Volunteers from St. Olaf Lutheran Church sometimes have "God moments" when they are doing mission work in Nicaragua.
Those are the moments when they are at the right place at the right time, said Carole Peters, who with her husband Dave, will be making her fourth mission trip when the group departs in February.
Teams of volunteers from St. Olaf Lutheran Church have been venturing to Nicaragua on mission trips ever since church member Troy Martens went with another group nearly a decade ago. The next mission trip is set to head south this February.
Carole Peters, Nancy Hamilton and Faith Williams view some of the souvenirs they have brought back from previous mission trips to Nicaragua.
The teams always go to the same area of northwest Nicaragua near the border with Honduras.
"We don't always go to the same villages but we stay in the same place," Nancy Hamilton said.
A big part of the team's work involves medical help. Medical personnel have accompanied the volunteers, who send money ahead to buy medicine.
"We had several medical people go last year so we went to the larger villages, so they could see more people. This year we only have one nurse going with us," and will be going to the smaller villages, Hamilton said. "Some of the villages haven't had medical care for a year," she said.
"Last year we just happened to be at a village and a mom and dad brought their little girl in on their horses. They lived several miles out in the country. The little girl had fallen and had a compound fracture to her arm. We were able to get her to a hospital a couple of hours away. People put money together so the mother could stay with her little girl. We stopped at that hospital on the way back to Managua but she had already left," Peters said.
"We call those God moments, when we are at the right place at the right time."
In addition to medical clinics the team gives away has other items to give out such as toiletries, Bibles, and small toys. The team also brings gift bags for the children sponsored by Iowa individuals and families. They bring back photos of the children to give to their sponsors. People sponsor the children through Save A Generation. It is the organization who provides a dormitory style building for the teams to stay in.
"We pay quite a bit for our room and board but that includes our interpreters; sometimes we have a couple of vans, a pickup and a truck that take us to all these different villages," Peters said.
The team is gone for a week, which includes travel time to and from Nicaragua.
"We always go back to the compund to stay at night. We never eat or drink anything out there," Peters said.
The compound has a cook and a dining area. Meals are included in the cost of the trip.
The team also sends money ahead to purchase: rice; corn; sugar; powered milk; and other things.
"When we go to a village all these people are lined up to get their grain," Peters said. "The people say that little bit of food that we give them last a family of four for a month. It is just unbelievable that they can eat a month off of that."
The lone nurse on the upcoming trip will be Faith Williams, a licensed practical nurse at the Marion Home.
"The first trip I made, it was really life changing for me. It really makes you stop and think to be thankful for what we have." This will be her fifth trip. It is difficult, and emotional, not being able to do more for the people, Williams said.
"They are such happy people for having so little, and you just feel God's love when you are helping them," Peters said.