Category Archives: Girls’ Youth Basketball

Alone Before the Throne: My Last Day at the Episcopal School

A few weeks ago I taught my last youth leadership class in the Episcopal School, that old light-teal-colored three-story building in downtown La Ceiba where the Lord first began training me back in 2012 for the work He has currently entrusted us.

As the magnitude of the work at the Living Waters Ranch (where my husband and I live and labor 7 days a week) has grown over these past two and a half years, we have recently made the decision to withdraw from our part-time labors at the Episcopal School in order to focus entirely on our Father’s purposes in our little rural town on the outskirts of La Ceiba.

So I arrived about an hour before class on that final Monday with my black suitcase filled with dry erase markers, my students’ journals and little candy treats. In a very real way I was burdened with joy, with gratitude.

I asked one of the full-time teachers at the school to unlock the multi-purpose/storage room for me. I had been assigned that room during the last couple months once the air-conditioned upstairs library room had become highly coveted among the other teachers.

As he unlocked that utterly undesirable room at the end of the first-floor passageway, I sighed as I found my classroom as I had found it every Monday prior: desks in total disarray, someone else’s trash littering the ground, boxes of this-and-that thrown about in the back, supplies from some other teacher’s project left haphazardly about, a couple rouge foosball tables here and there to add to the overall eye-sore effect. Some little empty milk cartons tossed about on the tile floor, a layer of very tangible dust covering almost everything.

I set my black suitcase – my mobile classroom, in effect – down along one of the walls and calmly set about ordering half of the classroom while pushing all that I didn’t need to the other half.

Seeing as I had always preferred that my students sit on the floor, every Monday I would lift and move the desks and chairs, creating a very free floorspace for us to sit in a circle and grow together.

Boxes, foosball tables and other miscellaneous objects moved to the back half of the classroom, whiteboard wiped down, trash ‘swept’ away with my foot because a broom was not found. Laptop turned on with Spanish praise and worship music now majestically filling the unlikeliest of spaces. Ready.

As I participated in this familiar routine for the last time, the heaviness in the room became palpable. Standing still, my eyes travelled up to the itty-bitty windows at the top of the back wall of the classroom, opened to allow in the smallest amount of light and fresh breeze. An overgrown tree-plant from outside extended a few of its nosy branches into our sacred space.

In this room – in my posture before the Lord – stillness had become my close friend.

This is God’s will. His Word being preached, His children being instructed not from a grand stage but in abandoned rooms.

God’s wisdom seems like foolishness to the worldly ‘wise’ while He laughs at human ‘wisdom’ and calls us all to become fools for His sake. I’m sure that every other teacher and employee at this school is certain nothing good could ever happen in this dirty storage room, but if only they knew what I know, what my students know! Here we find the Master; here we learn His ways.

How many times during my first year in Honduras when I was 22 years old and single did I find Him two rooms over in what was then my first-grade classroom all alone at the end of a hard day, praising His name in the midst of seemingly insurmountable difficulties?

After having been promised 12-15 manageable students in my bilingual first grade classroom as a first-time teacher fresh out of college and living on my own in a new country, it turned out that 28 had been entrusted to my care, none of which showed any mercy to their young teacher who had zero training or experience. Oh, how difficult that first year was, but how closely I felt His hand over me, over my little ones! How many times did I reach the point of weeping – whether for joy, out of profound gratitude, or exhausted by frustration – in this old, teal-colored building tragically situated in the city that has recently been considered to be the murder capital of the world? How many times have I found Him here, alone, as I do even now on what is my last day? Thank You, Father, for these precious moments of stillness in Your presence.

As in any marital situation or large family, in our daily work at the Living Waters Ranch with the 8 children/youth the Lord has brought us to raise as His sons and daughters mixed in with the 20+ other youth from our rural neighborhood who frequent our home/mission for school and discipleship, it is all too easy to get swept-up in a group mentality. It becomes natural to ‘put family first,’ or enjoy the general feeling of ‘we’re all in this together.’ Now that we’ve become accustomed to loving one another for God’s glory, what on earth would we do if someday we become separated?

While these are not bad thoughts, we must understand that each person’s journey begins and ends standing alone before His throne.

It was alone that I began this journey with my Lord back in 2012, certain of His calling on my life whether single or married – I had not even met my husband and had no idea who my children would be! – and here I was alone once again as this precious chapter was being closed. Four years after the journey began, there I stood deeply scarred and torn — formed — by the myriad experiences the Lord had led me through henceforth.

