The Purpose of Things (Part 1)

A few Wednesdays ago we found ourselves once again sitting in an oblong rectangle of chairs, benches and stools in our concrete-floored dining room as about 30 of us – Darwin, our 7 kids, several middle-aged neighbors, Miss Martha and our schoolteacher, and about a dozen or so children and youth from our neighborhood – had come together to understand the Truth and study God’s Word.

The Wednesday prior Josselyn, our new 10-year-old daughter who hides her face when she gets nervous and is learning the alphabet for the first time in her life, decided to receive the invitation to peace with God through Jesus Christ after having heard in the Bible Study what exactly the ‘Good News’ is that is so frequently talked about throughout the Bible.

This week, however, we would be talking about the purpose of things. As always, everyone present is invited to participate (although some choose not to), and so I began naming different common items so that we could begin naming their purposes.

One of the first items I threw out there in this game of name-the-purpose was a machete, an extremely common item in Honduras, and even moreso out in the countryside where we live. Almost every male above the age of about 10 or 12 has one and uses it almost daily to ‘chop’ the yard, cut firewood, etc, so when I asked the group, “What is the purpose of a machete?”, they looked at me as if it was finally made plain to them that I’m a foreigner. You mean she doesn’t know the purpose of a machete? Is she serious?

After a short pause, one of the youth dared to state the obvious: “It’s for chopping the yard.” Everyone else looked at me as if to say, “…Duh…”

“Yes!” I affirmed. “And what else?”

“For cutting things…like firewood.” Someone else chimed in, answering perhaps the easiest question we had ever ventured to answer in this timeslot on Wednesdays when we dare to find answers to some of life’s hardest (and most pertinent) questions. No longer was I asking: “What is justice?” or “How does the World treat the orphans, the widows and the poor?” or “What are some of the lies the World tells us?” or “What is the Kingdom of God?” Rather, I’m asking the use of a large, simple knife that everyone is already familiar with.

“For killing.” Someone else said.

I clarified – “For killing – animals! Can we say ‘hunting’?

After we exhausted the rather short list of purposes for a machete – and once everyone began realizing that this game of name-the-purpose was not so hard after all – we proceeded with a list of about two dozen things, naming the common, known purpose of each.

“What is the purpose of a bus?” (Another extremely common thing here, seeing as most people do not have their own cars and thus have to travel on big, retired American yellow school buses that have been converted into Honduran public buses to go on errands, visit other cities, etc).

“To carry people!” Someone shouted.

“Yes! And what else?”

“To…carry things!

“Yes! Basically the purpose of a bus is to transport or move people and things from one place to another, right?” Everyone looked at me in utter agreement, excited even. “Ok, so if the bus doesn’t have any wheels or gas, it can still fulfill its purpose, right?”

For a split second I caught them off guard as they looked at me, then everyone started to laugh and say, “No! It wouldn’t fulfill its purpose without wheels or gas!”

So there we went, naming the purpose of food, a watchdog, shoes, the sun, a school, a backpack, and a host of other things. As we were nearing the end of the little list scribbled on the index card in my lap, I smiled and posed the actual question of the day, only to be met with blank, confused stares:

“What’s the purpose of a human being?”


One 13-year-old young man who participates in Darwin’s choir and has proved himself to be very respectful, humble and hard-working, was the only one who seemed able to compose an answer after a few seconds of shock. His opinion: “The purpose of a human being is to serve God…or…serve the Devil. You choose.

Almost everyone seemed surprised by the mere fact that he was able to put an answer together to such an impossible question, and some laughed nervously.

I think I literally saw lightbulbs go off in several people’s heads as I begin explaining, “How interesting that quickly and accurately we can name off the purpose of a machete or a pair of shoes, but when asked to name our own purpose, we literally don’t know how to answer! If a machete is used to chop the grass but not to brush my teeth or comb my hair – and we all know that – then we can use it according to its purpose and thus fulfill its purpose, making it a useful machete. If we know that a watchdog does not fulfill its purpose of protecting the property if it has lost all its teeth, is deathly ill and can no longer stand or bark, we can accurately discern between a watchdog that is fulfilling its purpose and one that is not. But a human being? How on earth can we go about fulfilling our purpose if we don’t even know what it is? How could we use a pair of shoes properly if we did not know they were meant to protect our feet, that that is their purpose?”

