2014 in Review (An Unorganized List of 64 Small Miracles)

Yesterday afternoon as the kids were in paint class and Darwin was resting in our room after a very busy week, I took a walk around our property, studying the visible differences of what this past year has brought –our faithful garden with its new sprouts of radish and squash that Darwin and the kids planted, the ducks who now inhabit our chicken run, our school building finally organized, certain rooms freshly painted – and caught off guard with a deep awe of all God has done in this past year that isn’t so visible – the emotional growth and health of the children, my own healing from severe insomnia, new relationships formed, prayers answered. After the dogs happily followed me around our yard, tails in a constant lazy wag as I admired all God has done this year, I sat down at the wooden table in our living room to make a list of all I could think of that He has orchestrated, permitted, given and guided in this past year. I started with a single sheet of notebook paper but soon had to bring a second and then a third sheet. The list, without any order or importance, is as follows…


1. Many local boys have received haircuts in our home, and in the process I’ve gotten pretty good at doing the mohawk.

2. Due to God’s abundant provision, we have been able to joyously be His “middle-men” in sharing clothes, backpacks, food, and other goods with our neighbors for His glory.

3. Darwin, the children and I attended a week-long intensive missions course with our faith community to prepare us for a mission trip that we are planning for January 2015 to a village in southern Honduras.

4. We survived several robberies, difficulties, and encounters with corrupt people (including a very dangerous fraud).

5. After much deliberation, we finally purchased a gun for security purposes (and had to use it shoot-in-the-air-style-to-scare-the-burglar the day after we learned how to use it!)

6. The message of Christ has been shared in local churches, on public buses, in a school, at a used clothing shop, in Darwin’s sister’s home, and in various other places as God presents opportunities.

7. We have developed a very friendly relationship with our elderly neighbor who has a large herd of milking cows, and our large grassy property has been utilized to feed his grazers several times per week.


8. We said “yes” and actively followed four different leads in order to receive more children into our family, but none of them produced results, so we continue to wait for God’s timing.

9. Darwin and I have been able to dedicate ourselves to God’s purposes in our home/family/farm/mission six days per week (we each spend one day per week as teachers at a local school).

10. Relationships have been formed with Brayan, his stepmother and three stepbrothers.

11. By God’s grace He enabled us to have kids in our home for the duration of the calendar year.

12. Peace has been poured out over our home and in the children’s hearts after months of very intense emotional waves, spiritual battles, disciplinary struggles and outbursts of all types.

13. Our living room, the kids’ bathroom, and the schoolroom were painted.

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14. The four kids received homeschool classes along with private academic tutoring.

15. Many, many mistakes have been made and learned from.

16. The four kids received therapy with a Christian psychologist for several months.

17. Our used truck was purchased (and Darwin got his driver’s license for the first time!)

2014-518. High-security steel doors have been installed on the two houses and school building.

19. We have instituted the (very small and indescript) whiteboard in our living room where I write the next day’s schedule in great detail each night so that I don’t have to answer 84 questions about what we’re going to do tomorrow.

20. Four dogs have been purchased/adopted for security purposes (and therapy with the kids!)

2014-721. Two batches of chicks were born in our chicken run and hundreds of eggs laid.

22. Twelve ducks were purchased to lay eggs in our chicken run.

23. We enjoyed the visit of eight fellow believers in our home for several days in July.

24. Fifty rhambutan saplings have been planted.

25. Darwin and the kids have maintained a small garden behind our kitchen weekly.

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26. Darwin and our accountant organized and submitted the last four years of financial statements.

27. Many, many hours have been spent on the preparation of legal documents, in meetings with the board of directors and with lawyers, and making trips to and from different offices.

28. A daily system of cleaning/chores has been put into practice for the kids and adults.


29. Hundreds of man-hours have been spent preparing the land and cultivating small gardens without extremely little success due to infertile, rocky soil and long dry spells.

30. We’ve enjoyed a full year of growth and relationship with our dear sister Jenae Matikke, who lives alongside of us, raises the kids with us and serves in our local community.

31. A large steel trashcan has been constructed behind our property to deposit our trash.


32. We’ve been able to continue developing and deepening our relationship with our faith community and mentors, visiting their home weekly.

33. We’re at three months and counting of the children taking a high-quality B-complex vitamin daily to help with their overall growth and mental activity –  (and it’s working!)

