Saturday, November 29, 2008

Family Trip July 2008 - GPS and God

We have been greatly blessed on our trip in the States with lots of camping equipment on two month loan. God is good. One of the blessings provided has been a GPS system. It sure helps get from one place to another, especially when we "don't know where we're going.

The key to obtaining complete benefit and profitable results is entering the correct address and carefully following the directions given, even when you think you know better. This isn't to say that the GPS has always been right, but I've been wrong many, many more times than the computer. Mmm.

I think God must be the GPS of life. He always knows the best route for getting us to His desired location and fulfilling His destiny for our lives. Ps. 23 tells us He is "a lamp to my feet and a light into my path." I believe the same guidelines regarding the GPS will apply as we seek to follow Him. We must carefully follow Him even when we think He is wrong. "There is a way that seems right to man but the end of it is death," is the wisdom of Proverbs and Romans extends the idea when Paul writes about "the good and perfect and acceptable will of God.

Do we really believe He knows best? Do we really trust the eternally perfect and never wrong GPS of life? Have we truly put our trust in the wisdom of God Eternal? Each person must evaluate his own life to see if he himself is making the decisions in life or is he following the leading any will of God, our Eternal GPS.

"Here am I LORD send me."

Family Trip Aug. 2008 - The Zoo, Minneapolis, MN

We went to the MN Zoo and it was an awesome adventure. Bears, wild boars, gibbons (they're apes not monkeys, they don't have tails), the komodo dragon, camels, buffalo, birds, butterflies, bald eagles and on and on. The diversity of God's creation is amazing and the only adequate response is one of awe and worship.

How can there be so many animals that are all so different in their own special and necessary way? It seems to me a greater faith is required to believe they all came into existence by chance, without an "intelligent designer".

Since God took the time and made the effort required to create all with such detail regarding they're need and ambient, how much more can I trust Him to care and prepare and provide for all my needs and future?

Ps 13:5-6 but I have trusted in your steadfast love, my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, because he has dealt bountifully with me.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Our Trip to the US - Earl and Bev's Thoughts - very late, but I'm cleaning out the drafts

We are back in Nicaragua and at the point of moving to our new city, Jinotega. God has provided a house with the price $50 below what we had put as the max we wanted to pay. For a few frustrating days we thought that we would have to go over our “limit”, but God is faithful and we are thankful that once again His faithfulness has been shown. We feel very blessed to have found a house this large and nice for the price we were able to rent it.

We’re also thankful for God’s provision for our family trip to the United States this summer. God provided in so many ways for everything we desired. We were hoping for somebody to loan us a van; instead the provision was to pay for renting a new one (only 12,000 miles “old”) and in perfect condition. For our 9000 mile trip, all the family fit in so nice and snuggly with all our camping equipment, food boxes, musical instruments, and suitcases.

As we traveled, the awesomeness and goodness of God was daily revealed to me through His marvelous creation. The most constant reminder as I looked at the “big skies”, majestic mountians and immensely large canyons was of God’s power, greatness and grandeur. As I saw the beauty of the small in birds, flowers and children, I remembered that even in His all powerfulness God cares for me and my most “insignificant” needs. For God all is possible and all is important. What a calming, comforting and consoling thought. He is always there, wherever we are; and He is always aware of our situations.

Many friends and family members helped us out with our trip and many others help us on a monthly basis as we minister here in Nicaragua. Thank you very much and may God’s riches blessings return to you and your family.

Monday, July 28, 2008

St. Cloud, MN

We are living in a box, our 8 passenger van, and it does all fit. Here we are just before we left St. Cloud Camping Grounds.
It has been fun and we are looking forward to the next 6 weeks.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Life in a Box

Here is our home for the next 2 months. Our 8 passenger van will carry us 7000 miles. The only challenge is to fit 8 people, 9 suitcases, 6 backpacks, 5 med-large plastic containers, 1 large trunk, 1 large cooler, a guitar, several percussion instruments and other assorted items. Fun fun.




