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December 2017: Christmas Message From San Josè Church in Jiñocuao
June 2017: Water harvesting and gardening project produces fruits and vegetables in Jiñocuao
December 2016: Recent letter from the coummunity
April 2016: April Letter from Jiñocuao April 2016: Easter Letter from Jiñocuao October 2015: Update from Jiñocuao
July 2015: Recent letter from the coummunity
August 2014: Weathering the Summer
May 2011: Report on Delegation from Jiñocuao to Takoma Park
December 2009: Why was that chicken in the window?
October 2005: Nicaraguan Kairos Delegation Visits TPPC and Damascus UMC
February 2005: Letter from Jiñocuao Shows Community Under Stress from Prolonged Drought
November 2004: Reflections and Challenges
May 2003: Jiñocuao Delegation Coming in May (2003)
Thank You For Recent Donations!
August 2001: TPPC Sends 10-member delegation to Jiñocuao
2000: "Hope Baskets" sent to drought-stricken families in Nicaragua
June 2000: News from Jiñocuao
March 2000: Delegations Brings Back Warm Greetings from Jiñocuao
March 2000: What's going on down there?
1999: Feed A Farm Family
We have received a Christmas message from the brothers and sisters of San Josè Church,
our sister church in Jiñocuao, Nicaragua.
The first page is an English translation; the original Spanish email is on the second page.
The Jiñocuao Committee of Takoma Park Presbyterian Church received this report from Julio Huete of the San José Church, our sister parish in Jiñocuao, Nicaragua.
With the thousand dollars received from Takoma Park Presbyterian Church last year for the water harvesting and gardening project, five members of the Jiñocuao church have benefited (one in El Papalón, two in La Ceiba and two Morazán). Four members already have their cistern to store water collected from the gutters on their roofs and with their gardens; the fifth member is in the process of building his cisterns.
They have planted eggplants, tomatoes, watermelons, papayas, yucca and sweet potatos. Some of these gardeners are already producing fruits thanks to the rainwater collected in the cisterns.
Each of the five persons was given $200 dollars and will repay 50 percent by February 2018. This project is showing good results in view of the need for food in families and as an alternative to drought.
On the other hand, the rains have been good, and our river has water, the water wells are already recovering and families are planting maize and legumes for daily sustenance.
Greetings to the Jiñocuao Committee and to the church. We hope to see you soon again. This Sunday (June 4) we celebrated the feast of Pentecost, it was a very happy occasion and animated by the presence of the Holy Spirit.
Brothers and sisters, many greetings and may our God fill you with health and spiritual blessings. For the committee and the community, your brother Julio. Receive kisses and hugs from all the members of our church. Until next time, beloved brothers and sisters.
Translated by David Olson
This holiday letter (translated from Spanish) was sent from the San José Church, our sister church in Jiñocuao, Nicaragua, to the Takoma Park Presbyterian Church on Dec. 30, 2016. The high school, scholarships and rainwater harvesting project mentioned in the letter were all supported by TPPC.
Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year,
May Christmas help us always keep the baby Jesus in the crib in our heart. Born between us with the brotherhood relationship that we maintain and we will maintain throughout our lives, passing from generation to generation.
We have done community activities such as the pure conception of Mary, the inns and different reflections that lead us to live a season full of peace, brotherhood and wishes to be better every day.
This past December 5th the first high school graduation was held in our high school, 23 students graduated hoping to find opportunities for college and technical studies to help their families and the community.
Also the Council of Protestant Churches of Nicaragua (CEPAD) informed us of the money for the scholarships of students who will get their university degree, the funds for the rainwater harvesting project and the scholarship for the volunteer teacher Yelson Carrasco and that soon we will receive it.
We appreciate every gesture of love towards us and we hope to achieve good results in the spiritual, community and social arenas for the coming year. May God our Father grant you many blessings. We send greetings to the Jiñocuao Committee and all the members of the church.
Affectionately, Takoma Park Presbyterian Church Committee of Jiñocuao,
Coordinator Julio Huete
Jiñocuao, Somotillo 29 de Abril 2016
Dear brothers and sisters, that the peace of God dwell in your hearts and in your homes are our fondest wishes. Thanks to our Higher Being, we stay lively and full of faith. In this month, we find it difficult to live as temperatures rise, generating much heat during the day and at night.
