Saturday, March 23, 2013

Nica Update: Are you Crazy?

Are You Crazy?

Dear Family and Friends,
This update will tell a story through pictures and captions regarding the things we see God doing at NCA these past few months. We have also included some praises and prayer requests at the end. Thank you once again for walking with us in prayer!

NCA teachers organized the 3rd annual NCA triathalon for the students and community of NCA. This race involved a 200 meter swim in a laguna which is an imploded volcano; then a 10 K bike ride; and then finally a 5 K run.
Rebekah posing before she starts the swim. Swimmers all wore yellow swimmers caps so that the lifeguards could see them in the murky water if they started to sink and needed help.
Rebekah and Will coming in from the biking part.
Nicaraguan Dad encouraging his daughter to keep going.
For the second heat of the race, our family served Gatorade to bikers at their halfway point. You can see the large truck in the background. Many prayers were prayed for safety as the kids both biked and ran on a two lane highway in the midst of trucks and cars zooming by.
Spiritual Emphasis Day is a day when a speaker from the United States donates their time and pays their own way to come to NCA to challenge and encourage our students spiritually. Students also attend break-out sessions led by speakers from our missionary community who speak to the kids about specific topics. The kids can choose which sessions to go to. This session was focusing on Facebook and it's advantages and disadvantages.
He was not afraid to challenge students and to confront them with where they are at in their relationship with Christ.

God also provided an amazing worship team. He brought to us Casey Bonham who has led worship for us in the past and engages very well with our students. He has an album out called "Your Love" which we bought and play all the time because we love it so much. Casey sang while a Nicaraguan band played the music. At one point, Casey stopped to point out how he cannot understand the band because they only spoke Spanish and they could not understand him because he only spoke English. He then remarked about how they were unified through their worship as they praised the same God.
Some of the teachers offered their students extra credit to complete the race recognizing the discipline it would take to finish the race.
And the race begins.
This NCA teacher swam with his two year old son in a little blow up boat with a life jacket and then biked with him and ran with him in a stroller.
Starting the running part.
Rebekah and Will finish the race!
Pictured here is Dan with his home room guys. Dan meets with them every morning prior to the beginning of school to share Christ with them. Discipleship is something that Dan is really enjoying. I've had parents share with me how much their boys appreciate his leadership. This group normally meets in the conference room. On this day, there was a special event called "Spiritual Emphasis Day".
Pictured here are students listening to our speaker.  Aaron was a very dynamic speaker who communicated very solid truth to our students.  
God also provided the perfect set. I serve on the committee that is responsible for making decisions related to the spiritual needs of the students.  Part of our role is to plan Spiritual Emphasis Day.  The task I was assigned this year was to find someone from among the missionary community to put together a set for the stage that would reflect the theme of the event, "Are you Crazy?" I contacted several people and came up with no one a week before the event. Days before the event, the speaker arrives with a few other men. One of these men "just happened" to be the one in charge of designing stage sets for his church. He went to junk yards in Managua to put together an amazing set that correlated perfectly with Aaron's message. 

The heart of Aaron's message was this . . . There are three kinds of crazy. There are those who get excited about signing up to go out in the boat to "see the sharks" as the brochure advertises. They get in the boat and get out into the ocean, and they watch the sharks swimming around the boat and they are satisfied to stay in the boat even when they could have the experience of going down into the water in a shark cage to see the sharks more closely. They could have the experience of interacting with a shark, noticing details about the shark, feeling the thrill of the adventure while protected by the cage. This is the first kind of crazy - they got in the boat and went out into the water but stopped there. The second kind of crazy involves someone who gets excited about the shark tour and they jump in the boat and get out into the ocean where the sharks are swimming around. And the first thing they do is to jump into the water with the sharks without the protection of the cage.  They do not wait for training or counsel or for instructions.  They just jump in.  The third kind of crazy is the person who gets excited about the shark tour, goes out into the ocean, sees the sharks all swimming around, talks with those in charge of the shark tour about the cage and how to safely get into the cage. The person listens to their counsel and training and gets out of the boat and into the shark cage and has the experience of a lifetime.
Aaron applied this picture to how we can live our lives. We can get excited about following Christ, but decide to "stay safe" and just watch exciting things happening for the kingdom instead of getting involved because getting out of the boat involves risk and uncertainty. We can get excited about following Christ and do unwise things.  We may draw attention to ourselves and our "sold out" faith by jumping in without waiting and listening to the counsel of God and of others. Or we can get excited about following Christ and walk steadily with Him, listening for His voice through His Word and through the counsel of others and take the risks He calls us to take, trusting that He will protect us and provide for us. That kind of crazy will lead us to the to the safest crazy adventure that is beyond what we can imagine.
I talked with a couple of men who arrived in Nicaragua with a missions team last Sunday and they commented on how they enjoyed being with people at our international church who were really living their lives for Christ out here on the foreign mission field. And sometimes this is the assumption - that in some way those of us who live here "have arrived" spiritually by virtue of just being here. The problem for us, however, is that we are still human. We still look for comfort and places to hide. We still try to stay in the boat instead of following God into the next risk that He calls us to take. Aaron's message has been one that has run through my mind and heart many times as we continue to sense God's leading us into experiences and new callings that nudge us out of the boat and into the cage of His protection and love. We pray this message will challenge and encourage you as well as you walk with Him and listen to Him and talk with Him about how He is leading you in the next steps of your lives.
Praise God:

1) For the opportunity God has given our family to minister to many different kids in Nicaragua - at NCA, at the orphanage, and Rebekah is now helping to teach English to kids in a poor community near our home.

2) For the the continued growth of the three NCA campuses.

3)  For how God has demonstrated His immeasurable goodness to our family this year.  We are learning so much about Him, ourselves, and each other.

Please Pray:
1) For Our Finances. We bought a truck last year to possibly replace the first truck we bought when we arrived here. The first truck was overheating due to a damaged radiator.  We had the radiator replaced and then a week or so later, someone hit our car in the parking lot and damaged the new radiator.  We have since had this one fixed and the truck has not overheated in a while.  However, it is still old and we were hoping the newer truck we purchased would be dependable.  However, it has been in for several repairs after it too overheated and we were recently told that it may be irreparable. This is the reality of vehicles here, especially used vehicles. Please pray for God's provision in this as it is a significant financial loss if we are unable to sell the vehicle.
2) For Health. Several weeks ago Dan went into the emergency room with what we thought could possibly appendicitis due to the symptoms. A sonogram revealed that Dan's liver was enlarged. He went to a specialist who did a CT scan and many blood tests.  Everything came back normal. The doctor does not feel that his liver is enlarged enough to be concerned. Dan continues to experience pain following exercise and so the source of the pain is still a mystery. Would you pray for direction regarding this.

3)  For our NCA teachers.  Our teachers are far from home and family.  Some of the issues they are currently dealing with are:  a Mom at home who is dying, a new diagnosis of diabetes, a miscarriage, new marriage, new babies, and they carry a great deal of concern for our students as so many of them serve not only as teachers but as spiritual mentors to students as well.

Thank you once again for your prayers, encouragement, and financial support. It is always so comforting for us to know that we are not alone and that we have a wonderful team of churches and individuals who are standing with us.

Peace and love to you,

Lisa (Dan, Rebekah, and Will) Van Zoest