Posts Tagged ‘farm’

Sarahʼs Story

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

The following is a personal account from Sarah Johnston. Her story was featured by Alcyon Fleck in the July 2012 edition of ICC’s Que Pasa Newsletter.

This is my story about how the Lord has been with me through the years. I was born in 1980 in a Mayan village in Guatemala. There was a civil war going on in Guatemala at that time. I was still a baby when a battle took place in my village in which many people were killed. I was on my mother’s back when a bullet took her life and wounded my feet.

This is all I know about the family I was born into, and the people of my village. In spite of the tragedy God was looking out for me, even though I did not know Him at that time. God sent a nice man who loved children to find me and a little boy. He took us to the military hospital in Guatemala City.

At the hospital they gave me the name “Mercedes Lopez.” The little boy and I did not stay at the hospital for long because the general that found us knew of a lady that loved children and had an orphanage in Guatemala called Los Pinos. The general called Mrs. Fleck and told her to come and see the two children he found. She did come to the military hospital to see us. I was about ten months old and stood in my crib when Mrs. Fleck saw me. The boy’s name was Lazaro, and he was even years old. He had a wound on his head and his hand.

In the limousine on the way to Mrs. Fleck’s home I sat on her lap and Lazaro sat close beside her. Not knowing where I was going I began to scream in terror and clung to Mrs. Fleck’s neck so hard that she could barely breathe. Mrs. Fleck was so nice to me and the boy. She rocked and held me until I went to sleep. In the morning Mrs. Fleck took us to the “Los Pinos” [children’s village] in Guatemala.

Sarah's First Days at Los Pinos

Sarah (in the yellow dress) not long after she came to live at Los Pinos

Juana, one of the ladies that worked at “Los Pinos,” took me to a house where the house mother could handle another little one. I do not know how long I was at “Los Pinos,’ but I do know that God was still looking out for me. Little did I know that God already had a good Christian family for me. This family lived in Vermont on a farm. They had two older children and a little baby boy, but the mother was praying that God would give her a little Indian girl. So when she found a little picture with a story of me in the Adventist Review it touched her heart, and she knew I would fit in the family if it was God’s will.

But it took nine months until they got me, even though they thought I would come at Christmas. It was a good thing I did not come at Christmas because Christine, the mother, had an operation in January and it took her a long time to heal after the operation. When she tried to do so she had a terrible headache which made it impossible for her to stay up or eat sitting erect. After much prayer the Lord urged her to exercise in the snow crawling around crying out for God’s help to be fit for her children and Sarah.

Sarah Lisa was the name they chose after they were told of Mercedes. In God’s time, exactly nine months later, the three year old came and “mommy” was well enough to receive her girl. Roger, the father, had almost traveled to Guatemala to pick me up since they were told to do so by the orphanage, but as it turned out he did not need to since Mrs. Fleck had another girl to bring and brought me up with her. Christine bought a pretty pink and white dress and shoes and mailed it away to Guatemala for me. And then they waited at the Boston airport until the plane I was on arrived. They found me with the pretty dress. I looked like a doll. Christine ran and picked me up. I looked surprised and they were surprised at how small I was.

Sarah After Joining Her New Family

Sarah after she was adopted into her new family

My new family was prepared for crying and a sleepless night as we all slept in a hotel. But I slept and their one and a half year old baby boy slept also. On the long trip home we stopped to get some food, and that is when they found out that I had the biggest appetite a tiny girl could have. I ate until all of the food was gone, and Christine wondered if maybe she gave me too much. Eating was something that I knew how to do. The next day my mom was shocked at how my little tummy got so big. Then she discovered that I had eaten five big pancakes. All night my mom worried that I may be sick, and yet I lived through it. I clung to my mother’s neck as she carried me up into the bedrooms, and I would not let go until she put me into my crib.

My mom was a good mother. She loved me and taught me about Jesus, but sad to say, I wasn’t always a nice little girl or have Jesus in my heart. I used to get so angry at my mom and brother, and I also stole. What made it worse was that I lied to my mom. It made her sad and Jesus, too, but thank God my mom did not give up on me. She did a lot of praying for me, and God answered her prayers. I asked Jesus into my heart when I was sixteen and was baptized.

I used to wonder why God spared my life and not my mom’s, but now I know why, because He wanted to use me to tell others of Him. I really do like children and they like me. My mom did some babysitting, and I helped her with the children. When I was twenty-eight, I helped take care of three foster children. I enjoyed it a lot. I sang Jesus songs with them and read stories to them. They enjoyed it, too. I become an aunt when I was seven and a half year old. I do not mind being an aunt, because I love my nieces and nephews. The only thing is that they all grew big and tall and I stayed short. But that’s OK.

