Ready to Train Pastors on the Coco River / Listo Para Capacitar Pastores en el Rio Coco

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My Notes and Work on CASKET EMPTY Curriculum

Our pastoral team is making final preparations to return to the Coco River area to continue our training of Baptist and Evangelical pastors.  This will take us to Waspan, Nicaragua, and Suhi, Honduras.  We have been preparing biblical messages and lessons to continue the training God called us to do with these precious people last year in May.

Nuestro equipo pastoral esta haciendo las últimas preparaciones para regresar a la area del Rio Coco para continuar nuestra capacitación de pastores bautistas y evangélicos. Esto nos llevará a Waspan, Nicaragua, y a Suji, Honduras.  Hemos estado preparando mensajes y enseñansas bíblicas para continuar el entrenamiento de estas preciosas gentes, las cuales empezamos en mayo del año pasado.  

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This year we will surprise our brothers and sisters with a complete survey of the Old Testament using a presentation created and written by Dr. Carol Kaminsky of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.  It has recently been translated to Spanish and I will be one of the first missionaries to make such a presentation in Latin America using her Casket Empty Study Guide.  The acronym CASKET allows us to present an entire overview of the Old Testament.  Casket stands for:  Creation, Abraham, Sinai, Kings, Exile, and Temple. Six major periods.

Este año vamos a sorprender a nuestros hermanos y hermanas con un repaso completo del Antiguo Testamento usando una presentacion creada y escrita por la Dra. Carol Kaminsky del Seminario Teológico de Gordon-Conwell.  Recientemente fue traducida al español y yo seré uno de los primeros misioneros que la presentará en Latinoamérica usando el Guía de Estudio Casket Empty (Ataud Vacio).  El acrónimo CASKET nos permite hacer un resumen completo del Antiguo Testamento.  Casket significa: Creación, Abraham, Sinaí, Reyes (Kings), Exilio, y Templo.  Se dan cuenta que el acrónimo no es perfecto en español, pero es fácil de memorizar.  Seis periodos mayores.

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Dr. Kaminsky recently decided to partner with Missionary Air Group and our Pastoral Team by generously making most of the Spanish resources available to us free of charge.  Casket Empty has provided well over $1000.00 in free literature and resources.  Every pastor will receive a complete outline for the training sessions, plus an OT timeline.  Not to mention that our team will share about 12 hours of teaching to cover all six major periods.

La Dra. Kaminsky recientemente decidió asociarse con Missionary Air Group y con nuestro Equipo Pastoral y nos regaló casi todos los recursos en esta linda idioma. Casket Empty nos ha dado gratuitamente mas de mil dolares en recursos bíblicos.   Cada pastor va a recivir un guión amplio para tomar notas, ademas de un guía completo del AT.  No olviden que también les vamos a presentar como 12 horas de eseñansa para completar los seis periodos bíblicos.  

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With Dr. Carol Kaminsky at Recent Training in Salem, Mass

In the photo below you see four of my grandchildren holding the 3 foot by 17 foot long banner demonstrating the six major Old Testament periods.  My grandchildren’s parents, Todd and Lauren Becker, had the privilege of studying with Dr. Kaminsky at Gordon-Conwell when they attended seminary.

En la foto que sigue pueden ver a mis cuatro nietos deteniendo la bandera de 3 pies for 17 pies de largo demostrando los seis mayores periodos del Antiguo Testamento.  Los padres de mis nietos, Todd y Lauren Becker, tuvieron el privilegio de haber estudiado con la Dra. Kaminsky cuando ellos asistieron el seminario.

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We have Bentley on the left followed by Gavin, Avery, and William Becker

Pastor Roman Lopez Chow will also be sharing doctrinal lessons on the Deity of Christ, a biblical teaching on marriage, and a session on preparing a biblical message.  Roman will also assist me in sharing the Old Testament presentation.

El Pastor Román Lopez Chow tambien va a compartir una enseñansa doctrinal sobre la Deidad de Cristo, una enseñansa bíblica sobre matrimonio, y una sobre la preparación de un mensaje bíblico.  Román también me va a ayudar a compartir la presentación del Antiguo Testamento.

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Pastor Román Lopez Chow

Pastor Esaú Nuñez Sosa will be responsible for teaching on the doctrine of the Humanity of Christ, and a teaching on Law and Grace.  He will also assist me in teaching the Old Testament.

Pastor Esaú Nuñez Sosa será responsable de comunicar la doctrina de la Humanidad de Cristo, y una enseñansa sobre la Ley y Gracia.  Esaú tambien me ayudará en la enseñansa del Antiguo Testamento.  

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Pastor Esaú Nuñez Sosa

Why an overview of the Old Testament to so many pastors?  Because when I asked pastors in May of 2015 how many of them had read through the entire Bible, only a few older pastors said that they had.  So it became apparent to our team that we needed to train these humble people at a basic level and build from there.  Besides, every seminarian in most countries is required to take a Survey of the OT as part of their degree requirement.

