Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Day 9: Headed Home, Hearts Changed

The team made it back to Bozeman about 9:30pm Tuesday evening! We had a smooth day of travel and are very thankful to the Lord.

Our whole team is so thankful to the Lord for the opportunity we had to serve in Nicaragua.

Below are reflections from some of the team members on all the Lord taught them through their time in Nicaragua.
Gerry Goede, Trip Leader:
This trip to Nicaragua reminded me of how God has a desire for each and every person to be saved. As we were able to share the gospel with Nicaraguans and other nationalities who are on the island, it is evident that God gave us strength to share.

The prayer of many people for our team was evident as people were able to share their testimonies and the gospel to many. I look forward to continuing to share the good news with all the people God brings into my life, and to pursue the opportunity to share with many.

Pat Goede: 
The Lord spoke to my heart about a couple things this week. One that was brought out this week is that when sin is minimized we become defensive. That will remind me to examine my heart when I get defensive about something to see if there is any particular sin that is driving that.

The other thing that was presented is that we need the gospel for sanctification. I had never thought about sharing the gospel as being a part of my growth as a believer.

This was my fifth trip to Nicaragua and I've loved it every time. I always love watching the students outside of the school environment (which is where I usually see them): David and Jothan laughing and laughing over an incident with a nino... Cambrie and Ki hefting bananas like pros... the singing in the back of the truck on our way back to the camp...
We had a great group of students and chaperones and it was a joy to serve with them.

Landa Heys, Teacher:
This is my fourth trip to Nicaragua and each trip continues to bless me as I see the Lord work in new and beautiful ways. During this trip we were challenged and encouraged as we shared our hearts with the Petra Iglesia members and went into the communities of Balgüe and Mérida to share the good news about Jesus. Working alongside Petra church members was a special opportunity to get to know and love the brothers and sisters in Christ that live on Ometepe island. The Lord has challenged me to be more open about my hope and my peace in Christ as I come back to Montana and the people I love here.

Amber Lundskog, Teacher: 
It is so refreshing to do life alongside believers in Nicaragua who are sold out for Him! I had spent a couple weeks last summer serving with the Petra church plants (and this was my eighth time to Central America overall) so it was truly a blessing beyond words to return! It was encouraging hearing testimonies and praying with the Nicaragua family and also getting to bring people from Bozeman down to serve :) ... The “gospel bomb” is exploding all over the country. Jesus is alive. The gospel is powerful. His Word is going forth. Please pray that God would continue to open doors for the gospel to be preached, people to be saved, lives to be changed, and many equipped and sent to the ends of the earth in the power of His name!

On the trip I was convicted in the role the Great Commission and sharing the gospel plays in our own sanctification process. We talked about the fact that what God gave us as a privilege we often take as a burden and that there is no greater joy than sharing the gospel. May we all be bold in our witness for Him as we return to life here in the States.

Jesse Kemp, Teacher:
Praise the Lord Who poured out His mercy on this trip. We came to minister to the hearts of others and found that God had plans prepared for how He would work in our own. I could write at length about (...anything— I’m an English teacher) all the things that God did this week, but I will restrict myself to three main praises: 1) God confronted sin in my heart; 2) God revealed the joy of knowing my family in Christ; 3) God reinforced the need for a simple trust in the word, prayer, worship, and evangelism as the pillars of my walk with Christ.

All of these can be explained in part by relating one story from the week. One of the first conversations I had with my Nica brothers in Managua was about how the Lord was using this trip to teach me to trust Him with my family. My sinful self-dependence is manifested in the way I often seek to protect and care for my family in my own strength. Prayer has often been an afterthought. Leaving forced me to trust Him and see that He is faithful. A few days into the trip, I reached WiFi only to see a message that my 6 month old, Marian, was in the hospital due to Influenza and respiratory distress. The news broke me. The Lord had heard my desire to grow in trust and he gave me a sharp lesson. The only thing I could do for Marian was the one thing that I should have always seen as most important and impactful: pray. This I did, and I was far from alone. My team prayed with and over me. They prayed for my family. They related the news to our Nica brothers who prayed faithfully along with us. Within hours, dozens of people who I had known for mere days (or didn’t know at all) were offering petitions to the Lord on behalf of my little girl and Pastor Jared was praying over her in Bozeman. The beauty of the family of Jesus Christ surpasses my ability to express here. I lost count of how many times these dear people asked about Marian with genuine love for me and mine. One other sin that God convicted me of this week is a preoccupation with myself and my own glory. In a way, the situation with Marian exacerbated this issue as it put a spotlight on me for a time. But the Lord showed me a way forward in the faithful preaching of Pastor Edwin on the sanctifying effect of the great commission. Sharing the gospel and making disciples is inherently others-focused. It requires that we mortify our fear of man, beg God to move in us, and share a message that is often rejected. As Edwin would say, it requires that we love people rather than please them. Our time together in prayer, in evangelism, in worship, and in the word turned me outward and helped me to begin the process of killing my self-preoccupation.

