The Mercy Center: Month One Success Stories

On April 17, 2018 our front doors opened.  We had a wildly successful pilot month.

Team Members serving in Nicaragua

  • Ellen
  • Walter
  • William
  • Abeltio
  • Amilkar
  •  Fany

 

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Jana, a visiting occupational therapist from South Africa was a godsend!! She brought to the table some skillsets that will be treasured going forward. After one month this boy, Elias, age 15, shines as the face of the mercy center. His mom has had to feed him his entire life.  He now has the range of motion and the coordination to be able to bring food from his plate, to his mouth all by himself.   What an encouragement his progress is!!


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Abelito, a Nicaraguan, is excited to have a job where he can use his skills but also express the love he has in his heart for the most vulnerable kids in his country. He knows the deep need and is grateful for the opportunity to serve in the center.


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Ellen helps Katerine’s mom learn ways to keep her daughter safe. She is one of the most challenging Mercy Kids as she is CONSTANTLY moving but doesn’t have the mental capacity to stay safe.  Ellen is always willing to serve wholeheartedly.


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Naomi’s mom was hesitant to commit to the work of being a willing participant of the Mercy Center . . . at first.  She did not understand the whole concept of a physical therapy center.  Now, after one month, she is one of the strongest advocates as she already sees progress with Naomi’s range of motion, cognitive abilities and is so excited to be part of the center.


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This is Nyeli.  When she arrived to the Mercy Center she did not make eye contact with anyone.  She was insecure, shy and withdrawn.  Now Nyeli smiles and laughs and enjoys all the therapies offered. What a blessing to see her develop.  We want as many of the kids to move toward independence as possible.  Our team is making a difference!!


 On a more difficult level . . . I am sure many of you are aware of the political turmoil in Nicaragua.  This has been building for many years. The problems are deep seated and we covet your prayers.  The people, the ordinary people, like you and me are really suffering.  Food and gas prices have skyrocketed and the availability of both are always in question. As one would guess the list of issues is long.  We hope and pray for change, most definitely, but . . .   at what cost? Please join us in prayer for peace, for safety and ultimately that God’s perfect ways would reign and control the little country of Nicaragua. 

 

Ways to Get Involved:

  • Pray for the Mercy Kids
  •  Pray for the team
  •  Come visit

 Please consider partnering with us financially.

  •       We are hoping to buy a van. 
  •        Our center is also not fully funded yet {our monthly expenses}

     

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Alex's Story

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This is Alex González.

He is five years old, has more personality than the average 15-year-old, and was born with a club foot. 

When he as an infant, he received corrective casting and surgery for his foot. Due to poor medical care, his foot rapidly regressed and walking became increasingly difficult. We're praising God because this wonderful little person is receiving treatment! 

On our most recent trip to Nicaragua, we randomly decided (or so we thought) to get Alex x-rays of his foot. We took Alex, along with another sweet little girl in our program, to the local radiologist where we paid $20 for an x-ray of his foot and celebrated with ice cream. We'd known for years that he needed treatment but hadn't known where to begin.

Less than three hours later, we received word from a friend that an appointment had opened up with the leading club-foot doctor in all of Nicaragua. It was Monday night and the appointment slot was Wednesday morning at 8 AM, more than 6 hours away by car. Alex and his mother would have to leave their home for at least 6 weeks to receive treatment, live with someone they'd never met, and handle the pain of club foot casting. It was only the second time they'd have traveled more than 4 hours from their village. 

We were afraid that this would just be too much for the family to process in less than 12 hours. But when we told them the news, Alex informed us he wanted to make and pack spaghetti to bring with him for the trip and his mom cried as she had been praying for years for that day to come. They truly couldn't have been more excited! 

The following morning, we left for Léon, a six hour truck ride south, for Alex's treatment. The little man bravely handled the casting of his foot and we're so happy his treatment is going well!

Our long term goal through The Mercy Kids isn't just basic care. Rather, we hope to provide treatment that will change lives and open futures to our 265 kids that otherwise wouldn't be possible. We can't wait to share how Alex's life changes after his casting and surgery!

Scroll down to see images from our trip to Léon.

To sponsor Alex for $25 a month, please email: sally@themercykids.org

Partnership with His Hands

We're delighted to announce that His Hands Support Ministries has established a sponsorship program for our Mercy Kids! Through this program, sponsors provide monthly donations of $25 a month per child and 100% of that money goes directly to caring for the Mercy Kids.

