Thursday, March 4, 2010

We're back...part 1

Well, here I sit at home with the flu and a walking cast on my foot. I can't say that it is exactly what I would prefer to be doing, but I am and that means I have time to post about our trip to Nicaragua!!!
First of all, what a trip. There wasn't one part of it that didn't challenge Alfred and I to be relying on the Lord...which is where He wants us to be. As we embarked we didn't know much about our accommodations or the itinerary, but every day was full of God's provisioning and we gained a perspective that has certainly changed us.
The flight down was great as we met our group along the way. In the end there were 14 of us...leaders from 2 churches/church groups, several people already involved in WO (World Orphans) and a guy from Virginia Beach directly connected with the indigenous church...he was our chofer (in spanish)/chauffeur, not our translator (that's funny if you were on the trip with us), and a source of comic relief the entire week.
Anyway, the church in Nicaragua is called Verbo...there are actually 14 churches under the same name around Nicaragua and more around Central America. We stayed at an orphanage run by Verbo which had recently built a complex meant to house groups like ours. The complex also had a boys' orphan house and a girls' orphan house as well as a school and a massive green house. I will tell you more about the orphanages in a minute. We were fed extremely well every morning and night by women who lived and worked at the orphanage. I guess this is an appropriate time for a disclaimer...when most people think of missions trips building houses or manual labor of some sort and time with children comes to mind...we did exert some energy and played with a lot of kids, but our main goal was to get a vision of what God may have us involved in in the future. I say that because we weren't challenged by staying in tents and eating cold oatmeal for breakfast. It was a comfortable trip in terms of accommodations, but certainly not comfortable for the heart as we saw all of the unmet needs in Nicaragua.
The first day we took a trip to the city dump called La Chureca. It is basically the worst of the worst in a third world some ways. Let me explain. Families have found their livelihood in the trash piles...building their homes out of the rubble and finding food and clothes from the same. While thousands live in the dump thousands more come to work in it every day, loading up recyclables to sell to other countries because Nicaragua does not recycle. I was very much anticipating this trip because I had been well aware of what is going on in La Chureca through an acquaintance/friend who has planted himself in the midst of these people doing God's work to show them the love of the Father ( I knew it wouldn't be easy to see the hardship and difficulty there, but I know God is already doing much work in the hearts of those people through His willing servants.
After getting lost on our way there we finally entered the gates of the dump. There were burning piles of trash, cows used as squatters by someone who claims...against the governments word...that this is his property, and workers sifting through the piles. Mounds of trash rose up in the distance. We quickly turned onto a little road that led us to a school where a feeding program was being held. We learned through an American missionary (who had lived in Central America her whole life) about the program and its efforts to feed the children most likely the only meal they received each day. We played with the kids and took a walk through the dump to get more of a perspective of what this life is really like for these people. Little kids ran by, many without shoes and pants. Stray dogs and chickens roamed around. At the top of the hill we had climbed was a view of the reality of this place. A mini lake full of trash and the craziest green colored water you have ever seen was below us and just after that the mounds of trash rose. I looked across and could hardly make out through the smoke two men in a make-shift wagon pulled by an emaciated horse probably working to find something of worth in the trash. It was hard for me to process what I saw. I didn't get to stop and ponder the way my heart wanted to because I was trying to capture it all on camera. I didn't want to be the American who came in, took some pictures, felt bad for these people and left. I wanted to talk with God about what His purpose is for this kind of situation. I wanted to be changed, but I realized that I didn't have to limit the opportunity for change in my heart to just the time spent standing on a mountain of trash. I think He enable me to do that throughout the week and as I look back on pictures I can spend time reflecting on God's heart. Needless to say He has given me a perspective and a desire that I have never had before.
Dozens of pictures later we left La Chureca and headed to the Verbo church where we met Bob, an American who has been there for 30 years and raised his family in Nicaragua through all the civial unrest, the revolution, and multiple natural disasters. We were able to talk with him and learn of some of the ways we could serve the Nicaraguan people. He and his wife are incredible and we spent more time with him on a trip we took at the end of the week.
For time sake I will combine the events of the next few days...We spent time at Nueva Vida (new life), a refugee camp for people displaced by the volcano, Mambichu, when it erupted and destroyed thousands of homes. The camp went from plastic and cardboard houses to cinder block and cement homes and now has several schools and feeding programs for the children. We met and played with a bunch of kids here and tried to express God's love to them despite our language barrier.  Aside from ministering to these children a large part of our trip to Nueva Vida was to learn about one man's vision to create a micro-business that would support him and his family and would be an example to those in Nueva Vida. He knew he could teach them that if they asserted themselves they could make a living too. His business? A bakery. This man has set up a bakery in an open-air warehouse type building making bread, sweet bread, and donuts that he or his apprentice takes into Managua (about 40 miles one way) every day by bike or motorcylce. He chose to make his bakery out in Nueva Vida because he knew the Lord wanted him to be an example for the people of that village. The Verbo and World Orphans guys wanted us to see this bakery to give us an idea of how we could help families and orphanages implement this micro-business to make a way to get out of poverty. We will hopefully be able to use this in an orphanage that is going to be set up in Nueva Guinea (more about that to come). Next we spent time at a farm in the mountains where we saw how a self sustaining farm works and how it could either be a micro-business or simply meet the needs of a single family. There is so much to tell about this farm, but the basic idea is that every element of the farm enables another part of the farm to run. The main part of the sustainability aspect is to put everything God has on the earth to use. Use the trees for protection, food for the animals, firewood, etc. They set up their gardens in old tires propped up above the ground so the rain won't wash them away. They use the animals and their byproducts for everything they have to offer. The animals can be used for food (eggs, milk, meat) and their waste for fertilizer and even methane gas to run household appliances. It was such a beautiful picture of what God intended for the earth and how we should use it. Nothing went to waste and everything was seen as God's gift to be used for our benefit. We are hoping to implement this at the new orphanage and be able to teach families how to live off the land they have.
Well, this is super long so I think I am going to have to post again to finish up the rest of stories of the trip. Thanks for reading through it all. I haven't even posted about what God has taught me about Himself and His people, but I'll get to's the most important part of serving Him!
But of course, I have to post pictures to keep you interested :)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Central America

