December 2015 Update

Dear Friends and Family,

I feel like it’s been quite a while since my last update, as Job contributed last month’s post. A lot has happened since I last wrote!

First, I’d like to share just a bit of my experience from the Agua Viva water project. I had never served on a short-term mission team before, so it was a new experience for me to take that approach. If I were to mention just one take-away from the week I would say I learned something about myself: just how easily I can get discouraged.

Throughout our time there among the people we were serving, the gospel was shared various times (morning, noon, and night) in various ways (word and deed). I thought, surely, by the end of the week there would be some lives transformed by the power of Christ. There would be some decisions made. There would be some clear results following our week-long visit. All week we openly shared our intention, our motive, our purpose for serving and the One who gave us that purpose.

Even still, when all was said and done, we left before we saw or heard commitments, dedications, or testimonies of lives given to Christ. I have to admit, I was a bit discouraged. Sure, lives were changed as we helped in the process of bringing water to 3 rural communities. Sure, friendships were made as we worked and played together as a group. But I kept thinking to myself, how can people be so blind?! How can they see, hear, feel, and touch God’s love but not accept Him and receive Him as King!

About a week later I was reading in Jeremiah and was reminded that oftentimes (more often than not) the people in the Old Testament did not listen or pay attention to the prophets that God sent to them. Even still God commanded His prophets to give His message. Then, later on I read in 1 Timothy 2 that we are commanded to pray and intercede on behalf of all people, for God wants all to be saved and to understand the Truth. Through these readings, combined with my experience from the trip, I was reminded of one of my favorite quotes from Billy Graham: “It is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, God’s job to judge, and my job to love.”

picking tomatoes
The garden terraces continue to produce during this rainy season! This month I’ve been picking cherry tomatoes! I’ve also planted lettuce, cabbage, green beans, malabar spinach (a type of tropical vining spinach), as well as jujube (a hardy tree that copes with extreme temperatures and will thrive under a wide variety of growing conditions: drought, salinity, and waterlogged soil). This tree is also known for its multiple uses as a living fence barrier, animal fodder, firewood, and construction.
propagation in terraces
I’ve put my seedling trays on top of tires and boxes to keep wandering animals (mainly dogs and pigs) from digging up the veggie seeds.
planting seeds
Several of the seed varieties I’ve planted were seeds I purchased at ECHO, as they have been selected to grow in tropical regions. Here you can see the dry bamboo leaves we are using as mulch over the terraces. Bamboo leaves make a fantastic mulch as they are very slow to break down. This time of year, during the rainy season, the mulch is used more for water erosion control rather than water conservation!
clearing for patastera
This month Job has been clearing an area that was once a passionfruit garden but had become completely overgrown and neglected. It had literally grown back into a jungle mess of vines and branches you could barely walk through. We plan to use the area to grow pataste, a popular vegetable here. When Job learned of the price pataste brings in La Ceiba (our nearest market location) he determined this to be a great crop demonstration for subsistence farmers, as pataste is incredibly easy to grow, very low maintenance, and exceptionally prolific. We are hoping this could be a great crop for small farmers with little land and poor soils.
tropic rains
This year the rainy season has been a bit unusual as the nation-wide drought continues. We have received a few good rains. However, for the past 3 months we have received just 26 inches of rain. To Kansas folk this may sound wonderful. But according to past records, we are lacking about 19 inches to meet average for a typical rainy season here!
inga seedlings
Here is a recent pic of the inga tree seedlings we planted back in mid-October. They are growing fairly slowly but otherwise seem to be healthy. Our ag help is clearing a new section to plant these seedlings beside the ingas planted 2 years ago. We are planning to extend our inga alley cropping demonstration to show the system on the same scale a typical subsistence farmer uses.
La Muralla culto
Dilmer, along with multiple pastors in local churches, organized a joint worship service in La Muralla. Oftentimes, churches can become almost hostile between each other when they do not realize and proclaim their unifying bond and purpose in Christ. This gathering brought together several area churches to make known their commitment to “be of one accord.”
Residencia
After a 6-month saga of visits to immigration, my residency has finally been renewed!! Since June I have been checking in at the immigration office in La Ceiba at least once a month, usually twice a month, to see if progress had been made and if my card had been printed. Since this is an annual renewal, my card expires again in July and I will need to start the renewal process all over again! From what I understand, the long delay was due to bringing my file from Tegucigalpa, where I had filed for residency last year. So hopefully next year will be a different story!
DSCF5033
To celebrate Christ’s birth with our discipleship group Larry and Allison organized a Christmas party here at campus. We decorated the dining hall with lights and creative homemade decorations, ate a special supper together, enjoyed a gift exchange game, and later attempted to send up our homemade Chinese lantern into the night sky (will try again next year). Overall, we enjoyed spending time together, remembering God’s greatest gift to the world, His Son and the forgiveness and new life we have in Him!
DSCF5037
Pic: Job and I with his parents, Francisco and Coni, after the Christmas Eve service. This year I’m spending Christmas and New Year’s with Job’s family again. It’s been great getting  to know his family better and spend time with them. Last year when I met several of his aunts, uncles, and cousins, it was a bit overwhelming and just too much all at once to remember everyone! This year was a bit more relaxed as we ate our traditional Honduran Christmas meal of tamales and torrejas.
4
Last but not least, I have some special news to share… Job and I are engaged! We’ve been having the marriage conversation for awhile now and on Sunday, December 13th we decided to take a short hike on a trail near La Muralla that I had been wanting to check out for quite some time now. (Yes, the weather is great for hiking this time of year here… if you can overlook all the mosquitos!) During our hike, he popped the question! We are planning a May 14 wedding in Kansas. It will be a small celebration, as I’ve always dreamed my wedding would be a casual, family event. Also, if we invited friends I wouldn’t know where to stop and the guest list would end up to be quite enormous between the both of us! I’m sad that we aren’t closer so you all would have a chance to get to know Job better beforehand, in person. However, we are planning to spend a year in the States after the wedding, before returning to continue our ministry in Honduras. We plan to take advantage of our year in the States to visit supporters and spend time with you all as we present our combined ministry vision, using my experience in agriculture and Job’s experience in business to reach “the least of these” in Honduras.

Pray

  • Pray against discouragement. Pray for me as I remember Billy Graham’s words: “my job is to love.”
  • Pray for the 2 Hondurans (Adolfo and Enemecio) continuing the water project, that minds and hearts would be opened to receiving the Living Water while they are working there among the community.
  • Pray for those I am loving (especially our ag help) that they would come to know and understand the Truth and accept Him as their King.
  • Pray for Walter, in the discipleship group, as he witnesses his faith during difficult situations in his family.

Praise

  • For all God is teaching me from my experience on the water project.
  • My residency has finally been renewed!
  • The addition of Job to our team in Las Mangas.
  • Safe travels to visit family and friends.
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