Greetings to all from the Living Waters Ranch, our rural ministry homestead on the northern coast of Honduras.
I’m relieved to inform you that the political crisis has calmed down a bit lately, and the roads have been open with no noticeable protests for the last several weeks. We continue to pray that peace and justice might prevail in Honduras and that God might grant our leaders true wisdom so as to effect God-honoring, long-term solutions for this hurting nation.
Below I share with you a diverse set of photos (and detailed explanations!) from our daily life of service in this little corner of the world…
This was a campout that several of our local missionary-teachers and students went on during a recent school vacation. These types of events are organized in order to dedicate additional time to disciple our students, offer healthy recreational activities for them, and pour into their lives beyond the classroom for God’s glory. We offer several campouts such as these throughout the year, and many of our teenage students participate.
Darwin and a select group of our students (including two of our foster kids) were recently invited to sing on television with our new guitar/choir teacher (the man in the vest on the far left). He is a very talented local musician who composes up-beat songs with Christian and ecological messages.
This is 11-year-old Josue, a special-needs young man who lived with us as one of our foster children for over 4 years before moving in with his maternal grandmother earlier this year. We still see him frequently (and invite him to all of our family birthday parties), and he will actually be coming back under our full-time care during the upcoming months as his grandma will be out of the country for work until roughly March 2020. (Grandma feeds him really well and doesn’t let him play much outdoors, but we already have a plan for how we are going to help him regain the active health he enjoyed before!)
Several weeks ago my husband and several of our local students’ moms got together to celebrate my 29th birthday alongside of all of our students, teachers and foster kids. We miraculously cut the cake into over 60 pieces in order to make sure everybody got a piece! (I dare you to count ’em!)
You gotta be good at math to cut this cake!
Waiting for their little piece of cake!
One of our local students, an 8th-grader, explains his recent science project to a group of onlookers.
This is my husband Darwin with a group of his English class students on a special field trip into the city of La Ceiba to eat pizza. Some of our local students never get out of our little rural town, so experimenting a change of environment tends to be very exciting. (One of our local teens had never seen the ocean even though the nearest beach is only a few miles away from our town. That was remedied as Darwin organized a large group field trip out to the beach earlier this year.)
This is Jeffrey, a local 15-year-old youth who has been in our school for the last several years. Currently in 4th grade, he has several developmental delays and comes from a severely disintegrated home, as his father and one of his brothers left earlier this year for the United States, leaving him, his mother and two of his brothers behind. Jeffrey requires a lot of individualized attention as he has dislexia and ADHD, and my husband Darwin has a very soft spot for him. We are very proud of Jeffrey for choosing to stay in school and be exposed to daily biblical teaching, as it is very popular for teenage boys in our neighborhood to simply roam the streets or get mixed up in trouble.
This is a photo taken in Darwin’s group piano class earlier this month. Music is a fundamental element we try to inculcate in all of our students as part of their integral development, healing from past traumas, and preparation for life and God’s service.
Whenever our foster children have a birthday, we like to take the opportunity to write them love letters and little notes of affirmation and encouragement. These specific index cards were part of 16-year-old Paola’s celebration, and a few of them read “You are strong in Christ,” “Your life is of great worth,” “God has been good to you,” and “You are beautiful!”
Birthday parties are so much more fun with disguises!
Prayer is an integral part of life in our home. On this specific occasion we were praying for God’s blessing, wisdom and salvation over one of our foster kids on their birthday.
Several weeks ago I began teaching an intensive World Geography class to all of our students, focusing on current world trends and how we should react to said trends from a God-honoring standpoint. A recent topic for the class was the ever-increasing LGBT influence around the globe and how we as Christians should stand firm on the Bible’s clear teachings concerning homosexuality and God’s design of man and woman, biblical marriage, etc. As part of the class curriculum I asked all of our students to look up Bible verses specifically addressing these gender- and identity- issues, and to write them on index cards, poster boards, etc, in a loving and clear way with the goal of communicating truth and edifying one another as God created them. We have since filled two of our school’s bulletin boards with this precious information, and we continue to influence our students and foster kids to live a God-honoring life, not giving in to what the world claims is normal but rather standing firm on the Rock of truth.
Here are two of our beloved local missionary-teachers participating in a recent game of blindfolded Chinese freeze tag alongside of our students. (One is a lawyer by profession and the other is a trained beautician, but both have been called by God to lay down their lives and traditional plans in order to love, teach and disciple the next generation of Hondurans for God’s glory.)
