Greetings and blessings from Somatillo, Nicagagua! This week we have two missionary teams from Southwestern Virginia ministering out of Casa de Shelly. While most of the team members this week have been to Nicaragua before, we do have a few who have made their first trip and it has been exciting to see them settling in and contributing to the ministry effort. On Sunday afternoon we traveled from Managua to Somotillo and then hit the ground running by making a visit to the remote village of Esperanza. We had a great time of fun, fellowship and food and we ended with an outdoor worship service led by Pastor Reynaldo. We never get tired of seeing people of all ages from the villages interacting with our missionaries. Before we left the States we discussed as a group how important it was to be intentional and put aside any natural shyness and timidity and to look for every opportunity to plant the seeds of God’s love and caring with everyone we meet; you never know how the seeds of today may grow up to be the oaks of faith for tomorrow!

After we returned from Esperanza we had another great meal prepared by Mama Maria and her talented team. Then we loaded up the bus and headed out again, but this time for just a short drive over to one of the local churches were we celebrated Sunday evening services with some of the locals from Somatillo. If you’ve never experienced a "singing" at a Nica church, you certainly are in for a treat. But it wasn’t backwards like you’d think; the worship team had electronic instruments and a powerful sound system to send out praises to God – and they make sure it is loud enough for the surrounding neighbors to hear. Then Pastor Reynaldo delivered the Word of God again at this church and he was inspired. We all had a great time and afterwards we made sure to walk around and meet as many of the locals as time would allow. They are all so polite and grateful for our presence – it seemed almost as if we were at our home away from home.

Today (Monday), we sent a team of five missionaries to the local radio station to share their testimonies — we even had an eight year old from Virginia tell about how she was saved but still wanted to continue to know the Lord better and better! We then broke up in groups with some of the men working on the grounds around the Casa that were in dire need of some TLC, another group went out to buy firewood from a vendor in Esperanza, and the ladies went to the village of Casa Blanca and walked the streets ministering to those they encountered there. After lunch we drove to another distant village for ministry; this time to the village of El Laredo. What can I say but that we had an amazing time of fun and fellowship – it seemed the entire village came out and everyone was doing something. There was a heated whiffle ball game, football, giant bubble blowing, fingernail painting, the medical team was taking care of those who had needs, we had a huge crowd come out for the chicken stew that the ministry team prepared and we ended the day with a water ballon fight – the kids, young and old, had a great time cooling down from the hot afternoon. Tomorrow we will start again, but I’m sure that no one from this team will ever forget their first full day on the Nicaragua mission field.