To be continued in a subsequent post…

Time-Sensitive Prayer Request

There are certain legal procedures that each Honduran NGO must do each year in accordance with the government’s laws in order to remain in operation.

Teresa Devlin, who founded the Living Waters Ranch, was very ill during her last few years in Honduras before passing away in October 2012, and when I arrived in June 2012 no one (not even the board of directors) informed me of all the legal processes that I would henceforth be in charge of orchestrating, much less the intricacies, time involved, etc, of such.

For that reason our annual taxes and other reports were not filed in 2011, 2012 or 2013, until last August we finally came into the know about the process and began a great rally with lawyers, accountants, old board members, etc, to compile all the necessary paperwork (which turned into a huge project and ended up being a thick binder-like report).

Well, we sent off our completed 4-year report (including 2014) to a supposedly trusted lawyer in the nearby city of La Ceiba in November 2014, and he sat on the paperwork over 11 months without doing anything. We called, stopped by his office, and even jumped through several hoops of getting different people’s signatures that he asked for, etc, and only about two weeks ago when Darwin called him for the umpteenth time to see how the case is coming along did the lawyer’s assistant admit that they had not made even the slightest move in over 11 months and that it would be better for us to come pick up all our documents and find another lawyer because they had no plans of ever addressing our case.

That is exactly what we did, and now the same female lawyer who is working on my residency case from the capital city of Tegucigalpa is moving and shaking with all our government documents that are now almost five years behind. In less than two weeks she has made more progress than the other lawyer did in 11 months, and just yesterday afternoon she called to let us know that our Honduran legal status (which is extremely difficult and expensive to get in the first place and is necessary in order to be in operation) is on the brink of being cancelled, seeing as our documents, receipts, etc, have not been presented to the government since 2010. The good news is that our legal status is not already canceled, but we now have to hustle, paying a roughly $3,000 fine that only last year would have been roughly $1,500 if our first lawyer had done his job, plus we have to now submit new documents, get new stamps and signatures, etc, to prove that we are in operation and that there has been no foul play. Basically there will be a lot of hoops to jump through in these coming weeks along with the huge fine if the Lord’s purposes are to continue at the Living Waters Ranch.

Please pray for us during this time of potential stress, and let us give thanks for our new lawyer (Tania Ruiz) who has taken great initiative to begin fixing up what has turned into a big mess. Please pray for efficiency, transparency and mercy among the lawyer(s) and government officials who will be dealing with our case, and pray that the $3,000 fine (plus the lawyer’s fees, which will end up about $1,000) does not derail us among the other operating expenses that we already incur. Thank you!

Learning About Consequences in the Real World: Jackeline’s Day in the Chicken Run

I believe 12-year-old Jackeline learned a lesson last week, or at least I hope so. Our dear fifth grader has been struggling mightily to find a good work ethic in school, and quite frankly Darwin and I had not found a technique that has made any difference other than that of growing the dark circles under our eyes. We had tried the well-intentioned lectures and advice, sincere moments of prayer, hugs of encouragement and warmth, washing her mouth out with soap, taking away movies/art class/choir practice/other privileges in response to bad behavior, adding boring chores such as washing the walls of different buildings on our property, and even having special celebrations and awards for those who are making the effort in school, but all to no avail. No attitude change, no repentance, no newfound work ethic or desire in school.

So, as I’m knee-deep in reading a fantastic parenting book (Loving Our Kids on Purpose by Danny Silk), I found new inspiration with our pre-teen who is headed for a rough course in life if she doesn’t get her act together. I devised a plan and invited my husband Darwin to execute it with me. We passed by our school building around 10:30am, knocking on the door of the room that holds 7 students (3 of our own kids and 4 from our local community) and 1 teacher, hoping to catch Jackeline in her own trap. I informed the teacher with a big smile that we were merely stopping by to see how Jackeline was doing, and when the teacher hesitated in her response, I knew we had her! With dread in her voice, the teacher informed us that, again, Jackeline had refused to do her classwork, had hit her desk in defiance, and wouldn’t stop complaining the whole morning.

