A faith-building mission tradition continued for young members of the New Life Church this summer. Work projects and mixing with the mountain people of Nicaragua was a sweaty, inspirational journey for the group.
This is the sixth youth mission trip out of New Life Church for members 15 years and older that connects with World Harvest Ministries International. Deb Ulm and Jon Steinbrecher are organizers, and parent Kristi McCoy was the adult volunteer for the July 1-16 journey.
“I’ve been going to Nicaragua for 16 years, along with other places for short-term mission trips,” Ulm said. “Very good friends of mine are missionaries in Nicaragua, and they run this Bible college in Somoto. So our mission is to go there to help them.”
New Life youth participating in the 2014 trip were Storm Heyer, Noah Swanson, Tate Nelson, Nick Wolbert, Joey McCoy, Taylor Nelson, Holly McCoy, Sarah Forker, Stephanie Gillson, Sami Mitchell, Kortney Carlson, Chloe Miller, Emily Leis, Paige Quaintance and Alicia Wolbert.
Rounding up the mission group each year begins by getting the word out in December and then an informational meeting is held in January. Commitments are locked in February. Meetings are held each Sunday for further preparation.
“On the trip, we do a kids church service. So at those meetings, we get our ideas for the service and write our curriculum. We learn songs, go over cultural areas and do a devotional Bible curriculum just to get them more prepared,” Ulm said. “So it takes a while. And there’s a lot of fundraising. Included in that is a coffee shop at the church where all the tips go toward the projects.”
the jungle hills
Somoto is nestled in the mountains of Nicaragua, a four-hour flatbed truck ride from Managua, the capital city.
This year’s big project was help building a log-frame church. Uniform trees were cut and lugged over steep hills, and holes were dug for placing the poles. The ceiling was cut lumber with a sheet-metal roof on top. Wood-slat siding to the church will eventually be added.
“All the guys got their hands on the church building. It’s a different culture there,” laughed Ulm, “so ladies aren’t typically digging holes and carrying heavy things.”
Another project completed was painting the exterior of a preschool building on the campus, along with scrubbing and cleaning up the grounds. The World Harvest campus is a two-year training center for young adults, so the Princeton tribe also learns from those budding missionaries.
“Every night there’s activities taking place on the campus. So our kids get to be involved with that. For example, Wednesday nights they have what they call ‘life groups.’ They are actually little house churches, so our kids split up into these different neighborhoods to take part in those services,” Ulm continued. “Up there, the people don’t have cars and are traveling on foot, so the neighborhood churches work better for them.”
Ulm sees deep lessons learned with each mission trip to Central America.
“It’s a super-powerful experience for the youth to go down there. We have lots of kids who continue to go every year– some have made five of the six years New Life has been doing the trips,” she said. “I think the first time they go, it kind of opens their eyes to the big picture that this whole ‘me’ thing isn’t very important. There are other people that are a lot worse off than we are, and that’s a major heart change for the kids.
“They get it. They get it that it’s not all about what you’ve got for yourself, but it’s about other people and always thinking about them before yourself.”
Summer 2015 will hold another mission trip for the New Life team.
“There’s always new areas that the World Harvest Ministries try to reach. There’s some pretty rural areas up in the mountains,” Ulm said. “One of the those cities is called Santiago, which we explored this year. You drive until you can’t drive anymore, then you hike another hour – crossing the river three times before you get there. That’s the next place they want to build a church.”
Photos courtesy of Deb Ulm & Jon Steinbrecher
New Life1 and New Life2.jpgs: Left) This is the church framing the New Life mission group helped to build in Sector 28. “This really blew some of the kids away when they found out this church was built for about $650,” said coordinator Deb Ulm.
Below) This is the preschool in Santa Rosa the New Life crew painted the exterior and cleaned up the grounds.
New Life3.jpg: Children who came to the church service at the house meeting in Sandiego who met with the Princeton youth.
New Life4.jpg: The group’s visit to the Maternity House where women come a few weeks before giving birth to learn proper care and nutrition. “We gave them foot massages, braided their hair and painted their nails. We also gave the pack with diapers and baby clothes and a blanket,” said Deb Ulm.