Thankful

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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!

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*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! 

 

Jesus in the Schools

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.

 

The Latest…

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.

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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.

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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!

Life on the Mission Field

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.

In Christ, 

Jessica (and family)

Future Presidents of the World

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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.

IMG_1970At 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?

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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.

Waiting on the Lord

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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.

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.

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Nicaraguan Life

I first titled this post “Nicaraguan Adventures.” We certainly have been on many adventures since coming here, but to be honest it is everyday life that has touched my heart the most.

For the first month of our time in Nicaragua we were busy with groups, work and a lot of evangelism. We had a large medical team, a construction/well drilling team and a police training team in that time. It was our usual M.O. and we were so blessed by all the teams who gave of themselves to help us reach the people of Nicaragua for Christ

It wasn’t until after the first week of February that the rest of the WOTC staff returned to the States and we were left to continue life in Nicaragua.

Life…

Kids, school, cleaning, cooking, shopping, church, work, friends, ministry and more.
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Life with stumbling tongues and joy-filled hearts as we have conversations and build friendships in a new language.

Life with less things and more people.

It isn’t the same, this life in Nicaragua.

Today Phillip took me to see a house, just for the fun of seeing it. It stuck out like a sore thumb. It was a large place that looked like it had been plucked up out of the United States suburbs. All I could think was, why?

Why did someone feel the need to bring the United States here? Could they not have been comfortable within the walls of Nicaraguan architecture? Not that it really mattered. After all, it was just a house. Maybe, though, a part of me has been like that house. Striving with every trip to be in Nicaragua without actually being a part of Nicaragua as I hold tightly onto my culture, my comforts and my language.

I pray that in the coming years we will have more opportunities to be a part of Nicaragua and to live life side by side with the people here.

Speaking of life, in the midst of the every day our lives have been busy planning and preparing for an upcoming Kids Camp happening mid-March. We will have a group of 16 people from Chicago joining us to minister into the lives of a little over 100 kids. This will be the first team to stay at the new Way of the Cross base camp, which, by the way, is awesome.

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We are so excited about this base camp. It is located in the little town of Las Conchitas near Masaya. I look at this camp and can almost see the people coming and going, learning, sharing and praising; all for the glory of the Lord! I see opportunities previously unavailable, now open to us. Opportunities to minister deeper, longer and more steadfastly into the hearts of the people.

We can hardly wait.

A Different Type of Ministry

Ministry comes in all shapes and sizes. We aren’t always out on the “front lines” preaching the gospel or aiding the poor. Lately I have been thinking about these “slower” times (that really aren’t that slow) the Lord gives us, and wanted to give you a look into the ministry that happens in our family during these times. Right now we are in the preparation phase of ministry. We are seeking the Lord and putting together plans for upcoming events. Phillip spends much of his time in his at-home office, doing a wide variety of administrative work.  We are so thankful to have Phillip around during most of  the day. He often takes the time to check in on the girls work and the girls tell him all about what they have been learning in school while we eat lunch together. The girls and I home school Monday through Friday, and we are truly enjoying our new curriculum.

For this year we  switched our curriculum to Five in a Row, and we are loving the simplicity and depth combined in this curriculum. Every week we read a short picture book, then dive into the subjects we find within that book.  Last week we have been “rowing” Madeline. From this cute, poetic story we have learned about topics such as France, having order (and order found in the Bible), symmetry,  poetry, health and how the body works,  how to have sympathy, how we should “smile at the good and frown at the bad” and how to learn about what is right and wrong before God. We use a separate reading and math curriculum as these topics aren’t covered extensively in FIAR. We all had so much fun doing projects to help us learn the topics. Here the girls are with their human body projects:20141017_152633

They certainly didn’t turn out fancy (or proportionate) but we had fun making them and it helped the girls to learn a little more about the body (they especially like blowing air into the “lungs”). Here is Paige with her Eiffel tower built out of sugar wafers and frosting. This was all of their favorite craft of the week (of course). 20141017_111305

We also created morning routine cards and hung them up in their room, painted symmetrical pictures and cut out 12 cute little girls to act out some scenes from the book and learn a little math along the way. Our week was full, but I feel so blessed  to be used by the Lord in this way. I have begun getting up early to have more time with the Lord and time to prepare for our day before the kids wake up. Logan is such a good baby and he makes it easy (most days) to stay active with the girls. IMG_9723 The more years Phillip and I spend as parents, the more we realize that our family is the biggest ministry God has given us. The people within our household are those we spend the most time with and the ones we have the most impact on in the world. IMG_9748 IMG_9719

Of course, we are very excited about the “field” mission work that is coming up! Phillip (and the rest of the WOTC staff) have been working very hard preparing for upcoming events such as the Celebrate Jesus Festival (Brownsville, TX), the Big Feed (Mexico), Med-Fest (Nicaragua) and many, many others.

Our family is especially excited as we are planning on being in Nicaragua for a good portion of next year. We will be staying at the ministry’s new base camp and we are working on some very exciting missions opportunities (including a first ever Kids Camp!). We will continue to keep you all updated on these things as more details come up. Thank you all for your prayers for our family as we minister into the lives of many, in many different ways.

It’s Been A While

Yep. It has been a while since I have put out an update here and a lot has happened in that while. It is hard to put into words how God has blessed us, but the thing that stands out the most in our lives is our children, and we recently added another one to the bunch!

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Logan Arthur was born on June 2nd, 2014 weighing in at 9 lbs 11 ounces! We had another wonderful water birth and he came in a quick 2 1/2 hours.  Of course his sisters just adore him.

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All four kids are growing so fast. Paige celebrated her 4th birthday at the end of May and we are coming up on Olivia’s 2nd birthday and Emma’s 6th. We recently started a new school year after a short break; Emma is in first grade and Paige is in pre-school. We love homeschooling and both girls are excelling!

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Our family is also very excited about some upcoming mission trips that we will be a part of. No matter where we are in life we always have a passion for sharing Jesus with the world. Stay tuned for some posts abut these upcoming mission trips!