As if the teacher had told me, “Stop by my office at noon and I’ll give you a bag of chocolates,” I said cheerfully, “Ok great! Let’s go, Jackeline.”

Jackeline looked at me suspiciously as her thoughts read ‘Let’s go?’ Where to? It’s freaking me out how you’re smiling at me like that. Why don’t you look disappointed in me? Aren’t you supposed to be mad that I don’t make even the smallest effort is school ever? I mean, it’s disgraceful that I don’t even care about my own future! Another lecture would do me good, or at least take away all my privileges. That always seems to work.

I motioned excitedly with my arm that she follow us, so she got up from her desk, leaving behind her school materials that had already been out of use virtually the whole morning, and she began trailing sluggishly behind Darwin and I as we crossed our large front yard, went through the gate, and headed up the path to the large open-air structure that used to serve as our chicken run but now is used as a stable for Darwin’s cows.

As we arrived – me with a visible spring in my step, grateful and excited for this wonderful opportunity to try something new in the pioneer journey of teaching a vital lesson to this young woman we love – I kindly explained (again, with the tone of voice that a mother would use with her daughter to say, “Auntie Carol just dropped off a $50 check for your birthday and said that she’s going to invite you to vacation at the beach with her and your cousins next weekend!”) that since she obviously doesn’t want to be in school, then we’ll respect her freedom of choice and allow her to work.

Oh, if looks could kill! (And I’m not talking about ours!)

As we stood in the middle of the structure’s small enclosed yard with various fenceposts leaning over or having fallen down altogether, we explained how she would be working with a machete to remove the chicken wire of the entire perimeter (a job that’s needed to get done for months, but we haven’t had time to do it), putting all the wire together in a big pile and then organizing the various pieces of wood, old tires, etc that were lying about. More than a couple times as we walked around the enclosed area, I had to warn, “Watch your step, Jackeline! There’s a heap of cow poo right there.”

Her face and body language radiated mad, which only further confirmed that we had finally found a consequence that just might get under her skin. (And, hey, no fake tears for once!) We handed the machete to her after Darwin gave her a quick demo of how to whack away at the posts, removing the chicken wire, and we allowed her to change into work clothes and fill a water bottle before returning to spend the time necessary until the job was finished.

We cheerfully reminded her that we loved her and wished her well on her new work project, leaving promptly.

As Darwin and I returned to the office to finish the preparations for that day’s Bible study, I peeked out the window several times to see how our young worker was progressing. The poor girl was very confused – she was sitting down!

A couple hours later as we were serving lunch to about 30 or so people who had come to Bible study, I served up a bowl of lukewarm beans for our fence-repairer and walked with that same bounce in my step out to the chicken run for the second time that morning. As she saw me approaching, she quickly stood up and pretended to be working on a fence post, looking at me as if I was about to chew her butt for her laziness. My response: a peppy, loving, “Hey! There you are! Enjoy your lunch! Let me know if you need to fill up your water bottle again.”

I handed off the plastic bowl of beans, turned around, and left.

I think at that point she realized that going on strike wasn’t going to get her anywhere (or reel me in and trap me in some power struggle or futile discussion of morals and work ethics).

An hour or so later, a young neighbor of ours who had been at our home for lunch and the Bible study, looked at me and said in a concerned tone of voice, “Uh, Jennifer? Jackeline’s sure been out in the chicken run for quite a while…”

I smiled and said, “Yup! Sure has! You want to play soccer?”

Well, at some point that afternoon our young worker got up off her rear and started taking down fenceposts, and she did a pretty darn good job. About four-and-a-half hours after we first dropped her off there, she finished the job like a champ and came clogging in through the front gate with a bit less energy and a bit more accomplishment than she had had that morning.

Nothing is a cure-all, but since that day we have had a bit more success with the general attitude of our beloved fifth-grader, and the teacher even had a positive report about her general work ethic in school the next day.

Thank you, author Danny Silk, for your wonderful (and fun!) parenting advice! Glory to God!



