. Kasey is a fellow member of Aggies for Christ as well as a Nutrition major at A&M like me. I am very excited to have the opportunity to work alongside a non-profit organization with a smaller group.  Kasey and I will basically be Chris' assistants and will get to actually see the ups and downs as well as many other things involved behind the scenes of a non-profit.  I am excited to gain experience in this area because I could see myself eventually being a part of this kind of organization. The biggest project we have for the summer is to create a documentary of the families that With One Hope supports. This will be a great way for the individuals that support these families from the states to see and hear the amazing stories that they have helped create. Kasey and I will also use this one-on-one time with the families to ask them about any nutrition concerns they may have. We also want to evaluate the food packages they receive and see what items they utilize and in what ways. Chris is excited about this component of the summer because With One Hope has never had anyone with a nutrition background assist them in any way. We are willing to make changes to the package and offer families healthier alternative to some of the methods that they may be using to prepare certain items. Creating this documentary will occupy a great deal of our time, but when we are not involved in it we will be spending time loving on the wonderful kiddos that With One Hope supports. There is also potential for the opportunity for gardening.  If you know anything about my adventure last summer then you know that this is right up my alley! Please begin to start praying for the people of Nicaragua as well as Chris, Kasey, and I. 

Here are some pictures from 2012:

B. The Dominican Republic

I will fly from Nicaragua to The DR on June 10th and I will be headed back to the United States at the beginning of August. I am planning on working with my friend Alicen Bessire while I am there. Alicen graduated from Texas A&M last May and has been living in our community, La Esquina, since then. We spent last summer implementing gardening curriculum in a school and building relationships with all of the people there.  Alicen has been able to accomplish a great deal of things while being over there since August by herself! I am so very excited to be able to join her in all of her efforts. If you would like to know more information about what we are doing and what we have done please check out Alicen's blog at or The Dominican Experience page on Facebook! This summer we plan on continuing with our gardening projects as well as teaching English lessons to many kids in our community. We also would love to begin some small group bible studies or vacation bible school lessons with the kids. It has been very cool because a few months ago the capital sent a youth minister to a church in the area. Before this time, there was not any type of program in our community that introduced church or a relationship with God at all for youth and young adults. Ever since I left La Esquina in August I have been praying for The Lord to work in their lives to show them who He is. It is so awesome to see that He is answering that prayer. I cannot wait to be a vessel for God to use this summer. Please pray that the individuals in La Esquina will be open to hearing about the graciousness and love of our Lord and Savior. 

Here are some pictures from last summer:

"And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation." 

Mark 16:15

How you can help: 

1. Pray, pray pray! 

I cannot explain to you how much it means for people to constantly be in prayer for me and my ministry. It is incredibly encouraging and provides me with great strength. Begin praying now for the people of Nicaragua and The Dominican Republic.Pray that they will see God amidst any trials and tribulations that they are experience. Continue praying throughout the summer for Kasey, Chris, Alicen, and I. Pray intentional prayers that The Lord will use us in incredible ways. Pray that God will continually fill us up with love and it will have nowhere to go but to just pour out of us and into the lives of others. Thanks again in advance for the many thoughts and prayers. 

"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." 

Ephesians 3:20-21

2. Support me for a day!

I have calculated out all my expenses and come to the conclusion that it will be about $10/day for cost of living for me while in Nicaragua and The Dominican Republic. If you are interested in supporting me for a day please let me know! Feel free to call or text me to learn more information. Alpine Church of Christ has been gracious enough to handle my funds for me. The address is 610 E. Loop 281 Longview, TX 75605. If you are mailing a check, please put attention Jerry Brumbaugh. Also, Alpine has asked that you not put my name on the memo line but that you put on a separate sheet of paper that the funds are for my trip. Thank you again for your willingness to share in this experience with me! 

"...continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose."

Philippians 2:12-13

I will be using this blog to post updates while I am in both Nicaragua and The Dominican Republic. Be sure to check in from time to time to see how The Lord is working in and through all of us!

"If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love." 

1 Corinthians 10:1-3