Thursday, May 1, 2008

Hello from Nicaragua!

May 1, 2008
Dear Family and Friends,

I want to start tonight by sharing a way that God spoke so lovingly to our family this week and how He moved to help us all to feel at peace about our being apart from one another this week.

Each week at school, Rebekah is assigned a Bible verse to memorize. This week her verse just “happened” to be Joshua 1:9 – “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go!” We talked through the week about how tender God’s heart is toward us that He would give us this verse to memorize this particular week.

This morning before we left, we gave the kids a card and in it was a necklace that each member of our family received months ago during a family celebration (We celebrated that we had read through the Bible my Grandma gave us which took us close to a year. She had read this same Bible to my Mom and Uncles and Aunt when they were children.) The charm on the necklace is in the shape of a shield and on the back are the words of Joshua 1:9 – “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go!” We talked on the way to the airport about how God is always with us no matter what happens this week with them, with us, with the world. We don’t put our faith in what happens or doesn’t happen. We put our faith in the One who is with us through whatever happens. Before saying good-bye, we put our shields of faith together, said the verse together, and then put on our necklaces. Our prayer for them and for us is that we would trust this promise this week. It is a teachable moment for all of us.

I am writing this at 9:30 pm here in Managua, Nicaragua. We are at the guest apartment (bedroom, bathroom, and sitting room) where we will be staying this week. It is located on the school property and there is 24 hour security, a tall wall around the campus, we’ve gone through two locked gates to get here, and it seems we have our own personal guard. We just went out to get water from the water dispenser which is located outside of our apartment and the Nicaraguan man who let us in through the gate came out to check on us. I think we are quite secure.

We have already experienced a few things on our trip. One of our prayers was for divine appointments on airplanes. Dan wore a shirt today with Village Christian on it which is the school his sister teaches at in CA. A man on our flight to Chicago said to us that this was the school he graduated from in 1984. After the flight, we talked more with him and found out that he is a Dordt College grad (went to Calvin one year); his father pastored a Spainsh church in LA which is affiliated with Dan’s sister’s church; he is the Vice President of the Bible League: Latin American Ministries; and he was traveling to a missions conference with a man who had just been doing mission work in Nicaragua and a Nicaraguan man, Gary, who is a professor of cross-cultural studies at Kuyper College in Grand Rapids. For those of you who are unfamiliar with our history, Dan and I graduated from Calvin College and lived in Grand Rapids for 12 years, so all of these connections were quite remarkable. John Wagenveld is his name and he also is good friends with Joel Huyser who is the director of CRC World Missions in Nicaragua. We were all kind of blown away by all of these connections. He gave us his card as did the Nicaraguan man from Kuyper college, so we will see what God does with this connection. We also talked with a woman on our last flight who’s boyfriend lives in Nicaragua and she was very pleasant and helpful to us when it came to what to expect at the airport and in Managua.

Liam and Jessica, the director of NCA and his wife, met us at the airport and drove us through Managua to get to the school. The woman on the airplane warned us that driving in Managua is a little wild and she was right. Liam pointed out a motorcade and said that Daniel Ortega, the president of Nicaragua was in the middle car. We also passed the US Embassy, the grocery store where they shop, and the road leading to the Spanish campus. We stopped for gas and a little boy came to the car to beg for food and money. Dan and I talked later about how this will be one of the things that will be very difficult for us, as Liam and Jessica told us that children are often used by their parents to beg for money and then the money is used for alcohol or drugs. It is very hot – 95 degrees with no air conditioning. (I know, you feel sorry for us in Iowa, Ohio, and Michigan where we struggle to hit 60 degrees lately!)

Well, I should get to bed as I leave early tomorrow for the Women’s conference. Do not expect any more updates until maybe Sunday or Monday. We do not have internet at the apartment, but Dan will bring our laptop to the school at some point this weekend to send this message. Some of you also will not receive our prayer list until today either because my computer shut down in the middle of sending those emails out last night at midnight – at which point I didn’t have the energy to restart everything. I had hoped to send it from the airport, but could not get that to work either.

Thank you so much for your prayers today for safe travel! We did have one flight where the plane seemed to shut off as we were backing out and the pilot said that the auxiliary engine was having difficulty. I’m thinking, “OK, so let’s get on another plane!” And then a few minutes later we take off for the runway! So, thank you for your prayers! It is a comfort to know that we are supported in this way!

Dan and Lisa