I left home when I was twenty-nine and went to work up at Laurelbrook Academy. I worked at the nursing home doing different things. I also worked in the garden with some of the students. I also worked at the day care. I enjoyed doing that. I also helped out in Sabbath School with the little children.

Sarah Today

Sarah as she is today

Now I am thirty-one and married, and I know God will still use me as long as I am willing to be used. It does not make any difference how big or small or how old you are or what your background is or was. He can and wants to use you to help others to be ready when Jesus comes. May my story be an encouragement that God does work things out in our lives for His good. One of my favorite Bible verses is “All things work out together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

May God bless you,
Sarah Johnston

Agriculture—Reaping the Benefits

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

The agriculture programs at ICC’s children’s villages are busy with activity this summer. One such program is at the Fountain of Life Children’s Village. Recently we received an update about their first harvest of plantains. Felix, the project director, reports that “In one month we’ll be harvesting continuously, and we’ll be able to sell some of the harvest—not in great quantity, but we will no longer be buying and we’ll start getting some income.”

Plantains that are part of the first harvest from our farm at the Fuente de Vida Children's Village in Nicaragua

The First of the First. The first plantains to be harvested at the ICC Nicaragua farm.

Agriculture is such a vital part of our ICC children’s villages. It benefits the children in so many positive ways by providing a balanced diet, practical work experience, and income from the sale of extra produce. However, there are subtle benefits as well.

This child from the Fuente de Vida Children's Village in Nicaragua helps to harvest a bunch of plantains almost as big as he is!

This child from the Fuente de Vida Children's Village in Nicaragua helps to harvest a bunch of plantains almost as big as he is!

Imagine a young child being rescued from life on the streets. He has no concept of the safety and security of a home and family, and begging food may be how he survives. Now, place that same child in an ICC village and give him love, security and nutritious meals.

Take him to the garden and patiently teach him about the ways of plants. Let him prepare the soil for planting, sow seeds, and wait expectantly for sunshine and rain. Watch him search day-by-day for the first tiny leaf to poke through the soil. Help him care for the tender plant and harvest the first fruits of diligent labor.

Then teach him about his Heavenly Father who loves and cares for him and who has a plan for him to grow and develop and bear fruit. With such therapy, an orphan child cannot help but gain a positive sense of belonging. And when that occurs, the orphan is no longer really an orphan and can grow to his or her full potential just like a well cared for plant in the garden.

You can see from these pictures that the plantain crop is well cared for in Nicaragua. The children have much for which to be thankful, and because you care, we are able to care. Your investment in the children’s programs of ICC enables agriculture programs like the one in Nicaragua to flourish.

On behalf of the children, thank-you for your continued support,

Kent Greve
International Development Director ICC

Violent Storm Damages Las Palmas Crops

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

We’ve received some disturbing news from Mario Lora, ICC’s business and farm manager at the Las Palmas Campus in the Dominican Republic. On Friday, May 27 an isolated and violent storm swept through the Las Palmas campus and caused extensive damage to the farm crops which had been growing in such abundance.

Weather forecasts had not predicted the storm, and it hit the campus unexpectedly and with terrific force. According to Mario, “Its radius of action was practically in our locality and towards the mountains. In fact, the nearby city of Bonao had no damage.

“We understand that it affected an area of about 10 square kilometers with us in the center. We haven’t heard anything about it on the news, and everyone who comes here is surprised when they see the destruction.

“In fact, one of the engineers in charge of the greenhouse project, when he came here was stunned because he didn’t know this had happened, and he was investigating a lot to see what happened. It was quick, only lasting about 20 to 25 minutes as a strong storm, and then the rain lasted for a long time afterward. There was no warning to prepare.”

Plantain trees from the Las Palmas farm destroyed by a focused storm.

Some of the destroyed plantain trees from the Las Palmas farm

About 2/3 of the plantain crop was damaged by the heavy winds and rain that accompanied the storm. Many of the trees were laden with plantains and according to Mario, “With a few exceptions, all trees that had stalks (bunches) of plantains fell to the ground. The stalks varied a lot, from ones that were just flowering to those that were ready to harvest.

Of the trees that didn’t have stalks, only a few fell to the ground, but a very small percentage. We think that about 2,500 plantain trees fell over. Each stalk has about 30 to 40 plantains, which at the current market price are worth between 5 and 7 pesos, so each stalk is worth about 150 pesos [$4.05]. When we multiply that by 2,500 trees, it comes out to a loss of about 375,000 pesos [$10,135]. Also, we were left with about 1,250 trees which will start flowering in the next three months.”

