In November 2012, a team of eleven members of Millwoods Community Church in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, went on a mission trip to Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua, the first trip that a group from Millwoods has taken in over a decade. And while there, they strengthened both buildings and their faith. Millwoods’ pastor The Rev. Joshua Viste, shared their trip.
After about six months of planning and fundraising, and what was a tremendous outpouring of support from our church community, the Millwoods team took to the skies for the long journey to Managua, Nicaragua.
After a night’s stay in Managua, we caught a morning flight to Puerto Cabezas, not really knowing what to expect when we landed. When we arrived at our destination, we were immediately overwhelmed by the love and support of the dozens of Nicaraguans who embraced us with Canadian flags and welcome signs. A bus ride through town brought us to a nice restaurant for lunch, and some time to get to know our new friends.
Refueled, we checked into our hotel, and were then fast to work. Our project was to give a face lift to the Herrnhut Moravian Church, by helping to build a wall on the front of the property, put tile on the floor of the pastor’s office, and work on a wooden ceiling inside of the church. Our team joined with over a dozen others from the congregation and the nearby area who worked hard, and accomplished a great deal in one week’s time.
In addition to the scheduled work, we also found a side project around which to rally, as we worked to build a ramp for a neighbor of the church. Grandma ‘E’, as we called her, was 94 years old, and wheel chair bound in her loft residence. Her only way out of the home was to have her son carry her out of the building. Thankfully however, our team’s head carpenter, Ron Adam, was quick to take some measurements and after a run to the hardware store, led the team in the building of a ramp into the lofted residence. Following a couple hours of labor, the team celebrated as Grandma ‘E’ was wheeled out of her home with ease.
Beyond building, the team brought down various supplies to leave in the community, including baseball equipment, soccer balls and clothes. The real treat however, was the time spent between building sessions, when we played games with the children and made crafts. Soccer, baseball and various forms of ‘tag’ were highlights for the athletically minded; while pipe-cleaners, beads and coloring books worked well with the younger kids. The smiles on the children’s faces will forever be highlights from our time in Nicaragua.
In our free time, we had the opportunity to visit the Moravian College and Seminary in Puerto Cabezas, where students can pursue an education for about $18 a semester, though this is a financial hardship for many. We also visited the prison in Puerto Cabezas, where young men and women live in horrendous conditions, mostly because of some connection to the drug trade which travels through that part of Nicaragua. Throughout the week, our team came face to face with many highs and lows as we experienced aspects of the culture in that area.
Julie Adam, at 16 our youngest team member, had this to say about her experience:
“I have wanted to be involved in a mission trip for as long as I can remember, and our trip to Nicaragua definitely did not disappoint. From the moment we arrived in Puerto Cabezas, we were greeted with warmth and hospitality from all the people of Herrnhut Moravian Church. It amazed me how quickly we were accepted and how we could feel like family with our fellow Moravians, despite the short amount of time we spent with them and the language barrier between us. It was incredible to sing ‘Morning Star’ in English while Nicaraguan teenagers sang it in Miskito, and so wonderful to know that Moravian tradition has been kept constant, in such different countries worldwide. The simple yet faithful way of life that people in Nicaragua have and the memories that were made there will be ones that I will never forget.”
The mission trip to Nicaragua was a life changing opportunity for our team from Edmonton; an opportunity we hope and that every Moravian can experience sometime in their life.
Rev. Joshua R. Viste is pastor at Millwoods Community Church in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. In photos above: Millwoods members worked to help improve Herrnhut Moravian Church and assist a local resident in Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua.
From the March 2013 Moravian Magazine