Thank you to all of those who have been lifting us up in prayer. We have seen several marked differences in our household and an overall calming down of the rough waves we had passed through. Thank you for asking our Father that His peace might reign and rule in our hearts. Please continue to pray for my ongoing battle with insomnia, as these last six weeks or so have been incredibly difficult and I’ve spent the majority of each night wide awake and unable to sleep more than a couple hours. (During the ensuing daytime hours I struggle with dizziness, discouragement and extreme fatigue.) This greatly affects my focus, energy, mood, etc (and not to mention the way I interact with and invest in all those around me), so I humbly ask for prayer and healing on this account. Thank you.
During this month of January we’ve been engaging in a variety of activities as we’re gearing up for a new year of community discipleship and integral education that will officially commence on February fifth. This month we’ve been offering daily intensive math and reading tutoring for our new high school students, one-on-one literacy classes to Geraldina (Sandra’s mom), various small-scale construction and property maintenance projects, general administration, house visits and evangelism in our rural neighborhood, many prayer meetings and times of fine-tuning our vision with our local missionaries, P.E. classes with our teachers (this has been hilarious!), etc.
Below are photos taken during the recent visit of Kyshia, a beloved missionary and blossoming friend of ours who has served the Lord in Honduras over 30 years and raised 17 abandoned/orphaned Honduran children as part of her life’s work. She lives in the capital city of Tegucigalpa and made the 7-hour drive up to our home to listen to, counsel and pray with all of our kids and local missionaries individually. She had a ‘tea party’ with each one and was able to reach down deep into each one’s heart and touch them with God’s love. She has an extremely special sense of humor and had us all rolling with laughter almost non-stop as she stayed in our guest house for a few days with her 30-year-old special-needs foster son who she is still taking care of. This is an ongoing relationship we are hoping to cultivate on a regular basis over the coming years as the Lord begins to use her as an integral member in His ministry in this little corner of the world. (She even took care of our 10 kids one evening so that Darwin and I could get away for a date! Not many people are capable of adequately handling our rowdy bunch, but she definitely could because she has the experience!) I hope you enjoy the photos.
God bless you in this new year, and thank you again for praying for and supporting the Lord’s work in and through us.
Glory to God!
Around 5:45am this morning as our 10 foster children/teens and I went about our daily business getting ready for a new day of classes and activities, my husband Darwin came walking through our front door in his grimy work clothes that he puts on every morning to go milk the cows.
Jackeline sat next to me on our little couch as others went about brushing hair and teeth, taking turns in the shower, etc. Each day the routine is more or less the same: we all get up at the same time in the wee hours of the morning; Darwin goes out to milk the cows (oftentimes taking our 16-year-old son Brayan with him), and I facilitate the domestic task of getting everyone in the home ready. Darwin brings in a large bucket of fresh, organic milk; we eat cornflakes and granola for breakfast; and thus the day commences.
Both of our adult female milking cows recently gave birth, so after months of being without milk in our household, the flow of milk had begun anew only a few weeks ago, thus greatly alleviating our heavy grocery bills and also providing an excellent source of calcium and vitamins to our kids, all of whom come from situations of malnutrition and extreme poverty. In short, the cows’ milk is a tremendous blessing, both economically and for our kids’ health and growth.
So, as Darwin came walking through our front door this morning — just like any other morning — he said dryly, “The cows are gone.”
I stared at him, not understanding what he was trying to say. After all, the cows have escaped several times and we’ve had to go out into our rural town searching for them. I asked dumbly, “What? Which ones?”
“The two adults. Someone stole them.”
A shock of panic shot through my veins. The two adults cows? The two who provide us with milk every morning? We had recently invested in the purchase of several younger calves, but it would be years before they would reach maturity and be able to reproduce, thus producing milk. The two adults had been our rock over the last four years, each giving birth to three calves along the way and providing our kids with milk each day. They were gone? For real? How could Darwin be sure that someone had stolen them and that they hadn’t just escaped as they had before on so many other occasions?
Darwin continued, showing no emotion in his baggy, mis-matched old farm clothes, “They killed them. I found the black cow’s head thrown out by our front gate.”
Wh–? Dead? The only thing I could manage to ask in my numbed state was, “Aren’t they worth more alive than dead?” After all, they kill adult bulls for meat; not female milking cows in their prime. Every farmer knows this; female cows are of incredible worth alive, for they reproduce, thus giving off a legacy of both meat and milk. Someone really killed them? And how did they die, whacked to death by several blows from a machete? I could only stare at Darwin as my body seemed to shut down. By his appearance he was having a similar reaction.
Next, the only reasonable course of action was to pray. So we called together our 10 kids, all standing in a circle in our little living room, holding hands, and did what humanly doesn’t make sense — we gave thanks. Through tears we thanked God for the milk He had provided us through those cows over the last several years, and we thanked him even for the thieves’ lives, asking that He would bring them to repentance and renewal in Christ.
After all, just the day prior in our community Bible study the Lord had led me to teach Jesus’ radical call to love our enemies. Loving your family or those who treat you with kindness is easy; loving those who harm you or speak poorly of you is a mark of a true Christ follower. After all, God loved us and sent His Son to die for us even when we were His enemies. This is God’s radical style, and if we are to call ourselves His followers, we are to do the same. Give thanks in all situations; rejoice when we pass through various difficulties; love those who persecute us.
And so, by God’s grace, that is what we did. We prayed, giving thanks and longing in our heart of hearts for the coming of the God of justice, the God of light and truth.
We then put on our boots and rain jackets and headed outside, as I asked Darwin if I could go see the remains. It all seemed so surreal. We walked in silence out to our front gate and, just beyond, found the severed head of our strong, beautiful black milking cow that we had so adored and had hoped would be able to give birth to many more calves in the coming years. Her eyes were squinted shut and blood was everywhere. A few paces away in an open field we found the bloody hides of both cows — one black and the other orange-and-white. Our night watchman’s family came out to the scene — father and mother and six kids — as they, too, looked on in what any normal person may think to be terror or mortal fear. Whoever did this is a professional cattle theif because we heard nothing last night. Darwin had been up grading papers until 2:00am, and then I was awake from 3:00am on. We heard no ruckus, no screams from our innocent cows who deserved a peaceful death in old age. They had chopped them up, taking the meat and leaving what was of no use to them.
And so, we repeated what we had already done with our children; we gathered together with our night watchman’s family right there in the midst of bloody hides and prayed. We prayed that God would protect our lives; that we would not fall into the trap of living in fear of men; that His mercy would reach the lives of the thieves; that He would bring His perfect justice to this country dripping in corruption.
