Thursday, March 26, 2015

Krin Krin

Hello dear family and friends,

Things here have continued to be busy, crazy, fun, stretching, and saturated with God's goodness. Although there are certainly moments when I can picture simply walking out of a class room and refusing to teach ever again, overall, I am finding more and more that I love teaching here. I try to look past the little horns on my students head and appreciate the occasional flickering light of their halos. :) But in all seriousness, God has blessed this place with some very talented young musicians, who - up to this point - have not had the opportunity to develop their gifts and are so thrilled to be able to study music.

Yesterday, as I was chatting one of my students - Carlos - I found out that his father had died of cancer when he was four and his mother is raising him and his siblings on her own as a single mom. Carlos has always loved music and use to dream of being a musician some day. However, his mother had no money to sent him to a place with a music program and there was simply no music program offered here in Puerto Cabezas. Carlos is now studding music theory, singing in choir, and taking private piano and voice class. He has an incredible voice and I plan on asking Pastor Earl if he can join the worship band at church. I will try to get a picture or maybe a video of Carlos up here soon.

Anyhow, today is the first day of Easter break. Tomorrow I leave for a week long trip to Krin Krin. For those of you who don't know, Krin Krin is a community way up the Rio Coco - the river dividing Nicaragua and Honduras. Many of the kids' families are from Krin Krin and there is a missionary family staying there (the Lee family) with whom I will be staying.

I am going with four of my friends from the orphanage (Elortan, Leniker, Josue, and Ricardo). Of those four, only Ricardo is from Krin, Krin, so he will be our guide. I am really excited to finally get to see Krin Krin and to visit with the Lee family. I am also so happy to be going with those four guys and looking forward to being able to fellowship with them as we go on this adventure. :) Please pray for safety for all of us traveling, that God would bless our time visiting the Lees, and that God would draw us closer to himself during our time traveling and as we stay in Krin Krin.

With lots of love,

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Love in the Grave

To my fellow laborers in the Gospel, and partners in prayer:

God has continued to shower grace upon grace in this place as new opportunities and challenges arise. School is now in full swing. I am teaching basic music theory, sight-reading skills, and choir for roughly 240 students. The first week was pretty challenging and a little discouraging as I discovered that the vast majority of the students in choir have serious pitch issues and can’t carry a tune. Here is a prayer I jotted down after the first week of classes:

“Help me to do my best to help these kids learn to sing! Would you please tune their hearts to yours and tune their voices to the right pitches? Let them experience the joy of worship and your beauty in excellent music.”
I also teach private lessons for violin, piano, voice and dulcimer in the evenings and on the weekends.
Please pray that all of the music teaching and learning would be a tremendous blessing in the lives of each student - and above all that, as fingers and voices grow in skill, hearts would grow more eager to praise the Maker.

On another note, I have only been to the jail once so far to help translate for a medical team. I am very anxious to start going there regularly, to get to know the guys there, and to live and share the Gospel in that place. I plan on starting this week.
In December, while I was still in the States, God laid a passage on my heart from Psalm 88. This has become my prayer for the men in the jail - especially for the men who are in the tomb-like black of the underground cells:

“You have put me in the depths of the pit in regions dark and deep…
I am shut in so that I cannot escape;
My eyes grow dim through sorrow
Do you work wonders for the dead?
Do the departed rise up to praise you?
Is your steadfast LOVE 
           declared in the GRAVE?
Or your faithfulness in abandon?
Are your wonders known in the darkness,
Or your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?”
-Psalm 88:6, 9-12

Please pray for wisdom for me, that I would be filled with the Word and the Spirit and that God would graciously step into that place and bring His light there. Pray that, just as Love was declared in the grave when Jesus drew in His first resurrection-breath, so life would enter these men living in the darkness and death of their lost hearts.  

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

I've finally got my camera out, so here are a few pictures:


He seems to be doing somewhat better, still needs lots of prayer as he adjusts to being in this place.


Got to spend some really good times praying and practicing reading and with this guy. We are reading the 1 John and The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe.


Have had a couple more lessons with him and he is still making great progress. 