Currently we are experiencing a water crisis, the river is dry, there are only a few small deposits of water to wash clothes and water the cattle. Wells that give us drinking water have mostly dried up. In La Ceiba (a sector of Jinocuao), there is queuing up from dawn to get 40 liters of water, negligible for a family of up to 10 people. In the sector of Papalon it is the same, the well that supplied the population has dried up and people have had to move to another place. Other sectors also suffer. In the case of La Plaza, that has a mini aqueduct, people are rationing water every other day.
We want you to pray that there is enough water. Although rain has fallen twice recently, still water levels do not rise. This year the phenomenon of La Niña affects the Central American region, which gives much hope of life, as long as there is no problem with hurricanes.
On the other hand, there has been training of 19 producers from different sectors of the community in home gardening with the good intention that every family has its own garden and can survive the effects of climate change. The secondary school garden is serving as a model, as the students practice their skills at home.
Always we pray that God keeps you and we continue to be sister churches for eternity. From our community we send greetings and hugs to all our brothers and sisters of the Presbyterian Church, wishing that God allows us to meet again.
Lovingly your sister community of Jiñocuao
Translated by David Olson
We received a lovely Easter letter from our brothers and sisters at our sister parish in Jinocuao, Nicaragua. It recounts the many Easter activities they are undertaking and ends like this:
"On Sunday, the day of the resurrection, we joyfully celebrate Jesus Christ's victory over sin and death. Brothers and sisters, despite the drought, we have life. Our wells are drying up but we continue strong in faith. We wish you a Happy Easter and that our Lord Jesus Christ bless you. We greet the Jinocuao Committee and all the families of Takoma Park Presbyterian Church. On behalf of the community, your brothers and sisters, Paula, Rosa and Julio."
On Oct. 3, Elder David Olson arrived in Managua to represent TPPC in a week-long "International Encounter," in which U.S. churches engage in work and fellowship with their Nicaraguan church partners. The encounter is organized by CEPAD (the Council of Protestant Churches of Nicaragua), the organization that facilitates the relationship between our two churches. Two members of the Jiñocuao church, Francisca Arce Ponce and Jose Andres Aguilera Diaz, will also participate in the encounter.
David has written an article for Church Life about his experiences, which appears here.
The following letter was shared during our time in prayer on July 26th.
Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Jesus Christ,
Today we process from each sector of our community to our church in order to pray for rain. We have had a prolonged drought. We lost an entire harvest. We have all suffered because of this drought. Also we don't know how we will feed our animals. We pray to God to give us rain.
We ask you to pray for us because we don't know when this will turn into a disaster. On the other hand, our community has stayed united, full of faith and hope, always building the kingdom of God. We want to thank you for supporting the teachers of our high school, especially Professor Yelson Rene Carrasco.
With love and affection, your brothers and sisters from Jiñocuao,
Julio, Paula & Vilma
Months of severe drought in Nicaragua and other Central American countries devastated the first harvest this year in Jiñocuao, where our church has had a sister parish relationship since 1992. However, September rains encouraged people to plant a second crop and hope has returned that not all will be lost in 2014.
On August 7, four members of the Jiñocuao church sent a letter to TPPC's Jiñocuao Committee describing the dire situation:
"The families in our community, and in Nicaragua as a whole, are experiencing a chaotic situation, related to the phenomenon of the DROUGHT that has greatly affected our corn and bean crops as well as the pasture for our livestock, such as cattle, horse and chickens. Although our first harvest this year failed, we nonetheless send greetings of love, faith and affection, always hoping for the blessings of our heavenly Father ... this Wednesday, we met in the church to reenact the multiplication of the loaves, the miracle that was possible due to the loaves and fishes that the disciples had, which were sufficient to feed five thousand."
You can access the entire letter (PDF) on the TPPC website.
The letter also mentions that four ninth grade students have won prizes in municipal competitions due to "the hard work of the volunteer teachers, who with much love and effort have dedicated themselves to give their all to teaching."
And at our own church, the Jiñocuao Committee launched a campaign in September to raise funds to help the teachers of the Jiñocuao High School, who are unpaid volunteers, finish their education and get their teacher certification so they can become salaried teachers.
