Facebook LIVE video:
This update we come to you LIVE through Facebook to share with you all the news on our baby, time at home, new connection to Lighthouse Community Church, Christmas in Honduras, and the beginning of Llamado Eterno Christian School. Click the link below to see the LIVE video.
The last weekend of September, we had the privilege of hosting 4 leaders of Lighthouse Community Church of Des Moines, Iowa (one being Sean’s brother, Kevin). They came to explore the possibilities to work further with our church Llamado Eterno and the Honduras Education Project. We were able to show them our vision of growing the Education Project and partnering with their church to focus on the Ramiro Chacon community. It was wonderful to get to know their sincere heart for missions and helping those in need. We were all very excited as we began to dream about the possibilities of pouring ourselves into showing God’s love to the people of this community. Their church will be bringing their first full mission trip in June. I can’t wait to see what plans God has for Lighthouse Community Church in Honduras!
We had some fun with the youth group and took off one Sunday to a local mountain with a nice path to a waterfall. It was a great chance for the youth to get away and have a great time of worship, learning, and fun. Though youth ministry always has its challenges, we have a really great core of youth that are growing together.
As the school year here is wrapping up, that means that the after-school tutoring program came to a finish as well. We are very happy with how the first year went of this addition to the Honduras Education Project. This past Friday, we held a closing ceremony for the last day of tutoring classes with over 225 kids. This program has been one that has grown and challenged the church in many ways as it required many volunteers to cook, clean, and help the children in their classes. As always, God provided just what we needed to make this happen. To thank the church for their huge efforts this year with these kids, we made this video to share with the congregation. The song "Somos tu iglesia" by Even Craft describes how the church is the hands and feet of Jesus Christ here on the Earth, a message that is more important than ever.
As for us...
Our biggest update is that I am now 18 weeks pregnant with a baby GIRL! The past 18 weeks have reached a whole new level of crazy as we adjust to doing all we do while growing a child. My first trimester was difficult to say the least. The common symptoms of nausea and fatigue came early (and was actually what prompted the pregnancy test). However, at nine weeks, I was put on complete bedrest after we discovered a hematoma (blood clot) in my uterus. This caused heavy bleeding and lots of sleepless nights. The issue was not completing resolved until the end of July. Praise GOD that our baby was unaffected throughout this trauma. I have a very good doctor here who has taken very good care of us no matter the hour of the night. Our baby girl is very healthy and growing strong. She is wiggling around quite a bit, which mama just loves. Also, I'm doing much better physically as all issues have cleared up and am now enjoying the "magic second trimester." Personally, this summer was a very challenging time for me. Feeling emotionally and physically weak, I was vulnerable to the many lies and fears the evil one likes to whisper in our ears. I have had to learn the hard way to trust God in a whole new way and put my life and my child's in His hands.
101 families, 138 kiddos
In July, the Honduras Education Project welcomed 43 new children into the program. These kids come from 5 different impoverished areas in Danlí. Before entering the program, Ruth (Pastor Arturo's wife and administrator of the program) and I went and visited each new child and their family in their home. You can imagine this was a lengthy process, but it is a critical part of the program as we begin a meaningful relationship with these families- offering so much more than a monetary scholarship, but also a wholistic support for their child. With this meeting we begin a long-term relationship that allows us to care for the child's educational, physical, emotional, and spiritual growth. Then seeing over 100 families gather together at our monthly scholarship meeting was an overwhelming reminder of why we do what we do and how faithful God is to reward our efforts.
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (Gal. 6:9).
Gringos invade Danlí
The beginning of July we had one of our most successful mission trips yet. 29 Texans, 2 Chicagoans, and 1 Iowan came to work to advance the Kingdom of God and care for His children. And when anyone comes here with that attitude, we sure do put them to work! Their six days here were filled from morning to night with 5 school visits, a men's and women's conference, two community outreaches with over 200 bags of food, tutoring, painting, a soccer tournament, youth outreach event and worship concert, Sunday School, a hospital visit to the maternity ward with 400 baby blankets and hats, and a medical brigade that allowed over 300 children to receive free vaccinations, a dental exam, fluoride treatment, doctor consultation and go home with needed medicines and vitamins. Yup! It was a pretty crazy week, but praise God for that crazy group of Gringos because through their hands thousands of men, women, and children living in great need were greatly blessed.
