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.
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!)
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!)
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.
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.