Mountain congregations and coffee plantations

by President Robert Bugbee

The ILSN convention concluded on a hot early Sunday afternoon. We had a heartwarming communion service involving pastors, deaconnesses, lay delegates, and a number of guests.  Newly-elected officers of the church were installed, and people held patience with the preacher (that’s me) while the message got translated into Spanish. How encouraging to hear that several dozen friends in Canada were following this service on the Internet!

Monday, January 25, was a lengthy day involving much driving. We went into a mountain region to visit the dual parish in the cities of Matagalpa and Jinotega. At Matagalpa, we met some friends from Christ Lutheran Church in St. Catharines who had been helping with projects there and were preparing to return to Canada. A lengthy conversation with “Pastor Hector,” an evangelistic missionary, began our day.  He described the work he had done in Matagalpa, and how this work had now been turned over to a resident “Pastor Immer” after a congregation was founded.

It’s much cooler up in the mountains, though plenty warm for visiting Canadians. After Matagalpa, we went up higher to an area where Germans had come in the 1880’s to establish coffee plantations. They still cook like Germans up there, too!  Following lunch we travelled on to “Holy Spirit Church” in Jinotega.

In each place at least a small delegation of congregational leaders is waiting in the church to greet us and show us their spiritual home. It’s wonderful to realize how all these congregations and preaching stations—24 at last count, I think— have come into existence in the span of very few years.

Did I mention how much we owe to Roberto Carlos for his expert driving? Driving looks stressful to me, especially after dark.  There is constantly someone walking, bicycling, or riding a horse near the edge of the road. Or unattended cows walking on the pavement on their “commute” back to the barn for the night. Or some guy who drank too freely staggers out onto the highway. Or you run into potholes in the pavement, and some little boy is there with a shovel, filling in the holes with gravel and craving a “tip” for his services. Or there is thick smoke because sugar cane is being burned at the time of harvest.  Or … or … or!  You get the idea!

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