Dear Family and Friends,
Thank you so much for your Birthday wishes to Dan for his birthday. It has been so much fun to read through all of the cards and emails and e-cards that we have received. We are still getting belated wishes which we continue to enjoy our birthdays have lasted a long time! It has been amazing to hear from over 100 people who have let us know that they are walking this journey with us. We are humbled and excited by this response and consider it an honor to be a part of the lives of so many. Thank you so much.
The week of Dan and my birthday was a very busy week as NCA hosted an accreditation team for three days that week. This visit was something the school has been preparing for the past couple of years. The visit went well and the administration decided to celebrate as a school at a special restaurant on April 2. So, on Dan's birthday we were actually at a restaurant up on top of a mountain with our entire school staff (including our guards, cleaning crew, and kitchen help). The director decided that since it was Dan's birthday, that everyone should sing Happy Birthday in English and then in Spanish. Dan was also serenaded a "Happy Birtday" that day by both Rebekah and Will's class at the window to his office. Dan and I shared a birthday lunch at noon and in the afternoon, the office staff brought in a cake and prayed with and sang happy birthday to him that afternoon. So, we did get a little celebrating in on that day.
It was Semana Santa (Holy Week) from April 3 until the14th. School was out that week and we spent April 4 through8 at a Christian Reformed World Missions retreat where we connected with other CRC missionaries from Honduras, El Salvador, and Costa Rica. The retreat was in Spanish with English translation and the topic was racial reconciliation. We appreciated how the content was presented through the lens of what the Bible has to say about racism. One of the premises was that diversity is God's idea and that He enjoys diversity. I can never really take in statements like that without asking "why" why does He enjoy it? I wonder if one reason He enjoys it so much is because diversity pushes us to learn how develop and live as grace filled people, Christ-like people. When I think of environments that I have been a part of in the past, it has been those that were made up of people who were different colors/from different denominational backgrounds/and of varied economic statuses that most consistently exhibited a culture of grace. May our prayer be that God would enable us to enjoy His diverse creation as we learn to embrace it with grace.
It has been good for us to relax over Semana Santa because we are now running very hard. I will close with the following prayer requests for us. Thank you so much for your faithful prayers.
1) Our marriage group has gone very well with 2 more meetings to go. Last time we met, one of the wives said, "We thought we had it all together, but we are finding that we have things to work on." Several couples have recommended the conference to friends in the States whose marriages are failing and one of the couples has attended a conference. We also heard from FamilyLife that there is a Spanish DVD available which will be of great interest to our school psychologist who is also interested in using these materials with Nicaraguan parents of students.
2) For good health. We have heard of several people lately who are struggling with parasites we are thankful that we have yet to experience this. Rebekah is now fighting a respiratory infection, but seems to be improving.
3) For the growth of our family. Will said something the other day about how hard times help him and that this is why he likes the hard times. I see Rebekah growing in grace and compassion and she has been writing songs about her love for God. Dan and I are growing more as a team as we learn to lead and minister together.
1) Please pray that Dan and I would be consistent in our time with the Lord in the midst of many deadlines and demands.
2) For us to manage time well and for God to help us discern what is important and what is not. We will leave for the US on June 9 and will fly to Chicago to see Dan's family and meet with supporters. We will arrive in IA on June 23 to see family and meet with churches/supporters. Prior to that time, Dan and I are teaching a support raising seminar for the teachers; finishing the marriage group; I start leading the teacher's Bible Study in May; we are working to contact churches; getting our presentations ready; Dan's goes on a youth retreat and I on a Ladies retreat; we are preparing for my sister's arrival here by finding families who can care for her while she is here (she will be living in our house while we are gone and teaching at a summer camp at NCA for the summer great opportunity for teachers who may be interested! Camp goes through the summer, but I think you can commit to 3 week sessions.); and it is very, very hot right now which drains our energy quickly. Little things take much energy Will was invited to a birthday party. So, first I need to translate the invitation. I'm thinking the family does not speak English so I try to catch them at school and find someone to help me communicate if there are questions. I find that the child has a driver who takes him to and from school, so I cannot talk with the parents at school. I then find out that the parents do speak English, so I try to call and cannot get through after many attempts. I eventually found out that the mother speaks English and was eventually able to get through by phone to RSVP. So, it is often things like this that consume time and take time away from all that I intend to do. Dan and I both agree that this is good for us to constantly be challenged with interruptions, but it can often be frustrating and energy draining.
3) Would you pray with us for a church home? We have attended the international church that meets at the school since we got here. This church consists mostly of missionaries and is a good place for many as it is a great place for missionaries and their kids to connect. It has also been a good place for us as most of our teachers attend here so it has been good to connect with them here as well. We've attended an English speaking Nicaraguan church a couple of times is actually a church plant - and there is another Nicaraguan Spanish speaking church that we are interested in looking into as well. We are just exploring possibilities and asking God to lead us in this.
4) I so often ask for prayers for safety. God has led Dan and I (two very cautious people) to a country that exercises a very different level of caution. At the above mentioned birthday party, Will fell from a four foot drop onto his back and head causing his head to bleed and he now has a good bump on his head. There was a loud crack when he fell and we were all convinced that he cracked his head open. He was also head butted in the teeth. The reason for the accident was related to some play equipment that was not safe as well as the presence of too many kids on the play equipment. I was praying during the time that Will was on the equipment that God would keep him safe. After the accident, I felt angry with God, asking Him why He did not respond to my request for safety. This morning as I was getting ready, the thought crossed my mind, "Do you understand that Will's injury could have been much worse if he had landed differently?" I thought about all the other possibilities paralysis; unconsciousness, broken bones. I understood what He was saying, "Lisa, I did keep him safe." And God kept other children safe as the play equipment was dismantled soon after Will's accident because other children were getting hurt too. Once again God reminds me that He is in control of our children's lives and that He will use everything in their childhood (both the good and the bad) to build our and their relationship with Him and to use it to bring glory to Him. It occurs to me that as you pray for our safety that we are probably unaware of all of the "close calls" or potential dangers that God protects us from daily. Thank you so much.
Thank you again for all that you are and for all that you do. Sometimes I try to imagine what it would be like to be paid our full support by the school or to be fully funded by our mission board instead of working closely and individually with a team of people back home who stand with us in prayer and in financial partnership. It is a very lonely and empty feeling to think of being out here without the vital, life giving, and personal connection with those back home. Thank you.
Peace and love to you,
Dan, Lisa (the writer), Rebekah, and Will