As my MPC friends know, I just recently returned from a mission trip to Nicaragua to spend time with our global mission partner CEPAD.  What an amazing trip it was!  We got to experience the natural beauty of the country, we meet with people CEPAD is serving and got to join in the celebration of the groundbreaking for a new building.  What I will remember the most about the trip is the strength of the people, their pride and their desire to tell us their stories.  They were excited that we had traveled from the U.S. to meet with them.  With a great deal of pride, they wanted to share the stories of their accomplishments.  It was important to them that we hear their inspirational stories and take their stories home with us to share with our congregations.

The women in the picture is Emelina Gracia, she worked with CEPAD from 2009-2013.  She is a strong, determined, proud mother and grandmother.  Among other things, CEPAD provided her with fruit tree seedlings, some rubber hosing for drip irrigation and an education on composting and caring the trees.  Through a lot of hard work (as Emelina said, “CEPAD is not for the lazy!”) she now has an orchard of oranges, lemons, limes and several other citrus varieties, plus a home vegetable garden.  She has become an inspiration to her friends and neighbors and a leader in her community.  None of which would have been possible without the work of CEPAD and the support of churches like MPC.

As with most of my travels it is the warmth, the friendliness and generosity of the people you meet that you remember the most. You remember the stories that you are told.  All of this and more were certainly part of this trip.

MPC friends, during worship on March 29 you will be hearing more stories from the people we met in the Nicaragua.  In the meantime, ask my fellow travelers Beth Lepinski, Pat Spindler and Nancy Graham about the stories they heard.  I know they have plenty of stories to share.