At Club Esperanza we have a fully functioning Primary Education center called Illeana’s School in partnership with our friends at Love, Light and Melody. The story of Illeana’s life, her beautiful smile and the hardships she endured leave a big impact on your heart. Our goal is not just to educate with Ileana’s School at Club Esperanza…it is bigger than that. We are a refuge of God’s love and protection for the most vulnerable. Below is a testimony about one of our students this school year…
Aracelly is 13 years old, she did not know how to read or write when she started this year in the First Grade at the Ileana school. She lives in the Villa Guadalupe neighborhood that was constructed as a refuge for families living in the dump seven years ago. She has five other siblings, her mother cares for them while her stepfather works at the recycling center that is at the entrance to the trash dump.
When she was young she missed classes very often and didn’t even attend school on some days. As a result, she did not manage to learn to read and write at the usual age. Because of this difficulty with school and the hardships of daily living she was at risk of her life becoming one of the many kids who leave school and spend their days on the streets. There are too many horrors to share about that sort of life, but Aracelly’s life did not take that turn. Praise Jesus!
She is now at Ileana’s School from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm all day. The Nicaraguan school day is only a half day but because Club Esperanza is more than just a school we are able to keep the doors open for Aracely and other’s like her for the entire day. She has teachers who love her and are taking care of her. Because of this she is already having more success with her schooling. At the beginning she came to class disheveled and she was aggressive with her classmates…adjusting to a safe school environment took a little while for her.
But, her behavior at school has improved dramatically and now she gets along and socializes well with her classmates. She is a very responsible student with her homework, she likes to attend class daily, and she even helps her younger classmates. At other schools in Nicaragua she would not be accepted into lower grades because of her age, but at Ileana’s School we are able to make exceptions to help individual students advance. Our teachers and staff are working individually with her to support her in her learning. Today Aracelly is progressing in reading and writing and she feels motivated to continue advancing, which is awesome! Her physical appearance and nutrition have improved as well….at Club Esperanza every students has a meal twice a day. The significance of that cannot be overstated. All the families we serve live paycheck to paycheck and some of them don’t even have that. God is so good to provide for his children in this awesome way!
We appreciate your help to continue supporting Aracelly to have a better future, to dream big dreams and achieve her goals. Aracelly is just one of hundreds of children coming in and out of that little white gate in front of school everyday. God is doing special things…we love to be doing it together with you all!
Thank you for your prayers! Thank you for your financial support!
Our hearts are broken to pass on this news. Santos who has been part of our lives here for over two decades died last week from Covid. We are really devastated and honestly still trying to grasp the reality of what happened so suddenly and so shockingly. Please pray for his family. This is a very very hard time, it is unimaginable. We want to take some time to memorialize Santos…
If you ever came to work with Open Hearts Ministries, you definitely saw Santos around. He was Mr. Buzbee’s main guy and oversaw pretty much everything. If you had the chance to meet Santos, you almost 100% walked away laughing whether you spoke Spanish or not. He was just that kind of character. He would stick a nick-name on you, tap you on the shoulder and walk away, toss a lime at you from across the way and blame it on a 6 year old standing next to him. Ah man, I remember in the early days here at Quinta Havilah, we used to have wars with all the fruit. Santos was left handed and could hit a guy running full speed at thirty yards with a line drive to the side of the head. I can still see the fruit exploding now. We had so much fun together back then. Santos watched all of Krista’s younger siblings grow up their entire lives and was like the always present Tio for them. He was here for the birth of all of our children.
Santos’ hand print is on every building here at Quinta Havilah. He started with Mr. Buzbee when there was nothing on this land. There are lots and lots of memories of building with friends who visited and with construction crews. Santos was a work horse, a man’s man, his hands were tools. We built over 50 homes together here in Nicaragua. I can distinctly remember him not having a trowel and just using his hand to throw mud and lay the concrete for bricks. This is gonna sound crazy but I saw him nail in a nail with his hand once, no joke! It must have been a rotten piece of wood or something, but he knocked that nail right through and my eyes got really big and he laughed at me. Many people were blessed by his hard work and his strong hands.
Santos always answered his phone and always came whenever we called. It didn’t matter if it was the middle of the night, on the weekend or the holidays. If a water pipe blew up, or the well stopped working, or the power was out again because a squirrel blew up the transformer…Santos would come. He would call the right guys and things would get fixed. That was a constant refrain around here…. “Call Santos”.
