Sunday, October 7, 2018

September '18 Review: FULL CIRCLE



10,000+ ft elevation quiet time!!!

It is fascinating how God speaks to us.

Our church’s men’s group held a Friday thru Saturday retreat at Bear Trap Ranch, a small church camp located at ~9,000 ft above sea level an hour from our home in Colorado Springs.

This wasn’t my first time to this camp.

Can you find Jonny Mountain Man??? Bear Trap Ranch Summer Staff circa 1997

 21 years ago, after my sophomore year of college, I participated in an intensive discipleship program through Inter Varsity Christian Fellowship. Roughly half of our summer was focused on being counselors for “Family Camps” where we held VBS-like camps for the children/teens and the other half was spent learning evangelism, Inductive Bible Study techniques and a variety of other Christian leadership “tools”. 

Needless to say it was a very pivotal time of spiritual growth as I have since been involved in Christian leadership on campus, in the local church and on the mission field! I hold many fond memories of Bear Trap and never expected to return…

I arrived a day early for the retreat in order to spend some time alone with the Lord and to see if I could remember some of my experiences at BTR! This was a wonderful opportunity for me as our family has been walking through points of restoration and healing since our return to the United States.

As I hiked some of the old Bear Trap trails, I didn’t receive any neon signs or visions from the Lord, but a simple heart-spoken word that said “You are loved” and “enjoy My creation around you.”

Re-creation Hike!

It was a refreshing time, yet God wasn’t done speaking.

The next morning, during a study of Proverbs 2 & 3 that elevated Christ as the wisdom that all men seek and seek to become, God spoke profoundly to me.

We were asked to consider three questions as we studied Proverbs:
1) Who am I?
2) Who do I wish to be or become?
3) Am I willing to do what it takes to get there?

21 years ago life was a lot simpler. I was a student and a son – and my heart was to be more like Jesus! A LOT has happened since that camp experience. I became an employee, a husband, a father, a pastor and a missionary… and all the various roles that those “titles” include.

Though my desire has consistently been to become more like Christ, in that moment I realized that my aim had gone off target. With the accumulation of all these additional roles over the last 21 years, I’ve focused on the “titles” and NOT my identity. So, my well-intended focus on being a good father, husband, missionary, etc unintentionally caused me to lose sight of my one true goal and purpose: to be a child of God.

As Matthew 6:33 states, once I get my eye’s on Jesus & His kingdom all the other things will come into focus.



Life in ministry and on the mission field can leave you pretty beat up and focused on what you’re not and what you lack. This has led to some deep internal & mental battles over the last few years (aka “burn out”). What a relief to be reminded of the simple truth that my aim is to grow as a child of God (my identity) & He will bring the growth/change in those other areas of life.

I miss “home” deeply and the unfulfilled vision of Rancho Oasis for Youth still lingers, but I love our new church family and where God has placed us for this season of healing!

It is good to “Be still” and know that He is God!


Please continue to PRAY for us:

Back in the saddle with Rosie!

  • Marillyn & Naomi will be attending a women’s retreat in October. Please pray that God will minister as much to them as He did to me.


Naomi Shalom: 12 years complete and counting!!!




Tabitha Charis @ 10 years!!!

  • Continued victory in counseling over some of the emotional, spiritual & psychological strongholds that we wrestle


Recent painting job I finished... praying about more work in this area!

  • Wisdom & discernment for our future source of income & areas of service
  • Though approved initially Marillyn is still waiting for the “go ahead” from Miracle Ear for a new hearing aid. (She needs a new one desperately!)



Touchdown Tobi!




Tabniss Everdeen.

A R C H E R Y  It’s so amazing watching her as she gets into position, raises her bow, and mentally quiets herself before letting that arrow fly. Her mind tends to fly all over the place when she quiets herself, but archery is teaching her to discipline and control that better. Her coach is truly a God-send and exactly the kind of coach she needs to be affirmed, challenged, and bettered as a person and as an archer 
Never thought one of my kids would try archery and get so hooked into it. That’s exactly what Tabi did and she’s a natural! This is perfect sport for her and she’s already talking about qualifying for the Jr. Olympic team 
We’ve been praying for each of our kids to find their sport/activity that will help them in a fun, therapeutic way. For years horse back riding was extremely therapeutic for me and I wanted that for each of my kids as they slowly transition to living in the US of A. So far, all the kids have found their place and doing so good... especially Tabi. She struggled the most in finding a sport that clicked with her. She tried a few different things before announcing, out of the blue (really), that she wanted to try archery. Honestly, it never crossed our minds to consider archery, but we signed her up for a few lessons and she was hooked from the very first lesson! If you look closely on her arm... you will see a henna tattoo done of the mocking jay symbol from Katniss of Hunger Games. Tabi hopes to shoot just as good as her.

-Marillyn


So grateful to keep some of our most prized possessions from life in Honduras!!!

  • PRAISE for the arrival of our Honduran shipment; Prayer for the courage to unpack it all!

  • For Marillyn’s Young Living side-business
(Contact Marillyn @ marillynbeard@gmail.com for more info on natural products & essential oils.)


Christmas Tree Anyone???


  • Trade School Jewelry Sales!!! 

(Write Marillyn at aguasverdes.hn@gmail.com to PRE-ORDER your Christmas Trees TODAY!!!)

