Welcome to Abiding Savior Lutheran Church (Gainesville, Florida) missions blog. Here, you will find information about past, current, and future ASLC mission trips. "...pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored..." (2 Thessalonians 3:1)

Welcome to ASLC Missions

Welcome to Abiding Savior Lutheran Church (ASLC) Missions blog. Here, you will find information about past, current, and future ASLC mission trips.

I, the Lord of sea and sky, I have heard My people cry,....
who will bear My light to them? Whom shall I send?

Here I am Lord, is it I Lord? I have heard You calling in the night.
I will go Lord, if You lead me. I will hold Your people in my heart.

Abiding Savior Lutheran Church
9700 W. Newberry Road
Gainesville, Florida 32606

Nicaragua Mission Trip Preparation

Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ Matthew 25:37-40.

ASLC will be working with Brothers and Sisters in Christ (BASIC) in Santa Patricia, Nicaragua from January 29 through February 7. BASIC has been working there since 2004 and gathers 20 - 30 people from across the US and Canada to make up a larger team than individual churches can usually provide. In the last 11 years they have dispensed more than 14,000 eye glasses, built more than 65 homes, and sponsored the education of more than 400 students.
Website: http://www.basicnicaragua.com/

Twenty-seven people will be participating in the January trip, coming from British Columbia, Ontario, Wisconsin, Michigan, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, and Texas. People on trip: Albert & Susan Ng, Bob Hodges, Charles Hester, Dave & Isaac Grimes, Dave & Dianne Wharton, Dennis & Vera Bamberg, Eddie Holcombe, Erik Peterson, Glenna Johnson, Greg Kane, Greg Moloney, Jerry Potts, Joe Thomas, Mark Natzke, Mike Hein, Paul Lovero, Roger & Karen Natzke, Sean Laycock, Suzy Eberle, Tommy & Susan Sebestyen, and Tracy McElhinney.

Thirteen people will be on the vision team (including eight eye doctors). The rest will be helping construct four concrete block homes with metal roofs and doing other tasks. ASLC has donated $3,000 from money collected during the Noisy Offerings to build a new home in Santa Patricia, Nicaragua.

Nicaragua Mission Trip Day 1 Highlights

And so the adventure begins! Although we have 27 people on the mission trip, I (Mike Hein) am the only one from Abiding Savior Lutheran Church. Last Sunday’s church service included a brief commissioning service for me to go and serve in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

This morning I left Gainesville at 5:00 am on American Airlines bound for Managua, Nicaragua with a stop in Miami. Flying with me were Roger and Karen Natzke, veterans on the trip having gone on at least 12 previous trips. The flight was generally uneventful (except for the hour delay leaving Miami) and after arriving in Managua (population over two million) about noontime we quickly made our way through customs. We then took the hotel shuttle the short distance to the Camino Real Hotel for our first night. After settling into our rooms, we tracked down my first Nicaragua hamburger and fries at the hotel for lunch.

In the evening, we rode into Managua with others who had arrived by then and had supper in a newly revitalized part of the city near Lake Managua. There were many trees of life (lit up metal trees) along the way and in the area. Afterward some of us gathered at the hotel pool and either introduced ourselves or renewed friendships from previous trips.
Please keep our group in your thoughts and prayers for a safe and successful week.

Nicaragua Mission Trip Day 2 Highlights

Day Two, Saturday, January 30:
Travel to Los Portales Hotel in Chinandega.
This morning most of us found ourselves waking up around 6 am. Since we were now in the Central Time Zone, it was an hour earlier for some of us (6 am when it was already 7 am in Gainesville). For the same reason, the sun was already coming up at 6 am since we were on the eastern side of the time zone. After a very elaborate buffet breakfast (compliments of the hotel) we boarded three vans (one just for the luggage) and headed to the super market to buy snacks and beverages (lots of water) for the week. We then traveled to Chinandega (population over 130,000) about 80 miles NW of Managua. However as there are no expressways in Nicaragua and the vans had to often slow down for bikes, horse-drawn trailers, or broken down vehicles along the way, the trip ended up taking 3 - 4 hours.

Along the way most of the fields and hills were brown since it was the dry season. We also passed an active volcano off in the distance with a little smoke/steam wafting out of the top of it. For lunch we stopped at the El Sesteo restaurant on the plaza in Leon. With 27 people in our group, lunch took 2 hours by the time they took the orders, cooked the food, and figured out the bills. After lunch we walked across the plaza to looked at the Cathedral of Leon constructed between 1747 and 1814.

We finally got to the Los Portales Hotel in Chinandega about 5 pm and checked in very quickly thanks to Suzy’s organization and advanced planning skills. In the evening we had a great dinner as a group at the hotel. We had indicated our choice of steak, chicken, or fish in a previous email from Suzy so they didn’t have to take orders and could bring the food out to us fast.

We then broke into two groups - vision clinic crew and the construction crew and went through who would be doing what and where the next day. We then drifted off to our rooms knowing we would have an early and busy day ahead of us tomorrow.

Nicaragua Mission Trip Day 3 Highlights

Day Three, Sunday, January 31:
In the morning, I lead devotions for anyone that wanted to participate during our early breakfast  at the hotel. We then headed to Santa Patricia where many in the group got to renew acquaintances from previous trips. Santa Patricia is situated on an old cotton field where roads were  nothing more than dirt paths. Families were allowed to use a small tract of land to build their makeshift house out of any materials that could be scavenged from the local junk including boards, rusted tin, and black plastic. Most properties have outhouses and gray water flows through ditches next to the dirt roads. The population is expanding each year, creating a constant need for new homes.

