Tag Archives: Learning Curve

June 2016 Updates and Prayer Requests

Outrageously Fun Learning Curve

At the Living Waters Ranch we are currently riding quite a thrilling learning curve, seeing as none of us has previously done the kind of work that the Lord has currently assigned us.

Special-needs kids, sexual abuse victims, parenting teenagers who spent their childhood in someone else’s family, teaching God’s Word weekly to dozens of people, intimately guiding the hearts and lives of wounded youth, mounds of (sometimes confusing) legal documents to be continually written and updated, designing and then operating a new high school, seeking to cultivate an intentional Christian community, financially stewarding a growing ministry, managing (and guiding, loving, investing in) a team of Christian workers, legal adoptions, a herd of milking cows? 

Our hair is blown-back and our lips are flapping in the intense wind as we daily engage in the outrageous privilege of learning on the fly, utilizing every spare second of freetime to absorb new teachings, devour the Word, go and learn from those ahead of us, listen to sermons directing our steps into this unknown territory of children’s ministry, devour books on topics such as sexual abuse/spiritual warfare/leadership training, sit down to pray and seek guidance together as Christ’s body, and make 1,459 mistakes along the way.

Let us give thanks to our Father who calls the unlikely, and then — miraculously! — equips them to go out and proclaim His name! Amen!

Miss Isis, Primary Teacher and Christian Laborer, Will Move to the Living Waters Ranch in July

Miss Isis, our young primary teacher who has been roughing it with us in the ‘wilderness’ among rogue youth, hard-learned lessons and joy abounding since August of last year, will be moving into a spare bedroom in our office/special needs building with her year-and-a-half-old daughter at the beginning of July.

She is a native Honduran and has been called to leave her family’s home, sell the majority of her belongings, and take the huge step of faith to begin living on our mission base 7 days a week as a way of deepening her walk with the Lord. The step she is taking is very counter-cultural and has been difficult for her family to accept, but it is such a privilege to see that she is assured even moreso that Jesus is calling her into deeper intimacy with Himself.

She is a sponge, has grown exponentially in these 10+ months of laboring alongside of us, and is a tireless worker in proclaiming the incredible grace of a good God.

We are so proud of her and are excited about taking the step to include her into our growing family/community at the Living Waters Ranch as our Father continues to mold us into His family, a beautiful expression of His love for wounded, rebellious humanity.

Sandra’s Mom Begins Attending Bible Study

15-year-old Sandra, who moved in with us in February of this year due to a situation of sexual abuse with her step-father and about whom I have written many updates and prayer requests since then, continues to hold a very precious relationship with her mother.

Sandra´s mom, who is still trapped in a difficult relationship with Sandra´s step-dad but doesn’t have the financial means to leave him with her three younger kids, visits Sandra weekly at our home/mission and has begun to attend Bible study in our dining room with us as she continues to seek refuge in the warrior God who loves her and is constantly seeking to protect her heart from the harsh circumstances in this world. Two of Sandra’s younger sisters (who are not in danger with Sandra´s step-dad because he is their biological father and treats them well) have also become actively involved in Darwin´s youth choir, and their mom is now attending first grade at a school for illiterate adults on Saturdays as she desires to be able to read God’s Word for herself.

Please continue to pray for this precious woman as she continues to seek God’s will in the midst of an unhealthy marriage relationship and deep poverty.

Celebration of Four Years Living in Honduras, Three Years of Marriage

The 5th of this month I celebrated my four-year anniversary since moving to Honduras as a recent college graduate in 2012, and on the 24th Darwin and I will celebrate three years of marriage. Glory to God for these milestones!

Prayer for Additional Supporters

Due to the fact that this is the first year we have offered our discipleship-based 5-day-per-week high school program along with our new special-needs classroom to local youth from our (destitute, gang-riddled) rural neighborhood, we have higher monthly expenses than we have had in years past as we are now serving more people. Each month more is going out than coming in, so I am humbly expressing our need to see if anyone is called to join with us to fill it.

My husband and I currently toil joyfully alongside of four full-time Christian laborers (local Honduran missionaries serving as teachers, prayer leaders, etc) whom the Lord has brought to the Living Waters Ranch and from which they earn their living. All four full-time laborers have been added on in the last year, and thus salaries — however meager they are — are currently a heavy (but entirely necessary) financial burden in addition to the many other monthly expenses we incur (medical/dental/basic care costs for the 8 who live with us full-time, food, administration, legal fees, educational materials for our students, etc).

