Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Newsito: Needs & Gifts

He who despises his neighbor sins, 
but blessed is he who is kind to the needy.
Proverbs 14:21 (NIV)

Two weeks ago I was changing out of my pj’s when I heard a knock on the door. It was just past 7 AM. Don (Spanish for mister) Richard, a pastor friend was standing at my door with a question: “I’ve got a small team of doctors that would like to host a medical brigade today in your area and we thought of you.” Doubts flooded my head – I’ve got other commitments, plans for the day and there hasn’t been any advertising. “Okay,” I said, “Let’s see what God will do.” A few hours later two nurse practitioners and some assistants, a couple translators and a children’s ministry team of minimal Spanish speakers arrived at the Ranch.

Passing the time at the brigade with futbol
As the day unfolded, God drew those who needed medical attention and many new faces and faces that have been long absent to Rancho Oasis appeared. Free medical consultation and medicine draw people out of the woodwork. I was amazed to hear that 130+ people were seen from roughly 9:30 AM until 4:30 PM. It was awesome and we were blessed to see God move.

Families heard the gospel message & received bracelets while waiting
As a full-time missionary, I’m always reflecting on how we can do things differently, be more effective and efficient for the people that we serve. On one hand, medical brigades are a HUGE draw. People in Honduras have so many needs and health is a major concern, let alone the cost of medicine. Generous, loving groups, groups like this one, come for one day, see immediate results and are blessed. Yet, what happens when the free prescription runs out? How many of these medical issues could have been resolved with a proper understanding of hygiene and health, as well as a change in diet? Though an immediate blessing for many bound in poverty, how often does this create a means of dependency, rather than a desire to improve one’s own life/health?

Inside the church: patient consultation, pharmacy and more patient waiting

These are heavy questions that must be answered by serious prayer. Marillyn and I have brainstormed different ways to address these needs – we want to have health, hygiene and cooking/diet classes, but we lack the people power to put them on. A potential solution could be to have a medical brigade that requires people to first take a class on these three major issues. It would take a serious change in mind set, one that would not place emphasis on numbers of patients seen in a day, but on slow, thoughtful, one-on-one instruction that challenges people to change & ultimately improve their lives. It would flow better with the long-term ministry goals of Rancho Oasis and have a life-long impact on the people. Medical brigades are a blessing, but for most only a band aid to the health issues they face.

Unashamed Missions Team

Well, the next morning comes around and Dorian, one of the interpreters from the brigade arrives at the Ranch and asks to use our “land-line” phone. “Not a problem,” I said. “What are you doing?”

“We’re building a house for your neighbors and I needed to confirm where to drop off the lumber.”

Wow, what an immediate answer to prayer. Mare and I were literally just talking about how to minister to the needs of the family that moved in next door to us. (Basically, they’re legal squatters). I knew God had called us to minister to them, but I barely knew them. Though their physical need was obvious, I had no idea of their spiritual need.  As a minister in this immediate area, my goal is to see people come to Christ and mature in this relationship. So, how does giving a family a house help them meet Jesus?

Our Neighbors shack
Dorian and I began talking (in Spanish) and I began to share my heart and concern of simply giving this family a home without knowing them. Would they be grateful? Would this produce an awe in them in who God is or create a lazy, “I’m going to sit around and wait for others to help me” attitude? I couldn't help but think of the nine ungrateful lepers (Luke 17).

Dorian’s jaw dropped as we talked. He said that he had some of the same concerns, but had never heard a Gringo share them. He is also a pastor in Santa Ana and he has seen the positive and negative fruit produced in people’s lives when they get a “free” house.

I told him that I would like to meet with the family and set up an agreement that if Dorian’s crew comes to help build them a house, they would show their gratitude by helping us with the ministry at Rancho Oasis. I told Dorian that it was kinda like salvation. It’s free and we can never pay God back; however, we give God our lives in response to His grace & mercy. (2Corinthians 5:15) So, this family is barely scrapping by for food, they could never payback the house, but they do have health, youth and the ability to work (even if they can’t find a job).

Oscar on his mom's lot
He liked it. So, in response, Dorian asked if I knew of anyone else in the area that could use a house.  “Yeah,” I said. “He’s right there in the stable turning the compost.”

Dorian and I approached Oscar with a new excitement.  “Was this really happening?,” I thought.

3 Walls up, 1 to go
“So, Oscar. How would you like it if my friend Dorian here, builds your mom a new house today?” With hands raised and tears swelling in his eye Oscar said, “Praise you, Jesus!”

So, by 3 o’clock in the afternoon, the crew of 20 or so were done and Oscar’s mom had a new home to live in.

