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March 2020 Newsletter









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March 2020

“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”

 
1 Peter 5:10

Our Response to COVID-19

We are living through an unprecedented global crisis. Although the spread of COVID-19 across the world is causing immeasurable suffering, we know that our faith will carry us through. In the end, there are many things about this crisis that are out of our control, but God’s unconditional love is there to guide us through. There has never been a better time to come together to love and serve one another, just as Jesus loved and served.

Although the pandemic is still in the early stages in Nicaragua, we have been taking actions to help prevent the spread of the deadly disease to vulnerable populations. During the month of March, we have been holding educational workshops in all schools and communities, teaching children and parents how to prevent COVID-19. We have also been identifying patients in each community that are more susceptible to the disease. Additionally, we have held community clinics in areas where there is no medical attention, in order to ensure that the most children and adults have access to quality medical attention.

Although there is still much that we don’t know about this pandemic, there are some things that we do know. We know that this is a time to place our faith in God’s love. We know that this is a time to serve those in greatest need. We know that working together, we will come through this crisis stronger in body, mind and spirit.

 

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Transformed at Young Life Camp

Daniela is fourteen years old and lives with her family in the Nuevo Amanecer neighborhood. She is currently in her third year of high school and has been in our scholarship program since she finished the sixth grade. Daniela is the first in her family to go to high school, and her parents are proud of her accomplishments. Both of her parents work in the coffee processing plants during the harvest, making barely enough to cover the family’s basic needs.

In January, Daniela went to her first Young Life camp and her life was transformed. In early March, before the COVID-19 crisis hit Nicaragua, Daniela went to the follow-up camp at Young Life which had an even greater impact on her spiritual growth.  In her second camp, Daniela made friends that helped her to develop a deeper relationship with Jesus.

When asked about her experience in Young Life, Daniela told us, “I have had so many changes in my life this year, since going to camp. I made friends that helped me to understand how important God is in my life. My relationship with my family has changed as well. I now feel inspired to be a better daughter every day.”

Participating in the Young Life club and scholarship program has changed Daniela’s life. She is developing a vibrant spiritual life and is on her way to be the first high school graduate in her family.  
 

New Kitchen in Las Trancas

One of the most remote communities that we serve is Las Trancas. The community is located about ten miles from our office, but the road conditions are so poor that the trip often takes more than an hour. There are 75 children in the small school in the community. When we started working in the community last year, we quickly discovered that there was a high rate of malnutrition.

One of our first actions in the community was to implement the school nutrition program. However, the school does not have a kitchen, so parents were preparing school lunches at home and carrying them to the school. Obviously, our top priority was to get a sanitary kitchen built at the school, where parents could prepare nutritious lunches for their children.

The Wiggin, Tokars/Arcemont, and Sieben families made this possible! Although they had to cancel their mission trip, this group of three generous and compassionate families raised the funds to build the kitchen in Las Trancas. We missed having the opportunity to work alongside them last week, but the community came together to get the kitchen build in just a week and a half. The community is grateful to the Wiggin, Tokars/Arcemont, and Sieben families for blessing the community with the new kitchen.  
 

Get the 2019 Impact Report!

In times of darkness, it’s important to take time to remember God’s past goodness and provision to help our hearts trust him in the present. In the 2019 Impact Report, you’ll hear story after story of the Lord’s power to transform lives and ignite hope where there is none. We pray that you will be blessed as you read about how your support has blessed so many children and families in Nicaragua!

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© 2019 Rayo de Sol, a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit.
Donations and contributions are tax-deductible as allowed by law.
EIN: 20-4281339

Our mailing address is:
3775 Cobb International Blvd NW
Kennesaw, GA 30152

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Education Fair: A Showcase of Talent & Commitment

Throughout the 2018 school year, we have worked with teachers, parents and students to develop methodologies and materials to improve the quality of education for nearly 3,000 children in eighteen public primary schools. In order to showcase the results of these efforts, we held an Education Fair on November 21st.

The fair was organized by our staff, students, school principals, teachers and parents. Each school prepared a display of the projects they had worked on during the year and the learning materials they had created. Most of the work was done with recycled or local materials, making them easily replicable in other schools.

Although the original idea was to organize a small event with the schools we serve, it soon turned into a substantial affair. There were more than 300 people in attendance and the fair was covered by the local media. Groups of students from each school also prepared songs, dances and poetry for the audience. All in all, it was amazing and historic day for all involved. We will certainly make it an annual occurrence.

Magdiel Gómez: Growing and Leading

One of the most amazing aspects of our work is being able to observe the physical and spiritual growth of the children and young people that we serve. One of the students in our scholarship program that has most impressed us this year is Magdiel Gómez.

Magdiel is eighteen years old and lives in the Nuevo Amanecer neighborhood. She lives with her mother, who works as a nurse in the local health center. Magdiel’s mother is dedicated to providing her with the best education possible, though her salary is barely enough for their basic needs. When Magdiel finished high school, her mother didn’t think she’d be able to afford to support her college education, but she was quickly approved for a scholarship in our program.

We were very pleased that Magdiel decided to study for a degree in Early Education. She is now finishing her second year and has begun to do her community service hours in our Early and Primary Education Program. She has shown a natural aptitude for teaching and is kind and compassionate with children.

In addition to her studies, Magdiel has also been involved in the local Young Life club for several years. She is one of a select group of young people who has been included in a leadership training initiative. She is now helping to lead the Young Life club in her community. We are so proud of Magdiel’s growth and development as teacher and a leader among her peers.

