Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Public Witnessing


Again, apologies for not writing in a while. I know I sound like a broken record, but everything has been insanely busy lately - in a good way, of course! The ministry, for one thing, has been very productive lately. One thing that has made it especially more productive is that the branch has organized the metropolitan witnessing initiative here in Chinandega!

We were first notified about this a couple of months ago. All regular pioneers in our circuit were invited to apply and participate. After all the applications were filed, we had a meeting with all the pioneers in the circuit who would be participating to go over how it would be done. Our circuit overseer made it clear to us that the purpose of this is not to simply hand out literature, but to start Bible studies! With that goal in mind, everything officially started up in January.

Me with Grethel, a sister in our circuit, covering the exhibit in the mercadito, a little market and bus terminal.

We have three exhibits on display in highly populated areas of Chinandega - one in the downtown market, one in the mercadito, and another in el bisne, a huge section of town full of little shops and businesses.

Roberto manning the exhibit in the downtown market.

We cover the exhibits in three-hour shifts: 8 AM to 11 AM, 11 AM to 2 PM, and 2 PM to 5 PM. Each pioneer marked down which days and times they would be able to participate, so everybody has been able to have a share.

As far as how many people stop and talk, it varies each day. Some days, we barely have any time to take a breath, and others, hardly anyone stops at all! However, from what I've done and from what I've heard, usually about ten books and ten magazines are placed during each three-hour shift, on average. Very nice to see! 

Manuel, a brother from Corinto, and I covering the display in the downtown market.

We've definitely had some nice experiences so far! I think I've started about three or four studies in total. After talking to a man who requested a study, I began writing down his contact information - which we then pass onto whichever congregation covers that territory. When I asked him what time in the morning would be best to visit him, he told me, "Any time. I always have time for discussing and learning more about the Bible. It's the best thing I could be doing!"

My friend Makeda was working the mercadito display, and one man approached them saying that he used to study, but was unable to continue due to various circumstances. After seeing the exhibit, however, he requested that someone start studying with him again!

A man reading a Good News brochure that he grabbed from the display today.

One thing that has surprised me is the overwhelming number of people who have requested the Young People Ask books. I think I've placed more of those than the Bible Teach book! I've had a lot of good conversations with kids and adults about those books. It makes sense that it would be successful here. Many kids here are kind of let on the loose, in a way, so it's no wonder that they're seeking that guidance. A lot of parents have said that they love it as well.

My preaching partner, William, speaking to a man who is currently studying. He came by today to pick up the new magazines for this month. He already has a copy of the Young People Ask: Volume 2 book. He said that he absolutely loves it and that it has helped his family a lot. Actually he said that it is "super bueno!"

A triciclo driver who asked for a magazine and then requested that we take his photo!

This has been a very refreshing form of witnessing. You can tell that the preaching work is really being sped up, and this helps you to feel even more at the forefront of that work. It's been a great privilege to participate in it, and it is certainly being blessed!

Hope you all are well. 

Take care,


Tuesday, January 7, 2014



I apologize for the delay. Life has been hectic as usual! I don't have too much to report at the moment, but (at the suggestion of my brother) I thought I'd write a little bit about something truly fascinating in Nicaragua: transportation.

If you have ever been to Central America, then you likely already know what I'm talking about. There are so many different ways of getting from here to there, and I know I'll get a lot of backlash from my local Nicaraguan friends for saying this, but here it is: they are very reckless drivers! I cannot tell you how many times I've gotten into a vehicle and thought that it might be the last time I ever did. They've recently installed multiple traffic lights throughout the city, which has caused quite a controversy among the drivers here, making some of them even more prone to road rage! But hey, at the same time, there are crazy drivers everywhere in the world, and that's just how the culture is here. 

Still, there's something to be said about the different modes of transportation in Nicaragua. While they may at times be dangerous and unpredictable, they certainly will take you on a mini-adventure. Let's just go over some of the different ways of getting from point A to point B, starting with the most basic:

1) The bicycle
Yes, nothing too special, I know. The bicycle is ideal for a single person who needs a good solid mode of transportation.

If you're a family of three living in Nicaragua, however, the same can easily be said of you, too! 
Not an uncommon sight at all here. The most people I've seen on one bike is six!

2) The triciclo (the tricycle) 
Triciclos are very common in Chinandega. A little cheaper than taxis, they are three-wheeled bikes commandeered by men who are considered to be the most reckless drivers in all the country. Generally, they don't show much consideration for others on the road, but it can be a fun ride once in a while! Even so, taxi drivers have nothing good to say about triciclo drivers.

3) The horse and buggy
This is used by many farm owners for transporting goods.

4) The motorcycle 
Motorcycles are used by many people in the city, including brothers. They can be ideal for going long distances, especially for getting to a place like Ojo!

5) The tuk tuk
I've shown you these before. They're pretty cool-looking three-wheelers!

6) The taxi
Chinandega is littered with taxis, although they aren't the kind that you're picturing. Here, they look just like normal cars.
A typical taxi in Chinandega.

There are literally hundreds of taxis all throughout Chinandega, so they're easily accessible if you're in a hurry. But keep your wits about you - they love trying to rip off white people!

7) The truck bus
That's not the official name for it, but it's the only way I can think of to describe this kind of public transport. If you look closely, you can see a lot of people crammed in the back!

8) The city bus
These medium-sized buses transport people to different neighborhoods throughout the city. They're actually pretty comfortable!

9) The microbus
Okay, technically it's not a bus, but these things are pretty reliable. They go to many cities throughout the country, including Managua, which is about three hours away. They may be a little cramped for space, but they're generally comfortable and don't make a lot of stops.

10) The chicken bus
This is what Central America is known for. They are retired school buses, many from the States (my buddy Sage and I once saw a bus from his old school district in Maine!), that have been transformed for public transportation down here. The name "chicken bus" comes from the fact that they pack as many people as they possibly can onto these buses, much like a truck full of chickens. Usually, they are more decorated with various colors as well. If you want a true Nicaraguan experience, then you'll get it when you take a chicken bus. Just be prepared to stand, have no personal space, and to smell odors you'll never want to smell again!

11) The express bus
Although these buses may be hard to come by, they provide you with the most comfortable ride.

As for me, I've found a solution to my transportation issue: I bought a new scooter!
It's technically not new, but definitely an answer to my prayers. My mechanic was unable to find the part we needed, and no other mechanics in the state had it. He then informed me that a friend of his was selling their bike if I was interested. After test driving it and thinking about it for a while, I decided to take it! It was definitely a good investment. It's not without its quirks - it has no back brake, left-hand mirror, and no speedometer. I'll need to get new tires for it soon, but for now, it has served me well!

Although they can be terrifying and life-threatening at times, the different forms of transportation down here are what make Nicaragua, well, Nicaragua! You may be dumbfounded by it, but the best thing you can do is just sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride...and wear your seatbelt.

Hope you all are well and having a good start to the new year.

Talk soon,