Likewise, at some point in the unknown future – possibly losing spouse and/or children to tragedy, as is all too common here and in the world at large – I may return to such a state of singleness, aloneness in the Lord’s presence.

As every person must come to wholly recognize in their own lives, my beloved husband and the children whom I so adore do not constitute my walk with the Lord; He is who He is whether the blessing of their presence is granted me or taken away. The Lord’s mission is not realized exclusively on ‘mission bases’ in the foothills of majestic mountains or in organized church environments; it is also realized in hectic urban schools and abandoned storage rooms like the one in which I found myself.

So my students began arriving about half an hour later in their two separate groups: first hour with my fourth- and fifth-graders, second hour with my sixth- and seventh-graders, most of whom I had known since Day 1 of entering the Kindergarten-12th grade Episcopal School in 2012. Coaching them in extracurricular basketball teams, being the full-time first-grade teacher of some, getting to know one another during organized visits to our home/mission out in the countryside, preaching the message during their scheduled ‘church’ time on several occasions, or guiding them weekly through the personalized spiritual formation process in the various extracurricular programs the Lord had guided me to design over the past years. Oh, how many hours I had spent reading their journals, excitedly scribbling this or that insight the Lord had given me to continue forming them according to His wisdom and perfect love!

So our last day together was almost unbearably heavy yet ethereally light as the children and I shared some unspoken understanding, so obvious that no one dared cheapen it with words: The Lord has indeed moved among us. Their eyes said it as we opened up the Word one last time to reflect, sieve, press deeper and farther. My eyes said it as I searched their faces; undoubtedly the Truth had already begun consuming a small corner of their souls. Fan the flame, I prayed silently as I moved and taught among their cross-legged semi-circle on the floor.

The Lord placed the words in my mouth to teach His little ones: “None of this – none of these past four years of deep friendship, warm hugs, long letters and uncommon lessons – was from me or about you; it’s all about Him. Seek Him. Everything we have done and said here comes straight from His Word, straight from His heart. Carry the torch; continue the search; allow Him to transform your mind, your sight.”

Then, an uncommon, daring thought. I ventured to put it into words, praying they would understand: “Kids, if you’ve seen something different in me — and I’m certain you have — if you’ve wondered how on earth ‘Miss Jennifer’ always looks so joyful or why she really loves and treasures you while perhaps other adults generally do not or why she seems to see things differently than others  –”

As I sat among them in our tight circle, their eyes were trained on me and confirmed that, yes, they had unmistakably noticed something different about me during these last four years of close friendship, of discipleship that digs deep, sheds light on the darkness, transcends normal ‘teacher-student’ boundaries.

I dared to continue: “– It is God at work within me, the Creator of the universe manifesting Himself among us through me. It’s not ‘me.’ ‘Miss Jennifer’ is actually quite the gossiper, the money-lover, the lazy fool without God. If you’ve seen a distinct joy, a different perspective, an eternal hope, any pinch of wisdom, that is actually God within me, acting through me. If you’ve felt drawn to me as a teacher, it is because you have felt drawn to God. His Word teaches that He actually comes and lives within those who are submitted to His will; that is one of the ways He manifests Himself to humanity in the world today. So now on our last day together I beg you to keep reflecting on all that we’ve learned together, and may you see God Himself in my actions among you. And if you’ve seen any impatience or bad attitude, that’s ‘me;’ that’s not Him. That’s what’s left over of the ‘Miss Jennifer’ without God, and He’s still in the process of transforming that part, renewing and cleansing. But please know that God has indeed been moving among us, acting in and through us to make Himself and His perfect love known to us, and that He longs to work in such ways in and through each of you, thus captivating humanity with the utterly attractive nature of all that He is.”

Many things were said on that last Monday together, while at the same time very little was said while much was understood. It was a Great Commission of sorts, a sending out of those who have started the training process to continue onward with great faith while going out and training others to love and follow the Father in similar fashion.

As the last of my students left, my heart heavy as I embraced each one, I ended that day as I had started it. It was, in fact, how I had started this entire journey nearly four years ago: joyfully alone, trusting,  in an abandoned room in that old teal-colored building, focused on my Father alone.

February Third is the Big Day! (January 2016 Ministry Updates)

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!