We are getting ready to embark on our newest adventure and our first mission trip as a married couple. We are leaving for Managua, Nicaragua in a week from tomorrow. We are going down with an organization called World Orphans ( The team is being led by Jesse Blaine and his wife Sarah. We will be accompanying them as they introduce two churches from the states with an indigenous church which also supports a local orphanage. The orphanage also needs some help in building it up to get it into maintainable working order.
Alfred will be helping with any sort of construction that will need to be done whether it be planning for it in the future or heading it up while we are there depending on what we find the need is when we get there. He will kind of be Jesse's right hand man helping with details as we go. Bailey will be the team photographer, getting pictures for the churches who are sending their leaders down. These churches will stay connected to the church in Managua and be the state-side support so they will want pictures of the location and the people they will be supporting. Again we are keeping our expectations at a minimum and our flexibility at a maximum so we can be prepared for anything that comes along! These are just the "jobs" we are aware of as of now!
We are so excited about this and are in prayer that God will be changing our hearts and working through us to further His kingdom and reach those He loves. There are a lot of unknowns as we go down there, but the one the we do KNOW is that God is in control and if we are putting ourselves aside He will be able to lead us in what He has for us. As soon as we start to run the show things go down hill so please pray with us that we will constantly be putting ourselves aside so we can be aware of God's hand. We don't know anyone that we are going down with except Jesse and Sarah so pray that God is already creating a bond amongst all of us.
We are also needing some assistance with the funds for this trip as sending two people is not inexpensive, but totally worth it. The total cost of the trip for the two of us is $2600 covering our airfare, food and lodging. We are also taking down some toys such as baseball gloves and balls and anything that we know the children would enjoy. If you feel led to give you can contact us at or leave a comment here and we can instruct you on how to give.
Thanks so much for the prayers and support and I will post with pictures ASAP.
This is a list of prayer requests if you would be willing to lift them up for us...

Team Unity and flexibility - We are headed to a third world country where plans can change at the last minute.  Pray that our team will remain flexible and united in Christ, so that we may always be reflecting Christ while we are there.  
Guidance -  That we would be sensitive to the Spirit on decisions made on this trip and in the greater context of Orphan Ministry, Community Development, and Church Planting/Growth.  We would recognize the source and continual need for God's blessing in the midst of these projects.  That we would not only be touched emotionally, but moved to long-term faith-based action. 
Sense of Joy and Celebration -  God is doing some great things in Nicaragua and around the world.  Pray that we would catch a sense of the joy it is to be apart of how God uses us to further His purposes and Kingdom at home and abroad.
Haiti - For the devastating situation that exists in Haiti today.  That God would show his mercy on those in need. 
Church - For the local churches involved in this trip in Nicaragua, Delaware, and Missouri.  That these churches will have a renewed sense of God's calling on them as corporate bodies.  And that the church has unity in spirit and purpose.   