For several years, our dream has been to connect individual kids in Nicaragua with families that can not only provide financial support but also provide prayer for each child by name. His Hands has made that possible!

This January, God brought a team of His Hands volunteers to Nicaragua. While they were there, they began photographing and interviewing each of our 265 children. 

Because of their faithful work, more than 20 of our children have been sponsored! To sponsor a child, follow this link below. 

http://www.hishandssupportministries.org/nicaragua/children

UPDATE! We're so grateful that Deyvin is now sponsored! Please consider sponsoring one of the other sweet kids in the Mercy program. 

Right now, one of our most urgent sponsorship needs is Deyvin Rosales Hernandez. 

Deyvin is 18 years old and has cerebral palsy. The difficulties of his disability, however, are compounded by his extreme poverty. Deyvin receives almost no care, lives in a plastic shack, and does not receive the medical treatment he needs. 

To sponsor Deyvin, follow this link. $25 a month provides Deyvin food and other household supplies.

http://www.hishandssupportministries.org/nicaragua/children/item/deyvin-rosales-hernandez

The Mercy Center

  This is The Mercy Center.  Excited for the front doors to open. It's almost finished.

This is The Mercy Center.  Excited for the front doors to open. It's almost finished.


Thanks to so many generous donors The Mercy Center is on target to open April 1st (ish). Yay yay and yay again.

This last January, Ron and I took over a dozen faithful, devoted volunteers down to Jalapa, Nicaragua. We were able to witness the construction of the finishing touches to the one and only physical therapy center in the Jalapa area.  This is a beautiful space where the moms of the mercy kids will be encouraged. It is a space where the children will receive physical, occupational and speech therapy. It is a space where people will be able to volunteer, to be the hands and feet of Jesus.  The center will be a space where children and moms, both, will receive spiritual insights into the love of their heavenly father. It is just so exciting to be eyewitnesses to something so beautiful.

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Pastor Carlos and Pastor Abel are energized and ready to include their local communities.  There are folks in the area that are learning about the number of kids with disabilities.  Education and awareness are two key factors to changing the story of disability for these kids.  These children were born into something they had no input into.  Their stories are difficult stories.  They are without a government who provides programs, aid, and all kinds of paid for resources They are without special-ed classroom opportunities. They are without curriculums, after-school programs, respite opportunities and the list of “withouts” could go on and on. That said, it is exciting to be part of a “with” program.  We are providing them with beautiful new things and you can see and sense their anticipation.

 Ribbon cutting ceremony.

Ribbon cutting ceremony.

Below are pictures of the ribbon cutting ceremony. You will also see the building and some of our equipment.  As always – we are looking for therapists of any kind to join our team We would be excited for short or long visits.  Can you teach art?  Can you snuggle and love on kids?  Can you inspire?  Can you breathe hope?  You don’t need a fancy degree to be part of our team.  {We like you smart degreed people too, haha!} 

January in Nicaragua

Once again our trip to Nicaragua has been beyond our wildest expectations. We have made new stateside friends that have fully embraced the mercy kids. They, independently, are going to look for sponsors so the mercy kids would be able to receive a food bag each month. God answered a huge prayer in this! On our team, we also brought three go-getters out of Virginia. They, independently, are looking for medical help for the kids that could majorly benefit from medical intervention. A whole bunch of young, energetic, brilliant young adults came that continually bring new and fresh ideas to the table. The Mercy Kids Foundation would not be where we are without them!

On this trip pieces to a big puzzle have come together and have helped us to see the larger picture. Because our time has been focused and productive, a clearer picture of what we need, what we don't need and how to go about accomplishing things that will help the kids has unfolded. We've visited, we've touched, we've prayed, and we have shed oh so many tears on behalf of these little people we've come to love so much. Running on "e" so more beautiful stories to come!

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REFLECTING ON 2017

With your help amazing things happened!

· The Mercy Kids Foundation became official in 2017

· We have enough money to finish The Mercy Center thanks to many many generous donors. Your gifts will not go to waste!! THANK YOU!!!

· The Ark Encounter placed several large orders from Pastor Carlos and he is now employing at least 35 people. This brings much hope and dignity through the opportunity of working. Our friends are holding their heads high! YAY

· Many new products are being developed to be sold in the fair trade world.

