Today has been a long and relaxing Sunday (through Wednesday), and I’m happy to take advantage of this spare time to recap my internship thus far in León. It’s hard to know where to begin and what details to include or leave out. The most important point that I want to express, regardless of talking points and bright details, is that God is alive and at work in Nicaragua and that I have enjoyed my time here as the intern working with my new friends.
At anytime of the week, I am likely to be found in one of the following activities: helping or spending time with the kids at the feeding centers, conversing and practicing English with the advanced English students, or planning, preparing, and executing a youth ministry activity.
Helping out in the feeding centers has been really enjoyable and is one of my favorite activities that I am able to be apart of with the ministry. I must confess that this is the part of the internship that feels the most like work. This may be due to the fact that this activity often starts early in the morning or that I participate in the feeding centers more times throughout the week than the other activities. But this sentiment of having to ‘work’ is quite weak and always goes away once I am present in the feeding centers with the children and cooks. Simply talking, laughing, and learning about the lives of those I interact with is what I do. But in addition, I help pray, tell short Bible stories, and serve the food. Being with the children and cooks is definitely my favorite part of the feeding centers. To help emphasize my favorite aspect of the feeding centers, the other week I accompanied one of the kids down the block to the store. We had to buy bread that would go alongside the day’s meal. We talked and I asked him a lot of questions. His name is Bryson. He’s nine years old. He is good at math and speaking English. And one day he wants to become the President of Nicaragua. Now, every time I see him, I always call him Presidente Bryson and ask him what he is doing in preparation for his Presidency.
Another large portion of my time is spent helping out with the English classes. In order to maximize efficiency, Aaron and I often split up the English class into two sections: beginner level and the advanced level. Because Aaron is more experienced in actually teaching English, he teaches the beginner section while I remain with the advanced students. We often read passages of the Bible, read other short books provided by the ministry, or we sit in a circle conversing and asking each other questions in English. I have never had any experience like this working with youth and adults teaching English. And this experience that I am having has surprised me greatly in how much I am enjoying working with the English classes. Beyond the curriculum and the fundamentals of the class, I very much like getting to know the students. Two weeks ago we had the opportunity to practice our English with foreigners and tourists in the city center. Besides being a successful outing with regards to the English practice, it was a fun excursion that allowed the students and I to learn more about each other and to build friendships.
Finally, events and activities produced by the youth ministry fill up the rest of the calendar here in León. We have had many events already, and the Internship is hardly half-way completed! We have executed two sports activities so far, where we played soccer, ate ice cream, and received reflections from speakers or from our sports commentator (Pastor Yader). The youth ministry has also put on two movie events in two different communities so far. In these movie events, we have screened a movie that teaches the powerful story of the resurrection of Christ from the perspective of a Roman soldier. For the first screening, we played the movie in a community called Tomas Borge. I bring this up because at this movie event, the community really gathered together to enjoy the movie. We set up amplifier speakers on the side of the road, set up the movie screen across the street, and placed the chairs along the road in front of the screen. To gather more community members the youth, in teams of three, walked through the roads and trails of the neighborhood to invite more viewers to the event. In addition, we recently had Bible trivia competition and a Talent Show in which all the youth groups of Twelve Churches participated. I am sparing details for these last two events mentioned, but I think these events are very important. Being a united event, in which all the youth is involved, is essential to maintaining a strong and cohesive relationship between them. Competing in difficult Bible trivia and enjoying and exhibiting songs and dances were, I think, very good activities for celebrating God and the unity we should share through Him.
I am very busy here. But due to the wonderful people that I am working with and the fact that all these activities ultimately bring glory to God, I wouldn’t have it any other way. My goal of this internship was to have, at least, some positive impact during my time in Nicaragua. God willing, I think I’m working my way towards the goal. I also would like to thank everyone involved that has made this internship possible. I am having a very special experience here. I have never been anywhere like León, and I know I will never have another opportunity like this one. So thank you to the Twelve Churches board and administration, Killearn United Methodist Church, and anyone else that has supported this ministry.
My name is Maryuri Lilieth Antón Arbizu, I am 21 years old, and I was born and raised in the city of León. I was born into an Evangelical Christian family, so from a very early age, I served the Lord in the Church. I was baptized when I was 11 years old, and since then, I have been teaching children in the church.
I live with my mom and two brothers. Despite being a low-income family, my mother and grandmother have always supported me. I never had a father I could count on, but God has been sufficient. At a young age, I decided that I needed to go to school in order to move forward and help my family. Travelling to school was very difficult - I had to walk 1.5 kilometers every day with my brothers. But in the difficulties, God was always with me. With His help, I excelled academically and was recognized as the best student in the primary school.
