Truckee church members do service in Nicaragua for Ski/Skate Week | SierraSun.com

Truckee church members do service in Nicaragua for Ski/Skate Week

Special to the Sun

Members of the Truckee Lutheran Presbyterian Church spent a week in February volunteering in Nicaragua, partnering with the nonprofit CEPAD.

TRUCKEE, Calif. — A delegation of eight members of the Truckee Lutheran Presbyterian Church spent Ski and Skate Week in February volunteering in Nicaragua.

The team is part of an ongoing partnership with CEPAD, an ecumenical nonprofit serving the people of Nicaragua by building schools and supporting sustainability in its villages.

The volunteer team began their service at the CEPAD School in the colonial city of León. The team painted three classrooms but the highlight was presenting the school with 18 laptop computers.

"When the computers were first presented, there was a lot of confused chatter," stated Rev. Jeanie Shaw, pastor of Truckee Lutheran Presbyterian Church and mission trip leader. "The students had never seen a laptop before. After a student yelled out, 'Computadora,' the whole assembly erupted in gleeful pandemonium."

"Nicaragua is the second poorest country in our hemisphere," said Dr. Grace Chou of Tahoe Donner and mission volunteer, "and to empower these students with technology was the gift of a lifetime."

Dr. Chou took the task of installing the computers for the school. The team then visited the District of San Fransico Libre, a high desert region that ranks the poorest in the Nicaraguan.

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They visited the small village of Las Huertas, where the entire village gathered at the home of their community leader and welcome us.

"The village is comprised of only 29 families," Pastor Shaw describes. "Their one or two room houses are handmade of adobe or cement blocks. Cooking is done over firewood in outdoor clay ovens. Floors are just packed earth."

The village has no refrigeration or running water. Electricity was only introduced last year. And domestic animals roam freely everywhere; cows, chickens, turkeys, pigs and dogs.

Cattle are driven down the road twice a day led by men on horseback. Oxcarts take loads of firewood to sell into other nearby villages. But everything is clean in Las Huertas, dirt yards swept every day at dawn.

The leaders of the village had chosen water collection as the primary project this year and the Truckee team provided eight families with large cisterns, tubing for gutters on the houses and plastic sheeting for a large catch pond for collecting water during the rainy season.

The team also provided tools for the village and together with the villagers, dug out the collecting ponds.

"It was a good thing we had Wolverine baseball players on our Truckee team," Pastor Shaw observed. "They could really swing those pick axes."

As a pilot project, the team also brought five solar ovens and demonstrated how they worked to the villagers.

"There was real excitement when they learned that their rice would never burn again," Shaw said.

"Nicaragua is a culture with beautiful formality," Dr. Chou observed. "We were presented with beautiful, yet formal, welcome speeches and prayers."

Spencer Edmundson and Jack and Tiege Wright gave the Nicaraguan youth enough baseball equipment for the whole village and a game immediately got underway.

Baseball is their national pastime, and the boys were quickly led to a sugar cane field where the villagers, wielding machetes, cut the cane down to make a baseball diamond.

Ash from fire pits was spread to mark the lines, and they yelled, "¡Jugar a la pelota!"or "Play Ball!" Teams were chosen, and the Truckee boys pitched and balls were batted skyward (almost lost in the sugarcane stalks). Afterward, the laughter and high fives between teams needed no translation.

"We come from two different countries," Shaw said in a formal thank you, "but we are all Americans — North Americans and South Americans. And most importantly, we are all one in Christ."

The Truckee Team shared reflections of the experience at the March 12, 9 a.m. service at the Truckee Lutheran Presbyterian Church on Hope Court.

This article was provided by the Lutheran Presbyterian church in Truckee. Visit http://tlpc.org to learn more.

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