So much has happened in the last few weeks that it is almost a blur. We celebrated Easter by having a weekend off from classes in the ministry. The staff went up to our teacher, Percy Franco’s house to swim in the river by his property. That was our only day of vacation and I was sick with kidney pain and an infection. I am slowly recovering, and the truth is, getting pain like this over vacation was much better than having it over classes. I thank God for the timing.
Cindy is a girl in our computer class. I have noticed her especially in Bible study because in every single study, she cries. She is so sensitive to the word of God. I don’t really know her well, but I thought I would ask what made her cry so much. She started to tell me about herself. She said that she never really liked computers, nor did she have interest in studying them. But she heard about the class from a friend and something inside her began to urge her to take the class. She didn’t have the money, so she had to work some miracles, ask some friends for help, and suddenly she was in a new computer class, not knowing what to expect. She said the first Bible study impacted her. She was a Christian and had gone to church, but this was something new. Every week, she said God was talking to her, like the studies were made just for her. She said that a few weeks ago, I gave a study about blessings that really aren’t from God. I was talking about when something good happens to us in the wrong way and yet we attribute it to God even though we may have had to sin to get it. She said that the very next day, she woke and found that she was out of formula for her baby. She had no money and didn’t know what to do. Somehow a man she knew offered to help her and get her whatever she needed. She was desperate, and was tempted to accept it, even though she knew the man’s intentions were not pure and this would give him the upper hand. She wanted to say yes for her baby’s sake, but the Bible study kept popping into her mind. “God’s blessings don’t come with strings attached and won’t make us compromise. Those are really tests to see what type of person you are and what character you have.” She ignored the man who hounded her all day. Her mother came in the afternoon with a formula packet that she took out on credit at the local store. While she was happy for the help and her mom’s generosity, she was worried about the debt she incurred. Night came and they slept. The following day, she said they were blessed by God with food, formula, and money, enough to pay back the debt and then some! She was so happy telling me the story and the way God responded after the test. She was so thankful she had found Ministerio La Voz.
I have had the privilege of building many homes in Puerto Cortes for needy families, mostly single older women with children. What amazes me is knowing their story and their faith in God. They would pray and ask God for a house that they could never possibly afford to build, and they would ask when they did not even have land. Some prayed for years and years without losing hope, and for good reason, because God gave them a house. These women, who society had forgotten, who were poorly educated, abandoned and with little prospects, were married to Jesus and He took up their causes. In strange ways, He led people who did not know them, from other countries to give them the house of their dreams. I have been privileged to be involved and I love it.
DIGGING THE FOUNDATION.
This year, God saw fit to give Lorena Rodriguez the gift of a home. Lorena and I used to go to church together in the Central Church of the Nazarene. She worked in the same children’s program as my sister-in-law, Karen. She even cooked the food at my wedding! I hadn’t seen her in so many years, but back in October, my friend Deirdre from Canada asked me if I could do another house for someone. I said sure! Who could it be? Lorena. We started the project this week after many months of uncertainty and setbacks, but all along the way I have seen God’s hand. I bought most of the construction materials on the anniversary day of our hardware store and got some good prices due to the holiday. I found my workers in Ministerio La Voz. Victor takes English with me and he and his dad are building with me. Teodolinda’s son David is also there. We were worried about how to get electrical to her property, and it turns out the energy company may do the work for us for free! Every construction in Honduras needs a permit and getting one from the municipality has its setbacks. The big one always for me is the constructor’s license. Most of the guys I hire to build don’t have one. I have paid for six licenses over the years for workers who did a project with me and then moved on. This time I decided I should have the license so I can continue to serve with projects like this. Lorena had said they would help us with it, and I thought they would just give me one, but today Lorena went to the Municipality and they told her I needed to come take a constructors test. Since I have never really worked block construction, I was nervous. I went for the test and sure enough, half was about concrete block work. The other half was about making a material list and what types of materials to use. I breezed through all that and turned my test in. The engineer looked it over, marked two mistakes, and handed it back to me. “Congratulations, you may now pay for your license.” I now have a license to build and work construction anywhere! I am pretty excited about it.
