Life and Ministry Updates: August 2015

Two New Students Enter Our School

In the past month two new students from our little town have become students in the one-room schoolhouse where we educate several of our children and a handful of our neighbors. Michelle, age 8, and Selbin, age 11, have entered the program at the first-grade level and are participating weekly in agriculture, music, and Bible study along with academic classes. We currently have 6 children/youth from the community in our school along with several of the 7 kids under our full-time care.

[Explanation of the need for our school program]: There are a couple public elementary schools in our area, but the education the students receive is very poor due to lazy and/or absent teachers, sexual abuse that occurs on the playground, and a ridiculous number of ‘holidays’. Many students who are in sixth grade, which is the last year of elementary school according to the Honduran system, cannot even read or write. Even so, many poor families cannot pay the fees for their kids to attend these corrupted government-run schools nor can they purchase the uniform or buy basic school supplies. Thus illiteracy, unemployment and idleness run rampant in our little town, and as more mothers approach us asking if their kids can become students in our school, we sense that this program may grow with time.

Miss Martha’s Daughter Joins Our Team as the Teacher of the Living Waters Ranch School

Miss Martha, our nurse and cook who labors alongside of us Monday-Friday, has a 22-year-old daughter named Isis who this past month began working three days a week with us as the teacher of our school program. She is a fantastic teacher and assigns quite a bit of homework each night! Having her in the school has liberated Darwin and I to plan, work in the office on administration, run errands, and have one morning per week when we can rest together.

Gabriela and Josselyn’s Progress

Gabriela (age 6) and Josselyn (age 10), biological sisters, moved into our home in July of this year and are adjusting very well to life in our family. Gabriela has received her medical exams and psychological evaluation and is all set to enter into a small school geared toward children with traumatic pasts and/or special needs for roughly 5 months to prepare her with basic vocabulary, social skills, and kindergarten-level academic knowledge (the colors, how to hold a pencil, etc) so that she will hopefully be ready in February to enter first grade at the private Christian school where Gleny and Jason attend. Emotionally and behaviorally she has improved leaps and bounds in just seven weeks of living with us, and we are thrilled to see her grow into a young women in conformity with God’s own heart. Josselyn has entered first grade in our homeschool program and is doing very well in all respects.

A New Initiative: Wednesday Bible Study with our Neighbors

Several weeks ago Darwin and I started a Bible study in our dining room for our neighbors and the children/youth in our school program and choir, and we have had between 14-22 people attend each week, not including Darwin, our seven kids, and Miss Martha. Anyone from our neighborhood is invited, and we serve lunch from 12:00-1:00pm, study God’s word together from 1:00-2:00pm, and then have some kind of soccer game with the kids in our front lawn from 2:00-3:00pm. We are excited to see how the Lord will use this time to touch the lives of many of our neighbors with the good news of Jesus Christ.

Local Family Moves to Our Property to Work in Agriculture and Security

A local family who has four of their kids in our school program moved this past week to the little watchman’s house on our property to begin working the land and helping with basic security. We are looking to develop a good relationship with them as we discern how the Lord would have us to love and serve one another for His glory.


When We Become Available

God has planted a new idea in our hearts, and that is to establish a fixed time each week in which we study the Word of God with our neighbors.

It’s really as simple as deciding to do it and setting a time, so last week Darwin and I went walking around the gravel paths of our neighborhood to pop in and invite about a couple dozen households with which we already have relationships. We didn’t even have any kind of handout or written invitation or really even a developed idea of what the Bible study would look like, so we simply said, “If you want to come to our home tomorrow at noon, we’re going to eat lunch and then study God’s word from 1:00-2:00pm. We’ll be doing this every Wednesday at the same time with whomever has the desire to join us.”

So Tuesday night as Darwin and I were discussing who else we should invite to the Bible study the next day (in Honduras if you invite people one or two weeks ahead of time, they forget and don’t come), before processing the thought, my lips said, “Brayan and Little Darwin.”

