PH United Methodist Mission Team gets joy from sharing love with their new friends in Nicaragua
By BETTY BEASON
Times Staff Writer ...“After talking with Pastor Dave Owsley about his trip to Nicaragua and the needs of the people, we started planning ways we could help these people,” said Denise Ingels, Mission Team Leader for the Pleasant Hill United Methodist Church. ...Denise has been involved with many mission-related projects through her church work and services she has taken upon herself to help others. ...Through Bible school collections and donations from members of the church, PHUMC raised enough money to buy supplies to build two homes and to provide scholarships for six students for one year. ...Pastor Dave talked about the extreme poverty in Nicaragua and told how Pleasant Hill could be involved with helping them. “We asked for interested persons to make the trip to Nicaragua from January 25 - 30, 2016,” Denise said. Seven volunteers signed on for the “not-your- ordinary” mission trip to Nicaragua. Jim Niebaum, R. C. Ebert, Richard Ingels, Chuck Fulton and Lisa Conrad joined Pastor Dave and Denise for the trip. ...Details of the trip were coordinated under the guidance of Rainbow Network, based in Springfield. ...Pastor Dave is familiar with the work being done through the Rainbow Network, which is interdenomination, getting their financial support from 17 denominations, including Catholic and Protestant. ...They are teaching the Nicaraguans how to use committees to organize projects that will improve the lifestyle within their community. They teach those selected “leaders” to be motivators within their village to encourage their friends and neighbors to work for a better life style. ...Upon arrival of the team, residents of the village of La Quesera welcomed their visitors from Pleasant Hill. Pastor Dave told the natives the Pleasant Hill team had come to help them get started on the construction of the new homes. ...The Rainbow Network operates on the principle of “giving a hand-up; not a hand-out.” They want the residents to become self-sufficient and to have pride in what they can accomplish. ...Through Rainbow Network, the residents can own a simple block home with a metal roof for a cost of a little more than $4400. Rainbow Network loans them the money, They sign a mortgage which will be repaid, interest-free over a 25 year period. Many of the homeowners also have a small business loan, which allows them to earn revenue to repay their loan. Many of the men have jobs in the nearby cities to support their families. ...The building crew includes the homeowner and villagers who help mix the concrete. Water is carried from the community well which was supplied by the Rotary Club. ...These simple block one-room homes replace their crude mud and stick huts. They are proud to move their families into the “much improved home.” ...R. C. Ebert said he had never been to Nicaragua and was interested in learning about the people and the country. He was wanted to see how mission funds are used. ...“Since I am a veterinarian, I was interested in learning about the care and use of their animals,” he said. With the help of a translator, R. C. “looked at” their animals, but it was disheartening that he was limited to basic medical treatment for the animals. ...On the positive note, he enjoyed the village people’s enthusiasm and joy of welcoming their visitors. Regardless of age, they loved dancing and performing for the mission team. ...During the time in Nicaragua, members of the team visited the schools and distributed school supplies they had brought with them. School children are served meals of rice and beans with a protein supplement. ...Every two weeks the schools are transformed into a medical clinic, and doctors come to “see patients.” ...Rainbow Network is genuinely interested in helping the Nicaraguans, the most desperately poor people in this hemisphere, learn how to improve their communities and have pride in their accomplishments. ...Definitely a slow process, but visitors to their country see that the residents do have pride in their simple possessions, and they love performing to show their appreciation for those who are helping them.