This is Darwin doing the father-daughter dance with one of our foster daughters (Gleny) who recently turned 15, which is a big birthday in this culture.
Here is Erick (purple shirt), one of our extremely influential local missionary-teachers leading up a Saturday effort to clean up the streets in our neighborhood — a never-ending job done with grace and dedication!
Who knew that picking up trash could be so much fun?
God bless you, and thank you for your continued prayers and support. Please pray that the Lord might increasingly shine His light through us and that many might come to repentance and saving faith in Christ through this hidden yet faithful work.
Jennifer, for Darwin and family/mission
PS — Please feel free to contact me directly at JenniferZillyCanales@yahoo.com if you would like to share any personal prayer requests with me and/or reach out with any questions, suggestions or concerns.
From time to time I enjoy posting photo galleries from our daily life and ministry in rural Honduras for those outside of our immediate context who probably wonder what exactly our days look like here.
Our normal daily commitment involves getting up at 4:45am and dedicating our waking hours to a fairly organized schedule of teaching, discipling, community evangelism, homemaking and deepening our walk with the Lord alongside of many people (mainly teenagers) for God’s glory until about 8:00pm or so when we retire for the day.
In the midst of our daily efforts to share hope with those nearest to us and proclaim the good news of God’s Kingdom (in word and deed), we give God all the glory for His transformative work in this little corner of the globe.
God bless you, and I hope you enjoy the following photos taken by Jessica, one of our beloved local missionary-teachers. Please continue to pray for Honduras’ current political crisis and that the Lord might grant this nation peace.
One of our foster daughters in organic agriculture class on our rural ministry homestead (the Living Waters Ranch)
One of our four math classes offered in our discipleship-based community homeschool that we operate out of our home
Our pre-teen boys (all local students with the exception of our 11-year-old foster son) in their weekly art class on one of our porches
My husband Darwin teaching a large group of choir students
Some of our girls dressed in their wacky attire for “Mismatched Clothes Day”
One of our local missionary-teachers supporting our cook in a basic literacy class
A public swimming hole close to our property where we oftentimes go on nature hikes with our foster children and/or local students
A healthy, fun outing one of our local missionary-teachers did with her small group of 7th grade students
Traditional classroom work during the morning hours
One of our precious foster daughters in a school presentation on our rural ministry property
My husband Darwin with some of his 6th grade students who came to school dressed with foreign attire for world culture awareness
One of our young local students who came dressed as a Vietnamese child!
Another one of our local treasures who came to school dressed as a German businessman!
An endless task in Honduras: keeping weeds out of the garden!
One of our beloved local students who has been faithfully involved in Christian discipleship and integral education at the Living Waters Ranch for the last several years
Some of our teen girls working in the middle of a planted field under the leadership of one of our local missionary-teachers
More weed-pulling to ensure that the crops have a chance to grow!
Our official photo from Come-To-School-Dressed-As-A-Superhero Day!
I was dressed as “She Who Has the Power to Erase Detentions” (my made-up superpower that all the kids loved and wanted me to exercise on their behalf)!
One of our beloved local missionary-teachers teaching a Christian dance routine with our foster daughters and local female students
An organized road race in the city of La Ceiba we participated in with our 7 foster children and several of our local students. (Our foster son and five of his classmates took the first six places in the youth category!)
Our kitchen table
God bless you, and thank you for your prayers and support.
Jennifer, for Darwin and family/mission
The latest greatest on our rural homestead in Honduras is the arrival of our five bunnies! Many local friends of ours had recommended that we get involved in bunny care as a way of producing small quantities of meat for our family’s consumption, so we finally did so when a local woman was looking to sell her adult bunnies at a good price.
A couple weeks ago we started off with four females and a male…and we’ve already got babies! The care-taking of our precious bunnies has been a huge hit for our kids, as they’ve been given the task of feeding them several times a day, which includes going out to the pasture to cut grass with a machete for them and chopping up fruit and veggies for their consumption. The bunnies were very skittish when they first arrived and we were told that they couldn’t be held, but our kids have been working hard to domesticate them, and one of our teen daughters in particular has become quite a delightful bunny tamer. She helps ‘milk’ momma bunny so that each of the babies gets enough to eat, and she’s constantly checking to make sure they’re okay. (Our kids consider themselves too old and mature to play with stuffed animals, but cuddling the bunnies is fair game! We love it!)
Here are a few photos!
