Friday, September 27, 2013

Greetings to all our dearly beloved friends and family!

As many of you already know, Emily and I (Liesl) are scheduled to return to Nicaragua this January and remain there until June. We fervently crave your prayers. We don’t just want them, we need them. More than ever, we feel our utter dependence on the LORD to do His work in us, through us and despite of us. Please, pray that his Name would be exulted over everything in our hearts and in the hearts of our friends in Nicaragua. One of the passages that has been framing our prayers and hopes as we anticipate these six months at Casa Bernabé is Isaiah 62. In verses 6-7, the prophet pleads: “You who put the Lord in remembrance, take no rest, and give him no rest until he establishes Jerusalem and makes it a praise in the earth.” Please, give our gracious Father no rest until he completes His work! When you pray, claim God’s promise in Isaiah 62:12 for His children at Casa Bernabé: “And they shall be called The Holy People, The Redeemed of the Lord; and you shall be called Sought Out, A City Not Forsaken.”

We will give you more details on our plans and specific prayer requests closer to the time that we leave in January. The biggest desire on Emily and my heart is to mentor and invest in the children at the orphanage. This broad aim will obviously include many different facets. I just want to mention one small one that concerns this post. In our brainstorming sessions, one thing that has appealed to both of us as a wholesome, special routine to enjoy with the kids is to read aloud with them. If the Lord allows, we would love to have a little collection of devotional books and some fun children’s literature in Spanish to bring down with us so that we can do that. Someone suggested that I invite anybody who is looking for a way to help (in addition to prayer) to contribute by sending down a book or two that we could use with the kids while we are there and then leave at the orphanage to supplement the Nicaraguan Church’s small collection of books. There is nothing vital or frantic about this. If you find the time and find it in your heart to contribute in this way, we would appreciate it very much, but we won’t be disappointed or hurt if you decide against it or forget. What we really want, way more than anything else, is your prayers!!

So if you are able and would like to help in this way, I have made a Google spread sheet with a list of books and a possible place to order them. Here is the link: Book List You can place an order for any of the books on the list and have it shipped to 189 Treeline Drive Charles Town, WV 25414. Just enter in the number of copies you ordered of the book in the space provided so that others can see what books have already been purchased.

Thank you so much for your love and prayers! Keep your eyes on Him!

Emily and Liesl

Monday, July 15, 2013


Emily Howard has kindly agreed to pick us up at Dulles midnight Wednesday since Kevin and Becky took off suddenly for San Antonio!

Thank you, Emily!  All eager to see you (and home!).

Luke found Raphael, Elsie seems much better!

This is Steve.  Just read Faye’s LONG post.  So glad she could do that when it was all still so fresh!
Heard from Luke last night.  He got there.  Said the car ride was amazing and beautiful.  Saw a whole nother part of Nicaragua.  Faye and I were having anxiety attacks about meeting a stranger in the Managua Airport and driving off with him into the jungle.  But God blessed.
Luke said the place, Casa Mateo?, is really nice.  A couple from Maryland God plopped into Jinotepe to do this ministry.  A big mission group arrived from …  Frederick and Boonesboro!  They are really nice and have adopted Luke.
Luke noticed out the window all this wild stuff going on in the streets and so grabbed his camera.  People started manhandling him and trying to grab his camera.  The Casa people said, “Don’t go out there! They’ll hurt you!”  It’s some kind of Saint Festival (think Mardi Gras or one of the god's birthday's in Taiwan).  The two main activities seem to be drinking beer and riding around on horses.  The streets are full of drunks and horses.  Luke said he had a long, interesting conversation with a very drunk man holding his brother, who had passed out.
Luke told us that Raphael had been there, and was coming back later that night.
He texted us this morning and said that he and Raphael are studying the book of Ephesians today.  Hooray!!!
Pray that God will really bless that time!  Today and tomorrow.  We all fly home Thursday.  
Also, Elsie’s fever mostly stayed down, and she is up and about, though still taking it very easy. WE are very thankful!!!
Pray that God will bless these last two days.  We want to be faithful to the end, though we are so eager to be home.  But pray also that we’ll be able to make it home if this is God’s will.  Depends on a thousand things, but God is faithful.
Luke and Liesl always wondered what this place was like after they all left.  Now Liesl kinda knows.  It really does leave a big whole in the hearts and lives of these kids.
Thank you for your prayers!!!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

God is good! We are so amazed at all He is doing here! THANK YOU FOR PRAYING!

God Answers Prayers for Fruitful Conference Abundantly!

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for praying!
God heard your prayers! Your prayers are fruitful!

