(This update was written by Dan)
Dear Family and Friends,
It's great to be able to share with you again. I have written an update below that takes you from the time we first arrived in Nicaragua to one of the possibilities for the future of Nicaragua Christian Academy. I also have added a bunch of pictures and a couple of videos to our blog at www.vanzoest.blogspot.com. Please take a few minutes and check them out.
I wanted to update you on the accident we talked about in our last update. The driver in the accident was released from jail within a couple of days of the accident. Please continue to pray for him as he deals with the feelings of guilt from the death of two of his friends. He was trying to avoid an oncoming vehicle that was swerving on the road at a high rate of speed. He ended up losing control and the truck he was driving went off the road and rolled over. In our NCA staff devotions this morning one of Matthew's teachers talked about how special Matthew was to her. She shared how on a recent project he needed to talk about his future and the last thing he had written on his project was that he wanted to "Be a man used by God". Thank you for your prayers.
We have had an incredible seven months in Nicaragua. We arrived on October 29, 2008 and began adjusting to life in the capital city of Managua. Some things are familiar and many things are very different. One of the differences includes the scenery around us. When we drive down the road we are able to see several large volcanoes and when I walk down the short street we live on, I see the following growing in the trees: coconuts, bananas, limes, lemons, jicotaes, mangos, and avocados. These trees remind me of one my favorite Psalm. Psalm 1 describes a tree that is planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. I pray that our family would be like a tree - rooted in Christ Jesus and yielding fruit in season.
It didn't take long for the government of Nicaragua to remind us how important the ministry of Nicaragua Christian Academy is for the future of this country. In November two days of school were cancelled due to rioting in the streets of Managua. The rioting occurred as a result of accusations of tampering with the voting related to the mayoral elections that were held in cities all over Nicaragua. Throughout its history, Nicaragua has suffered as a result of leaders who have led from selfish motives rather than being servant leaders, as modeled by Jesus. One of our goals at NCA is to raise up future Christian Nicaraguan servant leaders. Approximately 55% of the students at NCA's English school and nearly all of the students at NCA's Spanish school are Nicaraguan. NCA will graduate 36 students this year between both of our schools. Many of our students express a desire to join God in what He is doing in their country. Please pray for them as some will begin looking for jobs and many will continue their education in colleges in the US and in Nicaragua.
My work at the school has gone well and I have learned more about the school and my role here. I have also enjoyed getting to know the American and Nicaraguan staff that I work alongside. Our Spanish school had six computers stolen this past November and I have been working to find a way to replace them. I recently received the news that the organization I have been working with will provide us with 12 used computers. These computers will replace the stolen ones and provide additional computers that were needed to expand our computer lab. I am learning more about the details of managing our student sponsorship program and over the past several months we have been able to match an additional six students with sponsors from North America. In addition to working on NCA's donor relations, I recently have substitute taught for our High School Bible class and gone with the High School students on a field trip. I have enjoyed getting to know a number of the students at NCA since we arrived and I look forward to seeing how God will use them in the future.
A New School?
The NCA school board is actively looking into opening our 3rd school in Nicaragua. We currently have two schools, our original English school and in 2005 we opened our Spanish school. Here are some details on each of the schools:
Name: Nicaragua Christian Academy
Year established: 1991
Number of students: 273
Grades: Pre-K through High School
Student make-up: 30% MKs (Missionary Kids), 55% Nicaraguan, 15% Other countries (South Korea, Canada, Guatemala, China, El Salvador, Mexico, Costa Rica, Honduras)
Curriculum: United States
School Year: August to May
Nicaragua Christian Academy began with two teachers and seven students as the result of three evangelical missionary families seeking an English-language Christian education for their own children.
Name: Nicaragua Christian Academy - Nejapa
Year established: 2005
Number of students: 271
Grades: Pre-K through High School
Student make-up: Almost completely Nicaraguan
School Year: February to November
NCA Nejapa models the strengths of the mother school with two main differences. First, the daughter school uses Spanish as a primary language with English taught as a part of the core curriculum. Second, the tuition for NCA Nejapa is approximately one-fourth of that of NCA in order to reach the Nicaraguan middle class ($6,000 - $12,000 a year).
While the school board is looking at different possibilities, we do not have any definite plans right now. We will see what God has in store for NCA in the coming years...
Thank you for your prayers and your support!