The loss of the trees means more than the loss of the crop. A tree can produce several crops, plus they produce other “children” – small trees that grow up to the next generation. Mario, the staff and children at Las Palmas have quickly started the process of rehabilitating trees that can be salvaged and planting new trees.

Mario states that, “when we plant a new crop it takes about 8 or 9 months to start producing.” One piece of good news is that the project already has enough seeds to do the replanting and together with rehabilitating the damaged trees, the project should be able to expand the crop. This will have to wait until the rains allow the workers to prepare the land.

Plantains are a staple crop at the children’s village. This loss will certainly impact the project. Mario continues. “Of the production that we had projected, we consume almost the entire crop. What was happening at this moment was that as the plantains would get ripe we would cut them for use in the homes. They were not all ready to cut at the same time. In fact, many times we have had to cut them before they were really ready because of the needs in the homes.”

One of the other important crops at Las Palmas is Yucca. Mario estimated that perhaps 30% to 40% was affected. Since Yucca are tubers, it’s difficult to say at this time what the effect of the storm may be. However, there was significant damage to the plants themselves and the tubers may rot or not develop normally.

Garden vegetables were also hit hard, and according to Mario, “everything we had was ruined.” The house father and children of house 4 on the Las Palmas campus had put forth dedicated effort to supply the homes with vegetables. Mario estimates that this was valued at the equivalent of $135 per week so over the next 8 weeks as they wait for new crops to mature, they’ll need to spend about $1,080 to replace what was lost.

Two hatchlings sleep in their nest after the storm.

Two hatchlings sleep in their nest after the storm

There are some bright spots in all this discouraging news. All the children and staff escaped unharmed. Praise God for that! Also, the sweet potato, corn and pineapple crops were not damaged. As well, there is something telling about how Mario describes the attitude of the staff and children on campus. “What has impressed me the most in all this,” he states, “is the good spirit that exists among the employees and the kids. We can see complete unity in order to reestablish, with God’s help and our efforts, what has been damaged. We have courage to continue on as long as the Lord gives us the strength.”

We’re pleased to report that when the Versacare Foundation heard about this tragedy, they immediately provided a donation of $10,000 to help with this food emergency. What a blessing this is! Additional funds are needed, and if you would like to help, please mark your donation “Las Palmas Farm and Food Fund.” It will directly assist with this need.

Thank you for your generous support.

Kent Greve
Director International Development ICC

Happenings at ICC Nicaragua

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

[This blog post was updated on March 30th, 2011]

[UPDATE] Since this post was first published, we’ve received more information from Felix Almendarez on the progress of the farm.

Pineapple Crop “Starts”
Felix, director of the ICC children’s village in Nicaragua, recently determined that he would plant a pineapple crop.  He made a contact with a personal friend who also grows pineapples. Felix’s friend was willing to assist him.

The new pineapple grove at ICC Nicaragua's Fuente de Vida Children's Village

The new pineapple grove at ICC's Fuente de Vida Children's Village in Nicaragua

They went into the friend’s field and began digging up starts from beside mature plants.  After awhile it appeared that they had collected about 500 plants. Felix’s friend was selling the starts for 1 Cordova (about 5 cents) each, so Felix decided he wanted a few more. After leaving the field, Felix thought he had about 700.  However, it turned out that there were more than 900 when the planting was done in the ICC garden.

Felix was so excited about having this new pineapple crop that he decided to get some more.  When he went back to his friend’s field he got another 1,000 starts.  In all, nearly 2,000 plants are now flourishing in the ICC Nicaragua garden, and Felix only spent about $100.  Since many of the starts were pretty mature to begin with, they will start to produce in about 9 months.

Farm House Completed
A group from Canada who have been friends of our project for many years came to Nicaragua to do some other projects. They stopped by to see Felix and Angelica and asked them what they could do to help. Felix told them about the need to get the farm house finished – floor, doors and windows – so that someone could live in it and take care of the farm. These friends provided all the funds to do that. Now Felix has hired an Adventist couple to take care of the farm and live in that house.

The new farm house at the Fuente de Vida Children's Village in Nicaragua

The new farm house at ICC's Fuente de Vida Children's Village

Canadian Group Adds Beauty to the Children’s Homes
Three of the members of the Canadian group stayed for a few days and planted flower gardens around the homes. We appreciate their help very much.