Por qué un repaso del Antiguo Testamento para tantos pastores?   Porque cuando les hice la pregunta, en mayo de 2015, a los pastores, que cuántos de ellos habían leído el Antiguo Testamento, solo unos pocos pastores dijeron que lo habían hecho.  Así es que se me hizo aparente de que necesitábamos capacitar a esta gente humilde a un nivel más básico and continuar de allí.  Además, a los seminaristas se les requiere que tomen un Resumen del AT como requisito para graduarse.  

For me it has been a real blessing to immerse myself in the study of the Old Testament in Spanish; something that I had  never done before.  I am grateful to God for the last two months he has allowed me time to prepare and to pray for my brothers and sisters who will be receiving this training.  It is my prayer that they will be as excited as I have been as we together discover God’s Plan of Redemption through History.

Para mí ha sido una bendición sumegirme en el estudio del Antiguo Testamento en español; algo que nunca me había tocado antes.  Estoy muy agradecido a Dios por los dos meses que me ha permitido tiempo para prepararme y orar por los hermanos y hermanas que van a recivir esta capacitación.  Es mi oración también que ellos se puedan emocionar como yo me he emociondado al descubrir juntos El Plan de Dios a través de la Historia.

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Are you ready?  Listos?

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Reading and Writing Has Begun In Rus Rus!

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Group 1 with their Nacho … 1st Year Primer

What a blessing it was to see the joy on the faces of these precious kids from Rus Rus as they received their first copy of NACHO, a standard Honduras reader/workbook.  They received their first year copies like they were Christmas gifts.  What a joy fell over me as I saw them each reach out to receive them.  True Memorial Baptist Church has made a significant impact in the past in ministering to the children of the villages of Mahbita and Rus Rus and now continues to do even more.  This church provided the funding to secure the first year readers and other much needed school supplies.  What a great beginning it was.  The children had been meeting with Iris Tercero, who volunteered to teach them all on her own, with no expectations of any kind of remuneration.  Bless her heart. It is godly women like her that make a huge difference in the world.  She deserves some kind of thank you!

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Iris Reviewing the Basics

Iris began teaching over twenty kids around the end of July and continued with only one copy of the reader, and kids showed up in the afternoons to learn from her.  I reported on this on my last blog entry.  So when I arrived with the kids’ copies it was review time with their own workbooks.  That is when I got involved in the teaching so that I could model techniques and methods for her.

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Eye and Hand Coordination

While I was in the village for two and a half weeks we met almost every afternoon, Monday through Friday, and we worked hard … twenty five kids plus Iris and I.  But there was a joy and expectation in the room each day that was so evident.  They love Iris and I of course, but it was more than that.  Like God was beginning something new … something of Him.  We prayed before every class and at the end of every class.  Once we even prayed during class because the lesson mentioned a father’s love for his children, and only a few kids have a father in their lives.  That was a powerful and sensitive moment.

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Praying for Their Missing Fathers

I had the opportunity to meet the local government teacher who is currently working in the mornings with all the kids in the village … all by himself, covering kinder through 6th grade.  His name is Nimrod.  He had been assigned to Rus Rus just about four months ago.  We had dinner together and I shared my concerns with him regarding the lack of education the children have had for the last eight years.  He understood about the neglect that has persisted over the years.  He is a good guy trying hard to engage the kids.  I helped him celebrate Honduras’ Children’s Day in September by giving him a pinata and candies to go in it, and a gallon of gasoline so that he could start up a generator that allowed the kids to have music at school the day their celebration took place.  I told Nimrod that I and the parents of the village would do everything on our part to encourage and assist him in his work.  I shared my passion and vision for the well being of each and every child in Rus Rus and Mahbita.  How important it is to assess the needs of each individual and to put a plan in place that will ensure the child’s engagement and success.  He was moved at the heart level.  We agreed to work together going forward.  That was a God moment to say the least.

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Will You Look at Him!!! 🙂

This little guy rides on horseback with his older sister … not much older than him mind you … to be where we are together fighting for a better life.  They travel five miles each way … from the Coco River to Rus Rus and back.  Please forgive me when I say that I would give my life for this little guy on the spot.  He is everything.  I see the glory of my King in him.  Life is about building the lives of other human beings.  I am becoming a messenger of the King … a true missionary I gather.  A seasoned missionary once jokingly told me that I would never be a real missionary unless I got malaria.  Lol.  Maybe.  Malaria is now in our region knocking on our doors.  But a real missionary is a person who sees a need … or recognizes an injustice … and takes the hand of the Spirit of God and shows up where He leads … where He calls out to him or her.  Now I see my purpose in life more clearly.  My son has gone to be with God in that place of joy and peace and rest.   It is my life to see that this boy grows to manhood and deeply in love with the King … so that he too can find the Life that God offers every man, woman, and child.  So that he too can find a place in heaven with the Great King someday as well.

