About Us

Working in the small Nicaraguan community of Ciudad Dario, we collaborate with Nicaraguans to share the Gospel in our school and church, expand students’ horizons through a quality education, and provide humanitarian relief and community development. Through a variety of means, God is using Dario Christian Academy to bring hope, resources, and training to many teachers and schools across Nicaragua!

The Mission of Compassion in Action is to transform lives through the message of Jesus Christ, bringing quality education, humanitarian relief, and community development. 

When Jesus saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them…and He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore, pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest field.”

Matthew 9:36 & 38

Our Story

How We Got Started

In 1999, a group of Christian men and women went to Nicaragua from Washington State to volunteer their time by assisting with humanitarian needs after the devastation of Hurricane Mitch. As a result, a non-profit Christian mission organization called “Compassion in Action” was born. In 2004, the small city of Ciudad Dario became home to Dario Christian Academy.

Today, the Academy’s thirty teachers give instruction to over 380 students in preschool through high school, starting each day with heartfelt prayer and forming lessons around a biblical worldview. Students thrive in a school culture of acceptance, grace, and justice. Extra curriculum opportunities include the reading club, chess club, computer club, discipleship groups, soccer teams, and young ambassadors.  Dario Christian Academy students receive an outstanding education and have been nationally recognized for their academic achievements. In 2012, the Academy’s first class graduated, and since then 73% of graduates have gone on to attend college.

Our Ricardo Martinez Computer Lab holds over 30 student workstations and two projectors (one mobile). The primary goal of the lab is to teach crucial computer skills such as keyboarding and internet navigation. We also train students in the use of Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Google Docs. Many of our students don’t have access to computers at home, so the lab is vital in teaching computer literacy and preparing them for the future. In addition, the computer lab serves as a conference room, research center, and study hall. We are grateful for the many donors who have contributed to and continue to donate to keep our lab up-to-date and running strong.

God has used our simple desire to share Christ’s love with those devastated by a natural disaster to develop a team of dedicated believers to train and equip Nicaraguan children to become the nation’s next generation of professionals and representatives of the kingdom of heaven.

Compassion in Action is a non-profit, non-denominational, 501 (c) 3 public charity.

Our missionaries

Mendez family in a field

Julio & Narlly Mendez serve Compassion in Action as directors of the Darío Christian Academy.

Narlly was born in Nicaraguan and immigrated to the United States with her family when she was seven. At age 6, Narlly gave her life to Jesus at a neighborhood kids’ outreach. At the same event, she learned how missionaries travel the world telling about Jesus’ love. From that day forward, Narlly’s heart was set – she was not only going to be a Christian; she would also be a missionary.

Narlly attended Washington State University and graduated with a Bachelor’s in education in 2003.

With only six months of teaching experience and not the slightest idea about school administration, Rod and Karen Krueger hired Narlly as the school director for the newborn Dario Christian Academy in 2004. She arrived in a city where she knew no one and with limited resources, but with lots of grit and faith that God would provide. She followed God’s leading as she transformed the one-room classroom into the highly regarded Darío Christian Academy. She recognizes that none of these accomplishments are hers – each one is a gift from the Lord and is for His glory!

In 2005, on a brief visit to Washington, Rod and Karen Krueger introduced her to Julio Mendez, the foreman of their painting company.

Julio grew up in Guatemala, a middle child of 8 siblings. His parents split when he was young and he became the “dependable one” in the family, supporting his mother and sisters. He learned how to live off the land, developing a love for plants and the beauty of the natural world.

In 1992, at the age of 17, Julio moved to California to find work with the goal of helping his family financially. But God had a higher purpose; a week after arriving in the US, Julio’s new neighbor spontaneously invited him to a youth retreat. That weekend, Jesus became Julio’s Lord and Savior and he was baptized in a nearby creek.

