A Successful Night in Nicaragua

We are pleased to announce that our fundraising event, Night in Nicaragua, was a great success. Held at Monday Night Brewing in Atlanta, more than 120 people attended the event to learn more about how God is working through Rayo de Sol to transform lives every day.

A silent auction was held at the event, as well as sales of handmade Nicaraguan crafts, from the businesses that Rayo de Sol has supported over the past several years. Products from the women’s sewing business and also the recently formed bamboo business were available, with sales contributing to helping these businesses grow in the future.

The highlight of the evening was a performance by Christian comedian, Kenn Kington, who had the audience bellowing with laughter. His message, however, was also very poignant. We live in an era of endless choices and the choices we make every day determine how successful we are at following God’s plan for our lives.

Although we did not meet our goal of raising $50,000 for a matching opportunity, the event was highly successful. It was great to see so many friends, who have been loyal supporters for many years, as well as so many new faces. We are so grateful to everyone who participated in making it our best event to date.

If you’d like to participate in our event planning committee in 2018, please contact us.

Click here to see the rest of the photo booth pictures!

Building Connections, Sharing Joy

This Thanksgiving, we receive and extra serving of blessings. Right before the holiday, we hosted a mission group from Atlanta, made up of three hardworking and compassionate families: the Browns, the Ewings and the Waggoners. We spent several days working at the school in the community of Llano Grande, building playground equipment out of recycled materials and also laying the foundation for a new kitchen.

In addition to the work accomplished at the school, the three families (including their combined total of seven children) also built incredible connections to students and parents in the community. There are universal languages among children: laughter, play and joy. The group and the community shared much laughter, played many games and the whole visit was illuminated with joy. It was incredible to witness the relationships growing and evolving each day.

The playground equipment was completed by the time the group left and the foundation of the kitchen was nearly ready, and the kitchen will be completed by the end of November. We are so grateful to these three families, and their commitment to sharing God’s love and blessings through service. Hopefully, they will be back soon!

If you are interested in planning a mission trip de Nicaragua with your family, school, church or friends, please contact us for more information.

Johanna Rostrán: One of the Fortunate Fifteen

Johanna is a member of a very select group. In just a few short weeks, she and fourteen of her classmates will be graduating from high school. We call them the Fortunate Fifteen because they represent the first group of students that have been in our program for five years and will earn their high school degree this December. We began our high school scholarship program in 2013, and although these students have faced many difficulties, they have persevered.

Johanna is an excellent student and has been a leader among her peers. For the past two years, she has provided tutoring for younger students in the program in math and science. Johanna has also done her community service hours in the health and nutrition program, visiting schools in Matagalpa to deliver nutritious food and also teach some basic public health classes to students and parents.

When Johanna receives her diploma next month, she will become the first person in her family to graduate from high school. Her parents are incredibly proud of her accomplishments. After high school, Johanna hopes to continue her education at the local university. Her dream is to study for a degree in accounting. We will be there to support her with a university scholarship.

If you are interested in providing a scholarship for a high school or university student, please contact us to find out how to get involved.

Fresh, Hot Bread!

One of the greatest successes we have witnessed this year has been the development of a bakery in the Nuevo Amanecer neighborhood. Six months ago, we began a training program with a local bakery. They offered to train a group of women in bread making, so that they might develop new skills for generating income. The eight women in the group successfully completed the training program and began to look for ways to create a sustainable business.

We have been accompanying the women in the process and thanks to the generosity of one of our faithful donors, their dream has become a reality. Last week Hilda, María, Francis, Carmen, Digna, Martina, María del Carmen and Marina are now officially in business. With the funding we received, we made a loan to the group to purchase an industrial oven and all of the supplies needed to get their business off the ground.

They are now baking different types of bread every day, and selling it in their neighborhood. Their neighbors are thrilled to have fresh, hot bread available every day. The women know that they will have to work hard, but the success of their business will also depend on their faith and commitment. We look forward to watching this business grow in the coming year. There is no doubt that these eight women will achieve great success.

Oscar Meets Bamboo

When we began working in Matagalpa, Oscar was in the fourth grade. He was a shy boy, with a bright smile and we were all sure he was headed for a bright future. After finishing primary school, Oscar began high school, though adolescence and family difficulties became obstacles. He dropped out of high school during his first year, which was sad and frustrating for all of us. He tried again a second time, the following year, though he again withdrew from school when some personal situations got to be too overwhelming.

Oscar began to work as an apprentice in a carpentry shop, but that option also proved to be unsuccessful. We were all concerned about Oscar and seeking new ideas, to help guide him in his development. He is a committed member of Young Life, so his faith is strong, though he had not found the right opportunity for his personal growth and development.