There is so much more I could say, but I will end with this. If anyone reading has been at all blessed, encouraged, or challenged by this blog, resolve to obey the Lord by living for His glory in obedience to His will for your life. Gerry has continually commented that the trip may be an amazing experience, but is ultimately a waste unless lives are really changed. May it never be. Rather, may God receive endless glory for the changed lives of redeemed sinners.

Peyton Kerznar, Junior: 
God has shown me a lot this trip. He has shown me that it is important to be preaching the gospel to others and sharing testimonies. Since we didn’t have enough time evangelizing one afternoon we had to invite people to an evangelism concert. One of the pastors of the church in Ometepe when we were out evangelizing said that it was hard for him to just invite people to the concert and that he really wanted to preach to the people. After hearing that it was very encouraging and makes me want to have more of a heart of sharing the gospel to people. 

Jothan, Senior:
God showed me how Nicaragua is not as well off as the U.S. and makes me really grateful for all the simple comforts and luxuries of home. I was also shown how the gospel doesn’t return void, even when you don’t know what to say. The last day when we went to the beach I played baseball with some of the guys from the church and I saw how they were willing to include me, and we had a great time. In general the trip made me see how people are happy even without a lot of things or wealth.

Nicole Shepherd, Junior:
This trip was amazing and I have been blessed by the Nicaraguans and their hospitality. Before the trip, I will admit, I was dreading coming and even begged my parents to let me stay home. I have been blessed by sharing my testimony and seeing the culture’s differences that stretched me in my comfort zone. I have seen how big the body of Christ is and it made my faith more real. I have been convicted that I need to live out my faith in every aspect of my life and not just at school or church. Sharing the gospel is what Christians are commanded to do and it’s not only a part of what we say, but us living it out. The gospel saves lives and expands the kingdom of heaven. We should live out the gospel every day. Being away from home helped me look back on my life there and see what I need to change and do better. I encourage you to have a quiet time with the Lord every day. I now see how fulfilling it is to read the Bible in the morning and then have your devotion on the forefront of your mind throughout the day. Also, share the gospel both with your words and actions. People see us and we want them to see the joy and hope Christ gives us.

Kiana Sipes, Senior:
This trip helped me because it showed me my sin and the power and importance of the gospel. I discovered that the gospel is not a burden to share, it is a privilege. The gospel can save people’s lives and lead them from death to life. This truth came alive to me, especially when Pastor Edwin talked about how the gospel is God’s purpose for our lives and when we preach it, it heals us and gives us joy. I saw this in my own life and in other people’s lives when we went door to door evangelism. The gospel is goodness and joy to all who hear it. I loved hearing my classmate’s testimonies and getting to know the Nica’s better and become a part of their church family. I feel so welcomed and at home here, that it is hard to go back, but I know God will use the things we have learned on this trip to impact the people in Bozeman and in the school. I am so blessed to have the privilege to meet our church family here.

Logan Wilkes, Junior:
Wow. Where do I start? First of all I must say it feels kinda weird to be typing on a laptop after being away from school and writing for so long. But this trip has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life. It has challenged me in more ways than I thought possible. But what stands out is the fire of the Nicaraguans and how they have shared that with me. Keing and Hamilton have been such an encouragement to me by discipling me in the ways of Christ and how we need to share the Gospel. I see now the huge problem in American churches and how there is not a lot of involvement in sharing the Gospel like the Nicaraguans. They preach to anyone and everyone who will take the time to listen. What has changed in my life is how eager I am to share the gospel with others. It is a powerful message, and even if you don’t see a reaction at first, it is good to plant the seed.