Travel Revelation

Travel as an eight member family in a twelve passenger van with all your "stuff" is a great revelation. Parents serve as counselors and referees, older children are helpers and playmates, younger children are a joy at moments and a challenge at others. Yes, living in such limited space will surely reveal your true character and weaknesses. That is sure! We have only been on the road a few days and have almost 2 months left. The tests and blessings have just begun.

The trip of life presents some of the same challenges as we face change and uncertainty, especially as we deal with our church family. As leaders we serve as counselors and peacemakers. As older “brothers” we help others through crises and walk through life with them. And the younger ones are a joy to watch and a challenge to train.

The key to these challenges is “the LORD is my refuge and my strength in Him will I trust.” Daily intimacy with our Father God and constant time in His presence will help us pass through the tests and difficulties of life.

“And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you.” Ps 9:10

Friday, June 27, 2008

Reality Is Setting In

July 15 is the take off date. It is a date that for Bev and me and our family is a don’t look back date. It is a go for it date. It is a make it or break it date. It is the day we leave for our two month family trip in the States, but more than that, it is leaving the church we startes 9 1/2 years ago, La Fuente, in the hands of our qualified and experienced leaders and going to start a new church in Jinotega, a city 30 km. north of here. We’ve got to take the leap.

We must continue with what God has called us to do. It’s not that we’ll never be here again nor is it that we will not participate here, nor is it a time to not help or work together. But it is the time to let the children fly. I know they will go where I’ve never gone before; I know they will do things I have never done before; I know they will achieve heights I have never acheived; and if I don’t give the leadership to them, La Fuente will never be what she is supposed to be.

I think my monthly reflection written today speaks to me in a way that is equal to or greater than how much desire for it to speak to our people. We both need to fly and if we continue holding on to each other we’ll never get off the ground.

Inside me I hear, “Turn them loose, let them go, take your trip and go forward. They will be fine without you.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yea… it’s time and I'll always be with them. By the way, you’ll be okay too.”

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Update on the Rutledge Trip

Dear Friends and Family,

Bev, the kids, and I are excited about our travel plans to visit the United States this summer. As you know, they have not actually spent more than 3 consecutive weeks out of Nicaragua for the past 13 years. We have taken as ours Jeremiah's exhortation to Israel when he said to make the new nation your home, seek her blessing, and you will be blessed as she is blessed. We have seen how God has allowed this to be true in our lives. We feel very much at home in Nicaragua as we pursue her blessing by sharing the transformation power of the Word of God.

We also recognize the need for us as a family to make a unique connection with our "home country" during this small window of opportunity between transitioning from pastoring the church in Matagalpa to beginning a new work in Jinotega.

We received a good response to the letter we sent last month and we are very thankful for those that have responded with prayer, letters of encouragement and financial gifts. Praise God! Our plane tickets are almost totally paid for. However, we still need a generous amount of help as we prepare for our trip in just a few weeks. Our flight to Texas is on July 15.

One of the primary needs we have is a method of transportation for 8 people and their "stuff." Here are a few creative options that may be viable if you or a friend have a van or vehicle that could be loaned to us:

1. Loaning us a van for the +/- 6000 mile trip
2. Somebody renting/loaning us a van at the cost of $.25 per mile +/- $1500
3. Donation to rent a van from an agency, $5500 - 6000

In addition to the costs for a van (or 8 passenger vehicle) rental, we also have a budgeted need of $2500 for gasoline. Up to the moment, the rising cost of gasoline has not greatly affected our projected costs because I made the budget based on $5 a gallon since in Nicaragua we have been paying $5.25 a gallon for quite some time. We continue revising our travel schedule to conserve on distance traveled, time, and money while still allowing an educationally diverse trip with great experiences for the family. Our planned route is still around 6000 miles [reduced from almost 7000] which equals 20 days of driving 8 hours/day, and 40 days to visit people and places. We will also have food costs, camping and national park fees, and the miscellaneous costs to cover.
Friends in the Dallas and Longview, Texas areas can also help us out by loaning us camping equipment that we can use as we travel. Sleeping bags, tents, cooking stove and utensils, etc.