When I was in my fourth year of secondary school, I began to work on a project located in the community, to benefit children. I worked for a while, but then I had to leave in order to continue my studies. I continued to excel academically, taking part in many academic competitions. I love writing, and won a national competition during my last year in secondary school. It had been a dream of mine since primary school, and I thank God for this gift.
My mom had to work very hard to help us, since she supported, not only me, but also my two brothers. My mother and my grandmother were the pillars of our home. I graduated from secondary school, with honors, in 2012. I had decided that I wanted to study law, and to become a lawyer. I passed my entrance exam for the University of León, and started attending Saturday classes. This program allowed me to work during the week in order to pay for my studies and other needs. I started tutoring children who live in my community, from my home. In the afternoons, I would offer these same classes in the homes of other children. Also, I began to sell beauty products from catalogues.
When I was in my second year of law school, my grandmother was working in a feeding center in the Church of Telica, alongside Twelve Churches ministries. I went to Telica, and I really liked the work that they were doing. So, I decided to support and assist the young children there, instead of tutoring during the week.
I started to travel from León, where I live, to Telica, four days a week in order to support and assist in the kitchen of the feeding center. I also began to teach the children (during the week and on Sundays) to make crafts, and to praise God. We also formed a dance group. They love me very much and I love them. There is nothing more satisfying than to receive the affection of these children, and to know that I am helping them grow to be good people. They are the future of our country.
Currently, I am still travelling from León to Telica to be at the feeding center. I am in my fourth year of law school, and also study English at another academy. I still sell beauty products on the side, and tutor one girl. The Lord has blessed me. I continue to serve the Lord in the Church as a teacher of children, and I am satisfied, because I do it all for God. He gave me the ability and the capacity to do all of these things at the same time. I hope to finish my university studies soon, and to be able to support my family. I ask God to give me the strength to complete my goals. Through it all, God, my Heavenly Father, has been my everything. He has prepared me to fulfill His purpose for my life. He has sustained me and has blessed me, and I believe and trust in his word, that says:
“For there is still a vision for the appointed time; it speaks of the end, and does not lie. If it seems to tarry, wait for it; it will surely come, it will not delay.”
Habakkuk 2:3 NRSV
We are now accepting applications for 2016 Internship positions!
For the last four years, we have been blessed with wonderful interns who have shared their time, talents and love of Christ with our friends in León. If you are interested in being a part of this program, we invite you to fill out the application below and contact us with any questions or concerns you may have.
- 8 week commitment
- Position is paid, but interns must pay for their own transportation to and from León, Nicaragua
- Participate primarily with Twelve Churches Youth Programs
- Potential activities include:
- Building loving relationships with our Twelve Churches and their communities
- Playing with children at the feeding centers
- Preparing food at the feeding centers
- Assisting with English classes
- Helping plan and carry out youth events
- Assisting with mission team activities such as construction projects or vacation bible school
- Applications due by March 15th, 2016
Chris Smith firstname.lastname@example.org (850)893-1116
Friends, friends, friends,
Happy sweet Saturday! I'm currently enjoying a morning of silence after a very long week. Tomorrow marks two months since I've been in León, Nicaragua and there's so much to share.
Guys, I'm learning so much Spanish. Every day, all the time. I have class M-TR from 8-10 AM where I'm challenged intellectually and I love it. My teacher's name is Juan Pacheco, and he's turned into one of my greatest encouragers and challenges since I've been here. I'm thankful for him and to all the people I work with who teach me diligently and speak to me with patience.
After class I walk about 30 minutes to the church I work with, Pastor Yader's church. His community is small, but the relationships are sincere and beautiful. I cook with a woman named Ligia (pronounced Lihia) who is incredibly graceful and patient with me. She comforts me, instructs me, listens to me, and cares very deeply about my well being. I began to notice that the kids who come to the feeding center were showing up early and staying late to spend time with each other and me, but I struggled knowing how to spend intentional time with them without being able to speak to them. I invested in many coloring books, crayons, colored pencils, and reading books. We now have a bookshelf to organize everything, and those materials are constantly needing to be replenished. I love to watch them read to each other, read to me, and color...an instant bonding experience. After the feeding center I've recently been very busy. I stay in the community before I commute back to my house by bus, which has given me an eye opening experience to what life really looks and feels like for them. I'm exposed to the natural, untainted interactions that leave me feeling so rejuvenated and honored, while in the same breath tired and exhausted. I've been noticing dynamics within families that leave me desperate crying out to God for guidance. I care about family structure, the role and presence of both the mother and father, and I'm incredibly in tune with how this structure or lack there of affects children. I often times observe situations that are unhealthy, heart breaking, and sometimes don't know the wisdom in discerning how to move forward. God is sovereign and I'm relying on Him daily because I need Him.
