Category Archives: Community Life

Prayer Support

If you are a person who has placed their faith in Jesus Christ, we ask that you come alongside of us during this season in prayer for the following needs. There are others that I would like to include in subsequent posts, but for now I will include only the most urgent ones.

  • We are currently in a legal battle over the 17-acre property where we live at the Living Waters Ranch. The property is fully paid for and was bought with the full intent of it being used for the purpose it is currently fulfilling, but at the time it was purchased several years ago it was bought under the name of another non-profit organization. As we are currently trying to pass the legal title from that organization to ours, they are pulling out all the stops not to pass the title, and there is suspected foul play involved. Please pray for the physical protection of this mission, and that the hearts of those involved in making the decisions may be attuned to the Lord’s call for justice. We know that ultimately Christ has already won the victory, so we place our faith in the fact that God cares for the widows and orphans and will not leave us without a home for the children under our care.
  • We are facing several thousand dollars in upcoming legal fees and fines because the Living Waters Ranch is behind on filing its taxes for 2011, 2012, and 2013. Teresa Devlin, the elderly missionary who was at the helm during 2011 and half of 2012 got behind due to extremely ill health (later passing away in October 2012), and when I arrived in Honduras as a single woman in June 2012 no one taught me the ropes of the Honduran legal system nor advised me that there were certain taxes that needed to be filed in the capital city each year. I did not even find out about these taxes until a few months ago, and now we are facing large government fines plus the overtime salary of our accountant who has been helping to get everything organized and ready to be sent. Please pray that all goes well when we travel to the capital city of Tegucigalpa to submit the forms in the upcoming weeks, because Darwin already traveled over seven hours by bus last month and tried to submit everything, but the government office would not accept any of our paperwork because they said the format needed to be changed along with our board of directors (which is a whole other long and exhausting process that we are currently waist-deep in and that needs to be resolved legally before we can even return to the capital and try to re-submit the tax paperwork). If we do not get everything in by the end of September the government will release a national publication saying that we are no longer allowed to be in operation, meaning that our children would be taken away. Please pray for efficiency and mercy for the government officials involved, and peace over our home during these very uncertain times.
  • I have been struggling with intense insomnia for over a year, and although I have improved drastically after having gone to a naturalist doctor weekly for treatments (IV fluids, acupuncture, massage, injections, medications, and other therapies) since March, I am still very weak physically and get fatigued in the daily work we do, spending many nights still struggling to get decent sleep. At my weakest point for about nine months I was spending between five and six nights per week awake the entire night. Due to such poor health I have had to quit my part-time teaching and coaching job, drop out of a private Spanish class, spend much more time resting than I would like, and stop working out (which I previously did about 2-3 hours per day). Physically (and therefore also emotionally) this has been the most difficult year and a half of my life, and I ask that you would pray that the Lord would provide me with healing and that He would reveal the roots – emotional, physical, or spiritual – to this issue. Please also pray for financial provision as we have spent a large portion of our personal savings and income on the ongoing medical visits and treatments for this problem.
  • Our children have received many generational curses they have inherited from their biological families, which we face daily in parenting them. Among the many struggles, there is lying, stealing, inappropriate sexual behavior, abnormal fears, personal uncleanliness, hatred, and sloth. Through many hours spent in prayer – individually and with the children – and the help of our Christian psychologist, many victories have already been won, but many remain on the forefront. Please pray that the Lord would strengthen us spiritually so that we may discern what is required to fight these generational curses, and that He may grant us abundant patience and love to always remember that we are not fighting against the children (or even their biological parents), but against unseen powers and principalities.
  • There are many changes on the horizon of Honduras’ national child protection agency, which our children are under and with whom we work closely with. There are many rumors going around about possible negative changes, government corruption, and other children’s homes being shut down unexpectedly due to nuances in their paperwork and files. Please pray for justice within the government entity as far as it is possible, and peace, strength, and an eternal gaze for those of us who care for Honduras’ orphaned and abandoned children and are facing many changes that might affect us drastically.

