Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Newsito: School Break Discipleship

VBS with the Short-term Team from Belize November 2011
Since our return to Honduras, October 18th 2011 our focus has been discipleship.

We are not satisfied with simply teaching biblical truths during our activities, but our desire is to purposefully plant ourselves into the lives of the kids we minister to in order to model and counsel the Word of God into the daily decisions and struggles.

As soon as the Honduran public schools closed their doors mid-November for school break, Rancho Oasis’ gates were open Monday through Saturday with a purpose to “get more involved” in the lives of the kids we minister too.

Youth Putting Up w/ Jon Photos
Monday afternoons the teens and I have been studying through the New Testament. My desire in doing a New Testament Survey is to peak the interest of the teens in the Word of God and draw them into more personal study. So far, we have looked at four aspects of the book of Matthew: Old Testament prophecy quoted in Matthew, references and discussion of the Kingdom of Heaven/God, the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew chapter 1 and nine significant events and/or sermons in the book.

It has been exciting to see the teens get genuinely excited about digging into the Word. Of course, playing UNO is also a blast! Please pray for Arturo, Kevin, Lesley, Maria, Yanitza, Elam, Chilo, Eyli (not pictured), Tania (not pictured), and José (not pictured).

Learning Chords
Since the inception of Rancho Oasis nearly two years ago, Tuesday afternoons has been guitar class. The guitars have provided an awesome tool to cultivate the talents of the local youth, as well as introduce an understanding of worship found in scripture. Before our furlough in the States last fall, each Tuesday was filled with reflections on the Psalms. We are currently studying through other songs found in the Old Testament. So far we read two songs from Moses found in Exodus 15 and Deuteronomy 32.

Rock On, Colin!
During this season of guitar class we’ve also been able to introduce the licks and riffs of our most recent intern, Colin Averill. (Read his reflections about life at Rancho Oasis here.) I have taken the beginning guitar players and Colin has been teaching the advanced class. With recent donations, we have also been able to purchase three new ¾ guitars (kid friendly) as the ultimate prize in an incentive program to foster the students practicing at home and attendance. There is a great cloud of apathy that hangs over many of the youth in Honduras and we are hopeful that this program will help these kids capture a passion to worship Jesus and give the drive to serve Him.

Please pray for the boys and girls involved: Joel, Elam, Yemer, Aldo, Leandro (not pictured), Gerson (not pictured), Nexser (not pictured), Cesar (not pictured) and Karen Lisette (not pictured).

Inaugural Pre-game Photo
Wednesdays & Saturdays at Rancho Oasis have been dedicated to the physical and spiritual development of the youth of Ojojona through the medium of soccer (aka real football)! As I said many times during our Fall Furlough, I never knew how amazing a vehicle sports could be to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the nations. The team Philippians F.C (Filipenses F.C. in Spanish) has joined a local youth traveling league, ages 8-13, with seven other soccer teams in the surrounding communities of Ojojona. Though we are currently ranked second to last in the standings, there have been many victories won off of the field.

Pre-game Prayer
During our weekly training in Ojojona, Oscar and I have been teaching through the book of Philippians. What an amazing book to exhort the boys to play with humility, look out for one another, forget about past mistakes and press on to not only strive to win games, but to be more like Jesus!

Stretching the Funny Bone
Since the majority of the boys on the team do not participate in other Ranch activities this has created a very evangelistic atmosphere, peppered with large doses of “tough love.” This form of discipline and discipleship doesn’t always settle with the boys and some have even walked away from the team (even some of the better players). Yet, there is always the faithful remnant of twenty or so boys that come week after week and grow in futbol stature and spiritual strength.

Lunch Evangelism
While the boys are not in school, we have been having a group of five to seven of them come to the Ranch for lunch and more in-depth Bible study using the New Life in Christ curriculum. It has been a great way to get the boys into the Word and into a caring environment (many boys are not the best academically, so reading aloud is a huge embarrassment. But, while at the Ranch, I don’t allow their teammates to tease them during the Bible study – unlike their classmates in school.)

Jesus: Author of Life Study
There are currently 39 players on our roster! (That is enough for three teams, plus six subs!) Some have only practiced once while others are regulars. Please keep these boys in prayer: Aldo, Alex Mauricio, Alvaro, Brayan, Cesar, Cristian,  Daniel Jose Jose (Ato), Danis Adonai, Danny Michel, Douglas, Elam, Eric, Fernando Joel (Chino), Gerson, Ismael, Jairo, Jennselh, Jerson Josue, Jose Anael, Jose Antonio, Jose Daniel (Chanel), Jose Francisco (Chilo), Jose Manuel, Joshua Gabriel, Josman Josue (Jota), Junior Antonio A., Junior Antonio S., Kelvin Gustavo (Pepe), Kevin Mauricio, Kevin Yonatan, Leandro, Marvin Josue, Melvin Geovany, Nelson Omar (Machi), Nexser, Nixon, Oscar Orlando, Ricardo Jose (Gato), Wilmer Roberto.