College costs in Nicaragua are modest by U.S. standards but hard for families in rural Nicaragua to meet. The teachers need only $60 per month for 10 months. The Jiñocuao Committee is trying to raise $1,800, which are the estimated costs for the coming school year.
A report on the May 2011 Delegatiion from Jiñocuao to Takoma Park Presbyterian Church (PDF) is linked to this website.
You may remember that there was a rooster statue and a bowl of shelled corn in one of our windows during Advent. Since the chicken arrived the day after our first big snow, and there weren't a lot of folks in church, here's the story.
The Jiñocuao committee has been working with our counterparts in Nicaragua to find ways for our two communities to be united in spirit by sharing worship ideas and activities.
When the committee sent the community an email asking him about how the people there were celebrating Christmas, and also looking for ideas about what we could put in an Advent window, we got the following reply:
Dec 9, 2009
Dear brothers and sisters in Takoma Park,
We hope that with this letter you received the spirit of our community and the countless greetings, kisses and hugs from each of your fellow Christians. We say that our Christmas celebrations start with the celebration of "la Purisima." (La Purisima - the purest one - refers to the Virgin Mary.) We started on 29 November and continued until the evening of December 7, when we had a service at the church.
We celebrate on December 24 with a vigil at night until 1:00 in the morning, expecting the birth of the Christ Child. For that evening we've prepared several girls who will go out dressed as shepherdesses, singing to the newborn child and the Magi and Joseph and Mary, who will be with the baby. On this night the community decided to read and reflect on one of the readings that you will be using in Takoma Park.
Moreover, in each sector we have organized mini retreats in the community. Each group will be sharing about their lives and reading biblical texts. For the 26, 27 and 28 December we will have a follow-up retreat in the church.
As for the window you are going to prepare for us (on the fourth Sunday of Advent), we say that we are very happy and excited. The elements that we would like to be included are:
A corn plant, which symbolizes our most basic food. Our survival depends on this.
A hen, which is the typical dish. THAT IS THE CHRISTMAS DINNER. You could also have sorghum, wheat, beans, and sesame, with a Bible in the center.
We are doing the Posadas from December 16 to 24. It is taking place in the plaza area, one night in each house. People from the sectors of the community come down, and we go around from 5 pm until 7 pm. We chose a girl who goes as Mary and a young man like Joseph. We sing and then when we get to the house, Joseph knocks on the door and asks if they have any room to stay (posada). We sing a special song and then go in, still singing. Then we celebrate God's word.
The letter ended with warm wishes to everyone at TPPC from each of the sectors of the community there.
And that's the story of the chicken on the window.
On October 9, a delegation of eight Nicaraguan men and women will begin a week-long visit with Takoma Park Presbyterian Church and Damscus United Methodist Church. The visit will end a month-long tour of U.S. churches in California, Minnesota, Massachusetts and Maryland. The trip is sponsored by TPPC and other churches in the Kairos organization of U.S. and Nicaraguan faith communities.
The Nicaraguan representatives are coming to learn about life in the U.S., and to educate North Americans about the current social and economic reality in Nicaragua and how it is affected by global policies and events. They also want to bring hope to their North American sisters and brothers in these difficult times. Finally, they want to teach others about the Kairos organization, which seeks to promote understanding and social justice through sister relationships between U.S. and Nicaraguan faith communities.
February 23, 2005
To our brothers and sisters at Takoma Park Presbyterian Church
Dear brothers and sisters,
Receive our loving greetings from all of your brothers and sisters in the church of Jiñocuao. Our fondest wish is that God may fill you with many blessings. We write to tell you the news of our community and to ask about yours.
Thanks be to God that we are always enlivened and inspired by our work to build God's kingdom here on earth. We were very excited about the visit we received from Jo and Dean Hoge and other members of the community of Christ who visited us in January. We hope that you enjoyed the product of the work they did with the children here, which we sent back to you. At the moment we are preparing to celebrate feasts of the patron saints of our church.
As you know, this is the season of Lent. During this time we attend church every Friday to pray to Christ on the cross. Our Friday services are in addition to Sunday, when we pray for the health of people in our community and your community who are sick. We hope to hear that people who have been sick are now feeling better.