Please understand these photos as a flash of brilliant hope in the midst of very turbulent times. This is the renewed hope that we have in our Savior each and every day, whether we live in poverty or in abundance, whether we are hungry or well-fed. Let us rejoice in His goodness!

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It Is Well With My Soul

July 27, 2014: Our family hosted its first music recital on our front porch in front of dozens of neighbors, close friends, and members of our Christian discipleship group. Jason (7), Gleny (9), and Brayan (14) debuted in their first public music performance after having practiced with their director (and dad) for roughly six months. For Diana (13) it was her second public recital, and she gracefully played recorder and three pieces on the piano. All nine of us who live and serve at the Living Waters Ranch participated in the finale — three songs sung by our choir (When There is Sorrow, It Is Well With My Soul, and Peace and Liberty). It was a joyous celebration of God´s graceful and mighty hand among us, and we sense that He is calling our family to host similar public recitals at local medical clinics in the months to come as we witness to  the redemption, unity, and hope that we have in Christ Jesus.

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Joy for the Journey

This month we had a big celebration in our home to commemorate several important anniversaries. Jenae hit her six-month mark of living and serving with us at the Ranch and Erick celebrated his four-month.  Among the children, we rejoiced with Brayan for having reached his two-month anniversary since the day he first joined our family, and Diana, Gleny and Jason their five-month. We danced, praised God and gave Him thanks for bringing each of us from a very distinct familial, cultural, and national background together for a specific purpose in His kingdom. My dad was also visiting us at the time, so we took the opportunity to celebrate his presence among us and his one-year anniversary since his first visit to Honduras.

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Who’s Who at the Ranch

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Jenae Tiki Matikke, our beloved “Tia Tiki” (“Aunt Tiki” in Spanish), age 26, is about to celebrate her six-month anniversary living and working at the Ranch. Part of her family lives in Tennessee and the other part in Cameroon, West Africa. She and I met while studying abroad in Argentina in 2011, and during our time at the same Argentinean university we formed a strong friendship and stayed in touch after returning home to the States. She has degrees in Social Work and Spanish, and she is our beloved sister in Christ, dynamic homeschooling teacher, Bible study leader, and wonderful influence in both the children’s and our lives. God has placed it on her heart to start abstinence education classes in the surrounding rural community in the coming months in response to the high levels of sexual promiscuity and unwed teenage mothers. She is hilarious, very artistic, and has an extremely profound walk with Christ that is expressed in her humble submission to God’s will as she loves those around her. She is with us for an indefinite period of time as she continually seeks God’s will for her life.

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Erick Chavez, “Uncle Erick,” age 24, is a native Honduran and our honorable agriculturalist, Bible study leader, and godly influence in the children’s and our lives. He grew up in a Christian family and was discipled by our mutual mentors for several years before turning to worldly ways for a short season in his life. He has returned to the Christian faith with intense sincerity and has a profound testimony that he frequently shares with those around him. He is engaged to be married in May and is at the Ranch for an indefinite period of time as he continually seeks God’s guidance for him and his fiance.

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Diana, age 13, is our eldest daughter and has a very sweet yet strong spirit. She is wise beyond her years and is the spiritual leader among the children. She has a mothering spirit and a passion to learn music. She is currently studying piano, voice, music theory and music history in La Ceiba’s Music Conservatory that my husband directs, and in our homeschooling program she is learning to play the recorder along with the other children. She has a servant’s heart and is incredibly resilient considering the story that she holds at the young age of 13 years. She has mentioned wanting to be a math teacher or raise orphans as an adult, but she continues to seek the Lord’s will for her life. She and her sister Gleny participate weekly on a local girls’ basketball team that I coach.

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Gleny, age 9, whom I affectionately call “My Wild Gleny,” in, indeed, just that. She is very different from her older sister and has an incredible strength and spark that we continually pray will be used for God’s glory. She has grown in her self-confidence, trust in God, and adventurous spirit in these last few months, and she brings great joy to those around her. She oftentimes struggles with strong emotions, and in these last couple months she has begun to read the Bible on her own and says that each night she asks God for her life’s purpose. I recently asked her if she has any dreams for her future, and after thinking briefly she answered, “I want to go to the university. I want to keep taking painting classes and eventually teach others how to paint…and teach people how to read.”