Finally, we found the solution: bamboo. We had a chance to send two people to a training program, to learn how to make crafts and furniture from bamboo. With his experience in carpentry, we thought that it might be the ideal opening for Oscar…and it was. He became immediately enamored with the bamboo project and demonstrated an incredible amount of skill. Oscar is now heading up our new bamboo workshop, and training five other young men to work with bamboo. They have already started selling some of their designs in local markets and fairs. We are so happy that Oscar finally found his niche and is making great progress towards becoming a skilled craftsman. We still hope that he will get his high school degree, though for the time being, he is steering clear of risks and working hard.

Let There be Rain

“Drip down, O heavens, from above, And let the clouds pour down righteousness; Let the earth open up and salvation bear fruit, And righteousness spring up with it. I, the LORD, have created it.”
Isaiah 45:8

After several months of planning and research, the rain harvesting project is finally complete. We had great support from our partner organizations, Sirviendo FAITH Foundation and Tin Roof Foundation, who helped to make it a reality. Although we had originally planned on installing water systems for 30 families, we ended up including 43, as well as both public schools in the communities Cerro de Piedra and Las Lomas.

Both of these communities suffer from severe water shortages and we determined that the most feasible way to provide some alleviation from this situation was by installing rain harvesting systems. This would allow the families to capture rainwater during the long rainy season and store it for the dry season. We developed a design that was both practical and affordable.

Installation of the systems began in July and were completed within a month. Since it has been raining heavily this season, most of the tanks are already full. The families are currently using the water, as it saves them from walking great distances to retrieve water for their basic needs. They will allow the tanks to fill up at the end of the rainy season, so they will have an adequate supply for the dry season.

We are so grateful to all of the individual and institutional donors that made this project possible. For a more detailed report of the project, download the final report here.

Juan Carlos and the New Books

Juan Carlos is five years old and lives with his mother and sister in the community Las Lomas. He should have been in preschool this year, but since the school in Las Lomas is very small, they were not able to open a community preschool this year. His mother works all day though, to support her children, so it was also difficult for her to find someone to care for Juan Carlos during the day.

After some creative planning with the school’s only teacher, special arrangements were made in order for Juan Carlos to be able to begin to attend school. Although the school year was already in session, he started classes in July, at the beginning of the second semester. His first day of school happened to be the day that our staff was creating a new reading corner for the school in Las Lomas!

That day, all of the students helped to clean and organize a corner of their classroom, in order to make space for a small library. Shelves were painted and installed, cushions were arranged on the floor and most importantly, our staff brought a collection of more than 100 books.

It’s safe to say that it was the first time that Juan Carlos had ever held a book in his hands. He marveled at the illustrations and listened attentively as the older children read him stories. We are certain that he will turn into a great reader before the end of the school year. We will have to work closely with the teacher in Las Lomas, to ensure that Juan Carlos gets a solid foundation during the rest of the year, but his enthusiasm is contagious.

Mission Teams: A Season for Service

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”
1 Peter 4:10

This summer, we were extremely fortunate to host mission groups from Cincinnati and Atlanta. These groups come to share their talents, their joy and their compassion with children and their families in Nicaragua. It is always so inspiring for us to see how selflessly people come to serve and to build relationships in Nicaragua. It is an excellent opportunity to build bridges of understanding and also to share our common experiences, as children of God.

These were the groups that graced us with their presence, their energy, and their compassion.

Crossroads Church (Cincinnati, Ohio):

A group of 22 educators visited us from Crossroads church and provided a week of training for more than 100 Nicaraguan teachers. They also helped to paint and build a new kitchen at the Edmundo Castellón school.

Stonebridge Church (Atlanta, Georgia):

Thirteen people, adults and children, visited from Stonebridge Church, helping to create a new library and garden space at the 15 de Septiembre school. The murals in the library are simply amazing, divinely  inspired!

Montgomery Community Church (Cincinnati, Ohio):

Montgomery Community Church sent a team of 20 to help construct a new kitchen and create a new library at the school in El Carrizo. This group also planned a whole week of amazing games, art projects, and workshops with parents with their friends in El Tule.

Although it was sad to see them go, we are looking forward to working with these mission teams, and many more, next year. If you’re interested in organizing a visit to Nicaragua through your church or school, contact us today!

2015 is off to a great start!

We had a fantastic year in 2014, but we are certain that 2015 is going to be even better. We have started the new year with vacation camp activities for both primary and secondary students. Since school doesn’t start back until February 9th, we are organizing sports leagues, art classes, games, movies and maintenance.

Last week we invited all of the parents to come and help us clean up for the day, to get ready for the new school year. There was an amazing turnout and in just a few hours, we got the school cleaned up and in great shape. We are looking forward to a year of great fun and success!