Saturday, November 24, 2007

Thanksgiving Part 2

Yesterday evening we worked on some of the best "leftovers" from Thanksgiving dinner. My dearest Beverly always out does herself when she begins to cook special meals; she is the best cook in the whole world and this cherry filling topped cheese cake was proof of it. Mmmm good, yea!!!

A friend asked, "so how do you celebrate Thanksgiving in Nicaragua?"

First, it is not celebrated by Nicaraguans, but we enjoy remembering our blessings from the past year so we do enjoy the day.

This year dinner, eaten at 2 P.M., was baked chicken [this chicken was a bit different because according to what I found in the pot it had at least 10 legs], corn, mashed potatoes and gravey, stuffing [stuffed into a bowl instead of a turkey], acorn squash [instead of sweet potateos], bread , cranberry sauce and tea - a very tasty meal and worthy of eating a bit too much. Later in the evening we ate the pumpkin cheese cake mentioned in a previous blog.

Truly God has been good this year... that's not a measure of the food we ate, instead it is thankfullness because He has provided for all our needs, kept us healthy and moving forward, the minsitry has advanced and is preparing for new advances in 2008. Cheree visited China and the Dominican Republic, I made a couple trips to the States, and my mom is living with us and doing very well. We are very thankful for His grace, mercy and abundant blessing.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

A Happy Thanksgiving

This is the day that the Lord has made; I will rejoice and be glad init. Psalms 118:24

I will praise Thee, O Lord, with my whole heart! Psalms 111:1

My meditation of Him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the Lord. Psalms 104:34

Happy Thanksgiving! Here's one of the pies Bev cooked for our dinner today and it was good. We'll eat the cherry cheese cake tomorrow and it will be even better. Bev's Thanksgiving letter continues below. Blessings and peace.

Today is one bit of American culture that we observe that is not included anywhere on the Nicaraguan calendar, although they celebrate more holidays than does the U.S. However, we believe the number of people here that recognize God as their source of life and give God genuine thanks for His tremendous blessings are growing in number. Here in Matagalpa we have so much for which to be thankful! After the devastating flood last month that destroyed so much, life has returned to a more normal schedule for the majority of the people. Electricity is off only about 2 hours a day now; water is off and on, but mostly on -- nice changes. Prices have drastically increased, but we praise God for His promise to provide our needs for every day. He is always faithful, and His faithfulness does not depend on the current market prices. We are so glad our God is bigger than that, and His provision comes in a myriad of ways. One form of His provision is His protection.

When the dust settled from the frantic days of reaching out to the panic-stricken and suffering people, it was an amazing testimony to realize that none of our people closely ntegrated in our church had major losses. God's hand of protection was upon them, their house structures, and even the majority of their household goods. God is so good! Losses amounted mostly to mattresses, clothes, paper items and other smaller items that were swept away with the rushing water. For those that would like to help, we need to replace all the mattresses we gave away (we receive our next team of people in Dec.) and we are also preparing gift baskets to replace some of the small items lost.

We also rejoice that our helping hands also have brought a few back to the fold. The goodness of God leads to repentance (Rom. 2:4). Helping them with their more severe losses has shown them God's love in a way that words could not communicate. We pray that this time they will "stick" and become true disciples to in turn be a blessing to others. We praise God for His gracious compassion, for His truth and righteousness, for His power to make us strong in weakness. We praise Him for our health, for vigor and excitement to complete His calling on our lives, for all our children all serving God, for our church leadership rising up in maturity and strength, for new disciples and growth in all our lives, for His direction and new horizons (Jinotega in 2008), for new friendships and for our old faithful friends who pray for us and support us, thereby serving God with us in impacting Nicaragua with God's good news.

Thank you, our dear friends. May God bless you greatly in this season of Thanksgiving and celebration.

We are thankful for His grace and content in His goodness,

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Fwd: A few Recent thoughts from Bev

At the moment, Bev is the one on the front line. I, Earl, am still in the States and will be here a bit longer. Here are some thoughts from Bev about how it is today. Sure wish I could be there. I miss MyLady and my kids.