We want you to know that the Army of the United States is building a clinic nearby, in the area of the Health Center.
We also want you to know that the death of a young woman in our community has deeply affected us. This young member of our sister relationship was Ligia Elena, the daughter of Eulalia. She died February 14. The whole community mourned her passing very much.
Something that worries us very much is that the wells and the river are drying up. The farmers sowed sesame seeds last year in hopes of getting a good price for them, but it was a disaster. Some of them didn't even get back the money they spent on seeds. These farmers were not able to sow corn this year, because they had no money to buy seed. Now they have neither money nor seeds.
We hope you will keep us in your prayers.
Until soon, and may God bless you,
Your brothers and sisters.
In November, Diane Curran and I had the privilege of representing TPPC at the 4th International Encounter, or coming together, of the 13 Nicaraguan and U.S. churches that make up the Kairos family, or the "Asociación Kairos Para la Formación" (AKF). To get an idea of our experience, think back to the spring of 2003 and our lively and provocative workshops and worship service with the Jiñocuao delegation and Elena and Luis. Add 50 delegates from all over Nicaragua and the U.S and a generous helping of translators, and set them down for a week in the Garden of Eden -- a secluded retreat center outside Managua, where high walls enclosed airy and pleasant living and meeting quarters amid acres of exotic tropic flowers, birds and butterflies. Then throw in the bluest sky, warmest sunshine, and ever-playful breeze. Top it off with plenty of time between workshops to relax and enjoy new-found friends over meals, on long walks, and lounging with the lizards (small ones) on the veranda. For all of us -- northern office workers and southern peasant farmers -- it was a healing retreat from the stresses and strains of our daily lives.
In this simple but idyllic setting, we took time for prayer, Biblical reflection and open and honest dialogue with each other. As the week unfolded, we came to more clearly understand each other, the realities in which we live, and what AKF as an organization is. I was struck by the similarities of each community's goals, both U.S. and Nicaraguan, for the encounter-hope, joy, love, encouragement and energy, improved knowledge about and better relationships with all our brothers and sisters.
One thing we came away with was a renewed commitment by both northern and southern communities to focus our relationship on education and empowerment rather than direct economic aid. While we do provide emergency financial support to our sister communities (such as relief for Hurricane Mitch several years ago), or main goal is to support the educational and community-organizing work that Kairos does. While we struggle sometimes with this discipline, we affirmed the benefits, including:
_ Leadership training in interpretation of Scripture
_ Increased confidence by community members to speak and participate in community decisions
_ Better management of community and family resources
_ Improved effectiveness in taking care of community assistance programs
_ Sharing of community development skills with other communities
What do the Nicaraguans see as our role in this relationship? They ask us to share what we have learned about their lives with our congregation, family and friends. They asked us to study how our government policies (like the Central American Trade Agreement and neo-liberal economic policies) affect them adversely -- and to work hard to change them! And as Irela (from Jiñocuao) put it to us passionately, "May you not be afraid to denounce what you know is not right." ---Ruth Noel
The first weekend in May will bring our long-awaited visitors from our sister faith community in Jiñocuao, Nicaragua. JOIN IN this joyous coming together, this celebration of the ties that bind us as sisters and brothers in Christ.
Since its beginnings over a decade ago, our relationship to this group of rural, faith-filled Christians has involved a two-way friendship between our communities. Personal visits are a key way the relationship is nourished and strengthened. At least six TPPC delegations have gone South - this is our second groups of visitors coming north. (Their lack of financial resources mean that we fund the trips north.)
Their fond hope is to meet EVERYONE in our congregation. We're going to try our best to make that happen. "Delegation" has a rather stiff and formal sound. There is NOTHING formal or stiff about these folks- think warm, friendly, interested in you, open to sharing themselves. And there is nothing formal or stiff about the events we are planning during their visit. Baseball and soccer games, worship, small dinners in homes, zoo and canoe trips, facilitated dialogues and a farewell fiesta -- all of these are for you to make a real connection and become part of this relationship of faith and love.
