Archive for the ‘Student Ministry’ Category

It’s been about a month since we returned from our mission to Nicaragua and we are continuing to celebrate the work that God did in and through our team.  We’ve received pictures of the completion of one of our construction projects that our team started and funded.  And even though we weren’t able to be there to see it completed, we rejoice that we were able to play a small part in the work.  It’s awesome to me to see how team after team works together to complete the larger vision and also labor together for the Kingdom.

In my own heart and those of the members of the team, we are still processing and living out of the blessing, growth and community that we experienced while serving.  It has been awesome for me to see God bring such unity to a group on mission that it has continued on even upon their return.  We continue to pray that God would be faithful to bring to completion the work that He began in us (Philippians 1:6).

Thanks again for your support.  Please check out my recap of this year’s mission below!

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If we were hoping to have a morning to sleep in, well… that morning never came! We were up and at it at regular time and had to be packed and ready to go for the day. We loaded all our luggage and ourselves and headed out on the bus for the last time in Nicaragua. It was a tough goodbye as it always is. But the mood changed from sadness to terror as Santos threw an iguana into the back of the bus!

After our goodbyes, we added Katie Pullen to our team to head to Los Brasiles. Katie is a former Wildwood student and former alumni of our Mission Nicaragua teams. In fact, it was through our teams work in Nica that the Lord grabbed a hold of Katie’s heart and she has now moved down to Nicaragua to follow Him in full-time mission work.

Katie gave us the tour of the ministry center and the surrounding community. We saw some of the preschool kids as they arrived and also where her art studio is. It was awesome to see her heart come through in all she shared about the ministry God has called her to and the community that has become her home. We have a strong connection to Los Brasiles as our very first student team built a home there in 2004 and then later teams ministered there and took Brasiles kids to Campo Allegria. We can’t wait to see how God continues to use Katie as the Gospel goes out to that community.

From there we were back on the bus to head to one of our teams favorite spots… Wembes Market. I lead a group of brave souls into the inner bowels of the market (maybe pun intended). Once into the food section they got to experience the sights and smells of animal meat everywhere! Every part of meat is used and it’s always fun to try to identify. Fish, iguanas, chicken, beef and more! But everyone got a chance to shop around the market and pick out their souvenirs and then we were on our way to the airport.

We were able to make it through immigration and security with no problems until I heard my name being called over the loudspeaker. They lead me down to the restricted area of the airport (didn’t seem too restricted if I was able to go there) and they opened one of our black bags. I thought it was all the knifes and machetes just purchased, but it turns out they don’t let inflated sports balls travel. So after a few minutes of deflation, I was able to rejoin our team and board our US bound flight.

Everything was going great until we touched down and learned our next flight was cancelled. I began scrambling on the phone as I knew the airport was going to be a mess. Apparently MIA was shut down for 2 hours earlier due to weather and other issues. Before jumping on the skytrain towards immigration and customs, a team member couldn’t find their passport. With prayers being prayed, I ran back to the gate and praise God, an agent was willing to walk back onto the plane and found it and passed it through the secure glass doors. We were off and running to immigration where the lines for the computer check in were wrapped around and the computers kept failing. But we all got through and then made it through immigration. We had to pick up our bags for customs but then were taken by an agent upstairs to check on rebooking. The line to rebook was unreal. I had a team member stand in line while I worked on flights from the phone. Over 2 hours on the phone and standing in line, we finally get to an agent to hear him tell us there was nothing he could do. No hotel offered since the flight was cancelled by weather. But on my 2 hour phone call I managed to get us all booked on a Sunday morning flight to Tallahassee. I also checked on a Red Coach bus during that time as a plan B.

It was now past midnight and everyone was exhausted. They offered us the auditorium with cots to sleep in but it was dark and the cots were spread out and we couldn’t bear the smell. So we found a little area upstairs and started to settle. I called at least 20 hotels in the area only to hear “no rooms” from everyone. Despite wanting a decent night sleep, in a bed, with a shower… well, it looked like the airport floor was our only option. Everyone did their best with a great attitude and got some “sleep”. Not wanting to do that for another night (much less eat airport food for another day) I called to get us on the Red Coach bus to Tallahassee departing at 9am.

