Friday, May 20, 2011

Stop & Pray: May 20th, 2011

Easter Lilies covered much of the Ranch early May

HCF team @ retreat center
  • Our work week in April with our home church, HeartlandChristian Fellowship, was wonderful. It is difficult to explain the joy we experienced fellowshipping with a group of people that we’ve known for years, who have supported us as Rancho Oasis for three years, and then to actually have them with us in the field: truly priceless! The team was very productive, helpful and very stretched. Many of them echoed a theme from a book that has solidified my eternal perspective on life on earth: Radical by David Pratt. Thanks, Heartland. We’re looking forward to next year!

Chapel Bi-fold doors built

Special Harmonica class

Josy and Pinata
  • Josy Tarantini, our ministry helper and family nanny is back in West Virginia. However, you can still follow her story at: Adventure’s of a Potter’s Daughter. Pray for her as she gears up for college this fall.

  • Residency Update: Our lawyers have submitted our petition for residency. Now we are waiting to hear from the Honduran government if they require any other documents. Continue to pray that they allow us to us our US paperwork from our visa application and they permit us to transfer the $400 to the residency application. We are in the waiting game now.
Mother's Day peformance
  •  Naomi continues to do well in her kindergarten and her Spanish is progressing tremendously. In fact, while I was running an errand in Tegucigalpa she translated between our landscaper Oscar and our home church’s team from Iowa. How cool is that? We hosted the recent kindergarten Mother’s day celebration at the Ranch. It was a good time. Please continue to pray that we can develop some relationships with these families!

  • Filipenses F. C. the Ranch’s boys soccer team continues to go strong. We moved our practice to Saturday mornings to avoid the afternoon rains and we continue to average 20 boys, with at least one new boy every week! Our most recent match was a 1 – 1 tie with a different team from Ojojona. We have our next match this Saturday. Continue to pray that our study through Philippians would impact the hearts of these boys for Christ and for wisdom for me as I coach them about life on and off the field!

  • The youth group remains small, but consistent. Kevin, Lesly and Tania are now studying through the New Life in Christ curriculum. They are learning the basic beliefs of the Christian faith, as we studying the Word. Pray for their growth and maturity!

Fernando with goat snacks
  • God’s timing is so good and the pieces for the RO4Y puzzle are coming together. Now that Zoeva and the filly are here, new opportunities to minister are opening up. One of our challenges has been to find a way to bring youth to the Ranch to be involved with a discipleship / farm workshop program. The local youth have school until 1 PM, but the rains are coming soon, so our afternoons are limited. The Ojojonan youth have various schedules for schooling, some in the afternoon and some in the morning, plus there’s the challenge of transportation, then getting them back to Ojojona for their schooling. Plus, besides a paycheck (which we do not offer), we’ve been asking, “what will draw the youth to come serve with us?”  Sorry, but most aren’t interested in doing anything for free. 

    Well, God lined up a beautiful situation to help us get started farming and discipling! One of the mother’s in the church who regularly attends activities at the Ranch is pregnant and hasn’t been working. Her eldest son, Fernando (14), attends a Saturday only school program (similar to a GED) in Ojojona, but can’t afford it now. She came to us asking for help. So, starting this week Fernando is going to join us for two mornings of the week to learn how to care for Zoeva, make compost for square foot gardening, and be discipled in the Word of God and we’re going to take care of the Saturday school expenses! Can I hear an amen?!?!  Pray for Fernando’s spiritual growth and wisdom for us as we develop the discipleship / farming program.

    We are still interested in working with the young women that are stuck in limbo between elementary and high school. We are confident that God will line it up, if it is supposed to be. Please pray for Sulema, Julissa, and Crisna as we discuss possible plans to join the discipleship / farming program.

