TCOW’s report to Waterloo Presbytery (November, 2014)

Some participants and leaders from TCOW were able to host the dinner for Waterloo Presbytery in November. We also submitted a report to the presbyters to bring them up to date on our work. That report is below!


A Waterloo Presbytery Outreach Initiative, encouraging Global Citizenship among our United Church Youth through bi-annual trips to Central America.


After a winter, spring and summer of meetings, interviews and a selection process, the TCOW Organizing Committee is pleased to announce that 20 candidates have been selected for our trip to Nicaragua over March Break (March 13 – 23).  They include:

  • 6 youth from the Guelph congregations of Dublin, Harcourt and Three Willows;
  • 5 youth from the Kitchener congregations of Bridgeport, St. James Rosemount and Trinity;
  • 4 from the Waterloo congregations of Emmanuel and Parkminster;
  • 1 student from Three Willows in Cambridge;
  • 2 from Knox United in Ayr; and
  • 2 from the Belwood-Metz Pastoral Charge.

These students will be led by the following 5 capable leaders:

  • Gord Spence from Emmanuel United, Waterloo
  • Rev. Kate Gregory from Belwood-Metz
  • Merrill Pierce from Harcourt United, Guelph
  • Kelly Moores from Parkminster United, Waterloo, and
  • John Watson from Parkminster, functioning as the trip Videographer

This is the third time in the past ten years that TCOW has partnered with Compañeros Inc., a Canadian-Nicaraguan enterprise that designs volunteer services and cross-cultural learning experiences focused on Nicaraguan community-centered priorities.  In the past our efforts have centered on a struggling barrio in the capital city of Managua. This year will offer an entirely new experience in the mountainous, region of Jinotega, a two and a half hour drive from Managua.  For five days of our time in Nicaragua, TCOW participants will live with and share in the lives of a small community of 65 permanent residents on a coffee plantation, learning the journey of a coffee bean to the cups of coffee we so enjoy here in Canada.

Our presence on the farm will provide educational support for the workers and their families and encourage the advancement of fair and responsible practices among coffee producers. To help mitigate against child labour, the producer on El Recreo farm, our hostess, is collaborating in a model initiative with Compañeros provide a sound school experience for the children of her farm workers throughout the year and during the augmented community that gathers for the harvest.

Some of the projects we (and others) will be contributing to include renovations to the one room preschool and primary building, the provision of a reading area, library books and resources, the restoration of two washrooms that will remain dry and clean during the rainy season, the building of a family gazebo gathering area, and the preparation of and participation in after school activities for the children.

The history and stories of Nicaraguan communities are preserved and celebrated in large, colourful murals.  TCOW participants will also get to help local artists and the children to bring this tradition alive within their own community, by joining in the crew of painters. [These murals will be on display at the Pan American and Parapan American Games being held this summer in Toronto ( July 10-26; August 7-15).  Look for them!]

In this collaboration, the producer on El Recreo farm is investing her time, 25% of the materials, labour and delivery costs,  housing for our participants, and some food.  Compañeros Inc., with the help of funds we raise, will purchase all the materials and provide labour support and overall coordination.

The total amount each candidate must raise for the trip is $3000.  TCOW is providing a grant of $400 per student.  $1000 raised (and more if possible) is earmarked for our Nicaraguan projects.

The remaining amount includes $55 for TCOW administration costs and preparation days (one a month until the March trip, except for December), $850 for flights and insurance, $950 for on ground expenses covered by Compañeros Inc., and $145 exchange rate for USD.  Fund raising efforts have already begun in the supporting congregations.  Tonight’s Presbytery Dinner is being hosted by TCOW with any profit going to this year’s trip.

The participants in Nicaragua 2015 have met for three Saturday sessions this fall.  The September meeting provided students and parents an orientation to the trip and the initial building of our community.  In October we visited Six Nations, exploring the spiritual, cultural and historical realities of the First Nations People of the Eastern Woodlands; touring the former residential school and hearing stories from one of its survivors; learning about the two United Church Apologies and the subsequent events and projects that our Church has pursued in its effort to establish right relation with First Nations People, and making our own commitments to right relations, which we symbolized in the making of wampum bracelets . During our November meeting, we began looking at the social and political issues that have marked the history of Nicaragua and learning so basic Spanish.

The experience of our six previous TCOW trips has shown that congregations have been both enthused and enriched by their partnerships with their student(s) and the service and learning in which they are all able to share.  It is the hope of the organizing committee  that members of Waterloo Presbytery will also feel caught up in the spirit of TCOW.  We thank you for your support in the past, the present and the future.

Please feel free to contact our committee at with any suggestions or questions to be answered.  You will also find important information at our website:  and that of Compañeros:

We thank you for your partnership in this faithful adventure!

Your TCOW Committee (C) and Leaders (L):

Elizabeth Eberhart-Moffat (C), Gord Spence (C/L), John Watson (C), Sarah King (C), Jen Auger (C), Vanessa Spence (C), Judy Paul (C), Lu Jimenez (C), Kate Gregory (L), Merrill Pierce (L), Kelly Moores (L), Kate Gregory (L)