History


Early History...

The Nicaraguan Mission Project was begun in 1971, jointly sponsored by the Missionary Volunteer Society [part of Pathfinders] and the Student Association [of Southern Missionary College, now Southern Adventist University].

The goal of the project is for the student missionaries to build a new mission station in the jungle about 75 miles from the eastern coastal town of Puerto Cabezas, in a little village named Francia Sirpi.

 

The area has a tropical rainy climate--a region of swampy, low plains that are drained toward the Caribbean Sea by three rivers. It is a land inhabited by the Miskito people. The student misisonaries have named the mission outpost, "Dawan Pleska," meaning "The Place of God," in the Miskito language.

 

The Miskito people originally lived in an area to the northeast of their present location. Their land bordered on Honduras to the north. They lived and kept their cattle on the south side of the Rio Coco and did their farming on the north side of the river since they know nothing about fencing in the cattle and besides they had nothing with which to make fences.

There were constant border disputes between the Miskito people and the People of Honduras. The United Nations settled the dispute by declaring the river the boundary between the two countries. This made it necessary to relocate the Miskito people into an area of dense jungle. It was into this situation that SMC's [Southern Missionary College's] student missionaries entered to help.

A house for the student missionaries and the SMC faculty sponsors was the first part of the project to be completed.

The summer of 1973 the clinic building was completed and formally opened with Minister of Public Health, Dr. F. Valle Lopez, present to cut the ribbon and Dr. R. Mejia Ubilla, the director of IAN, the government agricultural agency working closely with the SMC students. Because of Dr. Mejia's influence in the government, the project has been saved thousands of dollars.

The plan is to have three smaller clinic buildings in three other Miskito people villages. Eventually the sponsor, Dr. Rudolf R. Aussner, plans for a 12-bed hospital, an elementary school, an academy, an experimental farm and some industries. The title to the land for the whole project has been turned over by the Nicaraguan government to the sponsor.

The mission emphasis is being placed on spiritual enlightenment, medical work, and agricultural improvement. It will be financed and staffed as an SMC missionary project.

The summer of 1973, John Durichek and Nat Halverson set up a broom shop in Puerto Cabezas. The equipment was donated to the mission project by the SMC Broom Shop. The Miskito people are being taught to raise broom corn to sell to the shop whilch in turn will export the brooms to the USA. Arrangements have already been made to care for the exporting, importing, and wholesale selling of the brooms.

A concrete block church building, which was started in the summer of 1974, seats 350.

During two months of the summer of 1973, the young people at the mission, three of whom are nurses, took care of 1000 patients before the new clinic was opened, and 345 patients were seen on mobile clinic trips made in the station wagon donated by the Ellsworth McKees. Also emergency runs were made to the Moravian Hospital in Bilwaskarme, on an average of five a week.

The mission has sponsored six Miskito students at the academy in Puerto Cabezas. All six have been baptized since attending the school.

The group members who were at the station for the school year 1973-74 included Christine Pulido, Harvey Oetman, Mrs. Bonnie Oetman and Leslie Smart. The two women are both graduate nurses.

Mr. William Iles, a member of the SMC Board of Trustees and president of the SMC Committee of 100, took a group of students from Forest Lake Academy to the Nicaragua Mission project form July 1-11, 1973. They flew from Miami to Puerto Cabezas, taking their own food with them and paying their own expenses. They were excellent help in building the new clinic, and their services were greatly appreciated.

--from Southern Missionary College, a school of His planning (1975), by Elba B. Gardner and J. Mable Wood.

After 1974...
From 1971 to 1979, groups continued to return to help the village. They built a church, clinic, and a bodega. They also built a clinic and Branch Sabbath School for nearby villages. When they arrived, the death rate for the infants had been at 80%. By 1979 the death rate was only 10%. The people had the chance to learn about Jesus and there was a big difference in the way they were trying to live.

The Sandinista Revolution forced the Miskito people from their homes in 1979. They fled to Honduras, and their village was destroyed. Only the church and clinic were left standing. The jungle grew up and it was a real effort for these people to try to start their lives over again. The death rate for infants returned to 80%, and they lost most of the education they had received before they fled.

In 1997 a group of former student missionaries and others went back to Francis Sirpi to reopen the mission. In April 1998 Dr. Emilo Caldera and family opened the clinic to serve the Tasba Raya area from Francis Sirpi. Two student missionaries from Southern Adventist University joined Dr. Caldera that year. Since them student missionaries and volunteers from all over the US, Argentina, Brazil, Romania, Germany, Mexico, Costa Rica, and others have joined the staff in serving the Tasba Raya community.

The clinic outpost was restarted in 1997 when Southern Adventist University initiated the Frontier Nursing program by Laura Nyirady. Since then, other University programs have used TRAM as a training and service area as well. Through the presence of such training programs, as well as student missionaries and other volunteers, the seven main villages served by TRAM have been assisted by receiving training for their health leaders, women's club teaching nutrition and coop sales, receiving assistance in well drilling and latrine programs

In 2011 Anna Turdo, from Argentina, started a Kindergarten class. From those humble beginnings the “Escuela Adventista de Tasba Raya” has grown into a six-grade school with three years of Peschool. Each year we added the next grade until we have a K-6 Primary School in 2019. Rila a student missionary from Union College helped start a library for the community. The people have really enjoyed using the library.