Now that's good coffee
Though Sean has had some setbacks recently in getting an export of coffee out of Honduras, an exciting outcome of his efforts here is a group of women from the Urrutia community have begun our third small business in this impoverished area of Danlí. The 7 women have been trained in the art of roasting fresh coffee beans by hand and the results have been well... delicious. The women are energized, motivated, and working hard. They have now roasted hundreds of pounds of coffee sold locally first to our very own missionaries and now in the city's markets.
The hard truth about ministry
This summer we have seen great blessing and growth in the church and its many ministries. In so many ways, we are grateful to be part of a church that truly lives up to its motto "Love in Action." Of course, the hard truth is that ministry is hard. People are hard and change is harder. The church was recently broken into a series of times and lost several instruments from the worship band storage and equipment used in services. Besides that, several of our members are struggling through some difficult personal issues that only God could break them free of. Its not easy, but when you are called to work with people, it never will be. Our hope is in our God who we have witnessed time and time again move and work in the most difficult of circumstances.
Thank you as always for your prayers and support, both for us personally and our ministries. We are well aware without the large (international) community of support God has given to us, none of this would be possible. Thank you and please continue to keep up in your prayers.
For most of May, we were in a really good groove: the before and after-school program has been going great; the youth ministry has some great energy; Hillside hosted events to sell jewelry and scarves and sold out of almost everything; and Sean finalized his very first coffee export.... And then the last week came.
The last Saturday in May, our church Llamado Eterno celebrated its 12th year anniversary. Whitney practiced with the worship team all week to put on a celebration concert featuring a special dance by the youth. The service was packed as we celebrated together as a family 12 years of serving Danli, Honduras. Sunday, the celebration continued. Instead of Sunday School, we had a kids soccer tournament and instead of youth service, we had the “water Olympics” (basically a bunch of youth getting soaked) followed by more soccer. More than 100 youth came out for the event!
Two days later, our church suffered a horrible loss. Brother Joaquin – Ruth’s father and one of the church’s elders – died of a heart attack. Joaquin was an amazing man who had taught Sunday School and discipleship classes for years. His wake was full of pain but also celebration of a man who touched so many lives.
In May we experienced the blessing of being a part of a church family – together we celebrated and together we mourned.
In loving memory of Joaquin Triminio
Staying true to the church's motto, LOVE IN ACTION, March and April were full of activity!
The youth group has been growing each week with teenagers from all around Danlí and the Urrutia community. Each week, the group steadily grows, hearts are slowly changing, leaders are emerging, and the community growing stronger. With a group of 60 youth, we pulled off one of our biggest events yet, an evangelical outreach in the extremely impoverish Ramiro Chacon neighborhood. The youth first went house to house inviting the families to church, praying for their needs, and sharing their faith. Afterward, we hosted games for the kids and teenagers for the neighborhood and ended the night sharing the gospel message. For most of the teenagers with us, it was the first time they had ever stepped out to reach people for Christ as the church had done when she reached out to them in there own communities. They all left filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit on fire for the God that saves. The following weeks we have intentionally created opportunities to build relationships with the youth. Sean took a group of young men to climb the highest point in Danlí and later in the month we each hosted a lock-in/sleepover with the girls in the apartment and boys at the church. Both successful in building community as we take time to laugh, joke, play, and pray with the youth.
