Aug. 23, 2013
Joe Quinlin Travels to Nicaragua with Project HopeBy David Boyce
You can look at pictures and read articles about the poverty in Nicaragua, but you cannot truly feel it until you step foot on its soil.
Northwest Missouri State head strength coach Joe Quinlin experienced it in late May when he went on a church mission for Project Hope.
Project Hope is an organization that works with different churches and denominations. It takes groups to poor countries like Nicaragua and help build homes for families.
In addition, they share their faith in God with each other. Ultimately, the language barrier is no barrier at all.
“The first couple of days you see kids with dirt on their face and you notice that but after a day or two, you are hugging kids and running around,” Quinlin said. “After working a week with them, you see God is moving in all different areas of their life, too.
“It is amazing how close we became. After a week, you would not think that you would get that close. It was very difficult to leave.
“It really strengthened my faith as a Christian. Understanding how much we have and seeing how much poverty is there and how happy people still are. It is amazing.”
Quinlin figured this journey would leave a lasting impression on him. For the last three or four years, he talked about going with his brother-in-law, Dallas Archer.
“His church usually sends 10 to 12 people down every year,” Quinlin said. “He called me up that they had an opening if I wanted to go. It was perfect timing. It was our lull in our offseason program.”
Quinlin was the only person from Maryville to go. He joined a group of around 30 people from Kansas City and Lenexa area.
Once he arrived in Nicaragua, he realized he wasn’t in the United States anymore. The villages don’t have electricity or plumbing. They use wells for water.
“It is the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, next to Haiti,” Quinlin said. “They don’t have much.”
But they have faith in God and the help of groups like Project Hope. Quinlin’s group was there to begin the process of building houses.
They were the first stage of a three-stage process. Quinlin’s group mixed cement for the house foundation.
“We had a family in which wee paid for supplies for their house,” Quinlin said. “We had a mom, her husband and they have three boys and a little girl. It was nice because they are about the same age as my kids.
“We bought deodorant and shampoo that we gave them for their new home. The next week it is pots and pans and household goods. The last week it is clothing. By the time the house is built, they have everything they need to have a complete house.”
Quinlin said his group moved ahead of schedule, which allowed him to visit an alcohol and drug rehab center.
He showed several people, who were trying to get their life back together, different ways to workout.
“They had five-gallon buckets and filled them with cement and had bars between them,” Quinlin said. “I showed them different exercises. They had two guys who spoke English so translation wasn’t as bad.
“We worked out with four of the guys. They actually make the bricks for the center. It is quite a set-up.”
Despite being there for only a week, Quinlin figures they made a positive impact. One way he knows is one of the pregnant women had a son after they left and named her baby, Dallas, after Quinlin’s brother-in-law.
Most of the rest of the summer, Quinlin was in Maryville, helping Northwest student-athletes get ready for the 2013-14 school year. He liked the dedication he saw from the football players.
“We had enough of the guys around, about 90,” Quinlin said. “The team is coming together. I really enjoy this group. It doesn’t mean we will win ball games, but it is a very hard working and tough group and that goes a long ways.”
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