So now we are left with two orphaned newborn calves — and no milk to feed them. Not to mention that we will have to begin purchasing powdered milk for our kitchen again, seeing as the source of blessing was so violently killed. Oh, how many times over the past few years did our kids complain about having to drink the cows’ milk! We would serve up glasses for each one, explaining the abundant blessing that God had given to us through our cows (and how that milk would fortify our kids’ bodies), and they would complain that they didn’t like the taste. Now they will no longer have to worry about drinking it. There will be no more.
So now we are left prayerfully wondering what to do with the other cows we have, for the thieves will surely come back. (They tried to capture another one of our cows, but she escaped the attack and was found frantically running around outside of our fence where the remains of the others were found.) We had hoped to raise the cows up to maturity, thus selling the males for meat and keeping the females for milk, but that may not be possible now. Over the past four years of living here in rural Honduras we carefully considered how to best utilize the 17-acre property where we live and serve. We had given many honest attempts at agriculture — corn, vegetables, plantains, etc — only to experience similar results with thieves who would break in and steal the fruit right before the harvest or — I’m not sure if this is better or worse — the plants simply didn’t grow due to infertile, rocky soil. Many, many man hours were invested in agriculture with almost zero result. So, cattle seemed to be the answer the Lord had led us to. The honest and caring cultivation of cows for milk and meat; they graze on the property and enjoy a healthy existence and we could potentially support part of our ministry needs through them, thus relying less on the generosity of others to sustain this work. Now all of that is put into question.
About an hour ago I walked in boots and rain jacket down that long gravel road to the local police station to report the case, although our hope is not and never has been in the Honduran judicial system, which is generally unresponsive. I found one lone police officer standing idly along the highway, so I approached him and explained our tragedy. He listened half-heartedly and informed me that that’s how Honduras is. He pointed a finger toward the little bright yellow police station a block away, telling me to report the case there and leave an official written report (which then gets filed away and never dealt with). I walked under a constant drizzle to that little yellow building and knocked on the door several times. No one answered.
So then I began my mile-long walk back up through our rural neighborhood to our property, which lies at the end of a long gravel road. I walked in silence, contemplating the beauty of our Lord in the stillness of my own heart, and praying for His provision — not only for our kids’ breakfast but now also for our two newborn calves who will need to be bottle-fed each day. Oh, the promise of the Lord’s perfect and final justice is so precious in the face of such gross injustice! Along the path I found a very poor family whose property neighbors ours. I carefully informed them of what had happened and encouraged them to keep a close eye on their own cows, as the five or six skinny cows they have are their only livelihood. And then I prayed with them, once more putting the entire situation — our very lives, homes and food sources — into God’s hands, for He is good. After all, this world is not our home. We are eagerly awaiting our entrance in God’s Kingdom where all suffering and pain will be eliminated. Oh, this life with Christ is so rich and precious, and being so close to the darkness — to the violence — makes us appreciate all the more the love and freedom of our Lord.
And so I share this with you not to produce a shock-and-awe affect about the raging injustice in Honduras, but rather to remind us all that our hope is not in this world. This morning as we stood staring at the bloody hides thrown out in the field, Darwin made the interesting and yet daringly obvious observation: “Yesterday they were alive, and now…they’re dead.” Is this not the case for every one of us? Today we are alive — all is well, we expect a great and long future ahead of us, we act as if we’re going to live forever — and we may very well end up dead tomorrow or at any unexpected moment along the way. Life is so fragile, and in this world nothing is promised. Christ is our life and our salvation. Amen. Thank you for your prayers.
Yesterday afternoon we went to a local park with our 8 kids, as we do every week. Some swam; others went to the fruit grove to pick mangos; I played a riotous game of volleyball with several of our older kids; Darwin zipped back and forth on the monkey bars. After everyone was either really wet or sweaty — and not by any means in their nice ‘photo attire’ — it occurred to me to organize an impromptu family photo. It had, after all, been months since the last time we took a photo of all 8 together, so I called everyone over and began explaining what was going to happen: everyone was going to hang from the monkey bars while I snapped a couple photos. It sounded easy enough.
As everyone started swinging into place, we started realizing that the photo I had in mind was a lot easier said than done! The hard part was that once the first ones got into hanging position, they had to wait for the others — some of which are not exactly lightning fast — to climb up and make their way across the bars as well. Before we knew it, everyone was slipping and falling from the bars because they couldn’t wait long enough for everyone else!
Poor Gaby and Josue! They were the first to get in hanging position, and they ended up staying there several minutes while everyone else climbed up and across the bars! Darwin had to come in for emergency monkey support!
Oh no! Jason (green shirt, red shorts) just fell! Now everybody else has to wait for him to get back up again, which is no short process! Hang in there! (No pun intended…)
Somebody suggested that they bring in stools to help expedite the process, so everyone began frantically bringing over carved tree trunks to stand on so that they could grab the bars faster. Gaby and Josue (left) kept hanging on for dear life! Hurry up, everybody! Where’s Jackeline?!
Finally we got a good shot (even though Jackeline and Gleny are technically cheating — their feet are on the stumps!). This one’s going in the family photo album!
On our park outing, we had a young family friend along with us who sat nearby just watching the whole photo-taking craziness. As I glanced over at him and smiled several times — our kids all laughing hysterically and crying out in pain — I felt that he did not know whether he should laugh or feel embarrassed to be associated with us in public. Our dear friend is from a very small, subdued family; we’re accustomed to turning heads just about everywhere we go!
The first shot was over, and everyone’s hands hurt! Look at those beautiful faces!
Everybody cried out, “That’s it, right, Mom? Can we go now?!”
My too-perky response, which was received with groans: “No! Everybody get back up there; we’re gonna take a few more photos! Let’s go, team! Up and at ’em!”
Round two! Get in there, Jackeline!
Their faces are priceless! Aren’t they just too cute? (Hey! Jason isn’t even hanging from the bars…) This must have been the most painful photo shoot they had ever attended!
Red alert! Josue’s grip gave way after several minutes clinging to the bar! Good thing Darwin was close to make sure everything was okay…
One last shot, everyone! Darwin, hop in there!
They were certainly relieved when we told them that we had successfully finished taking our wild series of family photos! Several collapsed on the ground dramatically in response to the rigorous process…
Amen! We praise and thank God for the beautiful family He is forming among us. He certainly is Father to the fatherless; He sets the lonely in families…
About a week ago during our family’s daily ‘Sabbath Hour’ — the whole house covered in a precious blanket of silence, our kids peacefully in their rooms while our candle’s small flame danced soundlessly along our bedroom’s dark walls after a long day — my phone suddenly rang.
