We made it home… but, not without some bumps and baggage checks.
We got a late start and flew out of Managua around 1pm on Tuesday after saying one last goodbye to one of our fantastic translators and friend.
First things first… Security in Managua. All you need to know about this stop is that it’s really important to make sure certain sharp items are in your checked luggage and not your carry on. That was check number one for the day. After getting to our gate we hear… “Stephen Nennig please come to the desk at gate 7.” Bag check number 2… this one was because they found a can of bug spray that they didn’t like. Boarding time… we were in the clear, or so we thought… bag check number three. Pastor Rob got pulled to the side as we were getting on the plane for a quick check. But, that’s not the last check for Pastor Rob… he gets to have another going back through security in Miami. One word for you… COFFEE! After they made sure his coffee was indeed just coffee he was on his way. 4 bag checks later we were on our way to Chicago… or so we thought!
As we were nearing Chicago so was some nasty weather. We were diverted to come in from the north instead of the south. That was diversion one, they kept pushing us further north… then we were running low on fuel. So, guess what… we got to land in MKE to refuel to then fly to Chicago. As we were sitting in MKE I told our guys (who had to work today) to go ahead and get off and go home and I would fly into Chicago to collect our bags. Stephen and Pastor Rob hopped off and headed home from Milwaukee and Kerri and I flew on to Chicago. We should have landed in Chicago at 10:53pm and didn’t end up landing until 1:30am. Then the wait for our bags took almost an hour. We finally got all our luggage and got to our ride (which had been waiting for us since 11:30pm) and headed back towards Waukesha. We made it home around 4am!
Travel may have been bumpy, but that didn’t stop us from reflecting on our trip and the time we got to spend with some of our favorite people!
I asked the team to share something about the trip…
“I was standing in church Sunday night ready to record as Kerri joined Norvin in leading worship (these two sing great together!!). My heart was so overwhelmed listening to the voices in the room. Kerri and Norvin can sing, but man the voices that filled this space brought me to tears. It never ceases to amaze me when standing in a room full of people that I don’t speak the same language with that in these moments, the worship that fills the room is completely understood! This is home! This place reminds me of how BIG our Creator is!” ~Abbey
“Together we go further than we could ever go alone. I saw that in action over and over again this past week. I can’t speak Spanish so my communication and ministry in Nicaragua was very limited but I was able to support, encourage, and pray for those who faithfully share God’s Word and God’s love day in and day out. That is what Fox River does as we invest in missions. Building and financially supporting the medical clinic in La Esmeralda, Nicaragua allows the church to flourish and the Gospel of Christ to be spread further than we will fully know. Together, we are making a difference.” ~Rob
“For me it is always hard to choose just one moment or one memory because I am in another home. The moments that stick out the most to me are when we are sitting eating together. I wish I could explain what it was like the first night when we were all together again..it was like no time had passed (even though it had been years for some). The language doesn’t matter, all of the barriers that seem like they will keep you from getting to know each other just melts away and you become a family. On the last night we just sat together and played games and I looked around and just sat in awe of how God continues to bring our family closer with each team. Even the girls who are normally really shy and sit only with the same group had spread out and we got to build some of those relationships. I miss my family already. Something they all said in different moments was this “we know that even when you can’t be here physically we are in your hearts. We know you are praying for us and loving us from afar and that is what gives us the strength to go on.” This couldn’t be more true. I miss my family...but I know they are with me and I am with them no matter where I go.“ ~Kerri
“I continue to be reminded of the power in submission to Jesus by my trips to Nicaragua and the people of La Esmeralda. When they are ‘in’, they’re IN!
A Gospel message shared in every service is followed up, one-on-one, with those who respond. This is the beginning of several weeks of discipleship, similar to a focused Starting Point class. At the end, the new believer is asked again, now that they have the big picture of God’s Word and what it means to be a believer, do you believe and accept Jesus as your Savior. A ‘yes’ is celebrated (!!!) and means you are a part of the church, given a place to serve, and honored to do so. In obedience they also, both, go out into the community blessing people home by home, and organize events they draw many people from the surrounding communities to them. In everything, Christ is the focus, the reason, and the passion!
I was able to say a few words on Saturday night, their youth night. I tried to make a message come together that would impact the youth, motivate them to take a step forward in their faith, and inspire them to believe their next step would change lives! But that message wouldn’t and couldn’t come together. God left me with nothing but my own story: my current struggles in following Jesus and how God’s working in it. It was frustrating and was feeling like a ‘3000 miles away from home’ waste of time (<- pride). I wanted to turn the spot over to someone else, but instead I submitted. I later heard there were teens in attendance struggling with the same heart issues that I was and am.
The truth is we have no idea the ways God will work through our obedience until we are! Life seems simpler in La Esmeralda, but simpler certainly doesn’t, by any means, equal easier, so I won’t attribute their faith to that. It isn’t their circumstances, but their attitude: they’re all-in. I can only imagine what works we could accomplish for God’s Kingdom if we were as dependent on Jesus as they are - if we stopped looking to... anything else.. for our fulfillment. After all, Peter only began to sink through the waves when his heart clung to the boat more than it did to Jesus.
This is only my second time to Nicaragua, but I’m beginning to understand (only beginning to understand) the heart of a missionary. The church in Nicaragua, or in Kenya for that matter, cannot be viewed as another campus of our multi-site church. But visiting is much like visiting a Fox River campus other than your home-campus. It still feels like the same home you are in week after week. You see people you love that you don’t see on the same regular basis. It may have been weeks, months, or years, but when you are together again it’s like no time has passed at all. You are excited to hear how God is working in the life and their campus - the same God in both places working simultaneously for our good and His glory. Different small groups, different serve teams, different pastors, different meeting spaces, different services, environments, and cultures. But, “There is one body and one Spirit-just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call-one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” Ephesians 4:4-6.
That’s missions.” ~Stephen
We love the time we get to spend with our family in Nicaragua!
I would like to give a quick shout out to our fantastic translators! Thank you for giving us your time and love this past week! Until next time!
Thanks for following along this week! We appreciate each of you who have prayed and continue to pray for the ministries Fox River Missions is a part of!