Darwin looked at me and let out a sigh-laugh, saying, “This must be from God, because in my flesh I definitely do not want to invite them.” After both got expelled and/or quit voluntarily from homeschool twice in the last year and have since been back only to bully others, steal and cause a ruckus, we haven’t been too keen on having them around our home in the last several weeks. We’ve heard from various sources that they’ve stolen from other neighbors as well, have had sexually errant behavior together in the local river, and are slandering us in the local community.

‘Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you’ doesn’t necessarily mean give another undeserved opportunity to someone who’s thrown away the many they’ve had (as in “Come on back to homeschool again” or “That’s okay, you can come eat in our home everyday even though you aren’t currently working or studying and you don’t respect us”), but to us it does mean open up your home to study God’s True Word with anyone and everyone that has a desire to do so, even if they’ve done you wrong, rejected any prior help, or are currently walking the wrong path.

We both agreed to invite them out of obedience to God and then leave it up to them whether or not they came, so the next day we passed by the shanty where Little Darwin lives with his parents and where Brayan is also currently living after his step-mom got fed up with his antics and kicked him out. We breathed deep as several emaciated dogs came charging at us, determined to protect the rocky, muddy, trash- and feces-littered property. A young female relative and Little Darwin’s mom greeted us enthusiastically and invited us inside the fence to talk. As my husband sat on a plastic chair and I sat on a rock beside him, we gave the simple invitation to his mom as she rocked back-and-forth on a threadbare hammock, asking her to pass the message on to Brayan and Little Darwin when they returned home.

As we were getting up to leave, Little Darwin (we call him this only to distinguish him from my husband Darwin, but now that he is 14 or 15 years old he’s not little at all) came walking through the front gate, undoubtedly surprised to see us chit-chatting with his mom. We stood up to greet him, shook his hand, invited him to study God’s Word with us in about an hour-and-a-half (it was already 10:30am), and then left.

Darwin (my husband) and I arrived home, showered, and were finishing the preparations for the Bible study with a lot of anticipation in our hearts to see if any of our neighbors would end up coming. Around 11:45am Darwin walked out front to see how things were coming along, and when he came back to our bedroom I asked him if anyone had come yet.

His answer: “Little Darwin.”

I almost couldn’t believe it (and so punctual!), so I walked out front on my way to the kitchen and, sure enough, Little Darwin, a giant among children, stood somewhat awkwardly but not ashamedly against the wall on the Education House’s porch freshly bathed and in mismatched camoflauge clothing. We smiled when we saw each other and I gave him a big hug, inviting him and several of the other kids to play soccer with me while we waited to see if anyone else was going to arrive.

Well, 17 neighbors ended up coming that first day to study God’s Word with us – some as old as 70-something years and others as young as eight or ten. Several youth from Darwin’s choir came in sibling groups, a couple older men came alone, and one middle-aged neighbor (the one who showed up a few Sunday’s ago with his guns to help trap the teen thieves) came with his wife, their four kids, and a granddaughter. In all, there were 26 people gathered in our dining room – some who steal, others who trap those who do, and others still who get stolen from, all in the same room – united for the sole purpose of learning more about the Living God. Some arrived in cars, others arrived on foot. Some already know the Savior and others might have only come because they know some of His followers. One teenage boy showed up with a notebook and pencil, ready to take notes on the study, and another elderly neighbor told us afterward that he plans on inviting another neighbor of his to our “classes.” Many people prayed, many people shared, and overall I was stunned by what God can do when we simply become available.

I think many times we delay our obedience to God because we are waiting for the perfect time or for the stars to align or for a sickness to pass or for our schedule to clear up.

The only reason we carried through with this initiative last week was because we had determined in our hearts to do so out of obedience, to take the first step and allow God to guide those that follow. I have been struggling with a virus that has had me confined to bed-rest several hours per day for over four weeks now, and as my fever continues on day after day and my body struggles in its weakness, I thought Surely we can delay the Bible Study a couple more weeks until I feel better, but I sensed the Lord was telling me: The time is now. Just become available, and I will do the rest. I can work through your weakness.

So no signs, no music, no frills, and maybe no real energy or health – just a simple spoken invitation in the foothills of the mountains to come study the Word of God with a couple people who themselves still have a whole lot left to learn.