It was not too late to receive a phone call — about 8:00pm or so — but when your whole household is on its feet and showering at 4:45am and all day is spent meeting the needs of dozens of very precious, needy people (of all ages), any phone call received after nightfall seems like a bad prank.
I continued brushing my teeth in the little cave-like bathroom that connects to our bedroom, standing idly in my large, baggy pajamas as Darwin reached for the phone. After a quick verbal exchange, he held the phone out to me — a gift I did not want to receive — and informed me, somewhat confused, “It’s Genesis from Choluteca.”
Choluteca is one of Honduras’ 18 regions and is located at the other geographical extreme of our small Central American country. Darwin, three of our kids and I had gone there on a mission trip with our faith community back in January 2015 and then again once more in the ensuing months. The drive to that arid, destitute part of our country takes about 10-11 hours, and the people there are steeped in a poverty that is even more harsh than that of our wounded and limping neighborhood on the northern coast. Many of the people have only corn to eat and are without electricity and running water.
I accepted the phone hesitantly, still trying to grasp exactly who was on the other end and why on earth they would be calling after two full years of zero contact. I answered wearily only to be greeted by an extremely polite, upbeat female voice.
She began asking how our daughters were (by name) and how my husband and I had been. About five minutes into our conversation it dawned on me: this was Genesis, the young 13-year-old teen whose father was a devout believer and had so graciously received us in their home during our stay in their village. I suddenly remembered the instant connection we had had with her — especially that of the friendship our daughters Gleny and Dayana had formed with her — and how we had marveled at her maturity, faith and dogged work ethic. I remember having been very impressed by the young woman while we worked alongside of her, and I had left a letter for her inviting her to come visit us in the future if the opportunity presented itself.
With that lightbulb suddenly aglow in my mind — remembering who I was conversing with — I tip-toed over to our older girls’ bedroom (breaking the delicate Sabbath Hour with my loud phone conversation), and joyfully handed the phone over to Dayana and Gleny to greet their long lost friend and sister in Christ.
After talking at length with our girls, Genesis talked with Darwin and then again with me. Now probably 15 years old, she informed me that she was not currently studying because the educational opportunities — especially on the secondary level — in her region are extremely limited, and her family did not currently have the economic means to find other educational options for her.
Our joyful conversation came to an end and, well, we hung up the phone. Suddenly our little house fell back into that beautiful silent void as my husband and I just stared at each other from across our cozy, nearly dark bedroom. The little flame kept its rhythm as it lapped at the darkness.
Should I say it? No, right? I felt like God was urging me to speak, but it seemed in my best (selfish) interest to keep quiet. Who to obey?
After a moment or two passed, my voice suddenly came out, like a soft but very focused missile, as I felt I must speak so as not to fall into cowardice.
“I feel like God wants us to extend Genesis the invitation to come study in our school and live with us.”
Really? Now? How absurd! Had I not just that same morning ruminated over the current status of our very full household, giving thanks to God for the 8 precious little (and increasingly big) ones he’s placed with us, convinced in my heart that no one else would be added to the tribe this year?
Darwin just smiled, as I believe God has spoken the same instruction to his own heart. We talked briefly — about a minute or two — and then decided to call her back and extend the invitation. She is our sister in Christ, desires to study and grow but has had no open doors, and she suddenly calls us out of nowhere for the first time in two years. And we just happen to have an extra bed in our older girls’ room and are prepping to begin our second year with our discipleship-based high school. How could we possibly deny this was God’s doing? Were we about to cling to our own notions of control, living by sight rather than by faith?
So we called back, she answered, and we extended the invitation. It was received with immediate enthusiasm, and the phone was quickly passed to Genesis’ father and mother, with whom Darwin communicated the logistical details. Both parents were overjoyed and commented to Darwin that they had been praying for this opportunity for years. God was finally answering their plea through our obedience.
We quickly called in Dayana and Gleny, again breaking our family’s Sabbath Hour with news-sharing and late-night group praying. We told them of Genesis’ arrival, and the news was received with two big grins. Once the details were conveyed, 16-year-old Dayana eyed me and asked, “But she is going to study in the local high school, right?”
Darwin and I quickly glanced at one another, confused at her strange remark, and I answered, “Of course not! She’s going to study here. In the Living Waters Ranch. With you.”
Dayana looked uneasy and added, “But she’s going to be in ninth grade.”
My jaw just about dropped to the floor as Darwin and I suddenly locked eyes. Ninth grade? But our school only goes up to eighth grade! How had we possibly forgotten to ask her what grade she was going to be in? I suppose we had assumed she was on her way to 7th grade, which is the first year of high school in this country!
A wave of panic slammed us for about an instant before I threw my head back and laughed — of course Father God had hidden that detail from us until now so that our ‘sophisticated’ human wisdom didn’t come into play to reason our way out of obedience! Ha! It would have been all too easy to close the door knowing that we had a logical escape!
Darwin and I along with our two girls suddenly began laughing uncontrollably as we rejoiced in God’s wisdom, which is so much better than our own. Well, I guess we would be getting the books for the 9th-grade level of our homeschool program! We continued laughing. Genesis would participate in all the normal extracurricular, spiritual and academic activities we offer with our 40+ students who are 1st-8th grade, but just with slightly different books! Our Father certainly has a good sense of humor!
So the next day we shared the news of Genesis’ arrival with the rest of our clan during a family meeting, and then Darwin and our kids were off to an afternoon outing at the local river. Sandra, whose disappearance I had written about several weeks ago, would be going with them.
The next morning, the news of Genesis’ pending arrival still very fresh on our hearts, our eldest daughter Dayana began chit-chatting with me in our large, open-air kitchen as we were serving breakfast. I asked her how the river outing had gone the day before with her dad and siblings, and she began telling me all the grand tales of adventure and fun. So-and-so climbed up to the top of a large boulder-sized rock to jump off, the other one scraped their knee, and several local classmates who study at the Living Waters Ranch had come along to join in the ruckus.
As our conversation was coming to a close, she glanced over at me and added casually, “Yeah, and Sandra told me she’ll be moving back in with us in a few days.”
Jaw to the floor. (I suppose that happens to me quite frequently.) My mouth gaping wide open, I began sputtering, “Wh– what? S-s-? Sandra’s moving back in? She told you this?” I couldn’t get my footing! Father God, throw me a bone!
