Sunday, March 29, 2009

Spring 2009

Dear Friends and Family,

It’s been awhile since our last update. Our physical move to Jinotega took place in October, but we have been back and forth between Matagalpa and Jinotega ever since, facilitating the transition with the church, La Fuente, the leaders and the people, and our family. The 21-mile-but-hour-long ride over the pot-hole after pot-hole, curvy mountain road is now very familiar. Thank you so much for your continued support and prayer without any details about what’s happening in our lives and the ministry.

For those who did not receive the update on our tour to the States, it was an awesome two months of family time and traveling with many “firsts.” It was also a healthy beginning in our children’s understanding that there are cultural differences between Nicaragua and the U.S. and they have inherited a mix of the two as Third Culture Kids. We were super blessed with the renewing of old friendships and the making of new acquaintances, and we were amazed by God’s mighty provision in so many areas and details. Thank you to all who made this dream trip a possibility!

During December and January, while we got acquainted with our new city, we also spent some great closure time as a family, knowing that family life will never be the same. Cheree, who did not get to travel to the States with us, was home for vacation, but is now once again situated in Managua. She started her senior year in Graphic Design last week.

With all the recent stateside experiences to build on, we felt John was much better prepared to now pursue life outside of Nicaragua. He left last week to Puerto Rico to participate in a six month Discipleship Training and mission trip with Youth with a Mission before he starts in the fall as a freshman business major at John Brown University in Siloam Springs, Arkansas. Pray for him as he faces the challenges of living in another culture, which is much different than a vacation visit, and pray also for abundant provision. We thank God that he has received a sizeable academic scholarship, but there is still a lot left to cover.

John's send-off last week was a blessing to all of us as it confirmed the impact our family has had on those in La Fuente. The parents expressed appreciation for John's example and the aspiration for their children to be like him. The youth also voiced their gratitude for John's role model and their desire that their parents would be more like us; they also thanked us for helping them even as we have helped our own children. Several comments to that effect were a wonderful encouragement that we have left a well-started work in Matagalpa. We trust that it will continue to flourish under the new pastor, Raul Castro, who was actually our 2nd convert 10 years ago. Our first fruit is now producing fruit. God is good! Let the harvest cycle continue, and may the Lord of the Harvest send more laborers, for the fields are ripe and ready.

We are now in the final stages of our transition. The church is doing well. The people have accepted our "in and out" status of supervision and counsel instead of being the ever-present "pastors" and have transferred their commitment to the remaining elders, especially Raul and Olivia, who are now the primary leaders. We are looking forward to finally being able to concentrate on developing our present new contacts in Jinotega.

We have overcome some taxing challenges in our new location. I can count on one hand the number of times the garbage has passed by (Oct. to Feb. -- you can imagine the fly population and some of the other problems that has generated). The plumbing is not up to par -- I can't let any water go down the kitchen sink. The creative solution to "no clothes line" has been solved with the result of needing to stand on a chair or ladder to hang out the clothes. I have just been blessed with clothespins that work, which makes it a much easier task, and the rainy season has ended for now, so hurray for dry clothes. The neighborhood has apparently been using our driveway entrance doors as the local soccer goal for quite some time. We have established better parameters of how many times a day and at what hours we will throw a ball back over the gate, but a sudden WHACK can still startle, and frequent WHACKS make it hard to concentrate and seriously tests one’s patience. Driving skills have improved out of necessity as the clearance to enter our driveway with the van is tight. Backing out with the side mirrors folded in was a real challenge at first.

The upside is that our house is the nicest (painted cement walls, windows, a ceiling, and a ceramic floor) and largest we found for a good rental price. We have a front room for private counseling and small meetings. We live on a safe block for the children to play outside with their new friends from the neighborhood. We live 2 blocks from the market and the grocery store. The smaller town (60,000) leads to quicker attention at the bank, telephone office, and stores. The people are friendly and helpful; we've already made friends and have met several people who need Jesus. The great thing is that they seem to recognize that we have something they need. People we don’t know have heard we are here and have come to our house to seek us out for counsel and prayer. We are a light in this “City of Fog,” as Jinotega is called, to penetrate the darkness and let the glory of the Lord shine forth.

Thank you for your prayers and support. They are very much appreciated. One last prayer request is for provision of new (used) instruments and a projector, since we left La Fuente fully furnished.

Remember to shine today in your workplace, your neighborhood, and your city. Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon you. Isaiah 60:1

Blessings and peace,
Earl and Bev Rutledge

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