Wally and Esther Wiebe
On a given day, Wally can be found somewhere a few miles down a dusty dirt road sitting under the shade of a rancho, or thatched-roof, in a plastic chair on a dirt floor talking with producers whom La Semilla works with. He probably made his way down the back-country road on his Kawasaki 650 and has no lack of dust on his jeans. Despite the fact that Wally is over a foot taller than most of our producers, learned Spanish as his third language, and sticks out in Nicaragua with his light skin, he has a gift for connecting with Nicaraguan campesinos, or country-folk. His warm and inviting smile is matched only in friendliness and kindness by the hospitality of rural Nicaraguans. When Wally gets the chance to meet with our producers he converses with them about their families, the rains and the drought, their relationship with God, and perhaps most of all their farming experiences. What was intended to be a short half-hour visit to check up on a community can easily turn into one or two hours of discussing life and agriculture with farmers who cherish their relationship with La Semilla Ministries and especially appreciate the opportunity to connect with our founder Don Walter.
Wally moved to Nicaragua in 2007 from La Crete, Alberta. He came with his wife, Esther, and family of four – Caleb, Hannah, Elijah, and Rachel. The Lord touched Wally and Esther with a desire to minister to those less fortunate. Wally grew up in La Crete, Alberta on a mixed family farm. The Wiebes worked over the years in the production of grains such as wheat, canola and barley, and also produced eggs, beef and pork. In 1992 he fell in love with and married Esther Driedger. Wally and Esther now have four wonderful children—Caleb, Hannah, Elijah, and Rachel. Wally and Esther succeeded in numerous business ventures over the years in Alberta. By 2007 they felt drawn to international missions due to the opportunity it would present to serve others and God. In November of that year the Wiebe family left behind their home community of La Crete and moved to Nicaragua. Indeed, the Wiebes felt as though by making some sacrifices in leaving their home in Canada, they would open up new doors to the service of others and would in this way more radically and readily follow Christ.
Esther was the youngest of 14 children, born in Bolivia to Canadian parents. Her family lived and farmed in a Mennonite community without any conveniences such as electricity, vehicles or telephones but she has many fond memories of farming in the tropics. Esther tragically lost her parents and was orphaned at the young age of 10. A year later she, along with a few of her siblings moved to Canada. Her past and experiences of hardships give her a unique perspective, made her resilient to transitions and have served her well in this life in Nicaragua.
When the Wiebe family first arrived Wally spent about a year and a half building at an orphanage in Diriamba. It was at this orphanage that Wally and Esther first connected with their dear friends, Nicolás and Liliam Sequeira. They were invaluable to Wally and Esther in their process of understanding Nicaraguan life, beliefs and culture.
As the Wiebes learned to love their new home in Nicaragua and continued to explore the prospect of working long-term in missions in Nicaragua, they were always drawn to el campo, or the countryside. What’s more, Nicaragua is a place where over a quarter of the labor force works in agriculture. With the hope of establishing a
long-term mission in Nicaragua the Wiebes began working under the EFCCM (Evangelical Free Church of Canada Mission) and in 2010 bought the property that has now become the La Semilla Ministries base, experimental farm, and guesthouse. Wally’s construction experience, Esther’s long love for all things horticultural and botanical, and their combined entrepreneurial business experiences formed the beginnings of La Semilla. From this location Wally and Esther, along with the help of Rob and Leslee Oudman, the rest of the growing La Semilla Ministries team, and countless others from Nicaragua, the U.S., and Canada, have built La Semilla Ministries into what it is today.
Over the past years Wally’s role as the founder of La Semilla Ministries has continuously been growing and evolving as the nature of the ministry has changed. In the early years Wally and Esther worked on the design and construction of buildings that had become the office, board room, shop, warehouse, and guesthouses. (For numerous years it was also the family home, until they were outgrown by the ministry) The Wiebe family were also hard at work on the experimental farm with their faithful worker, Andrés. Indeed, they drew on their combined yet radically different agricultural experiences in the learning process of planting pineapple, among many other crops for the first time. In addition, Wally was instrumental to growing the ministry’s connections with communities around us. Outreach in the Las Mojicas community, which is just down the hill from the farm, led to the building a community center and installation of a pump and water tank to make water more accessible in the community. In all of the rapid and evolutionary growth of this ministry’s work in Nicaragua, Wally has been the guiding force as he strives to follow God’s will.
Currently La Semilla Ministries works with over 300 producers in an average cycle and our team is made up of around fifteen individuals. The Ministry has grown and matured, and so has our team. In 2017 Wally and Esther made the decision to move back to Canada for a spell and focus more on family. Still, between fundraising for the ministry, accounting, and helping to manage employees, Wally still has plenty of presence at La Semilla. His role in creating and maintaining the ministry’s sense of vision is crucial for La Semilla.
We thank God for leading Wally and Esther here to Nicaragua and giving them the vision to use their time and resources to build up la Semilla Ministries while serving God and the people of Nicaragua. Please pray for the Wiebe family. Ask that Wally may continue to understand God’s vision for the ministry and what his role in that vision is. Pray that God will give wisdom and encourage Wally in this season of growth and discovery for the ministry. Pray above all that God will give Wally and Esther the strength to remain faithful to Him always, in all that they do.