Chacocente Christian School Creates Student Marching Band
One of CCS administration’s priorities for 2012 was to provide more extracurricular opportunities for the student body. Because students responded so well to participating in state sporting competitions this year, the administration wanted to explore other avenues of after-school activities (one of them being music) in which the students could be involved.
Thanks to the generous donation made by North Congregational United Church of Christ in Columbus, Ohio, CCS has formed a 34-member marching band comprised of both primary and secondary students. Two CCS teachers, Luis Gutierrez and German Noguera, lead the band.
“Our band is important for two reasons:” says CCS Principal Ervin Ruiz “Firstly, the band will enable our children to commemorate their country’s national holidays with joy and patriotism. In the past, we have had to rent bands for our national holiday celebrations at school. But now that we have a band, the children can provide the music. Secondly, the band will help develop the students’ skills and abilities in music.”
Principal Ruiz went on to explain that they hope to get the band involved in various events, festivals, and parades put on by Nicaragua’s Ministry of Education each year.
We are so happy that the students can demonstrate their creativity and talent in this way, and look forward to hearing more about their involvement in the musical community!
Electricity Comes to Project Chacocente
Project Chacocente is nearing its completion of installing power lines on the property. After accumulating nearly $31,000. 00 US dollars in donations, the Project contracted a private company to install electric lines in the houses, school buildings, and well. “There are many benefits of having electricity mainly the security it provides for the families” says Director Gabriel Godinez.
In the past, the families had very little and unpredictable access to electricity. They heavily relied on candles, lamps, and fires to light their homes at night. Not only was this a fire hazard, but it also made working around the house and doing homework at night very difficult. Now that the families have a safe power source, they will be able to be more mobile and productive at night.
Furthermore, the electricity is much more cost effective in running the well. For 4 years, the Project used a diesel-powered generator to supply energy to the well pump. The conversion will supply a more secure and predictable source of power to the well, which will be helpful to crop maintenance.
The total primary installation process took 2 months, however the finishing touches (outlets, light bulbs, etc.) are projected to be completed by April 2013. Many thanks to Construcciones Castillo for donating their labor to make this dream a reality!
A Lesson In Joy
By Alishia Swanson
By the time you are reading this, the Holidays are probably winding down, decorations are being packed away not to be seen again until next year, visitors heading back home, life returning to normal. But as I write, Christmas preparations are in full swing. People are scurrying from one store to another, traffic bustling on every street, parties and family abundant. And, although this is what some (every famous singer included) would consider “the most wonderful time of the year” I always get this nagging little feeling of sadness around this time.
I am fortunate to have grown up and still reside in one of the wealthiest places in the world, and while a part of me is immensely grateful for this fact, I also believe this is where my periods of solemnity stem from. Although there are perks, being surrounded by a plush lifestyle also forces you to see a stronger juxtaposition to those who are less fortunate. As soon as one steps out of the “bubble” one is confronted with the reality of the state of the majority of the world. Take a look at this at Christmastime and the contrast becomes pretty appalling. A time intended for celebrating Christ’s birth and surrounding yourself with loved ones quickly turns into one of consumerism, greed and great stress.
About a year and half ago, my husband and I took our love of adventure and desire to help others and escaped this bubble we were living in as we took a leap of faith and volunteered at Project Chacocente for three months. Never having even met anyone with the Project face-to-face, and knowing minimal Spanish, we stepped off the plane into the unknown.
The next three months would be nearly impossible to describe in a brief article. The relationships we built with the wonderful people we met, the new culture we were exposed to, the ways we were pushed to our limits, emotionally and physically; these are all so difficult to put into words. How do I describe us sharing a few bedrooms and one bathroom with eight other girls? How do I describe being the dirtiest and most exhausted you have ever been in your life but at the same time being so happy and alive? Having every luxury stripped away, but feeling more content than you ever did at home? I am not sure that I can, but I will certainly try, because it would be a shame not to explain, in my extremely humble opinion, why I am in love with the unknown of traveling, in love with Project Chacocente…the vision, the students and the families…and encourage you to be too.
I believe God knew what he was doing when he said,
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another”.
Of course it brings Him joy to see His children loved and loving others, but I think there is more to it than that. I believe that He commanded us this because He knew that loving people, being in community with others, sacrificing your desires and your comforts for those of others would ultimately bring us joy.
Once you are stripped of your material possessions and comfort, you are left with space to ponder why you are here, and what your purpose is. The result, as cliché as it may sound, is a realization that people are the most important thing you can invest in. Your family, your neighbors, strangers from across the globe, become your focus. This is where the “money can’t buy happiness” saying rings true. Because no matter how many presents you buy someone else, it will never compare to simply loving that person. Loving others and making their pain your pain, their joy your joy; realizing that there is more than just yourself in this wonderful adventure God has called us to.
This is what Project Chacocente is all about, and it is this desire we returned home with. We are certainly no saints, struggling daily with the choice to love others first, but thanks to our time spent in Nicaragua, our desire to do so is strengthened. Once you have experienced pure joy in people, you experience pure joy in the Lord…and isn’t that what it is all about?
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”
Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad/Roughing It