Well, we look forward to seeing you on the travel loop we'll be making - soon.

If you can help us out please send donations to:

World Outreach Fellowship
2011 W. Marshall Ave.
Longview, TX 75604

[checks should be made out to World Outreach Fellowship

and should include a note indicating that it is for Nicaragua]

or communicate with us about a vehicle or loaning camping equipment at:

Many thanks,

Earl and Bev

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

More Birthdays

June 3 John celebrated his 18th birthday. It seems as though it was only days ago that he was born and now he is almost as tall as me, growing in responsiblity and lots smarter.

Friday and Saturday we spent the day in Managua after we had dropped Bev off at a Pastors' wives retreat. Indiana Jones, Subway sandwiches, walking the malls and time together was the plan for Friday afternoon and evening. It was a good time together. Our real reason for being there was that he was taking the SAT test. He will get ratings in the 700's; smart kid like his mom. Bev and I are proud of him.

Tomorrow is Bev's birthday. I'll not mention her age, but she is only 4 years younger than I am. We'll be going to Managua to take my mom to the airport for a 4 month visit in the States. We'll take advantage of the trip to celebrate her birthday, visit some friends and do the Managua thing - shop and buy.


Saturday, May 31, 2008

Birthdays, Anniversaries, Mothers' Days, etc.

Lot's of activity in the months of May, June and July...

Mother's day and the US date, 2nd Sunday, is different than the Nicaraguan celebration which is the 30th no matter the day it falls on.

Bev and I celebrated our 26th wedding anniversary on May 22. It has been an awesome time and the upcoming years are surely something looked forward to with much anticipation.

A friend asked what I had given her for our anniversary and I told him that we had purchased a washing machine. In unbelief he asked me if it wouldn't have been better to take her out to eat or to a night in a hotel or resort. I told him that we had gone out to eat... He seemed satisfied.

I was thinking later that I should have asked him if it would have been better to give her a Nicaraguan lavandero or a good old American washing machine. With the money saved I could have taken her out to eat a few more times, if she had the time. God bless Westinghouse!

I think he would have understood my decision, but the thought was late and I didn't have the chance.

Judah has also celebrated his birthday this month. He is now 16 years old and a fine young man. Contacts instead of glasses were his gift.

God is good and we have truly enjoyed the month.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Proud Dad

video

Well, the video says it all.

I'm proud of Judah and the "examen de grado" in his Tae Kwon Do classes. This kick was the final part of his test to move up from yellow with a grade to green. It was a very advanced kick for his level and he executed it with precision and excellence. Good job, Judah!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Furlough - A leave of absence or vacation

We are ready to TRAVEL!!!

We have talked about an extended trip to the States for quite some time and now it is becoming a reality! Last week our tickets were reserved. We will be flying with our 6 younger children to Dallas, Texas on July 15 and our return to Nicaragua will be September 18. Cheree is studying Graphic Design at the University of Commercial Sciences in Managua and does not have breaks between trimesters, therefore she will not be traveling with us.