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Everlin Practicing with Pencil and Paper

The children participating range from first to fifth grade.  And most of them cannot read a lick.  Everlin is a first grader that had little or no preschool or kindergarten experience, so she is barely learning to use a pencil correctly.  But she is doing it.  And it is kids this young that cause us to work extra hard to give them the time and practice they need to move forward.  So we will have to separate littler ones like her who need to move at a slower pace.  What Iris, myself, and others will offer such children is one on one time to encourage, to practice, and to learn at her pace.  It is more work, but it is the right thing to do.  She is not even a special needs child … she is just young and inexperienced.  But she is God’s daughter you see!  And such a princess gets special treatment, you would agree?  Ajua!

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Krismis writing away …. !

Krismis came to Rus Rus a couple years ago as a refugee from Nicaragua.  The conflict that was going on then still continues to be a concern.  But she and her family have settled into Rus Rus and now she is one of our own.  And we love her and her siblings.  As you can imagine, she speaks more Miskito than Spanish, but in those two short years she has grown and now can understand Spanish quite well.  Iris is able to clarify things well for those who speak more Miskito.  And you may be surprised to know that they all understand the words “ready … do it … and Go God” in English.  They can all count to 10 in English with great enthusiasm.

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Gilberto Getting It Done!

Gilberto knows a little more than the younger kids.  And he has a good attitude about the work we are taking on.  Look at him there on his knees doing the next thing in his workbook.  I explained to ALL the children that my philosophy for learning as school kids is that everyone counts.  We are learning team work … working as individuals to improve ourselves … but also working as a group.  Considering every other child as a part of a team that must move together as a whole.  I remind them that when we compete academically in the future against other villages … and that exists mind you … we will only be as strong as our weakest member.  Gilberto understands this as an older kid in the bunch.  That is why we yell out “orale”, a Mexican expression that means almost anything you want it to mean.  For us in this context, it means, “let’s do it.”  So when we drill, we drill the little ones with the encouragement of the older ones.  When I tell them, “Here comes Pranza,” they know I am about to drill them hard … responding to prompts fast and furious.  Playing such games makes learning fun.  Pranza is a village nearby.  They have NO clue we are getting ready to kick their butts.  Hahaha.  Oh well … forgive me.

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Yakelin working with joy!  She never stops smiling at me!  🙂

This is my life as a MAG missionary:  Working with the villagers to make a better community … the churches so we can all keep maturing … imploring the lost to let themselves be loved by Jesus finally … training leaders to persevere in the faith …. improving our hospital and its effectiveness and outreach … awaiting MAG to deploy missionary pilots and families … playing with Manuel 😉 … and TEACHING KIDS!!!  I want to see the glory of God displayed fully in all He has purposed to do in me, around me, and in the lives of those I have come to love.

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It is easier to construct strong children than to repair broken adults! 

Yes and no.  Adults are in need of repairing.  But they are harder to penetrate I have come to learn.  But Kids are magical and flexible and doable.  They know nothing but whatever is new and promising … and creative.  At least the kids of Rus Rus.  They are game for growth, learning, and fun.

Besides, “Here comes Pranza!”  Orale … ajua!!!

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Help me learn!

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If We Build Out Here They Will Come … Running!

Help me love and serve these precious children.  It is what Jesus would do I have no doubt.  You can help me go forward to build lives by supporting me in this effort.  I would be glad to sit with you and/or send you information to make this happen.

Or if you want to help fund Iris Tercero, you can let me know as well.  If you want to invest in the lives and school and life needs of these kids, go for it.  I’m all ears.

Here is my contact info:

Missionary Carlos Felipe Paz

p.carlos1@comcast.net

1-603-479-4349

 

Who Is Going to Teach Me?

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Teacher Aliza Curtiss & Rus Rus Boy

Aliza Curtiss is here shown with one of the 48 children who are eligible to attend kindergarten and elementary school in the village of Rus Rus.  I have not included the last names of any of the children shown on this blog because of the nature of its content.  I will report how these 48 or so children have for the most part been left untaught by teachers who have either not actually come to Rus Rus to teach them, or who have determined the task was too much for just one teacher taking on that many students from kindergarten level through the six grade.  I cannot say that I would blame any teacher who felt this to be too much for one person.