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Jason, age 6, the biological brother to both Diana and Gleny, has grown incredibly in these months since the three of them moved in on November 1, 2013. He has given his life to Christ, and with that faith and confidence that he now has in God he has overcome many fears that used to immobilize and haunt him. He is our little man in training, and each Friday afternoon he, along with Brayan, has “Man Time” with Uncle Erick, who teaches them what it means to be a man of God. Jason loves to dance, is very artistic, and extremely affectionate. He loves animals and has a heart for the underdog.

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Brayan, age 13, is the newest member of our family at the Ranch. He is high-energy, very affectionate, and is learning what it means to be in a stable, loving family. He accepted Christ a short time after arriving, and is now learning to walk in the faith. He is very adventurous, fearless, and has helped Jason a lot in his growth as a young man.

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If you want to learn more about Darwin and me, you can visit the “Who We Are” page at the top of this blog.

It All Started With a Cup of Water

Instead of going to work today, my husband and I received a new 13-year-old son. That is certainly a sentence I’ve never written before.

That is what I wrote on a slip of paper in one of my disorganized notebooks the evening of Friday, February 7, 2014.

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It all started with a cup of water about a month ago.

This is a story of how God works miraculously – and sometimes rather quickly – if we are willing to submit to His plan and crumple up and throw away whatever plan we ourselves had sketched out so neatly.

He – Brayan, that is, the newest member of our family – arrived on our 17-acre property several weeks ago as one of the young cow-herders who bring the local cow herd to our fields a couple times per week to graze. The first time I saw him he was resting on Erick’s porch with his young companion as they monitored the cows walking and grazing in their midst.

As I saw the two young boys from a distance, I remembered Jesus’ words that we are to give to those in need, and that if we give even a cup of water to a thirsty person in His name, we will be blessed.

Without thinking about the ramifications – Oh, God does have His plan, and oftentimes our first little step leads us much farther than we ever intended to go! – I went to our kitchen and filled up two plastic cups of water for the boys, walked across the property to where they were sitting idly, greeted them, dropped off the water, asked their names, left, and didn’t think much more about the incident.

A couple nights later at dinner Jenae announced, “You remember Brayan, one of the young cowherders?” And I thought, Yes, I think he was one of the ones I gave water to the other day…And she continued, “Well, I was talking with him and it looks like he wants to enter our homeschooling program.” I felt like a train hit me, and my immediate thought was No. I then wondered rather indignantly why she felt the liberty to invite him into our school program that we were supposedly planning explicitly for our three children, and I began searching my mind for several reasons why her proposition was absurd.

After a short time – a couple days perhaps, I don’t remember exactly – the Lord changed my heart and we decided to try to find the eager young Brayan, who hadn’t been in school for some time, to at least talk with him and probe his reasons for wanting to be in our school. Darwin and I ran into him along the long dirt road that leads from our home to the highway several mornings the followig week, and we talked with him about the possibility of becoming a student in our homeschooling program. We felt confirmation and peace from God, so the next step was to call his step-mother with whom he lived to get her permission, talk about requirements, and get copies of his birth certificate and prior school registration.

By chance we acquired her phone number from one of her young sons who was roaming along the dirt path one evening as Darwin and I were returning home, and, once home, I called her. She answered, and I introduced myself, telling her how her step-son was interested in becoming a student in our homeschool program –

“It’s better that he just live with you,” was her response.

Another train, and I felt like all the blood in my veins left my body. Quickly, feeling like I was doing a solo tap-dance routine in front of a large audience without knowing the choreography, I began to explain to her that, no, that was not an option – right?—but that we could offer him a spot in our school. She repeated the fact that she would prefer that he live with us, telling me that his biological mother left him at the age of two months and that his father died this year, leaving her, his step-mom, with him and her three other young children while she works long hours and struggles to feed her family.

