[This is the same list that was published in our January 2016 printed newsletter.]
In similar fashion to the list made roughly a year ago as I looked back over the year 2014, I recently sat down to scribble what I could remember about the year 2015, taking time to give thanks for everything from anniversaries to unforeseen struggles, from growth to sickness, from new initiatives to new sons and daughters, and all that lies in between. Below is our little list that summarizes our walk with the Lord during this past calendar year.
- We celebrated our 2-year anniversary with Dayana (15), Gleny (11) and Jason (8), biological siblings who were the first of seven to begin moving into our home roughly four months after Darwin and I were married in 2013.
2. In January Darwin, the three aforementioned siblings, and I traveled to the southern extremity of Honduras (roughly 9+ hours away) on a water project to share the good news of Christ alongside of our faith community for a week in a rural town, fulfilling a goal of ours to serve as a family in a short-term mission.
- I returned for another water project/faith mission in November to continue visiting homes and sharing the good news of Christ in a different southern village.
- Jackeline (age 11) and her special-needs brother Josue (age 6) moved into our home in January for what was supposed to be 3-4 months, but due to their biological mother’s instability are still with us almost a year later and, amidst many trials, are thriving.
- Darwin’s neighborhood youth choir grew and stabilized, averaging between 20-25 youth in its first full calendar year of existence, four of which have come to accept the Lord through their relationship with us. The choir held three public music concerts in our home/mission (the Living Waters Ranch) for our neighbors in addition to having travelled to a local mall, school and nursing home to give free concerts.
- In September we began hosting a weekly community lunch and Bible study in our dining room, receiving 30-35 people each Wednesday ages 5-70+, including several married couples. We will begin holding this Bible study two days a week instead of one beginning in January 2016 due to the fruit we’ve seen in this effort to proclaim the Truth.
- Josselyn (age 10) and her younger sister Gabriela (age 6) moved into our home in July after having been rescued out of two distinct situations of sexual abuse, and both have adapted exceptionally well to the rhythms of family life.
- Jackeline (now 12) and Josselyn (10) came to profess faith in Jesus Christ.
- Josselyn entered homeschool in August on the kindergarten level (due to the fact that her biological family had never put her in school) and went from not knowing her ABCs to being able to read and write coherently on a basic level in 5 months.
- The eldest of the children the Lord has placed in our home to love and guide as sons and daughters, Dayana, turned 15 years old and graduated 6th grade, finishing her ‘elementary’ studies and transitioning into Honduran high school (7th grade), which is a big step that many Hondurans do not reach.
- Gleny (age 11) and Jason (age 8), Dayana’s two younger biological siblings, entered a private Christian elementary school for the first time after having been homeschooled during their first year with us, and both passed their grade with an average of 78% after many, many trials. They will be entering 5th and 3rd grade, respectively, in February 2016.
- We received 10 illiterate youth from our rural neighborhood into our 3-day-per-week school program, and we finished the year with 3 of them still standing after the other 7 dropped out due to extreme irresponsibility and bad choices.
- On a chance encounter in a local high school, we met Miss Martha, a middle-aged Honduran Christian who since June has been laboring alongside of us 5 days per week as our nurse, cook, and general caretaker of the littlest kids.
- Miss Martha’s daughter, Isis, who is in her early twenties, began laboring alongside of us three days per week in August as our elementary school teacher, and our relationship with her has blossomed such that she has begun to work with us five days per week as of January 2016.
- We received two married couples from the States in our home for a week to share testimonies and support the Lord’s work among us.
- Our eldest daughter, Dayana, began teaching music lessons with Darwin in a local high school one day per week and directing the beginner-level recorder class at the Living Waters Ranch for a small group of young neighbors.
- We hired part-time help with cleaning and maintenance due to necessity.
- We have lost contact with Brayan (the young man who lived in our home for 8 months in 2014 and who continued to be like a son to us after having moved out) since August. [After writing this list in early January he actually came to visit us unexpectedly and is doing very well.]
- We have continued weekly participation in our faith community’s Discipleship Group every Sunday, and the 7 kids/youth the Lord has placed in our family have been present and participated each time we go.
- Darwin and I celebrated two years of marriage in June.
- After almost three years of being processed by lawyers and government officials, more steps were taken toward the (hopefully close) reality of receiving my Honduran residency status.
- Currently several years into my battle with insomnia, sleeping on average 2-4 nights per week, all treatments (including weekly acupuncture, IVs, injections, and prescription and natural sleeping aids) were discontinued in June. No change – whether positive or negative – has been noted since then, seeing as I still spend the majority of nights wide awake, which leads to exhaustion, irritability, migraines and physical weakness almost every day.
- Our eldest daughter, Dayana, began taking violin lessons, and continues in piano, recorder, and voice.
- Our two young cows gave birth to healthy calves, one male and one female, and Darwin milked both mommas every morning so that we didn’t have to buy milk and certain cheese products at the grocery store. We have also been able to bless several neighbors and our faith community with raw, organic milk on many occasions.
- A relationship was established with a local supermarket to receive surplus goods for free 1-4 times per month, depending on availability.
- I had extended bouts with Dengue Fever, two strains of Typhoid Fever, several undiagnosed tropical fevers, two ear infections, and strep throat.
- Many, many (many) mistakes were made and learned from.
28. I celebrated three years of living in Honduras in June.
- I travelled to the States in June for the first time in two-and-a-half years to visit with many individuals and churches to share the testimony of the Lord’s work in and through us.
- A local family moved to a small house on our property in September in order for their four school-aged children to attend our school. The father works as the night-watchman, and the mother is involved in our weekly Bible study and helps out as a volunteer in our kitchen.