And so as I type, that’s where we are. We’re driving through the Everglades right now and will see most of the state of Florida (although a good number on our team are only seeing the back of their eyelids). We’ll be on this bus for about 11 hours, but praise God, we are at least getting closer to Tallahassee. Everyone is pretty wiped out physically, emotionally and spiritually. But we are so grateful for God’s provision for our team and for the ministry and mission He gave us this trip. And thank you, again, to all of you supporters who financially provided for this team and stood in the gap for us on your knees in prayer. It was certainly needed and felt. Soli Deo Gloria!

For more pictures, head over to http://www.facebook.com/wsm.mission.nicaragua!

We woke up and knew today was going to be a bittersweet day. The realization has set in that we are nearly done with our mission here in Nicaragua.

Our day started in usual fashion and then we were loaded up and headed to Sister Ruby’s house. We have experienced so much at Ruby’s house of prayer through the years and it is honestly a highlight of our mission. Ruby was an amazing woman of God and mighty prayer warrior. Her legacy lives on through the Buzbees and others who continue on the prayer ministry. Most were a bit apprehensive at what to expect, but as we walked up the stairs to the upper roam and felt the wind blowing through and we began to worship together, there was a real sense of expectation and peace.

God most certainly met us in that place and His Spirit ministered powerfully to our hearts. There were messages of encouragement, conviction and visions for the future. God was so good to encourage us and fill us with His peace. We all walked away feeling that “greater is He who is in us, than He who is in the world.” My hope and prayer is the the fire God placed in our hearts will continue to grow and be fanned in to flame. We claim the promise that “He who began a good work in us will be faithful to bring it to completion.”

We were a bit pressed for time which mean eating our lunch on the bus on our way out to the beach. But we needed the time on the bus to talk together and to continue to process what the Lord had spoken to us.

Then we arrived at the beach and many had their first experience with some black, volcanic beach sand and were able to jump right in to the Pacific Ocean. We didn’t have much time before the kids arrived and we came running to meet the bus. The look on the kids faces as they excited the bus said it all. Not only were they excited to see us (and us them) but also to see the beach. Many of these kids have never left their community or been to the beach. They were so excited and we had a blast playing with them. After our beach time was over and we shared some snacks, I got to challenge them and pray over them. We gave our hugs and in Nica fashion chased the bus down the road saying our goodbyes. It was tough to say goodbye as our hearts have most certainly grown attached. But we believe God will be faithful to love and grow these kids and that we will certainly see each other again.

We did get some team time to swim, surf and have some fun together at the beach after we said goodbye. But then reality set in for us after dinner and team time as we had to head up to the rooms and pack. We will squeeze in a few more ministry opportunities and fun in the morning before we have to head out. Thanks for continuing to pray for us – that we will finish strong and have more opportunities to share the Gospel.

You know that feeling when you pray to God actually believing He is powerful and capable to do what He has promised? I know that doesn’t typically characterize the prayer life of many followers of Christ, but we are learning to grow in our dependance on God and our communication with Him through prayer.

So, honestly I wasn’t too surprised to see all our team at breakfast this morning. I mean, after all, we have been crying out to Him for healing as I know many of our supporters have been. So after my morning rounds (I have to assume the role of Dr. Todd here), we were all praising God that everyone was on the mend and ready to go out together today… as a full team. That was pretty miraculous considering Nica stomach doesn’t want you to be anywhere further than a few feet from your bed or the bathroom. So we started our day rejoicing and thanking God for His powerful healing.

We did all load up the bus to head to our last full day of construction at Ruby Ranch. Even though a few were less than 100%, everyone did their best to pitch in and help. Before we started on the work, many headed back up to the school to catch the kids for recess. Just like driving up the dirt road on the bus through a few other towns, we are so warmly greeted by smiling faces and children running toward us. We took the time to invest in their lives and speak God’s love through the language of play.

Back at the Ranch, we had to take down a few trees that were in the way of the steps and sidewalk project. So with some help from Henry (the Nicaraguan Chuck Norris) we were on our way to moving them. The stone guys were already hard at work laying out the front steps of the Rancho. We finished up our volleyball court – yes, by moving even more dirt to get it leveled out. Then we also moved some more dirt… this time to the playground to level out some of the ground underneath all the equipment.

