God is so good and He allowed us to have back-to-back Sundays of baptisms! On May 27, David again had the privilege to baptize 4 more of our youth!
To see our youth grow not only growing in number but growing in those who are giving their life to Jesus is almost surreal. It is something you pray for as missionaries, you pray for the Lord to move and work in hearts to change lives but to see it actually coming true is incredible. The Lord is truly sending revival to our community here!
On May 20, David had the privilege of baptizing 5 of our youth! Baptisms here are done differently than in the States as the churches here typically don’t have a baptistry in their church. The church we are working with in Oak Ridge does all their baptisms at the ocean just down from the church in an area called “the white hole”. This is an area of the ocean that has been cleaned out specifically to be used for baptisms and has been the baptistry of the church for many years.
It was such a joyous occasion to see each of these youth following Jesus’ example and being baptized. We have grown to love the youth here in Oak Ridge immensely and being able to call them our brothers/sisters in Christ now is a treasured gift.
We truly believe the Lord is at work here in our community and we are praying for revival to sweep this community and spread across the island from east to west!
April 20-22 we were blessed to get to take 14 of our youth to the Baptist Association’s yearly Youth Camp. The theme of this camp was “Youth with a Purpose”. The weekend started off with a laugh as the bus that had been rented for us would hold 16 people (which was plenty of room) but the person who booked it forgot that everyone would have all their luggage for the weekend also. So after some arranging and re-arranging, we finally got everyone and their luggage into the bus and we were off. The bus driver told us he knew where to take us when we gave him the location but 3 1/2 hours later and after multiple turnarounds, he finally admitted he was lost. So another 45 minutes of calling people to try to get them to tell us where to go, we finally arrived at camp at almost 9:30pm!
Camp was full of fellowship with youth from other churches, lots of Bible study sessions and time spent growing closer together as friends as well as growing spiritually in the Word.
One of the speakers at camp did a great object lesson about how hard it can be to discern the voice of God in a world that screams so loudly to us to do everything but listen to God’s voice. One of our youth, Adam, was chosen to participate in the object lesson. He had to walk through mousetraps that were set to snap and he had another youth that was supposed to direct him where to step. But, everyone else at camp was loudly screaming the WRONG directions to him. Thankfully Adam made it through (thanks to our youth who went to the front of the room and loudly shouted correctly where to step). But it was a great object lesson that made a lasting impact with them.
One of the youth’s favorite parts of the weekend was the Saturday afternoon recreational games competition. They started out with a huge flour challenge on the sand, then moved to 5 different game stations where they had to work together as a team to complete different challenges both on the sand and in the ocean. They were a sandy, sticky, muddy mess at the end but everyone loved the 3 hours of fun and games.
Of course, when you say camp, everyone thinks of camp food. However, the food at camp was delicious because a team of sweet ladies from Flowers Bay Church donated their time to cook all the meals at camp all weekend. We had great foods and breakfast was my favorite. Honduran breakfast are delicious here….refried beans, eggs, white butter, and Johnny cakes!
David was actually the camp pastor for the weekend. His job was to counsel youth if needed, answer spiritual questions they might have, and he led the Sunday morning worship on the water.
One of our favorite parts of the weekend was watching our youth worship! And best of all, several of them gave their life to Christ throughout the weekend!!! There is nothing sweeter to us than seeing God at work and watching Him open hearts and transform lives.
We had an amazing, fun-filled, no sleep weekend with all our youth! We made memories together, grew closer together, watched God work in so many ways throughout the weekend and we look forward to Youth Camp 2019 with all of them too, Lord willing!
