Backpacks 2018

Backpacks ready to be given out in Chiquilistagua

What an adventure the backpack project was this year!  For many years St Paul’s Methodist Church has sent a team every January to partner with us at the sports center and to help me pack up and hand out the backpacks. This year was the first year that a team did not come, mostly because of the change of ownership at the sports center. So the challenge for me was to figure out how to pack and deliver almost 700 backpacks and 80 preschool bags. The answer: family and friends!

 After days of reviewing report cards and then finally placing the order, the backpacks and boxes of supplies were delivered on Friday, January 19th. The next day eight gals from our neighborhood came over and spent six hours helping me sort boxes and boxes of notebooks, unzip and count all of the backpacks and unpack the school supplies. By the afternoon we were finally ready to start packing some backpacks!

   On Sunday Thomas’ family showed up. They were so efficient that I’m pretty sure we packed over 400 backpacks that afternoon and into the evening. They were having so much fun helping and were so quick that when dinner time came around I didn’t want them to leave. So Thomas and I ordered 12 boxes of pizza to feed everyone and they stayed til almost 10 o’clock that night. Everyone agreed that it should be a new family tradition. What fun!

   On Monday one of my friends and her daughter came to help since our kids had a teacher work day off of school. So Samantha, Anthony and Nicole joined in to help pack. By the end of that day I knew I was in good shape. Throughout the rest of the week my kids offered to help when they got home from school or after dinner. And Friday we finished packing up the last bags and were ready for a weekend of handing them out.

The group that helped me hand out the backpacks

   On Saturday, January 27th, two gals from my Bible study and four local adults along with four teenagers from the neighborhood came to the sports center to help me haul all of the backpacks from my house to the Ranchon where we would hand out the backpacks to the kids. We set up various tables dividing them by grade level with the hope that handing out the backpacks would go quicker.  I had printed out my lists of backpack recipients, and the various adults took charge at different tables. The line outside the sports center stretched down past the soccer field, but once we got started it moved rather quickly. By 10:30 there was no line, and we were just hanging out waiting for other kids to show up.  It was definitely the fastest I’d ever handed out the backpacks.

   All we had left were the two churches that we have sponsored with backpacks for a number of years.  Word of Life let us borrow a van, and Thomas, the kids and I went to both churches that Sunday afternoon and delivered the backpacks. It went very smoothly. By the end of the weekend, though, I was exhausted.

   Overall, the challenge of packing and delivering backpacks without the help of a team became a very memorable experience. I thoroughly enjoyed having so many different people offer to help – from the neighborhood, from Thomas’ family and from my Bible study. Most of all it was exciting to see how much these folks really enjoyed being able to help.

   Thank you St. Paul’s and everyone else who has contributed to the scholarship fund. Without your gifts these backpacks would not be possible.  Enjoy these pictures!

Summer teams

Summer vacation has come and gone, and our older three are back in school now.  We had a fun, relaxing summer which included hosting two teams at the sports center.  Our kids love it when teams are here.  Samantha always tries to learn everyone’s name within the first couple of days.  She’s an extrovert for sure!  Anthony often finds one or two people with whom he gets close and hangs out with them whenever he can. Nicole is still young but has followed in her brother’s and sister’s footsteps and enjoys hanging around with the teams.

Our first team was made up of my cousin, Elizabeth, and her son along with another mom and her son.  Elizabeth and I had not seen each other in over 20 years, so it was a great reunion with lots of catching up to do.  The two boys thoroughly enjoyed their time here, working hard in the mornings on various projects around the sports center with Halle, and then were ready to play sports with the neighborhood kids and youth or help in the pool in the afternoons.  The moms did lots of hard work around the sports center too and helped Halle and I host a neighborhood clothing sale.  Overall, it was wonderful having them here and reconnecting after all these years!

Our second team was a youth group from a church in Westfield, NY.  They came very well prepared to run an afternoon vacation Bible camp.  They even were prepared to do all of their skits in Spanish!  They worked hard in the mornings helping with various projects around the sports center.  After lunch they prepared for the afternoon activities.  They started each day of camp with games on the soccer field or in the covered basketball court.  Then we met in the Ranchon area for a skit and a teaching and a testimony.  Afterwards they had a time for crafts and ended with more group games.  They also hosted a game night and a family movie night.  Those are always very popular events for the youth and families in our neighborhood.  Overall it was a busy and fun week!

Thank you teams for all your hard work and for partnering with us in ministry!

Alesca’s story

Alesca is one of the university students in my scholarship program.   She is pictured here with her father, Felipe.  Her two sisters, Erika and Idania, were also scholarship students of mine, but in 2016 all three of them were in a tragic accident when bales of hay being carried by a large truck broke loose and rolled over them as they walked home from church one afternoon.  Erika and Idania died as a result of the injuries from the accident, but Alesca survived.  However, she still suffers from many complications from the accident of which the doctors at the public hospital told her that she would live with for the rest of her life.  When her father came and told me about the accident and that she had survived, I remember grieving with him as we stood at my gate. How much he had suffered, and yet how glad he was that one of his girls had survived.  In his words, “at least the Lord left me with one of my daughters.”  I told him then that if Alesca recovered enough to go back to college I would definitely continue helping her with a scholarship.  This February he came to tell me that she was going to try going back to college on Saturdays.  Because of her not being able to walk well, I went to visit her to figure out the best way to help her out.  She is studying at a public university which means the costs are quite low.  Before I was helping her with $100 a year for materials and transportation, but in hearing her story and how difficult it still is to walk, I realized that the best way to help her out was by providing the funds for her to take a taxi to her classes instead of riding in the overcrowded buses where she could easily be pushed around.  As we talked about this and her health issues, I came to understand that the most unfortunate result of the accident is that she no longer has the ability to urinate.  I’m not going into details here because I didn’t understand all of it myself as to how she manages, but I found it hard to believe that what the doctors said was true, that she would live this way for the rest of her life. Continue reading “Alesca’s story”

What are those kiddos up to?

I thought it would be fun to give you an update on what our children are up to these days.


Sami is nine and a half and is in third grade. So far she is definitely our most social child.  I am pretty sure she knows more people than I do.  She is full of energy and always willing to try new things.  This past month she participated in a musical at school and had a small speaking part.  She enjoys being on stage.  During the week she is very involved in the Nica Nadadores swim club and practices two to three times a week in the pool at the sports center.  Just this week she participated in a swim meet with her team.  Her favorite activities are being with her friends, swimming, gymnastics, reading, listening to music, practicing for the next talent show, and coming up with fun games to play with her brother and sisters.

Continue reading “What are those kiddos up to?”

Changes for El Salero sports center

Some of you may have heard that change is coming for the sports center. That is true.  Halle and Kathy have decided to return to Seattle, WA to be closer to their boys and their grandkids.  While this change is hard for us, we understand their desire to be closer to family.
Here we are, Halle and Kathy and myself in 2003 when they purchased the sports center property.

Continue reading “Changes for El Salero sports center”

It’s backpack time again!

 For the last eight years every January our scholarship program has organized and given out hundreds of backpacks to children and youth in Nicaragua who are continuing their education. This January was no different. Thanks to years of doing this, I am able to order all the supplies I need from a local shop at the    big Oriental market in Managua, and a week later they deliver boxes and sacks of backpacks and school supplies. All of it literally takes over our living room/dining room area for the next couple of weeks! But we don’t mind because we know how much the families who are receiving these supplies appreciate them.


Continue reading “It’s backpack time again!”