The ministry has been working really well. Coming back from our vacation, we haven’t lost any students so far. Everyone has been committed. Bible studies have been strong, talking about vision and dreams. Today’s Bible study was on how to become wise and how wise people manage life. Our ministry team has been working really well. Josue, Cesia, and Kimberly have assimilated well into helping us. Kimberly had her second son, Jeremiah, and now is back at work with us.
Many of you may remember Belkis, our third adopted child. She also grew up with us, and often comes home with us on the weekends. Our hope was that she would also come to live with us. Even with our tiny house, we thought we could make it work. She came for a week at the beginning of this semester and stayed with us, but we never had a clear vision or plan and she returned home. I tried to initiate a conversation that would have led us to receiving her permanently, but neither she nor her aunt accepted my invitation to talk. Today she has told us she is leaving. She has planned with her sister and her father to move to Pimienta, Cortes and live with her sister there. We are sad because a move means she will drop out of school. She will also be far away with no positive influence to help guide her. I am sad because it seems she wants to go.
As we say goodbye to one child, we are also saying hello to another! After feeling tired for a few weeks, Rina bought a pregnancy test and we are positive! We saw her doctor the other day and he confirmed our pregnancy with a due date of Dec. 2, on my birthday. It has been a lot of fun telling people our good news and them celebrating with us. We are excited. Angie and Nathanael are elated. They both pray every night for the new baby and argue all day over who is going to play with him and where he will sleep. We need your prayers though. We need to sell our house in the mountains so that we can build a house large enough for us to fit and not have Brayan in the living room. Either way, we are blessed and I thank God for trusting us with another life to guide. I never imagined I would have such a big family coming from such a small one, but God has given us 6, plus the extended family that we have in the ministry.
We are looking forward to our first volunteer of the year, Teri. She will be coming at the end of May. She is going to teach us baking and give finance classes. I announced her workshops to the students and they are all very interested. After Teri, the San Diego Cocal Gracias team will be coming for our end of semester party. Our friend Jan will be joining them from Maryland. Then we will receive a long anticipated team for the first time; Mission Church from San Diego is giving us a team. We are so grateful for the personal support and sacrifice these volunteers make to travel and to work in the ministry with us. Thank you for your support, and thank you to all our supporters.
If you have been following us since last year, you have heard that we are asking for Cocal Partners. A Cocal Partner is someone who believes in what we do and not only supports us in prayer, but financially on a monthly basis. Cocal has grown in influence and so have our responsibilities. I believe that God will always provide everything we need, because He always has and the truth is, we rarely ask for money. But if you read our emails and newsletter and have been following us, I ask you to consider becoming a partner. Any amount is fine. It is the consistency that we need. If all of our list were to sign up for $20 a month, we would have our monthly operating budget met and be able to use any additional donations for projects or expansions. We would know what we are working with. While some have already signed up and we thank you, most have not become partners. We are not a big organization, and we do not have any other large entity over us. What you see is what you get. Our work and the students depend on people like you. It would mean a lot to us to have your monthly financial support in any amount that you can give. When we all give a little it ends up being a lot and the work can move forward. One thing I believe in as a director of the ministry and as a Christian is to lead by example. Rina and I are monthly donors and Cocal Partners to the ministry. Right now is a crucial time in history for Honduras. Many people are looking for hope and they look to the states. They make dangerous journeys to the U.S. border where they risk their lives, or the lives of others to cross, or they stay in Mexico in dire conditions. They need a future at home and a future hope where they belong. Cocal Gracias and the ministry are directly working toward giving them that. So if you have made it this far in the email, I encourage you, C’mon! Click the photolink below and help us build the leaders of tomorrow in Honduras.