Thursday, January 21, 2010

a new year

well, it's 2010 and the first do you say it? do you say twenty ten or two thousand ten or just ten? Alfred and i have been thinking about how crazy it will be for generations that are born in the 80s (the 2080s that is) (we were born in the 1980s) to think of us as born in the previous century because we do the same thing when we think about those born in the late 1800s early 1900s. Alfred's great grandmother just passed away, she was an incredible woman and showed it to the very her 102nd year of life. SHE was born in the early 1900s. i don't really know why i shared that, other than to say...i hope we can all grasp and appreciate the days we live in. things may seem out of whack with wars and earthquakes, but Grammy...she lived through some crazy stuff too...the Great Depression, both World Wars, Vietnam, the Kennedy name it. living through those things and overcoming them made her the woman she was and we can do the same thing too by letting events and circumstances shape us for the better as God mold us through them.
so our Christ-mas was wonderful. it was the first time i had been away from my family and that was a pretty big deal to me. but being with Alfred was wonderful! we had our own little Christ-mas morning together in our own little house with our own little tree.

of course we had to do some decorations. i think it will be an official tradition to make a wreath and whatever else we can together. we got hollies and winter berries from the farm. it was the first time i got to make Christ-mas decorations with real berries!

(for some reason we don't have a picture of Alfred's wreath, but it was incredible and he's really good at it :)
our first Christ-mas pictures (yes there was actually snow the week before Christ-mas so we still had some on the ground! felt a little bit like home seeing as we had more snow than Jackson)...

and yes...we used Alfred's wool socks for our stockings because even with the best of intentions i didn't have time to make them...

i gave Alfred some camping gear (some of which he plans to return to buy boating/wakeboarding stuff :) and he promised me a bench. yes, a bench. we have one couch in our little house and ZERO storage space for our everyday things so he promised to make me a bench. that promise materialized last weekend into this...

and i am thrilled beyond words! we found one green basket at Target and asked for three more...the guy came back with one green one and two polka dotted ones! so that's what we went home with and now i have a place to put things!!!! isn't it beautiful? Alfred is very talented with building things.
back to Christ-mas, Alfred's parents came over for a few hours that morning. we opened presents and i presented my first Poteca. Poteca is a Slovenian bread that Cathy's mother always made for Christ-mas morning. the tradition has carried on down through to the grandkids and i have known of it through Alfred's cousins, the Forbes girls. so i had a lot to live up to! Alfred, Gerry and Cathy were generous in giving me an A, although i cheated because Alfred did most of the work! we made it Christ-mas eve and then put the icing on in the morning...mmmm....

after our own little Christ-mas and time with Gerry and Cathy we went to our sister-in-laws grandparent's house for a nice dinner and some friendly competition on the wii. i beat everyone in skiing, but they were pretty darn good :)
then there was new year's eve. we spent the evening and stayed the night at our friends' Megh and Ryan with Jess and Benson. that was a blast with good food and games and was not complete without a really awesome nerf gun war. (no pictures of that, sorry)

other exciting things over the holidays included gingerbread house decorating competition (my friend Jenna and spent ALL day making the houses with 5 batches of dough) and we don't have any pictures of any of the other houses, but they were pretty stinkin good!

and the inside...we went all out...

like i mentioned before we had snow before Christ-mas...a lot of snow for out here. 20 inches. so we played...

and some redneck action....

what do you mean by redneck?...

Gerry pulled them behind the tractor too...

the snow made for a beautiful setting. Gerry used some of these pictures to advertise his hollies.

we even went out at 11:00 to get another chance to play in the snow...

we had left for the weekend when we heard the storm was coming because we live way back where the plow wouldn't come for days (these east coasters...they are nuts and cannot handle snow)(in fact we stopped by the grocery store...i had never seen in my life milk sold out like that...they buy milk, bread and toilet paper when storms come through) and because if we lost power we would freeze. the chances of that happening were mighty high seeing as the information we received from our neighbor was that last year they lost power at least once a month. when we got back this is what we saw...

and it made for a very pretty view on the water...

we also went read it right...snowboarding. a first for me (the mountains aren't so impressive out here...i thought i might not ever get on the snow out here, but i did). Alfred on the other hand is really good even though he has only gone a few times. i was totally impressed. we went with Jess and Benson...who were both quite good too!

and then Alfred took me out...