34. Our kids have enjoyed one full year of weekly paint, music, agriculture and Bible classes.

35. Two public music concerts have been held in our home for our neighbors and friends.

36. Darwin has formed a youth choir as a way of reaching out to local kids and forming relationships with our neighbors.

37. Our little plants produced harvests of plantains, a rare fruit called guanabana that tastes like cotton candy and looks like a very squishy white pineapple, mango, yucca, lemon, radish, chili peppers, cucumber and papaya.


38. Darwin and our eldest daughter, Diana, have begun taking weekly English classes.

39. Relationships and trust have been formed with local business owners.

40. We have begun teaching the kids biblically-based financial education to accompany their small incomes for household chores.

41. Various visitors have been received in our home, thus providing all of us with many opportunities to offer hospitality and learn from and love those who stay with us.

42. Our first long-distance family trip is planned for the last two days of this year to visit Honduras’ biggest and perhaps only zoo in a town several hours away.

43. The Living Waters Ranch’s mission statement has been written.

44. We’ve formed a weekly Bible study every Wednesday morning where we dedicate time to growing spiritually as a family/community and giving thanks.

45. Sexual education has been given to our kids/teenagers several times and in many different forms.

46. I’ve received ten months and counting of medical treatment for my insomnia, and the larger part of recovery has been achieved.

47. Our kids have learned how to swim and play chess.

48. God’s provision and protection have been with us daily.

49. After much trial and error and team brainstorming, we were able to make the decision of how to use each of the three “houses” on our property most efficiently.

50. The “School House”, the second of the three houses, has been furnished and put into use for homeschooling, music classes, and for receiving neighbor kids in the large living room that serves as a play room.


51. The question of maintaining our (extremely large, rocky, and uneven) yard trim has been settled by hiring a local man to weedeat it once a month. (We used to have a full-time employee who dedicated the majority of his time to cutting our lawn bent-over with his machete, but he could only cut a piece the size of about two backyard swimming pools per day, and the job was never done and thus our yard always looked like someone with long, untamed hair who took a buzz-cutter to a few sections here and there, thus the poisonous snakes had a heyday.)

52. The office has been put together and Darwin constructed bookshelves for our library.


53. Friendships have been formed with a handful of children and teenagers from our local community who come to our home to play soccer, work in agriculture, receive sex education classes, spend time in our playroom, and attend Bible study.

54. Our four kids gave their lives to Christ.

55. Darwin and I attended Honduras’ “Children’s Home Conference” in May to learn from others who serve in the same capacity.

56. We have begun developing relationships with various neighbors, visiting them in their homes and likewise opening our home to them.

57. Darwin and I celebrated our year-and-a-half anniversary December 24, 2014.

58. Darwin and I enjoyed three marriage retreats to escape from the kids for a few nights and focus on cultivating our still very-new marriage.

59. New telephone poles have been put up and electrical lights repaired.

60. We have sanded and painted the steel window bars on the houses, dining room and kitchen to save them from rusting.

61. We have achieved much better organizational structure and financial accounting as a registered Honduran NGO.

62. Official schedule, menu, and budget have been made for legal purposes.

63. Our eldest daughter has begun to sell her paintings.

64. God has cultivated a very pleasing attitude of love and respect in our children towards Himself and others.

Everything Starts With a Greeting

The other day after walking through our small rural neighborhood handing out invitations to our Christmas concert, the kids and I returned home in a “mototaxi,” which is a three-wheeled open-air taxi. In the small back seat we were all squeezed together one on top of the other — little Jason was sitting in my lap while Diana, Brayan, and Brayan’s stepbrother were squished on either side of us, almost hanging out of the vehicle due to limited space.

The road to our home is extremely rocky, so we all bumped along, bobbing up and down as the little mototaxi motored up the long pebble path through a fairly populated part of our neighborhood. I have developed the habit of greeting everyone I see, so there I went waving, expressing verbal greetings and smiling at everyone I saw on the narrow gravel road — women tending to small children on their porches, men bent over whacking the overgrown earth with their machetes, idle teenagers sitting on wooden benches.

The kids started to poke fun at me, saying how strange it was that I always greet everyone, especially because many times I don’t even know those whom I greet. I, too, began to laugh along with them without, of course, forgetting to wave to this elderly man and that little girl over there. Through our laughter I began to explain to the kids on my lap and at my sides that greeting one another — especially those whom we don’t even know — is actually a very direct command that Jesus left for His followers:

If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Mateo 5:46-47

We had discussed that passage with the children many times before until the children themselves even began greeting others from time to time, but that day as we all rumbled along in the mototaxi God revealed to me in a new way just how profound that commandment is and how He can utilize our faithfulness in greeting others for His glory.