He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.

Isaiah 40:29-31

Darwin’s Young Agriculturalists (Photos)

This morning as Darwin, four of our kids and several youth from our neighborhood were working in agriculture on our property, I slapped on my tall rubber boots and went trekking around to take some photos…

Our neighbor Yexon (age 11) who is in first grade in our homeschool program, participates in choir and has publicly made the decision to follow Christ


Our neighbor Sefora (age 10) who participates in Darwin’s youth choir with several of her siblings
Our neighbors Ingris (13) and Marina (15) with our daughter Gabriela (6) preparing the soil to plant tomato seeds in recycled plastic coke bottles. Marina just passed second grade in our homeschool program, and both she and Ingris participate weekly in Darwin’s youth choir.



Gabriela had a blast working with her hands in the dirt and posing for many photos!








Our daughter Jackeline (11) with Ingris (13) and Paola (8). Little Paola participates three days per week in our homeschool program along with three of her older siblings.


Gabriela (6), Yexon (11), Jackeline (11), Ingris (13) and Paola (8)


Darwin supervising his young agriculturalists


Darwin and our nurse/cook Miss Martha talking with the girls before beginning a new project




Weeding the garden


Darwin with Cristian (13), Donaris (11), Arlen (13), Ever (16) and Derbin (14) working together to clear a section of our property with their machetes. All five boys are members of Darwin’s choir, and Cristian (red shirt, next to Darwin) just passed second grade in our homeschool program and has publicly made the decision to follow Christ.


Arlen, a youth who sings soprano in Darwin’s choir and has come to profess faith in Jesus Christ



Our male calf that was born in February 2015


One of our two adult cows with her female calf that was born last month





One of our new puppies, a hound/pit-bull mix


Big Soapy Mouth: A Reflection on Eternal Consequences

5:38pm Friday, August 7, 2015

I just had a very interesting incident with 6-year-old Gabriela who has not yet been with us a full month. I had taken her, her elder sister Josselyn and 7-year-old Josue on a long walk around our neighborhood delivering plates of chocolate cake with encouraging hand-written notes to our neighbors as a goodwill gesture.

Throughout the admittedly long but not too-long hike around our neighborhood, Gabriela and Josue lagged dangerously behind Josselyn and I (and we were not even holding a quick pace), so I thus had to repeatedly tell them to hurry up only to find them lagging behind again. As Gabriela complained loudly (as is her style) and Josue (who does not talk) simply shuffled in his painstakingly slow manner, I told them lovingly that if they truly were that tired that they couldn’t even walk (but interestingly have enough energy to run and play all day at home and just a couple days prior had gone on a long walk with Darwin without any trouble), then they would go right to bed when we got home at 4:45pm so that they could rest their obviously weary bodies.

That sped them up momentarily, but in the end they meandered along in such a manner that their behavior confirmed that they did, in fact, need to go to bed and rest.

As we walked through our gate about fifteen minutes later, Gabriela assured me loudly and repeatedly that she wouldn’t be going to bed and that all she needed was to rest in the hammock. As I’m shuffling keys and water bottles in my hands, sweat pouring down my temples, and our two new puppies are jumping at our feet her incessant voice continued from a couple yards behind me, so I turned and informed her in an even tone, “If you say one more word about how you’re not going to bed, I’m going to wash your mouth out with soap.”

She definitely heard what I said, and, without skipping a beat, opened her big mouth again to tell me how she was just going to rest in the hammock.

Her elder sister, who’s mostly got the obedience thing down pat, came up to me, concerned, and said, eyes wide, “Gabriela said something else even after you told her not to.” I laughed and said, “I know,” led Gabriela by the hand to the bathroom as we were all crossing the threshold into our home, and I got the bar of pink soap and told her to open her mouth.

Now here’s the interesting part: Gabriela looked suddenly terrified and surprised and began to cry as if the entire situation had taken a drastic, utterly unexpected turn.

Calmly (by God’s grace), I pried her little teeth open and began cleaning it out with soap for the next minute or so while she bawled and screamed.