A Year-End Celebration

This year, we decided to wrap up our kids discipleship program in style! Well, Middle Eastern style, that is. Our Christian Education coordinator, Martha Cortedano, had the great idea to close out the year by having the kids dress up and act out the Bible stories they’ve learned about all year long, focusing especially on the birth of Christ. We were thrilled to have thirty-seven children and seventeen parents participate in the festivities, and they really went all out.

The theme verse for the day was Proverbs 22:6, which says, “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” This perfectly exemplifies the heart behind our children’s ministry program. Through all the silly games, messy crafts, and loud songs, our desire is that something of what’s being taught would stick. We share the gospel with young hearts, teaching them about the character of God and the way that leads to true life. It is our firm conviction that the Word of God does not return to Him empty, and we pray that the seeds planted today will one day blossom and produce spiritual fruit down the road.

It was a beautiful thing to see such excellent coordination between teachers, students, parents, and the Rayo de Sol staff, and we pray that this celebration would serve to more deeply embed all the things the children have learned about God throughout the year.

New Young Life Club!

Our goal this year was to organize a new Young Life club, and that is close to becoming a reality! We decided to prioritize the community Llano Grande, because we have a large group of scholarship students there and a strong parent’s committee. We held the first organizational meeting in mid-October and the club’s first official meeting was held on October 30th.

More than thirty students and parents attended the first meeting, to learn about Young Life and the clubs that we organize together. We now have Young Life members who have come up through the ranks and have received leadership training. They did an amazing job of talking about their own experiences and encouraging the new students to take advantage of the opportunity to be a part of the new Young Life club. They talked about growing in their faith, which has helped them to grow in other areas of their lives.

We are excited to see how this new club develops in the coming months. We are sure that it will be a great success. Hopefully, we will be able to send a group from Llano Grande to the Young Life camp in January.

Reading and Creating

In the last week in October, we organized a reading and recycled art fair at the 15 de Septiembre school, where all of our programs began. There were students, parents and teachers from four different schools that joined together to share their talents and their passion for reading and arts. Each school did theatrical presentations of their favorite books and also created works of art made from recycled materials.

We have continued to work to organize reading clubs in each of the 18 schools that we serve. Reading is one of the most fundamental pillars of education. If students don’t develop reading comprehension skills in their first few years at school, the likelihood of their abandoning school before finishing the sixth grade is much greater.

The fair was a great success, with more than 150 children and adults in attendance. A gallery was set up to display the art work from each school. The pride on the children’s faces was priceless as the visitors viewed their creations. These activities help to build self-esteem and confidence in children, which has an enormous impact in their lives.

Ashlyn’s New Smile

In September, we began screening children for dental problems, after reports from our medical team indicated many urgent needs. We began working with a local dentist to perform the screenings at each school, in order to identify the children with the greatest needs.

Ashlyn is six years old and lives in the community El Jícaro. She is in first grade at the school in her community and participates actively in our education program. Her mother came to the school on the day of the dental screenings, to ask for our help. Our dentist soon discovered that Ashlyn had severe problems and needed emergency treatment and she was scheduled for the first week in October.

The following week, Ashly was treated by our dentist. She had six extractions and six fillings, a very difficult visit for such a young girl. Unfortunately, poor nutrition and oral hygiene are common in Nicaragua, affecting many children. With the economic crisis, it is difficult for Ashlyn’s parents to purchase toothpaste. However, we will be working to promote more public health activities in each school.

Despite the pain and discomfort that she experienced, when we ran into Ashlyn a few days later, she was wearing a brand new smile.

Vocational Education

One of our goals this year was to provide more vocational education opportunities for young people and adults. Last year we created an alliance with the National Training Institute, Ministry of Family Economy and Infancia sin Fronteras to offer vocational courses in the neighborhood near our office, where poverty levels are high and employment is scarce.

Over the past several months, we have had more than fifty adults enrolled in sewing, cooking, baking and hair styling courses. They have learned valuable skills that will increase their possibilities of finding formal employment or help them to start their own businesses. On October 25th, we held a graduation ceremony for all of the students, many of them single mothers, who worked so hard to complete the courses.

It was so amazing to see the satisfaction and expectation on the faces of each graduate. They proudly received their certificates and also displayed their work for the public. We organized a small fair at the ceremony, where the students exhibited garments, baked goods and typical Nicaraguan dishes. Our next challenge will be the help guide some of the participants in the creation of small businesses.

Tortillas and Textbooks

Pedro is 15 years old and is in his third year of high school. He has been in the Rayo de Sol scholarship program for three years. Because of his family’s economic situation, Pedro has to work every day, selling tortillas. Since he studies in the afternoon, he spends every morning on his bicycle, selling tortillas in surrounding neighborhoods. Because he had little time left over for his schoolwork, Pedro was in danger of failing several classes.

When our staff noticed how poorly he was doing in school, they helped him to find a better way to manage his time. They set up a study schedule with him and agreed to tutor him in the classes in which he had most difficulty. In our office, we have a small library of books for high school students, which Pedro quickly put to use.

Pedro now comes to our office for an hour every day, after selling his tortillas and before going to school. He has developed trusting relationships with our staff, which has enabled him to ask for help when he needs it. Pedro knows that education is the key to creating a better future for himself and his family. He has learned that perseverance is the secret to his success in school and in life.