Help a Nica out
Organized by: Dio Landeros
THANK YOU to all who donated!!!! Because of your extreme generosity, there is enough to equip the Rivas Congregation with the new microphones they so desparately need.
It's been so encouraging to see how quickly you friends have responded and I can not wait to show the friends in Nicaragua how far reaching our brotherhood is. Donations have hailed from Scotland, Canada, USA, Nicaragua, Colombia, Australia, and New Zealand . I plan on taking pictiures and hopefully some video so that you can see what an impact your donations have made!
Thank you to the following who have collectively donated $390 through PayPal or in person:
Ezequiel and Rosalba Alvarado
Joey and Eden Nevarez
Derrick and Tara Scott
Steve and Amanda Vallimont
Anna and Mariela Marietta
Earlier this week I received an email from Brother Mendoza. I met Rafael and his wife Suleika in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua when I moved there last April. I blogged about them last year and shared some of their experiences (blog excerpt below).
Rafael's laptop recently crashed and he is in desperate need of a new one. Besides the congregation responsibilities, he is entering the circuit work as a substitute and will be conducting the pioneer school as well.
He asked if I could help him buy a new laptop and with the $150 he'd be able to save in six months. As special pioneers, they dedicate at least 150 hours a month each and I believe they only get $50 a month for living expenses from the branch. Even if they were to save every penny of their $50 monthly assistance, it would take them a year to be able to afford the following laptop, which is the one I'm proposing of buying.
THIS IS NOT A SOLICITATION FOR MONEY, as I will happily pay for the laptop myself, but rather an opportunity for anyone who has the desire and means to help out on a more personal level. There is no doubt in my mind Rafael has taken this matter to Jehovah in prayer and what a honor and privilege it would be to be able to personally be a part of answering his prayers. They are not aware I am asking my friends if they wish to help out.
Crowdrise has a $10 minimum donation requirement and please do not fill obligated to donate more. If you wish to include a few words or share your favorite scripture in the comment section when you donate, I will compile them altogether and include them in a greeting card. Everyone who participates will be represented equally, regardless of your donation amount. All individual donation amounts made through this website will be hidden. Only the aggregate amount will be visible. You can also donate through paypal using the "firstname.lastname@example.org" email address.
If more than the $600 is raised, I will entrust the local body of elders to use the surplus funds as they see fit. If I'm entrusted to spend the money, the friends are likely to end up with stuff from Oprah's List of Favorite Things 2013 ;p.
I know the Rivas congregation nearby is in need of new microphones. We wil be embarking on a 16 hour bus ride to El Salvador in October for the Regional Convention and perhaps some of the friends could use some assistance. A few years ago a brother in Chinandega, father of three, passed away because they didn't have the $20 to pay for his medication. Rest assured any excess donations will be go a long way and will be put to good use.
Thank you all in advance. I have been living in Medellin, Colombia for the past 3 months and will be moving back to San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua on August 20th and I couldn't be more excited. My friends Derik and Lisa will be visiting me from Seattle in September and will be bringing the laptop down for The Mendozas. I love and miss you all.
Below is my blog excerpt sharing some of The Mendoza's experiences:
Rafael worked as an accountant and Suleika was a teacher. For years, they worked and saved up $5000, so they would be able to have some money to live off in their assignment.
They were assigned to El Tortuguero, the 2nd most dangerous part of Nicaragua about 4 years ago. Prior to their arrival, there had never been witnesses in the small town they were visiting. They spotted a nice house when they first got there that had a good location and was big enough to hold meetings in, but they quickly realized that finding a house would be challenging; everywhere they asked, they were turned away. People called them the anti-Christ and said they were doing the Devil’s work and were not to be trusted. They finally found a room. Rafael described it as literally a room, four walls and a dirt floor. It didn’t even have a bathroom. The neighbor next door let them use her bathroom when they first arrived, but quickly caved into the peer pressure and no longer let them use it.
Suleika had to wash clothes in a river nearby; they had neither power nor running water. They were met with much opposition and ridicule out in the ministry, and for months, meetings consisted of just the two of them. Rafael would give all the talks and Suleika would be the only audience and thus the only one available to answer.