Hopefully heard above her ruckus, I said calmly, “This is to show you that I will always fulfill my word with you. I warned you that if you said one more word I would wash your mouth out with soap, you did, and now my word is being fulfilled. We can use our mouths to bless others or to curse, annoy and slander. We’re simply cleaning out all the junk that pours out of your mouth so that it flows blessing rather than evil.”

Her well-behaved older sister stood by as a highly interested witness, her eyes twinkling as if she was observing something almost serene. I imagine she was so enamored by the process because up until then in her life she had probably only witnessed (and experienced) parents who let their kids run wild with zero discipline or who react with over-the-top grab-the-kid-and-beat-the-crap-out-of-him-because-the-parent-waited-too-long-and-everything-is-now-out-of-control. I looked at her and asked, “I did warn her this would happen, right?” And Josselyn smiled and assured me that I hadn’t imagined the whole thing and that I had, in fact, given a clear and fair warning.

After the cleansing, with great strife Gabriela washed out her soapy mouth with water, brushed her teeth, and was off to bed (and not the hammock).

But I write all of this not to recount a simple anecdote of our daily life but to show what we can learn about the Eternal through little 6-year-old girls who have yet to have any real understanding of who God is.

I have both read and heard through various sources recently the message that God’s written word (the Bible) in its entirety serves as a general warning (and instruction book, and source of hope, etc) to humankind. Page after page, time period after time period, God – through His prophets, through Christ, through visions, etc – makes it very clear what He expects of us and the eternal consequences of both obedience and disobedience. In other words, if we spend our lives participating in what angers God and then are condemned to Hell and surprised about it, we have no one to blame but ourselves because the warning was put out there clearly enough. (Oh, but how many times have we heard the warning through various sources and turned a deaf ear, preferring to worship ourselves rather than God?)

In a recent Discipleship Group up in the mountains with our faith community, our mentor and dear friend Larry was explaining that from the get-go at the beginning of time God gives a clear, specific warning to Adam and Eve that they can eat out of any of the multitudes of trees except the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and that, if they do, there will be severe consequences (that’s the clear, fair warning, like telling someone, “Don’t put your hand in  the beehive, because, if you, you’ll get stung.”). They decide to believe Satan rather than God (common mistake), disobey, eat the fruit, and then experience the consequences (think what happened today with Gabriela).

To the contrary, if God had not given the warning to Adam and Eve, instead staying quiet and allowing them to eat from the forbidden tree without them having any knowledge that it would bring terrible consequences, how unfair God would have been! But God, in His justice and kindness, gave the warning and then left it up to us (I include all of us in there because we would have done the same thing) to decide whether to trust His word, obey and experience abundant life and freedom or to be deceived, disobey, and then suffer terribly for our own foolishness.

So let’s think of God’s Word as a written warning (and if we have no idea what the warning is or what is warns against, let’s open it up and find out before it’s too late!)

Warning: There is a Righteous, Good God who has understandable wrath against fallen humankind for their sin — for having destroyed His good creation and turned their backs on Him — and His perfect justice will be fulfilled in the right moment, condemning all those guilty to eternal punishment. BUT THERE IS AN OUT: Those who believe upon His son, Jesus Christ, as the deliverer of those who recognize their sin – and thus begin living for Him rather than for themselves – will be allowed a free entrance into His glorious, everlasting Kingdom where He Himself is the Good King, and in which there will be no more death, crying or pain. YOU CHOOSE.

Of course there are many, many more details than that, but that is the general, overall warning of Scripture. So if we live our lives in hot pursuit of money or engrossed in sexual sin or serving only ourselves, ignoring God and the warnings He has given us, arrive at the end of our lives, are judged justly and get condemned to the eternal punishment we deserve, how on earth can we say that God is unfair or unjust or we had not been properly warned?

Warning: “Gabriela, if you open you mouth one more time to say that you’re not going to go to bed, I’m going to wash your mouth out with soap.”

Action: She opens her mouth.

Fulfillment of Promised Justice: She gets her mouth washed out with soap but interestingly sees it as unfair.