Update on Jackeline (12) and Josue (7)

In October I wrote of our current period of discernment with Jackeline (age 12) and her special-needs brother Josue (age 7) who have been living with us since January 29th of last year. We will celebrate our 1-year anniversary with them next Friday as we continue to discern the Lord’s plans for their lives – whether we are to be their long-term family or whether they are to return to a blood relative.

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Several weeks ago I had a long meeting with their biological mother and a psychologist from Honduras’ child protective agency to try to hash through the details of whether the mom is (or will be any time soon) ready to receive her children again. To make a long story short, she’s not. We do, however, maintain a very positive and mutually supportive relationship with her, and last month on the kids’ once-a-month visit day with their biological family members, we invited her to a local beach with all 9 of us (Darwin, the 7 kids, and I). It was such a blessing that we can have a ‘family outing’ of such a mixed sort but still with so much joy, love, and encouragement.

Jackeline and Josue days after moving in with us in January 2015:

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And more recently:

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Jackeline has had a genuine turn-around in her general attitude and work ethic, although she failed to pass fifth grade again when she earned a grade of 18% on her final exam in December. She is currently preparing to take the entrance exam into Gleny and Jason’s private Christian school where, if she is accepted, would be one of 11-year-old Gleny’s classmates in her fifth-grade class.

Overall, we are incredibly content with the situation with Jackeline and Josue even though on paper it all looks pretty messy and uncertain. Jackeline has been spending a lot of time each day reading the Scriptures during these weeks of school vacation, and she’s been spending 2-4 hours per day practicing piano, recorder, and voice with our eldest, Dayana. She’s participating weekly on the girls’ basketball team I coach in the nearby city of La Ceiba, and she’s taken on the role of ‘tutor’ for little Gabriela two afternoons a week, coaching her in guided activities like Play-Doh, building blocks, physical exercises, and coloring books.

Just yesterday Jackeline found me behind our house as I was washing our clothes in a big bucket and began sharing her heart with me for over an hour, which is not typical of her. She told me that she is extremely content living with us, but at the same time she feels a responsibility to return to her biological family someday to be able to teach them all that she is currently learning. She also mentioned with serenity that, after having suffered child obesity due to her mother’s compulsive feeding of her two children, she has now learned that “food is not [her] god,” and that, although years ago she felt urges to kill either her brother or herself, she now knows that God has a purpose for both of them as His children.

Josue is as joyful as ever, and his behavior has improved to such a degree that living with him is (generally) a privilege and blessing. He still wears diapers and can only pronounce a handful of one- or two-syllable words, but he continues five mornings per week in his special needs school, where he receives very individualized attention in a class of 3-5 students.

Please pray that we may focus on living one day at a time with them, loving and guiding them moment-to-moment for God’s glory, for that is all we can do with any of them.

Photos of Girls’ Basketball Team

Last week we had our last girls’ basketball practice until the school year resumes in September. The three young women the Lord has placed in our home as daughters (Dayana, 14; Jackeline, 11; and Gleny, 10) participate in the team in addition to several girls from the local Episcopal School where I teach and coach. We enjoyed the last few minutes of practice to take some photos…

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The three precious crazies the Lord has given us as daughters…

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2014 in Review (An Unorganized List of 64 Small Miracles)

Yesterday afternoon as the kids were in paint class and Darwin was resting in our room after a very busy week, I took a walk around our property, studying the visible differences of what this past year has brought –our faithful garden with its new sprouts of radish and squash that Darwin and the kids planted, the ducks who now inhabit our chicken run, our school building finally organized, certain rooms freshly painted – and caught off guard with a deep awe of all God has done in this past year that isn’t so visible – the emotional growth and health of the children, my own healing from severe insomnia, new relationships formed, prayers answered. After the dogs happily followed me around our yard, tails in a constant lazy wag as I admired all God has done this year, I sat down at the wooden table in our living room to make a list of all I could think of that He has orchestrated, permitted, given and guided in this past year. I started with a single sheet of notebook paper but soon had to bring a second and then a third sheet. The list, without any order or importance, is as follows…


1. Many local boys have received haircuts in our home, and in the process I’ve gotten pretty good at doing the mohawk.

2. Due to God’s abundant provision, we have been able to joyously be His “middle-men” in sharing clothes, backpacks, food, and other goods with our neighbors for His glory.