God is been good,

  • We've had days of water, and now it's irregular again. We had a weekend of electricity and last night it was off again. Normal normal there.
  • I've spent alot of time counseling my leaders these past 2 weeks, and a few affected by the flooding in the church finally had a delayed reaction to the trauma, but I think we're all doing well emotionally.
  • Due to a mix up Sun. I ended up preaching. At least I had a few minutes during the praise and worship to write a few notes. God is good, it went very well.
  • School got a bit behind, so what else is new.
  • Esperanza has been very fussy, and that makes everything take alot longer.
Love to all,

Helping People in Relief Centers after the Flooding in Matagalpa

The meals we prepared, 300+ a day for 3 days, were taken to people in the relief centers established through out the city.

People in Relief Centers after the floods in Matagalpa

Many, many families were affected by the flooding, most of them poor and unable to re-establish themselves some where else.

La Fuente Helping People Affected by Flooding in Matagalpa

We cooked 300+ meals a day for 3 days to help those in need. Saturday major relief organizations like Red Cross and Care moved in. We helped fill in the gap until they arrived.

People in Need

Many different people were affected, but the most affected, of course, were the children and the elderly.

Don Enrique is an elderly man in our church.

Flood Damage in Matagalpa

Standing water and damage to buildings and bridges close to the river were common.

More pics of the Flooding in Matagalpa

Houses were flooded and the contents were damaged.

Flooding in Matagalpa - 2

The streets looked like this 2 days after the flooding.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Flooding in Matagalpa

In this picture you can see two cars that the Rio Grande of Matagalpa have claimed because of heavy rains and flooding last week in the city and departmento of Matagalpa, Nicaragua. Here are observations Bev saw and made from Matagalpa on Saturday. I'll try to get some photos that show some of the efforts we at Iglesia La Fuente have made and some of the damage incurred as soon as possible.

The last two days have been quite traumatic in Matagalpa due to very heavy rains and flooding. On Wednesday about dusk the Rio Grande of Matagalpa, that goes through the center of the city and is usually more like a stream instead of a great river, overflowed its banks due to very heavy rains up in the mountains. There was hardly any warning of the pending doom, and many people close to the river lost all or the majority of their material goods, due to either being swept away in the torrential waters or by being damaged by the intrusion of muddy, smelly water four feet or higher into their homes. Within 30 minutes of the hit, the electricity in the entire city went out, and we remained without power until 6 am on Thursday. This left people battling the raging river in the dark, many overcome with panic, fear, and desperation.

On Thursday, trudging through the mud up to my knees to visit our families in one neighborhood, I cried with them at the devastation all around as I prayed, "God give me some words of hope for your people. What do I say? What do I do?"

A team of willing servants from the church assembled Thursday morning, and by Friday morning 450 plates of food had been prepared and delivered to the hardest hit areas. We've also been giving away clothes and other basic items as quickly as they are collected. By Friday some other groups also started giving aid, so we have directed our efforts yesterday and today including (another 250 plates of food), towards a neglected area north of town where one of our affected member's home is located. The estimate is that over 1000 families were affected, among which are 12 families in our church. One family is staying with us as they seek to relocate in another house. This is the second time this month that the river has entered their home. Wednesday's trauma was much worse than the effects of Felix, and the overall damage appears to surpass that of Hurricane Mitch back in 1998, when we first moved to Matagalpa. Eight have been reported dead, crops have been lost, and many bridges and roads have been destroyed.

The city remains without clean water, which has obviously hindered efforts at cleaning up and trying to salvage items with a good washing. Yesterday I cleaned our house gutters so that our rain water will be more usable, since that is our only source of water right now until the destroyed city pipes are repaired.

Please continue to pray for us: 1) Restoration and provision, strength and hope for those who suffered loss; 2) Strength, endurance, and a chance to rest for those that have been serving non-stop; 3) rapid restoration of city water, and enough rain to provide the necessary water until then; 4) that our efforts will show the steadfast love of the Lord and glorify Him.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

A Few Recent Pics of the Family

A Sunday, Family picture

My Lady and Me

Precious Little Esperanza - 22 months

Water, Water Everywhere

Notes on the week of October 1-5 - written by Bev on October 5

It's been an interesting week, to say the least, and since I find myself awake at 3 am I must take advantage of the fact that there is electricity. There have been heavy rains and some flooding since Wednesday of last week. We've been without water and electricity much more than normal this week. I could say it's because we have company this week and that is something that seems to happen when we have company. At least the problems started 6am Monday, not on Wed.

