Saturday, August 4, 2018

July '18 Review: CONFIRMATION & GLORY

Arrival at Denver International July 31st!


As I sit in the kitchen of our new rental home in Colorado Springs, it is difficult to put into words the events of the last two months:


We have been nomads living in four different locations in the last seven weeks. (Two weeks in Tegus walking through the legal process of prosecuting Oscar; one week at the Ranch packing; three weeks in Santa Ana – the small town that neighbors Ojojona – while we sold off our possessions… from goats to gas grills, tools and tables… and prepped the property to “show & sell” and, finally, a week in suburban Chicago with my parents.)


Enjoying a campfire at one of our temporary homes.

There have been few times in my life where God’s hand was seen in the smallest of details, confirming our decision to leave Honduras and revealing God’s knowledge of “every hair on my head.” (Luke 12:7)

The home provided for our two week hiatus was centrally located in the city giving us the convenience of travel, shopping, and eating out while we went through the emotional roller coaster of making the formal / legal complaint against Oscar. The owner of the home offered it to us because her large family was on furlough Stateside. She was the same person who met with our family to start the process of counseling, taught me to see the many details of the effects of trauma in my own children and eventually bought our 15-passenger van! Glory!

The man who betrayed our family & ministry now sits behind bars awaiting his sentencing trial. The warrant to arrest him was issued THE SAME DAY as our complaint! A process that normally takes weeks and forces the victim and family to act as if all is normal to not tip-off the accused of their knowledge of his guilt. The initial hearing that denied Oscar bail was held A WEEK AFTER the arrest WITHOUT the testimony of Marillyn and I because the strength of the testimony of the three children – all recorded on video with the same kind & proficient translator who helped the kids through the formal complaint process. The decision to deny bail was made by a judge who WENT OUT OF HER WAY to visit & listen to the kids stories… something we learned is the exception to the rule for the practice of this particular judge!

Two of the three government forensic psychologists who met with myself and each of the kids separately WERE BELIEVERS and spoke of the challenges that families will face who have been victims of sexual abuse. Their counsel confirmed the route that we had taken to bring justice to our family and encouraged us that God is bigger than the trauma… one of the psychologists was herself a victim of sexual abuse as a child and told us of the freedom & healing that Jesus had done in her life! This day of tests and counsel itself was a miracle as it was MOVED UP three weeks allowing us to leave Honduras on our desired departure day! Hallelujah!

Having originally planned to take an extended furlough in August, God’s hand was seen in the airline WAVING ALL transfer fees for our family of seven and scheduling the change for July 22nd – OUR GUESTIMATED GOAL to depart Honduras AND THE ONLY AVAILABLE DATE IN THE MONTH OF JULY WITH SIX AVAILABLE SEATS!!! Can I get an “Amen”!?!?!


Purge & Release

ALL OF OUR ITEMS FOR SALE SOLD – except the freezer and the property… which we trust will be done in God’s timing with a ministry that will continue to use the property for His glory! ALL of our dogs found homes and so did the horses! All these sales took place while we stayed at our friend’s nearby, beautiful home – allowing us to sell our things freely (without stipulation of our departure date) and giving us some distance from the hardship of seeing “our life” be boxed up and taken away. God cares, does He not???


Beautiful 15+ acre mountain property for sale. 👍

EIGHT pieces of luggage were sent ahead of us by the generosity of my parents and some family friends flying to Honduras stand-by with the select purpose of hauling our things! Two days later I received word that an anonymous donor wanted to COVER THE COST of shipping our remaining things Stateside!!! This included all the miscellaneous “treasures” that we were unsure if we could take with us like my mountain bike, drums, Christmas ornaments, picture albums, journals, kitchen appliances and even Mare’s homemade horse tack trunk!!! (This itself was a double-miracle because I was delayed two days from delivering our items to the shipper because of a national bus & taxi strike! Praise God the business had weekend hours when the strike took a break!)

Delivery Complications!

MOST IMPORTANTLY the behavioral issues in our three children, increased anger & withdrawn attitudes, have greatly subsided and they are walking in more joy & peace! Why? Because they have seen their parents come to their defense NOT merely in word, but in DEED & ACTION!!! No ministry is worth the loss of value of any of our children!!!

Now we are settling into a home that is perfect for our family and our host’s, Marillyn’s parents: Wayne & Brooke Goranson! Not only have they prepped & furnished the home for our arrival, but have committed to find their own place when we are well established in the community! Not only is Colorado Springs a beautiful part of the country… we haven’t left the mountains… it is well equipped with a strong home-schooling community and a church, Calvary Chapel True North, that is waiting to take us in and see us restored! Our first meeting with the family counselor has been scheduled and we appreciate your continued prayers as we move forward as a family and ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

I have yet to schedule our debriefing week with the DAR program of Ministry Training International, but hope to in the coming weeks. It will be a costly investment for our family as our healing process is not supported by a larger missions agency, but I fear NOT doing the re-entry program would have greater long-term damage. The financial cost of the program will be a bit more than $4,000 for our family of seven. So, those of you who have offered any extra help during this season of transition… now is the time to respond!!!

