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Creative New Strategies to Teach and Mentor Despite COVID-19

Here in Honduras we continue under many general restrictions that have served as a great frustration to us over the past 11 months, but we are determined not to put our grassroots Christian school on hold and leave our students’ lives adrift until this season of global uncertainty passes.

Our internet access in rural Honduras is highly unstable and the majority of our students come from families with very low economic flexibility, which means they don’t have consistent access to technology in their homes. This has made our attempts at ‘virtual education’ nearly impossible. 

Thus, with a bit of creativity, risk and prayer, we’ve designed a largely off-site school program this year that we have begun as of February 2, the first official day of classes. We are not allowed to hold normal classes and activities on our Ranch as we would in normal times (this prohibition is currently in effect for all Honduran educational institutions), so we’ve decided to direct the majority of our school’s activities on a local church campus, in a backyard pavilion at one of our teachers’ homes, and in a local park. We’ve divided our student body into small groups in each location.

This year our students are still involved in evangelism activities, community service, dance class, Bible studies, P.E. class, organic agriculture and all the normal academic pursuits enjoyed under typical circumstances, just in varying locations. My husband Darwin is excited to have started up his youth choir again, seeking to involve many of the local youth in our town who are not enrolled in any school and spend much of their day wandering without purpose. 

We ask that you pray for us as we implement this counter-cultural off-site program and that the local educational authorities do not interfere in our sincere attempts to continue educating, molding and loving our students for God’s glory. 

This is one of our veteran teachers embracing a new local student who enrolled in our grassroots school’s small sixth grade class a couple weeks ago.

Yearend Blog Update

We send our sincere thanks to those dedicated individuals, churches and families who continue to pray for and financially support this grassroots mission even during difficult times. 

We thank God for you, and we want you to know that as a ministry we have lacked nothing throughout the many months of quarantine and uncertainty. We have had sufficient resources to be a blessing to many of our neighbors in deep need in addition to fulfilling our daily labors as Christian foster family and school outreach.

Please know that you help provide gainful, Kingdom-focused employment for 8 adult Hondurans and a team of 6 active youth employees/tutors. You are making a difference on Honduran soil, which ultimately helps improve quality of life here and decreases the flow of immigration to the United States. Thank you!

We are currently well underway with a construction project to improve our watchman’s home with several much-needed repairs, and we continue to parent, mentor and disciple the many youth the Lord has placed in our lives. Our special-needs foster son, now age 12, is back under our care temporarily and has added much joy to our busy household. Merry Christmas to you and yours, and I look forward to being in touch in January!

Taxes! Each year many folks are looking to give end-of-year gifts as a possible way to help reduce their tax liability.  If you are one of those folks, you can go to CTEN.org/JenniferZilly for more information.

Here are some things to keep in mind!  Contributions mailed to CTEN must be postmarked no later than December 31st.  Online credit card donations must be posted through the CTEN website no later than December 31st. Call 800-872-5404 for more information or donate online at: CTEN.org/JenniferZilly.

Darwin and Jennifer’s Late Fall Updates from Honduras

We send you our warm greetings from the Living Waters Ranch, the rural homestead where we live and serve in Honduras. Here we will share with you our most recent updates and photos of the work the Lord has entrusted us. We would also like to send our sincere thanks to all those who continue to pray for and financially support this grassroots mission even during difficult times. We thank God for you, and we want you to know that as a ministry we have lacked nothing throughout the many months of quarantine and uncertainty. Thank you!