My mind began rapidly searching itself for connections, trying to make sense of this breaking news. I knew that Darwin had sat down with Sandra and her mom a few weeks ago to talk cold-turkey about Sandra’s poor decision-making and current vulnerability in our corrupt rural neighborhood, extending the invitation for her to come stay with us on a short-term basis as a way of deepening her spiritual roots, having more direct contact and counsel with us and eliminating all contact with rogue neighbors, but Sandra’s seemed disinterred in Darwin’s proposal at the time and, as far as I could tell, had turned it down completely.
Dayana continued, not too thrown off by my bewildered expression (I suppose she sees it quite frequently), “Yeah, she feels that the temptations in the neighborhood are very strong right now, and she wants to take you and Dad up on your offer to be more protected during this time.”
My initial reaction was that of offense, for I felt wronged that Sandra had communicated more fully with our daughter than with me, but then, throwing my ego with all of its limitless demands to one side, I just sat back and allowed myself to laugh again, knowing that God’s plans are always better than our own. Not 8 kids — nor even 9 with the unexpected arrival of Genesis! — but rather 10. Ten! If our house wasn’t full already, it was about to be with 12 inhabitants, including my husband and I.
Over the following days my husband and I confirmed the details with Sandra and her mom, sitting down to pray and seek God’s will together as we came to the decision that Sandra would be staying with us for two months. Due to her mom’s work schedule, Sandra had been home alone frequently, which led to her easily falling into temptation due to the lack of adult supervision and support. Sandra’s mom, a devout Christian, wanted what was best for Sandra but was unable to provide the firm boundaries and disciplinary structure Sandra desperately needed, so we would be coming alongside their family once more to serve as a sort of spiritual and emotional life support for her during this time of great vulnerability.
And so we are at peace. Sandra moved back in two days ago, and thus far the process of recovering innocence — of remembering Father God’s love and submitting herself to His perfect will — is moving along quite joyfully. She’s back in her old room with our teen daughters, and we tuck her into bed each night. She returned to our discipleship-based high school after having struggled with wanting to drop out, and during her first week of classes she’s performed as one of the best students.
As for Genesis, she is on her way today. Darwin is scheduled to pick her and her mom up from the bus station this evening. We rejoice in the Lord at all times, and give thanks to Him for stretching us into these uncertain realms of hospitality to the least likely. Please pray with and for us during these times of transition and growth, and let us give thanks to God for granting us the privilege of being used by Him.
Amen! Glory to God!
Yesterday evening at dusk our old Toyota truck pulled to a slow stop along a narrow strip of gravel road in our neighborhood as one of our students who had been riding in the truckbed prepared to jump off. This was his stop.
I reached over to touch Darwin’s arm, motioning for him to wait, and said, “I’d like to get out and say hi to Stanley’s mom. I’ll be right back.” I then paused and laughed to myself, murmuring under my breath, “This definitely isn’t the first time I’ve visited this house.”
Jackeline, our 13-year-old daughter who was sitting inside the cab with us, piped up and said, “Yeah, you’ve come to visit Stanley and his cousin Sindy quite a few times, right, Ma?”
I laughed even harder and admitted, “No, never Sindy. Just Stanley.”
Sindy and Stanley, who both live at this address, had been students in our seventh-grade program last year. While Sindy had shone brightly as a very high-acheiving and easily-managed student, her cousin Stanley had proved to be a roller coaster of volatile emotions and foolish choices. He seemed prone to making bad decisions and had wanted to drop out of school several times. He had even told Darwin that his life dream was to join a gang, and he had participated in a robbery at our home in 2015.
And so I glanced over at Jackeline, who was a bit confused, and I smiled at her as I knew perhaps the depths and lengths I personally had been through with young, rebellious Stanley were a precious secret that only God and I shared (and Stanley’s mom). After all, I had showed up unexpected on their doorstep on several occasions looking for him, and twice I had even danced in that little strip of gravel road to try to convince him to come back to the Ranch, to continue seeking God’s will for his life.
And so I hopped down from the passenger’s seat of our truck and shouted over to Stanley, who had just gotten down from our truckbed, “Is it okay if I say ‘hi’ to your mom real quick?”
His face suddenly dropped, an instinct probably acquired due to the many times I’d had to ‘say hi to his mom’ for negative reasons, but suddenly a huge smile appeared on his face as he realized this time he had nothing to hide. We both laughed as I patted him on that back and said, “This time it’s good news.”
I waited at the twine gate, but they quickly passed me through to the more intimate realm of their property. I guess after having visited a house so many times, you sort of become like family. Stanley’s mom suddenly appeared from behind the thin curtain hanging in the front door, and we embraced, as we have on many occasions. This time, however, instead of Stanley escaping out the back door or hanging his head low, refusing to look anyone in the eyes, he stood tall right next to his mom, proud.
His mother instinctively looked worried as she wondered what had merited my unannounced house visit (as in, what-has-my-son-done-this-time), but I quickly reassured her that this time I came to brag on him and announce the fantastic news that he had earned a daily average of 89% during his first week of intensive preparation and had exhibited an entirely new attitude among his peers and towards us. Tears welled up in his mom’s eyes as I told her that her son had even begun taking great leadership among his peers and is a godly example for the new students to follow. Respectful, attentive, enthusiastic and hard-working during the daily hour of physical training. He had even completed all of his homework over the last several days, which had never happened before.
And so we gave thanks to God, I embraced his mother one more time, and we were off to do similar visits with the other students who remained joyfully squeezed in our truckbed.
We went house to house down long, remote gravel roads as we embraced mothers and step-mothers — both ones we’ve already had a relationship with from last school year along with ones that we are just now meeting for the first time. We had, after all, just spent the entire afternoon at a local park with our students who had earned a daily average of 80% or higher during their first week of intensive preparation for the school year, and we were eager to bear that good news to their parents.
In our rural community that hobbles around, bound by laziness, apathy and self-pity (not to mention rampant violence and a culture of lies), to see teenagers — especially those who in years past have been on the margins of society, on the brink of self-destruction or turning into instruments to destroy others — become fully alive, read God’s Word, and suddenly acquire a dogged work ethic and new hope regarding their future truly is miraculous.