It's a mistake to think of this as a visit to some small group in our church that has had a direct connection with Jinocuao. No! This is a visit to each and every person and family in our congregation. Yes, there is a committee that supports the relationship to Jinocauo on an ongoing basis and is doing the work for the delegation. But the committee is eager to involve all of you. Let the excitement about this trip be infectious!! - we want to share something joyous and meaningful, to invite you into a wonderful friendship in faith.
We try as a church to graciously extend hospitality to people who come through our doors. For this occasion I'd like to suggest a term I learned from a Benedictine sister a while back -- "HEARTS-PITALITY." Welcoming with the heart. That's what this delegation visit is about.
Highlights from the schedule of events is already available on our website. The full schedule will be up in the church. There are many ways to help, engage, and offer ideas about things for our visitors to do. Contact the Jinocuao committee for more information on how to participate. Transportation and translators are especially needed for all these events.
Thanks to everyone who donated to the collection for emergency food baskets for Jiñocuao. Contributions totalled $1,700, which exceeded the committee's target of $1,500!
Funds are still being collected for the delegation's travel costs. We are at about $5,500 now, and anticipate that we will need about $7,000. All contributions are welcome!
To contribute you may write checks to the church (TPPC) and designate on the note line that your gift is for the "delegation trip". Checks can either be dropped in the collection plate during Sunday worship or mailed to the church office at the following address:
Takoma Park Presbyterian Church
310 Tulip Avenue,
Takoma Park, MD 20912
On August 5, 2001, a delegation of five high school students and five adults went for a ten-day visit with our sister parish in Jiñocuao, Nicaragua. Elder Mara Sanchez wrote about the delegation's experiences for an article in a recent edition of Church Life - this article appears here with her permission.
With the sending of this delegation, our church realized a shared dream of both our congregation and the community in Jiñocuao, that we could get our youth groups together on a delegation. It was an added bonus that so many adults were also able to go! This was by far the largest delegation from TPPC that has ever visited Jiñocuao.
The task of raising a large sum of money for the delegation's travel expenses for such a large group called for some creative fundraising. Many church members applied their creative talents and elbow grease to put on a delightful Fiesta de Amistad in July, with salsa music, dancing lessons, and delicious food donated by local Latin restaurants. The event drew lots of church members, neighbors, and dance aficionados from around the Washington area, and the Fellowship Hall was alive with music and dancing until almost midnight. We also sold "shares" in the trip, to church members and shoppers at the Takoma Park Farmers' Market.
The outpouring of generosity from the TPPC congregation and the local community was quite amazing. The church was able to raise over $7,000 in donations, Fiesta ticket sales and sales of shares in the trip. Added together with the amount that the delegates themselves put in for their trip costs, we had more than enough funds to cover the $10,000 in expenses for the trip. The delightful result is that there is a hefty sum of funds left over than we can apply to the cost of bringing a delegation from Jiñocuao to TPPC, sometime next year!
In a cruel irony, after finally recovering from the agricultural damage caused by Hurricane Mitch's massive rains and flooding in 1998, Nicaragua has now been struck by drought. Large portions of the countryside have lost two harvests in a row due to lack of rain. The drought is having a very serious effect on the nine Kairos communities in Nicaragua. As one resident of Jiñocuao put it, "we must choose between feeding our farm animals and feeding our children." Starvation is a looming threat. The drought has its severest effect on rural communities, where subsistence farmers depend on their harvests to put food on the table. But it also affects urban communities, who depend on affordable farm produce to live.
The cycle of drought and devastating storms is a serious and long-term issue that our sister communities must grapple with. They face the possibility that climate change has rendered their communities uninhabitable as they are now, and they must either find means of irrigating their land or move elsewhere like Biblical sojourners. The extent to which the drastic weather swings in Nicaragua - and the suffering they cause - can be attributed to global warming caused by our profligate use of energy here in the North is something for every Christian to ponder during this Advent season.
During the Advent season of 2000, the six Kairos sister churches in the U.S. reached out with a sign of hope and solidarity: a "Hope Basket" of food staples that will help each of 380 Nicaraguan families survive for a month. The baskets, containing rice, beans, corn, sugar, coffee, cooking oil, and kerosene, were delivered to each of the nine Nicaraguan Kairos communities during the Advent Season, by the Kairos Team in Managua. The cost of the entire effort, which includes all food and transportation costs, is $35,000.