Here I am with one of our foster sons, now age 13, as we engaged in a painting project at a neighbor’s home. The Lord has led us to serve our neighbors in creative ways over the past several months, and our foster teens serve right alongside us as instruments of God’s love in action. (Yes, that is sweat drenching my shirt! It is very hot in Honduras, and most families don’t have air-conditioning in their homes!)
The family whose home we helped paint unexpectedly offered us dinner after several hours of joyful labor. The young lady in the red shorts is our eldest foster daughter, now age 20, with whom we are now enjoying a blossoming and healthy relationship after she unexpectedly left our home last year. Many of our triumphs throughout the months of quarantine have to do with restored and deepened relationships for God’s glory.
This is our adorable (and highly sanguine) special-needs foster son, now age 12, who lived under our care from age 6 to age 10. He now lives full-time with Grandma, who is a loving and stable influence in his life. We maintain a close relationship with him, and he will actually be coming to stay with us for three months as Grandma will be away working in the United States during Christmastime. We hosted him last year in similar fashion, and we are excited to offer him the blessing of Christian hospitality once more. In general, our ranch where we live and serve has become a place that many have come to consider home and where many learn biblical truth and experience God’s love.
Our dedicated staff of local missionary-teachers continues teaching out of their homes during the months of quarantine. Here one of our veteran missionary-teachers is imparting his advanced math class with a small group of students in his dining room.
Here is one of our foster daughters (left, age 16) and one of our local students studying for an exam on their teacher’s front lawn. Academics now go far beyond the traditional classroom walls!
Here is another one of our local students attending a tutoring session in her teacher’s home. General educational standards in Honduras tend to be very low, and the quarantine has definitely complicated the situation further. Nonetheless, our staff has found creative ways of ensuring that our students don’t fall too far behind during these difficult times.
Here is another one of our local missionary-teachers leading hands-on learning in the context of her own home. She teaches a weekly cooking class with our four foster daughters.
Here is another one of our precious local students receiving classes in her teacher’s home. No more school uniforms during quarantine!
Here are a few of the youth who participate weekly in a Christian discipleship group in our local community. Two of our local missionary-teachers (a married couple) direct the group out of their home and organize many service projects and evangelistic outings for the youth to put their faith into practice. They frequently do food drives for poor families and pray for those who are sick and downtrodden in our rural neighborhood.
Here are two of our local missionary-teachers (white shirt and teal shirt) along with some of our foster daughters and local youth during a recent event we held in our home.
Throughout the summer and early fall months we celebrate many back-to-back birthdays in our family. Here is one of our foster daughters enjoying her special moment at her teachers’ home during a surprise celebration they organized for her.
After seven months of strict quarantine, certain restrictions in our area have been lifted and we were finally able to organize an outing to our local park for an afternoon of healthy play with some of our local students and favorite people!
This is a photo my husband Darwin took recently of a corner of our rural ministry homestead. Throughout quarantine he has been working several days per week in agriculture and maintenance alongside a small, dedicated team of local young men in order to care for and improve the land. Every morning before beginning their manual labor Darwin leads a devotional and prayer time with the young men who work with him.
Here is our large, unconventional family (along with two of our beloved local students thrown in) at our eldest daughter’s recent birthday celebration.

God bless you and your loved ones! Please don’t hesitate to reach out if we can be praying for you in any way.

Quick Update Regarding Police Situation

For all of you who read our urgent prayer request several days ago and have been praying about the situation with the police in our rural neighborhood: miraculously, the police came to our property yesterday and have promised to send a periodic police patrol up and down our long gravel road to keep watch for the child molester. The police interviewed several of our students who know who the man is, and the police chief gave his personal phone number to all of the students to call him in case they spot the man or encounter danger. After dozens of phone calls and many unfilled promises on the police’s part up until now, it is literally HUGE that they have even done as much as they’ve done in coming out to our property and beginning to address the issue. Let us give thanks to God for moving the policemen’s hearts toward justice and compassion, and may we now pray that they fulfill their word and send the patrol.

Also: after talking with the same 3 police officers who came out to our home/mission yesterday about the situation with 15-year-old Sandra’s abusive step-father who has been following and threatening her, later that night we got news from Sandra’s mom that the police had actually shown up at his home (which almost never happens — he had been sexually and physically abusive over 6 years, official complaints/reports had been filed, phone calls made, etc, all to no avail until now), and he hid under the bed over an hour before finally coming out, obviously very shaken up. He has to present himself in court today around noon (in about an hour), and Sandra’s mom (who does not know how to read or write) has to present the case in front of lawyers, a judge, etc. Last night Sandra and I prayed for her mom’s protection, seeing as he could have been moved to an extreme rage for having been reported, but this morning when Sandra called her mom to see how the night had gone, she miraculously said that the abusive step-dad had, rather than beating her, been on his knees weeping, saying he wants to change, go with her to church, etc. I just went by Sandra’s mom’s home to pray with her for strength (I was hoping to find the man as well and be able to talk and pray with him, but he was at work).

Please pray that God’s hand continues to guide these two situations, and let us rejoice for the very real steps that have been taken by the police between yesterday and today to begin enacting justice on a human scale. Let us continue to pray fervently for Sandra’s step-dad’s genuine repentance and rebirth in Christ!

Amen!

Please Pray for My Health

Today after getting a blood test I realized that I have had Typhoid Fever for over a month now, which explains the constant fever, dizziness, and bodily weakness along with diarrhea that I have been having. I ask that you would please put my physical health in prayer, because in a few short months I have had Dengue Fever, a blood infection that led to about a dozen open sores on my body, several flu-like bugs, and now Typhoid. I am also still recovering from the severe insomnia I had for over a year. Pray that the Lord would grant me energy and good health to fulfill His will and, if not, that He may still give me the joy and perseverance to do so in sickness. Please also pray for Darwin, Jenae, and our six kids (plus homeschool students and other students of mine from a local school), as my not having good health affects them as well. Thank you!