Aliza is a US citizen from the state of New York who spent the last ten months or so teaching at a bilingual school in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.  She has recently been accepted as a missionary with Wycliffe Bible Translators.  She is currently back in New York raising her financial support to continue on with Wycliffe.  I had the privilege of meeting Aliza at a Casket Empty New Testament event held at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary in New England about a year and a half ago.  And ever since that time she has expressed an interest in visiting Rus Rus to see first hand what I do there as a missionary representing Missionary Air Group.  And God recently opened the door for her to join me on a visit to Rus Rus.  But Aliza being the kind of woman who wants more than life to serve the Lord Jesus Christ asked me what she could do to be helpful while visiting Rus Rus.  I shared my passion for the well being of the children of the village.  I told her that they had had little or no teaching over the last eight years that I have been serving the community.  I told her that all these years the educational needs of the children have been the most obvious need in that community other than the medical help that our Rus Rus Hospital provides them and many others in that immediate region.  So Aliza agreed to help me determine what each child had learned, especially as it concerned reading and writing.

The evaluation we did on the 30 elementary kids was very basic at best, since she and I are not experienced in such matters.  But just being able to determine if each child could recite the alphabet … vowels and consonants … and read at a basic level, would not be a matter for experts.  Any intelligent person with basic reading and writing skills could make such a determination.  We discovered that for the most part only a few could recite the alphabet from beginning to end.  Some could do part of it.  Others could do the vowels only … but even that was too much for some.  It was heartbreaking.  A good one third could not even tell us colors other than black and white.  Not even in their native language Miskito.  Many of them could count from one to thirty … some even beyond.  Four older girls were able to read simple short novels or short stories.  These were four girls who had had some good basics four years back and before.  But they were the exception.  We celebrated these four girls verbally.  But they lacked basic arithmetic and had no teaching, to our knowledge, of other subjects other than reading, writing, and arithmetic.  But we are talking four out of 30 plus children.  Again … heartbreaking.

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Aliza and a proud reader … Niurka

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Aliza directing another good reader … Aracely

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Iris Tercero helped Aliza and I

The regional Department of Education leaders are fully aware of the predicament in Rus Rus.  Several parents traveled to Puerto Lempira to express their concerns and to advocate for their own children.  They brought a formal letter as well stating their case concerning the neglect of their children by these same leaders.  They were heard and nothing came of it … nothing was done to send additional help or to hold other teachers accountable who are currently paid but remain absent.  This is the most frustrating part of this story.  It would be one thing for regional leaders to be kept in the dark as to the blatant neglect of these children in Rus Rus, but they have been informed by the very parents whose children lose out day after painful day.  And if such regional leaders would take their calling and the responsibility seriously, they would see to it that those teachers in question would be sent to their post with serious expectations, or send them packing for the years of neglect and for the open disregard for the well being of children.  Discipline is all but non existent.  Serious concern for the children of their own tribal group is nowhere to be found in Rus Rus.

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Who is this world will teach us?

These children are precious.  They are like every other human being created in the image and likeness of the Living God.  They deserve the chance to learn.  Their national government guarantees them a free and basic education up to the sixth grade.  But too many adults in this world are not responsible people.  They can take the money and turn their backs with no compassion or sense of decency.  Rus Rus had a teacher who tried to hold the line for several years.  Her first is Alba.  Her family was threatened, she became ill, and just in the last few weeks she left Rus Rus to stay in a village from which she used to commute Monday to Friday.  We miss her and we will continue to miss her.  We wish her God’s best.  The person who was sent to take her place has not been around much.  My last two visits to Rus Rus I have looked forward to meeting with him … but he too is among the missing.  I’m not holding out hope that this teacher will be any different than the ones who have chosen not to engage.  But maybe he will.  God only knows.  May God keep his soul.

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I’m ready and willing to learn!

But I am not going to see the need and turn away.  Any true man or woman of God could not know the need and turn away.  Missionaries have said, “This is not what we do. Others ministries specialize in teaching kids.”  Well that is true.  So I will seek them out then.  And if they cannot help, then the problem remains.  And I will no longer just pray and wait.  I will pray, think, and act.  And I hope that many of you who read this blog will join me in praying and thinking and acting on behalf of the Lord Jesus Christ.  He wants the best for these kids … plain and simple.  Jesus would never turn his backs on them.  That is why He sends people like Aliza Curtiss into the world … to bring life and truth and love where it is most needed.

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Nacho Curriculum

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Oscar Fabian Crisanto with Adonis

Oscar Crisanto also helped out some with the evaluations.  Oscar is a college trained educator who recently came to Rus Rus to work with Kindergartners and did so for six full months.  He invested some of his own funds to provide desks for his few kids.  He showed up every school day without fail for those six months.  He, unlike other teachers, was never paid one cent.  Not a penny mind you.  Not a centavo from a Lempira.  Nada.  Here was one young man who had the love and the passion to invest and to do the right thing and those who promised to compensate him kept the funds.  But Oscar has become a good friend and he wants to partner with me and others to create a new school with a whole new vision and purpose … one that would bring a solid curriculum to children who have had little or nothing for too long.

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Imagine having Nacho basics … phonics?