Chris Remely, Parent:
After spending the week with our brothers and sisters in Christ in Nicaragua I have been immensely blessed and convicted by their hearts to serve and share the Good News of Christ to anyone who will listen. 

Our translators gave up time away from family and work to share their bilingual skills so that those of us lacking in espanol would not feel so disconnected. The pastors led by example, working beside us and walking the streets of Balgue and Merida evangelizing. Church members greeted us at the airport, served us, led worship and also worked along side us, all of them sharing their talents to honor the Lord and giving all the Glory to God.
My prayer as we return home is that we would be faithful to live out the great commission and would not get distracted by the things of the world.

Janelle Johnson, Foothills Parent on Vision Trip for future teams:
Colossians 1:6 “All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth.”

The thing that challenged me the most this week was how committed and strategic the Petra church in Nicaragua is about spreading the gospel and making disciples. Through sharing testimonies and evangelizing door to door in the villages, lives are being changed by the power of the gospel. Pastor Edwin really challenged me with his teaching on the Great Commission as a necessary part of of growth as Christians. It is something I will be taking home to practice in my own life.

Shawna Finch, Parent:
I am counting my blessings right now as I fly back home from Nicaragua! I am so thankful for the opportunity to experience the Church in Nica! The people of Petra Iglesia welcomed us with open arms and showed us so much love while there. Now, looking back, I feel as though they served us far more than we served them! They fed us and planned all our arrangements, they preached and encouraged us with their testimonies and with the word of God, they were quick to help us if anyone needed something and they gave us many opportunities to join in on the projects that they were already working on. We helped them build a church in Merida, prepare bags of soil to begin a coffee crop, and harvest bananas. We helped bring a water line to the home of a single mom and bring electricity inside for light at night. Also, the women of the church came to talk and share testimonies with the women on our team. They were bold in their faith! They gave us courage to also share our testimonies and share what God is doing in our hearts today. There were many other things we did but I can’t name them all! What I want you to know though is that God is doing wonderful things in Nicaragua and turning many hearts toward Him! I praise Him for this and I will be eternally grateful for the opportunity I had to be a part of it. Thank you to all who prayed! We could feel your prayers!! Blessings to you all!

Monday, March 5, 2018

Day 8: Travel Back to Managua and Fellowship Time

Today we got up at 5:30pm to start our travels back from Ometepe Island. After such a great week on the island, many started talking about ideas of how we could "conveniently" miss the ferry :)

Team picture outside where we stayed at La Roca Camp and Farm

We did make the ferry and made the trek back across Nicaragua Lake to the mainland.

Levi and his mom Shawna

Logan sharing the gospel with a man on the ferry

On the ferry

Konnor staying safe :)

We got to go to the Masaya Market and lunch before heading to a little downtime at the hotel. We then headed to Petra Managua for a final night of fellowship with the leaders of Petra and their families. It was such a blessed time.

Pastor Hamilton brought us back to the 1 Thessalonians passage that we had began the week in together. 1 Thess. 1:2 says, "We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers." What is so neat about this passage is that although Paul was only with the Thessalonians for a short time, it was clear how deeply he loved the church. Pastor Hamilton compared this to our time together and the love that has grown amongst brothers and sisters in Christ. Like one team member commented early in the week, "I never knew I had a family this big!" He encouraged us to continue to pray for the work God is doing in Nicaragua and also encouraged us that they would be praying for us as well. Team members were also able to share where they had experienced God at work during their time here. Pastor Hamilton closed with an exhortation from Acts 20:24 and asked us what we want our lives to be known for when people hear about us. May it be to live wholeheartedly for the Lord.

"However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace." Acts 20:24

We will get up at 5:30am again tomorrow to head to the airport and begin the trip home. However, our hearts have been forever changed. Please pray for us as we re-enter the U.S. that we would each take intentional time with the Lord and be obedient in whatever steps of faith He prompts each of us to take!

Tomorrow we will begin posting trip take-aways from different members of the team so stay tuned!