  • Coach Gaby
  • Another huge praise this month is the arrival of our friend, Gaby Suarez and her daughter, Victoria. We served with Gaby in Mexico four years ago. Gaby served at the same mission in Mexico for eight years, so Rancho Oasis is a big stretch for her. She’s away from her family and everything familiar, but she is confident that she is following God’s will. Already Gaby has been a huge help in our home and in the ministry. One of the biggest benefits is the integration of Marillyn into the daily activities of the Ranch. Gaby is tri-lingual: Spanish, English and American sign language. (Also, Mexican sign language, but not so relevant here). Therefore, she can get Marillyn involved in conversations with the kids and women because she can sign for Mare. God is so good!
1 year old Victoria
Pray for Gaby as she adjusts to life in Honduras. She is not used to the mountains, rain and is relearning Spanish: all the Honduran slang! Gaby has started helping Sunday mornings with the children’s church, Wednesday afternoons with a girls sports/soccer class and a Thursday afternoon women’s Bible study. We are praying that Gaby has a significant impact on the young girls involved with RO4Y, as well as the many single-mothers in the community. Go, Gaby, Go!

Also, pray for God’s direction and provision for Gaby. She is raising a support team and is seeking the Lord’s direction to her full time commitment to RO4Y. She’ll be with us until the middle of August and hopefully returning for many more years!

  • Continue to pray for Oscar. He is an integral part of the daily activities of the Ranch: filling the water storage twice a week, improving our stables, marking the mini-soccer field, assisting with the boys soccer team, and multiple projects around the Ranch. He is currently preparing the soil to plant tall grasses good for the goats and horses, as well as corn for our chickens! He recently went through a hard-core stomach cleanse, so continue to pray for his health and safety. We depend on him very much! His wife, Marilyn and daughter Genesis are doing well.

  • Praise the Lord for his provision of the mare, Zoeva, and her filly. Pray that we get the blood work test done soon, that the results are good and that the owners decide to sell!

Dad & Tobi
  • God is doing an awesome work in my life personally and our marriage. After studying the two guys heading to Emmaus (Luke 24), the Spirit asked me if I was living my Christian life in a funk, not truly understanding the power and freedom that Christ has done for me. Wow, what a break through question: Was I living to my potential, my Holy Spirit resurrecting Jesus from the dead potential as a believer? This study and the final chapter of David Pratt’s Radical really made it clear that I was missing out. I realized that I was settling for things that appeased my cravings for worth and satisfaction, but were leaving me hanging. I’ve since determined to forsake okay things for Jesus only. It has been a great stretch and I’m excited to see how God is going to use this season of my walk and marriage! Please continue to pray for Mare and I as we love each other, parent and lead this ministry!

Sharing Sunday mangoes with the goats
  • Please pray for our Sunday activities at the Ranch. We are in a season of change and I believe the traditional Sunday service is going to be replaced by a combination of activities focused on Sunday school teaching and the daily, farm activities of the Ranch. The farm aspect of RO4Y draws a lot of excitement from the kids from Ojojona, but our only time to really minister to them is on the weekend. Saturdays is filled by boy’s soccer and youth group. So that leaves Sunday and I believe we can more effectively get into the lives of the kids by involving them into the daily Ranch routine. Discipleship and life’s day-to-day coming together for the glory of God! Exciting stuff!!!
Sunday morning crafts

  • A new aspect to Rancho Oasis is a gardening concept that we were turned-onto called square foot gardening. Essentially we are going to build a three foot by three foot raised bed garden that is filled with compost. The goal is to help locals learn how to expand their diet beyond corn and beans, with much needed veggies. The method is inexpensive and fairly simple (not labor intensive). We are experimenting with the gardens now and have some great compost brewing (thanks goats and horses). This will help Rancho Oasis get involved in the community by benefiting the lives of the people physically with the hope and purpose of opening doors to minister to them spiritually. Pray for wisdom for us and success with the gardens.

Our unfinished home
  • We are making plans for a two month furlough this Fall. Pray that God will arrange 60 days of divine appointments in current supporting churches, new churches and other places we haven’t even thought of yet. We want to expand our support team to further the work in Honduras. We’ll be busy traveling to Chicago, West Virginia, Iowa, Wisconsin, Kansas, Colorado, Arizona and California. Pray for supernatural stamina and the wisdom to prepare the Ranch for our absence. Pray for God’s protection for the property and wisdom for Oscar as he watches the Ranch and the animals.