Our 10-year-old son Jason whom we are in the process of legally adopting squeezed into the bunny hutch! My husband Darwin and I are enjoying having the bunnies on our homestead because their presence is teaching our kids more responsibility, how to gently care for God’s creation, and they are healthy entertainment! (We’ve chosen not to have a television in our home, and our kids don’t have internet access.)
Our 14-year-old foster daughter Jackeline LOVES the bunnies! She’s offered to feed them three times per day, and every morning and evening she helps ‘milk’ momma bunny so that her babies get enough sustenance! Jackeline is also very involved in the care and upkeep of our small herd of milking cows and is excited about the pig pen we are in the process of constructing. We are very proud of the new, very mature character the Lord is forming in her as He transforms her with His love.
Here is our eldest, 17-year-old Dayana, whom we are also in the process of adopting. She’s not too fond of the animals, but — fear not! — Jackeline is close by to make sure everyone’s okay.
This is 15-year-old Carolina, another one of our beloved foster teens. She moved in with us late last year and is doing extremely well in our household.
Jackeline took several portraits with the bunnies!
Here are the babies when they were just a couple days old! When our kids first saw them, they asked if they were rats!
Amen! Glory to God!
This past week we enjoyed the visit of Keith and Tamara Carroll with their adopted son, Mike, from San Antonio, Texas.
Below are several of the photos that Tamara took during their visit. We have enjoyed many changes and new faces in this new year as we have added the discipleship-based secondary school, expanded the elementary school, grown in our Bible study teaching among our neighbors, and generally learned many, many lessons as the Lord continues to guide the work He is accomplishing in and through us in Honduras.
Trying to move our two calves away from our front gate at 6:30am so the students can pass!
The students begin arriving by foot or bicycle up the long dirt path to our home/mission
Chit-chatting before classes begin at 7:00am
Miss Isis, our elementary school teacher, in class with her students, all of whom are very behind academically and/or have never been in school before. Several of them are learning how to read and write for the first time in our program after having failed out of and/or repeated grades in the public school system .
Three of our second-graders: Josselyn (age 11), Yexon (age 11) and Paola (age 8). Josselyn has been in our family since July 2015, and the other two are our night watchman’s children.
Darwin, Miss Isis, and I with her 10 elementary students. I think we forgot to do our homework or something, because the kids are scolding us!
Isis and her students (Brayan, Josselyn and Gaby are included in this group)
Darwin with some of his choir kids before practice
Community lunch for our 26 students (10 in elementary and 16 in secondary) before Bible study on Tuesdays and Thursdays
Goliath, our Rottweiler, loves to play soccer with the students at recess!
Miss Ligia, our 7th-grade teacher, in class
Our high schoolers (all in 7th grade) with Darwin in Music Theory class
In recorder class with Darwin
Darwin giving P.E. class to our high schoolers under the hot midday sun!
Our eldest daughter Dayana (age 15), one of our 7th-graders, coming in what looks like first place with her classmate Dariela. After the first marking period, Dayana came out with the highest average among her classmates, 91%!
Darwin, Miss Ligia, and I with our 16 high school students (Sandra and Dayana are included in this group)
Miss Isis’ prayer group
Darwin’s prayer group meets to pray in a tree behind the schoolhouse!
My prayer group, in which we finally had a huge breakthrough on Thursday when two of the older teen boys, skeptics, began asking a lot of fantastic questions and opening their hearts to hear responses based on the Truth of God’s Word.
Miss Martha (our nurse, cook, and reading teacher), Miss Isis (her daughter, the elementary teacher), and I after classes
Gaby, who has been in our family since July 2015, and I. Since she doesn’t have a birth certificate and we don’t know how old she is, we’ve taken the liberty to decide that her birthday will be June 3rd! She’ll be turning 8 years old!
Brayan’s back! The young man who lived with us for 8 months and continues to call us “Pa” and “Ma,” is now back in school with us 5 days a week along with faithful participation in choir, Bible study, prayer group, etc.
Brayan had to stay after school to clean our dining room because he was joking around too much in choir practice! We’re all a work in progress!
Darwin sitting in our front yard after classes as our kids and students enjoy a pick-up soccer game
This is Sandra, the newest addition to our family! She is 15 years old and is a student in our high school program along with our other 15-year-old daughter, Dayana. Please continue to pray for her protection as the situation with her abusive step-father is still far from being resolved.
Our first series of family photos now that our family has expanded and we have 8 kids after the arrival of Sandra (age 15) last month!
Everybody grab somebody!
I think 8-year-old Jason’s shorts went a little too far north when Dayana picked him up!
Brayan jumped in for the last photo!
Amen! Glory to God!