They said how they longed to be able to have brothers and sisters while they were there, someone who could relate and share in their work, or just merely having someone else to talk with aside from each other. Rafael said it saddened him, now, to see brothers’ not getting along in the congregation, not realizing what a gift it is to have brothers and sisters.
El Tortuguero is in a very remote location with no banks nor atm machines. Everything was brought in by bus, including money. A lot of times, however, it would take weeks before weather permitted buses to make it into town. This posed a huge problem, as there were times when they had no food and no access to their money. Imagine our dear brothers stuck in a remote place where they weren’t welcomed, out of money, out of food, without any family, no brothers and sisters they could turn to for help, and not knowing when their money would finally arrive. What were they to do? The only thing they could do, rely on Jehovah. Suleika told me that under those circumstances, you REALLY learn to depend on Jehovah. You have no other choice.
The weeks when they had no money nor food, their bible studies always offered them things. A few eggs, fruit from their tree, beans, some rice, or a meal. She said the moment they received money, their bible studies stopped offering them food and meals. Truly, Jehovah does provide. All we have to do is put trust in him.
Once their bible studies gained trust, their students would open up to Rafael and Suleika and tell them what the pastor from the local church would say. The pastor would urge the students to stay away from the witnesses and not listen to them.
On more than once occasion, Suleika was asked by one of her students, “The pastor said that God spoke to him and said to sleep with my 13 year old daughter. Could that be true?” It’s hard to imagine that happening nowadays, yet alone people believing such things, but sadly, it does happen. Rafael told stories of young girls 10, 12 years old selling tortillas to survive and being told by old men “I’ll buy 10 tortillas from you, if you sleep with me”.
After some time, Rafael said a woman approached him and said, “I hear you are looking for a place to live.” Rafael said they were, and this woman said she had a place that was available. It turned out to be the place they had first saw when they got into town that was nice and large enough to hold meetings in! The price was within their budget, so they moved in.
One day, Rafael was giving a public talk to a group of about 40. All bible students, aside from Suleika. There was a woman present, with her three kids, which had an opposing violent husband. This man would beat his own mother, wife, and kids.
In the middle of Rafael’s talk, this man showed up and interrupted the meeting and yelled out asking if his wife was present. The children clung to their mother, trembling in fear, as their mother clutched them and hunched down in her seat.
Rafael stopped his talk, and walked to the back to approach the man. He told him that his wife was there and was learning about God and was doing nothing wrong. The man looked at Rafael and said, “You are a man of God, and I am not worthy of him” and broke down and began crying in front of everyone gathered there. The man eventually left, and Rafael continued his talk.
Their savings went by pretty quick. To attend assemblies every year, it would cost them $300 each time for the round trip journey. At three assemblies a year, that’s $900 a year, $2,700 for the three years they served there. Over half their life savings spent on transportation JUST to be able to attend their yearly assemblies. It’s good for me to hear such experiences because it’s very humbling and it also makes me appreciate more what I’ve taken for granted for all these years.
After 3 years, the branch assigned them from the 2nd most dangerous place in Nicaragua, to the most dangerous place, La Cruz de Río Grande. Due to the violence there, the special pioneer couple that had served there before, left, along with two other couples. So now this is where Rafael and Suleika were serving.
I forget the details, but some unbelieving family members of their bible studies had been involved in killing some cattle, and the family retaliated by murdering some of their family members, some as young as 9 years old. They were now also looking to kill the family that was studying with Rafael and Suleika.
Rafael and Suleika took in the family into their home to protect them, which now made them an accomplice and it would only be a matter of time before they were all killed.
The branch urgently instructed Rafael and Suleika to leave immediately, but they refused. They did not want to abandon their assignment and were determined to stay there, even if it meant risking their own life.
Unwillingly to budge, they got a letter from the branch reassigning them to SJDS. At that point, they didn’t feel like they were abandoning their assignment, so they were able to escape safely, along with the students they were protecting.
They have been asked to be substitute CO’s and are thrilled to have the privilege. It has been a blessing and honor to be able to spend time with them. Suleika always greets me with a big smile and just seeing her makes my day.