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Mission trip to Nicaraugua a positive experience for area woman

by Caroline Sealey

DRAYTON - Tineke van der Neut has made five mission trips to Nicaragua with Pan missions.

Van der Neut, a sheep farmer from the Mount Forest area, spoke on her latest mission trip at the Drayton Reformed Church Lenten Tea on March 20.

Pan is a multi-denominational Christian mission that serves many denominations in Nicaragua. The mission is committed to empowering and equipping local churches to meet the needs of the poor in their communities. The Canadian board of directors and Canadian workers are all volunteers.                                                                                                                                         Pan teams travel on two-week missions that involve building, medical services, sewing cooperatives and micro loans.

Van der Neut, part of a mission team based out of Milverton, was designated to build a church in a community set in a mountainous region of Nicaragua.

With a goal to raise $17,000 U.S., the team held garage sales, community suppers and accepted donations. Prayer, a focus of the team,  brought in unexpected funding, said van der Neut.

“Is prayer still relevant. Why should we pray? Could it be that we speak and He listens or He speaks and we listen? Do we hear God speak?” van der Neut said. “He wants us to pray. He wants to have a relationship with us.”

The team travelled to Franciaca, Nicaragua in 2016. In addition to building the church, the team visited a facility where patients receiving cancer treatments stayed. The facility had cement floors, no electricity and ventilation was a hole in the wall that allowed mosquitos in. Accommodations were available for 12 men and 12 women. Family members had to stay and help with the patient’s needs.  

“The patients were sick, lonely and sleeping on dirty foam mattresses. We couldn’t imagine sleeping there,” van der Neut said. “The team prayed and was led to help provide better living conditions for the patients.”

 The team located a store that sold the needed supplies. To their surprise the store had 24 mattresses in stock. After the shopkeeper calculated the cost of the mattresses, the team had money left to purchase 24 pillows, 24 mosquito nets and 12 chairs. The $300 remaining was given to the pastor of the church to purchase groceries.

“It was like, in with the new and out with the old,” van der Neut said. “But God was not finished with us yet.

“In the Pan warehouse there was a box marked ‘quilts.’ Inside the box were 24 quilts made by the ladies at the Mount Forest Pentecostal Church. Also at the warehouse were 24 sheets and 24 pillow cases.”

The original church in this small community was built by the existing faith community, which is currently made up of 35 families. While building the new church, the mission team worked with 84-year-old Tony, who had walked 90 minutes to the building site to help. After work, Tony walked 90 minutes home.

Ladies on the mission team invited ladies from the community to enjoy crafts, singing and sharing stories. The women sang together in Spanish and English. Children came in the afternoon for children’s time.

“We were provided with fresh mangos, bananas and pineapples each day. These fruits are grown on the hillsides and carried down the hillsides on the labourers’ backs. We had white pineapple that is grown in the soil left after a volcanic eruption,” van der Neut said.

The mission team did a community walk delivering coffee, rice and beans to those in need. A farewell community party was hosted by the team. The menu consisted of hotdogs, cake and pop.

“If we sent money and let the community build the church, we would miss the build, the friendships made and the blessings seen in creating a better way of life for these people,” van der Neut said.

“The cancer facility would not have gotten mattresses. The children would not have sang songs and done crafts. The community would have missed out on the farewell party which was a treat for them.”

She added, “It’s not easy to see what it’s like in Nicaragua. Pray and ask God to open your eyes and His ears, so that you can be His hands and His feet in building His church.”

April 13, 2018

 
 

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