The vision team loaded the equipment out of storage on top of the vans and headed to the church in Camillo Ortega (also referred to as La Florida) to start seeing patients. However they had to wait for the church service there to finish before they could start working. Even so, by the end of the day they had seen 270 people. Pastor Luis is the pastor of the church and he and his wife (Deaconess Veronica) helped at the clinic during the day.

Meanwhile, members of the construction team first walked to all four house sites where they would be working and to the fifth house that they would be building an addition onto. Three sites were near the front of the refugee camp and two were in the back. The Nicaraguan work crews were already present at some of the sites and work soon got underway.

I was working with Charles Hester and three Nicaraguans at the 13 x 20 foot home being built for the daughter (Yaneri) of the Lopez family and her husband and daughter. This was the house that Abiding Savior Lutheran Church had donated the funds to build. The footing was already poured and some of the rebar was in place. Roger and Dennis showed Charles and I how to wire the rebar together to go in the solid concrete layer half way up the walls and at the top.
Meanwhile I started carrying concrete block from the pile and stacking them inside the walls. The Nicaraguan helpers started mixing the mortar by hand on the ground and started laying the front wall block. By the end of the day we had five courses of block laid and the solid cement row done for the front and back walls.
In the afternoon, three of the children from the house next door came over to see what was going on. In the back of the lot they discovered a fruit tree with ripe fruit on it (or knew it was there) and went scampering up the tree to pick the fruit. When they had picked all they could reach, their mom handed over an eight foot pole with a hook on the end. Then things started to get dangerous as they were not able to control it very well and accidently hit the little boy on the head with the end of the pole. Time to put a stop to that for the day before one of them got their eye poked out with the hook at the end (even if we were holding a vision clinic nearby).
In the evening, part of the group ate at the RostiPollos restaurant next door and the rest went into town to eat. After eating, those in town walked down to the plaza and made a stop for ice cream cones. Sorry to say I couldn’t uphold the ASLC mission trip tradition of eating ice cream in the evenings since I was starting to not feel so hot.

Nicaragua Mission Trip Day 4 Highlights

Day Four, Monday, February 1:
This was the second day of work on the houses and doing the vision clinic. All of the group left the hotel at 7 am to go and start working. However I thought it best if I stayed at the hotel near a  baƱos since I had been up at least 4 time during the night with Montezuma’s revenge. Suzy gave me some Cipro pills to take for three day and was going to check on me at noontime to see how I was doing by then. However, she got so busy that it wasn’t until 3:30 pm that she remembered and decided by then it wasn’t worth coming to get me.

So - even without my help work continued on the houses and at the clinic. Since some of the houses were ahead of the others, they shifted some of the people around to speed up the slow ones and slow down the fast ones.

Today the vision clinic saw 377 more patients and distributed glasses or eye drops (if they didn’t need glasses) to everyone for having to stand in the hot sun and wait to get in. When a patient first walked in, they were asked to read an eye chart. Then they were directed to one of several stations: an optometrist checking ocular health, other doctors doing eye prescriptions, and lastly to the optical dispensary where the patients were fitted with the glasses prescribed. Each person was given several eyeglasses to choose from and then asked which ones worked the best. We suspect some of the answers were based more on the color of the frames than on the correct prescription! : - )
The lenses are now ground and the glasses made in the lab in Santa Patricia. In the past most of the frames were donated so exact prescriptions were nearly impossible to fill. In the world of optometry, doctors strive for 20/20.  Nonetheless, every patient walking out of the clinic was 20/happy.
In the evening we split into several groups, some going downtown to eat, some eating at the hotel restaurant, and some going next door to RostiPollos for pizza or chicken.

Nicaragua Mission Trip Day 5 Highlights

Day Five, Tuesday, February 2:

Today our group is really splitting up into different groups. Some are going into Leon to shop and look around, some to tour a rum factory or play tourist in Chinandega, some to climb to the top of a volcano (San Cristobal), and some returning to Santa Patricia to work on houses or visit the families they previously built homes for.

Everyone had fun no matter what the did and where they went. Especially the ones that chose to climb the volcano. All of them said the climb took their breath away - literally. San Cristobal volcano is the highest (5,725 feet) and one of the most active volcanoes in Nicaragua. It is located near Chinandega, and contains a crater more than 1,500 feet wide. Once covered in tropical forests, the large quantities of gas and smoke that it emits almost constantly have killed off much of the vegetation.

Trying to hike up a 30 - 40 degree side of a volcano in loose volcanic ash, in 90+ weather with no shade - the climbers were soon huffing and puffing and realizing they needed to slow down and take more breaks if they were going to make it all the way up. However, the view from the top made it worth the climb and took away any breath they had left!
Since I didn’t work yesterday, I went back to Santa Patricia and helped Dennis on the addition to the first house BASIC built in 2008. Raquel Hernandez lives there with three daughters: Ingrid (15), Reyna (9), and Suzy (6). Reyna was very friendly and wanted to get hugs and give hugs to everyone frequently! Raquel supports the family by making and selling tortillas and also does laundry to earn money. When ever needed, the daughters pitch right in and help.
In the morning we poured the cement row half way up the back wall and started laying more block. By the end of the day we had almost finished all the walls but still needed to frame and fill the corners and pour the header above the door and window. We also spread fill dirt inside the walls to raise the floor in preparation for the cement floor the next day.
In the evening we rode in the vans to Corinto, about half an hour west on the Pacific coast. We got there in time to watch the sun set and pick up seashells as we walked along the shore while they got our meals ready. The meals were excellent and everyone enjoyed the experience. Just before we left, some of us walked out to the beach and looked up at the stars. In the dark sky there were literally thousands!
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