Web site: www.danvanzoest.com
Nicaragua Christian Academy web site: www.nca.edu.ni/
Our mailing address: Dan Van Zoest; Nicaragua Christian Academy; Apartado 842; Managua, Nicaragua; Central America
Dear Family and Friends,
I'd like to start today with a request. It was Rebekah's birthday on September 17 and we did have a great time celebrating it as a family and with friends here. However, one night at bedtime, Rebekah said, "I just miss getting all the cards I used to get on my birthday." I did not do a very good job of advertising that it was her birthday, but thought that it would not be too late to let you know. It is times like birthdays and Christmas that I think the kids most miss home and the people who used to be involved in these celebrations.
In "the short story", we would like to update you on more answers to prayer and give you a few more to pray. In "the longer story", Rebekah and Will will share something they wrote about Nicaraguan animals and Dan will share our experience driving to the school and more about what he is doing after we safely arrive there!
The Short Story:
1) Will's health has improved significantly. He is back to "his old self" and we are hearing no more complaints about pain and no more fever.
2) Dan's time back in the States was very good we so appreciate our sending church, New Covenant Bible Church, and their support and care for Dan and the other 7 missionaries involved in the missions conference. Dan enjoyed his time with our niece Christina and NCA students at Calvin College as well.
3) Months ago we had asked you to pray for our Nicaraguan neighbors who were going through a divorce. Divorce was made very real to us as we would hear the father pick up the kids for visitation and we would hear the children scream and cry when they would need to leave their mother. However, by God's grace, many Christians have come alongside this family and the father has now moved home. I gave the wife a copy of the Spanish FamilyLife conference DVD, and although we are limited in our ability to speak to each other, we (the wife and I) both had tears streaming down our faces as we embraced. We continue to pray for the healing of their marriage.
4) Dan just received the green light from FamilyLife to begin planning for the first FamilyLife "Weekend to Remember" conference here in Managua which will be conducted by Nicaraguans in Spanish. We are talking through the details of this and will keep you updated. An article Dan read before our arrival here has been instrumental in fueling our passion for marriage and families both here and in the US. The article stated that "a culture is transformed through the influence of 1.The Family; 2. The School; and 3. The Church." Dan also received some statistics while at the mission conference that indicated that the greatest influence when it comes to keeping missionaries on the field is for them to maintain a healthy marriage. We are planning to again offer a marriage group to our school staff and missionary community in January.
5) The Bible Study for NCA teachers and parents that I began leading last year has grown from 9 people last year to now around 15. NCA director's wife is leading one group, and I am leading another. Our vision is to continue developing small groups keep as God provides those who are interested.
6) Dan and Will started Cub Scouts with the US Embassy a couple of weeks ago. It has been good for Will to engage with an American peer group, and we are also seeing how God is also leading us to begin relationships with Americans here who may or may not know Christ as their Savior.
1) Many people are sick right now with the swine flu, Dengue fever, and malaria is also a threat. Two of our teachers have been in the hospital with Dengue fever. As it rains more and more, the mosquitoes are certainly more of a problem. Please pray for God's protection of our health.
2) Please pray for NCA as we are at the highest level of enrollment in the history of the school. We see God clearly at work. Please pray for God's protection of the school as the current Nicaraguan government is not favorable toward American involvement here in Nicaragua.
3) Please pray too for our students that God would touch their hearts in such a way that they understand His love for them, and that as they understand His love, they would be compelled to extend it to others. Pray too for a purity of heart among our students.
Animals in Nicaragua
By Rebekah and Will
Animals in Nicaragua are usually skinny. But, that's when they are on the streets and not owned by people. When they are owned by people, they look OK.
Dogs in Nicaragua are usually on the streets searching for food. In my neighborhood all the dogs are fed well. I love animals so it is hard to see. You rarely see dogs on leashes or dogs with tails.
Horses in Nicaragua are usually pulling carts. One time I (Rebekah) went to the Market and rode a horse. The boy had a little whip made of strips of leather.
In this update I (Dan) share a short story I wrote about our driving experience here in Nicaragua. We often liken the experience to playing a video game. Then, I give an update on some of the things I am working on at NCA. Thank you so much for your love, care and support of our family as we serve in Nicaragua!
All in less than a couple of miles
Today as our family drove to school which is less than two miles away I swerved into the opposite lane eight times to avoid the pot holes in the road on my side Throughout our drive I passed about 35 people walking on the edge of the road or waiting for a bus to come...I passed one man on a bicycle I passed one mototaxi (a small three wheeled three passenger vehicle) I passed a horse grazing on the edge of the road I went around one semi-truck that was changing a flat tire on our side of the road I kept my eye on one dog to make sure he wasn't going to decide to walk in front of our truck...and I missed Rebekah's rare sighting of a cat (there are not many cats we assume due to the large population of dogs) and I missed the skinny chicken that Will spotted and we missed two of the common sights that are on the road - an ox drawn cart and a 125cc motorcycle with three or four people on it all in less than a couple miles.
After this story you might think "I better pray for safe travel for the Van Zoest family" and I would ask that you do pray for our safety on the roads, but I would also ask you to see the other side of the story and lift up all the Nicaraguan people who under these conditions often struggle to find a way to get their children to school and get themselves to work.
It is busy at NCA a good busy. Almost every week I participate in an administrative meeting for either NCA (Our English speaking school) or NCA Nejapa (our Spanish speaking school). In our last meeting we reviewed the plans for the next phase of the Fine Arts Center that is going to be built at NCA. It's incredibly exciting for me to think of how this building will be used to help shape and mold the students at both of our schools as well as the greater Christian community in Nicaragua. In fact, I recently began talking with the international representatives of FamilyLife about the possibility of bringing the Spanish version of the Weekend to Remember conference to NCA in the new Fine Arts Center. In our administrative meeting we also talked about the possibility of starting a volunteer program for our 11th and 12th grade students. We would like to give them an opportunity to help other Nicaraguan students in one of the many schools in Managua that have a great need for extra help. I gave an update about the trouble we are having getting the twelve donated computers out of customs here in Nicaragua. It is frustrating to know they have been in Nicaragua for a couple of months, but cannot be used by our students until they make it out of customs and to our school. In addition, I have been spending a lot of my time working with our student sponsorship program. I am following up with potential sponsors; taking and developing pictures of the students to be sent to current sponsors; coordinating a thank you note from each student and getting it translated to English; as well as a many other details related to operating the program.
I really like the closing my beautiful wife used in one of her last letters so I would like to use it again here. I think it sums up the two greatest commandments very well Matthew 22:34-40.
Peace to you as you love the One who created you and the ones He has placed in your life to love and be loved by.
Dan Van Zoest (for Lisa, Rebekah, and Will)