There are currently 18 individuals/families and  3 churches who financially support this work monthly and several others who give generously from time to time.

Please pray with us that the Lord would raise up a handful more of faithful individuals/families to partner with us in this incredible expression of God’s Kingdom among us here in Honduras. If you or anyone you know is called to participate with us in this work, you can go to http://www.CTEN.org/jenniferzilly

Seeking Prayer for Current Frustrations

We are currently facing many difficulties with the students in our discipleship-based school program. The general attitude in our poverty-stricken rural neighborhood is one stained with a deep sense of laziness, ingratitude, self-pity and dishonesty, all of which is brought onto our property daily as the students pass through our gates.

Weekly we face many instances of cheating, blatant disrespect and/or a total refusal to complete basic assignments, and many times when we look for healthy ways to discipline/correct such behavior the students´ parents come to their rescue, defending and justifying their children´s dishonesty and laziness. Sometimes the family members even accuse us, and in one instance a student´s family got the local educational authorities involved to come against us because we are determined to hold honest, just standards in this culture of complicity that only breeds more ignorance and evil-doing. This is very frustrating and saddening for us, and it makes for long and sometimes seemingly unfruitful days.

Just this morning my husband and I had to rearrange our plans last-minute and go make three personal house visits to talk with certain students and their parents after having confronted a severe situation of cheating/lying/scoffing. Likewise, we have other students who simply don´t come to school or their moms send notes to the teacher saying their child is sick when in fact they aren´t (that happened this morning as well.)

Please pray for us during this continued period of discernment/learning as we are still in our first 4-5 months of our first school year with these programs and students. All of our local students come from the public school system where they were accostumed to missing as many days of school as they wanted, cheating with zero consequence, and passing their grade no matter the effort given because the Honduran government has declared that all students must pass their grade whether they actually learned anything or not. (There are thousands of cases nationwide each year of students who at the end of the school year have earned a 30% or 60%, etc, but the teacher is forced to write ¨70%¨ on the report card and pass the unprepared, lazy child onto the next grade). That system produces, as we know too well, students who are 15 or 18 years old in 7th grade who still don’t know the times tables and don’t understand why it might be important to learn them.

So, please pray with and for us, that we may be granted a right view of these cultural ills and thus know how to inculcate a genuine sense of self-discipline, punctuality, responsibility, truth-telling, dogged work ethic, etc, in these students who are accostumed to the exact opposite. Furthermore, may our Father grant us the perseverance and wisdom to not become discouraged or too caught-up in certain details that, eternally viewed, do not matter as much as our daily labor of sharing God’s Word with the students, loving and guiding them according to His good will, and praying with and for them.

It is a very fine line, because if we implement the godly discipline we believe in and know to be very healthy for rebellious, lost youth, we would currently be left very likely with only one or two students (because the rest would have stormed out or been expelled). On the other hand, if we are too flexible and ¨understanding,¨ very quickly everything becomes permissible and we fall prey to the same evil that plagues the public schools.

Just this morning two of our teen boys from primary school expelled themselves after having reached their fifth strike, a very reasonable discipline system we have put in place to protect both ourselves and our students from contaminating our home/mission with an attitude of uncurbed rebellion. Prior to being expelled their general attitude was deeply marked by a defiant laziness, too many unexcused tardies, cheating during exams (and laughing when getting caught…and then yelling at us and accusing us of being unfair for not having let them cheat), and disrespectful attitudes, oftentimes proclaiming to their teacher that they wouldn’t be coming back the next day because our school is ¨too strict.¨

I share these frustrations so that you may go before the Lord with us in search of the answers.

A handful of students in both primary and secondary are truly succeeding in our program, are actively absorbing God’s Word as it is presented to them, and are in the beautiful beginning stages of being transformed by their knowledge of the Truth. Let us give thanks to God for the receptivity and work ethic of these students, and may the Lord continue to protect them against attacks from the enemy. May His will be done in and among us, and may He continue to guide us with all wisdom, justice and love as we seek to earnestly shepherd the rogue youth He has brought to us for His glory. Amen!