I've been attending church at Yader's on Sunday, and the three other services held throughout the week. It gives me the chance to learn Spanish while also making it clear I'm here to be with them, learn from them, and do life alongside them. Last night something beautiful happened. Up until this point I was hearing many words and occasionally picking up on something here or there which felt so good. Last night I understood the message. I understood sentences, not just words, and it left me crying with joy for almost the entire service. I can't express this feeling well enough with words, but it's like joy and humility on steroids. God desires relationship with us, we should plant ourselves with deep roots connected to Him as trees. We can't do anything without God. We should always be seeking for deeper relationship with God, he said. Beautiful.
My favorite part about being here is getting to know the children and their families. Something I've been praying over for a long time. Yesterday I attended the promoción (graduation) of a few of our kids in the church and was given the distinct and unexpected privilege of walking one of them down the aisle, representing her mother who came later. Again, I can't express what kind of bond and level of trust this created, and I'm excited to attend the fiesta next week celebrating Rebekah and her brother Elias. I also continue to pray for the relationship between me and their mother. Her name is Paola, and she's beautiful. She offered that I walk her kids down the aisle the second time as they accept their diplomas, but when I insisted she walk with her children she broke down in tears. I believe there's something more to be prayed over here and I look forward to a sincere relationship with her and their family.
God is good, and good is God. I'm learning how to be present, how to be diligent, how to deal with sadness, sickness, and frustration. I'm growing in Him everyday while I watch Him work through my life and the lives of others. Representing our church as the hands and feet of Christ in an impoverished community, where they possess more than I ever will in life, is humbling. Doing life alongside them is humbling.
I'm so thankful to each of you, whom without, this wouldn't be possible. I think of you all often and want to be as informative and connected as I can be. I post a lot of pictures on Facebook, and I have a website/blog: lindsayleverett.com.
Prayer requests at this moment consist of the families I'm encountering, cultural barriers, my relationships with the community I work with, Spanish, and personal strength. Also, my physical health and prayer to protect me from further illness, something I've been battling through. Genuinely, my heart is so happy. I love living here, I wouldn't trade it for anything. THANK YOU for you unending support, it means the world to me and makes this ministry possible.
I love you all,
We are excited to announce that Lindsay Leverett will be arriving in Nicaragua next Tuesday, October 13th! She will be serving alongside Twelve Churches, initially at Pastor Yader's church where she can engage in a variety of ministries, including a Feeding Center and the Cosmetology School. Lindsay has a passion for empowering impoverished women, children and families, and sharing the love of Christ with them:
"I'm a firm believer of the love and grace of Jesus Christ and I invest wholeheartedly in the people God places around me. I care about children and families, implementing sustainable change in impoverished communities, and deep, intentional relationships. I love to learn new things, drink good coffee, lead worship, write music, paint, explore, listen, and travel, but more than anything I love to laugh and play."
"For the past year and a half I've been working in Children's Ministries [at Killearn United Methodist Church] and it's here that God has placed me in the essential environment with the necessary individuals to help me grow and develop into the God fearing woman I am today and continuously strive to be. In February, 2015 I was invited to join a medical mission trip traveling to Leon, Nicaragua ... The trip was humbling and rekindled my passion to serve alongside the poor. It was there I recognized that God's design for my life is far greater than anything I could ever fathom, and His intent began to unfold."
We ask that you be in prayer for Lindsay, the work she will be doing, and for the people with whom she will be interacting. We believe that God will use her for His glory and mission in Nicaragua.
Learn more about Lindsay and follow her journey in Nicaragua as she tells the story through her blog at lindsayleverett.com
Twelve Churches is delighted to welcome Alex Eppenauer and Tyler Pyle as our 2015 summer interns. For years we have watched Alex love so many people, especially children, in Leon, Nicaragua. She has truly been an inspiraation to many of us. Alex bagan her mission trips to Leon in 2011. During Bible School in one of our churches she felt God's call to build a home for a young boy who lived in a plastic house with his brothers and parents. Alex remembered this call and vision when she returned to Seattle, Washington. Her passion resulted in raising the funds to build this family a home, which she built in 2013.
Alex is also a talented artist whose portrait of one member of her "Nicaraguan" family won awards and was on display in Wahington, D.C. Alex and her family have travelled to Nicaragua many times including Thanksgiving week to spend time with those they love in Leon. All who know Alex feel privileged to have this special young lady as one of our interns for the summer of 2015. We know she will lovingly touch the hearts of many people this summer.
Tyler Pyle is a FSU Junior majoring in psychology and economics. As part of FSU Wesley Tyler has traveled to Nicaragua three times on mission trips. She spent her summer 2014 in Ghana, Africa with the HCDP-Ghana working on a water purification project. We are excited for her to use God given gifts and talents with Twelve Churches this summer.