Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Week # 5

Hi everyone! Sorry we're one day off our usual blogging pattern. :)

Now that we have had some time to get into the swing of things, our typical week has settled into a rhythm…which seems to get faster and faster towards the weekend, leaving us Sunday nights and Mondays to enjoy a stanza of rest before another week begins.

Here are some aspects of our week that are fairly predictable:

Mornings: Quiet times, visiting the jail, hospital or feeding center. Liesl teaches saxophone 2 mornings a week.
Afternoons: Tutoring English. On Saturdays, we have begun teaching English to about 35 of the older kids who are especially motivated to learn. Pastor Earl and Damaris would really like each of the kids to speak English as a long-term goal. Lord-willing, this will make it easier for them to transition into the regular community and open up new opportunities. Transitional care is one of the greatest needs here. It is difficult for young adults who have grown up with no picture of stable family, love, and even normal aspects of life like working and managing finances to find their own way once they reach adult-hood.
Evenings: Monday evenings are spent at the feeding center with other church members and some families of that community. Wednesday and Friday evenings we love singing and praying with the kids, and have enjoyed reading aloud with groups of faithful listeners. On Thursday nights, the church holds a service, which is always refreshing to attend. Fridays and Saturdays, we open our little house for sleep-overs with small groups of girls. We are hoping to start this Friday, having over the oldest girls, one at a time. 
Liesl's sunny porch quiet time spot
Sifting the bugs out of our potential soup...(mmm!)
Baptisms this past Sunday at Tawapi River
Escarleth and Julieby being baptized by Ibriel, (one of the care-takers,) and Don Rafael, an elder in the church, who also leads morning devotions at the orphanage.
The 5 little chicas from Casa Bernabe who were baptized:
Cherly and Janina, (sisters), Jenny, Escarleth and Julieby
We're hoping to schedule in a flip-flop shopping trip soon =)

Prayer Requests:

Months before we left for Nicaragua, when we were together making plans and praying over our time, God placed Isaiah 62 on our hearts as something to pray for the kids at Casa Bernabé. Now, as we’ve been here, and seeking God’s heart over our focus in the time we spend with the girls: he has been consistently placing ideas centered on names and name-meanings on our hearts. God so blessed the time that we spent with the younger girls making the name and bible verse poster. As we escorted another group of slightly older girls over to the house for another sleepover this Saturday they were all discussing their names and their name meanings. With so many kids coming from such hard backgrounds growing up in an institutional setting where they receive so little individual attention, it is so clear that the girls are desperately hungry to find identity and value in something. They are so hungry to be sought out and delighted in. I think for a lot of them, if you were to get a truthful answer about what they think their name should be, it would be “Forsaken” or “Desolate” or “Abused” or “Forgotten”.  Our prayer is that God will fulfill his promise to speak into their hearts and completely satisfy that craving with His steadfast love:
For Zion's sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not be quiet, until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a burning torch. The nations shall see your righteousness, and all the kings your glory, and you shall be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will give. You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God. You shall no more be termed Forsaken, and your land shall no more be termed Desolate, but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her, and your land Married; for the Lord delights in you, and your land shall be married. Go through, go through the gates; prepare the way for the people; build up, build up the highway; clear it of stones; lift up a signal over the peoples. Behold, the Lord has proclaimed to the end of the earth: Say to the daughter of Zion  “Behold, your salvation comes; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him.” And they shall be called The Holy People, The Redeemed of the Lord; and you shall be called Sought Out,  A City Not Forsaken. - Isaiah 62:1-4, 10-12
              An eleven year old girl’s name means: Dear One. Her passage was Jeremiah 31:20, “Is Ephraim my dear son? Is he my darling child? For as often as I speak against him, I do remember him still. Therefore my heart yearns for him; I will surely have mercy on him, declares the Lord.” We inserted [Cherly] in place of Ephraim when we copied the verse onto a little card for her. After she carefully read over the verse, she asked for a Bible and looked up the passage. And called us out, asking: “What does Ephraim mean?” We explained who Ephraim was and how, often when God is making a promise to all his children in Christ, he calls us “Ephraim” or “Jacob” or “Israel”. “So God is making that same promise to you, as his precious child”, I finished. Cherly, (pictured above,) responded with a grin and a whoop of triumph.
                Another, 12 year-old girl, Nelsi, who only arrived a few weeks ago from Krin Krin, had the name “Light”. In the past four years, she has lost her mother and three siblings to sudden and unexpected deaths. Her mother and two siblings died of fever. Sickness and injuries are attributed to witches and demons here. “Crazy Sickness” is a common curse from the witches and demon mermaids that are said to live in the Rio Coco. Her biological father abandoned her after all the deaths. Another family from the village took her in but, with so many deaths traveling around the village, they were afraid that the curse would come to their home and that Nelsi would be next. So they sent her here with the Lee family. The hope of God taking His precious Nelsi and naming her His beloved child and making her identity “light in the Lord” is so exciting. Nelsi’s exclamation and grin over her Ephesians 5 passage was radiant: “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. … for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.”
  •  Please pray that God would be melting the hearts his children here with his zealous love and delight over them. Pray that Christ would free them from their old identities and give them new names in Christ. We have been so, so humbled and blown away by God’s favor and steadfast love over us even though all we are able to give back is more and more sin, weakness and idols. Pray that what God is teaching us would overflow in our words and lives.
  • We would like to start having over the girls one on one as well as in groups. We crave your prayers for each Friday night. Each week we will let you know who will be coming over, so that you can be praying for them specifically. Lord willing, Anielka will be over this week. Anielka is Flordina’s half-sister. Her parents became believers some years ago, but she and her little sister Jhorleny came to Casa Bernabe for protection and an education. Anielka has expressed her desire to grow in her relationship with God; she is open and hungry to learn. Her desire for God is so encouraging and exciting, but it is hard to actively and openly pursue God in this place where so many of the other girls look down on those with thriving faith. Pray that she would find the joy and strength in Christ that she needs to whole-heartedly follow God and resist the pressures, temptations and mindsets that are so prevalent among the girls here. Pray that God would use her to point the other girls to Christ. Anielka means Gracious or Merciful. Pray that the grace and mercy of her Lord would define her life.