Joel, your translation was SO WORTHWHILE and SO USED by God! You will be very surprised in heaven by the thanks you get for it from a lot of people I think! God is so incredibly good. I don’t even know where to start in telling all He has done!
There are so many things to tell about God’s work in and through the conference!  I can’t share them all on this blog but will share a smattering and can’t wait to share more at home.
One small thing that happened on the last day is a beautiful kind of summary statement of God’s goodness and promise keeping. The last morning of the four mornings, as we gathered as a family to pray at 6:30 AM God gave us the verse from Isaiah about his word being like the rain and snow that come down from heaven and water the earth and always bring forth fruit, so that his word will accomplish what he purposes and bring about His desire … we prayed that morning feeling inadequate and ignorant and wondering what would come of it all, and we were casting ourselves on God, saying please make what we say true to  your word and then keep this promise and make it water hearts and make it bear fruit, accomplish your purposes through your word. We pleaded with God to keep this specific promise about His word bringing life and watering hearts.
Not knowing anything about us, or our prayers of the morning, a lady stood up after the conference was over and said, “ I can never thank you enough I don’t know how to tell you how life changing this material has been to me.  I came here with no hope at all. Now I know that because of Christ I can raise children with love even though my parents did not raise me with love. I feel like a new person. I can’t think how to tell you about it, but it makes me think of a verse from somewhere in the Bible that I heard once about God’s word being like rain that makes things come alive and grow. I feel like “these materials” have been to me like rain. They brought me life. Thank you thank you thank you. “ Liesl and I just looked at each other and started weeping.
One woman came to Christ the last day of the conference after hearing about how the Exodus verse on I-do-this – because parenting was based on the same gospel as Colossions 1:27-29. She was So happy and so excited and just flowing with gratitude to God. She said, “I never had any idea that God loved me that much!”
God just showed up everywhere! One of the most moving things to us was what happened after I  talked about praying for our children.  WE were passing out cards for people who wanted to write down some prayer requests for each of their children covering each area of needs in their children’s lives, so that they could grow up to love God with all their heart, soul, strength, and mind. So they were going to think through the current physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual needs of each of their children and write them down and begin to pray over them. When we were passing cards out donw the rows of chairs, kind of like passing offering plates row by row, they got kind of hung up in two different rows for a longish time and I wondered what was taking so long. Turns out, that the couple who is now care taker in the orpha with the 80 kids in it asked for 80 cards to write out these detailed prayers in each area for each child! And the same with the old man who is living in the discipulato with the teen aged guys. He asked for forty cards! While this  may be totally impractical and over ambitious of a goal for these dear people to cover that many kids in such detail in prayer, those of you who know the problems and needs in the orphanage here in the past few years will understand our utter joy and delight in this! Just for the seed to be planted. Just for them to be aware of each of these kids having emotional and spiritual needs as well as physical and academic ones and to have a sense that as they are acting in place of parents, meeting needs in all these areas is something they need to pray about and work toward. IT was incredibly moving to Luke and Liesl and to Steve and I too! They really did see it in a new light and they really do want to approach things in a new way and find a way to meet all these needs! It was SO COOL!
Antoher woman who was really excited about praying these kind of specific prayers for her children was  so painfully sweet in her appreciation for the idea! She was very moved and very excited. At one point she said, “O please, tell me, how many times a day do I need to pray these prayers for my children. “ I thought of what you might have answered, Jesse, as I think her question might sound different to your ears. But however it sounded to any of us, it was so precious in God’s sight.
I really want to keep telling you stories of God’s goodness but it is almost one AM and I should quit as I need to post this over at Pastor Earl’s house very early in the morning before Luke leaves.
I’ll try to write about just one more amazing story. Excuse my writing as I must write quickly.
On the morning that we taught about nurturing our children’s bodies so that they can grow up to love God with all their physical strength, we were talking about meeting their physical needs but also teaching them everything they should know about their bodies, about sickness and about death and about sexuality and purity and modesty. Parents were very interested in talking about how to talk about these things with their children. After the main sessions we broke up into a men’s group and a women’s group.  We had great translators for all 16 hours of the conference talks. For this workshop afterwards, Pastor Earl went to translate for Dad, but we women did not get a translator. There were about 85 women who stayed for this afterwards session. Not exactly a small intimate group for discussing this sort of topic.
I had brought along an article I had written on this subject – one that emphasizes the positive and talks about five amazing gifts God has given to women, gifts that define us and bless us and bless men and children too. And then it goes on to discuss how those gifts can be wasted or destroyed.  Liesl started out  trying to translate, but two American missionary women, short term people, were chiming in right and left and interrupting and making suggestions and then getting others involved in asking questions before we had really presented the material. It became utter chaos and was very discouraging. Lisel said to me afterwards that she hasn’t felt frustration in such a long time, about anything, that she was rather baffled at the feeling coming upon her, but she was quite frustrated because she felt the potential was so great and people who should have known better were being so foolish and messing things up so badly. We ended up kind of quitting, but as we quit, a lady said could you PLEASE PLEASE translate this material into Spainsh, in writing, and make it available to us. Could you do this and then set up a time when we can read it and ask you questions about it. So Liesl and I agreed to try to do this for the next day. We went home rather frustrated with how that had turned out, but willing to do what we were asked to do. We ended up spending four hours with Mary, the principle of the Verbo School here at the orphanage, in a little dark