Antonio leading Brayan & Zoeva
Thursday mornings have allowed us to introduce a new group of kids to Rancho Oasis. Missionary friends of ours have a children’s home (a.k.a. orphanage) called Casa de Esperanza in Santa Ana, the town next to Ojojona.

We have been blessed to get to know two young men and two young women through horsemanship and riding classes, as well as Bible studies using the New Life in Christ Curriculum.

Casa de Esperanza Kids
This has been an extra blessing to us because Marillyn has been able to extend her ministry reach out side of the home n’ kitchen to the kids from Casa de Esperanza. Their names are Brayan, Antonio, Ana and Rosi. They have been extra special for many reasons: they speak “street” English as a result of missions teams going through the children’s home and Rosi (in the pink windbreaker) is the first deaf student that we have worked with at the Ranch.

Bathing Zoeva
The kids have shown a lot of maturity and are growing in their faith (the three hearing kids recently accepted Christ at the children’s home). Colin and I have also been able to get to know the boys as the newest members of the soccer team!

Friday Children's Church (Can you find Colin?)
Yalbana & her cousin, Elena
During the school break, we switched our family free day from Fridays to Sundays and have moved Sunday school to become children’s church on Fridays. (This gives my family a true day off!) This outreach generally reaches the younger group of kids in the community 7 – 10 years old, but includes up to the early teens. The time is rich with games, worship (enhanced by the video projector) and Bible study through the life of Jesus.

Studying the Life of Jesus
We’ve been blessed to receive extra help on particular Sundays from missionary friends from Tegus or even neighbors in El Circulo. However, Fridays would be nearly impossible without the assistance of Colin our intern! (Plus, it is a lot of fun to push Colin out of his comfort zone with kids and Spanish!)

Mare and the Yellow-haired Monkeys
Finally, I want to highlight some other events that happened in November and December:

Sharing Scripture B4 the Film.
Having a new video projector has not only allowed us to enhance worship and children’s ministry, but we’ve also opened the church to the community to watch Christian films. Just another way to present the gospel!

Kinder Diploma

Naomi “graduated” from the local kindergarten. She has continued her education at home with Marillyn and a home school curriculum.

Francisco (Chilo) y su padrino
Many of the kids in the ministry graduated elementary school this last November. One of the fatherless boys on the soccer team invited me to present him during the graduation ceremony as his “padrino” or god-parent. Jose Francisco or Chilo, his single mom Fatima and his two other brothers (Elam and Joel) need Jesus more than most of the families that we work with at Rancho Oasis.

Tobi's New Hobby - Sitting in Boxes
Tobias Dayne Beard completed his first year of life on December 14th, 2011. ¡Feliz Cumpleaños, Tobi!

French Toast Sunday
At the end of October, Mare was able to attend a missionary woman's conference in Tegus free of charge. She was really blessed with many new friendships and I survived the weekend as "Mr. Mom".

Belizeans and the crew of kids
We hosted a small team of Belizean students and North American missionaries from a Belizean based ministry called Camp Machaca. The group of seven roughed it for the week and focused on helping Oscar with his home’s remodel, putting a weather proof finish on the wood doors and windows of the chapel building and a simple VBS with the children. This was a great challenge for them because the work was very physical and English is the spoken language in Belize; therefore, actions spoke louder than words for the week. (And I got into my first translating gig!) The team was a blessing to host and we look forward to future projects with them!

Brushing on Wood Sealer
Mildew Removal Crew
Jump-the-Bucket VBS Game
Adobe Brink Crew
Prepping Mud & Pine Needle Mix
Moving Mix to Wood Mold
Removing Mold
Drying Mud Bricks

Naomi & Wayne Flying a Kite
We were also surprised by the visit of Marillyn’s parents, Wayne and Brooke Goranson. They were the extra help we needed during the stay of the Belize team and offered great counsel while we began to renegotiate the purchase price of the property with the owners.

Concerning the property, we are still working with the owners to determine a price. We’ve sent them a contract to rent the property on a monthly basis and terms for determining the price, but mostly due to the holidays, have not heard back. So, we continue to wait and pray for their response and the Lord’s direction.

We will continue on the current “school break” schedule through mid-February. Please, keep the daily activities, kids, and staff in your prayers.

Thanks, for your patience on getting this post out. Two months is too long to wait! So, I plan on putting up a post soon from our most recent short-term missions team we hosted over the holidays! (This post will includes details of the food baskets!)

God bless you all! 2012 is going to be an exciting year!

Southern View of Honduran Mountains