What about the other 51 weeks of the year?

Julie Shriner from Emmanuel Community Church poses for photo with photos of her sponsored children

Julie Shriner, Emmanuel Community Church member, shares photos of her sponsored children.

Day in and day out

In continuing my series on a recent trip to Nicaragua, I’ve been thinking a lot about the people I met on the trip. You might immediately think I’m talking about the children and adults we work with in Nicaragua. I am very excited to talk about them soon, but not yet. I’ve been thinking a lot about the church members from Emmanuel Community Church, in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. I tagged along with this church team to document their experience as a Community to Community (C2C) church with Food for the Hungry. And not just their experience in the field, but also their experience partnering with FH and how it affects their lives on a day-to-day basis in Ft. Wayne, Indiana.

What I found out was both encouraging and touching. The church members I interviewed ranged in ages from 11 to 65. And their overall view, knowledge and passion for poverty and those living in developing countries was overwhelming. Many spoke about the root of poverty starting with broken relationships, not lack of resources. All of them sponsored a child in Nicaragua, and many of them felt that their sponsored child was another member of their family.

I was so encouraged and motivated to see their passion and love for people so far removed from their physical location. Many told me how they pray every day for the communities in Nicaragua and their sponsored children. Some are learning Spanish so they can eventually communicate with the children in their native language. The worship pastor of the church leads songs in Spanish to integrate Nicaraguan culture into their culture. And the church holds letter-writing events to encourage constant communication between sponsors and their sponsored children. These are just a few examples.

A C2C partnership for them is not just about traveling to the field one week out of the year and meeting their sponsored kids. It’s a deliberate choice to be missional in their day-to-day lives.

From the freezer to the oven

Church members paint metal posts in Nicaragua

Church members began construction on two feeding centers during their visit to Nicaragua.

But with that said, a trip to the field is no vacation. The trip began in their hometown as they packed up and prepared to travel to Nicaragua for a week. It was the first week of March and it was so cold in Indiana, it was nearly snowing. In no less than 24 hours, we went from nearly freezing temperatures to hot and humid Central America. It felt like going from the freezer to the oven. This weather change did not faze them in the least.

While in the communities, the team worked on the construction of two feeding centers for the children attending school. In the afternoons, the team members held Vacation Bible School classes and met their sponsored children in their homes. The work was not easy. The weather conditions were extreme. But, in the four days we spent in the communities, I saw both equal amounts of hard work and incalculable joy experienced by the church team members.

All I could think was, ‘Wow….they get it!’ And I felt lucky to have been able to learn about them, document their experience and share their stories (Spoiler alert: There will be more stories to come).

So, I encourage you to think about your ‘walk’ with the poor. How does it affect your day-to-day life? What does poverty mean to you? Do you have a relationship with your sponsored child?

Learn more about a C2C partnership with FH here.
Learn more about child sponsorship here.
Church members meet their sponsored child in Nicaragua

Dave and Deb Quilhot, ECC church members, meet their sponsored child in Nicaragua.


About Esther Martinez

Esther Martinez is a Multimedia writer and photographer at Food for the Hungry. She is an Arizona native who loves to travel. Her background is in photography and journalism. Outside of work she enjoys discovering new foodie restaurants, embarking on creative photography projects and scouting the local music scene. Through her blog, you'll be able to see what comes across her desk each month.

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