Evenor & Arbi 

This is my good friend Evenor and his little brother Arbi, both of whom live at the orphanage. It is such a blessing to see some of the sibling relationships here - glimmers of light amid a lot of brokenness.


Enrique came to the orphanage last July, not to long after we all flew back to the States. I've enjoyed getting to know him over the last couple weeks. He seems to be at a stage where he is very open to influences (both positive and negative) so I'm hoping to be able to get to spend time with him and encourage him in his faith.


This is my little amigo Evel. The other day I noticed we were matching... :) I don't know a whole lot about Evel's story, but he is here at the orphanage with two of his sisters and a cousin. He is from the Mayanga tribe (he keeps offering to teach me Mayanga on top of all the Mistkito I'm trying to learn!) and has a very close relationship with his sisters but has not really connected well with others here.


Here is another of my very close friends. I have known Leniker for several years now. Leniker is a professing believer but has to battle so much negative input from the world around him with virtually no parental guidance. Pray that Leniker, along with all the teen guys here, would grow in wisdom and love for Christ and that God would use me to speak the truth lovingly and boldly into their lives.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Welcoming Lucas: And Other Stories

Greetings in Christ,

Last Tuesday I arrived here safely with only minor delays in luggage. The dulcimers made it soundly without any damage – a mercy for which I am very thankful.

This first week has been a whirlwind of joyful reunions with old friends, meeting knew faces, making music, and sober reminders of the suffering in this life. Yet in every laugh and tear which has accompanied my first week here, I have sensed the nearness of God as He rejoices with and in us and as He weeps for and with us. Though I am already missing family and friends, I am so deeply grateful be here and see God at work at this place.

Teaching music has already started off with a bang, a bang that has often left me with a bit of a headache. J There are about 25 men and women from Verbo churches in remote villages along the Rio Coco who are here for the month of January to learn piano and guitar so they can lead worship in their local churches. Some of them traveled up three days to get here. This is a unique opportunity for these men and women to develop their musical gifts and enable them to lead others in worship with instruments. Right away I was asked to help teach piano. There was only one man here (Eimar from the worship team) who was trying to teach an entire room full of students to play piano within a month. Though there are three keyboards that they practice on, Eimar could only help one or two at a time: thus, having another teacher has greatly increased the learning pace and I’ve also been able to fill in for Eimar when he had family emergencies. While I have greatly enjoyed helping to teach piano, I must admit, it is not a pleasant experience to hear six people banging out six different chords on three pianos all at the same time in the same room for six hours. J Both Eimar and I have had to step out of the room on occasion due to headaches. But it is definitely worth it! The students are so excited to be learning and most of them are making rapid progress.

Although I have not started official music lessons with the kids yet, I have had many informal lessons and begun regular lessons with a few people. One of the ladies who works on staff cleaning and cooking here has a 16 year old son, Snayder, who comes every evening to pick her up and bring her home. I met him last week and got chatting with him about music and I mentioned the violin, which he had never seen before. I offered to show it to him and brought him to my room to have a look at it. He was enthralled with the instrument and when he picked it up he seemed to have a natural talent for it. I offered to teach him, and he was thrilled. As I began to correct his hold on the bow, I realized he was missing a good part of most of the fingers on his right hand (probably a machete accident). At first my heart sank and I wondered if he would be able to play at all, but as he repositioned the bow in his hand he found a way to hold it. I’m really excited to see his progress with only two lessons!