I told her that we would be in touch regarding his schooling, trying to politely ignore her comment about him living with us, and then we ended the conversation.

That night I did not sleep as Jesus’ words resonated in my mind, knocking on the door of my heart: I oftentimes come in disguise – as a street person, as an orphan, as the lowliest of the low – and if you open the door, if you love these outcasts, you are actually loving Me. And if you reject them, you are rejecting Me.

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It is a biblical passage I had studied so many times, and even that week had explained in-depth and with great enthusiasm to my students, basketball players, and my own children the weighty meaning of that passage in chapter 25 of Matthew’s gospel – if we visit the prisoners and the sick, if we give food to those who are hungry, if we do any act of love in the name of Christ to those on the margins of society, we are actually loving Christ himself, and at the end of the world He will separate all people into two groups: those who ignored the lowliest, and those who reached out to them in love and Truth.

I tossed and turned, trying desperately to find a reason to close our door – our hearts  – to Brayan – afterall, we weren’t planning on receiving more children for about a year, and especially not a 13-year-old boy, and not with my ongoing insomnia and our new marriage…but God’s whisper was calling me — us — to faithful obedience.

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The next day I talked with Darwin, Jenae, and Erick about this, and although it was not a plan that birthed from any of our own personal plans, we all agreed that God had placed Brayan – someone that literally no one else wanted, that no one else was guiding into Christ’s liberating Truth – in our path, and that accepting him into our family would be more than an act of charity or even a risky move; it would be a step of faith born out of obedience.

So the next day, we almost frantically jumped through all the necessary hoops to have him officially form part of the Ranch family, and that night he slept under our roof for the first time. The story continues, but this is its beautiful beginning…

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Our Purpose in Parenting: Raising Up a Fierce Yet Compassionate Generation

My dad has asked me twice what our purpose is in raising other people’s kids, why we do it, what we ultimately hope for these kids. Maybe you are wondering the same thing. Do we do it out of some sense of charity that makes us feel warm inside? Do we hope to discover a child genious in the crowd of abandoned children? Or are we merely trying to call attention to ourselves and be ‘good people’?

Each time my dad has asked me our purpose in parenting, my response has been the same: “Dad, our goal is that these kids — who will become teenagers, then adults, then will have families of their own — know Christ and have a burning desire for the things of His heart. You can follow Christ as a doctor, as a poor rural farmer, as a teacher, stay-at-home mom, overseas missionary — you name it. We will educate the children as best we can to give them a good academic foundation, but ultimately we aren’t hoping to form them into average middle-class citizens with good salaries and material comforts. We want them to be attune to God’s call and follow Him, which is different for each person.”

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From extensive reading I have done about children’s homes and even some foster families, I know that some are sort of like ‘holding areas’ — stagnant institutions without much growth opportunity or Truth, and the minute a child reaches the age of 18 they are sent out into the world, oftentimes without any real skills or passion. This is why so many of the girls who grow up in such institutions turn to prostitution and the boys end up as beggars and drunks.

Our purpose, contrary to being some kind of charity organization for the less fortunate, is to raise up a fierce yet compassionate generation of Christ-centered servants, people who seek first the Kingdom of God and whose faith is expressed in works of love. We love the children and have this extraoridinary hope for them because we ourselves have experienced the love and forgiveness of God and have the privilege of participating in His eternal purpose. Nothing less.

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Why?

Please read the “Who We Are” section of this blog to understand more about our purpose in recording our family’s story in this way. It is our hope and prayer that this blog may prove to be a source of encouragement, challenge, Truth, and joy to those who read it. Please pray for Darwin, me, our children, and community members Jenae and Erick as we all seek to walk together in Truth and Grace. Or rather pray that we may dance upon injustice, proclaiming God’s undeserved mercy to a world full of lies, greed, complacency, and wars.

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Thank you for your support, and we ask for your sincere prayers as God guides us on this journey that we have only just begun.