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!


Saturday, June 2, 2018

April / May '18 Review: HEALTH

Ranch Life

While studying through the book of Titus, I came across a “new” word:

Hygiainō – “to be sound, to be well, to be in good health.” (Our modern word, hygene, also, has its origin in this Greek root.)

In context, it is used metaphorically “of Christians whose opinions are free from any mixture of error.” (See Titus 1:13)

My perspective regarding “to be in good health” has grown & expanded. I am in the “middle years” of life and I am an “experienced” missionary, father & husband. Also, as a disciple of Christ, I have learned that “to be sound” must include a holistic approach: mind, body & soul.

Honestly speaking, “to be well” has been one of our greatest challenges on the mission field. There has been a tendency to “pour oneself out” to the variety of needs that confront us in Honduras, without thought of its effects on our wellness: mind, body and soul as individuals, a married couple and a family, let alone as a ministry.


Recently this was dramatically brought to mind as two separate friends on two separate occasions made the same comment to us; essentially, that as long as they have known us (2+ years) Marillyn and I live in survival mode, as opposed to a thriving mode.

Yes, of course, “we can do all things in Christ who strengthens us” (Philippians 4:13), but there are also natural laws & effects of cultural differences, marital challenges, life stages, family development and ministry growth; namely, STRESS!!!

Jesus summed it up nicely in his divine, humanity: “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”(Matthew 26:41)


So, how do we get back to thriving in life, in marriage, in family and in ministry???




Mini-vacation with missionary friends in El Salvador:
70% missionary discount!!!

#1 – We take some time to heal. 

Since entering my 40’s my body has not been the same. Alarmingly, so! Stress has taken its toll on mind, body & soul. Both Marillyn and I are working with a licensed nutritionist to help restore our physical health knowing that the mind & soul will also improve. It is a long, slow & costly venture. We are looking for people to help sponsor our physical recovery. Please contact us for specific costs, if you would like to help financially.


Supplemental Help!

We will also be taking an extended furlough in the Fall / early Winter with an emphasis on our “Hygiainō” (See definition above, wink-wink!) We have been generously blessed with tickets to the US of A and want to focus on our recovery, so that we can be thriving wherever God is calling us to serve Him!



International School of Tegucigalpa (IST) 8th Grader Overnight

#2 – We focus on what we love & what God has gifted us in.

Our ministry outreach in 2018 has narrowed; essentially, we are ministering in only one area of outreach: the trade school. Our desire in 2018 has been to prepare for the equine therapy ministry at the Ranch, but have struggled to stay focused. The daily grind of life in Honduras, running an existing Ranch and homeschooling don’t leave much energy for building a new ministry outreach: the infrastructure (proper riding areas, fencing, etc.) and the methodology. Your prayers are coveted deeply in this area.


Navidad en Mayo!
Prepping for December sales.

We do see God moving to help us specifically with the horse therapy as a friend’s short-term mission team is coming alongside to build fencing in June and a Honduran friend has introduced us to a Christian horse therapy ministry in the States whose leaders are planning to come in August to give us some hands-on training. God is faithful to complete the work He has started at Rancho Oasis!!!

God has also rekindled a passion for teaching His word by opening up opportunities for me to preach. I recently shared three messages at an 8th grade end-of-the-year overnight retreat and have begun teaching through the book of Titus (CLICK TO LISTEN) at our English speaking fellowship in Tegucigalpa! It has been a real joy and pleasure to exercise my spiritual gifts in this way! (On a side note, Union church has selected a new head pastor. He & his wife will be joining the church sometime in August!!! PTL!!!) I am also lined up to teach at a Spanish speaking youth retreat in July then the annual Missionary Kid camp in August! Pray for the seeds that are planted to bare fruit!


HFMM Region #6 "Missionary Spotlight" Collage

We have also enjoyed building community with other missionaries in our area as the Regional Reps for the Honduran Fellowship of Missionaries and Ministries. I am in weekly contact with local missionaries about their ministries in order to put together a simple "missionary spotlight" to share with all of the missionaries in our region. It has been building fellowship and prayer amongst us... poco a poco.



#3 – We partner with those in ministry who have God-given gifts & strengths where we do not. 

Over the years, Marillyn and I have “worn many hats” at Rancho Oasis. We have realized the hard-way that this is not sustainable, nor healthy for us or the ministry at RO4Y. I see that I am the “healthiest” when I am ministering in my gifts via discipleship and teaching. For us to thrive at Rancho Oasis, this needs to be my primary focus. However, we are still at the beginning stages of our property and there are many buildings and projects to complete. We did receive another very generous donation from Bloomingdale Church to finish CDA, but we need someone to manage the final stages of construction...



We have begun to pray and make our need know for an individual, couple or family to co-labor with us at the Ranch as a “Property & Project Manager.” Essentially, we need someone to run the ranch of the Ranch, while we cultivate the spiritual oasis of Rancho Oasis. If God is not done with RO4Y, we know He will send the right people at the right time to accomplish His vision for this ministry! Pray, PRay, PRAY!!!



Daddy Dates

Mamas & Macaroons!!!

#4 – We focus on the foundation of the Ranch: our family and marriage. 

We have recently experienced a devastating blow to our family and ministry that I am not at liberty to discuss publicly. The damage is just beginning to be uncovered and it will take a lifetime of healing & grace. PRAY for us as we walk through the stages of grief and seek out the appropriate means of healing, recovery & justice. Our lives will never be the same, again.





Mango Madness
"Taste & see that the LORD is good;
blessed is the one who takes refuge in him."
Psalm 34:8 NIV 

Finally, I want to end on a encouraging note and with a deep sense of gratitude for all those who have sacrificed time, money and vacations to build up the ministry and impact of Rancho Oasis. 

Last Fall we made a call for increased monthly support. Many responded, but in January our largest supporting church drastically reduced their monthly donation, shrinking our monthly “income” by over 20%. However, the Lord has moved on many individuals and churches and they have nearly made up the difference. 

Please continue to pray for the ministry’s financial needs and ask the Lord if he wants you to be involved. Our goal is still to gain another $500 in monthly support. Every donation no matter the size helps and bonds us together for the spreading of the Gospel in Honduras and beyond!


Thank you all for your faithfulness over the years!!! 

To God be the glory!!!


"From ashes to beauty..."