Our mailing address:
Dan Van Zoest
Nicaragua Christian Academy
Managua, Nicaragua; Central America
Dear Family and Friends,
I would like to start today with an apology. We received many wonderful and encouraging emails following our last update. It is always my goal to respond to you personally because we so appreciate your notes. However, it is difficult right now for me to respond to individual emails in the midst of growing responsibilities, etc. We start our day at 6 am and by 9 pm we are often all in bed. I used to spend time late into the evenings emailing people, but this is not possible for me right now. People warned me about this before we arrived here – that I would not be able to keep up the frequency of updates or the personal responses like I had in the States. I do pray that God will continue to help us learn how to manage the privileges and responsibilities He has given us. Please know that we do appreciate you and your encouragement even when you do not hear from us personally. So often you minister to us through your own sharing of God’s faithfulness.
Some have asked about my Dad and my sister. Brenda’s news is good news, as her doctor has determined that the precancer cells that were found can be “frozen” and will not require further surgery at this time. My Dad is doing better in terms of his blood pressure responding to medication and kidney functioning is still looking good per lab results. He does still mention pain down his arm and in his jaw at times, so they are following up with that now. Your continued prayers are appreciated! And please let us know how we can pray for you. Dan and I pray for two of our prayer partner/financial supporters every morning, so please know we are interested in praying for you as well!
Below is a quarterly newsletter from the director of NCA, Liam Starkenburg. Dan has written a few paragraphs about his responsibilities at Nicaragua Christian Academy at the beginning of the newsletter. Thank you again for being a part of this ministry with us through your prayers and through financial support. It really is exciting to see how God is moving here at Nicaragua Christian Academy and in the country of Nicaragua.
What’s Dan working on at NCA?
This week I am working with the principal of NCA on preparing to order textbooks for next year. I am creating a spreadsheet to account for all of our textbooks, so that we will be able to order only the books that are needed for next year. One of the challenges in this process is getting the new textbooks from the US to Nicaragua in a timely manner. While our hope is to be able to have many of the books sent by ship in a container, we may need to have many of the books delivered to Nicaragua by various short-term mission teams coming to work in Nicaragua.
I am also responsible for NCA’s donor relations. This involves a variety of responsibilities, including maintaining NCA’s sponsor a child’s education program, working with ACSI (Association of Christian Schools International) to track donations received and to complete their quarterly reporting, and working on developing a plan to promote NCA’s two large building projects (the Fine Arts Center and teacher housing). In addition, I am working on completing a grant application for NCA’s Nejapa campus and looking at different ways NCA would be able to receive and process financial gifts.
I enjoy being able to spend time with the students of NCA. I play basketball with a group of elementary students two or three times a week during their 15 minute recess. I have been able to spend time with the High School students during a number of special events including a field trip, a career fair and this past Friday I participated in our second annual Spiritual Emphasis Day.
Hopefully this gives you an idea of some of the things I am working on at NCA. Thank you for your support of our family as we serve here at Nicaragua Christian Academy. I am excited to see NCA’s impact grow as we touch the lives of over 500 young students in Nicaragua!
Nicaragua Christian Academy
From December 29 to January 6, a group of 24 bike riders crossed Nicaragua from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean in a fundraising activity called "Sea-To-Sea Nicaragua." The event, organized by Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (CRWRC) and their local partner Acción Médica Cristiana (AMC), was held to raise $200,000 to buy seeds to help farmers replant crops that were lost in Hurricane Felix, a category 5 hurricane that made landfall in Nicaragua in 2007. Through a special arrangement with the Canadian Food Grains Bank, every dollar raised was matched 4:1 by the Canadian government.
Four members of our NCA family (and many others in our community) participated in Sea-To-Sea Nicaragua. Fourth grade teacher Aimee Bootsma, gardener José "Chepe" Medina and tenth grade student Jesse VanderWees were among the riders, and athletic director Rachel Pontier was on the support crew. The bikers totaled over 620 kilometers in their 8-day trip over bumpy roads and through beautiful countryside. There were countless stories and adventures along the way.