3. Darwin, the children and I attended a week-long intensive missions course with our faith community to prepare us for a mission trip that we are planning for January 2015 to a village in southern Honduras.

4. We survived several robberies, difficulties, and encounters with corrupt people (including a very dangerous fraud).

5. After much deliberation, we finally purchased a gun for security purposes (and had to use it shoot-in-the-air-style-to-scare-the-burglar the day after we learned how to use it!)

6. The message of Christ has been shared in local churches, on public buses, in a school, at a used clothing shop, in Darwin’s sister’s home, and in various other places as God presents opportunities.

7. We have developed a very friendly relationship with our elderly neighbor who has a large herd of milking cows, and our large grassy property has been utilized to feed his grazers several times per week.


8. We said “yes” and actively followed four different leads in order to receive more children into our family, but none of them produced results, so we continue to wait for God’s timing.

9. Darwin and I have been able to dedicate ourselves to God’s purposes in our home/family/farm/mission six days per week (we each spend one day per week as teachers at a local school).

10. Relationships have been formed with Brayan, his stepmother and three stepbrothers.

11. By God’s grace He enabled us to have kids in our home for the duration of the calendar year.

12. Peace has been poured out over our home and in the children’s hearts after months of very intense emotional waves, spiritual battles, disciplinary struggles and outbursts of all types.

13. Our living room, the kids’ bathroom, and the schoolroom were painted.

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14. The four kids received homeschool classes along with private academic tutoring.

15. Many, many mistakes have been made and learned from.

16. The four kids received therapy with a Christian psychologist for several months.

17. Our used truck was purchased (and Darwin got his driver’s license for the first time!)

2014-518. High-security steel doors have been installed on the two houses and school building.

19. We have instituted the (very small and indescript) whiteboard in our living room where I write the next day’s schedule in great detail each night so that I don’t have to answer 84 questions about what we’re going to do tomorrow.

20. Four dogs have been purchased/adopted for security purposes (and therapy with the kids!)

2014-721. Two batches of chicks were born in our chicken run and hundreds of eggs laid.

22. Twelve ducks were purchased to lay eggs in our chicken run.

23. We enjoyed the visit of eight fellow believers in our home for several days in July.

24. Fifty rhambutan saplings have been planted.

25. Darwin and the kids have maintained a small garden behind our kitchen weekly.

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26. Darwin and our accountant organized and submitted the last four years of financial statements.

27. Many, many hours have been spent on the preparation of legal documents, in meetings with the board of directors and with lawyers, and making trips to and from different offices.

28. A daily system of cleaning/chores has been put into practice for the kids and adults.


29. Hundreds of man-hours have been spent preparing the land and cultivating small gardens without extremely little success due to infertile, rocky soil and long dry spells.

30. We’ve enjoyed a full year of growth and relationship with our dear sister Jenae Matikke, who lives alongside of us, raises the kids with us and serves in our local community.

31. A large steel trashcan has been constructed behind our property to deposit our trash.


32. We’ve been able to continue developing and deepening our relationship with our faith community and mentors, visiting their home weekly.

33. We’re at three months and counting of the children taking a high-quality B-complex vitamin daily to help with their overall growth and mental activity –  (and it’s working!)

34. Our kids have enjoyed one full year of weekly paint, music, agriculture and Bible classes.

35. Two public music concerts have been held in our home for our neighbors and friends.

36. Darwin has formed a youth choir as a way of reaching out to local kids and forming relationships with our neighbors.

37. Our little plants produced harvests of plantains, a rare fruit called guanabana that tastes like cotton candy and looks like a very squishy white pineapple, mango, yucca, lemon, radish, chili peppers, cucumber and papaya.


38. Darwin and our eldest daughter, Diana, have begun taking weekly English classes.

39. Relationships and trust have been formed with local business owners.

40. We have begun teaching the kids biblically-based financial education to accompany their small incomes for household chores.

41. Various visitors have been received in our home, thus providing all of us with many opportunities to offer hospitality and learn from and love those who stay with us.

42. Our first long-distance family trip is planned for the last two days of this year to visit Honduras’ biggest and perhaps only zoo in a town several hours away.

43. The Living Waters Ranch’s mission statement has been written.

44. We’ve formed a weekly Bible study every Wednesday morning where we dedicate time to growing spiritually as a family/community and giving thanks.

