New in Managua

A PC(USA) mission letter from Nicaragua (2014 Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 44)

September 17, 2014

CEPAD

Renee Sundberg (third from left) and Justin Sundberg (right, back) with the leadership of CEPAD. —Photo courtesy of CEPAD.

MANAGUA

On our first full day in Managua, June 23, the rain greeted us with a mysterious pounding calm and refreshment, in a way we had never experienced in Seattle.  It seemed to simultaneously cleanse our souls a little from the frantic scramble to pack up our home and has served as a bridge to familiar memories associated with our soggy native soil. 

After the downpour the sodden earth smelled fresh and renewed with possibility — reminding us of how God’s steadfast love is dynamic and mercy is renewing us as we finally make our much anticipated arrival in Nicaragua. 

For the people of Nicaragua, the fits and starts to the arrival of the rainy season have been an experience where hope lifts one day, then wilts the next. The delay of the rains this year has caused the death of livestock and great concern over the vitality of crops — both of which are of paramount importance. 

So as you think of us and continue to pray for Nicaragua, pray for all who labor here to work toward sustainable solutions for year-round access to potable drinking water, for sufficient water for irrigation and animals, and for government and non-government agencies as they also work together to address these challenges.

In typical Nicaraguan style, with great deference to their guests and demonstrating hospitality, the leadership of our host organization — the Council of Protestant Churches of Nicaragua (CEPAD) ― treated us to a wonderful lunch and gave us the most welcome of embraces. 

During our meal together we heard more about why CEPAD was founded in 1972. We knew about how in the wake of the devastating earthquake that destroyed Managua, which took the lives of thousands and undid much of the nation’s vibrancy, churches came together to coordinate relief efforts, but we were surprised to learn how a Presbyterian pastor’s example of service and humble nature in CEPAD’s formative stages still guides its vision of listening to communities’ values and strengths and then walking alongside them to reach for their dreams. 

Our hosts were very enthused about the special relationship between CEPAD and the Presbyterian Church since its inception. What a gift it is to step into such a rich legacy!

For those of you who are less familiar with our partner, CEPAD works to improve the lives of economically impoverished communities by promoting justice and peace. Groups from the United States visit Nicaragua frequently to participate in the ministries of CEPAD.

We will receive visiting groups, coordinate their activities to reflect the priorities of CEPAD, set up in-country logistics, plan the educational program with delegation leaders, and lead reflections with people who visit. We also will facilitate partnership relationships between U.S. churches and Nicaraguan churches and institutions.

To our four children’s delight, we have welcomed new creatures and foods into our lives:  lovely birds who sing all day long, the geckos who come at night, and the dogs and the pigs we see on the streets. 

We are also very thankful for the perpetual breezes that have eased our very slow, but typical, acclimation to the heat. “It’s hot here” is a normal response when one of our kids is asked their impressions of Nicaragua. They, along with their parents, comment on their love of the food — the pollo (chicken), gallo pinto (rice and beans), and all the delicious fruit that is so abundant.

A large part of our welcome has come from you, the many who have enthusiastically supported and truly joined us in this new venture. Some of you, from all over the U.S., are part of churches that have had relationships for many years with rural communities supported by CEPAD.  

Others of you reading this know very little about the work we are undertaking but have asked to stay connected to us — we hope you’ll soon find yourselves swept up into the beauty and ingenuity of the Nicaraguan peoples and want to become partners in helping them to forge new futures for themselves. We welcome your partnership through prayer, financial support, and any way you choose to communicate with us. 

During our time of preparation in the U.S. and in our initial days here we have experienced continual glimpses of the faithful provision and grace of God.  We are so thankful.

To visit the web pages of all Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) mission workers, visit Mission Connections.

  1. I enjoyed reading this article. We were helped greatly by CEPAD when we first moved to Nicaragua as fledgling missionaries in 2001. Without knowing us they helped us deal with aduana (customs) and retrieve our containers when no one else helped us. Nicaragua took hold of our hearts in 1995 when we visited for the first time. We moved here in 2001 to bless the needy children. Our ministry is: www.ministeriomateo516.com

    by Lynne Schweitzer

    June 1, 2015

  2. Justin and Rene, Thank you for your uplifting letter from Nica, a place of my heart after many visits there. The spirit and courage of people there is overwhelming, though many wade through the mire of political disenfranchisement and financial woes. May your Christ-led work be fruitful as you work with amazing people. Hope to see you there in the future.

    by Trish Sargent

    September 18, 2014