So in the simple way that I can, via this blog today, I am serving as one of God’s little messengers, reminding all of us that there is a general warning about Life on Earth and that whether we regard or disregard it will ultimately determine our fate. And, as was the case with Adam and Eve long ago and with Gabriela today, we have the power to choose our action, but not the consequence.

Learning to be Family (Photos)

Yesterday after we got home from attending Discipleship Group we had an unexpected afternoon of fun as we continue learning what it means to be family…

Dayana (age 14) preparing the porch with detergent for an afternoon of slippery fun


Gleny (age 10, Dayana’s younger biological sister) enjoying the hose


Jason (age 8, Dayana and Gleny’s younger biological brother) being tackled by Josue (age 7), accompanied by Gabriela and Josselyn, the newest arrivals


Gabriela (age 6) learning how to play with everyone else as she nears her one-month anniversary with us



All 7 getting ready for an army-crawling competition across the porch


Another racing competition (I ended up getting as wet as they did!)


10-year-old Josselyn (Gabriela’s biological sister) as she nears three weeks of living with our family


Josue certainly had some soggy diapers after so much rowdy fun!




Jackeline (age 11, Josue’s biological sister) trying to attack me as I sprayed her with water. Her goal was achieved shorty after I took this photo!


Jackeline again (she and her special needs brother Josue just celebrated their six-month anniversary with us on July 29).




The sibling-victors of the porch competitions. November 1, 2015 will be our two-year anniversary with them!








Gleny’s Sophisticated Thoughts on Riches, the World, and God’s Blessing

A couple weeks ago Gleny, our 10-year-old pint-sized drama queen, began telling me a story of her life in fourth grade at a small Christian school that she has been attending about five months.

She began flitting and dancing around our living room carefreely as she explained that one of her classmates had noticed her “Frozen” (the movie) school notebook and said (Gleny changing her voice to sound really snobby and flipping her hands about in a prissy manner): “Ohh, your family must be ri-ich if they can buy you a Frooozen notebook.”

I looked at her, raised my eyebrows and asked, “Oh?”

Gleny continued, always in a very exaggerated tone: “And I told her, ‘My family’s not rich. It’s that God blesses me, and that’s it.’”

I laughed out loud, and she continued: “But then I told her, ‘Well, my family is rich – I mean, in God’s Kingdom. But in this world?’” She shrugged her shoulders and said in a matter-of-fact way, “We’re just passing through.”

Justice in a Lawless Land

This morning at 5:53am as I went rolling down the highway with Jason and Gleny in the backseat on our way to drop them off at school, I whispered a prayer as I looked out over the misty pineapple fields that spawned out to our right under the gaze of the mountain range beyond: Lord, I know Your Word says to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us, and even though that doesn’t always make sense to me and right now in my flesh I don’t want to do that, I will trust You and obey, so I pray now for them. Although I don’t know exactly what to pray or what should happen, You do, so I pray that You would see them and be with them. Amen.

Yesterday was my 25th birthday, and while we had planned to spend the entire day celebrating with our faith community about an hour away from our home, my husband Darwin ended up spending just about the entire day in La Ceiba’s police station. That morning we had received a series of phone calls while in our discipleship group informing us that several local youth had broken into our home that morning while it was left unattended, and that numerous key members of our little town had collaborated to respond to the incident.

This was the second robbery in a span of two weeks, and the ump-teenth robbery in two years. But rather than it being a mysterious disappearance of our chickens in the night or finding our fence with a cut-out hole the next morning or wondering who broke the pad-lock off the storage unit to steal the electric generator or where the big sack of rice had gone, this time we caught the thieves in action. After experiencing a clone of the same robbery two Sundays ago, we hired a dear friend of ours to hide out at our home (think some strange breed of guerrilla-warfare) this Sunday while we would be gone, making himself invisible to see who the thieves are. He did just that, and, sure enough, the thieves came, called out to see if anyone was home, and, when no one answered, they hopped the fence and broke into the kitchen, starting to fill several big sacks full of food while two companions kept the look-out on the other side of the fence.

