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Pleasant Grove’s Bethel Baptist Church provides goods, hope for Nicaraguan villagecomment (0)

May 28, 2009

By Brittany N. Howerton

Snip. Snip.

Stitch. Stitch.

Iron. Bundle. Box.

As the women of Bethel Baptist Church, Pleasant Grove, move at a whirlwind pace around the house of church member Vicki Wood every Tuesday, 23-dozen cloth diapers are produced, packaged and prepared for shipment to the Nicaraguan village of El Coyular II.

“Sometimes you look at this and say, ‘What are we doing?’” Wood said as she quickly glanced around her busy home. “But we’re reminded when we think of those little faces.

“These baby diapers,” Wood started with a tearful stutter. “These diapers will go on the bottoms of the babies that will change this village. We’re making a diaper but we’re changing a life.”

In Nicaragua, a Central American country slightly smaller than the state of New York, poverty runs rampant. Ranked as the second poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, Nicaragua has a per capita income of less than $3 per day and widespread underemployment, leaving families with few resources and little hope.

But members of Bethel Baptist want to change that. And they are, starting with El Coyular II.

With plans set for their third trip this fall, members of the Bessemer Baptist Association church have been going full force to fabricate and gather goods for each of the nearly 4,000 residents.

And in February, about 20 women decided to pick up their own project — sewing 200-dozen diapers for the babies of the village.

“Two-hundred-dozen diapers was an enormous goal for this group of us,” said pastor’s wife and seamstress Essie Cato, who helped develop the flannel-diaper prototype. “Some of these ladies don’t sew, but they were willing to come and participate. Some have pressed, cut thread, cut out (material) or whatever the need was.”

Because space at the church is limited, Wood decided to transform her home into an assembly center, converting five rooms — each dedicated to a specific task, gender or age group — and the basement into stations for creating, packing and shipping materials.

And though their six-month goal was fulfilled in two, “with every need met, there is always another need,” Wood said. So the women turned to sewing girls’ dresses and boys’ shorts.

Last year, the church helped ship 597 boxes of supplies to El Coyular II — a number it anticipates will be even larger this year. But the real motivation for all the work is the chance to leave something lasting there.

“We’re just hoping we can do something so when we leave (the village), we will have made a difference in someone’s life,” said Jimmie “Sarge” Montgomery, who serves as team leader and has traveled on about 15 trips to Nicaragua and Honduras. “Everything we carry is good material to plant the seed and to meet needs people have in the community.”

In order for villagers to receive access to that “good material” — medical, dental, vision and pharmaceutical aide, as well as clothing, shoes and food — they must first attend a worship service at which the gospel is presented.
“That’s what we’re there for is to share Christ,” Montgomery said. “These are tools we carry along to open that door.”

Pastor Rick Cato echoed that sentiment.

“When you go, you realize this food, clothing and medical attention is a very short-term kind of thing,” he said. “It will alleviate a need on a short-term basis, but it has an eternal impact.”

And it is something in which the entire church can be involved — through prayer or physical labor in preparation for the trip or by going, Essie Cato added.

And with same passion that Isaiah proclaimed, “Here am I; send me,” the people of Bethel Baptist are eager to use their services to further God’s Kingdom.

“All God wants us to be is available,” Montgomery said.

“God is able to open up the door and provide us with what we need. He just wants us to be available.”

For more information about the church’s efforts in El Coyular II, call Montgomery at 205-744-8354 or Wood at 205-744-9506.

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