God has clearly been with us at every step & we trust he will make our future clear! “God’s Word is a lamp unto our feet” illuminating our NEXT STEP, not the entire journey!


Nuestra familia Hondurena!

The greatest challenge in leaving Honduras has been walking away from the many relationships that we have developed over the years! From those we have ministered to in the community to those that call us friends… and even family! The loss is profound, but Jesus’ love runs deeper still!


Trade School Class of 2018


For those who have wrestled alongside us in prayer trying to understand the “why” of the tragedy and trauma that has come upon not only our family, but to the unfulfilled dream of Rancho Oasis, I offer you two things:

#1 – God has been with us every step. He did not want this to happen. He fought against it in Oscar’s heart, but ultimately God gave him a free will. Nonetheless, what was intended for evil, we trust that God will use for good! We are NOT angry with God… how could we be? His love for us has never wavered, but gotten even more evident in this trial!

#2 – In God’s economy, success is not always an achieved final goal, but rather the manifestation of His presence in us during the journey! Oswald Chamber’s says it much better than I:


He made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side…
 —Mark 6:45

We tend to think that if Jesus Christ compels us to do something and we are obedient to Him, He will lead us to great success. We should never have the thought that our dreams of success are God’s purpose for us. In fact, His purpose may be exactly the opposite. We have the idea that God is leading us toward a particular end or a desired goal, but He is not. The question of whether or not we arrive at a particular goal is of little importance, and reaching it becomes merely an episode along the way. What we see as only the process of reaching a particular end, God sees as the goal itself.

What is my vision of God’s purpose for me? Whatever it may be, His purpose is for me to depend on Him and on His power now. If I can stay calm, faithful, and unconfused while in the middle of the turmoil of life, the goal of the purpose of God is being accomplished in me. God is not working toward a particular finish— His purpose is the process itself. What He desires for me is that I see “Him walking on the sea” with no shore, no success, nor goal in sight, but simply having the absolute certainty that everything is all right because I see “Him walking on the sea” (Mark 6:49). It is the process, not the outcome, that is glorifying to God.

God’s training is for now, not later. His purpose is for this very minute, not for sometime in the future. We have nothing to do with what will follow our obedience, and we are wrong to concern ourselves with it. What people call preparation, God sees as the goal itself.

God’s purpose is to enable me to see that He can walk on the storms of my life right now. If we have a further goal in mind, we are not paying enough attention to the present time. However, if we realize that moment-by-moment obedience is the goal, then each moment as it comes is precious.


Again, thank you all for your letters, notes, hugs, prayers and tears!

Time alone with "the light of the world" hiking through a suburban Chicago forest preserve.

This is not the end, but a new beginning!

Dios te bendiga!

Friday, July 6, 2018

June '18 Review: GRIEF, HOPE & TRANSITION

Seeking our home... praying for direction.

“I'm looking up
Holding out
Pressing forward
Without a doubt
Longing for the things unseen
Longing for the things I believe
My true country

We hope and wait
For the glorious day
All tears will vanish
Wiped away
On the saints this day already shines
On the saints this day already shines
It already shines

[Chorus:]
We'll be singing hallelujah
We'll be singing hallelujah
At the top of our lungs halle-le-lujah
(With all of our breath halle-le-lujah)
To Your glory, hallelujah
Hallelujah, hallelujah

And I know that it's coming
But I can't see it now
And I've touched it in moments
But I can't hold it yet
And it glows in the darkness
And it calls us away
To our true destination
To that glorious day.”

Can I get a Hallelujah?

While on one of my recent early morning hikes through the cool & breezy mountains of Honduras, I was reminded of the song “Hallelujah” by the Newsboys (1998) as my iPod “randomly” shuffled through its list of 1,224 songs. The depth of its simple lyric was a refreshing reminder to my hurting heart & soul…

In my last post I mentioned “a devastating blow” and have alluded to this in my personal & ministry Facebook posts. Marillyn and the family and I have been having a rough time this last month! Though we have kept our situation vague & general, we want to thank you for your ceaseless prayers, words of encouragement and acts of kindness. The Lord has built a wonderful support team for us over the last 10+ years for the ministry of Rancho Oasis!!! (2 years in Costa Rica & 8+ years in Honduras.)