It was then that our friend called the police, who, of course, tragically delayed in their response and arrived on the scene way after-the-fact only after the vice-mayor of the town was called and got involved. But, thankfully, our watchman friend immediately called another neighbor of ours who showed up via the back of our property with his own weapons and, to not go into all the details, trapped the thieves red-handed with the help of two adult men.

Two of the teenage boys who were trapped and sent to the police station (a rare event here – most people are afraid to report robberies because the police fail to take action and then the thieves harm or kill those who reported them) are members of Darwin’s choir and work closely with us in agriculture each week, and the other two are not known personally. After investigation, they all confessed that the other two members of their ‘gang’ who broke in two Sundays ago are Brayan and Little Darwin. Yes, Brayan whom we have loved as a son and Little Darwin who has participated in homeschool, music and agriculture.

So yesterday as I sat on the cool concrete floor in our mentors’ home during discipleship group surrounded by our seven children and numerous brothers and sisters in the faith, Darwin doing the police processing in La Ceiba, I struggled mightily with rage in my heart toward those who only want to kill, steal and destroy, those who can’t just leave us alone to etch out the little living that God has called us to. We have enough problems with our seven kids’ behavior and generational struggles, demanding work from sun-up to sun-down, doing the difficult task of shepherding those who don’t always want to be shepherded, and having to put up with power and water outages all the time without having to deal with all this additional chaos that only distracts, stresses and exhausts.

God’s Word is never far from my thoughts, and as though forming a protective cloud or shield around my anger, God placed His commandment to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us on all sides of my violent mental wanderings. As my thoughts shot off in one direction or another and as I fantasized about how I wished I would have caught them and taken a baseball bat to them or worse, my thoughts could never go too far because, like a ping-pong ball trapped within walls, I always hit up against God’s perfect Word and could go no further. But bouncing, bouncing, bouncing, my anger boiled and ping-ponged around inside of me, always finding God’s command and turning back.

So my question is not Is God just? or Where is God in the midst of so much suffering and chaos? or Why is this happening to us? But rather, trusting all the answers that we already have available to us in Scripture, my prayer – sometimes through tears and sometimes through rage or disappointment, stress or total exhaustion – is for perseverance.

It is not enough to believe God is just in a moment of serene prayer or upon reading a passage from Scripture or after having been encouraged by a dear friend. We must believe He is just every hour of every day until we take our last breath – during seasons of peace and seasons of war, in the midst of betrayals, after great loss and when we find ourselves beaten down by the evil of this world (both within us and without).

It is not enough to read Jesus’ words that call us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us and think among roses that we have none – we must live those words when the times comes when we do, in fact, find evil breathing down our necks.

It is not enough to say that God is good when we have a stable job and a roof over our head and our family members are alive and we’ve eaten today. To believe that God is good is to say it through tears, in despair and confusion, without all the answers and in times of trial in addition to in times of happiness and ease – to know that He is good not because our lives are currently good or the weather is favorable or we got what we wanted but because He never changes and deserves our praise.

So we pray for our dear friend who played ‘watchman’ yesterday, for his protection after he took a rather daring step that almost no one here takes. Last night as our kids lie asleep and Darwin and I sat on a small rug in our bathroom, discussing the events of the day, he told me that our friend asked for Darwin and I to take care of his wife and kids should those same confused thieves or their friends decide to take his life for reporting them. The young robbers are loose once again after the police gave them a slap on the wrist, and we wait for their next strike in this twisted game of cat and mouse, light and darkness.

Oh, and I just received an alarming phone call from our 8-year-old son Jason’s teacher saying that his behavior today has been atrocious, that he is refusing to do his work and is telling his classmates he is going to kill them and cut off their heads. So in the here and now, I can’t really place where it is that light is streaming in on this battlefield of eternal proportions, this fight for justice in a lawless land.

But I can tell you one thing – that whether by the results we can see it seems futile to work for the Good because the forces of darkness win battle after battle in the here and now, the flickering light of Christ waits patiently: God is good, and He is just, and He calls us to persevere until the end, because His perfect, liberating justice will be served in this lawless land.