Seasons Change for Missionary Jenae Matikke
Jenae Matikke, our dear sister who has been laboring alongside of us for almost two years, told us recently that after a period of discernment she feels that her time at the Living Waters Ranch has come to a close and will thus be moving to the nearby city of La Ceiba to work alongside of the pastors of her church in various forms of youth outreach. Her last day with us will be August 1, and we will miss her greatly but are grateful for the many ways the Lord taught and encouraged us through her during the time she has lived with us.
Defining Limits and Sharpening Vision
In these past few weeks we have made a few tough decisions as we sensed it was necessary to set more appropriate limits on the children and youth from our neighborhood who visit our home/mission periodically throughout the week. With our open-gate policy, we sensed our hospitality was being taken advantage of as many youth who voluntarily left our homeschool or music programs would still come back at mealtimes to eat, bully others and make a general ruckus. It is a fine line between receiving everyone with open arms and being realistic about how much food we can serve, how well we can invest in each person’s life who comes to us, and whether or not we are simply enabling poor behavior and choices. After a period of prayer and discernment (and after a rather large food robbery from our kitchen), we recently posted a sign on our Education Building’s front door announcing that from now on we will only provide breakfast and lunch to those who are in homeschool and agriculture, and will no longer be receiving guests on Fridays, the day that Darwin and I are away from the property teaching in La Ceiba and therefore only Miss Martha and Jenae (who will soon be leaving) are there to receive, counsel, and love the guests. Our goal is to honor Christ by giving hospitality with excellence, and we hope these decisions will help us to achieve that goal.
Continued Weekly Discipleship
As a family (Darwin and I with our seven kids) we continue to go to our mentors’ home about an hour’s drive away each Sunday to spend the day in a discipleship group, prayer, and fellowship. We are also developing a new routine as a family of going to the local park one afternoon each week and dedicating the first part of our time there to reading the Word before playing, swimming, or collecting fruit fallen from the trees. Four of our seven kids have professed faith in Christ, and we are working closely with them to form a strong foundation of biblical knowledge and Godly virtues as we seek with them God’s will for their lives.
Progress Report: Miss Martha, Our Nurse and Cook
Miss Martha, a local Christian woman in her 50s who began working with us full-time last month, has been and continues to be a tremendous blessing. She manages the kitchen and several basic care-giving duties from 6:30am-3:00pm Monday-Friday, the same hours that we receive youth from our neighborhood for agriculture, music, homeschool, and other activities. She and her family have been very supportive as her husband and adult children have come to visit us and meet our kids, have invited us several times to their home, have prayed and fasted on our behalf, and came to the kids’ music concert last month to encourage Darwin and the kids.
Gleny and Jason: Blossoming in Their Christian School
Gleny (age 10, 4th grade) and Jason (age 8, 2nd grade) have now been in their Christian school for five months and are thriving in their new environment. Having them in that school was the original reason we bought our car in December 2014, as we spend over an hour round-trip to school every morning at 5:45am and then again to pick them back up at 2:00pm. Recently, I asked Jason what his favorite thing was about his school. His response: “Everything.” His least favorite thing? “Nothing.”
Homeschool: Juggling Nine Students on Six Different Academic Levels
We currently have 5 of our own kids in homeschool (all but Jason and Gleny) plus a sibling group of 4 from our rural neighborhood. It is a demanding job as we juggle 9 students ages 6-15 who are each on very distinct behavioral, academic, spiritual and developmental levels! We see much fruit from this assignment, and we are excited to continue offering these classes from 7:00am-12:00pm three days a week to those who for various reasons do not fit in the normal school environment.
Dayana, the Eldest, Excelling in the Arts
Our eldest daughter, Dayana (14 years old) shares a passion for music with Darwin. She has been taking piano, voice, and recorder lessons for a year and a half, and last month began taking twice-weekly violin lessons at a music school in the nearby city of La Ceiba. During the academic school year she also serves as Darwin’s teaching assistant one day per week in a local high school where he gives beginner music classes, and she has taken a leadership role among the 20+ choir members who come to our home 2-3 times per week. She is also currently enrolled in a local art school two afternoons per week, and last month she was actually invited to show her paintings at a local art exposition in La Ceiba and give an interview on television!
Josue’s Progress in His Special Needs School
Josue, our 7-year-old son who arrived in January of this year with his older sister, has been going twice weekly to his special needs school since early June. The issue of transportation is extremely difficult as we live far removed in the countryside and his school is about 35-40 minutes away, and we are not available to drive him ourselves due to the other commitments we have in our schedules. We currently have a private taxi come out to our property every Tuesday and Thursday to take him to and from his school, but it is costing $50 a week just for this transportation, not including the fees we pay for him to attend the school. Please pray for us as we continue to discern what Josue needs in regards to education and what the most efficient way of providing that would be.
A Growing Living-Room Library
One thing almost all of our kids struggle with is reading (as in, they can’t read very well and by their own initiative aren’t too concerned about improving). By Honduran culture, most people are not big readers, the selection of books available for rent or purchase is woefully small, and a good portion of the adult population does not even know how to read or write. One thing that we are really excited about is our growing “living-room library” (that’s not what we call it – I just gave it that name right now because I like the way it sounds). While attending a conference in May in another city in Honduras, Darwin and I happened upon a wonderful Christian bookstore with a fantastic collection of books in Spanish, so we loaded up a big box and brought them home as resources and teaching tools both for us and our kids. On the bookshelf in our living room we now have dozens of books by Christian authors that offer friendship advice, discipleship guidance, biographies, wholesome fiction, etc. The other day I walked into our living room and heard our three oldest girls (Dayana, Jackeline and Gleny) in Dayana’s room taking turns reading out loud from a book geared toward young women who have suffered sexual abuse. Wow!
Building Strong Foundations: A Season of Rapid Change Gives Way to a Season of Rest
Darwin and I sense that the Lord is leading us as a family and mission into a season of rest in the sense that many, many changes have occurred over the last 2-3 years, and right now is a time of settling in, of laying a strong foundation with the children/youth under our care (both in our home and in homeschool, music, etc) before advancing forward with any new projects, initiatives, etc. Everything seems to be tilted up on one end as this calendar year we went from having 3 kids under our full-time care (Dayana, Gleny and Jason, biological siblings) to receiving a sibling group of 2 in January and then another sibling group of 2 this month along with my trip to the States, the pending change of Jenae moving out, many new faces in homeschool and music classes, and the arrival of Miss Martha. Please pray that the Lord may grant us continued wisdom and discernment as we seek His will for our own lives and the many who have been placed under our care/guidance.
Second Milking Cow Gives Birth
After having acquired two young adult milking cows over a year ago, both of them have now given birth to healthy calves, one male and one female. Darwin milks them each morning at 4:30am, and between the two cows there is enough milk for drinking, cooking and making cheese!
Overall, my health is okay at this point, although last night I was up with a fever, sharp stomach pains and a migraine that have continued this morning. At 6:30am I went to get blood drawn and will have the results early this afternoon. We think it might be Dengue Fever or another virus that is going around right now. Please pray that God is glorified whether I am at full strength or not!