A visit to La Pieienta, Nicaragua – part 2 of 3

     Isaiah 65:20a – “Never more shall there be in it an infant who lives but a few days.”

     Last week I wrote about a 2000 short-term mission trip to La Pimienta, Nicaragua.  La Pimienta was a recovering disaster area having suffered the onslaught of Hurricane Mitch.

     During our time at La Pimienta we met two people who were in their early fifties but met no one older.  Had we not been told their age we would have thought they were much older by their furrowed features.  There were a good number of adults in the community but the majority was under the age of forty.  There were teenagers but children well outnumbered the adults we met.

     Childhood in La Pimienta is immensely unlike childhood in the United States.  Before the morning’s first light we would hear girls talking as they gathered at the well to fetch water for the day.  Filling a plastic five gallon bucket nearly full, weighing nearly 35 pounds, they balanced the bucket upon their head to transport it home.  Younger girls would carry a lesser amount of water and we once saw a preschooler, following her older sister, balancing a near-full coffee can upon her head.

     Girls often had a younger sibling perched upon their hip; freeing their mothers to perform their daily task.

     After the morning sun rose above the hills boys would appear with machetes in hand.  They were gathering the day’s firewood.

     Once water and firewood were collected, and a fire was set ablaze, the mothers would go about the business of making breakfast.  The slap, slap, slap of women’s hands patting out fresh tortillas was a common sound in the mornings.

     In time the school children would appear in their uniforms.  Boys wore dark blue slacks, girls dark blue skirts, and both were wearing white shirts; the colors of their national flag.  They would trudge towards the Rio Queso (Cheese River) then trek north along its bank to where their community existed prior to the hurricane’s flooding.  Their old school was still in use despite sections of two walls having been damaged. (a)  School convened only during the morning hours.

     The days passed and on Friday afternoon we returned to Managua.  Dr. Gustavo Parajón, one of our ABC-International Ministries missionaries in Nicaragua at the time, joined us for lunch the following day.  We learned a great amount thanks to our time with him.

      Provadenic (b) was invited to begin their medical care for the community of La Pimienta nearly ten years before our arrival.  Prior to Provadenic’s intervention, death of children under the age of five and of women dying during childbirth commonly occurred.

     With Provadenic’s aid, La Pimienta selected a member of their community to be trained to treat common injuries and ailments and also to monitor a woman’s pregnancy, childbirth and both the mother and child after delivery.  Regularly scheduled monitoring of the children through age five helped to discover any issue that required a doctor’s intervention.  Provadenic also began working with the community to develop improved waste disposal and to improve hygiene.

     Before Provadenic’s support far too many died early and life expectancy was far too short.  Provadenic’s support meant that fewer mothers died giving birth and that their children had an improved chance of survival.  The improvements in sanitation and hygiene further improved life expectancy. 

     Dr. Parajón expected the children of La Pimienta to live into their seventies and eighties; all because they had a better start in life than previous generations.

          Our 2000 trip to La Pimienta was an opportunity to see some of the impact that our mission dollars can accomplish.  The ministry that Dr. Parajón worked with treated the physical body, and at the same time, shared the word of Jesus that spiritual healing may also occur.

     In September Meridian Avenue promotes the World Mission Offering.  WMO is an invitation for each of us to support ministries that help many around the world and to share the love of God to all.

(a)   The new school construction was nearing completion while we were there.

     (b) Provadenic was the predecessor ministry of AMOS Health and Hope.  AMOS Health and Hope began their ministry during the spring of 2006.