We recently returned from spending a week in the mountain city of La Dalia, Nicaragua. With a group of 4 from Oklahoma and some of our staff here in Nicaragua we ventured into cooler temperatures, “rustic” living and mountain hiking to take the Gospel message into 17 schools. Many of the schools we visited were out of the way, requiring us to hike up and down the mountains and drive an hour or more over dirt roads to reach them. This was something we loved though, knowing that those children rarely had people visit them.
We teamed up with a local church who brought in many of the pastors in the area to go with us and share the love of Jesus. We spent some time on our first day there training them and the church members joining us on how to share the Gospel message with the EvangeCube (a little tool we like to use). Training others is very important to us, as we know that they are the ones who live there and they are the ones who will have the most impact in the future.
As we went into the schools we shared testimonies, the Gospel, had some laughs and handed out a few gifts to the kids and teachers. We were especially proud of our kids as they boldly stood up and shared the Gospel time and time again. The pastor of the church, Benancio, addressed the church on the last day, saying in his 40 years of being a pastor he had never seen such young preachers (Emma & Paige). He even asked Emma if she would share the EvangeCube for his congregation, so that they could be encouraged to share the Gospel message as well. Emma usually doesn’t like to share in front of adults but she agreed and did an excellent job (she told me later that her legs were shaking).
The trip was full of adventure, trials and beautiful wonders of God. I could go on and on telling you about it but instead I’ll just share a video and let it tell you the story.
The pastor also let us know that there were many, many more schools who wanted us to visit. If you or a team would like to join us to continue taking the Gospel message in this area, please let us know.
Well, a lot has been happening since we last posted. January and February are very busy times for us but we are now catching our breath and looking forward to what is to come.
A lot of the ministry we are doing and are going to do is focused around training. The motto of the ministry is to “preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ and train others to do the same” and now more than ever we are working hard to train others to reach the World for Jesus.
We completed our third Missionary Training School this past weekend. So far, we have had a total of 102 students go through this school from all across Nicaragua. They receive training on the Bible, their personal walk with the Lord, how to win the lost, and much, much more. We have also had about 10 of those students join Way of the Cross Nicaragua full time. We will soon begin a mission to go throughout Nicaragua to train up churches and congregations to win the lost as well as other things that will encourage and build the churches of Nicaragua.
Of course a lot of the training and ministry that happens occurs within our own home. Our four kids are growing and healthy and doing very well in school. We have especially loved the curriculum we are using this year and I love to overhear my kids sharing the word of God and the things they learn from school with anyone who will listen.
Since it has been a while since we last posted I am giving you a picture update to get you caught up on all the fun we have been having…simply click the picture to read the full caption. Please continue to keep us in your prayers as we go into our second year living and ministering here in Nicaragua.
(More updates on our housing projects, crusade to the mountains, and Kids Camp coming soon!)
During Med-Fest the girls and I ran a children’s ministry room. We took kids 30 at a time and did a Bible Story, a craft and/or a game with them. Here we are making a cross with chalk.
Here we did a craft that went with the story of Daniel in the Lion’s den. The kids loved it!
We made baskets with “loaves and fish” during Med-Fest.
Paige painting nails at our Big Event during the Missionary Training School
Olivia helping to find the best prizes at our children’s ministry room during Med-Fest.
Emma likes to help with whatever is going on, even if she is just carrying some balls.
Teaching our Bible Study kids about prayer while making prayer journals.
The kids got dressed up for the Missionary Training School graduation!
Everywhere we go we are surrounded by God’s beauty. This was on one of our outreaches with the Missionary Training Students.
We celebrated our 11th anniversary!
Every week the kids at the Bible study are encouraged to memorize a verse for the next week. We recently held a contest to see who could remember the most verses. The top 4 received story Bibles as prizes.
Phillip passing out donuts to the kids.
We bring a special treat for the kids every Saturday, but this time was extra special…donuts!
We taught on worship during a Bible study and the kids LOVED playing the instruments. We bring the instruments every Saturday now and the kids take turn playing them.
Logan loves to say “hola” and “Dios le bendiga”….you just need to make sure to wipe the microphone off after he is finished.
Daddy and the kids having a blast. Mom yelling that everyone please pay attention to where they are stepping.
Exploring some of beautiful Nicaragua!
Say cheese…or roar…
Family adventures in the Nicaraguan rain forest!
Paige sharing the EvangeCube with our translator Marcos and one of our students, Ashley.
This past year has been one of many firsts for us. It was our first year living in Nicaragua, first even year we haven’t had a new baby (since 2008), first time missing two of the ministry’s big events in the U.S. and Mexico, and our first Christmas and New Year in Nicaragua. The end of 2016 has been exciting for our family as we are enjoying these “firsts” and we look forward to things to come in 2017.
