By Jenny Stephenson
I hope your family is enjoying learning about new countries. Last month we learned about Mexico and this month we are heading a bit further south to Nicaragua! The goal of these monthly blogs is to expand our children’s view of what the Lord is doing—not just in America, but around the world—and discover how we can be a part of His great commission.
Last month I recommended purchasing Operation World. It’s a huge book packed with information about every country in the world. Not only would this book be great to have for these monthly lessons, but it is a great homeschool book for geography and history too. Here is a link to the Nicaragua Operation World page. Take a look to learn more.
Head to the library with your family and check out books on Nicaragua this month. Don’t feel confined to the children’s section either. Some of the most beautiful pictures of countries I’ve found are in the adult books. You don’t have to read these books to your children, but let them look through them, and see the people, colors, and the foods, and experience Nicaragua through photos. The Internet is another great way to find amazing pictures of Nicaragua.
A few facts about Nicaragua: it is the largest country in Central America, it is a secular state with freedom of religion, and it is poverty-stricken.
Family Fun: Nicaraguan Bread and Pottery
There is a lot to experience with Nicaragua as a family. Having several things planned throughout the month will continue to keep your family focused on God’s world around you.
Last month I’d suggested reading Cameron Townsend, Christian Heroes Then and Now by Janet and Geoff Benge. If you didn’t have a chance to read it last month, it’s not too late. Cameron Townsend did missionary work all through Central America. The YWAM Christian Hero series are wonderful books to read with your family. Reading missionary books is a great way to expand your family’s view of how God can use one person to make a huge difference in the world!
Experiencing a country through food is always great and coconut bread is not only delicious, but a staple food in Nicaragua and also makes a tasty breakfast treat. Bread is one of my favorite things to bake. The process takes time, but the house smells amazing and nothing tastes better than homemade bread. The kids can help with this recipe, too.
Coconut Bread Roll Recipe
1/2 cup of warm water
3 Tbsp. sugar
2 packages of dry active yeast
1/2 cup shredded coconut
3 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup of canned sweetened coconut milk
3 Tbsp. butter
Powdered sugar & melted chocolate make great toppings
Heat your bowl under warm water. Mix 1/2 cup of warm water, 3 Tbsp. sugar and 1 package of dry active yeast together. Let the mix sit for a few minutes. Add in coconut and mix again. Wait 5 minutes.
Mix the flour and salt together. Combine dry ingredients with wet ingredients and add the canned coconut milk. Knead dough (or if you have a mixer use the dough hook and let it need for a few minutes). Add in the butter and continue to knead for a couple more minutes; the dough should not be too sticky.
Form the dough into a ball. Put the dough into a large bowl, cover with a tea towel, and let it rise for about an hour. Once the dough has risen, split the dough in half. Make 8 small balls from each half for a total of 16 rolls.
Place the rolls into a glass 9″x13″ Pyrex dish. Cover again and let them rise for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
Melted butter and powdered sugar make a great topping on these rolls. Melted chocolate is also a delightful way to finish off these rolls.
Make Your Own Pottery
Nicaragua has beautifully painted pottery which makes a family craft super easy and super fun. Here are a couple of ideas on how to do pottery with your family. First, you could be really simple and just head to a local “painting pottery” shop. Let your family pick out pieces to paint. They have the paint there for you, they fire the pieces, and you pick them up later. This is a great option for those who don’t want the mess in the house, and it’s a fun field trip. You can invite some friends to head out with you also.
You could also buy clay and let your children create their own pieces of pottery. Search the internet for Nicaraguan pottery and let them pick something they would like to make. This will be slightly messier, but a lot of fun for the family!
There are a few great ministries in Nicaragua. YWAM and E3 are ministries you should check out with your family, but today I would like to focus on E3. E3 is a missions ministry, equipping and sending people to the missions field all over the world! E3 also has missions trips that are specifically designed for families.
Maybe next summer would be the perfect time for you and your family to head off on a great adventure serving the Lord together? I know it sounds a little scary to take your family to another country. Believe me I know! I’m actually writing this in Guyana, South America, right now and, yes, I brought the family with me. I have been blown away with how easily my children adapted to new situations, foods, weather, and travel. The Lord has taught me so much through my children about what childlike faith really looks like. All of this to say, spend some time praying and talking about missions and if this season of life would be a good time to let your children physically experience, touch, taste, and embrace the Great Commission. While you are pondering the possibility, check out E3’s Family Trip website.
Take time and research which missionaries your church is supporting. Find out as much information as you can on them and begin praying for them on a regular basis with your family. Perhaps your church has a way of sending emails or letters to encourage these missionaries. Encouraging letters could be your family’s ministry right now. Also, take some time this month to pray for Nicaragua. There is a great local ministry called Movimiento Missionero Transcultural Nicaraguense (MMTN) that could use our prayer support. Their focus is to bring local churches together and to ignite a strong local missionary movement in Nicaragua.
Here are just a few fun ideas to get your family started learning about Nicaragua. Dig into your library and the community around you. You never know, you just might have a neighbor who was born in Nicaragua or you may discover a local Nicaraguan restaurant. Have fun and explore, learn, and let your eyes be open to the faithfulness of the Lord happening, not just here in America, but around the world. Take part in His global mission as a family!
Jenny Stephenson is married to Ben. They homeschool their two boys and three girls in Austin, Texas. Jenny and Ben have served both in local and oversees missions and have a heart for adoption, as two of their children were adopted. Jenny also owns her own business and blogs at www.vintageburlapbarn.blogspot.com.