Reconnaissance Mission with the King of Kings: Break and Enter…and Bless

A new stream of God’s abundant provision has recently been discovered through a large supermarket chain in the nearby city of La Ceiba – after several months of writing letters and waiting for responses, we now have an agreement with one of the locations to receive any surplus/damaged goods that for various reasons they are unable to sell. In the first few months of enjoying this agreement, we got a call every 3-6 weeks to come pick up a box or two of flour and toilet paper, but for some reason in this past week they have called us twice, and so two times in three days we brought home quite literally a truckbed full of goods for free.

Every time we receive a box, I exclaim to my husband Darwin, “It’s like Christmas!” because you never know what the boxes will hold. Just last week our truckbed held two-and-a-half boxes full of chocolate cookies, a couple boxes of flour and spaghetti noodles, quite a bit of canned food, a couple bars of soap, several containers of butter, some frozen French fries, and even a brand-new frying pan!

So last Thursday as I arrived home in our truck at 3:00pm after having picked up Gleny and Jason from their elementary school, I contemplated the still-closed boxes in the truckbed with weary excitement, wanting to rip into them to see what blessing they held but struggling through an already-too-long day that started around 5:00am after another night of not having slept a wink. I felt like all my nerves stood on end and that my head weighed more than the rest of my body.

Thankfully, several people who were just about the leave and head home came to help haul the boxes up the concrete steps into our dining room, and I followed behind, scheming through foggy thoughts exactly how I could manage with the least energy exertion possible the five hooligans who would be under my care until Darwin and our two eldest girls would get home that night around 7:30pm.

On days like I had last Thursday I often wish that my children had an “off” button or that they could be easily folded up and stored away in a dresser drawer for a few hours until I need them again. Unfortunately for weary parents, this is, of course, not the case, and thus I suddenly had five eager helpers who were just as excited to see what was in the mysterious boxes as I was (and had 684.92 questions, comments, and stories for me in the process), although in the back of my mind I contemplated starting the somewhat-intimidating task of sorting, lifting, storing, etc, the next day once I had hopefully slept a few hours.

But the Lord had other plans, and I’m so glad He did.

For some reason that is still unknown to me, I did, in fact, begin the gargantuan task of inspecting the blessed cargo and, not only that, but graciously solicited the help of Jason (8), Josselyn (10) and Gleny (11), while Josue (7) and Gabriela (6) played with brooms in the front yard. We spent the next couple hours making guesses about what would be in each box, carrying certain items to the pantry, storing others in bins, etc. There was so much food that it was quickly made clear to us that it was meant to be shared, thus we began classifying the food items according to what could be most useful to which neighbor of ours. My three assistants flitted around the kitchen literally aglow with joy – how sweet it is to discover (and then share!) God’s blessing alongside of your children! We made boxes for several neighbors, my assistants constantly eager to help think out which goods should go to which families and place (and then re-place and re-organize) the goods in the boxes so that they fit just right. We talked giddily about how God never leaves the giver without something to give, and that if we have in abundance (or in scarcity!), what we have is meant to be shared. It was never ours to begin with; we are but the little administrators of God’s provision, allowing goods to flow through our hands and lives like crystalline spring water!

It was one of those blessed afternoons where everything seems to ‘click;’ all our gears are moving in synchrony and we all ‘get it.’ God’s presence among us was palpable and His joy undeniable. Gleny made a comment about how she has noticed that our town of El Pino is growing in the Lord’s favor, and Josselyn talked through a big smile of how thankful she is that God has enabled us to continue blessing others.

Well, we couldn’t stop there! I went to write “God’s blessing for Mr. Mejia” in big bold permanent marker on the outside of one of the boxes, but Gleny interrupted the simple process and informed me that she wanted to do it. Although that involved helping her spell it out correctly (and then turning the box around and starting over when she messed up), it was worth it.

The next step was handing the boxes over – delivering the blessing that was never ours to keep! We laughed and worked in teams of two to hold the boxes as we shuffled across our large front yard, out the gate, and over to the small house on our property that is now home to four of our students (all siblings) and their parents, the father of which fills the role of night watchman.