While growing in his new faith, he also attended high school, learned English, and worked. When he graduated from high school, he hoped to one day become a school director though it seemed like an impossible dream. Instead of continuing his education, he continued to support his family in Guatemala for a total of 6 years working in fast food restaurants, landscaping, and painting houses. Then, following the Lord’s leading, he moved to Seattle where his hard work, perfectionism, and integrity brought him to the attention of Rod Krueger, who took him under his wing, mentoring him spiritually and professionally. Quickly, he was promoted to foreman of RK Enterprise, and served in that capacity for 8 years. During all this time, God was developing in Julio a heart for missions, and he was considering Africa or Chile as possible locations to serve when his path intersected with Narlly’s at a dinner at Rod and Karen Krueger’s home.

Julio and Narlly married in August of 2006. God had prepared him perfectly for his new role as school director and missionary: he excells in developing the school gardens, overseeing the guards, maintenance staff, and building projects. He is also the youth pastor at their church. Together, Julio and Narlly strive to follow Jesus’ example of servant leadership. Narlly leads the school as the General Director, overseeing the “big picture,” ensuring smooth operations of the Academy, while keeping a soft heart for her students, their parents, and her staff.

Narlly and Julio involve their three children, Julieta, Abigail, and Josias, in their ministry both at church and school, and have welcomed Oscar, a university student, into their home and lives as well.


Solano family in front of smoking volcanoAbner & Laura Solano

Following their marriage in 2008, Narlly’s brother Abner and his wife Laura gradually became more and more involved in DCA. They brought summer teams from their local church, helped with sponsorship, joined the board of directors, and promoted awareness of Compassion in Action. Following their 2017 short-term trip, Abner and Laura felt God leading them to DCA full-time. After two years of preparation, they moved to Nicaragua in the summer of 2019.

Abner teaches technology, provides teacher trainings, and mentors young men. Laura helps with reading groups, provides leadership to the preschool program, and mentors young ladies. Their two children, Abner Phillip and Carolina, attend DCA.

Abner was born in Nicaragua but immigrated to the United States with his family when he was nine years old. His father planted and pastored Hispanic churches throughout eastern Washington state. After graduating from Heritage University, Abner became a teacher in the Dual Language Program in Kennewick.

Laura was raised in a missionary family, spending part of her childhood in Honduras. Her family moved to Washington State when she was nine. She studied education at Trinity Western University in British Columbia, Canada.

They have a passion to help young people become life-long learners and contributors to society as they discover abundant life in following Jesus.



Rodney Krueger

Rod Krueger graduated from Washington State University in 1973 with a Bachelor of Science degree, and was concurrently enrolled in the R.O.T.C. program, after which he served as an officer in the United States Air Force for four years. Upon completion of his military service, Rod spent two years working for the Federal Aviation Agency before starting a residential home construction and painting business, which he operated for over 30 years.

As a result of participating on a humanitarian and construction mission trip to Nicaragua to help rebuild after the destruction of Hurricane Mitch in 1999, Rod co-founded Compassion in Action and served as the organization’s Executive Director for many years, frequently traveling to help with projects and outreach in Nicaragua.

Rod married his wife, Karen, in 1972. They currently reside in Enumclaw, Washington. Together they raised four daughters and have been blessed with the addition of four son-in-laws, ten grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.

Don Riggs

Don Riggs graduated from the University of Redlands in 1973 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history, earned a Master of Science degree in Special Education at California State University, Fullerton in 1975, and received a Master of Divinity degree from Fuller Theological Seminary in 1983. He taught special needs students in a public-school setting for over four years before being called to pastoral ministry. Since 1979 Don has served in pastoral roles in churches in California and Washington, currently as Pastor of Care at Bethany Community Church in Seattle.

In his ministry as Executive Pastor of Evergreen Christian Fellowship in Sammamish, Washington, Don became involved with the work of Compassion in Action while supporting Evergreen’s role as Compassion in Action’s primary church partner. Since then, he has witnessed the clear evidence of God’s hand at work in the development and growth of this vital and life changing service to the community of Dario, Nicaragua.

Don is privileged to continue to share in this significant ministry of the gospel as a member of the Board of Directors. He and his wife Kristy are blessed with two daughters, a son-in-law, and two grandchildren.

Cecil Catterall

Cecil married his wife Kathy while serving in the Marine Corps in 1968. Together they had a son Scott and then in 1975 adopted a 5-year-old Korean girl, Tia. Today they also have 3 grandkids, 1 great-grandson and reside in Post Falls, Idaho.

