February 2016 Update

Dear Friends and Family,

THANK YOU for your faithful prayers for God’s guidance and the sacrifice you are making to financially support me, so that God may work through me here in Honduras! Lately I am learning more and more to trust in God’s plans and His will, to walk in the path He has for me. Many times the situations and difficulties I experience don’t make any sense… in the moment that is. It’s oftentimes not until days, weeks, months, even years later that I understand how God was working through those “kinks” in my plans!! Praise the Lord for those “kinks” in our plans that allow His will to be done!

Before I share about this months “kink” in our plans, let me share some of this month’s learning adventures!

Larry, Job, and I visited Don Polín, a local farmer that had used velvet bean (Mucuna pruriens) as a green manure cover crop, interplanted in his cornfields. The biggest advantages he noted were the natural source of fertilizer it provided as a legume, simultaneously serving as a thick vining weed control. He was very enthusiastic telling us about his experience using velvet bean. Unfortunately now that he is older (83 years) his sons are now farming that mountainside plot and have discontinued the use of the velvet bean. Now they are using chemical fertilizers and herbicides, all the while leaving the steep sloping land bare between plantings. For me, this was a sad story to hear. Don Polín took the time and effort to care for his soil, so that future generations could continue to harvest high nutrient-demanding corn. Now his sons are quickly undoing the soil rebuilding their father achieved over several years. When asked why his sons didn’t continue intercropping velvet bean, his wife piped up and responded that when cutting the vines down from the cornstalks, the sap from the plant leaves a stain on clothes that’s hard to remove. Later, Larry commented to us that in all reality, laziness and a lack of responsibly caring for the land and overall, a lack of willingness to do things differently was the true root of the issue. I think this points to one of the most important factors I’ve learned this year in agricultural community development. You (or even better, a local farmer) may have some wonderful, thriving agriculture demonstrations that put into practice healthy methods to grow food and cash crops on the steep mountainsides while simultaneously keeping the soil in place, and even building up a healthier soil. But it won’t have much impact for those unwilling to try different things, for those with a mindset on the short-term. I understand now that transformation and community development are dependent on people that may be considered “outsiders” in a community. People that think differently and don’t simply go with the flow of tradition.
Later that same day, Job and I visited a nearby plot where the Inga Foundation is helping a farmer implement the Inga Alley Cropping system. We learned about “Caldo Sulfocalcico” which is the mixture boiling in the barrel on the left. This is a mixture of quicklime and sulfur in boiling water. It can be used as an insecticide, fungicide, repellent, bactericide, nematicide, and even simply as a mineral fertilizer (providing both sulfur and calcium). It’s a great, low-cost, homemade alternative for farmers that can’t afford expensive commercial chemicals sold at the ag supply stores in town.
In preparation to start planting the inga tree seedlings, Larry showed Job and I how to build and use an A-frame level. I had learned about this at ECHO but didn’t know how it was constructed and I didn’t really understand how it was used for planting on the contour lines of mountainside slopes.
Next, we got to work along with our ag help and started marking out the contour lines to start planting the tree seedlings.
Something I’ve had going for awhile now, but I’ve never mentioned, is my pop bottle nursery! It’s not too uncommon here to see people use 2 liter or 3 liter pop bottles to start their plants, or some use them as permanent planting containers. From left to right, I have here rose cuttings, cacti (back), Colombian zapotes (germinating tree seedlings), cranberry hibiscus, papaya tree seedlings, and 1 Indian jujube tree seedling (front).
I went out the other day to visit a plant nursery here in town, reminiscing back when I worked at a large plant nursery in Oklahoma. One difference I’ve noticed, here they oftentimes use a black planting bag (even for larger plants) whereas in the States most nurseries use a much sturdier, black plastic pot once a plant is ready to sell. 
Plants aren’t the only thing you’ll find here that’s sold in a bag. Milk is bought in a bag, coconut water and fruit juices are sold on the street in bags with straws, water is sold in bags for on-the-go, encurtido (a mix of pickled or fermented vegetables) is sold in bags, as well as salt, cheese, sour cream, and spices like cinnamon. I don’t know how they ship all these types of goods in (sometimes rather thin) plastic bags and still manage to keep it all from getting opened and spilling out! I’m accustomed to sturdy plastic containers that so much of what we buy in the States comes in.
On our last weekend in La Ceiba, before moving to Siguatepeque, Job and I went to meet with a friend of mine, Christine. I had met Christine in 2014 at the Women of Purpose Revive Retreat for missionary women in Honduras. I had remembered her telling me about her Honduran boyfriend and then this past year they got married. I wanted to ask her some questions to make sure I was well-informed of the legal process, marrying a non-U.S. citizen. So, here’s where my “kink” in our plans all began…

My “kink”… God’s plan?