Flowers planted outside house four of ICC's Fuente de Vida Children's Village in Nicaraga

Flowers newly planted at House Four of ICC's Fuente de Vida Children's Village

[UPDATE] Felix Almendarez, the administrator of our ICC Nicaragua campus, today was telling us that they have really been blessed with good crops on this land. He is amazed at the production and the size of the vegetables. They have cucumbers, zucchini, corn, tomatoes and other things.

Felix with cucumbers grown on the farm at our ICC Nicaragua campus.

Felix with cucumbers grown on the farm at our ICC Nicaragua campus.

A closeup of the cucumbers grown on our ICC Nicaragua campus

A closeup of the cucumbers grown on our ICC Nicaragua campus

Thanks for reading!

Kent Greve
International Development Director ICC

A Small Note at the end of 2010

Friday, January 14th, 2011

We are coming to the end of 2010, which was at the same time the first year of our new Village, and a year in which, with God’s help, we have been able to achieve many advances in getting the new campus in shape so that the kids each day feel better, more comfortable and really at home. In spite of the fact that we had to go through a time of adaptation, the academic achievement of our kids was excellent with 100% passing their grade, and several kids had outstanding grades.

Although we have had many achievements, it was also a very difficult year, especially because of the different tragedies that affected the world—and our country was not spared. In the months of August, September and part of October, rains devastated many areas of the country, especially the Pacific coastal area where we are located.

Many families had to evacuate because of flooding in the area after a long dry season which had also affected them adversely. These families, who are mostly farmers, not only had to leave their homes but also lost all their crops that they had cultivated, and that represented their entire livelihood.

Providing relief packages to local flood victims

ICC Nicaragua delivers relief packages to flood victims

We couldn’t just stand by with our arms crossed in view of such disaster, so we took them some clothes, sheets, and we shared some of our corn crop. Also we gave them some of the milk from our cows. Our farm, thanks to the excellent location that we have, was not damaged by the rains. Two days before Christmas, with funds donated from ICC sponsors who wanted to support our effort, we were able to prepare 70 packets of food that we gave out to poor families who had been affected by the flooding. This brought great joy to these families.

Children from ICC Nicaragua deliver relief packages to flood victims

Children from ICC Nicaragua deliver relief packages to flood victims

As we do each year, we had a Christmas dinner with members of our board, staff and friends who support the children’s village. Also this year our kids gave a little gift to the people who clean the streets and pick up the garbage in our town, El Viejo. This allowed us to take a bit of cheer to other children as we shared our blessings with them.

Local supporters of ICC Nicaragua enjoy Christmas dinner at one of the homes on the Fuente de Vida Children's Village campus

Local supporters of ICC Nicaragua enjoy Christmas dinner 2010 at one of the homes on the Fuente de Vida Children's Village campus.

Christmas was a little different this year, with bigger arrangements, since we had more room. The kids enjoyed the space to play in nature, thanks to the beautiful home that our Creator has given us.

Children from ICC Nicaragua enjoy Christmas dinner 2010

Children from ICC Nicaragua enjoy Christmas dinner 2010

During 2010 we were able to feel the marvelous hand of God caring for us, providing for us and showing us the way during difficult times. We are sure that in this New Year He will again be our great Helper, as it says in Philippians 4:19, “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” NIV

May God bless you and may the presence of our Creator be in each ICC program and in the hearts of all those who allow God to use them in this marvelous work of caring for the most needy.

Félix Almendarez
Administrador ICC Nicaragua

New Residents at ICC Nicaragua Farm

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

Thanks to recent donations, the Fountain of Life ICC Children’s Village in Nicaragua has been able to increase the size of its dairy herd. Currently there are nine cows giving milk and ten heifers that will be giving birth in about eighteen months. The milk cows have given birth to six calves. That makes a total of twenty-five cows with the potential of ten others on the way.

One of the new new cows at the ICC Nicaragua farm

One of the new cows at the ICC Nicaragua farm.

The September 2010 edition of ICC’s Que Pasa Newsletter features a personal message from Rick Fleck that tells of the blessing this dairy is to our children and the local community. A copy of that Que Pasa can be found here.

In addition to the dairy herd, the Fountain of Life Children’s Village is also raising chickens. In total there are seventy-seven chickens. These include sixty-one hens, four roosters, and twelve chicks. Eggs from the chickens provide food for our children and any excess can be sold.

Chickens from the ICC Nicaragua farm

Some of the new chickens at the ICC Nicaragua Farm.

What a blessing it is to have a growing number of animals on this campus. As well as providing milk and eggs for the children and community, they provide a small source of revenue and allow some of the children to learn animal husbandry.

Thanks for reading!

Kent Greve
Int’l Development Director ICC