[Today, we had the privilege of attending the dedication of a new preschool in Chinandega, Nicaragua. This was the vision of JBU Walton Scholar Ana Paulina Villanueva, a resident of Chinandega. Ana asked me to make a few comments. Here is the English version of that text.]
Good morning! My name is Joe Walenciak, and I am Dean of the College of Business at John Brown University. On behalf of many friends at JBU and in Arkansas, I bring greetings. Many have prayed and worked for this school, so even though there are only several of us here today, we represent a team of hundreds of people who join us in this moment to celebrate and to dedicate this school to the glory of God and to the children and families of Chinandega.
In August 2008, I met Ana Paulina when she arrived at John Brown University. All I knew about her at the very beginning was that her school work was excellent and that she had a very big smile. As the weeks and months passed, we grew to know Ana Paulina as a person of good character with a sensitive and loving heart. She spoke very fondly of her family and of the people of this place called Chinandega. Ana Paulina always saw and shared the best about people, but it was also clear that she clearly saw the needs in her community. She began to talk about children who needed a school.
In January of 2010, Ana Paulina sat in my office and shared a vision for the future of her community. She talked, and I wrote. She talked about finding school supplies and helping to make sure that the children had something healthy to eat, but she also smiled and shared her dream of building a school building so that the children would safe and dignified place to learn and build their futures. She envisioned a community that would unite for the sake of its children’s education and future.
Ana Paulina began to draw key people into her team. In Arkansas, she began to work with people like fellow students Suyen Espinoza and Daielis Rodrigues, both of whom are here today. She also began to work with Clayton Anderson, Director of JBU’s Students in Free Enterprise (or “SIFE”) organization. Back here in Nicaragua, the team grew to include Ana Paulina’s family and many of you, people who are willing to say that your children’s education and future are more important than anything else. Back at the University, we watched an amazing community of people unite and go to work for a great cause.
Why are we here today? What are we celebrating? The answer to that is in the name of the school, “Miracle of God.” We are here today to celebrate God’s goodness and to dedicate this building and many generations of young people whose lives will be changed through education, through the love and support of their families, and through the transforming power of a loving God. The true miracle here is not the building. The miracle is each life that will be touched because of what you and God have done here in this place.
God honors the faithfulness of His children, and we can learn from that here. Ana Paulina had vision—she saw something in her mind that did not exist. She was innovative—she had to look for new and creative ways to make it happen. She had faith—she chose to believe that something was possible, even they she could not see it. She went to work, and she did not give up. Vision, innovation, faith, and hard work. Ana Paulina serves as a testimony that we have a loving God and that each one of us can make a difference.
We are very proud of Ana Paulina and her team.
Congratulations! What a privilege to be with you on this very special day! May the “Miracle of God” continue in each of your lives and in the lives of your children for many generations to come. God bless you and keep you! Thank you!