windowless “office” at a desk working on it that night. Mary got so into the project, and into talking with us and getting to know me, she already knew Liesl very well (and had a great respect for her and tended to forget often that Leisl is 18 years old.)But she was so into the project that she forgot that she had an online class for her master’s degree she is working on and she missed it and was very worried about having missed it. And Leisl and I were severely attacked by mosquitoes sitting there with lights on and no windows or doors.We referred to it as “our mosquito feeding center” (because everyone here is always talking about “The feeding center” where Pastor Earl feeds 400 kids a meal a day  and of course those are all Miskito Indians)When it got to be really late and we were only half way through the translation, we decided it could not be accomplished for the next day and that we would have to apologize to the women at the conference and ask them to wait another day. The next night, while I was madly at work finishing revising the last sessions of the conference for the next day, Liesl and Mary worked late into that night, till midnight, another four hours, and came very close to finishing. Liesl got up early and went to Pastor Earl’s house to paste in the Bible verses in Spanish and finish the last few sentences up herself. By then it was getting near 8 AM and time to go over to launch the last day of the conference.
Luke took over the job of finding a way to print the newly translated article and make 85 copies of it. (This is a big deal. Pastor Earl had a printer, but it was not working. Anyway, it was no small feat for Luke to do th is, and it cost another $30 dollars after all the other expense…  crazy! But it got done and was ready. So after the whole conference       had ended and all the sessions were done, we announced that if any women were still interested they should gather in the corner and we could read the article aloud, and they could have a copy and ask questions is they wished to.
WOW! We had NO IDEA what that was going to be like! Luke made 85 copies and there were only two left , which have long since been begged for so it was a large group of women again. This time a very sweet lady read the article aloud, and a fairly good translator came to help field questions. The response to the article was astounding! There must have been twenty ladies crying when she finished reading it, and by the time we ended there was not a dry eye in the whole group! It just hit a cord. God used it in incredible ways! And all that frustration from the earlier workshop failure that Liesl and I experienced was so obviously God’s good providence working out what HE wanted to do. Had that first time gone better, we would never have    ended up translating the thing and it was obviously meant to be translated! (AND by the way Mary very excitedly came and told me that for the first time, ever, her online professor had missed class himself that night and she had not had any consequences for missing the class. She was thrilled. )   
AN entire row of young single adult women, late teens, early twenties, stood together and expressed tremendous gratitude, for the article, saying they had never heard anything like it before and it would completely change the way they lived. They were obviously moved.
A previous prostitute stood up and said if only she had heard these things before, but she was so glad to hear them now and she knew from the gospel we just talked about in Colosssians that God loved her.
A single mom stood up and begged all the women there to take this material to heart.
Woman after woman stood up and gave a testimony to how she needed to hear this and how it would change her.
There were quite a few teachers in the group and they asked to take the article to school and teach it there. People from three different churches asked if they could teach it in their churches. One lady stood up with tear in her eyes and said “ I want you to know that not one of these papers is going to sit in our houses and gather dust on a shelf! Every one of us is going to take this to our friends, our families, our neighbors and tell them about it. This material is going to change Puerto Cabezas!”
The rest of the workshop session turned into a testimonial regarding the entire Raising  Whole Child Conference and it was moving and mind blowing. People said they had new hope, people committed to having family worship, people said they learned now why their parents failed them and could forgive their parents. God was so present and at work! I got about sixty tearful bear hugs and thanks in a row.
Today when the nurse came to visit Elsie with the doctor in our room, she said to me, “Do you know me? “ I said  yes, I know you, remembering her from the conference. Then being fuuny I smiled at her and said, “Do you know ME?” And she         said, “O YES! I know you! I know you very very well!” And she told me that today, two days after the conference, she gathered 25 women together and read that article to them and talked with them about it. SO, who knows what God will do with this. IT has been really truly exciting to his  mighty hand at work. Thank you so much to all of you who prayed for him to do so!          
One lady took a Charles Spurgeon book (in Spanish) that I brought and borrowed it and brought it back the next day saying how good it was!
Another lady was so excited about the description I gave of the Jesus Story Book Bible. She came up and asked me over and over         again how long she could keep it if she borrowed it. I kept saying as long as you need it. Finally she           said no, I can’t take it. Why I asked? Because I don’t know if I can get it back. I  want to take it to my son to read to his family in the jungle in Hondurus and maybe I can’t return it! Take it. Keep it. This book is for Hondurus I said. She was too thankful. It broke my heart and made my day to think of it going off to Hondurus to her son. J
We are working on setting up a library with the few books we brought. The reading part of the conference went very well. Pastore Earl helped me some, Joel, to think through how to approach and speak carefully.
Nurse meeting me two days later to check Elsie saying you know  me? Yes, I smiled remembering her at the conference. Do you know me? I laughed. O Yes, she said, I know YOU VERY WELL!  She taold me that she gathered 25 women together today and read the paper to them and talked with them about it!
People came out from three different churches in Puerto Cabzas and all three churches asked if they can get the notebook and use it to teach this in their churches.
School teachers here asked if they can use both the conference notebooks and the article on God’s gifts to women and how to waste and ruin them with students in their schools.
A short term missionary teacher  who is a school teacher from the US that works with inner city Latino’s wants to get copies to use with families there.
(About 150  some people came to the conference, number grew from 100 the first day up to 150 the second day.  We made only 125 notebooks, 25 people that came did not get one, some people who missed knowing about the conference but have heard about it are asking for a book now. )

