DeKalb county churches volunteer abroad in Nicaragua


Students and church leaders from Glad Tidings Assembly of God and Bethel Assembly of God traveled to Nicaragua to help out a an aid camp.

By Danny Ciamprone

DeKALB | In the second poorest country in the Northern Hemisphere, pieces of scrap metal are what children call home and garbage from the dump is what they call food.

But for a week in March, they were aided by this community.

From March 19 to 26, 10 students and church leaders from Glad Tidings Assembly of God, 2325 N. First St., and Bethel Assembly of God, 131 W. Elm St. in Sycamore, volunteered in an aid camp near the shores of Lake Nicaragua. The team gave out meals, told Bible stories, helped the kids learn English and played sports.

Pastor William Mills of Bethel Assembly of God was one of the leaders on the trip. He emphasized the crippling poverty in the capital city.

“Managua has this huge city dump and there’s a lot of people who live along there that scavenge for food,” Mills said. “Many of them have never been out of the city before; many had never been on a bus.”

The team assisted Ken and Kendra Doutt, two missionaries who have been living and working in Nicaragua. Originally from DeKalb, the Doutts have a home in Michigan they come back to now and then, but mainly live in Nicaragua.

Mills said the kids were between 7 and 13 years old. For the kids, being able to eat more than one meal a day was a true gift for them.

“Where these kids live it’s just shanties,” Mills said. “It’s a really poor country and this is like the poorest of the poor.”

Mills has been a member of the church for 15 years. He said most of the kids who came on the trip he has known since they were very young. And to see them mature over the years and then seeing them on the trip having such a life-changing experience was, for him, the most rewarding part.

One of the students on the trip was Mills’s son, Isaac, a junior in high school. Before this trip, Isaac Mills said he had never been outside of the U.S. before, so for him it was a bit of a culture shock at first.

“Most of those kids lived right on the dump and it just smelled,” Isaac Mills said. “They basically eat food out of the garbage and only have one meal a day. We should be grateful for what we have.”

Isaac Mills said since many of the kids had never been outside the city, seeing their enjoyment was immensely rewarding.

“It was great seeing the people know that there are other people in other countries who love and care for them,” Issac said.

Josh Jokers, a senior at Kishwaukee Community College, said some of the things we take for granted are true gifts for the kids they helped.

“After we played sports we brought them back for dinner and they were so surprised,” Jokers said. “They were like ‘What? We get to eat twice?’ And then the next day they were even more excited because they got breakfast and got to eat three times a day.”

For Jokers, the culture shock was not as bad for him because the children there adapted to a way of life.

“They have less money and things, but it’s not like they’re going around moping about it or anything,” Jokers said. “They know what they have and they live with it. They were born in the dump and pretty much all of them had never been out of the square mile they live in, so it’s what they knew and were content with that.”