"By the first day of the first month of Noah's six hundred and first year, the water had dried up from the earth. Noah then removed the covering from the ark and saw the surface of the ground was dry." Genesis 8:13***We feel like we know how Noah felt when he opened the window in the ark after so many days of rain and saw the sun! We've had a late rainy season here and, after what seemed like months of non-stop torrential downpours, the sun has appeared. How beautiful the mountains are these days with marshmallow clouds hugging just below chocolate-colored peaks revealing the highest points near La Ceiba. Truly a majestic example of God's beauty! We are so blessed!***
Dear friends and family,
How are you doing? It has been a busy month for us, completing the set up of our home as the boys "transition house" to get things ready for the first young men to live with us. Eduardo is our first. He is 25 years old and spent some of his early years living on the streets of La Ceiba. Then grew up at the boys home even through his time at the University. He graduated last year from law school and passed the Bar exam on his first try! He's now working at a law office in town and learning from the bottom up. He is living with us as we help him learn to manage his finances and how to do life in a godly way. He is a joy to be with and we are very proud of him. We have space for two more young men and will continue to evaluate this process as we go. This is a new ministry for Niños de la Luz.
Since the school year for Escuela Christiana Niños de la Luz runs February through November, as with most of the schools here, there has been much to do to get the students and teachers back into the academic swing. We have almost 100 students this year. Since all the children must have new uniforms and school supplies, the stores were jammed with shoppers, all buying last minute needs, just like in the states. :-) Cathy has truly enjoyed working with the Director of the school (Tania Avila). She is always working to improve the teaching skills of her maestros. Each one has a degree in education but all are early in their careers. They are eager to learn new and creative ways to deliver their curricula so, since Cathy is a Play Therapist and taught Special Education for many years, it has been fun for her to pass on ideas and techniques. She is also helping the teachers understand each student's background in their approach to classroom discipline. All of our students come from poor (some abusive) homes, so classroom discipline is tricky. In addition, the teachers have expressed a sincere desire to learn English so this, too, is something we had not originally planned for. In time, we hope to expand this as an outreach to parents in the local community. We are excited about this as we've always loved community development work. We are now in the process of evaluating different ESL curricula and would appreciate any input from you on the subject. We hope to use the Bible as the basis but are concerned that it might prove daunting for those who don't know any English. Does anyone know of an ESL training conference coming up that we might attend?
The boys at the Home are doing well as they adjust to the new school year. The newest boy (not the youngest) just turned 13 and has quickly settled in to the new routine. He loves being loved by mama Mary and the rest of us! It has been especially rewarding to see him experience the joy of learning since this is the first time he has been able to attend school of any kind. Although he feels quite comfortable in first grade, he's starting an accelerated computer based program that should allow him to progress rapidly and, hopefully, catch up to his own age group soon. We had him tested psychologically last week and are hopeful he will blossom like a flower over this school year.
Ken is working hard on his Spanish as he practices with the staff at the boys home and school while they work together on projects and discipleship. Establishing relationships is more challenging when you don't share a language, but the Hondurans are humble and encouraging to us as we stumble in our attempts. Hand signals make up much of the difference at this stage. :-) We are often reminded it is so much easier to learn a foreign language when you are young!
We're happy to report that we bought a vehicle, a 1997 Toyota 4-Runner with 194,000 miles. As the Lord would have it, we paid exactly the same amount for it as we received for selling Cathy's Toyota in Florida. The body of the SUV is rough but with a few replacement parts and new tires, it is serving us well over the rough and often muddy roads. We've worked hard to make sure we and our vehicle are known to the gang members that "rule" the boy's Home neighborhood. When we enter the neighborhood we roll down the windows to make sure they see us and know we are not a threat. We always take the opportunity to wave hello to the neighbors and have begun to form relationships as much as possible. At night we drive in with our flashers on and turn the headlights off when we get to the front gate so the guard can see it is us. Many of the gang members have children in our school so they treat us and all NdlL workers well. So far, everyone has been very welcoming and we haven't felt threatened in any way. Praise the Lord with us for His protection!
We've begun the process of applying for residency. That will end our need to leave the country every three months for three or more days to renew our tourist visas. The application process can take from three months to two years so we are being cautious to not get sucked into costly false promises. We are relying on the advice of trusted Honduran friends and their counselors including the pastor of the church we attended here in 2005 and 2006.
Cultural Moment: If you have traveled to or lived in the developing world, you know each town has it's own street vendors. We are greatly amused by the sounds each vendor uses to alert the neighbors in their homes what they are selling and that they are near. For instance, one water truck projects loud music along with a sing-song yowl of their name "Arroyo!" All the dogs chyme in with quite a cacophony of sounds! We have been quickly conditioned to run out the door to exchange our empty five gallon drinking water bottles for full ones.
The dance is lots of fun! :-)
Although we've had plenty of ups and downs as we re-acclimate to life here, we much appreciate your prayers. Here are a few more requests. Please pray:
1. That each of the boys would know the love of Jesus personally and deeply in life changing ways;
2. That every staff member and teacher would embrace the benefits of learning new ways to work as a team;
3. That we would be quick to embrace any new (and unplanned) ways the Lord wants to use us here;
4. For the Lord provision of the additional (unexpected) financial support we desperately need. Back in November we figured we were nearly 100% funded for the year. But recently we've learned we will have a monthly short fall as of April. Your prayers are greatly appreciated because support raising from the field can be a struggle and returning home to do so is expensive, besides taking us from the work here;
5. For an inexpensive way to check and correct the eyesight of our students. Many of them have been complaining of headaches since the the classes started. We are looking into the I-See program developed by I-Tec;
6. For a good and effective Christian ESL program to use with staff (and later in the community).
We much appreciate your coming with us (in spirit) on this journey and would love to hear how things are with you, along with any prayer requests. We have a Vonage phone now so feel free to call 352-444-7131 just like any US phone number. (This will help solve many communications problems for us including the handling of US business from Honduras.
Much love and many blessings,
Ken & CathyNew Vonage phone: 352-444-7131
https://secure.qgiv.com/for/mmth - a direct link for online donations
www.Heart4Children.com – the website for info and more
Heart4Children, P.O. Box 47, Tomball, Texas77377 - for mailing donations