Completed house & team
Honestly, I felt a little guilty about it. The family behind us had a greater, visible need than Oscar’s mom, but there wasn’t a peace in my spirit.  My guilt was washed away by God’s peace as I remembered Catalina’s need and the 6 weeks that Oscar and I had been praying for the home. Catalina has been widowed twice and was living in a rental that is falling apart several hours from Ojojona. Oscar’s heart was to have mom close to take care of her, a biblical response.  (Mark 7) He regularly visits her and gives her money, but what a blessing to have her live a five minute walk from his home. God is so good!

Marisela & some kids
Well, I followed up with my neighbors a few days later to talk to them about the possibility of building them a home. I learned of Marisela’s condition. She was abandoned by her husband about a year ago and has been living with family in Tegus. She recently moved with her six kids (16 years to 12 months) to Ojojona and has been living with her sister’s family. The brother-in-law gifted her the corner property and they’ve been living in the shack for the last three weeks.

The humblest of homes
Oscar and I shared the gospel with Marisela via the Roman’s Road and discussed with her my idea about helping the Ranch. She said a few weeks earlier she had given her life to Christ at a church in Tegus. She is a very shy woman, not given to much conversation, but her 14 year old daughter immediately said yes! With Oscar’s help, we talked to Marisela and she willingly agreed to show her gratitude by helping.

Stick bed, plastic roof and mud stove
We are still waiting for the house and have building plans tentatively lined up for the first week of August. I’m excited for the opportunity to minister, especially with the teens. None of the kids are in school and none of them can read. 12 and 14 year old girls – what an opportunity to minister to them via education, work and bible study!

So, in short, this has been a new lesson for me in the mission field. I have a greater desire to work cohesively with missions teams and to have them help accomplish our long term goals for Rancho Oasis and the Kingdom of God. 

Pray that God would continue to bring the resources of the North American missions teams to Honduras to equip and build the kingdom of God amongst the poorest of the poor. 

Pray that God would give me and all the other missionaries insight in how to best use these resources for change: physically, economically, mentally and spiritually.

Thank you teams for your investment in Rancho Oasis, the people of Ojojona and God’s kingdom abroad!

RO4Y Sunrise

Monday, July 4, 2011

Stop & Pray: July 4th, 2011

Girls Soccer Training - Bible Study in Titus
1. Wow! PRAISE God for our friend, Gaby! What a blessing to the Beard family, Rancho Oasis and the kids and mothers of Ojojona. God has used the Ranch to allow Gaby to heal from past hurts and broken relationships. Here is a quote from her most recent update:

Riding on the Ranch
And I can say that I finally found myself again, even better than before. Being away from everything that distracted me, and prevented me from focusing on God and myself, has allowed me to complete the path of healing I’d been on. No doubt when one is willing to change for their own sake and the sake of one’s children, anything is possible when you open your heart to God and let Him take care of EVERYTHING!

Now my life is back to normal; full of joy, hope, love and jokes (which is typical me), excited to see what God has for us later. Perhaps more time here [at RO4Y] or back in Ensenada with the deaf
community. Grateful if you could continue to pray for the needs of Rancho Oasis and of course of us.

Victoria loving her smoothie!
PRAY for Gaby as she ministers to the girls soccer team on Wednesdays, women’s Bible study on Thursdays and teaches the kids their Bible lessons on Sunday mornings. PRAY for motherly wisdom with her daughter, Victora. Also PRAY for God’s direction for Gaby as she returns to Mexico in August. We hope that she returns to Rancho Oasis in the fall!

Kinder fingerpainting
2. Naomi’s kindergarten teacher, Ilsy and her five-year-old daughter Lissy, have moved into our guest/staff house the month of June & July. We offered her the room because she had been living with her mother and adult siblings and had been having some conflicts. PRAY: that Ilsy, her mother Rosa and her sister Liset will work through their differences, that Ilsy has a place to live for August and that she finishes her year at the kindergarten.

Nina Brooke w/ Tobi
Wayne the builder
3. The Ranch was recently blessed with the return of Wayne & Brooke Goranson, Marillyn’s parents. This was their first visit to Rancho Oasis since moving back to the States Christmas day 2010. We were blessed with their fellowship, gifts and hard work put in during their stay! PRAISE the Lord for the time together and PRAY for their continued work with Rancho Oasis and Intensive Care Ministries.

Fernando the student worker
 4. Fourteen-year-old Fernando has started off a little rocky in our new discipleship program. We established a contract of completing his discipleship homework and arriving on time. So far, he’s got two strikes on both accounts and will lose his opportunity to work & learn at RO4Y if he fails to complete his homework or does not show up excused.  Fernando is spiritually very insecure, dabbling in rebellion in attitude & actions with his parents and going through some family trials as his mom is pregnant and “can’t afford” the baby. PRAY that Fernando would “grow up” and learn responsibility and that he would be sure that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.