Looking at Brayan on my left, the young man who lived with us for eight months and who continues to be like a son, I suddenly said, “Imagine, I greeted you for the first time almost a year ago, and in that moment neither one of us knew just how deeply God would develop our relationship.” His face developed a sudden smile, revealing small teeth, some of which are chipped or damaged from not having cared for them in his youth. I continued, expressing to him exactly what God was revealing to my heart: “But, look. I greeted you, didn’t I? Without that greeting we might never have met. Everything starts with a greeting.”

With that new depth of understanding, the comments and jokes faded away as a tangible joy, expressed in a rich sense of silence, settled over our bumpy journey home. Our thoughts visited the great wisdom of God with His perfect Word as I quietly gave thanks to God for having brought Brayan into our lives by something as simple as a greeting.

(To read the full story of how we first met Brayan, you can read “It All Started With a Cup of Water” at: https://hiddentreasuresinhonduras.wordpress.com/2014/02/25/it-all-started-with-a-cup-of-water/)

From Hatred to Love

Several weeks ago as a family we sat around a small bonfire in our yard under the starry sky wetting our bums a bit on the dewy soil beneath us. Each person was wrapped up in somewhat odd attire, brightly-colored scarfs and wool beanies with sweatshirts and tall socks, sweating in the humid night under the barriers we wore between the blood-thirsty mosquitos and our flesh.

The question for each of us to answer was: What is the biggest thing God has done in your life?

I do not remember the details of everyone’s answers, but our 10-year-old Gleny’s has stuck like a push pin in my mind ever since.

After her older sister, 14-year-old Diana, mentioned something about how God fulfilled her desire for a family and an opportunity to study music, I expected a similar answer from Gleny, as we all know that younger sisters can be pretty good at copying their older sisters.

Instead, as though the biggest thing God had done in her life was plainly obvious to her, Gleny said matter-of-factly, “I used to hate Brayan and now I love him.”

We all sat momentarily stunned with her response, caught off guard by her frankness and swept into awe at God’s work in her life at the realization that this was, in fact, one of the biggest works God had done in young Gleny’s roller-coaster heart. My eyes immediately swung across the flames to Brayan’s lit face and found a perfect tranquility that I had yet seen in this restless, insecure young man. He was neither offended nor surprised that she said she used to hate him (for we all knew it was plainly true) nor was he embarrassed that his name was called out in front of the group.

In the ensuing five or ten seconds of silence after little Gleny’s remark, I believe in each person’s heart we thought, “Yup, that’s about right.”

We had all witnessed her severe daily verbal attacks of this young man whom she struggled to accept into our household as a brother, the doors she slammed out of rage, and the unceasing hateful looks and comments hurled at the new guy who had pushed her down the totem pole. Through prayer, through tears, through one mediation session after another, our little lioness’ heart began to soften toward the awkward teenage boy who shared her Ma and Pa with her. After five or six of the most stressful months I have ever experienced with anyone, slowly the direct hateful comments began to slow down and then altogether cease. She stopped screaming at him, telling him to leave. She stopped seeking different ways to accuse, to make him fall. And then, one day, I heard her compliment him on a job well done when he was doubting his skills in paint class. I thought the comment must have been made sarcastically, in jest to make him hurt even more, but the sincerity in her voice could not be mistaken. And that was the turnaround.

And so, that night around our little bonfire of empty cereal boxes and twigs, Gleny’s blunt, unashamed answer helped remind us all that God is still in the business of changing lives. Is that not what God does in our world? Places the lonely in families, calls the lost into his kingdom, replaces our stubborn, hard hearts with tender, loving ones?

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 36:26

Christmas Concert 2014

Sunday, December 7, 2014 we had our first Christmas concert in our home. We celebrated the birth of our Savior with piano and recorder performances, a poem written by our dear sister Jenae, and songs by the youth choir my husband has begun directing in our neighborhood. It was a joyful afternoon with our neighbors, friends, and family.

Luke 4:18-19 [Jesus Christ speaking about his purpose in the world] “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”




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Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the rock of our salvation.

Psalm 95:1

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