As I have mentioned in previous posts we have been doing weekly bible studies at place just down the street from our base camp. Most of the kids we work with are extremely poor and receive little to nothing for Christmas. Christmas Eve fell on a Saturday this year so we decided to do a surprise Christmas party for the kids. We brought them to the camp where I shared a Christmas message (we saw a handful of salvations) then we had a pinata and a gift for every child and adult. A special thank you goes to the two wonderful teachers from Michigan who helped provide the finances to buy the kids a gift.
Our kids truly enjoyed Christmas this year. They got to have Christmas early both in Michigan and Kentucky with family in early December but we wanted to make sure their first Christmas in Nicaragua was memorable. We spent lots of time together as a family, baking cookies, reading books and playing games. The day after Christmas our oldest, Emma, started crying because it was over. It wasn’t the gifts she missed, though, but the time we had spent as a family. One of our resolutions for the New Year is to spend more time together just laughing, playing games and making memories.
We pray that as you go into the New Year that you will seek the Lord your God with all your heart and find ways to show His love to the people around you.
In a previous post I mentioned how Way of the Cross is building a house in a very poor community, where we do weekly Bible studies. The house is small by anyone’s standard, but it is a beautiful blessing to the family who will soon be living in it.
The family receiving the house, and literally all of the families living in the community, currently live in shacks built of tarp and old pieces of tin. They are living on land gifted to them by the government but have no means to build a secure home for themselves. Many of them are hard working but jobs pay so little that they simply cannot afford to put money into a house when they must feed their families. They fight the wind and rain that blows through the tarp and threatens to take what little possessions they have.
So now there is a family, thankful for their new house that will keep them safe and secure. Here we are, thankful as well, for the sweet couple from Tennessee who decided to forgo things they want so that they could donate the money to have the house built. We see God knitting together the body of Christ and we find ourselves most thankful for allowing us to be a bridge of sorts: connecting people from different cultures and languages across thousands of miles and numerous borders to impact them both for the Kingdom of God.
What a privilege it is to serve the Lord!
*If you would like to fund a house or even come to Nicaragua and be a part of building, please let us know and we will get you more information!
We had an amazing experience here at the WOTC base camp in Nicaragua last Thursday and Friday. We had close to 600 kids from the school down the street in our church (about 300 on Thursday and 275 on Friday), listening to the Gospel message and teachings on how to stay strong in the Lord.
You might be thinking this was another one of our planned events, but it wasn’t. Last week the director of the school came to us and asked if we could come to the school and pray over each classroom then bring all the kids to our camp to share the Gospel and talk to them. He shared with us that some of the kids had been dabbling in witchcraft, and he wanted us to teach them what the Bible had to say on the issue.
Wow. We have all been incredibly humbled, blessed and astonished by this opportunity. They didn’t ask for gifts or money, just the Word of the Lord to be spoken to the students. We shared a skit (the sin box) and the Gospel message then some of our former Missionary Training School students shared their testimonies and some advice concerning witchcraft. We ended with a teaching on the armor of God and encouragement for them strive every day to seek after God and His ways.
It is amazing to see God being invited into the schools and into the lives of these children.
We have been staying very busy and it is hard to believe October is coming to an end. This month Way of the Cross has been hosting its second Missionary Training School at our base camp in Nicaragua. We have 28 students living on the camp with us as they participate in the very rigorous school. They are up at 4:30 am to pray and from there they do chores, eat breakfast and attend classes until lunch. After lunch we go out into local areas to share the Gospel.
Phillip and I taught classes on marriage and family in missions and how to know your audience when sharing the Gospel. We really enjoy getting to be a part of the students’ lives and watching them grow in the Lord throughout the month.
On Saturdays we have been going down to a very poor area where the people live in homes built of plastic tarp and old pieces of tin to hold a Bible study. I lead the kids in a Bible story, verse memorization (they get a small prize if they remember the verse from the week before), and a game or activity. We have been working to get to know the kids better and our own kids have had a blast participating as well.
We are excited that the funds have been provided to build the first house in this area. One family will no longer have to live in a make-shift house that barely provides shelter. We hope to begin building this week and our prayer is that many more houses will be built in this area in the near future (stay tuned for a post on these housing projects).
God is moving here in Nicaragua and in our family and we truly appreciate all the prayers and support for our family!
We are back in Nicaragua and we will be here for a while. How long, you ask? Well, we aren’t exactly sure. We still have a house in Texas, though we won’t step foot in that house until August of 2017. For now, we are just taking it a year at a time, believing the Lord will lead us to what we should do in the future.