On one of our last stops, at a small one-room shack with several barefoot little girls running about in the dirt yard, we shared the news of Charlie’s revival with his step-mom, who truly cares for him and who had been quite worried last year as time and time again Charlie slipped into irresponsibility and self-pity before finally failing his school year entirely. We had worked hard to convince his dad and step-mom to allow him to keep studying with us after his first year was an apparent failure (for we know the secret that many local parents don’t: this battle for salvation, for transformation is one that is done over the long-haul and one that cannot be given up on if the first year or two or three don’t go as planned). Charlie, who is 13 years old but has the appearance of an 8 or 9-year-old due to malnutrition, stood tall, his chest puffed out and his face serene as we enthusiastically shared the news with his step-mom. Charlie had earned a daily average of 97% in his first week of intensive prep, and his gracious attitude, servants’ heart and leadership skills — things that were not visible in him last year — shone brightly. His step-mom glowed with joy as she commented that she, too, had seen a distinct change in him over the last several days.
As we said our goodbyes and began walking down that little rocky dirt path back to our car, our 15-year-old son Brayan, who did a phenomenal job in his first week of classes, turned around and said jokingly, “And my house visit?” (As in, are you gonna brag on me too?) I laughed, knowing that we had already bragged on him more than 653 times this past week and I said with a grin, “I think your mom already knows that you did a fantastic job.” He smiled like a little boy and reached out a long, muscular arm towards me and said, “You’re my mom!” and I nodded my head and laughed.
And so we’ve been reading a lot of the book of Proverbs and the students have been copying whole chapters for homework. We’ve been reviewing basic math, assigning personal reflections each night to get the kids thinking, and participating in quite intense physical exercises with them each afternoon. The majority of our students come to us with an extremely weak academic base and need to be taught (or re-taught) the basic of subtraction, multiplication, etc, along with basic grammatical norms and reading support. This can be a tedious process as many of our students have learning disabilities/delays, but this week — praise God! — it was fun and effective. All but two of our students attended every single day, which in and of itself is a great triumph because discouragement and lack of attendance tend to be rampant in the educational system in Honduras.
The first week of intensive prep involved roughly 20 students (those who are new to our program along with those who need additional support), and next week roughly 20 more will be joining us as we enter our second and final week of academic, spiritual and physical ‘bootcamp’ before the official school year begins in early February.
And so we took that small group of students who truly fulfilled that first week of ‘bootcamp’ with excellence to a local park to participate in games of soccer and volleyball, enjoy the pool, and generally play. We are very excited to be able to do this type of positive reinforcement (we call them ‘good consequences’) from the get-go to establish healthy limits and a good foundation of choices/consequences with our students as we enter into this year of intimate commitment with them.
Please pray with us for our students (and for our team of teachers, counselors and mentors) as we are beginning a new school year with more youth than we have ever had in our program before. Please pray also for my health, as my insomnia remains a daily constant, and I physically am weak and prone to acquiring viruses/infections, as I have one right now (high fever and throat infection that has lasted much longer than it should). The insomnia greatly affects my mood, daily energy levels, and my relationship with everyone around me. Pray that this burden may be taken from me so that I may be even more effective in this great work the Lord has put before us.
Amen! Glory to God!
January 13, 2017: It has been over a month since I last wrote as we’ve unplugged from nearly all internet and administrative duties over the last several weeks. With great joy we finished off the year 2016 dedicating nearly every moment to the careful daily task of ‘building our nest’ with the 8 children our Father has placed under our (His) wings, three of which are already well into their adolescence.
Our daily rhythm has been slower as our beloved local Honduran laborers have been on vacation and our large rural property has been populated only by our family (Darwin, our 8 kiddos and I) and our night watchman’s quiet family. In these last few weeks there has been much time spent character-building, bond-forming and behavior-training as there has been less movement of people and activities on our rural property. We’ve been able to focus more fully on those under our roof who are blossoming into beautiful young men and women in the blink of an eye.
We’ve enjoyed weekly trips with our kids to a local park to swim and play, numerous family movie nights with popcorn and ice cream treats, and many family work days as we’ve slapped on our rubber boots and old clothes to do property maintenance, painting, and repairs together. We’ve moved furniture from one building to the next, cleaned out our classrooms’ stuffed-to-the-brim bookshelves, taken down doors, spent countless man hours sanding window bars, and gotten our fingernails dirty in just about every way imaginable.
We even got away for a few nights in December with our kids and escaped to a desert island off the coast to explore the ocean, go snorkeling, kayak, and fish. (Our kids caught a venomous snake, an octopus, a lobster, an eel, and even a few normal fish!) It was a new and exciting experience for everyone, and all ten of us squeezed into a little two-room rustic cabin that stood on pillars with the ocean’s waves passing underneath.
Darwin has begun reading through the Bible page-by-page, devouring many chapters each night, and two of our daughters have begun doing the same. 8-year-old Gabriela, who is lightyears behind her peers developmentally due to severe abuse suffered in her early childhood, has spent many hours each day receiving classes from her faithful tutors (local teenagers who are our students during the school year) and, miraculously, is in the very beginning stages of learning to write the letters and begin working with numbers. She will be entering first grade alongside of a few local students in our homeschool-style program in a couple weeks.
15-year-old Brayan, who has been successfully living with us for nearly three months now for ‘Round Two’ of being a member of our household, has been waking up early with Darwin every morning to go milk the cows, which has been a wonderful bonding activity for father and son and likewise a phenomenal work-ethic-building activity for Brayan as he is acquiring more maturity and consistency.
These slow-paced vacation times have also allowed for many long one-on-one discussions, intimate times of confession and repentance, and conflict resolutions among siblings. Family foot-rubs, late nights spent giggling and story-sharing with our teenage girls, praying together as we sit cross-legged on the tile floor to give thanks to Father God.
I’ve also been dedicating a chunk of time nearly every day to teaching our six oldest kids (ages 9-16) math classes homeschool-style as we gather around a long wooden table in one of our empty classrooms and I stand at the front with the whiteboard, scribbling numbers all over the place as we work to fill in many educational gaps they’ve suffered due to chaotic, no-school childhoods before arriving at our home.
Our local students will return to us full-time January 24 as we currently find ourselves in a three-week stage of preparation, brainstorms, communal prayer, strategic meetings and book discussions as we are seeking God’s perfect will for this new school year (the Honduran school year begins at the end of January/beginning of February and finishes in late November).
We currently have 40 students (ages 8-18) signed up to study at the Living Waters Ranch this school year (including the 8 who live with us), with all but 2 of our 25 students from 2016 returning in addition to several new additions.