Thank you for your prayers! Have a lovely week!

Emily and Liesl :) 

Monday, February 17, 2014

First Month Complete

We can hardly believe it has been a full month since we first arrived in Puerto Cabezas! This past week sailed by with many treasures and new adventures along the way. We have begun a new routine of having a bevy of girls over on Wednesday and Friday evenings for read-aloud time, prayer and singing. This last week we got to party with the “babies”…the youngest group of girls (mostly ages 5-6). It was a new experience for them to leave their usual surroundings, and to receive attention without having to compete with 50 other kids. We loved having them over. They are quickly memorizing various scripture songs we've sung together.

Saturday nights are turning into a treasured anticipation. These nights are set aside for pijamadas (evenings and sleepovers with groups of the girls). We want to balance spending fun light-hearted time, with also encouraging them in their faith and leaving them with something other than a fun memory. Last week God laid it on our hearts to look up the meanings to each of their names, and to find a Bible verse which displays that significance more fully. It was really precious to discover meanings like, “daughter,” “light,” “the Lord’s”.....for girls who have experienced such darkness and abandonment, we can already see God flooding in His redemptive purposes for His beloved chicas. We made a small production of celebrating their identities in Christ as we called them up one-by-one to receive the card with their name and Bible verse and “dubbed” them with their new meanings.  The little artists got right to work copying their name meaning and Bible verse on their section of a huge banner which will hang in their room. Sleeping was a fun adventure. The four mattresses from our little place were swished into the living room to form one giant bed for the 12 of us.  We feel so incredibly loved and blessed by these sweet girls. It is such an honor to be allowed into their hearts and lives.

The finished project!
"I will praise you, because I am fearfully made.Wonderful are you works; my soul knows it very well."
(Psalm 139:14)

A new opportunity popped up last Friday for us to visit the hospital with a medical team who worked pretty much non-stop all week, performing reconstructive surgeries for children with cleft lip and pallet. The medical world is so different here, that we were actually allowed to dress up in scrubs and observe the surgeries happening in the operating room. Liesl was a perfect observer, and got to stay for several surgeries. Emily started out well and good, but was promptly wheel-chaired out after she accidentally fainted...(something about the heat, mixed with lots of blood, and no oxygen). Anyway, we were grateful for the experience, and really blessed to witness God using this team who is truly impacting the lives here.