So, what do the kids remember from the 3 week trip we made 6 years ago:
  • Kelsy: going to the zoo with Grandma and Grandpa (from the pictures she has seen)
  • Luke: "Pastor Craft's" church
  • Lance: eating Krystal hamburgers and riding in the car
  • Judah: seeing "my breath" in the cold air
  • John: Uncle Lloyd's, youth camp, a worship seminar and working for Mr. Iwan (John went for a 4 week visit with Earl 2 years ago)
Our planned route is over 6500 miles, +/- 500 gallons of gasoline, that will be over 110 road hours which should leave us a good 40+ days to visit friends, family and sites of interest... we are looking forward to our "visit to a foreign country". The main purpose is to take our 6 younger children on a travel / camping trip so they can better appreciate their American heritage and experience some of the enjoyable points of the United States. In the past 15 years we have traveled to the States as a family only twice and the cumulative time is 7 months.
We are preparing everything here to function smoothly while we are gone and to transition into our move to Jinotega for new ministry there when we return. The "To Do List" is lengthy, with the following being among the most crucial:
  • Passport renewals, two U.S. and a few Nicaraguan, with 9 people and four Nica among us there is always a passport that needs attention
  • Distribution of all church responsibilities, big and small, to the elders at La Fuente and their emerging leaders
  • Finishing homeschool for the year
  • Preparing the house for our two month absence and future move
  • Finalizing contacts and scheduling for our trip while in the States
There are several things we need to make this trip a success. Maybe you could help with something on the list:
  • a roadworthy vehicle for 8 passengers and limited luggage (a 12 passenger van would be nice) to use for 2 months and 7000+ miles
  • finish payment of the plane tickets - $2500
  • camping equipment for our 2 month "tour" - tents, sleeping bags, camp stove, utensils, cooler, etc. (a combination of fun and reducing lodging costs)
  • funds for travel expenses - gasoline alone is projected to be $40 a day or $2500 (at least it is cheaper there than in Nicaragua), plus food, lodging, and other
  • car seat for our growing two year old
We still need to finish paying off the last portion of the plane tickets and, above our normal monthly expenses, we will need several 1000 dollars more to make the most of this special trip with our children. If you would like to help with this dream please send your financial gifts to our World Outreach Fellowship address [checks payable to World Outreach Fellowship]...

World Outreach Fellowship
2011 West Marshall Ave.
Longview, TX 75604

...or, communicate regarding items you could loan us during this time at norixzeta@gmail.com .

We look forward to seeing many of our friends and family as we travel... see ya soon!

Friday, February 8, 2008

Newsletter - February, 2008

Dear Friends,

This started as a Happy New Year's letter. How quickly pass the days and weeks! I greatly underestimate the time necessary to do things these days. It might be more accurate to multiply my estimate by three. Added to the daily schedule of home making, home school, hospitality, Ladies studies and church activities, office duties, etc. are now Esperanza's 2 year old antics, complete with mischief-making time-consuming interruptions, and of course the potty training, which is always an urgent NOW even though you never know for sure. But based on the reflection, "How quickly pass the years," I wouldn't trade these precious days for anything because the time to impact our children's lives is indeed short. We are so thankful for the goodness of the Lord working in and through each of our family members.

After a year's absence which Cheree thoroughly enjoyed with YWAM Puerto Rico including trips to China and to the Dominican Republic, she received a miraculous favor to be able to jump right back into her studies in Managua. Instead of having to repeat part of her 2nd year, she is finishing it, and in February she will begin her 3rd year in Graphic Design.

John, 17, is finishing his senior year of high school with a very sharp and quick mind. He's praying for wisdom and direction for the upcoming year, if he should participate with us as we move north to Jinotega to start a new work, or start the pursuit of a business degree (when, where, how?) He helps with the youth at church and continues doing the sound. He enjoys indoor soccer and basketball.

Judah, 15, is the drummer on the worship team and in a youth band. He is excelling in both chemistry and physics this year, has advanced rapidly in Tae Kwan Do, and also does well in a drawing class taught by a local but well-known artist.

Lance, 13, plays congas and guitar. He keeps up in school and enjoys scooter riding, reading, and making things out of clay, which he does so well that we would like to find him some sculpting classes. He's got a great attitude about life and gets along with everyone.

Luke, 11, is energy personified. He is also playing guitar and excelling because he enjoys it so much we never have to tell him to practice. Instead we have to tell him to stop playing and do his chores, stop playing and do his schoolwork, stop playing and finish the dishes, etc. His favorite past-time is to copy whatever new thing his brothers are doing.