But our day was punctuated by some play time as I rounded the corner with a wheelbarrow to see a bunch of wide eyes looking at me through the gate just waiting for the green light to come in. We welcomed them in to play some more after they had completed school for the day. We continue to be taught how to love fully through these kids.

Shade and water breaks were a necessity, but the teamwork displayed and the encouraging words shared today were awesome. God continues to bring unity to this team.

We had hoped to see the completion of the stone project, but seeing as we purchased over 1,000 – we were pretty confident we wouldn’t be able to finish that project with our time left here. But thankfully our support raised will cover the funds for the project to be completed. And before leaving, we all gathered to say goodbye to Henry and to pray for him and his family and for the continued ministry of Ruby Ranch. It wasn’t a tearful goodbye (yet) because we will get to see the kids tomorrow, but we’ll tell you all about that tomorrow.

Much to the team’s delight, we returned a bit early for some time to cool off in the pool. Then after dinner we sorted all of the donated clothes, complete with our annual Nica fashion show… let’s just say those pictures usually don’t surface online to protect the innocent (or not so innocent in this case)!

Our team time continues to be powerful as we look at living from a fully alive heart. We’ve certainly faced the spiritual warfare that we’ve were talking about tonight, but so appreciate your prayer support. It is needed and felt.

We’re in the home stretch… also pray that we finish strong!

This team continues to amaze me with their perseverance. After trying to speed up our team time and small group time, we managed to get everyone in the bed by 10 pm. That seemed to make a big difference in our day today. We still had to leave some behind – four today, but praise God the two from yesterday rejoined the team. It is really hard to leave teammates behind and we certainly feel the loss, but a day of rest usually does wonders. But even with a few down, the rest of the team pushed really hard today to get two projects done.

When we first arrived, we walked from Ruby Ranch up to the school in Las Parcelas where our younger campers go to school. We made it just in time for recess and really enjoyed playing with the kids – baseball, soccer, tag and whatever else they wanted to do. It seemed a nice break for the teachers as well. Being at the school also allowed us to see the finished paint job at the school. Some of the kids mentioned how pretty it was. We continue to look for ways to invest in this community and share and show the Gospel in all we do.

After our school time fun, we headed back to the Ranch for some hard work. It was another hot, sunny day which combined with moving dirt is the recipe for being filthy. It’s now become a badge of honor. We had a few that had to take it slow today, but everyone picked up the slack and we got our power line project done. We finished trenching, then strung the power cable through the PVC pipe. Once we had all our connections, we covered back up the pipe (yep, moving more dirt) but it was great to check a project off the list. Our next moving dirt experience was up to the new volleyball court. We moved countless wheelbarrows and then I hopped on the tractor to level out the field.

The guys we hired to help us lay the cantera stones were off to a great start getting all their lines and levels. We hope to start mixing cement and laying block tomorrow. It’s doubtful we will bring this project to completion before we leave (as we ordered over 1,000 stones) but we hope to get a good start.

We always enjoy our bus rides together, but today some really enjoyed some serious napping on the way home. I guess that’s a sign we are working hard. But thankfully, we arrived back at the Buzbees with some much needed time to relax and swim some before dinner. Although with the guys playing animal ball, there wasn’t much relaxing. We were encouraged to see those we left behind doing a bit better. Not out of the woods yet, but hopefully everyone is getting extra rest and is asleep while I am typing this!

During team time, we celebrated Preston’s 16th birthday (a day late) and John Michael’s 15th birthday a few days early. I know it is hard being away from home on your birthday, so we do our best to make them special. We enjoyed some Nicaragua cake that tasted quite a bit different than ours!

Our team time tonight focused on spiritual warfare and many are feeling the effects of it. I know having our spiritual eyes more opened allows us to see it, but we also know that Satan loves to steal, kill and destroy the full heart and life we are meant to have. We are feeling and experiencing some of those attacks on our team. Please pray for us and pray for God’s protection and healing!