Morning worship at the hospital
The first surgery of the morning, Miguel Lincoln, who is 2-years old.
(Before surgery, he was unable to speak or eat. Food and drink would come out of his nose, due to his cleft.)
Medical team hard at work
Miguel, with his Mama after surgery, all fixed up!
Going under-cover....green, pink and blue. =)
Please pray:

  •  That God would soften hearts here to HIS love, through the gospel. We are so aware that everything we do is in vain if not compelled by Him. Please continue your prayers for the caretakers. Pray that God would particularly use the presence of a godly, humble and gentle man, like Ibriel to manifest his heart of Father-love to the girls. Candi and Ibriel met with one of the older girls alone recently. God used that time powerfully in her life. Pray for more breakthroughs like that for them.
  • For wisdom and strength. We are in full-swing here! The days seem to fly by now. We need wisdom to know when to pull-back and when to pour out.
  • Please pray that, if God so wills, he would allow the kids to catch the delight of reading aloud this week as they come over in the evenings and that those times would be cozy and enjoyable for them.
Thank you so so much for praying! God is answering!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Red Paint and Piñatas

We are excited to announce that we are now the grateful occupants of the little house on stilts! This past Saturday was moving day. We've been enjoying the process of settling in. Pastor Earl, Damaris and all the men and women working here have been unbelievably thoughtful and generous. We feel so overwhelmed and spoiled. We have a source of pure water right here at the house, a nice little fridge as well as a gas stovetop. They painted the floors a bright fire engine red and some of the walls and trim a light peach. The effect is quite striking and cheerful… somewhat like living inside a sunset. :) We enjoyed an evening and sleepover with Flordina at our little place after we moved in on Saturday.

This is before.......(don't judge) =)

...this is after.....

....(yes, the floors are the color of a fire engine.)

Other Highlights from this past week include:
  •        The birthday celebration for all the January and February birthdays, as well as Morling’s quinseañera.

  •          Times to visit with and be greatly encouraged by the some of the Lee family. The Lees are a missionary family from the Krin Krin (a Miskitu village up the river). They were staying here for a week waiting to bring a team up to their place.

Thank you for your prayers! This week held a good sum of both joy and struggles. He has been faithfully working out everything for our good.
Could you please pray:
 For continued softening of the kid’s hearts at Casa Bernabé. Continue to pray for wisdom and love    for Ibriel and Candida, as well as Luis and Lilian (the couple in charge at the Discipulado.) Pray for a Monday evening Bible Study with the older girls that will be starting tonight. Also pray for the sleepovers with the older and middle girls that will be happening on Saturday nights. Pray for encouragement for the older girls who do know God to keep pressing on.
  •  For this little house to be a place of healing, refuge and peace to all who enter it. Please pray particularly for Sunday, Wednesday and Friday night times of singing and reading with small groups of the kids at our house. Please pray that God would be clearly present here. In particular: this Wednesday we’ll have the nine youngest girls (5, 6, 7 year olds) over here to have a reading and singing time before bed. They’re a pretty active bunch and not all of them speak Spanish. Pray that it would be peaceful, as well as fun, if that’s God’s will. :)
  •  For Emily and my physical, emotional and spiritual strength and stamina as we begin our first full week of tutoring, English classes, and read aloud evenings.
  •  Finally, for freedom from the fear of man and assurance, confidence and joy in God’s love and favor over us. (Isaiah 43:1-4) Pray that as we take time to hide away in the mornings that God would meet with us.

Thank you so much. We love you all and are continuing to pray for you.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Here are some of our adventures from this past week:

Discovering the many uses for palm tree branches 

Sunday read-aloud featuring "Cricket in Times Square"


 Liesl braves the perils of  the live and active worm-tunnel...

                                              .........(not so alive and active anymore! =)  

On a more serious note:
Thank you so much for praying and for all of your thoughtful notes of encouragement. God has been answering prayers and proving his faithfulness. We are very humbled.

Our main prayer request is for God to open wide the hearts of the older kids here. Candida and Ibriel (the house parents for the girls and children) as well as others of the leaders here have shared their concern and burden for the older girls. Please pray that the truth of Christ would uproot bitterness and hardness toward God among these teens. Pray for the leaders here in charge of them. And for us, pray that God would open the door for times to build trust and listen as well as times to boldly speak and share Christ.

Thank you again! We are praying for you as well!

Much love,
-Emily and Liesl