It doesn’t feel real, and tears are falling as I try to type. We will remember Santos always for the fun guy he was, for the good he did, and for the ways he helped us. Jesus’ promises of eternal life don’t alway hit home when you are going through the normal ins and outs of life. But when tragedy happens, oh our souls cling to the promises of Jesus. Santos is resting in paradise next to his Savior who invited him in just as he is. Our hearts will hurt for a long time. We will remember the good times. Rest in Peace Don Santos.
As hard as this is for our families, we know it is 1000% harder for Santos’ family. He leaves behind his wife Patricia, his sons Santito and Moises, and his grand children. His younger son is in 10th grade and as you can imagine this is incredibly hard for him. Patricia was telling me how his grandson would always wait for him because he was the one that gave them cookies and lolipops. Patricia and Santos built a life together for over 25 years. The void and loss they are feeling is so incredibly hard….Please pray for them.
Santos was the sole provider for his family. We want to honor him by helping his family. He was so proud of what a good student Moises is, so we want to help see them through without having to change schools because of finances. We want to support Patricia as she tries to settle in to a new life without Santos. We just want to be there for them. Many of you have asked for ways you can help his family…thank you!
If you would like to donate to their family we know it will be a huge help in the hardest of times. You can write a check by clicking here, use paypal button or the NCF button below.
I was in a great conversation yesterday with one of our long time teachers about where the Lord has taken us at Club Esperanza and how much history we have together all the way back to the days inside the dump. It was so encouraging reflecting on all the good things the Lord has done, but then I asked how the new neighborhood where all the families from La Chureca were moved to was doing. She does some tutoring at one of the homes about ten blocks away. Wow, there is still so much darkness. We are on the main road, we operate during the day and Club Esperanza is a place where the light of Christ shines and darkness is getting pushed further and further away, so we don’t always see the visual evidence of the darkness.
She continued to tell me how only last month a few full blocks were incredibly intense because there was a dispute among some young men that led to one being killed. There was accusations of drugs and a turf war type of thing. Apparently the wrong person was killed by whichever evil person was resorting to deadly violence. That led to family of that person seeking revenge, which led to a week of violence and gunfire and another death. Incredibly scary stuff and real darkness.
I don’t know if any of you have ever seen the movie “Lean on Me” in the late 80s. Morgan Freeman’s character Crazy Joe takes over a High School that was overrun with drugs and violence and cleans it up. That movie impacted me and little scenes from it always come to my mind…sometimes I even sing the “Fair East side” tune which was the school alma mater (watch the clip here it is awesome). I loved how the movie portrayed the darkness of drugs and violence and laziness and settling for the same old cycle of poverty and crime was being defeated by adults who cared enough about the kids to make a difference in their lives.
So, as I left Club Esperanza reflecting in prayer on the difficulties and hardship that surrounds us, the Lord gave me this picture of two of our students waiting outside for afternoon classes to start….
Right out in front of our school, on a street that has plenty of darkness…two of our elementary school students were playing chess. I watched them for a minute thinking to myself they can’t possibly know the rules. But they did and it was fun to watch her take his knight with her pawn. I asked them how they knew the game of chess and they told me Teacher Eber taught them how to play after school. How awesome is that? It is something simple, but it brings tears to my eyes because something so simple as a game of chess can certainly have the power to change entire generations.
Jesus has not just planted Club Esperanza in this neighborhood to keep children safe, to keep them healthy with a meal every day, not just to give them a good education. Jesus is growing up a generation of children who hunger for knowledge and new things that will challenge their minds, change their view of the world, and deliver them from dark places. Our third graders play chess in the streets….and I love that!
“In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.“ -The Gospel of John 1:4-5
Thank you for your continued prayers and support for Club Cristiana La Esperanza,
Wow we just had the best time traveling home for the summer! We got back to Nicaragua a couple weeks ago and have hit the ground running. But wanted to take a little bit of blog space to share pictures and some of the fun we had. When we made these plans to travel in the summer time we realized something. We have not been home during the summer since our kids were born…none of them have every experienced summer in America! Can you believe that? Time passes fast!
We are so very thankful to our friends and family and our church who support us. You all make trips like this possible for our family…we get to do things we never would have imagined because of your love and support for us. Opening your homes, taking us places, sending our kids to camp, sitting with us and letting us pour out our highs and lows…we are very very very blessed by all of you! When we make a decision to follow the Lord into this type of life living by faith, there is so much unknown. The Lord uses you to encourage us in hundreds of ways!
