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A Year of Transitions 

A Letter from Jhanderys Dotel-Vellenga and Ian Vellenga, serving in Nicaragua

March 2020

Write to Ian Vellenga
Write to Jhanderys Dotel-Vellenga

Individuals: Give online to E200391 for Ian and Jhanderys Dotel-Vellenga’s sending and support

Congregations: Give to D507593 for Ian and Jhanderys Dotel-Vellenga’s sending and support

Churches are asked to send donations through your congregation’s normal receiving site (this is usually your presbytery).

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2020 is an important year for the Council of Evangelical Churches of Nicaragua (CEPAD) as an institution, and for 80 different communities in Nicaragua. This year’s Bible message is inspired by Psalm 26:7 (NKJV): “That I may proclaim with the voice of thanksgiving and tell of all Your wondrous works.” Much like King David, CEPAD wants to proclaim its gratitude to God, thankfully recalling the gifts received during this period, the providence and kindness it received in 2019 as an institution, and Nicaragua’s slow recovery as a nation. On February 18th, CEPAD celebrated the groundbreaking ceremony of its new Center for Peace dedicated to Gustavo Adolfo Parajón. Dr. Gustavo Parajón, as many of you remember, was the founder of CEPAD and led the organization for many years. This Center for Peace will become CEPAD’s new central office in Managua, RadioCEPAD’s studio, and provide accommodations for visiting groups. In terms of our work with the different communities, we are in the “Transitioning Year.” It is a year when CEPAD says goodbye to the 40 communities it has worked with for five years and says hello to 40 new communities. This is an important year because we get to see the results of the work we, as partners with CEPAD, have done in 40 communities for the past five years. There will be celebrations, graduations, and some level of sadness as CEPAD takes a step back, and these 40 communities continue working on their own improvement. Familiar faces, mostly CEPAD staff, will not have such a strong presence in those communities anymore.

At the same time, a new set of 40 communities will be chosen to work with CEPAD during the next quinquennium (5-year term). This work usually starts with a lot of meetings, evaluations, and learning about each community’s primary concerns and needs, its demographics, and its main sources of income.

In some ways CEPAD is like a foster parent or foster family. It chooses to help communities and their individuals to grow, develop, and learn for a period of time. This comes with the hope of improving their living conditions and helping them understand their rights. CEPAD offers the communities supervision, guidance, and nurture. Different programs are offered that discuss leadership development, women’s economic development, and food security. Courses are taught on environmental practices in agriculture, developing international partnerships, and building solidarity. CEPAD’s main focus also includes the strengthening of families, the improvement of communal relations, and the creation of self-sustainable projects and programs.

But being a foster parent or family usually comes with a lot of challenges. Leaving the communities after five years of getting to know many of their members, learning their personal stories, and seeing them grow, is not as easy as it sounds. Every community has a different story, and its members relate to each other and CEPAD in different ways. One community might already have an established group of leaders, while another community might be made up of individuals who would usually not interact much with each other or the community at large. Some individuals in a community would be willing to work with CEPAD from the beginning, while others might remain skeptical for a long time or never fully integrate themselves into any of CEPAD’s programs.

At the end of the 5 years, we hope the communities are united in their desire for further improvement. We hope that they will have learned new ways of making important decisions and will continue the work they and CEPAD undertook together. Like a faithful and loving parent, CEPAD rejoices in their steady growth and happiness, and hopes they can continue their journey towards growth and development by using everything that has been shared and taught.

We know the work ahead is long and hard for these communities, so we hope you join CEPAD in this year’s journey and the journeys to follow. We invite you to continue working for the improvement of CEPAD as an institution and also for the betterment of the people of Nicaragua.  You can also help to support CEPAD’s work by starting a partnership, donating to CEPAD’s programs, and by supporting us and our work in Nicaragua. We are grateful, beyond words, for all the support we have received from all of you this past year.

God bless you.

Jhan and Ian

Creative_Commons-BYNCNDYou may freely reuse and distribute this article in its entirety for non-commercial purposes in any medium. Please include author attribution, photography credits, and a link to the original article. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDeratives 4.0 International License.

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