Once we finished handing the two boxes over to our watchman’s family (the father looked somewhat betwixt as to why anyone would be so giddy about giving food away), we returned home feeling light and joyful, although we were a bit sad the process of giving seemed to be temporarily over. The other boxes would stay in our kitchen because they were for people who would be coming to our home the next morning, except…Mr. Mejia! It seemed utterly ridiculous due to my off-the-charts exhaustion after the lunacy of sleeping 2-3 hours one night and none the next, and so on, but it seemed to be the only thing that made sense. Our neighbor Mr. Mejia, a man in his 70s who is a pillar of faith in our community and frequents our Wednesday-afternoon Bible study, lives alone in what looks to be an abandoned half-constructed building about a 10-15 minute walk away, so I raised my eyebrows and asked my eager collaborators what they thought of an early evening walk through hungry mosquitos and possibly falling rain to drop off Mr. Mejia’s box of blessing.

They all squealed with excitement and asked if we could invite our neighbors (the watchman’s four children who are students in our school and are at our house so often that they have come to form part of our extended family) for the big event. I said yes, and so off we went – 9 kids and I quite literally skipping off down the overgrown, isolated trail in The Middle of Nowhere, Central America from our property to Mr. Mejia’s. The kids reached his house by doing various foot races while two or three people took turns hauling the box on the top of their heads. When we finally got to his house, his two thin dogs started barking like crazy at the end of their chains as we called out from just beyond his front gate to see if he was home.

It had not really occurred to me that he might not be home to receive the box, but that was, in fact, the exact situation we were facing. We shrugged disappointedly and looked at one another as I posed the honest question: “What do we do? Does anyone have any ideas?” At first our four young neighbors looked slightly shocked that an adult was actually asking for their opinion, but quickly enough various people threw out different options, each of which got vetoed by the group. Leave the box outside of his gate? No, because the food would get wet in the rain or someone would walk by and steal it. Come back tomorrow? No, because we are impatient and want to deliver it today.

Then Marina, our 15-year-old neighbor who is in 3rd grade in our school, shrugged innocently, pointed to the little twig-and-twine waist-high front gate that was already falling over and struck us all with her (evil? benevolent?) genius, “…We could just walk in and leave the box in his kitchen [which is an outdoor table under a roof made of palm leaves].”

I looked at the young faces all around me, pondering the absurdity of breaking and entering…and blessing. I said, “Well, um, uh…go quickly! Just Marina. Drop it off and come right back.”

So she opened the simple latch on the gate, carried the box through, took a couple dozen steps, dropped off the box, exited and closed the gate, and we were gone from the scene in less than a minute.

From there the foot races joyously continued as barefoot children — who, whether they understand it or not, just participated in the holy act of administering God’s provision to the poorest of the poor — darted off along the lonely rocky trail toward our property in what, to many, seems like a cursed corner of the earth where nothing good can happen.

My heart – and by all visible accounts, those of the children – overflowed, bubbled even, with a heavenly lightness, a joy that cannot be purchased or chased down. I laughed at the wisdom of God: in a neighborhood literally moaning from so many robberies, murders, broken families, and general confusion and chaos, the King of Kings utilized the unlikely, absurd, ridiculous: a young woman who 10 years ago didn’t have the slightest idea of who Jesus Christ was along with a band of young hooligans, many of which are illiterate and all of which are barefoot, traipsing through the jungle bathed in a heavenly glow to fulfill God’s will in perhaps the most unlikely of contexts. That is our God: light in the darkness, giving in a land of taking, a Kingdom destined for those who become like little children.

May Your Kingdom come, may Your will be done on earth as it in in heaven…

I Have a Dream

I have a dream…of living in a remote cabin all alone in some wintery wonderland, far away from the heaps of trash and mosquitos, far away from the extreme poverty of our neighbors, from situations that require more wisdom than I myself possess, far away from the sin and confusion of the world (except for my own, that is.)

That is precisely what I told our 15-year-old daughter a few days ago after a long and rather emotional discussion between myself, her, and our 12-year-old daughter. Tense, potentially stressful conversations like the one we had facilitated are a common occurrence in our household — nine people from two different countries and five different families of origin, one of which has special needs, another of which has severe insomnia and several of which have suffered extreme abuse and/or abandonment all between the ages of 6-32 living in a small house in a humid, rainy climate without air-conditioning or hot water that also shares its roof with mosquitos, scorpions, geckos, ticks, bats, rats and other visitors. All of which, including the spouses, 3-and-a-half years ago had never met, much less dreamed they would be living together someday as family.

