Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
During this time of limited travel and less gatherings, I thought it might be helpful to highlight a day at The Nehemiah Center to get an idea of what you would experience if you were able to stop by for a visit.
Days usually start early in Nicaragua to take advantage of the daylight before the heat of the afternoon. Employees make their way to the office, declaring saludos to each person as they head towards their desk. As everyone begins to get settled they might notice the faint but notable chirps of the tropical birds or a faint role of thunder during the rainy season. Throughout the morning employees will stop at the coffee table for a steaming cup of coffee (or for the inevitable refill trips) despite the 80 degree weather.
Mondays are usually the most lively as coworkers catch up on weekend happenings and as all are gathered for a week beginning time of devotions together. After a time of praise, encouragement, and announcements people are sent out and scattered to their respective tasks.
You might see a department gather to do some planning and appreciate the air conditioned meeting room. Others take their computers for a virtual call connecting with churches and leaders from around the region and the world! There are typically some visitors that will stop to discuss partnering together in ministry or to help the interns with Spanish classes. Just like the employees, the guests are welcomed with saludos as they make their way to their destination. The Nehemiah Center staff also often host classes, mentorship, or programs during the morning. Participants file in and proceed to activities with evident excitement. Per cultural tradition, each meeting also means a time of prepared refrigerio(refreshments) of a homemade treat and fresh juice.
As the heat ramps up and morning turns to afternoon, the desk fans begin to turn on and one could notice an increase in the zaps from electric fly swatters to take defense against swarming mosquitoes. You can also often hear the students from Nicaragua Christian Academy Nejapa (our property neighbors) engaging in classroom activities or enjoying a break between classes. Then soon enough, lunch hour comes and the break room microwave is shared to reheat meals of rice, beans, chicken, tortillas and tostones. A few employees will take the opportunity to stop home for lunch while others will gather in the pavilion or ranchon in the middle of the office space.
If you are lucky it might be a good day when staff birthdays are celebrated. The commitment to a unique cake for each person is unmatched. Employees are motioned over for a song and a rendering of “queremos pastel” (we want cake) to honor the birthday.
After working into the afternoon, the staff slowly start to peter out and head home. Many wait on the corner for the next passing moto taxi to the bus stop while others get into their cars and leave a cloud of dust until the next day when they can do it all over again.
As I write this I remember how excited I was to walk into the office for the first time. After months of quarantine and working from home, I was ready to enter a space to work alongside others. Even now months into working here at the office, these seemingly mundane days are such a gift. I am also struck by the way that having a sense of routine offers a bit of normalcy amidst a time of unpredictability at a global level. I also believe it is important to recognize that the day to day, often behind a computer or phone call, is where the coordination and planning takes place for all the ministry the Nehemiah Center is able to do. Yet, it has become increasingly clear to me that even the office space itself acts as a ministry and is a reflection of the values we hold. Shared meeting space, open office doors, and weekly devotions promote collaboration and communication between the departments and builds our own community as coworkers and brothers and sisters in Christ.
I hope that this invites you into an extension of our community, as fellow Christians and friends in ministry. Thank you for your prayers, encouragement, support, and partnership with the Nehemiah Center. Thank you for allowing us to do what we do each day and work towards the holistic transformation of Nicaragua. Until the next visit.