Wednesday, January 5, 2011

House of Hope, Nicaragua - Part 1

Note to readers: I'm preparing to travel to Nicaragua for a week in January, to encourage and serve at House of Hope - a Christian vocational rehab for women & children escaping prostitution in the Managua area. Monday through Friday, I'll teach Bible studies (with a translator) and pray with individuals afterward. I'll also be staying "on campus" and interacting with about 60 residents (teen girls, adult women & their children). Tuesday morning, I'll share a Bible message with up to 350 women (some still on the streets) who come to House of Hope once a week to make greeting cards & jewelry as an alternative source of income. Thursday's teaching session with the residents will be followed by "soaking prayer" (restful worship in God's Presence), and Friday's session will include a wrap-up session, with time for each of us to share what we've experienced during the week.

Thank you for remembering us all in your prayers!

For more information about House of Hope (including U.S. address for tax deductible donations):

A report I wrote after my first trip to House of Hope in January 2009 is posted below. I've scheduled it to post in 4 parts - on 1/5, 1/12, 1/19 & 1/26 - while I prepare, travel, and return from this year's trip. My 1st & 2nd trips to House of Hope were also described briefly in an earlier blog about missions, "Loving My Neighbor - Part 1" posted on this site on 6/3/10. The teachings I plan to share this year include adapted versions of the "Wilderness" series, which posted on this site 11/12, 11/26, 12/3, 12/8, 12/15 & 12/26/10.
Thanks again for keeping this ministry in your prayers...

January 2009

My first trip to Nicaragua… included quite a few “firsts” for me: first time teaching all the Freedom Class material by myself in one week to people of another culture & language (I had previously taught one of eight weekly sessions as part of a team at my home church in Rockville, MD); my first time traveling to the poorest Latin American country in the world (2nd only to Haiti in our hemisphere, with approximately 40% unemployment); my first visit to House of Hope (Casa Esperanza), a Christian vocational rehabilitation center that offers both residential and day programs for women and children coming out of prostitution in the Managua area…

Staying at House of Hope for 7 nights, teaching and interacting with these women and their children on a daily basis, was also my first personal encounter with the realities of the sex trade, a worldwide issue that especially affects “the poorest of the poor” who are so vulnerable and desperate to survive.

My photos from this trip were almost exclusively portraits – for one thing, I saw very little of Managua other than the drive to & from the airport plus a couple of trips to a local coffee shop where I had lunch with April (HoH founder who has been my friend for about 14 years now) and her 17 yr old daughter Hope, & sent a quick email home when my new friends Jana & Glen (an American couple who visited HoH with short-term construction teams before moving there full-time this past October) needed to use wireless internet at the same cafĂ© on Tuesday evening. (Jana helps April with everything from hospitality to administrative tasks usually handled by temporary interns, and Glen works on various aspects of construction and facilities management while also functioning as a loving Papa to children who may have never known a father's embrace in their previous world.)

My focus on this trip was meeting and ministering to the wonderful women and children at House of Hope - their beautiful faces remind me that each one represents a precious rescue from living hell on earth & more. Some of their stories & photos are included below (I’ve given the residents fictitious names in italics, to protect their privacy)…

April's husband Mike picked me up at the airport on Sunday night (Jan 25) - Glen & April later joked that Mike likes to do the airport runs because standing in the airport A/C is the coolest place in Managua. This is the dry season, featuring most pleasant annual temps of about 90 degrees and sunny afternoons, getting down to almost 70 in the wee hours of the morning – which made me laugh when HoH girls complained that it was "mucho frio!", since I had left and came home to ice & snow in VA...

Mike warned me about the Nicaraguan roosters who can't tell time and may crow at any hour of the day or night, and drove me to HoH via the better of two deeply-eroded dirt roads that become nearly impassable in the rainy season... he also mentioned, on a more serious note, that there are 8 to 12 child brothels "that we know of" in the Managua area. I would soon meet women who had been abused and sold into prostitution as young as 6 & 7 years old, & girls aged 9 to 17 who had come off the streets in the last 2 to 30 days, many of whom have mothers and/or grandmothers still in prostitution.

I stayed in a single room with a bed, a plastic chair and a wooden table - I enjoy a simple "monastic" environment, although the tiny spiders and giant ants crowded me somewhat by the end of the week... it was fun waking up next door to Alma, Bella, Carla and her one year old daughter Dora - they got up at 4am every day for devotions with Oscar (Nicaraguan on-site director who lives in a small house on the HoH property with his wife Vilma and their children) in the "comedora" (dining hall), then sang and talked as they washed clothes by hand in the porch sinks or chopped wood for the small rustic BBQ's where they cooked rice and beans for breakfast, before moving on to other assigned work (sewing, painting, cleaning common areas on the property, preparing for Tuesday morning card-making).

To be continued on 1/12/11...

"See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven."

[Matthew 18:10 NIV]

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