Group of 10 to return from Nicaragua richer in culture

Published 10:14 am Wednesday, March 6, 2013

A group of volunteers are in the midst of the first international, integrational mission trip in their church’s 156-year history.

First Congregational Church of Austin on Saturday sent 10 people to Nicaragua for nine days. The missionairies will learn the history and culture of Nicaragua by meeting and working with the country’s locals.

The group is working at a conference center, painting, refurbishing and making repairs to make a safer, more beautiful place for people in that region. Additionally, the group is spending time at La Casa Materna, interacting with girls and women in high-risk pregnancies and is bringing 400 pounds of material, such as cloth diapers and baby clothes, to the mothers. Four young women from the group will have the opportunity to work at an organic farm school and interact with Nicaraguans harvesting honey. While in Cuidad Sandino, one of the most poverty-stricken areas of Nicaragua, the group will spend time with a church musical group and learn about the realities of poverty. Opportunities beyond those planned will enrich the experience.

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The members of the group range from 15 to older than 70.

Fundraising for the trip has been extensive and ongoing. The church has sponsored a bean and rice meal (gallo pinto), conducted a service auction, sold quilt squares and received funding from the Minnesota UCC Conference through an Ashley Grant. There has also been direct sponsorship from the First Congregational Church of Austin as well as personal donations. The quilt squares are being sewn into a friendship quilt by members of the church and will be taken by the group to present to the school Asociación de Kairos de Formación.

The group will return with locally grown Nicaraguan coffee to sell to support future mission trips. The team, quilt and messages written by the children of the Congregational Church were blessed on Feb. 24 in a sending service during morning worship.

Those interested in learning more about the mission trip or supporting it can contact the church at 507-433-2301.