· Our full time physical therapist, an administrator and Ellen Moore should all begin work on or close to March 1, 2018. Ellen is an RN from the United States and she has given The Mercy Kids Foundation a one year commitment.

· Two Mercy Kids passed into eternity. This was extremely painful for everyone. One of the little girls was a huge part of why The Mercy Kids Foundation formally became a “thing.” We loved little Maribel. ♥♥♥

The Mothers of Mercy Children

Mary Nelson, one of the founders of The Mercy Kids, tells the story of Edguar, a little boy she met on a trip to Nicaragua. Pastor Carlos provides support for Edguar through the Mercy Children program. 

It's easy for me to hurt for the children with disabilities that we work with.

Since their suffering is physical, it's always present so it's easy to see. Their needs are urgent. They need food, medication, and physical therapy.

But after the weeks I’ve spent there, my heart has been moved for the mothers of these children. Unlike their children, these women have needs that are quiet and aren’t always manifested physically. It’s easy for their perseverance and dedication to their children to go unnoticed.

Through our ministry, we hope to not only provide care for these children with disabilities but also to empower and comfort their mothers. We hope to show them that we see their faithfulness and that they are not alone.

In most cases, the mothers of the Mercy Children are single. Some have been widowed but most were abandoned by their husbands at least in part because of the stigmas surrounding disability in the area. These women are often the sole provider for their families, a role made nearly impossible because their children require so much care

One of these single mothers makes baskets out of pine needles to sell in markets. Her process begins when she hikes up the side of the mountain she lives near. She then gathers fallen needles from the forest floor and washes them in a nearby creek. It takes roughly a week to gather the needles then another three days to weave the basket, a basket she then sells for about $40.

It was so special seeing her reaction when we went to collect the baskets.  Pride and dignity shone across her face. It is our dream to facilitate the sale of her work and provide a safe place for her to make her baskets where she doesn’t have to worry about her child.

Another one of the mothers we met last time we traveled through Nicaragua last had two boys who were born deaf. Miraculously, she had found these two boys after their biological mother had abandoned them on the side of a road. For almost 20 years, this woman has cared for them by herself.  Her devotion to the boys is inspiring and, just recently, a donation was made for the two to go to a school for deaf people so they can finally communicate with the world around.

These two young men have no idea that this woman isn’t their biological mother but rather someone stirred to kindness by God. She made these boys her own in the same way that we have been grafted into the family of God through Jesus.

Through the Mercy Children program, we hope to share the hope of salvation to these families in addition to providing support for their mothers and care for their children. Please join us in praying for the 200 mothers we love in northern Nicaragua!

 

 

Through our ministry, we hope to not only provide care for these children with disabilities but also to empower and comfort their mothers. We hope to show them that we see their faithfulness and that they are not alone.
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Through the Mercy Children program, we hope to share the hope of salvation to these families in addition to providing support for their mothers and care for their children. Please join us in praying for the 200 mothers we love in northern Nicaragua!

Meet Edguar

Mary Nelson, one of the founders of The Mercy Kids, tells the story of Edguar, a little boy she met on a trip to Nicaragua. Pastor Carlos provides support for Edguar through the Mercy Children program. 

Meet my friend Edguar.  

He’s eleven. He’s handsome. And I think he’s pretty amazing.

Being in my fifties, I have been around a few kids. Edguar stands out. Not much is too hard for him. He’s cute when he tries new things and his warm, energetic personality is contagious.  He’s excited about soccer, hiking and art. He holds his own playing Jenga and hand-clapping games. 

But unlike most kids, Edguar has no fingers.

Edgaur was born without fingers on either hand and two club feet. He lives in the mountains of northern Nicaragua just south of the Honduran border lives with his grandparents. His mother is in jail for the next 19 years and his dad is not known. Given his rural home, his medical treatment options have been limited. Edguar's home has neither electricity nor running water. 

Despite his disability, Edgaur is a blossoming young artist. He holds a pencil in his mouth to create drawings of animals and people. 

I think about Edguar a lot. My husband Ron and I pray that God will make a way for him. We like to imagine him as a translator as Edguar's intelligence and curiosity shines even though we don't speak his language. Such a hopeful future, however, is a long way off. English lessons are costly and it's difficult for his grandparents to provide for his basic needs. 

Now, we're working to help Edguar create something to sell at the International Fair Trade Sale in Lawrenceburg and, hopefully, online someday.

Join us in praying for Edguar!