We humbly recognize that the crisis caused by the drought has deep and tangled roots, and that the Hope Baskets will not "fix" them. But we believe it is important to give a loving sign to our brothers and sisters that they are not alone in their struggle.
Here is a letter received from Elena Hendrick and Luis Aguirre, leaders of the AKF--Kairos Organization in Nicaragua, detailing the success of the effort to provide a "Hope Basket" of food staples to 380 Nicaraguan families. We thank those who supported our efforts to help Elena and Luis in this important effort.
A letter from the Commission of the community of Jiñocuao was recently received by the Jiñocauo committee. The letter was written in June, but its arrival here was delayed by problems with couriers and e-mail. There is much interesting and good news in the letter, including the first election of new Commission members in ten years (possibly inspired by information we have shared regarding our own process for regularly electing new Session members at TPPC); and news of a community revolving loan program that is funded by the Feed a Farm Family program that TPPC participated in with five other U.S. Kairos churches during the summer of 1999. The loan program serves all the nine Nicaraguan parishes that are part of the Kairos family.
John Seaman, Madline Morsha-Taylor, Judi Harris and Diane Curran have returned safely from a ten-day trip to Nicaragua in Januay that included a wonderful visit with our sister parish in the rural community of Jiñocuao, Nicaragua. They brought back many warm greetings from our brothers and sisters in Jiñocuao, who received the delegation with tremendous enthusiasm and warmth. The members of the delegation shared reflections of their visit to Jiñocuao in worship during February and March of 2000.
Here is a letter from our brothers and sisters in Jiñocuao received after our delegation's visit there.
On February 18, Nancy Talbot and Elizabeth MacGregor also went to Nicaragua to participate in the annual Encounter between the 15 North American and Nicaraguan sister parishes who are part of the Kairos organization. They returned on February 28.
For an example of the delicious food our delegations were treated to in Nicaragua, try Mariana's Tortas de Soya, a recipe for soy cakes.
In March, Dean and Jo Hoge visited Jiñocuao to represent TPPC at the opening of a new vocational school.
Jesus charged his disciples in Matthew 10 to go out and bring good news - without bringing extra clothes, gold, or copper coins. Our visit was begun with this passage and this challenge. Our facilitators Ellen and Luis asked us this time to go to Jiñocuao without gifts - except the gift of ourselves. Indeed, over the years, TPPC has been generous in its giving both in helping to fund passage back and forth to Nicaragua, support for local projects and scholarships, as well as providing much needed assistance after Hurricane Mitch - but is our relationship all about material giving in one direction? Judi poignantly asked during the week in Jiñocuao, "Am I the gift that Jesus wants to give?" What do we have to offer if we are left with simply offering ourselves? Luis encouraged us several times during a powerful and moving week with the community - to see what Jesus asked of his disciples to share with others. He encouraged us to see what Jesus asks of us in walking with a remote community at times forgotten by others, to see what he asks us to hear from that very community which are these words - "you are not alone.." Is this not the good news Jesus asks each of us to carry and to hear. You are not alone, God is with you, I, Jesus am with you, we his disciples are here for each other...
We spent an intense, moving, and fun week - living with and enjoying families, seeing their land andng at the front of the church as if on the VIP stage. Our last night of worship, however, we sat with our family, the community of Jiñocuao - with Julio and Esperanza, with Chindo and Saturnino, with Eulalia and Candida, with Valentin and Aurelio.
The delegation and community both spoke of recharged batteries and new energy as a result of the visit and the presence of Takoma Park Presbyterian Church through four members. We have been heartened by much interest and thoughtful questions at the dinners, after church and at meetings about this relationship. May we continue to walk with our family in Jiñocuao, as they walk with us. May God continue to bless us through this journey, and may we continue to feel and to know that each of us are not alone.
Throughout the summer and fall of 1999, members of the congregation of the Takoma Park Presbyterian Church used several venues to raise money for the Feed a Farm Family project. The money raised will help to fund projects in Jiñocauo and other villages in Nicaragua that are still recovering from Hurrican Mitch last year. This hurricane destroyed the crops, the soil, and washed away many homes. The communities are working together in new ways to stretch the support they receive. We hope our fund raising efforts will make a difference!