During our visit with Christine (and her Honduran husband Calin) we learned some important information that changed our plans quite a bit. Job and I were planning to rely on his tourist visa for future travels to the States (when on furlough, visits to family, and visits to supporters). However, Christine informed us that it’s not recommended to rely on visas these days, as once they expire, oftentimes they are not renewed. After talking with Christine I asked other missionary friends if they had the same experience or heard of others given this same advice. All said the same.

So, while Job does have a 10-year tourist visa, it’s been advised that we go through the LONG (3-5 year) immigration processes to obtain his residency and later citizenship. This way, in the future we won’t have greater issues, trying to travel as a family. Several friends that have gone through this process themselves have suggested that even though his tourist visa lasts 10 years, we should start the process as soon as we can, after we’re married. If we wait closer until his visa is about to expire, we may be deep into our ministry and starting our family, which would make it hard to pull up our roots in Honduras again, to be in the States for 3-5 years, and then come back to Honduras and try to pick up where we left off!!

So, as I said… this has put quite a “kink” in our plans. We were only planning to spend a year in the States after the wedding to visit supporters and prepare for our ministry in Honduras. After talking with an immigration lawyer, we will most likely be in the States for the next 4 years, working on getting this all taken care of from the start. Again, NOT part of our original plans! More like a “kink” in our minds!! But I have to admit, I’m glad God is directing our steps and we learned about all of this NOW! We don’t want to be scrambling around 8 years from now, leaving a ministry that’s just getting established, packing up our family, and moving to the States for 4 years… after listening to someone who’s been there and done that, I don’t want to take that route!

So, with the wedding coming up soon… May 14th… Job and I are busy busy busy, trying to plan out how we are going to make the most of these potential next 4 years in the States! First off, we are excited to come visit you ASAP! In April I will be emailing each of you personally (as well as churches) to plan a time to meet, to share about God’s work this past year and to share our ministry vision for the future.

You may be wondering about how this all affects our plans to study. Well, we haven’t completely thrown out the idea of studying further. One of the missionaries we met with actually mentioned that if he could go back and study over again, rather than studying at seminary, he would go back and study business. He said seminary prepared him more for the “churched” population. His ministry involves reaching out to gang members and street teens. His thought is, if he would have studied business it would have helped him develop further the self-sustainability projects for their ministry as well as provide business training that could potentially help these teens selling drugs (not seeing any other options) learn to do a different kind of business, to be self-employed, business owners that can be proud of their work, and ultimately work in God’s line of work. Other missionaries we’ve talked with suggested getting some more Bible training, either at a seminary, Bible institute, or Christian college. With that said, we need some more time to pray and look for open doors. Job’s first study agenda in the States is to perfect his English skills, which would allow him to study further if that’s what God has in store.

Transition & Financial Support Information

While we’re in this transition from the field to home base in the States, the HFMM (Honduran Fellowship of Missionaries and Ministries) will be processing my ministry financial support. As I mentioned last month, this is the organization that has helped me (and most other missionaries in Honduras) establish residency in Honduras to avoid making trips every 90 days outside the country to renew visitor visas. The ministry of this organization does a lot of work to keep missionaries on the field. They provide everything from crisis care, workshops tailored to missionaries, conflict resolution, in-country resources, networking with other ministries, to overall general missionary care and help. I have been a member of the HFMM since I first came to Honduras over 2 years ago! What I really appreciated about the HFMM? The staff live and work HERE! In Honduras! They are available, they know the needs of the missionaries under their care, and they keep up-to-date on Honduran law, taking care of many technical aspects for missionaries… so that we (as missionaries) can do what we came here to do, not stand in line for hours, days, weeks at government offices!

Check out the HFMM website here: HFMM

To send support now to my ministry you can write a check, made payable to Running For Him 24-7 Ministries. Please include a note with my name so they know which ministry fund it is for. Please remember not to write my name anywhere on the check.

Send to:

Running For Him 24-7 Ministries

255 Pleasant Dr

Aliquippa, PA 15001

Once we’ve had a chance to visit you, our supporters, we are not planning to rely on full financial support, since it looks like we will be in the States for an extended period of time. This is one of our biggest prayer requests. Please pray we are able to find employment while we are there in the States.

Well, you’ve done a LOT of reading if you’ve made it this far!!! So I’m going to wrap this up quick. PLEASE don’t hesitate to email me with any questions. I love getting notes and emails from you all! Please keep praying for Job and I as our wedding day approaches. Pray for our meetings with missionaries this week and next week. Also, by law, Job needs to be present in the States for at least 60 days before the wedding, so he will be heading to the States on March 10th. Please pray for safe and timely travels for him. And finally, pray for God’s continual guidance and direction for each step we take, that these steps will be preparing us to serve Him well!

God’s blessings to you all! Looking forward to seeing you soon!