There are men and women both in the States and in Honduras who are willing to do something about this need.  They are precious human beings with a love for their own … for the needy … for those who Jesus loves and for whom he has died.  Mackenzie Jackson, Felicia Dowling, and Katie Vachon want to help from the New England area.  They have in the recent past loved on these kids in Rus Rus.  There are people like Caren Miranda, Kelsy Lopez, Iris Tercero, Oscar Fabian Crisanto, David Lacoth, Manuel Villanueva, Fermina Lacoth, Isaac Sauceda and his wife Esther.  My grand daughters Avery Grace Becker and Sofina Lynne Paz want to study to become teachers in Rus Rus someday.  Now that gets my attention.  Wow.

Kelsy Lopez Lacoth wanted to join us in doing the evaluation but is herself going to college to become a preschool teacher.  But she has been praying for us and is currently taking her studies seriously, knowing what is at stake.  With people like Kelsy, Oscar and others hoping to do their part in teaching children, maybe there is hope for the children of Rus Rus.

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Kelsy Lopez getting ready to teach!

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Help us to learn and grow!

Iris Tercero and Caren Miranda are getting ready to teach some basics beginning in the next few days.  They are not expecting to get paid one cent.  “Just let me borrow the basics books, hermano Carlos,” said Iris.  They will team up and separate the kids by grades and start from the very beginning with only the basics to ensure that no one is missing any basics and so that no one of them is left behind.  They will insist that they will succeed if all the kids succeed together … with each and everyone of them making good progress.  No government promises … just people of God doing the right things in the lives of God’s children.  I would love to compensate these ladies … so let me know if you can help.

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Caren Lacoth Miranda is ready and willing!

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I too plan to teach them for as long as God gives me life and health!

Please pray with me as I seek God’s face regarding this endeavor.  As the Director of Pastoral Ministries for Missionary Air Group, I hope to see kids read, write, count, grow, mature, develop to their full God given potential.  Why would I want to disciple these kids in the Word of God if they can not read the book that gives them life?  At Missionary Air Group we hope to offer help in order that we may have the privilege to offer hope.  Well hope comes in the form of making followers of Jesus Christ … even the youngest among us.

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Teach me and see what I can do!

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Missionary Carlos Felipe Paz … for the Glory of the Lord Jesus Christ!

 

 

The Word in Waspan, Nicaragua 2018

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This platform would serve as the spot where the pulpit would be placed and where the worship band would lead us to God.  It was the front section of a temporary structure erected to house a gathering of 400 believers coming together to worship, to be trained in the Word of God, and where prayers for the peace of Nicaragua would play a leading role in the event.  The platform brings to mind the many prayers that were offered to God by those anticipating and planning the event.  They also fasted and spent several nights in all night vigils seeking God’s blessing upon our gathering.  All this considered, one would think this a sacred place.  I believe it was!

I, Carlos Felipe Paz, missionary to the Misquito peoples of the Coco River area, was representing Missionary Air Group, as well as Grupo de Aviacion Medico de Honduras (GAM), in training and inspiring leaders through the preaching and teaching of the Word of God.  As you might guess, this kind of event requires much preparation, which consists of seeking for funds to help finance the event, hours of study in the Word, and personal prayer and reflection in order to hear the input of the Spirit of God.

In the photo that follows you can now see the pastors leading worship, pianos at the ready, and me just taking it all in.  I love these people.  They are my people in the sense that God has sent me to them.  They are a faithful people who have preached the Gospel for many years since American missionaries established the first baptist churches among them.  I need to remember to ask how long ago it was that these same missionaries first came to that region.  In all their preaching they have led many to Christ and have established local churches.  And it seems that God has done much of this in short order. The churches came into existence very quickly and are even now being formed on an almost monthly basis.  And what does this pose as a challenge for them?  They are placing young pastors in these new fields; and these pastors are ill equipped and little trained in the Word and concerning the roles and responsibilities of a pastor leader.  And this is where Missionary Air Group and I come in.  Upon my arrival in this region almost eight years ago, it became clear in a short period of time that God was asking us (me) to join hands with regional leaders in helping to equip their people in pastoral ministry and in becoming more effective in preaching the Gospel to the lost in their region.

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MAG Missionary Carlos Felipe Paz

This year God called me to Waspan, Nicaragua, once again, to engage in pastoral training.  And at first I felt a bit overwhelmed with the idea that I would have to do all the training on my own, since our pastoral team of three was not available.  But I felt it appropriate to ask baptist leader Orlando Marquez Mendez to seek out another qualified minister of the Word to assist me in the event.  And God provided a wonderful man in the person of Pastor Roman Osorno, of a Hispanic ministry in Orange, California, named Iglesia Bautista El Peregrino.  And what a man of God and powerful communicator this man is.  Praise God.  I only hope I complimented him to some degree.  I took notes of everything he shared.