Our 1st Easter in Honduras turned out beautifully and was so blessed! To be honest, these “first” holidays without our families and with being in a completely different country can be tough but the Lord has been so gracious to us through each of them so far. Our church hosted a Good Friday morning worship service from 10:00am-noon. We enjoyed singing lots of songs and David preached a message on “Understanding the Cross”. Saturday we spent the day having some fun with the kids. We hardboiled 36 Easter eggs and then dyed them. These were going to be used for a youth egg hunt for the kids Sunday afternoon. The kids loved dyeing the eggs so much and had fun experimenting with colors and wait times. I made an Alabama egg (since we love Alabama Crimson Tide football) and one of the kids decided they should make an Auburn egg since their Meager (grandmother) loves Auburn…ha! Easter Sunday we started the day bright and early at 4:30AM with a sunrise service. The sun actually came up about 5:15am but we sang songs of Jesus resurrection and then went down to the ocean and sat on a log to watch the sunrise together. It was so beautiful and in the picture above, it looks like a cross as the sun comes up! It was such a powerful way to start Easter morning. Afterwards, the church members came back to our house and we had a potluck breakfast together with coffee, lemonade, flitters, beans with white butter, deviled eggs, and cake. We enjoyed the fellowship together also.
The Senior Pastor of the church here recently resigned. The Baptist Association of Honduras has named David as the Interim Senior Pastor and he has started working closely with a man in the church who desires to be trained to be a church leader. So David will be filling the pulpit until a man from the church can be raised up to lead the church. Basically, David’s goal is to work himself out of being needed here so the church here can grow, thrive, and carry on with a solid foundation without the need of missionaries.
For the Sunday morning service, the children and youth did their annual Easter program. It is always such a precious time to hear them saying their poems, reciting their Bible verses, and singing songs to the Lord. They all did a great job and we were so proud of all of them. All 3 of our children participated in the Easter program too.
That afternoon at 4:00pm, we hosted an Easter party for the youth group! We hid all the eggs in the front yard of the church and in a neighbor’s front yard. 7 of the eggs had a number on the bottom of them and were “prize eggs”. It took the youth quite awhile to find all the eggs because we hid them well..ha,ha! Then we came back to the house and distributed the prizes to the winners of the numbered eggs. After that, we went back down to the church (we only live a few houses down from the church) and did an egg toss relay. The kids actually did surprisingly well with this challenge but in the end, one team was victorious! We came back to the house and ate snacks and played “The Game of Things”. Then we told them that if they needed to go home, we understood but they could stay as long as they wanted. We had kids at our house until 8:30pm and it was awesome!! We love being with the youth kids and having fun with them.
We were pretty tired after a very long but incredibly blessed day so we cleaned up the house and went to bed. We thank the Lord for such a great 1st Easter in Honduras!
Back at Christmas, Gretta’s parents decided to give our family money rather than try to ship packages to us (since we had only been in country about 6 weeks and hadn’t quite figured out how to get packages yet). They told us to go down island to the more touristy end and have some family fun as our Christmas gift from them. December was right in the middle of rainy season (we had over 112 inches of rain in 4 months) so we opted to wait for rainy season to end so we could really enjoy it.
The month of March the rainy season ended but we had something for church every weekend in March so it was hard to plan a trip away. So we finally got to go down island the first weekend in April and have some family Christmas fun!
We started by visiting Daniel’s Sloth & Monkey Hangout. It was a super neat little place that was well worth the $10/person to enter. At first, they had a couple of cages of animals that you couldn’t touch but you could see the animals up close and learn about them. Then we got to hold a sloth…yes, a SLOTH! This was something we all had wanted to do and it was so amazing. The one we got to hold was named “Sid the Sloth” which was so appropriate because since Sidney was a little girl we have called her “Sid the Sloth” when she didn’t want to do something or took forever to do things. She was so excited to get to hold her “namesake”…ha! The next area was the white-headed capuchin monkeys! We all walked into their habitat together with our guide and made a circle. Then literally, the monkeys just start playing all over you! They jumped all over us, played with our hair, investigated our pockets (which the guide had already told us to empty everything out before entering their cage), they loved our cell phones, etc. The monkeys loved to sit on your head and on your shoulders too. They were really fun and we laughed so hard during our time with them. Then we got to go visit the parrots! The scarlet macaw (pictured above) is the national bird of Honduras. The birds didn’t hurt when they landed on you but I was surprised by how much they weighed. These birds were so beautiful and majestic and it was amazing to get to see them so up close and personal. After we left Daniel’s Sloth and Monkey Hangout, we enjoyed a delicious lunch at Caribe restaurant (not pictured). Caribe is one of our favorite places to eat because it is buffet style, island food and with a family of 5, it is a place that we can go and everyone can find something they want to eat. They also make the most delicious tres leche cake there too!