We won’t get every story and every picture in here…heck sometimes we didn’t even take pictures. But we did take alot of them! Thank you for an awesome recharge of our batteries…
What is so special about going home is to be able to see our family. That is the hardest part about living overseas. We are far away from people we love. So, when we are home we take as much advantage of that as we can. It started with a full week of cousin time in Miami with the McDonalds and Rahals (and we have a new nephew baby Levi…who is a beautiful miracle!). Mema’s house is the favorite place of all time! We visited Grandpa and Gramma Losi in Jersey. The Barbers and Murrays in North Caronlina was more fun Cousin time!!! We met the Rahals at Mema’s cabin, saw Aunt Grammie and Uncle Lion, stopped by to see Gramma Pat and got to see Pop Pop’s new place and his river!Read More
As Hurricane season is just around the corner I know many of our friends and family back home in Florida will be getting ready as we do every year. You may remember that last Hurricane season Nicaragua was struck by two Category Four Hurricanes back to back in the same community of Puerto Cabezas.
We mobilized with a group of other missionaries and friends here in Managua and went to work. We wrote about some of our efforts in immediate relief and in the recovery here on our blog. There was so much severe devastation and the scenes were tragic, but the Lord is good and the people were not left to suffer on their own. Thank you for your generous help in that! We have made a huge impact together. Today we want to share about some of the continued work that is going on….it was such a massive destructive event and even 10 months later there is still much to be done.
We want to send a special thank you to our home church, Christ Journey Church in Miami. They have been a great support in this relief effort. When the word went out that we would start building homes in Wawa Bar and Hallover, our church immediately stepped up. These two communities on the coast of Puerto Cabezas were nearly entirely destroyed. Hundreds of houses gone in one night. Little by little we are part of a large effort to bebuild. Early in the summer, we had a team in Wawa Bar building two new homes.
After those two homes were built we joined in helping Verbo Church with the efforts to build six more homes. The houses were funded but there was an unanticipated need to transport materials. There are many many complicating factors in getting this work done, but God is with us! It is a several hour long boat ride to each community, so that makes transporting materials costly and laborious. If you forget a tool, you are in trouble and you just have to make do. There is no safe drinking water yet in the communities and there is no electricity, so all of those things need to be brought in. With all of that said, it is happening….people are receiving new homes! Just last week we bagan construction on three more homes…Praise the Lord!!!Read More
Isandra is a part of our “Juntos Para Una Inclusion” program at Club Esperanza. She is from a wonderful family that lives in a neighborhood surrounding the Managua Municipal Dump (formerly La Chureca). Her parents Daniel and Mercedes have actually been the family responsible for keeping Miss Ruby’s home and the Prayer Upper Room in good order for the last three years. Isandra is one of their five daughters.
We got a pretty scary call from Daniel telling us that Isandra was severely ill with abdominal pain and a fever. On their first visit to the clinic they were told she would be fine. But, as her parents, Daniel and Mercedes knew something was wrong. They went to the hospital and Isandra was taken in for emergency surgery for a ruptured Appendix! Appendicitis can be life threatening in cases where it ruptures. Daniel asked us to prayer and we passed on word to all of you through social media. Wow their family was so deeply touched by all of your prayers!
Daniel even reflected with me when I visited him while Isandra was in recovery. He said over the last few years his wife and one of his other daughters had been hospitalized and they just sort of felt like they were in a desert by themselves. But with Isandra just by happenstance of seeing us recently and reaching out for prayer there was such a movement of people who hit their knees…and he said he could feel it! They didn’t feel alone. He went on to say with tears in his eyes how he thinks Isandra is special, how the grace of God seems to settle on some in powerful ways. As he was crying Daniel said Isandra has a special anointing of God’s grace on her life.
We say amen to that! Here is a special video from Daniel and Isandra….
Isandra’s Story is Amazing! Praise the Lord! Daniel told me as they left the hospital after only five days, there were two others in the Intensive Care that had been there for a long time after surgery for ruptured appendices…one for over 20 days and another for over a month. Wow! So encouraging how the Lord brought Isandra back to health so quickly! And also an encouragement for all of us to pray for those other two people as well….amen amen amen!Read More
Hello Hello Hello to all of our family and friends! We have been moving and shaking and living life down here in Nicaragua over the last few months….but I have been a poor updater and newsletter writer. But alas today I thought I would do a fun long blog of pictures and happenings with our family and ministry. We are so very thankful that you cover us in your prayers, it has been a difficult last few years in Nicaragua. And we really appreciate your financial support to all God is doing here!