After about an hour of mediating the aforementioned potentially explosive conversation between our two eldest daughters regarding respect, personal space, identity, etc, I sensed that our eldest and I needed to keep the conversation going a bit, so I dismissed 12-year-old Jackeline. I kept listening as Dayana, our eldest, opened up more and more about her general frustrations of being raised in a large, mixed family — younger siblings who enter her room without permission, confusion in the laundry pile of whose underwear is whose, younger sisters who want to wear her clothes, etc. Most of this is as foreign to me as the Spanish language was 6 years ago because I grew up an only child with both of my biological parents in the Texas suburbs, but, daily, God is stretching us all and teaching us His grace and compassion in the context of a complicated family that promises to test and try us.

After I had asked several times, “Is there anything else?”, and she wound down, having shared all she had to share, I sensed it was my turn. (My turn always comes last!)

What I did not say was: “Now, now, calm down. You know you love your siblings. Just be patient with them.” or “Why on earth are you so selfish? Can’t you see that we’re all doing the best we can?”

What I did say, by some pinch of divine wisdom, was: “It is hard. I know it is. You know what?” (At this point she’s staring at the table between us rather than looking me in the eyes.) “I would love to live alone just like you.” (Now she suddenly looks up at me, probably thinking, Then why on earth did you invite all these kids to live with you?!) My voice quickens with excitement as I beginning sharing with her my ‘dream’ of living in some simple, comfortable cabin up in the mountains in a place like Montana or Southern Canada, earning a living with some kind of job that I could do on the computer right there in my little cabin, drinking hot tea and not having a single child or teenager around to bother me, lie to me, steal from me, or make things more complicated than they need to be. I would not even have to think about child prostitution or generational bondage to sin or foolish, uneducated youth. I would not have to see lives unnecessarily destroyed by sin while my heart gets broken in the mix. Everything would be calm, and everything would be under control. My control.

While I am sharing all of this, Dayana is visibly caught off guard by my sincerity and my genuine excitement as I continue telling her all about my far-off dream. (And it is, in fact, some far-off little dream that I have, and the temptation of entertaining it comes on my longest days, when our second-grader’s teacher sends a note home saying he is using four-letter words on his classmates or our preteens start biting each other during prayer or members of our own household are heard slandering my husband and I.)

As if her eyes were windows to her mind, I read her thoughts: “Great! That sounds like what I want, too — no noisy children, more personal space. Let’s go cabin-shopping! We’ll find one for you up on a little mountaintop, and on a neighboring mountaintop that’s a good day’s-hike away, we’ll build one for me. What are we waiting for?!”

As if reminding myself once more why that dream is not a reality, I said: “But you know what? If I were to live like that, I would be useless to God’s purposes. If I isolate myself and live comfortably, fine. But where are you? Who’s raising you? Who is guiding Josselyn? Josue? If I close myself off and live according to how I want to live, I become useless in God’s hands. Your Dad and I share our home with all 7 of you not because it is the most comfortable thing to do or because we just enjoy having disobedient children around, but because the Lord is using us in your lives for His glory.” She gets it. She’s listening. “Living in our home is not about living for our own pleasure and comfort. If I live all alone in my perfect little cabin, I could very easily believe Everything’s fine in the world. I’m a really patient, composed person. I don’t even need a Savior. But it’s when Gleny has pushed my buttons one too many times and I’m at the end of myself and I have to cry out to God ‘Grant me patience because I don’t have any more!’ that God’s power manifests itself. When I’ve given all that I have to give and then am asked to give more, that’s when we see God’s provision. It is easy to think you are a grace-filled person when you aren’t required to show grace to annoying, perhaps disrespecting younger siblings. But when you reach the end of yourself, that’s when you turn to God and see His aid, His power. If I were to live all by myself, I would miss all of this, and God would have to find someone else to do His work.”

In the end, it’s not about my dreams; it’s about His.