 Current Big Requests

·         Luke is leaving in the morning to go try to find Raphael and spend three days with him. Pray for him to find him, for Luke to see and understand Rapha’s heart and be able to help him see how much God’ loves him and get him on his feet spiritually and physically. Pray for Luke’s safety traveling around in Nicaragua!
·         Elsie to get well before we fly next Wednesday. And no one else to get sick.
·         Fruitful last few days here.

Early Saturday afternoon:

I’m sitting in our room watching over Elsie who is drifting off to sleep. She has a fever of 103 right now, diarrhea, cough, and sore throat, two big puffy swollen red spots that are very hot, on her legs above her knees where her worst mosquito bites were big and swollen yesterday. For the time being we are assuming that it is a bad cold and that the diarrhea and puffy red spots are unrelated. But we have alerted the nurse here, about it for a number of reasons. Dengue fever is here. The team delivering food to homes a couple days ago just a few miles from here found a man in one hut, and a woman on the floor in another hut both near death with Dengue fever. There is no medicine to stop or cure Dengue fever, (it is passed on only through mosquito bites of infected mosquitoes.) Most healthy people recover from it, but it is very awful, and lasts for a long time. (The people that receive food from the feeding center here are all suffering from serious malnutrition and near starving, and do not always recover from Dengue fever. ) So pray with us that this fever is from a cold. I am not leaving her side at all. It’s hard here sometimes. We are often without water and often without any electric. Most of the time that’s not a big deal, but occasionally it feels hard. Right now there is neither electric nor water. (So I can only type here as long as the battery lasts on this computer.) Having a fever, with serious diarrhea, and no water to flush a toilet, and no water to wash hands from the diarrhea or the germs from a cold, trying to recover in a room stifling hot and somewhat dark, no fans and opening the windows with only remnants of old screens on them, to get what little breeze you possibly can, thus letting in the very mosquitoes you are sitting here praying did not make Elsie sick with Dengue fever feels hard right now. Like “I-want-to-go-home-hard.” Please pray for Elsie.
Doctor and the nurse came to our room to see Elsie. They said there is a lot of Dengue right now so they are keeping a close eye on everyone with fevers. But he said he thinks he sees infection in Elsie’s throat and he has given her some antibiotics and the nurse will come check on her again on Monday.
The other night we got back to our room very late after singing and reading to all the little people over at the orpha. Because of the Broken Parents Raising Whole Children conference, I had spent very little time with the girls and I could tell I needed to do that. (A Little IRONY there.) They very obviously were needing mommy time. Elsie and Elaina and I hadn’t bathed for two days because the water had been off every time that was available to us. Two days without bathing of course is normally fine, but when you sweat so profusely, in streams all day, and play in a really dirty place, and your body is getting infected sores from all the mosquito bites the kids are scratching, when a good number of the kids you are hugging and holding and playing with all day have lice crawling in their hair, and when you have had several layers of sticky 100% DEET sprayed all over your body , so that it is dissolving and eating right through your rubber flippies and making all the dirt stick to you like a coat of glue, you feel desperate to bathe your kids, not to mention yourself. So despite it being very late, I wanted to bathe the girls and myself before bed. (That way our sheets would not disintegrate with all the DEET we had on.) I thought, okay they need me, and they need a bath. It’s horribly late, but I will combine these two needs and make it a fun relaxed shower that we play in altogether and sing and frolic in the shower before tucking them in. I got both of them wet, lathered up their hair with shampoo, coated their bodies with soap, starting soaping myself up, and BINGO, the water was gone. Not a drop. Our fun mother daughter shower time became one more challenge to get through before collapsing into bed. (Steve was our hero, going back and forth between the house we are staying in , and the outdoor laundry scrubbing station by Pastor Earl’s house that has a spring of water flowing, carrying buckets of water for me to rinse us off with.)