After lunch, we drove down to West End to shop on the “tourist strip”. They have all kinds of little shops, art galleries, and restaurants on this one street. Gretta’s parents had also given each of the kids some shopping money to spend on whatever they wanted so they were excited to get to shop on West End. Abbey bought some necklaces, bracelets, and a ring. Sidney bought a mermaid shirt and Wyatt bought a handcarved chess set. They loved getting to shop for things they wanted.
After West End, we drove down to West Bay to let the kids swim and play. We went to Bananarama and while we sat at a cute little table and rested, the kids enjoyed the ocean. They also had a giant Connect 4 game and a giant Jenga game that the kids enjoyed playing too. Wyatt and our friend Ally got into a pretty intense game of Jenga.
Our day of fun was only possible because of our sweet friend Rosina! Since we do not have a vehicle or a boat, we have to rely on other’s generosity to help us get around when we need to go somewhere. Rosina owns Hillview Tours & Adventures and she is the best tour guide around the island. She knows the history, knows all the scenic spots to see, knows when to go to miss the crowds, and she has a great personality and is lots of fun too! If you’re looking to come visit Roatan, she also has cabins available for rent too at Hillview Cabins.
Thanks Dad & Mom for such a VERY fun day for our family!! We made memories that will last a lifetime and had fun getting to visit parts of the island we had never been to before.
Wednesday morning, our neighbors knocked on the door and asked if we wanted to go out on their boat for the day (we had an hour until they were leaving). David had to go down island with a friend so he couldn’t go but the kids and I were able to go. We decided to call it a “homeschool field trip”..ha!
We got to see the pirate ruins (pictured above is the remains of the pirate fort in Port Royal). There are also ruins of canons on this same island that you can see. The pirate history here in Roatan is rich and it is really interesting to read about and learn too.
The water here is amazing and the colors and clarity are so brilliant. I have always enjoyed learning about the ocean and studying ocean life but I’ve never been a huge fan of being in the water (the water in Florida where we always went to the ocean was rarely clear). However, here the water is so different and because it is so clear you can see all around you for a good ways. We all love going snorkeling and swimming in the ocean and David wants to learn to scuba dive while we are here too.
The pictures above were not taken with a GoPro (although we have one) but before we moved here, we decided to get a waterproof phone case for our cell phone since we live on the ocean and we are in and around the water a lot. Well, the case David found was one that has buttons on it so you can actually you to use your phone underwater to take pictures. The kids love tossing it around and they actually got some super cute pictures with it on this trip too.
Mr. Patito took Wyatt fishing while us girls swam at a little island called Pigeon Key. Wyatt had never got to fish out on the ocean before and he loved it. He’s already looking forward to his next opportunity to do some more fishing. He even caught the biggest jack fish out of all the ones they caught. However, after being out on the water all day, Wyatt got seasick and began to feel pretty queasy. Patito knew just what to do to help him not be sick and he even offered to let him drive the boat back home. Patito controlled the speed and Wyatt had full control of the wheel. He had so much fun driving the boat and it helped him not feel sick too. He has talked about the fishing and driving the boat for days now…ha!
We were so blessed by our fun day with sweet friends. We are so thankful for how the Lord has provided great neighbors who have become dear friends to us here in our new home. We get to see them everyday, we get to share life with them, and we have so much fun with them when we get to be together.
We were asked to teach Bible at the local Christian school here in our community. On Tuesday mornings I teach 1st-3rd graders for an hour and a half and on Thursday mornings I teach 4th-6th graders for an hour and a half. On Thursday evenings from 4:00-5:00pm, David teaches the 10th-12th graders.
While the school curriculum is mostly in Spanish, they allowed us to teach Bible in English (since we just started Spanish language classes a couple of months ago and we are far from fluent). With the younger kids, I am using NewSpring Network KidSpring Series materials. I love this material because it is Biblically solid, it comes with everything you need from videos to lesson plans, to games and crafts, etc. Plus each month we can have a theme (for example, this month is Down on the Farm and we are learning the Fruits of the Spirit). The kids really have gotten into this material too and they love it each week. With the older class, I am using the same KidSpring materials but I’m also incorporating Children Desiring God‘s “In the Beginning” materials. This way the kids still get a fun theme each month but they are also learning the redemptive history of the Bible. We believe it is vital for children to begin to understand the redemptive history of scripture at a young age because it is foundational building blocks for their spiritual growth.
