YEAR IN REVIEW!
JANUARY THROUGH JUNE… Full time language school in Costa Rica
APRIL… Visited Nica to find a house to rent First time Lily, Oliva and Joseph were in the country!
JUNE… Finished language school in Costa Rica Moved to Nicaragua from Costa Rica in a 25 passenger van. The driver pulled most of the seats out , we stuffed it to the brim and made the 12 hour journey successfully!
JULY… Purchased beds for the bunkhouses from another ministry Began visiting church plants to see where the Lord would have us to serve
AUGUST… Assisted our team mate, Traci, with her medical team. It was a wonderful experience for our whole family. The kids even got to play nurse! Kids began school at NCA – Nicaragua Christian Academy
SEPTEMBER… Watched as the Lord provided the funds necessary to purchase a 15-passenger van Chad suffered injury from walking into a glass door and is now fully recovered. Praise the Lord! Chad’s mom came for an almost 2-week visit, which was a total surprise for our kids… because Chad had had the accident! (Oh, is THAT how we get visitors?) We all LOVED having our first visitor and it meant a great deal to us that Doreen was willing to travel by herself to a foreign country! Doreen brought with her a bunch of cards, candy, toys and gifts from people back home! This was a major highlight! We hosted our new Regional Directors for a couple nights as they came to visit our team here on the field.
OCTOBER… Hosted a missionary family of 5 from Costa Rica for 2 weeks as they served in a conference here in Nicaragua Had sweet friends, Joe & Lori Hunt and their 3 boys, visit us from Pennsylvania. Went zipling, visited different ministries, went to the volcano, all got food poisoning and had a GREAT time! Our son, Wesley, and his wife came to visit for almost 2 weeks from their ministry in Alaska and we had a great time showing them around our new home and the beautiful country of Nicaragua! They flew into Liberia, Costa Rica because it was 4 times cheaper, so we made the three and a half hour journey to pick them up and take them back and endured all that the “border” had to offer! If we ever have the opportunity to sit and chat, make sure you hear the story of THAT adventure!
NOVEMBER… Celebrated Thanksgiving… Chad organized a game of American football over at the kids school and then we hosted our ABWE team in our home for a wonderful meal. November 18th, we submitted all our paperwork for our residency after a perilous time of getting all the documents from the States. We are so grateful for our daughter and friends who helped make all that possible.
DECEMBER… We hosted the church of Cristo Es El Camino here in our house for a morning service, a meal and had a celebration to honor the Pastor and his wife’s 12th wedding anniversary. There were 72 people in all and it was one of our most favorite days being here in Nicaragua! There was music, food, swimming and so much fun! The house was a complete mess and it was a fantastic day! Celebrated our first Christmas in Nicaragua and the Lord was very good to us. We were able to have many of the foods that we traditionally enjoy and spent the day talking to our kids and families in the states and then joined some fellow missionaries for an afternoon of food and games. Attended our churches New Year’s Eve celebration. They had a message, music a “cafecito”, coffee and a little pastry, another message, and more special music. At midnight the community erupted with tons of fireworks and we all sat down to a full course meal of rice, beans and a choice of pork, chicken or beef. We arrived back home around 2am. It was an amazingly memorable night and we will cherish our first New Year in Nicaragua! December 30th we RECEIVED RESIDENCY!!! Praise the Lord! We were told that it could take up to a year or longer for this process and it only took 6 weeks! What a surprise!
LOOKING FORWARD We are so excited as we look forward to this coming year! We have watched as the Lord has opened doors for us to develop relationships with nationals and opened the lines of communication to better understand just how we can help walk alongside them in ministering to their own people.
Our communication, with you all back home, has been minimal outside of our Facebook posts simply for the lack of time that we have had for office work. Our goal was to land here in Nicaragua in June, get our family settled into our new home, get the kids in school, begin to develop relationships within local churches, buy vehicles and all our household needs and be ready to start working full time with a National Pastor at the beginning of January. It has been a journey, with some not so fun details, just check out our FB posts for the blood, sweat and tears sagas, but we are really excited about where we are today in our readiness to serve here!
SO, WHAT’S GOING ON? ------------------------------------------------------------------------- Iglesia Bautista Cristo Es El Camino
We are working with a National Pastor and his wife, Pastor Lester and Isabel, to assist them in developing Biblical training in their church and promote church growth through evangelistic sports outreach. We will begin using the Good Soil material produced by ABWE in classes beginning February 2nd. We are training leaders within the church at this time to lead their groups through the Story of Hope, an evangelistic, Bible teaching tool that is part of Good Soil. We will teach alongside them Sunday mornings. One man, in this church, is now participating in our ministry’s ICP, Institute for Church Planters, with the purpose of planting a church in a nearby community.
* Provide the church with the basic necessities for setting up functional classroom areas. Last year the church raised money and in December they purchased a table and 6 small chairs for the toddler area.
* Raise funds to cover the cost of purchasing tables, whiteboards, chairs, scissors, crayons and other materials needed. We are currently gathering information to put together a cost analysis. * Teach through the Story of Hope while developing leaders who will be equipped to lead others. * Host evangelistic sports outreaches and develop relationships with those that have asked to know more about God’s Word. * Evaluate the prospect of constructing a church building. * Begin developing relationships in the community in which the church desires to plant another church. -
Rayitos Feeding Ministry/ Iglesia Bautista Sendero de Luz We will be working alongside National Pastor, Pastor Valeriano, teaching the Story of Hope one day a week to a divided group of men and women. Pastor Valeriano has begun a sewing ministry in his church of Iglesia Bautista Sendero de Luz. They currently have 11 sewing machines and two national women teaching a group of women.
There are hopes to purchase a property across the street to develop this location into a storefront where the items that are produced would then be sold to assist those participating and also to fund the continuing ministry of vocational training.
Pastor Valeriano has the desire to open a feeding ministry in a very poor community down by the lake. Our family has visited this site and has been praying over this area. There is a family that has already come forward that is willing to live on the property and to do the cooking. We are very excited about this opportunity and are anxious to see what the Lord will do with this.
* Teach through the Story of Hope at Rayitos, while developing leaders who will then be equipped to lead others through the material. * Raise $1,200 to fund the sewing ministry with supplies for this year. * Continue to pray over the community in which Valeriano would like to open the feeding ministry and for the family that desires to serve there.
There is a great deal going on in our lives! All the day to day stuff has us in its clutches just like it does all of you! We know your time is valuable and we treasure your prayers and the time you give to loving our family from afar! You mean so much to us! Every gift, message, email, and phone call are little gusts of wind that keep us going! We hope that we are an encouragement to you as you are to us! Our goal is to keep you up all up to date with what we have going on here! We have been drowning in the unpacking, settling and developing of relationships, but the Lord has been SO amazingly good to us through it all! We have stayed afloat and feel like we have now climbed into the boat and have at least one paddle!
We pray that the Lord is using his word and his presence to make you more like His son every day! A question that we have been asked many times here…. “WHAT are you doing here?” Boy, this was a question that made us pause. Seems simple. What should our response be? We will share more with you about this another time.
All our love and abundant blessings to you our dear friends and family, Serving while waiting,
Chad & Rachel Strong
2 Corinthians 5:20 “Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.”