- Another year was joyfully spent without air-conditioning, hot water, television, a washing machine, dishwasher or internet in our home.
- Many parenting books were read and put into practice, at times with surprising efficacy and at others with quite a few stumbles along the way.
- I held a Biblically-based sex education class for 16 women in our rural community ages 10-32, two of which are single moms.
- The vision was received and concrete steps taken to add a ‘secondary’ section onto our ‘elementary’ school in the Living Waters Ranch’s education building. Announcements were made in two local elementary schools, candidates were interviewed, a meeting with the parents was held, and the 7th-grade teacher’s contract was written and signed. Orientations and classes will begin in February 2016.
- Four neighbors of ours (the children of the night watchman, ages 15, 14, 11 and 8) learned how to read, write and do basic math for the first time in their lives in our school program along with attending weekly Bible study, agriculture classes, and participating in Darwin’s choir and recorder lessons.
- Our two eldest daughters participated in weekly art classes the majority of the calendar year, culminating in a public art exposition in the nearby city of La Ceiba in December.
- Many limits and norms were created and put into practice among our family and our many neighbors who frequent the Living Waters Ranch for school, Bible study, work projects, play, counsel or prayer, choir and music lessons, etc, so as to achieve greater focus, efficiency and respect.
- Close to a dozen youth were employed each Monday morning (the majority of whom also participate in Darwin’s choir, Bible study, our school, etc) in supervised agricultural work projects.
- A leadership-focused class I teach for 4th-6th graders a the local Episcopal School was given weekly from January-May with an event for my students and their families held in our home/mission at the culmination of the school year.
40. Darwin turned 32 years old; I turned 25.
- Several messages were taught during the high-schoolers’ ‘church’ time in the local Episcopal School from January-May.
- We acquired a new lawyer, with whom we have advanced considerably in a rather sticky legal situation we are in with government taxes, reports, property declarations, etc, that have not been processed since before the passing of the Living Waters Ranch’s founder, Teresa Devlin, in 2012.
- Our office/storage room has been moved from the school building to the hospitality house and considerably organized in order to make room for the new 7th grade classroom.
- We took a trip to Tegucigalpa, the country’s capital and biggest metropolitan city with over a million inhabitants that lies 7+ hours from our home, with the three siblings (Dayana, Gleny and Jason) to visit the big national university, go to a zoo, explore a mountaintop, and celebrate our 2-year anniversary together as family.
- Josue (currently age 7) entered a special needs school in June and, even amidst many, many difficulties with transportation to get him to and from his school that lies 30+ minutes from our home, he attended classes from June until classes ended in late November, improving his overall conduct, sociability, and basic lifeskills.
- Many, many parent-teacher meetings were attended between Gabriela and Josue’s special needs school and Jason and Gleny’s Christian elementary school.
47. Gabriela entered into Josue’s same pre-school level class due to developmental delays that she incurred through severe abuse. She attended five days per week from September onward, quickly becoming the teacher’s ‘assistant.’ She’s learned the colors and has put into practice many common manners that she didn’t have before!
- Healthy relationships have been intentionally cultivated with several local families.
- Our three beloved guard dogs died in a tragic accident, and a few months later were replaced with a Rottweiler, German Shepherd mix, and a Hound mix.
- The last of our laying chickens and ducks were given away to neighbors after several devastating robberies, and our large chicken shed was converted into a stable for Darwin’s cows.
- The small vegetable gardens that Darwin and the local youth cultivate in agriculture classes gave small harvests of radishes and cucumbers after several difficulties, including bad soil or bad seeds, droughts, etc.
- Our dear sister Jenae Matikke moved out of our home/mission in August after having labored alongside of us almost two years. She has begun working alongside of a couple pastors in the nearby city of La Ceiba.
- Darwin, four of our seven children, and myself were granted the grace of fasting as a family in obedience to God towards the end of the calendar year.
- Monthly budgets, plans, and goals were written, altered, expanded, and re-written several times.
- Many, many conflicts, explosive situations, and emotional encounters among our 7 kids were confronted, prayed and talked through, and dealt with for God’s glory. I can honestly say that we are currently experiencing a season of peace in our household!
- 86 blog posts were written on our site www.HiddenTreasuresinHonduras.wordpress.com with the purpose of encouraging others with the proclamation of the Lord’s Truth in and through us.
- 34 blog posts were written on our Spanish blog site to encourage Spanish speakers in the same way.
- Our 7 kids have enjoyed thoroughly good health, save several bouts with lice, numerous fungus infections that are common in our tropical climate, and Gabriela’s broken collarbone.
- Our 8-year-old Jason discovered a passion for reading, which is extremely uncommon in this culture and especially for someone his age. Many of the teenage youth who frequent our home cannot even read a complete sentence, while Jason devours books on science, the Bible, and general kids’ literature in his free time.
- About halfway through the year Darwin began discipling a group of 4-8 teen and pre-teen boys every Wednesday morning, training them physically in activities like long-distance running, soccer, and swimming, along with reading God’s Word with them and discussing themes like sexual purity, God’s will for their lives, etc.
- I died my hair black in May, as did many light-haired women in our area, in response to a conflict between two rivalry gangs that led to the killing of some women with light-colored hair.
- The situation with our absentee trashman was finally fixed after roughly 2-3 months of not getting our trash picked up by anyone, and we now currently have a good relationship with another local man who comes to our home weekly to empty our big trash bin.
- Many, many hours were dedicated to the reading of God’s Word with our 7 children plus those from our local community.
64. Our 2001 Toyota Tacoma cab-and-a-half pickup truck survived its first full year with us after monthly visits to the ‘doctor’ (the mechanics), and transported many kids to and from school, art classes, music concerts, meetings, etc.