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Pastor Roman Osorno

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Pastor Roman’s Enthusiastic Preaching and Teaching

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Pastor Roman and Kelsy Lopez of Rus Rus

Speaking of Kelsy Lopez here, let me add that I was joined by three others from Rus Rus.  Our MAG site supervisor in Rus Rus, Manuel Villanueva Lara, and his lovely wife, Fermina Lacoth, and pastor in training, Mario Alexis, and of course, Kelsy of Rus Rus and Puerto Lempira all joined me in traveling to Waspan to minister the Word.  Their companionship proved vital for two compelling reasons:  one, I did not have to travel alone, and secondly, I had them to console me after the recent death of my only son, Aaron Michael Paz.  And of course, they too are all being trained in the ministry of the Word.

Having lost my son at the age of 41 has already proven to be the most painful experience I have ever had to face.  And I had to go to Waspan despite my family back in the States all hurting over Aaron’s death.  So many pastors and leaders were counting on me and Pastor Roman so there was no way to back out.  Besides, I would have felt that the enemy of our souls had beaten me some and taken me out if I had not done this.  Well, we can’t let that happen.  My family encouraged me to go forward.  But I shortened my trip to a short two and a half weeks instead of six to eight weeks.  And God gave me the strength to persevere and my brothers and sisters from Rus Rus held me close.

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My Son Aaron M. Paz and Little Floria

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Manuel Lara of Rus Rus

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Fermina Lacoth of Rus Rus … Manuel’s Wife

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Mario Alexis of Rus Rus

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Kelsy Lopez of Rus Rus and Puerto Lempira

Upon our arrival in Leimus, Honduras, in anticipation of crossing the border into Leimus, Nicaragua, we were met by baptist leader Rev. Orlando Marquez Mendez.  My partnership with Orlando is a precious thing of God.  He has embraced MAG, me, and our team with open arms.  He knows we are willing to go wherever he most needs us to meet the growing needs of his people and his leaders.  He is a man who works without reservation to reach others, to establish churches, and to place leaders where they are most needed.

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Meeting up with Orlando one again …

Because my heart was heavy with grief, I had to check myself … my heart and mind so that I could push through and deliver the messages I had prepared for these leaders.  The most important message/teaching that fell on me to deliver had to do with defining what an active and living faith looks like from a biblical perspective.  Pastor Orlando had asked me to communicate from Scripture what the life of a person should look like once coming to Christ initially.  He is concerned that there is a prevailing idea in his region that states that if one is justified fully by faith in Christ alone, then one can live as one chooses since Christ has forgiven all our sin, past, present, and future.  As you can even now imagine, that is a hefty challenge.  So I set out to prove, in Spanish and with a Miskito interpreter, how we are in fact fully justified by faith alone in Christ, but how a genuine faith in Christ is lived out in trusting, obeying, and persevering through all manner of trials and tribulations in life.  The theme of my messages was “Faith Moves.”  In Spanish it sounds better … it is more challenging a theme:  “La Fe Se Mueve.”  But there were two other major topics that I also took on besides the one describing a living and active faith.  And I must add that I believe it was well received.

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Me preaching and Fermina interpreting …

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The People Arriving

One of the most special moments in our trip to Waspan was the pleasant meeting with a Canadian missionary pilot serving in Tronquera, Nicaragua, by the name of Norman Hansen.  He had reached out to me to see if he and his family could fly across the border to Rus Rus in the event of a national emergency.  You see, Nicaragua is currently experiencing unrest.  This political upheaval will probably not reach his region, there is always that small possibility.  And besides, good savvy foreign missionaries like to have a plan before the fact.  MAG and I where more than glad to say, “Come to Rus Rus whenever you need to.”  And so he is aware that our field is wide open and ready even now.  Since Tronquera is only about an hour’s drive from Waspan, he asked if he could come by and meet me in person.  So he came to Waspan and stayed in the same hotel where my team and I were staying.  And we met his wife Nancy and three teenage children, Andrew, Steven, and Melanie.  Norman flies for Alas Sobre Nicaragua.

The blessed thing about meeting this family was that the two youngest children are both growing and accomplished violinists.  And I happen to love classical music … violin music especially.  And guess what?  They had brought their violins with them.  God knew they were coming to meet up with me, and that my heart was very heavy with my grief and all.  So they put on a mini concert for us right there in Waspan in that hotel where we were staying.  What a blessing that was.  I felt God had sent them just for me … to comfort me personally.  Like God brought them right to where I was so very far away from home and all.  God was saying to me, “I am with you and I love you … and let me love on you here and now.”  God is that good and that interested.

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Rus Rus Five & the Hansens

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Melanie Hansen

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Steven Hansen

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Sweet Joy and Peace Sounded Out

 

When God shows up things become powerful, tender, convicting, hopeful, intimidating, reassuring, … all gamut of grace and mercy mingled with God’s sober presence.  Praise God for His influence, and for what He did in Waspan, both for our team and for the people we went to serve.  Praise His Faithful Name!

