MISSION TO PLAY
By Bill Rautenstrauch
Observer Staff Writer
Team Nicaragua, a group of young Christians from La Grande and the Portland area, recently completed a 10-day humanitarian trip to Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua.
The team, organized by former La Grande resident Matt Gerber, constructed a playground at an orphanage in the coastal city. It worked closely with Pastor Earl Bowie of Iglesia Verbo Ministries to complete the project.
"We could not have asked for a more successful trip," said Ben McReynolds of the La Grande contingent. He added, "Iglesia Verbo ministries was incredibly supportive."
McReynolds, his brother Tim, and Dallas Giegle, all of
La Grande, arrived in Puerto Cabezas Saturday, Dec. 27, after 27 hours of traveling.
Gerber, of Portland, and Eastern Oregon University student Marissa Lapp, plus eight others from George Fox University, arrived two days later.
Work began on the playground Sunday, Dec. 28 and continued at a hectic pace in the following days.
"We had lots of help, and by Monday, the dreaded two-and-a-half foot post holes were dug," Ben McReynolds said.
New Year's Eve provided respite, as the group took part in a celebration that included fireworks, dancing and games with the children.
Most of the work was completed by Saturday, Jan. 3.
"All the posts were planted, swings were hung, bolts were installed, bricks were gathered wood-chips dumped and arms farmer-tanned," McReynolds said.
The trip was the team's second to Puerto Cabezas.
"I wanted to go back, because I missed the orphans, and I wanted to bring something with me to give them," McReynolds said.
A third trip is planned in March. Part of the mission for that trip is to teach youngsters how to sew.
The La Grande participants raised money for the December venture by selling more than 1,000 dozen Krispy Kreme donuts.
Churches and the George Fox University Rotaract Club also contributed financial support to the project. Many individuals also made donations of money, tools and equipment.
"The rest is history, or His story, to coin a mediocre pun," said McReynolds.