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

Friday, May 16, 2014

Prison Project Week 1

  We just finished our first week of painting! The ladies were so willing and eager to get to work! The guards opened up each of the cells, and locked us in with our friends there for the rest of the morning. One of the sweetest gifts in getting to work on this project with these ladies is this: Normally, the atmosphere in the jail is very sober, dark and heavy. It is difficult to fellowship and converse in a real way with dear friends when they are crammed behind bars, and visits are timed and monitored. This past week the atmosphere was such a contrast! It was so special to have all the iron doors wide open, to have the hall-way packed with energy and excitement and eagerness to pitch in! We even went back to the hard-ware store after the first day to buy more brushes and supplies so that more ladies could help at one time.
Celebrating Liesl's birthday after our first day of painting =)
Day 1 - On Monday we scrubbed down the ceiling, walls and doors, and painted all the doors white. There was something really fulfilling about painting over the musky iron brown with a crisp white. "Auntie," one of the oldest ladies living at the jail, got to work with me on sweeping out the ceiling. By the time we finished, we were all completely covered in thick black dust and smog from the years of dirt collecting in the iron-chain ceiling.
Day 2 - Wednesday we were able to prime the entire space. It also happened to be Liesl's birthday, so we celebrated with pine-apple pastries and by singing happy birthday in about 3 different languages. (This was hopefully Liesl's only birthday which she will spend in jail.) =)
Day 3 - Friday we brought in a 5-gallon bucket of yellow paint. Next week we are hoping to bring in the girls from the orphanage to help serve a hot meal, as well as to paint various passages from the Bible across from each cell door. 
Juneth brightens up the entrance to the jail hall-way. This was taken on Day 2, after the doors were painted.
Liesl, Eva, and Chica-Tina, getting to work on the far end of the hallway. Eva's bed is stashed in the corner because there is no room left in the crowded cells.
"Auntie," is kind of like the mother-grandmother figure of the jail family. The door to her cell is usually covered with  hammocks, belts, jewelry, and bags that she weaves from recycled plastic bags.

This is the court-yard just outside the hall-way of the jail. The iron-bar-ceiling functions as a sort of clothes-line. Usually, all the women from one cell at a time are let out for one hour each day to get some fresh air and to dry their laundry. Because our loved-ones from home were so incredibly generous in providing for this project, I think we will have enough funds to paint this area as well!
Chiquitina and Maria - "the babies." Chiquitina is only 15 years old!

We feel so grateful to be welcomed in by the women and girls here.
Thank you so much for praying for us!
God is answering!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

It's Jail-Time!

You're not going to believe this! - Because of lavish and radical generosity from those we cherish from home, more than twice the amount of funds we had named came in for the jail project! We are absolutely blown away by God's provision! Thank you so very much for praying and for supporting us. 

We so covet your prayers this week. I had hoped to go in on Monday and Wednesday to do all the prep work with the ladies from the jail, before the girls from the orphanage come in with us on Saturday to do the fun part of painting and finishing up. However, because it's election week here in Puerto Cabezas, there is some hostility from the indigenous people here against the Nicaraguan government. A couple shootings took place earlier this week near the jail. For this reason, we were not able to actually go inside once we arrived at the jail on Monday. Please pray for God to go ahead of us. The jail is an incredibly dark place spiritually. There is strong tension as satan works to keep light out of a place where hearts are so hurting and so thirsty. 

 Thank you  so much for praying!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Hello everyone!

Thank you, everyone for your faithful prayers and concern. We’ve been so moved by all of your encouragement and love via emails and calls since we’ve been back from Krin Krin.

It’s hard to know where to start… :)
God was so, so faithful to keep us safe, well and to draw us closer to himself and each other.

The Lee family refreshed and inspired us in so many ways. Their home is almost constantly bustling and full of children who the Lees care for and feed every day, visitors from the community stopping by, a boy or girl who needs their knee bandaged for the 10th time, or someone bursting and announcing a medical emergency and call for Maria or Eva (the two oldest girls) to “come quick!” We felt so welcomed and honored to get to know Mr. and Mrs. Lee and each of their precious children. Sitting for hours at a time sorting red beans and rice and listening to Mrs. Lee tell story after story and scrubbing our clothes on the rocks of the Wanki river while we laughed with the Lee girls are some of the many memories we will cherish.

Please keep the Lee family and Krin Krin in your prayers. Their home is so full of Christ’s joy and peace, but it shines out brightly against the darkness of the community around them. Drugs, prostitution, witch craft, superstition, sickness and hungry bellies cast the village into a whole into a poignant spirit of hopelessness and darkness. The moment you set foot in the village, you can’t help but feel it. The Lee’s said the notoriously dangerous community witch-doctor will often come to sit under their stilt house and chat because he likes the peace that is in their home. Not only is it eerie and sober, but life there is just plain rough. Everyone is constantly battling MERSA staff infections and/or dysentery; there is no running water, no fans, no refrigeration, no toilets, and no local hospital or clinic. Pray that the Gospel would break through to the people of Krin Krin. The Lees have also requested prayers that a docter or nurse would feel called to come and serve in the medical clinic that they are in the process of starting up.

Sorting beans and folding laundry… :)
Winding down after a long day…
 We took a few afternoons while we were there to walk around the village and get pictures and notes from the families of children who are in Verbo.

We walked for over an hour along the river and through a handful of communities (including Swawk-Swawk, and Tulongkee :-) to deliver a letter from one of the girls to her family. They got all dressed up for the picture and offered us a sack of their freshly harvested and beat-out beans.

 The two weeks we were there, the Lees were watching the five older kids for this Mommy and Daddy while they were in Waspam delivering their baby and getting surgery. The Lees said the Mom most likely would have died if they had been able to get them to Waspam. A day or so before we left, the parents returned unexpectedly. The mom was still very sick, especially after the 10 hour boat ride, with a new born baby in the hot sun. They will be staying with the Lees for another couple weeks while the mother recovers and the Father get the house back in order. Their house had been broken into and several of their fruit trees cut down for no apparent reason when they returned home.

 This is the home of one of the Lees' closer friends Almok. His wife is 14 and pregnant with their first baby. Mary and Eva rushed to their house early Easter morning because she was bleeding and afraid that the baby had passed away. By God's grace, all turned out well; the baby is safe.

Calling out last good-byes from the boat...

Thank you again for your love and prayers. We are praying for you as well!

Much love,