As with any community, the full picture of Masatepe, Nicaragua is a multifaceted mosaic of people and places, needs and strengths, struggles and potential. “I think it’s a very pocketed community,” Hannah says, describing Masatepe. “You have pockets of schools, businesses, and churches here and there. They have a lot to offer, but no one is really working together.”
“There’s definitely a lot of brokenness here,” Brandon adds. “Lots of broken families, poor living conditions, lack of health care, and quality education. But there are also a lot of people and organizations already here that want to help. The last thing we want to do is come here, reinvent the wheel, and do our own thing. That’s the beauty of bringing people together. We want to see all those local partners at the same table and to help cast a bigger vision for what God can do in Masatepe.”
One such partner is a local agricultural organization just outside of town, called Icidri, which aims to help underprivileged locals in rural areas turn unused land into profitable agricultural ventures. One muggy June afternoon, Brandon visits Icidri in order to learn more and meet the head of the organization, a congenial Nicaraguan man named Luis. Brandon and Hannah are also interested in working with Icidri in order to develop their own land as they encourage neighbors and others in Masatepe to do the same.
The following day, Luis drops by the Weidman’s house to give them a bag of locally grown coffee beans. “A lot of people and organizations seem to be really encouraged,” Brandon says, reflecting on Luis’ visit. “The fact that we’re here, not stepping over them, but saying, ‘hey, we want to help you’ goes a long way.”
Another key partner for Brandon and Hannah has been a local church called Nuevos Horizontes on the outskirts of town. In fact, Brandon and Hannah first visited Masatepe over 3 years ago on a short-term trip because of a connection between Nuevos Horizontes and their own church in the US. What they saw on that and three subsequent trips was a genuine commitment to engaging the local community. “I want this church to be different,” says Rolando Mendoza, the Weidmans’ close friend and leader of Nuevos Horizontes who planted the church nearly 10 years ago. “I didn’t want it to just be another church that sits and does nothing. The whole idea here is that this church is an active part of this community.” That sentiment is one Brandon and Hannah share wholeheartedly and the reason they are committed to walking alongside the church and it’s congregation.
One step at a time
There are no quick fixes to the many problems that exist in a community like Masatepe, but the Weidmans are encouraged by how they have already seen God moving. “We’re seeing doors opening and relationships forming,” Brandon says. “And that’s what it’s all about. One step at a time. In the end, the real goal is seeing a new cycle begin, it’s not some point where you arrive.”
“I think I see God working most beautifully in the little relationships,” Hannah adds. “Like with our neighbor. I feel like we get to go deeper in our faith each time we talk.” Hannah smiles as she says it. “It’s just amazing that we can connect with people on such a heart level here, through the language barrier and completely different cultures, and celebrate together that Christ is alive today.”
Looking back on this past year of ministry, both Brandon and Hannah are quick to say what a blessing it has been, and also, to encourage others to take a closer look at the communities around them. “Are you somebody who has relationships in a community?” Brandon asks. “Someone who is seeing the local potential and what could happen if that was resourced, encouraged, and given a bigger vision? If so, I think that’s a great place to start.”