Mt. Sinai Community
Municipality of Quezalguaque, Nicaragua
AUMC has sent adult, youth and intergenerational mission teams to El Ayudante in Leon, Nicaragua since 2010. Teams have led Bible Schools, conducted reading glass and medical clinics, and been involved in several construction projects. El Ayudante works closely with other groups and the Nicaraguan government, particularly Dr. Medina, a doctor who works with the Ministry of Health.
In 2011, Dr. Medina asked AUMC’s mission team to visit Soledad, a small farming community that flooded regularly, had a poor water supply, and where homes were made from discarded materials. The community had 32 families living in a small wooded area among a group of corporate sugar cane and soybean fields. The only reason they were allowed to build their felt paper, cardboard and tin homes was that this small parcel was not suitable for farming – the families did not own the land.
The families’ only water supply was a shallow dug well; a well that was contaminated with pesticides from the surrounding farms. Many of these pesticides are banned in the U.S. because of their detrimental effect on groundwater. Several men in the community, including the pastor of the small church, had died young of kidney and liver problems, likely due to the contaminated water and possible exposure to pesticides working in the fields. Throughout 2011 and 2012 AUMC team members explored options on how to help purify the drinking water.
As a result of the team’s presence and Dr. Medina’s urging, the local municipality (county) purchased and subdivided a 7 acre open field and offered the area to the community as a new location for their homes. The municipality agreed that once a home was built, they would deed the lot to the mother of the household, as the fathers were too often deceased or not around. The municipality also drilled a deep well, installed a tank, and ran water lines to the new location and to other communities in the area. This offer came after our team and Dr. Medina’s persistent inquiries. Samples from the water system were tested in early 2012; the water is as clean and free of chemicals as municipal water systems in the U.S.
An AUMC team helped build the first new structure on the land in early 2012, a new two-room school.
In September 2012 an AUMC Exploratory Team, the Director of El Ayudante, Dr. Medina and the Mayor of Quezalguaque met with the community to discuss options. The community committed to help build each other’s homes and, more importantly, voted to build a church and pastor’s home first, before building homes for their families. They felt the church was the center of the community and placed a priority on the church.
AUMC decided to fund the church ($19,600) and pastor’s home ($4000), but encouraged the community, working with El Ayudante’s construction coordinator, to build the church and home themselves so they would feel “ownership” of the new structures and so we could assess their resolve to work together. They did a wonderful job!! While AUMC’s mission team was in Nicaragua in February 2013, Brother George Mathison flew to Nicaragua to help dedicate the beautiful new church and pastor’s home. Part of that team helped paint the church and home and Monteigne Mathison led an effort to paint a beautiful 40 foot wide mural on the front wall of the church. The dedication ceremony was amazing and inspiring.
An AUMC Youth Team financially supported a new home in June 2013, and an August 2013 Intergenerational Team built a new home, complete with kitchen and latrine, and added a kitchen and latrine to another home. Three additional homes have been built by other mission teams. Future AUMC teams plan to continue building homes. The plan is for AUMC and other El Ayudante mission teams to build 32 homes in 3-4 years. The community is selecting which family receives the next home, based on need. A basic one-room house can be built for $2800. Adding a kitchen, latrine and a propane stove (so the women do not have to cook with wood) adds $1200.
It is astounding, gratifying and heart-warming how quickly the once-open field is becoming a new community, not only structurally, but how the attitude and outlook of the community members have been uplifted. They are very proud of their new church. A clean, unpolluted water supply is improving their health. They have room to plant gardens and fruit trees and grow flowers. They have a new school where their children can learn. AUMC has made a difference in the lives of the people of this community that will endure. We have not only provided funds and labor to help build, but our continuing presence, expression of Christian love and continued prayers have lifted up this community and given them new hope for the future. That is what missions is all about!
Hand Painted Murals
inside the Mt. Sinai church
These murals were hand painted by Monteigne Mathison and team members from 2014 and 2015 trips.