On Foot Washing

In addition to providing stateside support for Pastor Carlos' work, we have a newly-established tradition of making annual trips to Nicaragua. Being in community with Carlos and his team strengthens our ties with them. Together, alongside our Nicaraguan friends, we are working to provide support for the families with disabled children we call the "Mercy Kids." 

In the following blog post, Abi Murphy tells the story of washing the feet of the mothers of Mercy Kids. 

This spring, a team of eleven of us headed down to Nicaragua to serve in Pastor Carlos' amazing ministry. The impact this trip has had on my own heart is beyond description and the friends I made down there are ones I will never forget.

During our trip, I experienced so many different cultural things. Traffic jams here in America are cars piled up in the city. In Nicaragua? Cows, horses, and a chicken. My 6 AM wake up call came from a rooster, not an alarm clock.  My meals involved beans and rice, no matter if it was breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

But the most interesting,, memorable, and heart-filling thing I did while in Nicaragua was wash the feet of the mothers of the Mercy children. When our group's leader Mary asked us how we would feel about humbling ourselves, doing as Jesus did to others, I felt perfectly comfortable with it right then and there. I was honestly looking forward to it. I'm up for trying new things and washing feet seemed like an amazing opportunity to share God's grace in an amazing way.

Soon, the day arrived.

We went to go to the first group of Mercy children and their moms and Mary asked them if we could honor the moms, come before them, and serve them by humbly washing their feet as a treat for them. I watched some of their faces: some showed no expression when asked, others looked confused, and others seemed a little intrigued.

We led the moms into a separate room away from their children and asked them to take a seat. We had soap, hot water, lotion, a scrub for their heel, and our hands just as they were.

I remember kneeling before the kind mother of one of the Mercy Kids and just looking into her eyes. My first thought was, "Lady, this is as weird for you as it is for me." She seemed to feel the same way and I would have reacted the same way if I were in her shoes.

You could see it in her eyes. She had no idea what was going to happen and neither did I. I can guarantee neither of us had been through something like this before. I've never had a foot massage, nor have I given one. I've never washed feet and I'm sure she's never had someone wash hers.

I speak very little spanish and I looked up at her, said "Como esta?"

"Bien," she responded.

And that was the end our conversation. But as I began to clean her feet, I saw her smile light up and felt her foot relax. The awkward tension between us slowly disappeared. I would occasionally look up at her and she would give me a warm smile. She would look at the moms around her and they would laugh and talk. It was like our own little spa. It was a room where we could take the stress from the moms and give them a break. We could help them relax and feel blessed. We could show them that they are worth something and that we are here because God cares for them more than we could ever show.

Sometimes their feet smelled. Other times, they were covered in cuts and dirt. As I knelt before them, I thought that Jesus, the son of God – the one who shed His blood for me, for her, and for Mercy kids – did this. If a man so great could bring himself to such a low point to be as a servant to those who have so little, then so could I.

As I washed her feet I constantly reminded myself that this was not for me. It was for her. She stays up night after night to care for her child. She spends day after day never leaving her child's side. She cares for her little baby boy or girl even when her husband walks out. She supports her family as best she can even when little to no money comes to them. She has stress, fear, and she deserves this. I did this for her.

I remember clearly that, as I began to rub each mother's foot, started to scrub her heel and massage her ankles, she would lean her head back and smile. She would begin to relax. Sometimes at first when I would try to move the foot in and out of the water, her leg would tense up. Or she would look at me, confused. I knew she couldn't understand me but I would try to indicate to her what I was doing. It was a new experience for the both of us.

Mary sat next to me and I remember looking at her and saying, "Wouldn't it be funny if I came home and decided to become a masseuse?" We laughed about how good of a story that would be if someone were to ask why I went into that job profession. I could tell them I found my passion washing the feet of some of the strongest, kindest, and most determined women in Nicaragua.

Although I could say very little to the women, seeing their faces made me believe one thing overall: love needs no translation.

I truly learned that saying over and over again. The impact that Pastor Carlos, Mary, and everyone I went on the trip had on me was beyond words. We had many ups and downs. We cried, laughed, and got so tired we could barely function but we did our best because we knew it wasn't for our own hearts that we were doing this but for the hearts of His people.

 

 Abi Murphy is senior in high school from southeastern Indiana.  She works as a lifeguard and loves photography and traveling.

Abi Murphy is senior in high school from southeastern Indiana.  She works as a lifeguard and loves photography and traveling.