While I have gotten into this complaining mode- One more not-so-funny-at-the-time, funny story along the same lines of how there can be challenging moments. The conference was held in the big church building just outside the orphanage compound. It was from 8 AM to noon Monday through Thursday. We had a brief break with a little snack provided about half way through each day. On Monday, I had a little trouble with my stomach while I was speaking. When it was time for the break some people wanted to talk with me. So I was waiting and hoping I could get time to use the bathroom before it was time to start speaking again. It was just touch and go time wise but I really had to go badly so I asked where the bathroom was. It turned out to be pretty unpleasant which caught me by surprise because the church building itself is pretty nice. But I rushed into one of the stalls just in time for my own bout of stomach problems and then looked around to see there was no such thing as toilet paper anywhere to be seen. Uhhh? Yikes. What was I supposed to do? I was in very serious need of toilet paper and there were 150 people out there waiting for me to come back out. What to do. No such thing as paper towels. Nothing in the bathroom at all. In desperation, I lifted the back lid of the toilet and reached in and scooped up water to try to wash myself off. It was a nasty situation and I was kind of shaky and rather grossed out but trying my best to take it in stride. I figured, “Well, there is a sink out there and I can wash my hands and all will be well, except my rather wet bottom causing my dress to stick to me a bit”… but when I got to the sink there was not only no soap, but there was no water either. I was so totally grossed out going back up in front of all those people feeling so disgusting and defiled. I had to talk another two hours and then chat with and hug a lot of people afterwards before I finally got back and made a bee line for a sink that had both soap and water available on the compound. The next morning I decided I would not eat any breakfast at all before the conference in hopes of no repeat. J
Most of the time it is not that desperate staying here on this compound, it’s just isolated incidents. They have things set up amazingly and we are not suffering any hardships at all. They take incredible good care of us all. They have gone to incredible extends to make us comfortable and try to provide things we are used to in the states. We are well fed (although I confess I can’t wait to get home and eat something green) and even our laundry is scrubbed for us. It would be impossible to come here and not be totally overwhelmed with how absurdly blessed we are!

General Encouraging Things:

 New Building amazingly different! Less rats more light
New Couple at the Orpha  they are just awesome and beautiful  A real answer to prayer
Another couple coming to help in the discipulato
Getting to know so many so well. Blessed with really good conversations with Damarice, Candy, Mary, Pastor Earl. Feel like God has blessed time here so richly..
Luke and Liesl’s plans for six months here and then one year here falling into place.

Poignant Vignettes:

1.       Pastor Earl’s wife, Domarice told me she was walking over to one of the houses hurrying along to pass a message to someone when she heard voices coming from the sky. She looked around befuddled until she finally saw that amongst the green leafy branches of the biggest mango tree were a whole group of boys hanging on branches and perched on others. She was about to scold them and tell them to get out of the mango tree and stop snitching all the mangoes when she saw Luke was up there too. “So I listened to them a moment instead of scolding, and lo and behold, Luke was up there sharing the gospel in the tree.”

2.       I was walking down the street outside the compound and I saw a thin somewhat haggered looking woman stepping out of one of the typical tiny (about ten feet by ten feet) battered broken down wooden shacks on stilts that are home for those blessed to have a home here in Puerto Cabezas. I was thinking about her and imagining what her life was like and my heart was just breaking thinking of all I have had compared with her. I walked down the street behind her on the way to the church building for that morning’s conference ready to talk about nurturing our children’s minds. All of a sudden I saw in her hands the conference booklet that I had been working on for weeks at home in Charles Town and that Joel worked so hard translating, and she turned to enter the church in front of me. It seemed so unreal and so amazing somehow.