In Addition to teaching music, I have really enjoyed getting time to spend with the guys at the orphanage. Last Thursday, after an evening worship service in the church, I wandered into the Discipulado (the teenage boy’s home) and found a room full of loud rambunctious guys who were all just goofing off. In the corner, on one of the beds there was a young kid that no-one recognized. He was curled up and seemed to be crying. I asked multiple people what his name was but no-one knew. Finally one little guy came in the room and told me that the boy had just arrived at the orphanage that evening and that his name was Lucas. I have only seen a few kids arrive here and experience the shock of a new place and being away from whatever home they had known before coming here. There he was, just lying on the bed and quietly sobbing, in the midst of the raucous of all the other teens. I was in shock and didn’t know what to do. I had no idea what he had just been through and why he came to the orphanage. Should I try to talk to him here in this loud, bustling room? Does he even want to talk? In my desperation I prayed to God for wisdom and decided to ask one of the caretakers if he could spend his first night in my room away from the noise and teasing of the others. The caretaker agreed and I took Lucas back to my room. Although I still felt lost for words, I sat with him and asked him where he had come from. He told me that his father had left him and his mom when he was young and that his mother had died more recently. His grandmother had brought him to the orphanage. After we talked, I offered to pray for him and he agreed. He said he was not a Christian, but that he wanted to be. I explained the Gospel to him and asked if he would like to pray and ask Christ to forgive him and be his savior. He prayed, perhaps for the first time. Although he prayed in Miskito, I could sense that he was talking to God, and not just speaking words to the wall. Please pray for little Lucas, that God would comfort him as he morns the loss of his mother, gets used to being in this new place, and most of all that God would water the seed that was planted and give me more opportunities to love, buildup, and encourage this new little brother in the faith.

Sorry this post is getting ridiculously long… but just one more story. J Last year I met Benjamin, a young man who became a Christian by coming regularly to the Verbo feeding center and worship services. He volunteers at the feeding center, helping to prepare and serve the food to the now 600 children who come for a meal every day. He struck me last summer as a very kind, and humble servant. This year I found out that he is now sleeping at the feeding center every night because of his hard home situation. Yesterday he showed me his bed – a mat on the concrete floor of the storage room. Hot tears pressed behind my eyes as I saw his humble room and his broad smile as he showed it to me. Also, he doesn’t know how to read yet, so I plan on inviting him over regularly to my “home” to chat with him and teach him to read. I am looking forward to getting to know him better and being build up by his humble and joyful presence. Please pray for Benjamin, that he would grow strong in his faith and that I would be a blessing to him.

So many other needs and stories, but I must stop for now. Thank you all so much for your love and prayers!
In the love of Christ,


Monday, January 5, 2015

Heading Back

Hello my dear brothers and sisters in Christ,  

A week from tonight I will be leaving for Nicaragua where I will stay for roughly six months (through June). This time I will be going without a team, but I will certainly not be going alone: "It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” (Josh. 31:8)  

As I anticipate this trip, I become even more aware of just how small and sinful my heart is: I know that on my own I am incapable of being, speaking, or doing anything good. Much of my heart is overwhelmed and prone to doubt whether any good could come from my time there. Yet I rejoice that we have not been left to carry out the great commission on our own, but have been given the Helper, the very Spirit of Christ to be with us till the end of the age and through eternity! My deepest prayer for this time in Nicaragua is that my tiny, dim eyes would be made larger, so that Christ's presence would become realer and more beautiful to me that ever before - that His eyes would be my eyes, His hands my hands, His mouth my mouth, and His heart my heart. 

There are many things which I am planning and would love to do while I'm down there: Bible studies with the teenage guys at the orphanage, Bible studies with the men in the jail, helping at the feeding center, helping with construction projects, teaching music (Choir, violin, dulcimer - and maybe piano/guitar) and tutoring English. If I have the time, I would also love to do anything agriculturally related (help out with the ministry's farm in a neighboring community or possibly try to grow some more fruits/vegetables on the orphanage compound). In my spare time, there are several fun things I would like to do with the kids: games, creative projects, reading out loud (Las Cronicas de Narnia!), woodcarving, and of course hospitality involving treats... :) I have so many ideas, but - as you all know - time is limited and I will need a lot of wisdom in prioritizing and grace to follow God's voice each moment of each day 

Over the last several years I have been reminded in so many ways of how much the members of the Body of Christ need one another - especially with regards prayer. Each trip to Nicaragua has demonstrated Gods faithfulness in answering the prayers of the saints and I have sensed very tangibly God's answers to the prayers you all have offered up on our behalf. I am so humbled to know that there is an army of people coming along side me in the labor for the Gospel. Please continue to pray! 