45. Sexual education has been given to our kids/teenagers several times and in many different forms.

46. I’ve received ten months and counting of medical treatment for my insomnia, and the larger part of recovery has been achieved.

47. Our kids have learned how to swim and play chess.

48. God’s provision and protection have been with us daily.

49. After much trial and error and team brainstorming, we were able to make the decision of how to use each of the three “houses” on our property most efficiently.

50. The “School House”, the second of the three houses, has been furnished and put into use for homeschooling, music classes, and for receiving neighbor kids in the large living room that serves as a play room.


51. The question of maintaining our (extremely large, rocky, and uneven) yard trim has been settled by hiring a local man to weedeat it once a month. (We used to have a full-time employee who dedicated the majority of his time to cutting our lawn bent-over with his machete, but he could only cut a piece the size of about two backyard swimming pools per day, and the job was never done and thus our yard always looked like someone with long, untamed hair who took a buzz-cutter to a few sections here and there, thus the poisonous snakes had a heyday.)

52. The office has been put together and Darwin constructed bookshelves for our library.


53. Friendships have been formed with a handful of children and teenagers from our local community who come to our home to play soccer, work in agriculture, receive sex education classes, spend time in our playroom, and attend Bible study.

54. Our four kids gave their lives to Christ.

55. Darwin and I attended Honduras’ “Children’s Home Conference” in May to learn from others who serve in the same capacity.

56. We have begun developing relationships with various neighbors, visiting them in their homes and likewise opening our home to them.

57. Darwin and I celebrated our year-and-a-half anniversary December 24, 2014.

58. Darwin and I enjoyed three marriage retreats to escape from the kids for a few nights and focus on cultivating our still very-new marriage.

59. New telephone poles have been put up and electrical lights repaired.

60. We have sanded and painted the steel window bars on the houses, dining room and kitchen to save them from rusting.

61. We have achieved much better organizational structure and financial accounting as a registered Honduran NGO.

62. Official schedule, menu, and budget have been made for legal purposes.

63. Our eldest daughter has begun to sell her paintings.

64. God has cultivated a very pleasing attitude of love and respect in our children towards Himself and others.

Ministry Updates

Ministry Updates in the Living Waters Ranch – November 2014

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Community Choir

Darwin is a pianist and choir director, and God has placed it on his heart to expand the little choir we have as a family and include our neighbors from our surrounding rural community. We praise God that several children and teenagers have begun attending the twice-weekly practices, and it has given us great joy to see our three kids receive the newcomers with love and grace as they take leadership positions among the newbees. We are honored to develop relationships with these youth and their families for God’s Kingdom, and our kids are taking advantage of making several new friendships!

2 ministry updates nov 2014

Jenae Celebrates 14 Months in Honduras

Our beloved Christian sister Jenae Matikke is celebrating 14 months of service at the Living Waters Ranch. A native of Tennessee, she dedicates her time to reaching out to our neighbors with the good news of Jesus, investing in our kids’ lives, serving in local churches, and teaching in various capacities. She is currently preparing her program “Princes and Princesses of Promise”, a biblically-based sexual abstinence curriculum, to begin sharing God’s message of sexual purity and giving sex education classes in local churches and schools.

ministry updates nov 2014

Gifted and Talented Program and Basketball Team to Start in January 2015

God confirmed in my heart that I am to return to La Ceiba’s Episcopal School part-time beginning in January 2015 to continue with my girls’ basketball team and elementary-aged Gifted and Talented program, so I went to the school to meet with the kids and send home parent letters. Over 30 kids have responded positively, so I am looking forward to my third year with the same group of kids I’ve been working with, along with several new ones that are now eligible for the programs. Pray for God’s guidance over both the team and the GT program, and that the children I coach and teach may see Christ’s light and salt through my words and actions.