Life and Ministry Updates: October 2015

Dayana’s Quinceanera (15th Birthday)

The eldest of the 7 children the Lord has placed in our home, Dayana, turned 15 this month, which is a big milestone for young women in Latin American culture. We worked hard during several weeks leading up to the event on invitations, preparations, etc, and the actual event was a joyous occasion with about 60 people in attendance – several who travelled over an hour to attend – who have formed part of her extended family in these past several years.  We are so proud of her — please continue to pray with us for her continued wisdom, protection and joy as she draws nearer to adulthood each day. May she be a beacon of light in the midst of this dark world, and may she be useful in the Lord’s hands for His work.

Darwin and Dayana making the big appearance on the day of her quinceañera (fifteenth birthday)


The table my mom and I prepared for the party, displaying photos of Dayana in the last two years that she has been with us along with three of her paintings


Lighting the birthday cake that Jenae made for her


Jackeline Turns 12, We Face Big Decisions With Her

Jackeline, who moved into our home in January of this year with her younger special needs brother Josue, also had a birthday this month and is now 12 years old. We are currently in a period of discernment regarding the crucial decision of whether she will stay with us long-term as our daughter, growing up in our household until she is an adult and maintaining the parent-child bond with us afterward or if she can/should return to live with her biological family, most likely her grandmother. The other children under our care do not have this decision to make because their biological family members are not in the picture, but Jackeline has both her biological mother (who is extremely manipulative and possibly mentally ill and does not currently have a stable job) and grandmother (who is a wonderful Christian woman but does not have much in terms of economic means) who visit her once a month. When Jackeline and Josue initially moved in with us roughly 8 months ago, the mother said she would only need us to care for them for 3-4 months until she got back on her feet, but recently she told us she is only truly interested in taking Josue back, although even that is uncertain because her emotional and economic state are not stable enough to do so. Jackeline’s attitude during these past several months has mirrored that of a roller coaster, and on many occasions she has refused to do her school work, has disrespected both her teacher and our nurse/cook Miss Martha, and has had an I-don’t-care approach to many things between moments of light, joy and revelation. After entering into a very serious period of discernment with her several weeks ago and praying alongside of her every night about her future, about a week ago she announced that after many weeks of private prayer the Lord granted her peace about staying with us rather than return with her family. Darwin and I continue praying and are waiting on a word from the Lord before making any decisions. Please continue to pray with us regarding these decisions about her future and that the Lord’s will for her life be made known to us, her, and her biological family so that it may be fulfilled in the right timing. Please pray against stress, confusion, and attacks from the Enemy in this time.

Jackeline all dolled up for Dayana’s birthday party


Our kids love to play chess!


Josselyn (10) Accepts the Lord

Josselyn, who moved into our home with her younger sister Gabriela less than three months ago, recently made the decision to accept Christ during a Bible study in our dining room in the presence of about 30 neighbors, friends, and family. Several of us prayed with her, and immediately afterward she came to me with several confessions, bringing to light what she had previously hid under lies, and desiring to ask forgiveness from her biological mom, who, according to Josselyn, she had mistreated and robbed when she used to live with her. In this short time after her conversion we have rejoiced with her as we see visible changes in her behavior and habits. The morning after receiving the Lord, she took the initiative to go behind our home to kneel in God’s presence, pray, and sing His praises. Please pray for her continued walk with the Lord, her daily protection from the Enemy, and her overall development and joy. She is currently in our homeschool program on the kindergarten level and is eagerly learning the alphabet and the sounds of the letters for the first time in her life. She has interestingly learned to play chess before learning to read!

Josselyn (in pink) posing for photos with Jackeline (12) and Dayana (15) during my mom’s recent visit


Josselyn enjoying her stuffed animals and dolls!


Updates on My Health

Since the inception of this blog I have asked for prayer regarding my health, as I have struggled with severe insomnia for several years now and typically sleep only 2-5 nights per week in addition to having had Dengue Fever, Typhoid Fever, and several other blood infections, fevers, etc since moving to Honduras. I praise God for my currently good health (I do not currently have any fevers or viruses), although I still only sleep a few nights per week at best. Please continue to pray that the Lord would grant me a deep rest every night, and that in a very practical way I can lay all my burdens on Him.