Wed. afternoon we had a very hard and long rain. It came from the west instead of the north, and rain blew into the front of the house and came down the wall on which the bookshelf is. We had a time moving all the books and mopping up the water, unaware of the dangerous and more serious trouble of those along the river. Apparently the rain was also heavy up in the mountains and the river swelled up incredibly fast. With very little warning forceful water flooded several homes, carrying away all lighter items in its path. We housed 2 girls for the night, who arrived in a panic-stricken state after evacuating their house as it filled with water and mud. We were unable to communicate with many of our people who live along the river until Thursday, since the phone lines were cut off. One of our families had the water stop at the threshhold of their house. Another was able to move all damageable items up to their second floor before the water entered their house. We praise God for His protection.

Another tradegy we didn't hear about until late at night when Yolanda called to request prayer for her sister. (Yolanda is one of my leaders, married to Alejandro, one of our elders.) Her sister rides a motorcycle in her work duties, and was stuck on the edge of the river trying to get out of it's pull. Along with some others, a 17 year old young man entered the river to try to help her. He was swept away and we have still not heard if he's been found. [He was later found, dead.] Please pray for Miriam, that the images in her mind of him being swept away and the sense of guilt she feels can be dealt with correctly, and that this will spur her to seek the Lord with all her heart and that she will find a real relationship with God, peace, and wholeness through all this.

Then Wed. about midnight, an electrical fire broke out in the north-market when a transformer exploded. Between 20 and 30 "tramites" were destroyed. A tramite is a business booth, anywhere from 5 to 15 square yards each. Products vary from fruits and vegetables to shoes and clothes, toiletries, plastic items, etc. So pray for those who suffered loss, both in their housing conditions as well as their businesses.

Pray also for the girls we housed Wed. night, Indira and Waleska, motherless 18 and 16 year olds who have resisted counsel in the past, but turned to us in time of crisis. They both need to make serious changes in their lives now before irreversible consequences start to make their lives more and more miserable. The desire to change is not there. Pray that they will be able to see with the same clarity they had of escaping the river's strong currect, their need to escape the forceful current of sin and destruction around them.

On a lighter note, our trip as a family to Jinotega on Monday went very well. All the children liked it and had positive things to say. The biggest thing is that we are giving them plenty of time to adjust their thinking to embrace a move there, the thought being that we'd like to take a family trip to the States April/May and then come back to Matagalpa to prepare to move sometime in July, our favorite moving month history says.

Monday evening our guests arrived, a couple with Covenant Players, a ministry in drama who are working at establishing contacts with the other churches in this area. They will leave on Monday or Tuesday.

This week we also lent our church to a group from the Second Baptist Church in Springfield, Missouri who taught a 4 day seminar for all the pastors/leaders in the area. Earl was impressed with the quality of teaching at all the sessions he was able to attend. The seminar ended yesterday [Thursday, Oct 4]. Today, I hope, we are back to a more normal schedule. As always, it's school that usually suffers the most with the unexpected. We actually did better this week than we have during past interruptions, so that is encouraging.

Well, that's the news for the moment from Matagalpa, and I will send this as we have no guarantee of how long we will have electricity AND water pressure and there are clothes to be washed.

Continuation written October 9

Both water and electricity have been luxuries this past month. It keeps us humble and grateful. We are so blessed to have a large tank that can fill automatically when the city water does come through the pipes, and also have lanterns, emergency lights and flashlights. Many here do not have these luxuries.

We appreciate your prayers so much! Thank you for your faithfulness in co-laboring with us.

In our work focus we have been concentrating on two main areas: keeping up with the daily homeschool schedule, which keeps me plenty busy, and also delegating more and more responsibility to our leaders. We are moving ahead with plans to start another church in a city north of Matagalpa next year, and are therefore entering into a transition phase in order to give everyone plenty of time to adapt and make the necessary changes. We are still praying about all that this will entail with us as a family. Our children enjoyed a recent trip up to our target city, so their minds and hearts are also being prepared.