All that being said, here are a few prayer requests: 

1) That I would keep my eyes on Christ and find fullness of joy in Him, and that God would be magnified in my heart, speech, and actions throughout my time there.    

2) That the Word of God would take root deeply in the lives of the guys at the orphanage: that those who don't yet know Christ would know Him and that God would continue the good work He has begun in those who do. 

3) That the brightness of the Gospel would break into the darkness of the jail and that God would bring those men to Himself. 

4) That God would bless all of the music that is made and taught, that it would point people to Himself and bring delight to those playing/singing as well as the listeners.  

Thanks for your love and partnership in the Gospel with me! 

"May the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way.The Lord be with you all." (2 Thess 3:16) 


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Prison Project Week # 2

I am so overwhelmed by God's lavish goodness. Because of dear friends and family members back in the States who were so lavishly generous, we were able to buy twice the amount of paint and supplies, and paint the outer "court-yard" area of the women's jail as well. Seth, Luke, Anna and Grace, arrived just in time to help us plow through another week of painting and getting to know the ladies at the jail better. We were given lots of opportunities to talk and sing about Jesus Christ. The atmosphere was very bright and open. We have been so encouraged to see God at work in the hearts of the ladies who live in the prison, who have become our dear friends.

#1 Before.....

#1 After!
(Cool design kudos to Anna, Luke and Grace)

#2 Before....
#2 After!
There were many demon drawings like these etched into the walls. This one is now covered over with passages from John and Matthew. It was really precious. Gina, (the woman pictured right kneeling and writing on the wall,) brought a sheet of paper with 4 of her favorite verses from the Bible. She asked if we could put them on the wall too. Later, other ladies added their favorites as well. Gina spent the rest of the day embellishing her hand-writing, and adding flowers and swirly designs. They even later painted a smiley face over top of the demon drawing. =) 

Hard at work!
There are often clothes hanging from the ceiling bars; this is their snazzy laundry-drying system. =)

We a so grateful for Anna's artistic savvy...she worked for hours the night before painting day, drawing and cutting out stencils.

Liesl headed up the "food team"...she spent the Friday morning with some of the care-takers and older girls from the orphanage making a gigantic pot of "chop su," a favorite "Chinese/Nigaraguan" dish. As we were just finishing up with the paint projects, Liesl and a team of the older teens brought the party! Luke and Grace played guitar and mandolin, and the older girls from Casa Bernabe helped dish out platefuls of Chop-Su and "empenadas," a cheese-filled sweet bread. Our friends from the jail were so excited, and we so loved sharing the fellowship with them. The ladies do not get to eat unless a family member brings them meals, so it was sweet to be able to bring in lots of food! 

In the process of writing this verse from 2 Corinthians 5:17 - "If anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation; old things have passed away; behold; all things have become new!"

This is 1 of 5 ceiling-to-floor panels displaying pretty much all of Romans chapter 8. Each panel is across from the cell doors inside the prison. It was encouraging to hear the ladies reading the verses out loud and discussing them with each other. We know that our love and our efforts are nothing, if not fueled and used by the Holy Spirit. We are banking on God's promise that His word does not return void.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

"Operation Oink"

So, about a month ago, I woke up to see the following message from Jesse Beaty: "how much would it cost to serve a big meat meal for all the kids and staff at the orphanage?....Let me know and we'll put the money in your account.".....!!!!!......We are so blown away by God's lavish love!
5 weeks, and 120 pounds of pig later, we found ourselves deep in the middle of what we've fondly labeled, "Operation Oink." Last weekend was a flurry of constructing fire-pits, cutting meat, researching recipes, cutting more meat, collecting boat-loads of barbeque sauce, chopping onions like crazy, and scouting out buckets and bags to marinate our project.  Everyone joined in the excitement. 
I never knew there were so many ways to prepare a pig. With all hands on deck, we marinated, grilled, fried, baked, boiled and broiled....and ended up with lots of greasy hands and a ton of  full and happy stomachs. =)

Water-balloon fight! 

BBQ ribs