The Fruits We Share

Donaji

Lately our piano students have been bringing us gifts of fruit: bananas, mangoes, and tomatoes. While we insist they aren’t necessary, we accept these delicious local gifts and the sentiments that they represent. We understand that our students and their families want to express their love and return the kindness that they recognize by giving whatever they can share. (We’re becoming very fond of mangoes fresh off the tree.)
We are here trying to do the same thing by sharing skills and training as well as our understanding of God’s plan of happiness for them. Our next door neighbors, Gerald and Angela, who are missionaries for another church, shared this experience with us: A member of their mission group was scolded by someone who said that missionaries are wasting time and money preaching about God when what people really need is a refrigerator. In defense of missionary work, here is what we concluded, from both the short term and long term perspective.
When you come to know the people and challenges of Nicaragua, you understand that people do not need refrigerators. They don’t need a refrigerator full of catsup and salad dressing, and they certainly don’t need a higher electric bill. Electricity is so high, that with air conditioning in one bedroom, our bill last month was $450.
People here eat fresh fruits and vegetables, with rice, beans, and local cheese that they buy daily in the market. We have discovered that it is impossible to store foods such as fresh fruit, rice, noodles, and flour, even in the best containers, because they quickly get bugs in this tropical climate. Milk is sold in small cardboard cartons that do not need refrigeration, and in the neighborhoods, every block has a local “pulperia” in a home that sells ice, individual eggs, and small amounts of packaged goods—for example, you can buy one aspirin in a bubble pack or two pieces of cake.
It would be impossible for us to give enough money to remedy the poverty here, though we always feel sad when we have to tell the people who ask for money that we are not here for that purpose. But we do think we can make a difference for individuals and for the Church membership as a whole by what we give.
When missionaries explain about God’s love and His laws for happy living, they transform individuals and families forever. Who wouldn’t rather have a faithful spouse, patient and loving family relations, and righteous kids than a refrigerator? In a place where we see people standing on the corners sniffing glue and lying on the streets in drunken stupors, we are grateful to be able to offer them an opportunity to become all that they can be. We believe that the greatest of all the gifts of God is eternal life through the atonement of Jesus Christ.
We teach music so that they can have a skill to share with others as well as music at home and at church. After a recent singing practice, we listened as the teenaged girls left the church humming and singing to themselves, “I walk by faith, a daughter of heavenly parents.” Over 70 students have attended piano lessons, and last week seven of them played hymns in church. When we leave Granada, the most advanced students will keep the keyboards so that they can continue to learn and to teach others.
We teach English so that they can do well in school and so that they will have an advantage in getting a job or applying to college. We show them how to use computers and help them apply to opportunities for education or service that will be life-changing for their families and for the future of this area.
We teach leadership and teacher training at church so that they will have more effective parenting skills, classroom discussions, and administrative meetings. We have found that most teaching here consists of long lectures and rote recitation, so it is a challenge to explain that learning actually occurs when students are engaged with a text or analysis of a principle and its application.
Sometimes we are discouraged, because not everyone wants input from us, and we don’t have the authority to make anyone accept our suggestions or even work with us. Change is slow, and we are working with sensitive human beings, not machines. But we are here to contribute what we can of our confidence and hope for their future. We hope that in the long run the fruit of our work will be as sweet to the people of Nicaragua as the wonderful sweet fruit they share with us.
The picture shows our determined little Hermanita D, playing from memory, a simplified hymn that we heard her practice at least a thousand times.

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8 thoughts on “The Fruits We Share

  1. What great reminders. We have so much and take the basics for granted: the basics being our family and the love we share. We’re learning about the pioneers this week and their example also reminds us of this. All is well! All is well!

  2. We said. I guess that goes with the says that it is better to teach a man to fish for a lifetime than to give him a piece of fish for a day.

    Heather

  3. That is beautiful. I always enjoy reading your updates. You are doing a great work and are helping many. Who would have thought an electic bill would be that much in such a poor country.

  4. I have first world guilt .What can we do to help the people of Nicaragua? We think of you everyday and always remember you in our prayers (even three year old Audrey)

  5. Thank you for all your dedication and service. You are such an inspiration to all of us. Keep up the good work and don’t get discouraged. God has a plan in mind for all of us. We saw a part of Mexico that was quite run down and poor but I think they are probably better off by far than those people. God Bless!

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