3.       Last night we were sitting on the porch of the new orphanage building until pretty late. It was a very mellow time. Singing, reading aloud to kids, holding kids, watching some kids (who were reluctant to miss any of the fun, music or love out there) fall asleep stretched out on the trash strewn muddy cement porch, lots of chatting, and,  as always,  a bunch of kids were running around wildly creating havoc. Steve and I had a few moments of quiet and just sat looking around us in wonder. Every direction we turned our heads there was a beautiful portrait of Christ like love being poured out. Luke had one little boy on his lap and was teaching an older boy some guitar chords and singing with him. Caroline had two little girls on her lap and was singing with a group of older girls. Austin was reading a pile of books to bedraggled pile of little boys, a few of which had already fallen asleep. Liesl had on tiny one on her lap looking ver sleepy, and was engaged in deep conversation with a teenage girl who was wiping tears from her eyes. Jeff was scratching the back of two little boys. So much thoughtfulness, kindness, gentleness, creative expressions of love… Despite all the dirty clothing, sweaty dirt stained faces, and general insanity, it somehow seemed like a foretaste of heaven with kindness and love flowing like a river. A mellow summer evening outside… And then we looked around us to see    where in all this Elsie and Elaina had wandered off to. Elaina was holding the hand of the little baby boy that was born here to one of the older orphans, and walking him all around. and Elsie was squatting on the ground helping a little girl scoop dirt and stones into an empty water bottle which then became a “ball” that they kicked back and forth to each other for the next half an hour. We felt so rich, so glad to be here, and so incredibly blessed to know so many wonderful people made in God’s image. Were it not for the mosquitos we might not have been able to tear ourselves away from the porch that night either.

Friday, July 12, 2013

This is Steve ...

I wanted to get some news up here before church Sunday.  

Thank you all for praying for the conference!  Here is a chunk of a post I just did for our family blog:  

The biggest news on this end is the final conference meeting yesterday.  I can´t give details, but there were eighty ladies that stayed after for an hour afterwards to study this document that Faye and Liesl worked very hard to translate.  It was about modesty, but basically sketched out what the Bible says about being a woman and how great it is.  One of the ladies, who had been a prostitute and despised by her family, found the love of Christ at this conference and believed.  Many ladies told Faye with tears that they had never heard any of this and the whole thing was life changing.  They represented three churches and several schools, and all said, ¨The 80 copies of this document will not grow dusty anywhere.  This is going to change Puerto Cabezas.¨  I talked with about forty men afterward.  Also very encouraging.  In short, the impact of the conference exceeded our wildest imaginings.  I am speaking again to the men tomorrow morning at 5:30 a.m.  Please pray!

We are well.  The ¨team¨ here (including Luke, Liesl and Seth) are amazing.  They are everywhere I look all the time doing beautiful, Christlike things.

Pray that we will make the most of our last days.  And that Luke will be able to find Raphael in Jinotepe Sunday and that that time together with him will be life-changing.  

Eager to see you all a week from Sunday!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

First Days


Thank you for your prayers for our travel. After a somewhat eventful trip, and with all the culture shock we were experiencing, it was wonderful to be greeted here at the orphanage by the smiling familiar faces of Seth Howard, Caroline Byrd, Matthew Holcomb, and Jeff, Jon, Dan, and Jenny Lung. (Karen Washburne will be arriving tomorrow.)
Our plane arrived late in Managua and we had to leave the hotel to head for the next little airport by 4 AM. We got up in the night and took our cold showers and took off. A luggage rack fell off a curb in Managua and whacked Steve pretty hard in the head near a vein of some kind that spilled a significant amount of blood just as we were headed to the tiny plane at the national airport. Liesl turned green and very pale nearly fainting at that airport when we were checking in, (a combination of exhaustion, lack of sleep, hunger, the stress of the moment , being late for a flight, and Steve asking her to check his head and see if it had stopped bleeding yet.)Our little family of six and three other passengers made up the flight to Puerto Cabezas. It was a beautiful flight over jungle and mountains in a sky alight with God’s glory, though it did cross my mind that I might have had trouble getting on that plane if the thought of heaven was not so inviting as it is!  
Earl and Domarice
One of the dominant feelings I have had these first few days here in Puerto Cabezas is a deep appreciation and respect for Pastor Earl and his wife Damarice. I have had numerous flash backs to my time in Switzerland at L’Abri. Not at all because the physical surroundings bear any resemblance but the beauty of the community, the body at work, the loving and sharing and the community of people all pouring themselves out in behalf of others seeing Christ is reminiscent. It is deeply refreshing. Earl and Damarice exude a love for one another that provides a solid foundation upon which an entire needy community is upheld- It is of course God’s doing, and God’s holding together, but it is amazing how powerful an influence a loving couple committed to each other and to loving others together can be! I love it! So many needs are being attended to in this place on a daily basis and so many people have to help, and they are rising to the challenge. Pastor Earl has an uncanny ability to incorporate transient visitors (like Steve and I and others) that are only here briefly into this community. It is a priviledge to see what God is doing here. This couple has an amazing testimony of God’s grace in their own lives and they bring him greqt glory.