After travelling throughout the U.S. to visit churches and family for a month we are now settling back into life on the mission field. We are catching up with friends, getting things going for upcoming events, and starting new adventures.
The kids are on week 2 of school, so we are a little bit behind the typical school-year but we are going at it full force and hope to stay on track throughout our regular missions activities and travels. Homeschooling in Nicaragua has certainly presented some challenges, but we have gotten creative and are making it work quite well.
The base camp (which is where we live) will be packed with people in just over a week. During the month of October the ministry will be hosting it’s second Missionary Training School. We are looking forward to working with a new group of students as we teach and train them on what it takes to be a missionary.
Phillip and I and the kids are truly enjoying living here in Nicaragua. We aren’t yet fluent in Spanish but we are learning little by little. The kids have a friend who likes to come over to play or even spend the night, and we are thankful for her and her family and the sense of belonging she brings to our girls. Logan is having a blast, of course. He loves riding his bike all around the camp and has just recently been potty trained (though not 100% there yet).
We appreciate your continued prayers and support for our family as we live in Nicaragua. We are blessed to have such an opportunity and we are thankful that you are right there beside us, supporting us as we serve the Lord.
Sometimes working with kids can be hard. They are squirmy, loud, messy and have incredibly short attention spans. We try to teach them life lessons and all they want to talk about is pizza and the latest cartoon. It can be a challenging, up-hill battle, but it is one worth fighting.
You see, this year is election year for both Nicaragua and the United States, and a crazy one at that. Don’t worry, I’m not going to get into politics, but it doesn’t take much digging to discover the crazy I’m talking about in both countries. It is in times like these that I think of children. No, I’m not talking about the way politicians act. I’m talking about the future of our country and our world.
Those dirty faces and tiny hands that so often get overlooked today will be the leaders of tomorrow. They will be the teachers, doctors, missionaries, and yes, even presidents in the not-so-distant future. What a great opportunity before us: to be able to look at the world in all it’s suffering and realize that we have the power to change that through the hearts of the little ones today.
At the end of April we will be holding a Kid’s Camp here in Nicaragua. We want to take the time to minister to the children here. Yes, we will play games, act silly and get messy, but we will do it all in a way that points them to Christ, who is after all, the hope this world needs. At the same time, we will be teaching around 20 of our Missionary Training School students to lead children’s ministry. It is going to be exciting and we would love for you to be a part of it. Would you join us here on the mission field for one week to minister to the future of this country? Would you sponsor a child to be able to attend?
I encourage you, whether at home or abroad, take the time to pour the Word of God into the children around you. I promise, it is time well spent.
For the past month Way of the Cross has been hosting a Missionary Training School at our base camp in Nicaragua. We have had about 45 students who have been going through intense classes and hands-on learning. Phillip and I were excited to do a two-part class talking about marriage and family in missions and we have been having fun pouring into the students, especially our small group of 12.
Teaching a skit
Most afternoons we venture out with our group of 12 to do an outreach. We started off teaching them to minister one-on-one, picking small areas where the houses were dotted down dusty roads. We then moved into more populated areas, where the kids run out to greet us and people gather at the chance of receiving some rice and beans. We taught them to invite people to a bigger service and to work together to present the Gospel. It has been a blessing to watch them grow, get past their nervousness and step out of their comfort zones to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.
With the school coming to an end the question of “what’s next?” is running through the minds of many. Both the students and the staff of Way of the Cross are seeking the Lord as to what is next in these future missionaries’ lives. Will they serve full time with Way of the Cross? Will they continue serving in their areas and churches? Will they venture into other countries? Only the Lord knows but I must say it is an exciting precipice to find yourself at: with your heart full of wonder and excitement as you wait on the Lord for what is to come.
It’s been many years since Phillip and I have been where the students are; first starting off on our missionary journey. We recently celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary and we found ourselves beyond thankful for the years God has given us, not only together as a couple and family, but as missionaries for Him. We now find ourselves at a different precipice, as we are becoming more full-time in Nicaragua. It is a big change but as we wait on the Lord to see what He has in store, we find ourselves excited and eager to serve where and how He calls, much like the students. We are currently two months into our seven month stay in Nicaragua. We are excited about the new work happening here and the work that will happen in the coming months. We desire to be fluent in Spanish, so that we can minister more effectively. We long to minister more, to disciple more and to become more established in Nicaragua.
Please continue to pray for us as we live and serve in Nicaragua that we would clearly hear the voice of the Lord, that we would stand strong in the face of trials that are sure to come, and that we would press on towards the goal that He has set before us.