Friday, January 2, 2009

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Dear Family and Friends,

We hope you had a great Christmas! God facilitated for us a very busy and a very fun Christmas. I was telling my family that He knew it was important for us to be busy as those days just before, on, and after Christmas could have been so much more difficult for us if we had nothing to do and no one to be with. However, the missionary community here has loved us well through our first Christmas away from family and friends. We have decided to share our holiday highlights with you with pictures that are posted on our blog. So, you can visit our blog at to view the pictures. Below is our Christmas letter that summarizes our first couple of months in Nicaragua.

Thank you again for reading our updates and following this story. There is such joy in our journey as we share it with you!

Peace to you,
The Van Zoests

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Christmas greetings from Nicaragua! Though we are writing our letter from a different part of the world this year, our goal is still the same – to let you know that you are in our thoughts this Christmas and to share with you about how God has been at work in our lives. We look forward to hearing from you as we know that everyone has a story to tell and a journey to share.

Our introduction to Nicaragua was an exciting one. We arrived in Nicaragua on Oct. 29 and on Nov. 9, mayoral elections were held. The election was disputed due to suspicion that the votes were not properly counted. This led to demonstrations and rioting that continued off and on for two weeks. The rioting has stopped now, but tension between political parties continues. The U.S. has responded by cutting off 65 million dollars of aid to Nicaragua. The impact that these events will have on Nicaragua and Nicaragua Christian Academy is unknown at this time. The mission of Nicaragua Christian Academy has never been more critical. Your prayers for continued religious freedom and for openness to Christian education in this country are appreciated.

Our family is adjusting daily. Dan has been picking up more responsibilities at the school from week to week. He has been communicating with alumni to determine the effectiveness of their education and also to determine what the students are doing after graduation. Dan has found that several graduates are involved in ministries serving Nicaragua. He will soon be meeting with the director of a non-religious private American School which will open up opportunities to learn as he develops a relationship with this school. Dan has also participated in a meeting with the Board of Directors which involved planning for future development of the school. Dan has also been working with the Child Sponsorship program for the Najapa campus which involved a mailing and effort to develop relationships with sponsors.

Both of the kids are adjusting, each at their own pace. Rebekah has been fun to watch on the playground as she has a neat little group of girls that she plays with. She has seemed to step right back into the school routine and continues to have a passion to learn. Will has demonstrated a great deal of character as he faces several challenges at the same time – being the only American boy in his class, moving from homeschooling to a school routine, and learning a new language. He does not complain about his situation, he is working very hard, and is making great progress according to his teachers (the school curriculum is a U.S. curriculum and is quite challenging). Some things we do for fun as a family are: go to the ocean (one adventurous hour away), go out for ice cream, visit with new friends, go to the mall, play at the school playground, swim, make chocolate shakes, and watch a movie on our computer.

I (Lisa) am adjusting to being alone at home for the first time in 9 years. I’ve felt so thankful for the years with our kids and am also enjoying this new season. A few things I’ve been up to – trying to keep my finger on the pulse of how we are all adjusting, substitute teaching, planning a craft bizarre at the school for Nicaraguan artisans, mentoring an NCA teacher, and I continue to write for our blog. As I read “My Utmost for His Highest” this week, I’ve thought about how a particular sentence defines our calling here on earth. Oswald writes, “I am called to live in relation to God so that my life produces a longing after God in other lives . . .” As I write for our blog, this is my heart and my prayer – that God would use it to inspire others to grow in a longing for Him and to pursue a deeper relationship with Him. You can reach our blog at or you can email us at to let us know you would like to receive weekly to biweekly updates. Thank you!

Thank you so much for your prayers and financial support. We so appreciate your love and your care for us. Have a wonderful 2009 pondering and sharing your own story of God’s grace and love.

The Van Zoests