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Updates on Brayan

Brayan, the 14-year-old who lived with us for over eight months and moved out a couple months ago due to various factors, just made a 100% on one of his major exams after returning to homeschool several weeks ago. His attitude has taken a complete 180 degree turn, and he has impressed us all with his kindness, willingness to serve, and gratitude. He has also returned to choir and music classes, and has begun working alongside of us in agriculture one day per week. Let us give thanks to God for His mighty hand over Brayan’s young life, and for giving us all the patience and courage to trek through some pretty difficult seasons together as we seek the Lord’s will in our relationship with him.

ministry updates nov 2014 3

Darwin’s English class

My husband, Darwin, is a native Honduran and currently speaks pretty choppy English. That isn’t a problem here because we communicate with one another and our children and neighbors in Spanish, but in order to further develop his ability to communicate with a broader range of people, he has enrolled in an intensive English course that meets every Saturday morning for five hours. We are all excited for him about this chance to grow, and in addition to the class we have instituted the “English Hour” during dinnertime every night, in which each person has to do their best to speak only English. (Dinners have been pretty quiet for a change, as most of the little people can’t say much!)

ministry updates nov 2014 6

Still Waiting to Hear About the Arrival of More Kids

We have put the word out with the government agency that we are ready to accept 2-3 new children, and we have yet to hear anything. There are many organizational changes occurring right now in the government’s child protective agency, and the shifting of staff positions and leadership could be causing the delay. We are waiting to hear if there are children who need a home from a large government-run orphanage in a nearby city that was recently shut down or from the local foster system. Please pray that God’s hand would guide the entire legal, emotional, and financial process of expanding our family, and that Gleny, Jason and Diana may accept new children into our home with grace and joy.

ministry updates nov 2014 7

Chicks Hatch After Robbery

After a devastating robbery a few days ago in which someone stole more than half of the hens from our chicken run, our rooster and male duck, we are beginning anew with a batch of newborn chicks that our momma hens have been warming for the past several weeks. It seems as though any agricultural progress we enjoy is immediately cut down by theft, so please pray for protection over our animals and crops so that our efforts to organically work the land are not in vain.

Ministry Updates

BRAYAN RETURNS TO HOMESCHOOL Brayan, the local 14-year-old who lived with us for over eight months, has decided to keep studying in our homeschool program to finish out this school year, which ends in January 2015. He is still living at his stepmother’s home and we are committed to helping provide their family with food every month to help care for him. He has returned to us on a part-time basis through homeschool, our Wednesday morning Bible study and afternoon visits, and there is newfound joy and gratitude in his face that wasn’t there before. Pray for us in developing a new relationship with him as we discern what role God would have us to play in this young man’s life during this season.

OPEN TO RECEIVING MORE KIDS We have put our “feelers” out there with the Honduran child protective agency about possibly receiving 2-3 additional kiddos in our home. This is a tedious process laden with bureaucracy, and the first time we received kids we had to go back-and-forth with the agency for over six months before the three siblings finally moved in. It is also a very delicate emotional process, both for the three that are already here, us, and those that may arrive. Please pray that the next kids to arrive, whenever they do, may be the exact children that the Lord would have us to care for. Pray that Diana, Gleny, and Jason may have tender and open hearts towards those who may come and that the adaptation process may go as peacefully as possible.

DARWIN ON A WATER PROJECT IN SOUTHERN HONDURAS This week Darwin is installing a potable water system in a poor rural village in Choluteca, one of Honduras’ 18 departments, with our mentor from our faith community and a diverse group of American and Honduran Christians. The goal is to live among the people for the week, sleeping in hammocks at night and doing manual labor alongside the townspeople during the day, in order to provide a physical need (potable water) and a spiritual one (the gospel of Jesus Christ). Our faith community has been participating in these trips twice per year for several years, but this is Darwin’s first trip. Pray for guidance over him and the rest of the people participating in the trip, and ask that God may grant open and willing hearts to the villagers who are being served.

RELATIONSHIP WITH THE EPISCOPAL SCHOOL In the past month the Lord has led me to preach twice in La Ceiba’s Episcopal School, where I have worked in various capacities for three years (first grade teacher, basketball coach, and Gifted and Talented program teacher). Each week the high schoolers have a designated 40-minute block of “church” within their class schedule, and I have had the opportunity to deliver the message twice in the past month. I am excited to see where God would lead me and in what capacity He would have me to serve among the students in this school year. I am open to continue preaching from time to time as He leads me, and I am planning on re-starting weekly girls’ basketball practices in January 2015 after taking several months off due to my severe insomnia.