Working on homework with our kids in our dining room. Many times I feel like I myself am back in school with all the time we spend doing homework each week!


Darwin and I are nearing 2-and-a-half years of marriage!

Gabriela (6) Begins Attending the Same School as Josue (7)

Gabriela, who entered our home in July of this year with her older sister Josselyn after having suffered severe abuse, has entered the same small, focused school that Josue attends, and now both are in classes together every morning five days a week. Together with two other classmates and two teachers/psychologists to guide them, they are learning basic manners, the colors, and other basic pre-school behaviors to prepare them eventually for a normal school. Josue still does not talk more than the few basic syllables he has always used and still has to use diapers, but we do have hope that Gabriela will be able to fully recover from the trauma of her past and become a fully-participating member of society one day. Please pray with us for her salvation and transformation, as the other day we received a note from her teacher saying she had kicked the teacher, lied, eaten the other kids’ food, and announced that she would not obey anybody. That was not a good day!

Our dear sister Miss Martha (who fills the roles of nurse/cook at the Living Waters Ranch) with Gabriela (6) and Josue (7) in our front yard


Darwin and I with our two smallest wild Indians, Josue and Gabriela


Gabriela and Josue, best friends and playmates



Lookin’ good, Gabriela! Playing dress-up and putting on a show for my mom during her visit

Not Just Any Piñata…

This past week we celebrated the 12th birthday of Jackeline, the young woman who has been living with us as a daughter since January of this year. A couple dozen friends and neighbors were in attendance for the party along with Jackeline’s biological grandmother who came out to support her.

There was, however, a twist to the traditional hit-the-piñata birthday game: rather than holding candy, the piñata held hygiene products. So adults and children alike dove for deodorants, bath loofas, bars of soap, hair gel, and little packets of shampoo. Rather than give these kids candy, which rots their teeth, we’ll go ahead and give ‘em a toothbrush and some paste to go along with it!

It was a big hit, and, seeing as I’ve already pulled this fill-the-piñata-with-something-other-than-candy trick three times now, the neighborhood kids eyed the piñata at the beginning of the festivities and asked, “Jennifer, what’s in the piñata?” Although sanitary pads, hairbands and notebooks might have fallen out of my 25th birthday piñata in August, you never know just what you’ll find if you come to our house for a birthday celebration…

Jackeline covered in flour as her biological grandmother looks on joyfully. This has nothing to do with the piñata, but rather is the product of the party guests’ after-lunch prank on the birthday girl…




Dayana, our 15-year-old daughter, who was the mastermind behind the flour prank on Jackeline…


Our 11-year-old neighbor Yexon during the birthday madness


Jackeline surrounded by several youth from our rural neighborhood who frequent our home for Bible study, choir, school, and other activities


Jackeline with her biological grandmother


My mom travelled from Texas to stay in our home this week, and she helped get the birthday girl ready for the party


Piñata time in the foothills of the mountains


Josue, Jackeline’s special-needs brother, was the first to take a whack at the piñata


Alberto and Isis, siblings, who both labor alongside of us at the Living Waters Ranch, Alberto as the kids’ driver and tutor and Isis as our homeschool teacher


My husband Darwin preparing the blindfold on a young neighbor of ours




Miss Martha, our nurse and cook, watching the festivities with her granddaughter Isabela in her arms


Our 10-year-old daughter Josselyn’s turn!


Carminda, the neighbor of ours who now lives on our property with her husband and children, looking on.


Our 6-year-old popcorn kernel Gabriela and I watch on


Jackeline’s grandma takes her turn! Go, Grandma, go!



Watch out! I’m swinging hard!



Alberto grabbed the remains of the piñata and began running — everyone wanted the soaps and toothbrushes that hadn’t yet fallen out!


Catch him!


Even the adults were chasing him!


“Cool! I got two jars of hair gel!”


Carminda, our neighbor, inspecting the hygiene products her kids grabbed from the piñata. Score!


Liliana, a young friend of ours, got deodorant, several packets of shampoo, and some hair gel! So much better than candy!