David started out the school year giving them an overview of the Bible – how it is really 66 books that are one seamless story that all point to Jesus. Once he completes these lessons, he will be using the book “Hearts, Heads, & Hands” which was written by our mission board President & Founder, Dr. David Sills. While it is written as a training manual for discipleship and training pastors/church leaders, he has taken some of the module lessons and brought them down on a youth level. He also opens up each class with live worship music and prayer.
(video above is of one of the younger classes doing one of our opening praise songs)
Being able to teach these students each week is SUCH a blessing! I’ve said it many times that I hope they are having as much fun each week as I am having. Not only do we get to form relationships with these students (many of whom do not attend our church here) but we also get to know their families as well. It is fun to be out in town and see them or their families and hear them call “Profa!” or “Profo!” (what they call teachers in school) and then see them smile and run up to you to get a hug or a high five.
It has also been encouraging to see their excitement for Bible each week. They actually look forward to coming to class, they are doing their homework each week, and several parents have told me the kids are even singing the praise & worship songs at home too. We are so thankful the Lord gave us the opportunity to teach in the school this year. We pray that the seeds being planted will continue to grow in their lives as the Lord waters them.
“Train up a child in the way he should go
and when he is old he will not depart from it.”
Proverbs 22:6 (NKJV)
We got a cat! A fellow expat had posted on a FB group that we are part of about finding some abandoned cats at his children’s school. He was needing to find them all a good home so we took one of them. Meet Alice! She was just 5 weeks old when we got her but she is so precious and sweet. We have nicknamed her “Spider Kitty” because she loves to climb on everything (including up the curtains) and she jumps really high off the ground when she is playing or gets scared. The kids are very happy since we have our awesome guard dog Bailey in the backyard that they love to play with and now Alice for them to enjoy and love on too.
This is a house in a nearby area where we have previously done some ministry. Seeing places like this are a stark reminder of why we are here…to bring hope to people that is only found through Jesus Christ. We cannot change all the poverty conditions in places here but we can bring people the hope of eternal life and a home in heaven. We can encourage them that this world is not our home…heaven awaits those who have accepted Christ and are His children.
Statistics in 2016 say that 66% of the population of Honduras live in poverty. In rural areas (like the place pictured above), 1 in 5 Hondurans live in extreme poverty. An average days salary here (if you work 8 hours) is 300 lempiras – about $13 a day. In some places, especially on the mainland, the average salary for a day’s wage is just $1.90. Will you pray that the Lord will give us many opportunities everyday to share the gospel and be His hands and feet here in Honduras?
These are mangrove trees. Their root system actually “floats” on the water. These mangrove tunnels are very famous on the island where we live and they happen to be in Oak Ridge right near where we live. They are only accessible by boat but we’ve been blessed to go through the tunnels several times with friends who have boats. The tunnels are really narrow passageways and the water is very shallow through them. The tunnels are believed to have been carve out by the Paya Indians (the island’s original inhabitants) and also used by 17th and 18th century English pirates as hideouts and escape routes. This area is nicknamed “The Venice of Roatan” because of its unique waterway system.
This picture is taken with no filters. Sunsets are still one of my favorite things each day. Even though the sun sets in the same direction every day it is always different each evening. Some days the colors are so vibrant and bold. Other days there are multiple colors painted across the sky and sometimes even reflected on the water. God creates the most amazing displays of His majesty and splendor each evening as night falls.
We are continuing our Spanish lessons each week. We recently had our 2nd comprehensive test. It was a 7 page test and I made a 90.25% on it! We are learning so much and we can see progress “poco un poco” (little by little). I actually can read and write it much better than I can speak/understand it in conversation. David is the opposite. He can carry a pretty decent conversation with someone in Spanish and I’m completely lost the whole time..ha! He’s not so great at the writing or reading though. We often say that “opposites attract” and I guess that applies even to our Spanish learning!