On the last day, the Sea-To-Sea bikers enjoyed breakfast at Nicaragua Christian Academy before making their last home stretch ride, finishing up at Pochomil on the Pacific beach that noon. The NCA teachers joined the bikers in prayer after breakfast and sent them off, catching up with them later at the finish line and celebration.
This trip provided an excellent opportunity for our students to see real-life mission work and love for neighbor being acted out close up. Thanks, Sea-To-Sea Nicaragua team, for showing your faith in action! For more information about the bike trip, visit http://bikenica.wordpress.com/.
NCA Nejapa Graduation
Our Spanish-language school, NCA Nejapa, held its first high school graduation this year. On Friday, December 5, our first eight graduates received their diplomas with much applause.
This event marks the culmination of the initial growth phase of NCA Nejapa. The school was started in 2005 in an effort to provide our school's commitment to "Academic Excellence with a Christian Foundation" to parents with a lower economic capacity and in the Spanish language. All of the school's 22 teachers are Nicaraguan, with the exception of one of the English teachers.
NCA Nejapa has grown from a size of 55 students at its inception to 240 students today. This year alone, we added over 100 new students, and this happened without any advertising! Nejapa parents are so happy with the education at their school that they cannot help but recommend the school to all of their friends and family.
Nejapa's mission statement is the same as that of the original campus: "To equip children of Christian parents with the spiritual discernment, the moral courage and the academic excellence to impact society through Christian living motivated by a heartfelt love for God." Nicaragua is a country in desperate need of moral leadership, and we hope and pray that our students will be prepared to make a difference for God! For information about sponsoring a child's education at NCA Nejapa, please visit our website.
A Midnight Cry Leads to an Amazing Salvation
By Carl and Kathy Most
Missionary family at Nicaragua Christian Academy
Serving with Caribbean Ministries Association
Sunday afternoon rolled around and so I was off to Mateare to work with the street youth. Several of the youth and I decided to visit Pablo who was at home recovering from a knife attack earlier in the week (such is the life of a gang member). Pablo is not the kind of guy you want to meet in a dark alley. With tattoos everywhere on his body, you'll often find him either selling drugs or out on the streets wandering in a drunken stupor. Not quite the pride and joy of mom & dad - to put it mildly. The past week however his life was turned upside down by none other than GOD himself.
On Wednesday, Pablo was released from hospital after being treated for 3 stab wounds, one to his lung. Thursday night though, God woke him up in the middle of the night and before you know it, he was up, moving, and prostrate on the floor in his humble home, crying out to God to save him - surrendering his life for God to use and then jumping up and down praising God with the immense joy that flooded His heart. As we all sat in a circle we were captivated by his every word and action. We all got down on our knees in the very same spot where only nights before, God had worked yet another incredible miracle of life giving salvation. We gave thanks for this miracle and renewed our commitments to encourage and follow Him with our lives.
Speaking of miracles, this year God has guided us to place our teenage boys in school at Nicaragua Christian Academy. Jared is a junior this year and Corey is a sophomore. After many years of homeschooling, they are having a blast studying at NCA. They are enjoying so many wonderful Godly teachers who are pouring into their lives on a daily basis. What an eternal investment these teachers are making not only in our sons lives, but in the lives of many Nicaraguan children.
Prayer and Praise
Praise God for His provision of a record high number of students. We now have 275 students enrolled at NCA, after the addition of 7 new students this semester.
Pray that God will begin working in the hearts of potential teachers as He calls them to Nicaragua.
Pray that Nicaragua Christian Academy and NCA Nejapa will be effective in raising up leaders ready and willing to transform their communities and make decisions of integrity based upon God's Word.
Pray for the country of Nicaragua in the midst of difficult economic and political circumstances.
How to contact us:
Dan and Lisa Van Zoest
Nicaragua Christian Academy