We appreciate you!….Chris, Krista, Aliyah, Mason, Isabella & Juliette
We recently received a large shipment of Bibles donated by our friend Pastor Mike Booth at Calvary Chapel Managua. Among the Nicaraguan population in general there is a real desire for God’s Word, and almost as often as we are asked for help with a monetary need, we are also asked if we happen to have a Bible. Praise God for that, and praise God for this donation of over 1,000 Bibles. Daniel (pictured) has become the caretaker for Ruby’s Prayer House and is an awesome man of God. He spends his days when he isn’t able to find work sharing the Gospel on street corners and markets in Managua. He went through an entire box of Bibles the first few days. We are asking the Lord to bless these Bibles and use them to bring people into a place of having a personal relationship with Jesus!Read More
UPDATE: We wanted to make sure and share an update on Connie and her new wheelchair! When I saw her mom Teresa she was overwhelmed and said thank you a million times…I told her how we decided to put the word out and what a great response we had! I told her any other need she had you all have got it covered. (Which you do because you all are awesome…thank you!). We will use any extra funds to help any other needs that come up for the “Juntos Para Una Inclusion” program…Teresa was also excited to know that!
The chair was completely custom made so it took a couple weeks but just yesterday Teresa sent some photos of Connie in her new chair…..PRAISE THE LORD! Thank ya’ll!!!
One of our alumni of our preschool and a very sweet little girl has a need that we want to make happen for her. Connie’s mom who lives in the neighborhood and actually started working with us at Club Esperanza left a card for Chachi today asking for a loan. Connie has some special needs that make life challenging for her. Her mom is asking for a loan to get her a new specialized wheelchair that will better suit her specific needs. She asked for a loan for $600 to be able to buy the chair. Instead of a loan, we are going to buy the chair for Connie and bless their family! If you would like to help that would be awesome! Praise God for Connie’s life and praise God for her mother that loves her and does all she can for her. Amen….
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” -Matthew 19:14
We had the best bus for so many years of serving the Lord here in Nicaragua and today she went on to a new home. There are many many many memories of serving the Lord in this old Alachua County School District School Bus! Many friends commemorated their trips to Nicaragua by signing the roof…so there is huge sentimental value to us all!
But God is so good and during a time that we have not been using the bus very much at all, Mr. Buzbee started to feel led by the Lord to give the bus away. Around the same time our long time friends Edgard and Judith had found themselves in need of a way to transport people with their new church and ministry that has been growing over the past few years. They are an awesome couple and family and are doing great Jesus things here in Nicaragua. So our Ol’ Glorious bus has found a new home…Praise The Lord!Read More
We have built the first of what we hope to be dozens of homes working towards rebuilding the Miskito Indigenous communities devastated by Hurricanes ETA and IOTA last year. It was an amazing trip and so beautiful to be a part of God’s people coming to the aid of those in need. “When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.” ~ Romans 12:13
Out of the ashes hope will rise! This was the scene as we approached the construction site. It was quite the contradiction to see something new and beautiful rising from so much destruction. It was a huge blessing to give Alberto’s family a new home! More on this story below…but first, would you consider donating to build another home? Little by little we can make a huge difference in rebuilding these communities!
The cost to build a home is $8000
The picture above is of Alberto, his wife Fatima and part of their family after we dedicated their new home to them with a time of prayer and blessing. On our first trip to Wawa Bar after Hurricane ETA and as Hurricane IOTA was arriving our friend Todd Ohran found Alberto sitting on the front porch of what was left of his home. He was crying. We spent the rest of our time with Alberto gathered around him and listening to the story of the beautiful house he had, the little store they had built on the front of the house, how this store was what allowed him to provide for his family which included his children and grandchildren. They all lived together there. The entire front of his house where the store was had been torn off. Alberto was sitting on the slumped over remains of the back portion of his house. It was sooooo hard to see. I remember having Mason with us that trip, that was the only time I saw tears come into his eyes. We had seen lots of destruction. But, to sit with a grown man who couldn’t hold back the emotions was a hard moment. We prayed together as we left and I remember Todd telling Alberto that we won’t forget about him. As we left, the evacuations were starting because Hurricane Iota was approaching. This was the hardest part about remembering that day. Hurricane Iota took what was left of Alberto’s house…it was devastating!Read More