As a teenager in the church Centro de Fe y Vida Nueva, Gilberto first fell in love with Nuria’s feet. As he stared at rows of shoes and socks of his peers in youth group, he decided that Nuria was the girl for him. However, Nuria didn’t feel the same. She rejected him for over a year because of a previous bad relationship. She thought that she couldn’t trust men, not even those in the church. However, with time she realized that Gilberto was different. Over the course of two and a half years, Gilberto showed Nuria that he was a man of God, and he could always make her laugh. Thirty years of marriage, three daughters, and one granddaughter later, they are still very much in love.

After taking the “Better Churches I” course at the Nehemiah Center, now Gilberto and his wife, Nuria, are participating in the Family Counseling class.

The Family Counseling class has been very helpful to Gilberto and Nuria because they have discovered unhealthy behaviors that they have dragged from their past or copied from their families. The workshops challenge them not because they intimidate others but because they inspire each participant to self-evaluate and ask themselves how the material applies to their lives. The participants learn from each other and their testimonies. Nuria said that the greatest achievement in their marriage as a result of the Family Counseling training has been to learn to rest and to respect each other. “Over the course of time, our economic situation has become tense, and he [Gilberto] gets uptight. But we are learning to listen instead of fight during tense times, and we talk about our circumstances instead of fighting about them.” They have learned that God allows them to rest and to entrust their burdens to Him. This frees them to spend time with each other and enjoy outings. Since they have recently become empty-nesters, Gilberto expressed that it has been a challenge for him to realize that his daughters have their own lives. They always went places as a family, but not necessarily focusing on quality time together. Now when he wants to do something, Gilberto needs only to invite Nuria, and they can go without taking the whole family. “Now we can rest in the sense that others – their husbands – take care of our girls, and Nuria and I take care of each other.” Nuria expressed that they are learning to dedicate time to each other again, like a dating couple. “We define times to go out together and enjoy the moment, eating chicken and people-watching, or going to visit family in a cooler part of Nicaragua. We seek out recreation.”

When asked what their main goal is now as a couple, Gilberto cheekily replied, “Not to die right now.” After a chuckle from everyone, he seriously said that he wants to improve every day to serve the Lord and the church better. They dream about a truck and a better house, but really, Nuria said that their priority is “seeing families in the congregation serving God and working in the church.”

They want to encourage churches to continue to support Nehemiah Center trainings because “they are touching many families more families with each couple in the course because they lead small groups of 2-5 couples that are affected by these courses, and the teaching in the church reflects what they learn too.” Gilberto commented that Nehemiah Center trainings “make churches and believers grow more because that makes all Christians grow more,” and he encourages North American churches to “maintain and sustain these types of events because they bring great blessing to your brothers and sisters here in Nicaragua.”