ROBBERIES In the United States, if a crime is committed, the police are called and the justice system goes to work. In Honduras, if a crime is committed, it is rare if anything happens, even if the police are called. Robberies – both petty and large-scale – are extremely common here. People have stolen our shoes, crops, chickens, agricultural supplies, clothes, and an electrical generator. Robbers have cut through our fences, broken through locks, and pried open windows. We have called the police, gone to their offices in person, and submitted various reports, but nothing is done. We recently purchased an 8-month-old German Shepherd to team up with our other two guard dogs to ward off potential robbers, but ultimately our safety is in the Lord’s hands. Please pray for wisdom in deciding how to approach this issue, God’s continual protection of us, and that we may always have enough to generously aid our neighbors if they come to us in the daylight in need. Please also pray for the people who have or are currently robbing us, that they would be convicted of what they are doing and that the Lord would change their hearts. Praise God that these robberies make it much easier to not put our hope and security in this world but rather in His Kingdom where love and justice reign!

NO LEGAL PROGRESS Several weeks ago I wrote about our current legal battles. We have all of our paperwork compiled and ready, but there has been no progress on any front.

IMMIGRATION CRISIS We are still available to receive refugee children in our home who have been deported from the United States, but we have not received any phone calls or further information.

QUACK QUACK QUACK! Our chicken run has a few new inhabitants: a momma duck with her ten ducklings and their “stepfather.” Ducks lay eggs just as chickens do, and it is said that their eggs are extremely rich in protein and vitamins. We are raising the female babies to be “laying ducks” in the coming months, and we will eat the young males and/or be able to bless our neighbors with free meat.

HARVEST In the past several weeks we have enjoyed a harvest of organic radishes, chile peppers and cucumbers from our gardens. We continue experimenting to see which crops grow best in our incredibly rocky soil.

“Coach is Allergic to Complaints.”

The girls on my basketball team know very well that their coach is “allergic to complaints.” Last year, our first year together as a team, the girls would often complain of sore muscles or voice their disagreement with difficult drills, push-up competitions and the like. I responded — rather dramatically — by telling them that I have been diagnosed with a severe complaint allergy, so if they want their coach to stay in good health, they’d better maintain their comments to themselves.

This year the veterans on my team of 4th-6th grade girls know that if they complain I will only make the drill longer, increase the number of push-ups, or count slower as they do wall-sits. Recently during our weekly practice one of the girls who is prone to complaining opened her mouth to voice her opinion, and another girl hushed her, saying, “Shh. Coach is allergic to complaints.”

At the end of each practice I have the girls do a series of wind sprints on the school’s old asphalt basketball court. As they run, sometimes up to ten or twelve sprints total, I declare, “I’m testing your character. Let’s see who complains.” They pant and bend over between sprints, but they have finally arrived at the understanding that it is not worth complaining because I will only make it harder — Oh, I do remember the day when my own high school basketball coach yelled, “Run until get tired!”


As the girls run, one sprint at a time, I say, “Don’t tell me it’s hard. I know this is difficult. Most people in life choose the easiest thing, the path of least resistance, but God’s way, as we are learning, is indeed difficult. Christ says that most people choose the wide, easy road, but the path that reaches His Kingdom is narrow and difficult, and it is the only path that leads to true joy, freedom, and eternal life. Choose the difficult path. Go!” And the girls do another sprint.

Frequently with my basketball girls, gifted and talented classroom students, my own children — really anyone who will listen — I read the following text from the Gospel of Matthew: “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

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Recently I had each of my basketball players complete a written evaluation of their experiences on the team, what they have learned, how I can support them personally in this stage of their lives, what their view of God is and if they have the desire to know and follow Him. As I read each evaluation, some written with large letters in pink marker, others with small scribbles in pen, some in broken English, others in Spanish, I almost began weeping and rejoicing as I sat there alone on the empty court after practice, all of the girls having already been picked up by their family members, as literally every evaluation that I read revealed — in their own words — that each girl is truly interested in knowing God more and following Him, that they really are listening when we read Christ’s words each practice and that they are hungry for a deeper understanding. Two of the girls even explicitly mentioned how they want me to guide them so that they may enter through the “narrow, difficult gate” and accomplish hard things for God’s glory.

As you read this, I ask that you would sincerely pray for my basketball girls and for the way that God is using me as an instrument of truth in their lives. Ask that I may be given wisdom in guiding them and that as we study the Bible together before each basketball practice that it is not just me reading dead words from an ancient book, but words of life-giving Truth that touch their spirits. Pray that Christ may call each one of these precious girls into a life of humble service to Him, that they may joyfully enter through the narrow, difficult gate that leads to abundant, eternal life.


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