Feeding Center

One of the most poignant things we experienced these first few days was our visit to “help” (really mostly observe) the feeding center Pastor Earl started about a twenty minute truck ride away from here. Nicaragua is working very hard trying to overcome all the malnutrition that has plagued the children of this nation. They are making some headway. This feeding center is in an area where many “families” relied solely on the garbage dumps as their source of food. The dump is still full of people scrounging. But there are now more than 400 kids, and a bunch of mothers that get one very nutritious meal a day. The center is run by leaders in the church here that are part of     the community at the orphanage. The couples that run it are SO LOVING and caring. And they are very concerned to share the gospel with the people they are feeding. One of Luke and Liesl’s close friends down here, Hosea, is paid by the church to come and spend time sharing the gospel with these children and their families almost every day. Only children are fed at the center, but mothers that come and help to clean up and wash pots etc. are paid in food to take home. Some of the children walk several miles each day to come and get this meal- barefoot and barely clothed in torn and tattered clothes that were probably our castoffs in Maryland or Virginia suburbs several wearers ago. It is an intensely emotional experience to go to this feeding center. The lives of the children there, their physical condition, the looks on their faces, their “housing” and the lack of adult input into their lives ( Many kids of four or five carry along baby siblings to feed- many two and three year olds show up with no one watching over them) makes the kids at the orphanage here seem like kings and queens by comparison. Kids here at the orphanage have SO MUCH MORE even though by our standards they have almost nothing) Workers here are few, but they are here and they are loving. Kids here get three very solid, if simple, meals a day. The kids at the feeding center were genuinely starving. They started out trying to give them forks or spoons when they opened the center, but gave it up because they are not used to using them and never have. You don’t need forks to eat what you scrounge from a dump. I could not look into some of their faces without crying. (not very helpful.) Your mind grows dizzy trying to think through your own life in the light of poverty and starvation and trying to imagine applications of When Helping Hurts.  Pray for these faithful loving Miskito Indians who know Christ and are feeding these children because of Him! May these little image bearers of God be nourished not only by the rice and beans, but by the manna from heaven!


Broken Parents Raising Whole Children

Steve and I will be doing a Broken Parents Raising Whole Children conference starting Monday morning. We deeply covet your prayers for this time. We are intensely aware of the need for prayer, feeling very small and inadequate, and minimally informed about the specific strengths, needs, problems, and concerns in this culture in the area of parenting, and unable to speak any of the languages. We are blind. We can only trust that the incredible good news of how God’s love applies, and the eternal grand wisdom of his word will transcend culture and speak deeply to human needs we all share, and to some human needs that we don’t even comprehend ourselves. The conference will be for four days: Monday (July 8) through Thursday (July 11) from 8 AM through 12 Noon each day with a little break and snack between two sessions each day. Pastor Earl has invited all the staff and workers at the orphanage and the school, the older university students still staying at the orphanage, the members of the church, Government workers in the community, and members of two other churches. He anticipates about 120 people. Please, please, pray like crazy for God to use his word to make a real difference in lives and to bring home the wonder and power of the cross in practical ways.


Steve and I find ourselves desperate to share more deeply - praying for the power shown at Pentecost undoing the tower of Babel! I have never wished so earnestly for the gift of tongues! Luke and Liesl have been very patient and kind taking the time to be translators for us so that we can interact. But we feel badly to take them away from the more significant conversations they would be having with their already established relationships.  It has been wonderful to meet all the people that Luke and Liesl love so dearly and who obviously love them too! There is a beauty in relationships that makes one long for heaven!

And Speaking of Some of these Relationships:

Thank you for praying for God to provide a way for Luke to visit Raphael. Thank God, Luke has been able to arrange for a way to go see Raphael for three days. Luke came with a supply of really good Christian Life Books, with medicines, vitamins, and some practical toiletry type items to just give him a  lift in getting back onto his feet. Luke is hoping for deep fruitful conversations for all three days and lots of time spent praying with Raphael, but he also hopes to lend a little hand looking for work possibilities. Please pray for God to hold this young man securely in his hand and let no one pluck him out of it! Also pray for Luke’s safety traipsing about Nicaragua, something not recommended.

