by Hannah Beairsto ’20
The Collaboratory and Friends in Action (FIA), a local mission’s organization based in Elizabethtown, PA that works in countries all over the world doing infrastructure development, are strengthening their relationship in Nicaragua. They work with the Rama tribe to help improve their living conditions. The Rama people primarily live on an island, but it is small and overcrowded with 1,200 people, and has poor sanitation. The goal of the projects is to successfully transfer the tribe to a community being built on the mainland. There are three projects involved in forming this new village: one, the block press, which is a manual machine used to make clay bricks, which the Rama people then use to make their homes and other buildings in the mainland community. As of now, eleven homes have been built. The second project deals with sanitation for the residents, to develop a septic solution for this new community. The third project, the bridge, engineered by students and faculty from the Collaboratory, is already completed. Despite popular misconceptions, the bridge is not between the island and the mainland, but rather connects mainland property over a dividing canal.
Dereck Plante, the Engineering Program Manager, went to Nicaragua in December of 2016 with Dr. Brian Swartz, on a trip led by Tim Johnston, the executive director of Friends in Action. The trip went smoothly, thanks to Johnston. “Johnston has been tremendous, and has been working with the Rama people for fifteen years,” says Plante. Collaboratory members observed three projects, and look forward to the new development in the works: the formulation of a new baseball team, thanks to A Revolution of Missional Athletes (AROMA). AROMA is a sports ministry based at Messiah College.
“The Rama people love baseball,” Plante says, “so AROMA is sending two members [Josh Good and Joe Saufley] down in June to establish some baseball clinics, as well as look into the future possibility of having more AROMA folks come down to the site.”
Josh Good ’16, a Messiah alumnus now employed at AROMA, says that they have three goals in mind for the project. First, they plan to “lead 2-3 baseball clinics that we pray will allow us to build deep relationships with the Rama people that lead to the sharing of our testimonies. We want to bridge the gap between faith and sport, tell them why we’ve traveled down to play baseball is to share our faith, and faith is what brought us there.” Second, they want to assess the baseball talent level among the people to see if it would be worthwhile to bring a whole baseball team with them next time. Third, they desire to make disciples out of the Rama people who love baseball and Jesus. Good notes, “A lot of people put sports and faith in two different categories. It would be great to show them they can use sports to spread their faith.”
We will have to wait and see the results of this exciting future trip, and are ecstatic to see all the ongoing progress!
To learn more about Friends in Action or AROMA, visit their websites:
Friends in Action: http://www.fiaintl.org/usa/.