The idea that both Earl and I received separately in prayer as our method of entrance into people's lives is that of offering an English course. We have both resisted this idea for some time now, but believe it is the Lord's leading and have received confirmation from some of our leaders here, so we are checking out different courses to make the best purchase to start this venture. We will pilot it with our leaders here to work out some of the bugs that are inevitable.

Pray for more detailed directions as we follow the steps we have been shown.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Jinotega: A photo

Here is a picture of Jinotega from the highway as we entered the city on Monday. We'll take more photos next time we go.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

A Visit to Jinotega

Monday we went to Jinotega as a family to "spy out the land".

We arrived a bit after 11 a.m. and proceeded to eat lunch, chat with them a bit and release them to see the city on their own in groups of 2. They had about an hour and a half to walk around and see what ever they wanted to see. Once we were all back together, we talked about their observations in the van and then in the evening we all talked again about what we had seen and thought during the day. All the kids were positive about the day, expressing their concerns, but positive and accepting.

Their positive observations were that the city is peaceful, smaller, cooler, relaxed and has nice parks. There is not much traffic; there are good sidewalks; it has a kids park; is closer to the mountains; and it is easy to get around. Bev noticed that a lot of the women are pregnant. I found out that there are three universities and a fourth one that will open next year and there are no English language schools.

The main concern expressed was the leaving of friends in Matagalpa. "Can we visit at least once a month," was a consistent request.

Bev and I know there are other questions and doubts there like opportunities to play indoor soccer, to continue with Tae Kwon Do, etc.

It is a beautiful location with lots of outing opportunities. It is a more conservative and reserved city. There are a good number of churches there but none in the center part of town and they are not unified at all.

  • The altitude is 3232 feet above sea level
  • The population is approximately 51,000 as of 2005
  • 80% of the nations coffee comes from the department of Jinotega

Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Starting of a New Idea and a New Adventure

Friday, Sept 28, I was out and about, paying bills [or trying to... only in Nicaragua], buying stuff and, as normal, walking and thinking. Into my head came an idea that I have long resisted; the idea of English classes to make the start in Jinotega.

I continued home, that's the direction I was headed, and during the late afternoon mentioned the idea to Bev. She said, "I've been thinking the same thing."

Oh my, God, are you speaking? I think so.

I wrote Scott and mentioned some of the English, Alpha and coffee. Wow, a combination and it will work. I'm going to have to present the idea to Armin and see how it fits into the accounting of Al-Mundo. You know, I'm excited about this.

Securing materials, learning and preparing will be from now til Jan. Practice on classes will be here with people from the church; Jan - March. Visits to Jinotega need to start soon. D-day Jinotega will be in July.

The spark has been ignited. I'm excited. Let's go... God, touch the world through us.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

History 201 - Looking to the North

On night in October 1997 I had been doing a couple teachings on praise and worship at a small Baptist church somewhere in Managua and the last evening was special. It had been a combination of worship and teaching, not just an hour teaching time. It as very interesting, because I never even took the guitar off; sing, worship, share, worship, share, worship, share, etc. It was a very good night from what I can remember.

When I got home Bev and I began talking about the evening and the future. I mentioned again, having had the conversation several times before, about a recording studio. Bev "reminded" me to not get outside of my calling and, knowing the basic answer, I asked her to remind me of my callings. Teaching and worship was her answer and somewhere in the conversation was mentioned "maybe pastoring."

"Pastor? where?" I asked.

"North Nicaragua," she responded.

I had been thinking on that line already. God was leading and all we needed was confirmation and green light from our leadership in the US and from Verbo.

Look to the North!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Summer News - 2007

We are proud of our daughter, Cheree, for how well she's done in communication in newsletters and thank-you notes during her 11 months in Youth With A Mission in Puerto Rico. When she gets home in August maybe we'll put her in charge of ours, so that maybe we also will manage to be more in touch. For those who haven't been on Cheree's mailing list, she's had an awesome time, experienced tremendous growth and development in many areas in addition to the spiritual aspect, and enjoyed wonderful experiences in China and in the Dominican Republic during her outreach times. She is very glad that she stayed to take the second course, Principles of Working with Children and Youth.

