Students Enrolled in Discipleship-Based Secondary School
After beginning with 40+ candidates for our new 7th-grade section of secondary school that we will begin teaching five days a week at the Living Waters Ranch, we now have 15 students ages 11-17 from our rural neighborhood along with our eldest daughter who have fulfilled all the enrollment requirements, attended the mandatory meetings with their parent(s), brought all their documents, signed the student contract, etc.
About half of the students already have a relationship with us through their participation in choir, Bible study, agriculture, etc, and the other half are completely new to us as they simply responded to our announcement in the local schools or heard about the program through a neighbor.
The parents of the students who have officially enrolled are thrilled at our rather simple, God-fearing program (which includes several weekly Bible studies, musical involvement, a family-like atmosphere, and very clear, Biblical norms), because the educational experience that many have had in the public institutions has been that of classrooms with 45+ students per teacher, students with 25+ absences who still ‘pass’ their grade, used condoms littering the playground, sixth grade classrooms in which a great percentage of the kids still don’t know how to read, zero art or music classes, absentee or uncommitted teachers, etc.
Please pray for us, the 7th-grade teacher (Miss Ligia), the students and their families during this time of newness, continued decision-making, etc, as we finish preparations of the new classroom, continue designing the extracurricular activities and training the teacher (who has never taught before because she is a lawyer), put into practice school norms, etc. Pray that each activity, effort, conversation, etc, may be centered on God’s will and pleasing to Him. May Christ continually be made known in and through us to the students, parents, and among those of us who are laboring at the Ranch.
All the teens will be arriving at our front gate in their uniforms for their first day of school on Wednesday, February 3rd!
Jackeline (12) and Gabriela (7) Accepted into New School
This past month has been filled with many surprises, one of which is that after an entrance exam/evaluation, both Jackeline (our 12-year-old daughter who just celebrated one year of living in our family along with her 7-year-old special needs brother) and Gabriela (our 7-year-old popcorn kernel who’s been buzzing around our home for six months now along with her 11-year-old sister) were accepted into the same private Christian elementary school that Jason (8) and Gleny (11) were in last year and will be entering again this upcoming week to start a new school year.
So, four of our seven kids will all be in the same school, which we are thrilled about. Jackeline and Gleny will be classmates in the school’s only fifth grade class with roughly 12-14 students, and Jason will be in third grade and Gabriela in first. It was a long shot for the school to accept Jackeline (and an even longer shot for them to accept Gabriela, who is behind developmentally due to severe abuse), so I gave a big hug to the school’s director when she gave me the good news! We earnestly give thanks to God for this wonderful opportunity for both of them to be in a truly loving, disciplined school environment everyday where they can learn and grow alongside of peers their age, seeing as the elementary school we have at the Living Waters Ranch is geared toward literacy in older students and, although it could work for them, may not be the most effective option.
Everything seems a bit hectic (in a good sense) as we are in the process of buying school uniforms, PE uniforms, sizing up school shoes, making several trips to local office supply stores for notebooks, compasses, rulers, etc, meeting teachers and school directors, and organizing transportation for each child. Everyone (including Josue, who will be returning to his special needs school in the nearby city of La Ceiba and Dayana and Josselyn, who will continue their education at the Living Waters Ranch) will be entering school on Wednesday, February 3!
Please pray for Jackeline and Gabriela’s adjustment to a new school environment, and that their behavior and attitudes would be honoring to God. Pray for their overall self-discipline and effort, that they would take this opportunity as the blessing that it is and use it to grow further into the Lord’s will for their life.
Community Lunch and Bible Study to be Held Twice Weekly
In September 2015, we began holding a once-weekly community lunch and Bible study in our dining room, and we’ve seen much fruit from this initiative to share God’s Word with our neighbors. After receiving confirmation from several people that we should begin holding it twice a week, we have decided to begin doing so on February 3rd along with the commencement of a new year of primary and secondary school, choir activities, etc.
We have several elderly neighbors who attend along with some middle-aged married couples and several children and youth from our neighborhood, plus all of the primary and secondary students who will participate as part of their school curriculum. We are excited and honored to be able to share God’s Word with our neighbors who attend because the majority of which don’t attend church or hear the Word of God in any other place. Please pray that the Lord would continue to provide inspiration and guide the discussions/teachings that we prepare, and that those who participate would truly be persuaded toward the Truth.
Child/Youth Leadership Program and Basketball Team in Local School
This past month I returned to my part-time assignment in La Ceiba’s Episcopal School to continue training/guiding the children and youth there in God’s Word.
I have renamed the “Gifted and Talented Program” in two different sections: “Child Leadership” (4th-5th grade) and “Youth Leadership” (6th-7th grade), both of which meet weekly and are targeted at raising up leaders in the next generation who are founded on Christ. I have had basically the same group of students for three years now, so I am very excited and honored to see the work the Lord will continue to etch out among us. In addition, I am continuing to coach the (now co-ed) basketball team at the same school for the fourth year in a row, with students ages 8-15. Our eldest daughter (Dayana, age 15 in 7th grade) participates weekly in the Youth Leadership program, and five of our kids (Dayana, Gleny, Jason, Jackeline and Josselyn) participate in the co-ed basketball team.
Blossoming Relationship with Isis, our Primary Education Teacher
Our relationship with Miss Isis, our 22-year-old Honduran teacher who runs the elementary-section of our government-registered school program at the Living Waters Ranch (1st-6th grade for older students who are behind academically), has truly been one of the biggest surprises of these past six months.
She began working alongside of us in August as a temporary help when our sister Jenae Matikke felt called to move to the nearby city of La Ceiba, and it quickly became apparent that the Lord had great plans to accomplish both in and through her at the Living Waters Ranch. She worked three days per week the last five months of 2015, and for the duration of 2016 she has a contract to labor five days per week in teaching, discipleship, and general care-giving.
On Wednesday, February 3rd she will receive her 12 students (one of which is our daughter, Josselyn, and the other 11 of which are neighbors from our rural neighborhood ages 8-20) for their first day of classes after having spent the entire month of January in preparation, planning, design of her new classroom, meetings/interviews with potential students, etc.
The Lord has also guided her to design and begin leading a new weekly Bible study geared at small children, which is different from the other twice-weekly Bible study we will be teaching for older participants. This will also start on February 3. Let us give thanks for her life and for her willingness to serve the Lord’s purposes!