BEFORE and Afterschool Program
With the huge successful start of the afterschool program now completing its second month of offering free Spanish, math, English, and computer classes to around 160 children twice a week, we felt the urge once more that we needed to do more. As a solution to the overcrowded, unstaffed public schools, most children in Honduras either going to school in the morning or the afternoon. Since our tutoring classes are offered in the afternoon, children in school at that time were unable to receive classes. We have decided to step out in faith, knowing that God will provide the necessary funding to teach and feed these kiddos, and begin a Before-school Program in the mornings for these kids. Morning classes have begun and the word is beginning to spread in the surrounding communities of this great help for the children.
How many kids now...?
Ruth, Pastor Arturo's wife and administrator of the Honduras Education Project, and I have finished FORTY-FOUR profiles of new children entering the scholarship program. Each time a child is entered into the program, we visit the child's house, speak extensively with their family getting to know their story, their situation, their need, and their hopes for the future. It is a tiresome and long process, but absolutely necessary as we begin a relationship with a family in need. The stories are heartbreaking and sometimes the hopelessness is overwhelming, but this first meeting offers a glimmer of hope for each of these kiddo's lives. Once these kids have officially entered the program, the Honduras Education Project will be sending 139 children to school!
Praise God for Baptism
Our favorite days here are Baptism days. The church rents out a pool in a remote area of Danlí and the entire church family gathers together to celebrate the new life we are given in Christ Jesus. Nine brothers and sisters were baptized this time, two mamas from the Honduras Education Project and seven teenagers from youth group. It was a truly beautiful time that causes us both to stand in awe of how God can transform the hardest of hearts and bring to life what was once dead in hopelessness and sin. After a beautiful service, the church celebrated together eating, laughing, swimming, playing, and just simply spending time together as a one family.
A bit of rest...
After much activity, we happily accept the blessing of rest. Reuniting with Sean's family in Florida for a week is a happy ending to a wonderful two months of ministry. In these times away, we have time to reflect on all this: all the good that God is doing here in Danlí and how richly blessed we are to be a part of it all.
This past month was a month of new beginnings. New projects, new ministries, new jobs… lots of new!
Our most exciting news is the birth of the afterschool program. After a year of fundraising, construction, planning, and praying, we opened up afterschool tutoring classes in Spanish, math, English, and computer for kids from kinder to high school. Our first month was extremely successful as we welcomed 150-190 children into the church where they were received much needed help in their studies in a positive, loving environment. The response to the church opening up this program has been tremendous and much more than expected. We are prayerfully considering expanding this program as soon as possible from twice a week to four times a week in order to meet the needs of all of these children.
The small business project, Joyas de Esperanza, has also had an exciting month. After hearing that almost all the jewelry and hand-sewn items had sold during our time in the States, the women have thrown themselves into developing their local businesses with these earnings. It is invigorating to see these women, who not long ago were only focused on surviving the day, to not only dreaming of a better future but also working toward that future!
With all these changes, the church feels alive and is buzzing with activity. Sunday School classes are once more bursting out of their classrooms and the youth group is now seeing between 45-55 teenagers each week hungry for the word of God. We are blessed beyond measure to be a part of this beautiful church that lives up to its motto: LOVE IN ACTION.
Finally, Sean and I have settled into our new jobs. I have switched from teaching full time at a private school to working twice a week supervising and training the English teachers Pre-K through High School. Sean too has made a big change as he has partnered up with Volunteer Coffee in Fort Worth, Texas and is working on his first export of Honduran coffee. He is enjoying this new project and the challenges it brings as he has been traveling to coffee farms and building relationships with Honduran farmers. Both of us feel very blessed with these changes, as we are able to have more time and flexibility devoted to the ever-growing ministries here in Danlí, Honduras.
We are back in Honduras after a wonderful, restful, and rejuvenating trip back to the motherland. First, Sean and I went back to Chicago where both of our families are and celebrated holidays, birthdays, and just family in general. Being so far away has definitely made us appreciate these times that we do have. We then had a short trip to Iowa to speak to Lighthouse Community Church. Afterward, it was on to Texas to see good friends and our home church. But God is always faithful to use this time for His glory and His purposes. Read on to see how...
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us. (Eph. 3:20)