As detailed in the “Health” post and other posts this year, we have been thinning our outreach (no soccer & no Friday Bible Study) and were preparing to take an extended furlough this Fall to restore our spiritual, mental and physical fervor. However, we now believe that our departure will be a PERMANENT return to the States!

We sense the time is right to share with you our struggle:

Waiting to make our legal complaint with the Honduran Prosecutor for Children
with Honduran friend & translator Ileana and intern Katie.

About a month ago, the Lord brought to light a very “life-changing” truth: our #1 farm-hand and ministry assistant had been sexually abusing 3 of our 5 kids (different degrees of frequency & severity, but all wrong/evil.) We have walked through the painful legal process to prosecute this sexual predator with a team from a Christian non-profit called “Association for a More Just Society” and this man, Oscar Gonzalez, now sits behind bars awaiting his sentencing trial. We are hurting, but hopeful for the Lord’s hand in restoring our family.


A "screenshot" of last year's ministry video.

Oscar was more than a soccer coach and a hard-worker at the Ranch. He was a friend, a brother and a family member not only to us, but to the greater family of Rancho Oasis. We were just as shocked as you and are still walking through the five stages of grief.


"A three braided chord is not easily broken."
Getting out to celebrate 15 years of marriage in the midst of the trial!

And then grief upon grief:

One of our ministry goals has been to use animals to promote mental & spiritual healing, specifically a Bible-based equine therapy program. That vision was realized this last year with the purchase of a beautiful Dutch-warmblood named, Nedo. However, during our recent family trial Nedo contracted a nearly permanent and painful hoof disease called laminitis. We made the heart-wrenching decision to “put him down”. So, sad!


Saying "Good-bye" to Nedo. 😥

I share all that to say we sense Nedo’s passing is symbolic of our dream and vision for the ministry of Rancho Oasis. We have been in “survival mode” for way to long as missionaries and it is time to let our work here close. We know that God has some amazing restoration & ministry in front of us, but He is first releasing us from our commitment to the work here in Honduras! This is not an easy choice, we have been here 8+ years and have essentially raised our family here, but we see God redirecting our steps to life in the US. We believe and have been counseled that true healing can only come away from our current location.


Geographical Juxtaposition:
Google maps helps to illustrate the re-entry transition that we will experience!

Our plan is to move to Colorado Springs and live with Marillyn’s parents, Wayne & Brooke Goranson, for a season. Wayne recently took over the pastorate of Calvary Chapel Truth North. Prior to the news of Oscar’s betrayal, they had rented a large enough home with space to host our family for our extended furlough. God knew our stay would be longer. In the Goranson’s new church Body, there is also a family counselor who not only has 40+ years of experience specializing in sexual abuse cases, but was also a missionary in Mexico for a season. God new our need for healing before this tragedy arose. Also, just north of Colorado Springs is a ministry that is dedicated to the training of missionaries, both in the preparation of sending them out to the field and the transition of re-entry to life in the United States. A missionary friend of ours in Honduras recently informed me that one of his closest friends is the director of Mission Training International. God new our need in the help with transition.


Evidence that our 9-year-old is a Third Culture Kid.

Again, this decision to return to the United States is not taken lightly. Due to mental, physical and spiritual health concerns, we originally hoped to answer the question of our long-term commitment to Rancho Oasis and Honduras during our extended furlough. However, we feel that God has used the abuse of our children and the death of our horse to confirm that our ministry here is done. Honduras has been our home, so it is very difficult to leave where we have such deep roots & friendships. We have shared the work together and for this we are so grateful for your years of support financially, on short-term visits and faithful prayers!


Papi, Wayne Goranson, & the kiddos!!!
He was already scheduled to visit in June... God knew!!!

So, continue to PRAY for Marillyn & I & our children.  We will be leaving Honduras July 22nd & starting the next chapter of life!!!

The Christian & missionary community in Honduras is amazing!!!

We are in the midst of wrapping up ministry in the trade school and selling off our possessions, the largest being the property! (The 15-passenger van has sold! PTL!) It is all rather stressful, but we have found aid from the Goranson’s, our current intern (Katie) and many local missionaries & friends. PRAY for our current employees as they look for new employment, too! (Katie returned to Stateside on July 7th.)

Linner with Brooke Goranson (center) & Katie Soy (far right).

We have recently moved offsite and are living nearby in a friend’s furnished home. This not only allows a sense of security for my family but allows buyers to take our worldly possessions without having to wait for us to depart. (Things like our stove, washer & dryer, couches, beds, etc.)


View of Tegus from our "temporary home" during our 2-week hiatus in the capital.

Thank you again for your understanding, prayers and financial support! God is with us in the midst of these trials and changes. He is our living hope!




We love you and are so grateful for our partnership!!!


Carrying one of our goats to her new owner!