As our influence in the community is growing, God has brought more workers to labor alongside of us in these times of planting, watering and harvesting. Miss Isis and Miss Ligia, who were featured on this blog several times throughout the year 2016, have committed to continuing their service for God’s glory in 2017, and three additional teachers/mentors have been added to our team: Domingo, a well-respected local pastor in his fifties (who is the father of one of our students) and who has experience in military service and as a carpenter; Reina, a local Christian teacher in her late forties who has many years of experience in the classroom and had approached us many months ago wanting to work with us due to the comments her neighbors had shared with her about our purpose and vision; and Erick, the very wise young man who lived at the Living Waters Ranch with us for nearly a year in 2013/2014 and who has a very strong gifting in evangelism and discipleship.
It has been a very special privilege in these first couple weeks of 2017 to be in such gifted, dedicated company as we’ve all put our heads together as a team – as Christ’s body – to search out God’s will for us as his sons and daughters, as a beacon of light in our very dark neighborhood, as a school for many youth who would not otherwise study, as a ‘rescue shop within a yard of hell.’ Our kids have actively participated in these meetings (oftentimes lasting 3-4 hours with many different speakers, activities, moments of prayer, etc) as they are taking an increasingly active role in participating in the ministry the Lord has entrusted us.
Thank you to all who read this blog and share with us your generous support, prayer and counsel. Please continue to pray for us as we are in the formative stages of this new year of service and love for God’s glory.
As I saw the hand-written note carefully wedged in the handle of our dining room door my heart sunk as I sensed I already knew what the contents would hold.
I had been granted the rare treat that morning of being home alone as Darwin had taken all of our kids to town with him to a music session. It was Saturday, and I had spent the morning in our quiet home writing and praying. 15-year-old Brayan — that same young man who lived with us for 8 months in 2014 and has since been heavily involved in school with us, discipleship and occasional family outings — had asked permission to be in our school building that morning working on his homework assignments alone, as his general focus level is very low and he’s thus unable to work effectively in his step-mom’s house in the midst of younger siblings and much activity.
I had not seen or heard from him all morning as he was holed up in our school building with his notebooks and audio learning tapes while I was holed up in our cinderblock home with my own quiet activities.
It was early afternoon when I came upon the carefully folded-up letter wedged in the door on my way to get water from the open-air kitchen that the three small buildings on our property share.
I immediately knew the letter was from Brayan, and I felt my eyes could see right through the lined notebook paper to the inside of its contents, read the entire letter without unfolding it.
I un-wedged the little note from the door handle and cradled it in my hands for a few moments, just staring at it and wanting to delay the inevitable. It’s like getting a life-changing phone call or having your pregnancy test come back positive; for better or worse, your life will never be the same again afterward.
Darwin and the rest of the kids far from our rural property, I breathed slowly as my heart increased the beat of its rhythm. I took a step back from the emotion of the present moment as I very intentionally situated myself under God’s perfect will, staving off my own rebellion with something greater. I breathed those increasingly familiar words once more, bracing myself for what would come next. “Father, may Your will be done, not mine…”
A sense of very selfish dread filled my chest not because I feared some vulgar message or devastating piece of news scribbled inside but rather because I knew he was right.
I unfolded it and realized it was not one page but two. Front and back. Wobbly cursive hand-writing that must have taken all morning to perfect. One paragraph written in red ink, then the next in blue, then the next in pencil. The entire document was written like this, alternating between colors. Paragraph after paragraph, the pattern never broke. Red ink, blue ink, pencil.
At the end of the second page, there were three hearts, one in red ink, one in blue and the other in pencil.
Brayan, our beloved “martian child” who in the past couple years had not managed to pass fifth grade despite his many efforts in our accelerated program for older students — whose emotions (and body) have been hammered by pain and abandonment from a very young age — did, in fact, write exactly what I had feared. And worse, for once he was being logical.
Please, God, give me a solid reason to say no because I certainly can’t think of one.
What about that quickly-fading (and extremely selfish) dream of mine of attaining some sense of ‘normal’ someday? What about the under-control household environment, the small collection of beautiful, high-achieving biological children? Brayan is possibly the worst student academically that we have! And — and we have so many daughters! Surely this would just feed the chaos. Why can’t we just keep on going as we have been this year with him — a friendly, mentor-type relationship, but at a safe distance? And our house is so small; we’re going to have to start piling people one on top of the other to make everyone fit! Please give me a reason to say no…
My rebellion continued as my ego turned red-hot and stamped its feet: If we are going to take in kids who sprung from another woman’s womb, at least bring us ones that are ready for a quick recovery! May they have bright, active minds — may they be able to fully integrate into productive society! But the broken ones, the ones who will forever need emotional crutches, who will probably never really spread their wings and fly? I mean, we already have developmentally-challenged Gabriela and Josue who have more needs than anyone can fill. Oh, Father…
In this past year we’ve made it a habit to tell our kids that there is nothing they could ever do that could make us stop loving them. Good decisions, bad decisions — it doesn’t matter. God has placed us in their lives to show them daily — over the long haul that is the rest of our lives — what His love is for us, and it’s unconditional. They can rest in our love as we all rest in God’s; we’re not going away nor will we ever abandon them.
Was I prepared to look Brayan in the eyes and say the same thing to him, day after day?
My eyes wearily took in the heart-breaking multi-colored paragraphs that I know he pined over all morning, searching for just the right words. And, even as my own ego rebelled against his request, my Father confirmed in my heart what I had known all along: our prodigal son would be coming home.
His step-mother, the very hard-working woman up to her thighs in poverty who had been taking care of him all year, would be sending him away to another town to live with his biological mom (who abandoned him in his infancy and since then has had almost zero role in his life) once he finished his school year this month because she could no longer manage the heavy burden that Brayan presents.
His step-mother had every right to do so — it was not her choice to be Brayan’s sole guardian after his father (the step-mom’s husband) died a few years ago. But Brayan — and I — understood what that would mean. No more school, no more guidance. He is, after all, too old to be in a public elementary school, and very few people have been granted the grace to love Brayan well. He would be sentenced to a life of probably wandering around aimlessly, very far geographically from the love and Biblical guidance that we provide him daily. No more Bible study, no weekly trips with us to the park, no fun birthday parties, choir trips, and prayer groups. Just a life of being cut off from the only real source of love he’s possibly ever known.
We were and always have been the family that God has blessed this young man with, even if over the last two years it has been at arm’s length.
So he asked several times and in several different ways — and with several different shades of ink — if he could move back in with us. He asked for forgiveness for the times he’s disrespected us, not followed the rules. He asked again and again, and it broke my heart even as my mind rattled off its last few objections and then eventually gave up.
He wasn’t the one who needed to ask for forgiveness; it was us.