As always, you can catch more photos on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/wsm.mission.nicaragua

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God’s mercies are new each and every morning. What a privilege our morning time is each and every day. I’m personally refreshed and also encouraged seeing our students take advantage of TAWG each and every day. The beauty of the countryside and stillness of the morning is a real treasure here. But we did wake up to some bad news that a few on our team had a rough night. We call it Nica stomach… it eventually gets to some on the team each year. Thankfully it doesn’t last too long. But it meant we had to leave a few behind to rest. So please be praying for our team and that the Lord would grant healing and health.

We loaded up for another full day of construction. We hired a few block guys to help us with the Rancho steps at sidewalks.They will go where all the dirt we have been removing is. But while we were waiting for the guys to give direction, we moved on to a few other projects. One part of our team went to the house on the property and painted the interior with our leftover paint from the school painting project. Some of the kids came by after school and we got to ask them how they liked their newly painted classrooms. They had big smiles when telling us how pretty it was.

The other part of our team set up the Ruby Ranch volleyball court by putting in the poles and moving dirt into the area to level out the court. Then, we all headed down near the entrance to start a trenching project (yes, more dirt removal). This will allow us to lay down pipe to run the electrical from the power pole to the well that supplies all the water to the property. We are becoming experts with the pick axe, shovels, hoes and pry bars. It was a hot day today which meant working hard to stay hydrated and take some shade breaks. A few started feeling a bit like the Nica stomach was going to get them and took some naps on the trampolines.

Incidentally, at our team time tonight we studied about God’s healing. Psalm 147 reminds us that His desire is to heal the brokenhearted and to bind up their wounds. Seems like God always has these things rigged. It was a powerful time to look at His Word and see His desires to bring healing to our hearts. Not only do some on our team need physical healing, but we are all realizing that He offers us the chance to lie down in green pastures where He brings healing to our heart and soul.

So again, please be praying for those in need of physical healing. Also, be praying for the work God is doing in all of our hearts brining spiritual healing and restoration. He is most certainly up to a good work and it is at times a very painful process to engage with the deep places of our heart, but our students have faced their fear and pride and risked vulnerability. I’m praying God would continue to move into those places and do a powerful work!

PS – Happy Birthday to Preston, who enjoyed a birthday nap on the trampoline today and hopefully will get to enjoy his birthday cake when he stomach settles a bit!

It’s hard to believe that we are passing the halfway point of our mission here in Nicaragua. We’ve seen a team go and another few teams join us. Sundays are special here in Nica. We had our time alone with God and then loaded up the bus to head to Verbo Church. We love to worship at Verbo! It’s always such an amazing foretaste of the day when ALL the nations, tribes and tongues will gather in worship to Almighty God. Here we were singing in Nicaragua, while our Montgomery team was worshipping in Alabama and our faith family back home in Tallahassee. Spanning the time zones and the globe… our God is worthy of worship!

And it’s great to experience worship that is different than what we are used to. We all tried hard to keep up with the songs and follow along with the words. We learned that if you aren’t sweating, you aren’t worshipping hard enough! The freedom in worship and the expressiveness of the people is refreshing. And we were incredibly thankful to hear English as the sermon was being translated for us from the stage.

After a quick change, we ate lunch in the bus to head out to Las Parcelas. We took on an additional project to bless the community by painting the interior of the school and today was the only day it would work without disrupting the classes. But before painting, we walked up the hill from the school to visit our dear friend Manuel and his family. Our team four years ago had the privilege to build Manuel’s house (if you want to read the story, it’s here). We make it a point to come by every year and check in on his family and pray for them. After Manuel encouraged us through worship songs, we prayed over his house and his family and their future. What a sweet time of fellowship!

It was then back down the hill to the school to start painting. I never know how word spreads that our team has arrived to this rural community with no phones, but next thing you know kids are showing up at school to come say hi and to watch us paint (hoping for some play time). Painting down here is always a challenge by we got the job done and it looked great. As for getting all the oil based paint off of our bodies… well, we will just cover it with dirt tomorrow.

On the way home I surprised the team with a visit to the grocery store… it’s the simple things in life, you know! They were excited to load up on junk and couldn’t believe how inexpensively they could do it! Then it was off to dinner, team time, small groups and bed. We’ve got a big day of construction ahead of us tomorrow! Please keep praying for us as we labor and share the hope that we have found in a relationship with Jesus Christ! And don’t forget you can catch more pictures on Facebook.