  • PRAISE for a good start to homeschooling! (Mare is focusing on Naomi & Tabitha, I am with Tobias and Poema is with Brooke!)


Late Summer Fun!!!

  •  PRAISE for settling in well to our “nueva vida” Stateside!


  • A buyer for our donated 2005 mini-van & a four-door truck with comparable price and good mileage!


  • A Christian individual/family/ministry to purchase our 17 acre property in Honduras.

  • Grace & Peace as we share a home with Marillyn's parent's, Wayne & Brooke Goranson; PRAISE for the harmony we share!!!






S P A C E \\ this girl... no fence will stop her from exploring. In Honduras, she lived her whole life exploring open pastures and mountains with her siblings with the nearest neighbor being a good distance away. It’s strange to walk out to our backyard and have such a small space... to be “contained” within a fence and see 4 houses surrounding us. It sometimes feels slightly claustrophobic. We prefer the wide open spaces or at least to have more space between houses, but we are blessed to have this house with its small backyard... It’s home. It’s our safe haven. It’s perfect for what we need during this season of life for our family.

-Marillyn


Labor Day Lift Off - 2018 - Colorado Springs

AS ALWAYS, THANK YOU FOR YOUR CONTINUED SUPPORT, PRAYERS AND WORDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT!!!

Sunday, September 9, 2018

August '18 Review: ADJUSTMENTS & EXPLORATION

Life on the front range!

Most days are better than others here in the Springs.

This new start has so much excitement and potential, yet there is still the pain from the loss of our life & ministry in Honduras!

11 Mile State Park Church Campout

For example, one day I was camping at 8,500 ft above sea level with my “warrior-children” and the next day I was in bed sobbing like a baby with homesickness!


Read this article from a favorite, “unfiltered” missionary blog. It captures a lot of what we and many “returning home” missionaries experience!


Pulpit Rock Family Hike

Most of our time is now spent exploring this new thing called “Life in America.” We are making friends at the local church and getting involved with a variety of activities for the children!


Being the Church @ Calvary Chapel True North

We are also investing a lot of time in counseling! Everyone, but Mathias is meeting regularly with a counselor to build up our identity in Christ. It is an exciting and humbling experience!

Thousands of Bubbles
Prepping to take a ministry profile test to help know our strengths & weaknesses from a professional Christian counselor.

Continue to pray for our healing & restoration… there is no short-cut to healing, but the path is clear: John 14:6!

HUGE PRAISE!!! We received all of the $4,000 within 24 hours of sharing our need for the family ministry re-entry retreat! We are signed up to attend the March 2019 program. (PRAY that the door will open to attend an earlier retreat as we were put on waiting lists for the remainder of 2018. Marillyn & I are exploring another option for just us through a ministry in Denver called Quiet Waters).


PRAYER REQUESTS:

The Ranch in Ojojona.
Selling of our 17+ acre property in Honduras
(We desire to sell to a ministry.)

Protection over caretaker and his family

Breakthrough & growth in our counseling sessions

Patience & direction as we seek our “next assignment” – work and / or ministry! (Jon is gradually helping with worship in the local church and will also be one of four teachers at an upcoming men’s retreat this month.)

True repentance for Oscar as he awaits his trial.

Making new molds for Marillyn's hearing aid at Miracle Ear.

PRAISE for the Miracle Ear Foundation accepting Marillyn’s application for a new hearing aid; PRAY that it is strong enough for her level of hearing loss!


Exploring Colorado Springs.

PRAISE for the new opportunities the kids have; PRAY that they excel and use their gifts to glorify God!


Our "treasures" awaiting shipment in a warehouse in San Pedro Sula, Honduras.

PRAISE: our crate of Honduran possessions has arrived Stateside & cleared customs; PRAY it arrives safely & in-tact!


Too Many Choices!!!
Even the simplest errands like grocery shopping are a bit overwhelming here!!!

PRAY for blessing as Marillyn tries to increase her Young Living side-business

"It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!"

PRAY for sales of the remaining trade school jewelry and Christmas trees!!! (Contact Marillyn @ aguasverdes.hn@gmail.com for a pre-order.)


CUIDADO: Little Lady in Large Truck!!!

PRAISE for Marillyn’s ability to connect with several home schooling families; PRAY for the Beard’s homeschooling to start with much grace 


A taste of "home" in this new land!

PRAY for our family routine to get established… everything feels so foreign!


I leave you now with a song that has become an anthem of sorts for the Beard family! We love to blast it from the Suburban! (Thanks, Diane for sharing it with me during this tough season of life!)


I believe You are the Way, the Truth, the Life 

I believe through every battle
 through every heartbreak
 through every circumstance
 I believe You are my fortress
 You are my portion
 You are my hiding place 

I believe through every blessing
 through every promise
 through every breathe I take 
 I believe You are provider
 You are protector
 You are the One I love 

It’s a new horizon and I’m set on You
and You meet me here today with mercies that are new
 All my fears and doubts they can all come too
 Because they can’t stay long when I’m here with You

I believe You are the Way, the Truth, the Life

May we continue to draw closer to the Father through Jesus! 

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

Blessed by technology's ability to keep us in touch with friends in Honduras!

We would love to hear from you! 

Please email me & ask for our phone numbers
 or new home address!

The land of comfort & convenience...
Gotta love 'Merica!!!


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!