We had been the ones to be too impatient with him, earnestly seeking harvest where we should have been concerned only with sowing. Had we not thrown up our hands in exasperation so many times with Brayan, unable to see any light at the end of what seemed to us to be a never-ending tunnel? (And had we not found ourselves in very similar stages of frustration with each and every one of the kids under our care, but had we not persevered with them where we hadn’t with Brayan?)
And so, six days after receiving that multi-colored note, Brayan moved back in with his cardboard box-full of belongings. Darwin, Brayan, and I went to sign all the paperwork down at the local government office to allow him to legally begin living with us again (which turned out to be no paperwork at all because the lawyer who had agreed to meet with us was out of the office and the other lawyer just spoke with me briefly and jotted down Brayan’s name on a little piece of paper before letting us go). First I then Darwin embraced Brayan bear-hug style with a big grin on our faces that matched that of his. God’s glory among us was palpable as we surely displayed the appearance of people who genuinely like — love — one another, something that in this culture is very rarely shown even among biological family members. The middle-aged female lawyer who had spoken with me in her office just observed us from a careful distance with a curious expression on her face. Why on earth were Darwin and I — and this rogue young man who has no other place to live, no real love in his life, so many reasons to be depressed and angry — so joyful, and how on earth did we feel such freedom so as to hug him? The majority of the minors who are admitted into foster families or children’s homes are little children — not towering young men with budding facial hair. Why had this abandoned, broken teenager chosen to find refuge in a Christian family rather than a gang?
So as we sat around the dining room table together that first night as a 10-again family (two parents and 8 kids), Dayana — who had shared our little cinderblock home with him during his first round in our household back in 2014 — smiled ear-to-ear and said, “Welcome home again, Brayan.”
Since his move home, these first twenty-two days have been off to a blessed start. In the wee hours of each morning Darwin gets Brayan up, they both slip on their rubber boots and old work clothes and head out to the barn together to milk the cows. Whereas during his first round of living in our home he and Darwin often butted heads like two of those male mountain goats that you see on Discovery Channel, both wanting to knock the other one off the mountainside, now he and Darwin wrestle together for fun, poking each other and giving the other a hard time with a big smile on their face. Whereas in his early times in our household nearly three years ago he was a loud, uncontrollable young man with extreme impulses, he is now much calmer, more mature and smiles frequently (as is consistent with his behavior this year in school with us). Darwin calls him “Brayan Big Beard” due to the little budding facial hairs on his upper lip, and Brayan adds a good dose of testosterone to our household after having previously been dominated almost entirely by young women. The girls are putting into practice good, healthy limits as is he, and we are all clinging to God’s grace each day as we are trusting with all our might that this is what He’s asked us to do.
Amen! Glory to God!
Other posts written about our journey following God’s will with Brayan: It All Started With a Cup of Water (February 2014), Our Favorite Neighbor (October 2014), “Hola Ma” (July 2015) and A Million Pinpricks of Light: The Hand of God in a Dark World (January 2016)
Two Sundays ago as we came barrelling home in our old pickup truck after having spent the entire day up in the mountains with our faith community, we stopped by several homes in our rural neighborhood to drop off four of our students who had accompanied us that morning.
Everyone was joyfully exhausted from our Sunday routine of two-and-a-half hours round-trip drive to study God´s Word and worship His name with our small community of believers that meets at our mentors’ home. Miss Isis, our primary teacher and beloved sister in Christ who now lives at the Living Waters Ranch with her 1-year-old daughter, sat in the seat behind me scrunched up alongside a few of our kids while the rest bounced along in the truckbed.
Long gone are the days of Darwin and I intimately relating with our three, four or five kids at a slow, intentional pace while the rest of the world carries on with their own business. Now we have several local students, a single mom in her twenties and a precious 1-year-old who form part of our growing extended family that demands our time and love on nights and weekends in addition to the eight who sleep under our tin roof. When did things change so much, so quickly? Is it blessing or mere hassle to include everyone all the time? Are we even a family anymore? Were we ever?
These thoughts weighed me down as I sat in the passenger´s seat at Darwin’s right. With a great jolt we passed the speedbump-like threshold through our front gate and came to a stop on our large grassy lawn in front of our home. It was already past 4:00pm. I looked over at Darwin as surely both of our minds were immediately greeted with all that had to be done: unload the car, supervise the lengthy bathing process of eight kids/teens with one common shower, get dinner ready (and then serve it, then clean up), tend to the general emotional needs of the kids and help resolve any conflicts throughout the process, and prepare our living room for our traditional Sunday-night movie as a family. All in about an hour.
¨Can we call a family meeting? I have something I need to express.¨
He looked over at me as he took the key out of the ignition, ¨Sure. I´ll call the kids.¨
So about two minutes later our eight kids, Darwin and I were all seated on sofas and stools and floor in our rectangle-shaped living room to see what it was that I had to say. Family meetings are not uncommon for us, as each person has such a unique schedule between school, work and other activities that a general meeting has to be held if one hopes to communicate something to everyone at once.
So there we sat as I began to express how I felt — not necessarily how things actually are or how the others see things, just simply how I was feeling .
I sat on the floor with my back propped up against our closed front door, putting words to my heart’s heaviness: in a normal family, bonding time between parent and child is allowed from birth until the teens before the young adult then flies the coop, carrying with them their family´s investment in their lives as they enter the adult realm. In our situation, however — when our kids come to us at age 13, 11, 7 or 15 — we are granted very little time to make any kind of familial connection, to gather twigs together and form some kind of makeshift nest before they are already taking flight.
Perhaps I feel that I am that small bird, eagerly collecting twigs and pieces of twine and other useful tidbits to make a suitable nest for the ones the Lord has brought us, carefully weaving them together with all my joyful imperfection, good intentions stained by the fall of humanity. Many of our little birds, however, are already taking flight, looking anxiously to their quickly-approaching adulthood while their childhood remains an unanswered question, a gaping void.
I remain perched, cut short in my earnest dedication, a lifeless twig dangling from my beak as those around me are already flapping their wings, nest half-made.
Three of our daughters already wear the same bra size that I do, and it seems like they´re on the constant search for a boyfriend. A boyfriend? And we never even got the chance to rock them in our arms. Even 9-year-old Jason, who came to us when he was 6, is growing so quickly and doesn´t search me out for maternal warmth as he did in his first year or two with us. Our home is quickly shedding childhood and leaving it behind as more of our kids are reaching adolescence; in four years’ time our youngest kids will be twelve. The oldest, twenty.