Kelsy Joy, just turned 8, is a fine princess. She does well in school in third grade and is a constant help, especially by playing with Esperanza when Mom needs to get something done. Her name shows in her song and dance, and she is a joy to have around.

Esperanza, 2, is just beginning to talk, but that is the only thing she is slow in—she definitely moves quickly. She understands everything one says, and responds well too. Her favorite past-time is playing with our black Labrador. She will sit on him, lay on him, and also share her cookie or whatever with him, so he is quite tolerant and curbs his rambunctious activeness with her.

Grandma, Earl's mom, is a great help with the home schooling of Luke and Kelsy. She is faithful to help in so many ways when we get over loaded or have to be away from the house a day or two. She's a real blessing to us. She is recovering from some health problems, so we would appreciate your prayers for her quick and complete healing and recovery.

We thank God for His continued goodness and blessing. Our church leaders have matured greatly this year, and we are preparing them as well as new leaders, especially with the goal of expanding our ministry north to the city of Jinotega this year. Earl continues as pastor of La Fuente, but has slowly moved into the role of overseer, observing and mentoring those he has delegated responsibilities to: the every so often. He plays with the worship team, but not every Sunday. He works with the radio program, but has an assistant that does the majority of the work. We have a couple trained in to teach the marriage course which will begin in Feb. Our leaders are teaching all 4 of the class levels in the Discipleship School this trimester. Earl will be teaching the Ministry School classes, which is open to those who have finished the year of Discipleship School. We are in transition mode, and are praying for the exact time table for how things should progress so that it will be a smooth transfer.

Our desire as a family is that before we whole-heartedly launch a new work, we would first be able to make an extended 2-3 month visit to the States for our children to have a chance to experience part of their heritage and have something to relate to when they hear the words, "United States." We've only made two family trips to the States since moving to Nicaragua in 1993. Our last visit was in 2002 and was for 3 weeks; the visit before that was in 1995 for 5 months. Please pray with us for a mighty provision for us to be able to make this trip as well as the many details that will have to fall in place. We don't regret for a moment our call to Nicaragua or that we've not had frequent trips in the past, but feel it is time in our children's lives for such an event. Thank you for your prayers.

Some words we felt that God wanted us to take hold of as we started our new year was, "Behold, I will do a new thing," (Isaiah 43:19), "Behold I make all things new" (Rev. 21:5) and that to receive the blessing of new wine, we must first have new wine-skins. So on January 1st we started meeting for prayer every morning from 6 to 7 at church, inviting all who wanted God to do something new in their lives. The first day only 4 came, but within a few days we were up to 10. Each week our group has grown steadily in number to where we now have 24-28 present regularly and up to 34 twice. Some come every day, while others come twice a week. God is doing something new in us and in our people, bringing a stronger unity, increasing faith, creating expectancy, and bringing alertness for opportunities to share His Word with others during the day. Like the dew of early morning, God is giving us freshness for each day. We obviously are not in the dead of winter here, but even for those in the physical cold and those in barren and cold circumstances, we pray for God's blanket of freshness to grace your lives each and every morning. May a song of praise be in your heart, and may His Words of life be in your mouth so that you are ready at all times to minister grace and encouragement to those to whom you speak.

Thank you for participating with us in our work. May the fruit of your labors be abundantly blessed.

Co-laborers for the harvest,
Earl and Beverly Rutledge

February Update

Here is a recent family picture taken just this last Sunday.

Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and now coming up on Feb. 14th... the year is again flying by.

January 1 we started morning prayer scheduled to take place for 21 days focusing on preparing for new wine. We started with 4-8 the first week, moved up to 12-18 the second and finished with 30 the third and therefore decided to extend to the end of the month of January. The last week we were consitantly seeing 30 people show up.

School officially started the 4th of Feb and attendance has gone down to an average of 15+, but there are those faithfuls that have hardly missed. It's been exciting and we are extending the time form one more week to end the 15th of Feb. God has been good... we're expecting big things from Him.