Cecil’s various careers have included: working on a fishing boat in Alaska, managing Pay’n Save Drugs, investing in real estate, and working with Weyerhaeuser for 22 years. He is a part of International Leadership Development which, combined with his faith, has helped to shape his life and defined his purpose.

Cecil was adopted out of an orphanage when he was 9. His wife was raised as a foster child since she was 5. With this similar background it was just natural that they share the same love for others who struggle.

The Lord orchestrated their initial trip to Nicaragua in 2004 with Compassion in Action. They fell in love with the people of Dario and wanted to be a part of the work that they saw God was doing there. They have been going back almost every year since.

Cecil feels it is an honor to serve on the Board of Compassion in Action.


Glen Gordon

Glen Gordon was a business owner and operator in the residential and commercial construction industry since 1972. Recently retired, he enjoys having time to travel, spend time with grandchildren, and pursue new opportunities to serve his family, church, and community.

He has enjoyed the privilege of being part of several construction-related short-term mission trips, locally and in countries including Kenya, Trinidad, Venezuela, and Nicaragua, where he worked with construction teams at Dario Christian Academy.

Glen married his wife, Becky, in 1980. They are deeply rooted in the community of Fall City, Washington, where they live and work, and raised their two children. They have seven grandchildren.

Abner Solano

Abner J. Solano graduated from Heritage University in 2007 with a degree in Elementary Education and in 2011 received a master’s degree in Technology Integration from Grand Canyon University. He was an elementary school teacher for over ten years in Kennewick. He also taught classes at Columbia Basin College and owns Solano Web Consulting, a website design business.

In 2019, he and his wife Laura, along with their children Abner Phillip and Carolina, moved to Nicaragua to join the school community of Dario Christian Academy.


Aaron Coldiron

Aaron Coldiron has an MBA from the University of California Irvine, an MA from Biola University, and his bachelors from Biola University.  He has worked for the past 16 years at Microsoft where he leads a team in the Windows and Devices business group. Prior to Microsoft, he worked for Disney, and before that for a small consulting firm that handled fund raising for non-profits like Campus Crusade.

He took his first trip to Nicaragua in 2009 and quickly fell in love with the people and country. He was introduced to Compassion in Action from Cecil Catterall and Rob Crandall and has led trips and been involved with Dario Christian Academy ever since.

 He is married to his college sweetheart, Crystal, and has three teenage sons. He enjoys all things outdoors, and spends his extra time volunteering in Scouts, camping, and hiking.


Joe Heatwole

Joe Heatwole is a pastor of Christian Life Church in Beach City, Ohio. He also works part-time as the business development manager for Treecraft Furniture, a company that provides commercial and hospitality furniture all over the USA. Joe is a certified project manager and studied Behavioral Science at the University of Akron.  

In addition, he founded the non-profit Better Life Coffee. Better Life Coffee works with farmers in Nicaragua to provide sustainable jobs to the farming community and help them sell their coffee in the United States. All the proceeds from the coffee sales go towards helping kids in Nicaragua and disadvantaged kids in Ohio. Combining his passions of fitness and helping others, Joe joined the board for the Amish Country Marathon, a race that raises money to help families fund adoptions.

He has been married to Heather since October of 2000 and has four children: Hannah, Matthew, Zachariah & Elijah.

His goal in life is to be the hands and feet of Jesus wherever he is called. 


Dana Dang

Dana Ellison Dang lives in Bellevue, Washington with her four kids and husband. She is the First Impressions Director at Crossroads Bible Church. She also co-owns Kara Kris Design, a jewelry manufacturing business with her husband and is a Graduate Gemologist.

She first traveled to Nicaragua to visit Dario Christian Academy in 2015 with her two oldest sons and fell in love with the beauty and people of Nicaragua.

She has a passion for bringing the power of the Gospel and education to transform lives and communities. 

Get in Touch. Get Involved.

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”

Isaiah 52:7

Compassion in Action, P.O. Box 45, Fall City, WA 98024