What touched me the most was when I apologized for speaking very mediocre Spanish as he said “It’s okay, we’re equals. We’re friends.”
— a youth participant
Nicaragua and El Porvenir — These places have become familiar to many in our congregation. This year 23 members and friends from Sixth Presbyterian Church traveled to Nicaragua to visit the community. The church has had a seven-year relationship with the 42 families of this fair-trade coffee cooperative, and the trip allowed the group a wonderful opportunity to develop friendships and learn about the Nicaraguan culture. This was the largest group to date from Sixth to travel to El Porvenir.
First the team had some orientation in Managua, the country’s capital, where they were hosted by the mission organization called CEPAD, the Council of Protestant Churches of Nicaragua that has worked in the country for nearly forty years. Currently CEPAD runs programs of sustainable agriculture, economic development for women, community organization and training, strengthening of pastoral leadership, exchanges between delegations and partnerships, grade school and high school education.
Besides learning about CEPAD, orientation in Managua included a talk about Nicaragua’s history and culture by a local university history professor, originally from Wyoming. And the team topped off the very full day with a concert at Ruben Dario National Theater.
Then the team headed towards Leon to begin the journey to El Porvenir. This remote community is located about three hours by tractor or pick-up truck up a winding, difficult road on a mountain side. Armed with donations of art supplies, musical instruments, and sports equipment, the group received a warm welcome and spent four days teaching and sharing art and music, and playing soccer and baseball with residents of all ages in the community. The trip participants learned about El Porvenir’s process of growing, producing and selling coffee. They also learned how to make tortillas, attended a worship service, enjoyed the magnificent views of mountains and volcanoes, and experienced daily life on the cooperative.
The intrepid group comprised sixteen youth — Meg, Andrew, Hannah, Ralph, Eli, Elizabeth, Katherine, Sonia, Emma, Ethan, Tyler, Paul, Elena, Bela, Carlisle and Anne. Seven adults — Chris, Sarah, Sue, Jeff, Brenda, Kyle, and Jenny — brought skills in music, art, and the Spanish language.
On a final day, the group visited an artisan market in Masaya and spent a wonderful evening splashing in Laguna de Apoyo, a lake that formed in the crater of a long-extinct volcano.
Click on the Children and Youth Blog for lots more pictures and impressions from the young people.
And yes! You can help El Porvenir. The cooperative’s coffee is roasted and sold locally in Pittsburgh through the organization called Building New Hope. The youth group of Sixth Presbyterian Church sells coffee from Building New Hope on a monthly basis. Contact the church office for more information.