Sunday, March 4, 2018


Today we worshipped in a joint service with the believers from Merida, Altagracia, and Balgue at the Balgue church. While the adults were in service the students did children's ministry with all the kiddos and had a great time!


Nicole and Kristi performing Via Dolorosa song

The team and pastors outside the Balgue church

After lunch at one of the hotel's here the team moved on to the beach for a few hours of fellowship with church members. What a blessed time of seeing the body of Christ doing life together!

Tomorrow morning we will head off the island and back to Managua. I know some are wanting to stay! :) ... It has been such a blessing serving alongside those here on the island and we feel like we have a family here! God is faithful!

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Day 6: Work Day 4

This morning the students and adult males on our team went out door to door evangelizing near the camp and farm while the adult ladies went and had a sweet fellowship time sharing testimonies with Pastor Edwin and Pastor Jossiel's wives Eslee and Gissell and a couple other church ladies. Both were very encouraging times where we saw the Lord at work!

Ladies fellowship time

In the afternoon the students did more sports evangelism playing volleyball and also performing the "Sin Chair" play and Via Dolorosa song in order to share Christ. The adults went door to door evangrlizing in Merida alongside church members. The Lord had gone before and opened the hearts of many of the houses we visited to be very open to the gospel message. May He continue to draw hearts to salvation in Him!

Headed out evangelizing

At sports evangelism time

Balloons for the kids!
Nicole, Shawna and Landa

Elena, Kiana, and Cambrie


Talking during sports evangelism time

Amber and Alex

Balloon animals at sports evangelism time!

We are beyond blessed by the Lord's graciousness in allowing us to be here serving with the Nicaragua family of Christ!

From Konnor May, Senior:
Here in Nica our time is short. That thought has really been on my mind recently. Does my time in Nicaragua have to be short? I have not fully prayed through this as much as I want to but maybe soon there will be a time when I won’t return. God has shown His mercy in my life by giving me the opportunity to share my testimony, even though there is much to regret about my past life. One of our translators Keing is a man that has encouraged me in pursuing my current evangelizing goal and has showed me what my life should be characterized by. Never have I been so full of the Lord and the joy that His love truly brings. In sharing my testimony, it’s been a time of peace. This morning we had the opportunity to evangelize. I was the first to speak. Keing and I seemed to have connected in sharing our testimonies and he just reminded me to pray, pray, pray for the lady to truly understand what Jesus’ word means. I do not fully know where this lady is in her life, but she reminded me of myself before I knew the Lord—close, but not quite there.

As the day continued, we students received another opportunity to present Christ with sports and once again we lost at volleyball. But hey, we had the platform and we performed the sin chair play and Kristi and Nicole did a presentation in sign language. I had the opportunity to continue practicing my Spanish where I met the soccer coach who told me of his experience and the time he snapped his leg. Let’s just say we should thank God for our doctors. Life is good and full of joy, but what I found on this trip is that Jesus is better.


From Cambrie Shea, Senior:
This week here in Nicaragua has gone by so quickly I still feel like I just got to the camp and started the work, but in reality we have been here working hard for a week having fun with kids and sharing the love of Jesus with the Nicas. Today as I was sharing my testimony I told the lady that I had never been tempted or done anything that the others had done, but after I said that I felt like I got hit in the head and realized that I actually was facing those temptations almost daily just as she told me her son did. It hit hard because I felt like I was doing pretty good spiritually on this trip and all of the sudden I get hit with this realization and makes me feel like I don’t even know myself. But I know God did that for a reason because I was getting too comfortable in my life and the ignoring of the temptation was like background music, so God had to make it known to me by breaking me.

Cambrie during morning devotion

Then we went to Merida to play another game of volleyball like yesterday, and we did not win, but it was still fun. And while there we started making balloon animals for the kids and it brought happiness to me as well as a realization that these kids don’t have much for toys down here, but their faces lit up when they got their swords, dogs, or a normal balloon they looked like they just won something huge. I am constantly being reminded how much I truly have and how I take it all for granted. For the closing I will say it was so much fun singing songs of praise to God in the back of the truck on our drive home from Merida. It was truly amazing and I can imagine how much that glorified God.