Las Estrellas - shining bright
5. The boys soccer team continues to meet every Saturday. Our most recent game was an impressive 4 – 2 victory! PRAISE the Lord! We have begun studying through the book of Philippians and the tone is primarily evangelistic. A few of the boys have started coming to our Sunday Morning services. PRAY for the salvation of the boys and that I can be a big brother / father figure to many of them who lack discipline and a dad.

Los Jovenes

 6. Continue to pray for the teens attending the RO4Y bible study. They are Tania, Kevin and Lesli. Like many teens, they are establishing themselves as individuals and ride the fence when it comes to faith. PRAY that God would reveal Himself to them beyond just being religious and that the Holy Spirit would capture their hearts!

Breisy: Joyful & Innocent
7. We recently discovered that one of the Ranch’s favorite girls has leukemia. Breisy is 12 years old. Thankfully, I was able to fully share the gospel with her. PRAY for her salvation, her understanding and healing.

Torch Missions Team
Post hole diggin
8. Plans for work with a short-term team this July didn’t work out, but PRAISE for help from some friends & leaders of Torch missions. Friend of the Ranch & missionary to Honduras, Mark Connell, oversees short-term groups that come through Honduras from June – August. He added several smaller RO4Y projects onto their team’s list and we are hopeful to get a lot done this summer. Recently a team of 12 came and installed fencing for the goats at a cost of $500! PRAISE the Lord! PRAY that more leaders through the summer would come to help Rancho Oasis.

Prepping for maiz

8. Our helper Oscar continues to be a huge blessing to the ministry. PRAY for Oscar’s safety and wisdom as he works at the Ranch. Also PRAY for Oscar and his family as they plan on watching the property for us while we are gone for two months.

Stylish Zoeva
Nyssa loving the attention
9. The mare Zoeva and her filly, recently named Nyssa (meaning – the beginning, like Genesis) are doing really well. PRAISE the Lord for His healing power & protection over our animals. PRAY for Zoeva that she continues to be a great teaching horse with the kids! We are planning on purchasing the pair this weekend!

Showing some affection
Learning to feed Zoeva
10. PRAISE the Lord for how well our “Farm Life” Sunday school experiment is going on Sunday mornings! We have a consistent number of kids come every Sunday. They participate in games related to the Bible theme, a Bible study and time learning how to care for Zoeva. PRAY that God’s word & His creation (the Ranch & its animals) would transform the lives of these 8 – 12 year-old kids! 

Laying sq ft grids
Girls planting strawberries

   11. PRAY for our square foot gardening project. We desire to bless the community with an understanding of how to inexpensively grow a variety of veggies to improve their diet and health.

Our neighbor's humble wood home
12. We have acquired new neighbors. What was once a “no man’s land” between our property and the road has been claimed by a family and they are constructing a home. Having close neighbors is not an issue, but we are concerned about the construction of a latrine and its effects on our property & crops. PRAY that God would give us an opportunity to minister to this single mom and wisdom in dealing with her family’s black water.

Red needles evidence of dammage

13. Our largest pine tree is sick with a nasty bug called the southern pine beetle. PRAY that God would heal the tree, give us wisdom in fighting the critter and keep the other pines from getting sick!


14. Our mastiff, Duke, has developed a large growth around his jowls. PRAY for healing and wisdom for us as we treat the problem.

15. If you haven’t read former RO4Y staff, JosyTarantini’s final thoughts about her time in Honduras, as well as Peru, you must check it out! PRAISE God for His transforming work in Josy’s life.
16. PRAY for Mare and I as we pursue the Lord together as a couple and for His direction over the ministry & our family. PRAISE the Lord we celebrated 8 years of marriage on June 21st

Naomi, Tobias & Tabitha
 17. PRAISE the kids, Naomi, Tabitha and Tobias are doing well; PRAY for their understanding of Jesus and salvation.

18. PRAY for our US Rancho Oasis tour this fall & the money for our air fares ($3,600) PRAY that God will increase awareness of the Ranch and our number of prayer & financial supporters.

19. Residency Update: Good news – all the documents used for our year visa CAN be transferred over for the permanent residency. This will save a lot of money with fees and time. Bad news – the $400 we paid for the year visa CAN NOT be used for the residency fee. We need to submit the application with the extra $400 before we head back to the US in August. PRAY for God’s provision of the $400 and that we will receive residency quickly (I’ve been told the process takes around a year!)

Honduran Winter Sunset - Ready for Rain
20. PRAY for the completion of the construction of our home.

21. PRAY for the importation of the bus. Also one of the bus’ front spring coil shocks broke last week. Total cost was $275. PRAY for God’s provision and the wisdom to maintain the vehicles!

22. PRAY for the family’s health. The season is changing to wet, damp and cool. Colds are pretty common.

23. PRAY for the funds for the purchase of the property: $18,500 and the completion of the purchase agreement.

24. PRAY for yourselves, the members of our support team. That God would bless your life & ministry!

Trust in the LORD and do good;
   dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.  Psalm 37:3