  • The construction of our new home has been at a standstill since last June. We were hoping and praying to at least complete the ceiling of the first floor before the raining season begins (basically now). We were estimating a cost of $2,000. Keep praying.

Tabi the Runner
  • Praise that both of our vehicles have been running well. However, we are still praying and waiting on the importation of our bus. Pray for a miracle!

  • Our family health has been under attack with intestinal parasites. However, we’ve got them under control and are in the process of removing them via different cleanses and herbal remedies. Pray that God would complete the cleanses and give us strength when we are weak.

  • We are hashing out the details of a purchase agreement for the property. We moved onto the property in February of 2010 and have lived here rent free. However, we want to move forward with owning the property. Set value and cost is $18,500. Pray about sacrificing / investing in the kingdom via the purchase of the Ranch’s land!

  • We are making plans for a possible short-term team in July. Pray for the Lord’s provision of this team from New Mexico and their sister church north of Tegucigalpa in Honduras. The group will be a mix of North Americans and Hondurans.

 As always, thanks for your words of encouragement & prayers!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Newsito: Becoming New - A Horse Rescue Story

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature:
old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
2 Corinthians 5:17 (King James Version)

Standing before the entrance of the Ranch, my hands trembled with excitement and my eye swelled with tears. It was finally here. Our first official horse rescue!

The mare's eyes grew to seemingly twice the size when she walked onto the lush pasture of Rancho Oasis. After we prayed and brought her onto the property, she immediately started eating. Oscar, the Ranch's stable hand, and I teasingly said that she was now in paradise "the land of oats and molasses".

Oscar and I stood before the Lord on a beautiful Wednesday morning dedicating the two newest members of Rancho Oasis: a spotted grey, twelve-year old mare and her week old filly. Over five years of praying and dreaming had come to this moment. It was more tangible than I ever would have imagined. Rancho Oasis, the original vision, had begun!

The mare & filly's 10th day at the Ranch
 Horses, children and Jesus has been our hope and prayer since the inception of Rancho Oasis. However, we intentionally didn't rush into our dream. We wanted God to build this barn!

Since moving to Honduras we've looked at several horses and even had a young wild horse (remember Gozo) on the property for a few months. But nothing clicked, it wasn't the right time.

Mare & 2 day old filly
Then the last week of April, while in Ojojona, I ran into Gerardo, a pastor friend of mine. He told me his brother, Jose, was in an emergency situation with a new filly born the day before. The previous year, while in an unprotected field, a foal from the same mare was attacked and killed by coyotes. Jose did not want to see the same tragedy happen twice. He needed to move the baby and mare.

1 week before arriving @ RO4Y
The next day, Marillyn, the girls, Tobi and I met with Jose and his wife, Dora. We also met the mare and her baby. The mare was very sickly, extremely malnourished, but thankfully still protective of her filly. (A good sign for a mom fighting for her own life.) It is common here in Honduras, the second poorest nation in the western hemisphere next to Haiti, that horse owners only feed their horses with what they can find in the fields. In Ojojona's hot and dry summer time, it is slim pickins.

We knew that without our help the mare might not make it to the coming Spring and as a result her baby would probably also die, let alone be attacked by predators. This is what we had been waiting for - a true rescue! In fact, the miracle goes beyond even the conversation with Gerardo because Marillyn and I had been praying for several months specifically for a mare and a filly. We had even been preparing the horses stable and securing feed supply weeks before this event. God's hand (and timing) was so clear.

May 4th: Walking the 3 mile hike from Ojojona to the Ranch

After talking with Jose and Dora, we agreed to take on the mare and filly for a three month trial period. The mare's need was immediate, but we still agreed on a purchase price. (The exact amount of a donation that was given specifically for a horse!) Our one stipulation before purchasing the pair was to get blood work done on the mare to confirm the absence of a common blood disease in horses in Central America called animea. We are preparing to get the test done.