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Wedding Prep

And then there was this four hour wedding that took place the last day we were in town.  And it was beautiful … and six couples were married.  I had the privilege of marrying one of those six couples.  And so I had to get all dressed up for this.  It was the first time I had had to wear a suit and all.  No big deal.  I looked the part.  Of the six couples getting married, four where siblings of the same family … Orlando’s kids.  They were all married by civil methods, but it was time to take it to God in church, so to speak.  It was beautiful despite that it was long.

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Jholibeth Marquez Chow got married!

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I Got to walk her down the aisle

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Jholibeth and her husband

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Trying to look the part …

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Time to go home to Rus Rus

After and very memorable day of couples saying yes one way or the other, we began to prepare Sunday night to head back to Honduras the following Monday.

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Getting Back to Leimus, Honduras

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I Love Living Large with Jesus on this Big River

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Our Faithful KIA and Ride Home … with Julio of course

I am grateful to God for allowing me once again to go way out there with Him to the places he has called me to serve.  And I am also thankful for the many of you who make this possible with your prayers and financial support.  Bless you for your faithfulness … for being a vital part of our team.

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Home in My Rus Rus Forrest … Ajua!

All the glory goes to our Lord Jesus Christ.  Were it not for Him, none of this would be so powerful or so eternal.  Praise the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit!

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Orale y Ajua

Missions Is Many Things

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The Forest Surrounds Rus Rus

Missions is not glamorous.  But it is many things good and practical.  As you can probably guess, training leaders and ministering to adults and children on spiritual matters is both necessary and often very fulfilling.  But there is way more to missions than spiritual ministry if you will.  For me these days, my responsibilities entail just getting to Rus Rus.  There are no longer missionary couples representing Missionary Air Group, or a Cessna airplane, in Rus Rus.  At least not for some time to come.  But there are several key residents of Rus Rus that serve at our hospital and run our systems to keep the mission base going.  So I must reach Rus Rus at least once every three months.  I spend four to five weeks in the village and the surrounding area preaching and teaching the Word of God.  But my arrival is key since I carry the monthly salaries for those who oversee our base, carry out maintenance work, and serve in our hospital.  I also bring the vital medicines for our medical ministry and supplies necessary for our maintenance equipment.  And doing this is good.  In fact, it is great.  It has to get done to keep things going.  And I am blessed to be able to carry the ball.  The hospital continues on and people in growing numbers are receiving medical care.  So as you can see, I continue the pastoral ministry work and now also the necessary and very practical work of supporting our mission base and its vital ministries.

I am grateful to God for the two nurses that serve at our Rus Rus Hospital.  Geraldina Coleman is the head nurse, and acting hospital administrator while I am home in New Hampshire.  She has been with our hospital for about eight years, and she served at this same hospital many years prior to MAG assuming responsibility for it.  She lends stability and endurance to our hospital by her mere presence.  Her assistant is a new nurse named Ingrid Miranda.  Ingrid, I will feature a bit in this blog entry.  Also, we have Manuel Villanueva Lara, who serves as overall supervisor of our base and systems; and by systems I mean mostly our generators that produce electricity to our base and the hospital; and our water purification systems for the hospital and the local population.  Not to mention, that he oversees the work that our maintenance guy, Alfredo, does four days a week.  And we have a very loyal cleaning lady at our hospital, Sodaira.

So being present; getting to Rus Rus, is vital to the overall functioning of this ongoing ministry.  And though I never anticipated having the responsibility of overseeing all this, it is what God has called me to do at this time.  And the work is crucial.  As I sit and write this blog entry, I am making preparations to return in mid January.  I just got home this past Sunday.  Two months from now I should already be in my home away from home in Rus Rus.

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New Nurse Ingrid Miranda

Ingrid Miranda joined our hospital staff in early September.  She is a breath of fresh air.  She comes to us with many years of experience, she has worked in Rus Rus Hospital in the past, she has a great work ethic, and she brings spiritual vitality to our hospital.  Since her arrival everyday is begun in prayer at the hospital before the first patient is seen.  We recently averaged about 50 or so patients a month.  Like one and a half patients a day.  Not good.  But since her arrival we have seen 121 patients in three weeks in September and 160 in October.  And the numbers seem to be growing.  She is an impressive person.  Her vitality, her professionalism, her spirituality, and her compassion, have made the difference.