Liesl has already had a great time talking with Flor as she has been off from university classes since we arrived. She is staying here helping out at the orphanage while on break from school. She seems to have continued in her faith even if a bit wobbly. It has been beautiful to meet her and her little sisters who are also here at the orphanage. May  God complete the good work he has begun!
God is so good, and the people he has created in His image so profoundly beautiful, even in our fallen-ness, Pray for Him to shine through our words, (well for some of us) our smiles, and our hands. 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Hey all! Thank you all so much for your prayers and support. Liesl and I are getting ready to go back to Nicaragua this summer (July 2 – 16). This trip will be quite different from all the prior ones: rather than bringing a team of young people, we will be going with our parents and little sisters for the first time. We are really excited for our family to meet all of the kids at the orphanage, Pastor Earl, and the Verbo Church.
The emphasis of this trip is also a little different. Rather than teaching music, leading Bible studies, etc. the main focus of our time this summer will be allowing our family to get to know the kids who have blessed us so much and whom we love so much. This means that, aside from a few trips out to visit the jail and feeding center, we will spend most of our time at the orphanage just talking, praying, singing, reading, working and playing with the kids. In addition, our parents will be giving a series of talks in the Church during the second week we are there.
We would really appreciate your prayers for the trip! Please pray that God would center and focus our heart on Christ and that the Gospel would shine forth clearly in both our actions and our words; that Christ would be made much of. Here are a few specific requests:

Dad and Mom

Raising a Whole Child Conference

Our parents will be giving a series of four talks on the Gospel in parenting and family. In these talks, they hope to apply the Gospel to the way parents raise their children and the way children see their parents. Many of the people who will be listening come from shattered families. Please pray that God would give Dad and Mom an extra measure of wisdom as they seek to share the healing rain of God’s grace to broken parents and children. Our parents have shared this bible study in many different settings over the years, but they have never addressed an audience and culture that they did not know. Pray that God (the only One who is intimately acquainted with all the particular needs of these people) would take our parents’ words and use them to encourage, exhort, grow and bless both parents and children.  Pray that Pastor Earl would be able to translate clearly from English to Spanish.

The Library

We will be bringing down a handful of books to offer as material for parents in discipling their children. Right now there are not many books available in that community at all. We hope to get a very, very small “library” up and running so that the books will be available to more people. Pray that, Lord willing, the library system will work well so that as many people as possible can have access to the books. Pray that the books would enrich lives.

Relating to the kids

Pray that (between our translating, Dad’s limited Spanish, and the kids’ limited English) the language barrier would not inhibit Mom or Dad’s communication of the Gospel in daily 

Elsie and Elaina

Please pray for Elsie and Elaina (who are both nine) to be able to build real relationships with kids and to share Christ’s love with them. They are excited to meet the kids and try out the Spanish they have worked on over the past year. They plan on sharing Bible verses and songs in Spanish as well as reading and playing games. Pray for safety from harm and sickness (especially mosquitos).


Planning for next year, communicating clearly
[Liesl writing] I hope to spend January-June next year in Nicaragua. Lord willing, I would like sit down with Pastor Earl while we are there this summer to present him with a proposal for next year. Please pray that God’s will would be done. Pray that Pastor and I would be able to communicate clearly and make wise plans.

Investing in kids

Please pray that God would open up opportunities for me to share Christ with the girls and children at the orphanage. Pray for boldness and gentleness. Many see Christianity as a list of rules. Please pray that these young people would meet the God of all grace and find rest for their souls. Flordina is still staying at the orphanage and attending the local university. She is feeling somewhat burned out and discouraged as she faces difficult studies and constant temptations at the secular university. Pray that God would renew her strength and that she would find refuge in Him.


I would really appreciate prayer for my time with the guys down there, to continue to invest in the relationships that have been formed as well and getting to know the new kids. I really would love to see the guys growing in their love for and dependence on Christ.

While I’m there I’ll be talking to Pastor Earl about the possibility of coming down for at least a year after I graduate (May 2014). I would love prayer for clear communication and direction on those plans.

And finally, Raphael is in Jinotepe (about an hour from Managua). Right now he is living alone without any family or friends. He has been in and out of work and is just trying to meet basic needs. Please pray for him to grow in his faith and that God would provide for his physical needs as well (shelter, food, safety). I may fly back to Managua early to try to see him. Pray that God works it out!