Honduran rest stop
One of the reason's that Dora has hesitated to sell was because the mare was a gift to her from her father and she wanted her grandson to learn how to ride. However, we shared our vision to work with kids and horses and she was excited to have her son get free lessons from a professional rider (Marillyn). If the blood test confirms the mare does not have the disease, we have every intent to purchase them. Pray that God will secure this animal and her baby for the ministry.

So, the Ranch has started a new chapter with our first horse rescue. 

Bathing the Mare & Removing Ticks

One of the practices that we liked from Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch was the renaming of their rescued horses. Something that not only gave the horse a fresh start, but told their story!

Therefore, we've decided to name the mare, Zoeva: pronounced "so-a-va". While talking to her owner Jose, we discovered that the mare was called "La Vieja" meaning "the old one" in Spanish. As we tossed around some ideas with supporters, 1 Corinthians 5:17 came burning into my mind. This ignited the creative juices and I remembered that the greek word "zoe" ment life and "nueva" is the Spanish word for new. So we put 'em together and got Zoeva. What a perfect picture of salvation!

Starved spiritually and vulnerable to the attack of the enemy, our rescuer, Jesus Christ not only gives us new life, but spiritual vitality and protection. What an awesome story to share with the families that come to Rancho Oasis...

Everyday Mare, Oscar and I work to bring Zoeva back to health. But we can see she is very happy here, and her gentle spirit is a comfort to us. Even more so is the hope of the young filly and her prancing around the property. She has even begun to get nose to nose and play with our Great Dane, Daisy. It is quite the site!

Please pray for wisdom for us as we help restore Zoeva and work with the filly.

Pray that God would make clear how to involve the kids in the community with the animals.

Pray that we would balance the new responsibilities of the horses and all the other animals and activities at the Ranch.

Praise the Lord for His timing and provision.

Pray that Jose and Dora would sell the horse before the 3 month trial period.

Thanks for rejoicing with us!!!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Newsito: Pride & Joy!

I wanted to highlight a recent RO4Y event that I don't want to be overlooked.

We've had a fairly full schedule of visiting groups since January and have been blessed with a tremendous amount of work, gifts and fellowship. 

However, between the visits of our two most recent short-term teams, we had a new addition to the Ranch - a male goat named Billy the kid or "BK" for short.

BK is a spitting image of his mom, from the mark on his head to his spunky leaps and dashes across the property. BK and his mom, Bugsy, are an RO4Y experiment. We wanted to get a milking goat and develop a breeding/training program to bless people in our community with the offspring of our goats that will provide a rich source of nutrients to their family's diet. 

Little did we know that BK would bring an extra blessing. One of even more value than a healthy glass of goat's milk: a smile.

This is Yalbana (pronounced "Giel-bah-nah"). She is twelve years old and in her last year in elementary school. Up to BK's birth, her attendance at RO4Y activities was sporadic. Her father is an extreme alcoholic, whom I would often find sleeping on the side of the road in a drunken stewper, even during a rain shower. Sandra, Yalbana's mom, is dead. She died a few months ago unexpectedly at the age of 35. She was also an alcoholic and I believe died from alcohol poisoning. (I shared a few words of encouragement at her funeral.)

It is not hard to believe that Yalbana doesn't smile that often. In fact, Marillyn and I couldn't remember the last time that she smiled. That is, until she met BK!

In an instant, Yalbana's hard, serious countenance softened with one glance at BK! She picked him up and cuddle him like a little child. We had to basically pry BK out of her arms; she was so enamored. It was beautiful!

We have a lot of dreams here at the Ranch, including using animals to break down emotional walls in the youth of Honduras. Seeing Yalbana's demeanor transform with the interaction of one of our animals was the confirmation of our dream and the power of God to use his creation to soften the hearts of the hardest youth.

Yalbana now comes regularly to the Ranch. We are building a deeper relationship with her week-by-week, desiring her to be full of the joy that Christ brings.
And of course, BK helps too!

A cheerful look brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones.
Proverbs 15:30 (NIV)