So all eyes were trained on me as I simply expressed my own sadness at how quickly things are moving forward, growing up. We are in the process of legally adopting almost-16-year-old Dayana and her younger siblings, but it is very likely that she will be in college or married before she actually holds our last name.
Our home is the Lord’s mission base is a school for local kids is the discipleship center: everything we have is shared with others. During daytime hours, many women cook in our kitchen and many neighbors eat from it. Monday through Friday dozens of adults, teens and kids spend their lives within our front gate, within our personal space, lives. Our car is public transport for choir kids, for our Christian laborers, students. Oftentimes I feel that our days are at the mercy of others´ needs. Everyone wants to invite friends to dinner and neighbors to our Sunday worship activities. This is good; this is blessing; but have we lost all sense of cultivating this precious little patchwork quilt of lives the Lord is knitting together under this roof? What good is it to reach the multitudes, expand our school, disciple our neighbors if we lose those the Lord has placed most near to us? Did His call to raise orphaned and abandoned children — to be His family to those who have none — not come to us before that of a school or discipleship center?
Darwin and the kids listened carefully and heads began to nod slowly in agreement. I asked sincerely: ¨Does anyone else feel this way?¨
Dayana, sitting on my right and typically so wrapped up in her own adolescence, looked at me with hesitant, vulnerable eyes as she confirmed that she, too, has felt that our nest is not yet complete, that it is still not time to fly away, that roots must continue to be laid.
So our discussion opened up as thoughts were shared. Soon the question was presented: ¨What are some special things that we do as a family — and only as a family, without our Christian laborers or students or neighbors involved, although we love them all dearly?¨
12-year-old Jackeline spoke up for the first time from across the room, seated on our small couch with a pillow held closely to her chest: ¨When we go to the park on Wednesdays as a family.¨ Several others voiced their agreement.
I went next: ¨I really enjoy going into your rooms at night to pray with you or just spend time together. I know I don´t do it all the time because I´m normally exhausted at the end of the day, but I feel very close to you on the ocassions when I do go.¨
11-year-old Gleny perked up and smiled big, ¨Yeah! I really like when you put us to bed.¨
So we continued onward, naming the various activities — and, surprisingly, there were about a dozen or so — that we do on a regular basis to intentionally weave twigs into the always-evolving nest the Lord has entrusted us.
By the end of the lengthy conversation, it became evident to Darwin and I that we needed to take action to schedule some kind of family respite, some activity that would allow us to focus exclusively on our own little birds rather than on all our neighborhood´s little birds who flock through our front gate each day for school and discipleship.
So, we cancelled all our activities this past Friday and spent the day as a family at a local wildlife refuge. Together, all 10 of us wove a few more twigs into this patchwork nest, rested our busy wings and settled down together to enjoy our Father´s love that has been manifested in our midst.
Amen! Glory to God!
Below you’ll find this month’s general life/ministry updates and prayer requests along with photos our kids and I took a couple Saturdays ago as we were all doing chores, giving tutoring classes to Gaby and Josue, and generally participating in various activities around the house as a family.
Special Needs/Early Education Room Created, New Teacher Added
Due to the high costs of our special-needs son Josue’s private transportation and monthly school fees, we made the move to begin educating him at home for about the same cost (while being able to implement several positive changes not only for his benefit but for many others as well). A local Christian woman has been added to our team of laborers as Josue’s full-time tutor/teacher, and we’ve transformed what was our guest room to now be Josue’s classroom! Not only Josue but also 7-year-old Gaby (who also suffers developmental delays due to severe abuse suffered before she arrived at our home) and three little boys from our neighborhood also benefit from our new special needs/early education classroom, thus freeing up our primary teacher (Miss Isis) to focus more intensively on the other students who are more advanced and can already read, write, and participate in a normal classroom environment. Gaby and Josue’s new classroom has floor mats, a mini trampoline, many stuffed animals, balls, art supplies, a little skateboard, whiteboard, and everything else our little munchkins need to continue developing intellectually and emotionally in a safe, fun environment! I think our older kids are jealous!
Breakthroughs of Confession and Repentance
In the past several weeks we have experienced several surprising breakthroughs with our teen daughters in the realm of confession and repentance. We give thanks to God for these incredibly sweet moments of light as we are all coming into a fuller understanding of God’s grace, and we ask that you continue to pray with us for their continued transformation as daughters of the King!
General Health Updates
My struggle with insomnia continues onward with basically zero progress. Each night I’ve been sleeping roughly 1-4 hours and am unable to take naps during the day. I’ve begun seeing a Christian massage therapist/counselor to help detoxify my body and find ways (both physical and spiritual) to manage my stress levels better, but even so I have not been able to attain normal sleep patterns. Darwin and all of our kids are enjoying wonderful health!
We have submitted our very large manila folder full of bank reports, personal recommendation letters, our marriage certificate, proof of purchase of our car, and many other letters/documents to our lawyer in the capital city of Tegucigalpa, and we are officially in the midst of adopting Dayana (15), Gleny (11) and Jason (8), the first three kids to move in with us in November 2013. The cost ended up being higher than we had originally anticipated, but even so we’ve been able to make the first of the three payments. Please pray with us that our Father will provide the funds each step of the way to make their adoption a reality.
April Grocery Bills Cut Back Drastically
Last month we began a rice-and-beans-only fast for an indefinite period of time in an attempt to cut back on what were quickly becoming extremely high grocery bills due to the fact that many people get fed in our kitchen. Well, the fast was a raging success — last month we spent roughly ONE THIRD of what we had previously been spending each month on food products. Right now in the month of May we have continued onward with this fasting mentality, although not as strictly as last month. Please pray with us that we will be able to find sustainable ways to cut back on grocery spending while still investing in a fairly diverse diet for our growing kids.
Darwin, Jennifer and Team of Christian Laborers Studying Danny Silk’s Book “Loving Our Kids on Purpose”
We are currently studying a fantastically dynamic book targeted at parents, teachers and mentors. The process thus far of reading, underlining, etc, and then coming together throughout the week to sit down, pray together, and discuss new insights has been enjoyable and very helpful as we are seeking to grow in effectiveness while also training our beloved laborers in this work the Lord has entrusted us.
May 27 and 28 I will be attending a conference about 5 hours away with Isis (our Primary Teacher/Christian laborer) to continue growing together and learning from other missionaries and laborers across the country who are dedicated to similar labors with at-risk youth. Darwin and I have benefited greatly from attending this annual conference during the last two years, and this year we sensed that Isis and I were to attend while he stayed back with the kids and students.