This month celebrates some special milestones in our lives: Earl's 50th birthday and 14th year anniversary of living in Nicaragua, and Lance's 13th birthday and our 9th year anniversary of living in Matagalpa.

We've had a great summer with lots of company. With the help of a terrific team of 31 youth and their leaders from Omaha, Nebraska, the church received a handsome inside facelift of paint and outside a new roof addition to allow the children's church ministry to expand to the back patio. We had a great week of various ministry times at the church, at the hospital, and in a poor neighborhood. The group culminated their time here with a huge Children's Festival; we had over 150 children attend, and all left happy and content. Thank you, Lord.

My lady leaders and the mothers who attended the great Festival with their children or heard about it from an enthused source became motivated to organize a similar event for the women. This time we enjoyed the participation of a great team from Cincinnati, Ohio for our Saturday of fun. Several first-time visitors joined us, and were able to see the joy of the Lord in action. I know they will be back, hungry for more. One of the purposes of this event was to introduce our new Bible study theme from Titus, "Challenges of Today's Modern Woman," which we pray will impact our ladies in many practical areas in their lives.

Rejoice, and again I say rejoice! We had a challenging week, being without a telephone line for 4 days, without electricity 42 hours, a sick baby, a team of 28 to feed, and no water. God is so good though; we didn't have to deal with everything all at once. We got the phone back after the first day without electricity, and the water didn't shut off until after the electricity came back on. God provided coolers so very little food was lost to spoilage; He provided 2 gas lanterns which lit the entire living room, and mom's oven next door works without electricity. Yeah God.

24 Hours of Prayer - This past weekend we spent our 3rd time as a church manning a 24 hour prayer vigil. For this time period we had a minimum of two people praying at all times, and experienced surges of up to 50 at a time seeking God in prayer, sometimes individually and sometimes in groups. Around 80 people overall participated during the 24 hours, with a group of 30 staying the entire night to enjoy God's presence, worship Him, and intercede for the different needs presented.

Praise reports: Our leaders are functioning well without our direct 100% involvement, which is enabling us to focus in other directions such as radio ministry and a new church plant for next year.

  • Our family was given a new vehicle, a 16 passenger van! What a huge blessing that this personal need for transportation was met!

  • Cheree's expenses with YWAM and her outreaches have been totally provided for.

  • God's provision is awesome. He works through so many people in a variety of ways. Every month is different, but we rejoice that at the end of it, all the expenses have been covered.

Thank you, faithful friends, for being the channel of provision and blessing to us. We trust that God will continue to multiply your seed sown in mighty ways.

Prayer Petitions

  • We have made steps of faith in making improvements on our present building, and continue to pray for the provision to purchase both it and the adjoining property.
  • The country is still experiencing a lack of electrical power, which results in frequent power outages.
  • Peace in the political realm, integrity and wisdom for the governing parties, protection of godliness and freedoms, economic stability of the nation

Thanks again for your support and prayers. We pray that God will perform His purpose in your life today.

Blessings and peace,
Earl and Bev

Monday, July 9, 2007

History 101 - the First Years

We complete 14 years in Nicaragua on July 29, 2007 and 8 years in Matagalpa on July 26,2007 so it is time to celebrate. Even more the reason to celebrate is, it will be Lance's 13th birthday on the 26th and my 50th on the 29th. Not getting any younger, but we're going forward, full-steam.
We came to Nicaragua with Mission Aviation Fellowship in 1993 as teachers for missionary children in Managua Nicaragua Christian Academy. We served with MAF for 2 years and then transitioned to work under the covering of our home church mission organization, World Outreach Fellowship. After returning to the US for 5 months we returned to Nicaragua on a new adventure to work directly with the Nicaraguan people and churches. Our initial contact was Verbo Church Nicaragua. Sorry the linked site is in Spanish.
The next 3 years our ministry was helping various ministries around the capital city of Managua and the Atlantic Coast in the city of Bluefields. We continued teaching part-time at the Academy and with other ministries such as YWAM, Verbo Church and the Foursquare Church. November of 1998 Bev and I began to perceive a change of location and ministry.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007