After the civil unrest in Nicaragua last April, the U.S. Embassy in late November gave travelers a green light to return. The first team back into Nicaragua was a coalition of five North Georgia Conference United Methodist Churches who were eager to check on the isolated communities whom they love and support. The thirteen member team, many who had worked together in the past, were surprised to be greeted Sunday by President of the Nicaraguan Methodist Church Ruben Zeledon, his cabinet, and his entire family at La Paz Centro.
New Beginnings UMC in Kennesaw sent five missioners: Gary Crawley, John Gingras, Pastor Mike Shearon and two first-time missioners, Rob Clark and Sam Davis. Ringgold UMC had four veterans on the team: Bill and Phyllis Copeland, Amanda Stanton, and Youth Pastor Bobby Fleck. Harlem UMC sent Respiratory Therapists Mike Frentzel and Davey Story. Boynton UMC enlisted Nurse Sheri Eschenfelder and City On A Hill UMC in Woodstock sent Veteran Missioner Joe Price.
In the short one week trip, the coalition of UMCs provided medicine and medical care for 1,017 patients, provided dental care for 250, distributed 300 water filters, 192 back-packs and 100 cinch-sacks filled with school supplies, and 50 lbs. of sewing materials for students wishing to learn the trade. The exploratory expedition was also to determine which ministries are thriving and what the greatest needs of each of the seven communities were. The rural communities were Boqueron, Las Parcelas, La Paz Centro, Salinas Grande, Ruben Dario, La Majada, and Marronal.