A group of Friendship Christian School students spent their spring break a little differently than most.
Instead of heading to the beach or spending the weeks off sleeping in and lying on the couch all day, 12 Friendship juniors spent their time helping others on a mission trip to Nicaragua.
Friendship teacher Greg Armstrong, who has been on countless mission trips, including efforts with his nonprofit organization Run4Water, headed the trip.
Armstrong said although the group was gone for one week, leaving March 9 and returning March 16, the group prepared for the trip year-round.
“The trip was a lot different from the typical youth group or mission trip,” Armstrong said. “What we did was we surveyed the area first then decided on projects and ministries we wanted to be involved in there and then prepared and planned out the projects that we carried out there.”
According to Armstrong, the group worked at a small village called Ojoche that is located in northern Nicaragua near southern Honduras.
Armstrong said the group of 12 was divided into three groups, each with different projects and ministries.
He said the first group consisted of four girls that led a leather ministry where they taught 16- and 17-year old teenage girls to make leather bracelets and headbands.
“When you deal with individuals that make $2-3 a day average income, creating a micro business can be a challenge but also something somewhat easy to do like this,” Armstrong said. “The idea is we would teach them to make these leather bracelets and headbands and we would provide the leather and also guarantee them if they made them properly, we would sell them for them.”
Another group, two boys, taught a minister at the church how to raise tilapia.
“The benefit of tilapia is it’s pretty hearty and you can grow them in a lot of different environments,” Armstrong said.
According to Armstrong, you can grow one pound of fish per gallon of water and the group provided a 300-gallon tank and 100 fish. He said the only thing the people in the village would have to invest is fish food.
“The group basically taught them to raise these fish and some are even going back this summer to continue the process,” Armstrong said.
Besides being a hearty source of protein, Armstrong said growing the fish can also help in other ways.
“The church can obviously use the fish to give out to people but also as the fish get bigger you can use the fertilized water to grow things like tomatoes and plants,” Armstrong said. “Our hope for the future is we can use this as a training center for young boys to come and raise fish and eventually create a market and another helpful micro business.”
Armstrong said the third and final team’s job was to create a detailed census.
“They went around door-to-door and got the name and age of everyone in the community and gathered information like physical and spiritual needs of individuals and the area in order to help create projects in the future,” Armstrong said.
Armstrong said the group spent three-and-a-half days in this particular village and also spent another day in a larger city in Nicaragua where they got to visit the locals and spend time helping others at nursing homes and hospitals.
As for their last day, Armstrong said the group got a bit of a treat and went “volcano boarding.”
“It’s the only place in the world you can hike up a volcano and slide down the side on a sled,” Armstrong said. “There are volcanoes all over, so we hiked up one of the most active volcanoes in the world and got to see the lava and fire and things like that.”