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Ingrid ministering to a dying patient in Suji

This pic shows Ingrid having a conversation with the wife of a dying man, Santiago, scene in the hammock.  He does not have long to live.  I had met Santiago while visiting the local baptist church in Suji.  [Suji is about 50 minutes from Rus Rus.]  After a Sunday morning service the local pastor asked me if I would go with him  and pray for a man in the village.  This is a common practice on Sunday afternoons, for pastors to make house calls and pray over needy people.  This is when I met Santiago.  I will not share his last name or the nature of his illness.  My heart went out to him immediately.  Several people that had traveled to visit the church in Suji joined me in praying for Santiago and his family.  In fact, we sang a couple of songs with our guitar and I sang him special music.  Pastor Fermina Lacoth shared a word from the Scriptures and we all prayed for him and his family.  You see Santiago here in a hammock.  But at night he was sleeping on a wooden bed with no mattress.  So I took it upon myself to find him a mattress and a pillow at our mission home and brought it to him to help him be comfortable.  I laid on a wooden bed once not long ago, for a whole night, and I want you to know that just laying on a board is not fun.  And if you are there for days and weeks, life can be very painful.  It is not way for anyone to die.

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Ingrid consulting with family

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Heading to Santiago’s home on Sunday

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Santiago’s home and our KIA

On the photo above you seen Santiago’s humble home and our KIA vehicle parked nearby.  The first visit to Santiago was on a Sunday.  The second visit with our nurse was on a Tuesday.  That is when we brought medicine and the mattress.  It is great fun driving the KIA in the region.  It allows me to minister in Suji and other villages readily.  I can just get in the truck and go off with Manuel.  Thank God for that flexibility.

Please pray for Santiago and his family.

As I stated earlier, missions is many things.  Before this particular mission trip I imagined all kinds of work in the forest taking key trees to cut lumber from them with our new Stihl chainsaw.  But it rained every single day for three weeks and this kept us from that plan.  But I decided it was time to go with Manuel to tend to his crops.  He grows rice, beans, corn, okra, squash, bananas, beets, and other vegetables.  My part was to help him weed the field.  We call it “limpiar”, to clean.  He avoids insecticides, for which a applaud him.  And he is more productive than others who do use chemicals.  So he has caught others’ attention and is beginning to show others best planting and nurturing practices.  In fact, Manuel plants and grows rice three times a year, beyond the traditional one time a year.  He and I are getting ready to plant and grow cacao… like as in chocolate.  Woohoo.  We’ll see.  Manuel worked with cacao with his dad in his younger years.  So the experience is there. In fact, government officials and projected programs are encouraging the introduction of cacao in the region.  Very inexpensive to do mind you.

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Going farming near the Rus Rus River

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La Milpa … the place for crops

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Manuel Thrives on Farming

Going farming with Manuel is helping me to know and experience the life of the Miskito adult.  They also raise domesticated animals like pigs, chickens, cattle, and the like.  But those who are able to sell some of their crops for cash are able to maybe purchase these livestock.

Many of you knew that I have wanted to learn to cut trees for lumber.  Lumber is no where to be had around here.  It is not like you can go to a lumber yard and buy up what you need for a project large or small.  No way.  Does not exist out here.  So we must get the right chainsaws and go for it ourselves.  The forest around here makes this possible.  But at the same time, one has to be mindful that you need to replant to keep the forest well stocked and preserved… something that is not done responsibly around these parts.  We have several pressing and vital projects that require lumber in the coming months.  Like trusses for the local school roof, which is about to come down with a strong wind.  Or the crucial repair of our local bridge … a once key bridge during the Contra-War years.  If our bridge fails, there is no road to Puerto Lempira to the outside world.  And the local cattle industry would be put at a standstill.  Need lumber… and thus our chainsaws.

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Our New Stihl 660 … Yeah

I am a make-believe New Hampshire guy who does not own either a truck, a gun, or a dog.  Sounds like a sad country song, I know.  Lol.  But I do own a Stihl chainsaw.  Yeah baby….!  And it is a big one at that.  The kind that not only takes big trees down, but can cut trees along the trunk as you will see.

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These big boy is going down….

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David Lacoth making the initial cut

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Manuel waiting his turn…

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Cutting to lumber lengths…

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Looking Cool and Looking On …

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We are not in Kansas anymore….

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I hope the video works on this blog.  But you get the picture.  Tree comes down and in a matter of an hour or so we have boards.  And the following day we have a brand new gate at our office entrance.

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A Solid Gate

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These people know how to build … impressive!

You can see the kind of work and effort these Miskito people make to carry on.  I have learned and grown so much since I began serving God in La Mosquitia.  But I am about to learn to farm, and before long our lumber making skills will help us rebuild our local school and rescue a crucial bridge in our region.  Praise God for growing me and for helping me to inspire my Miskito and Indio brothers and sisters to move our village ahead.

The following pics are just a dabbling of sorts.  One is of a couple of boys in the village who love to ride around in their horses.  Better than pick-up trucks.  I call them Rus Rus bicycles… the horses that is.

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Bairon & Isaac

And the last pics are of a small project we took on my last week in the village.  We decided to clean up the cemetery a bit since the forest grasses can take over if left unattended.  We had a great time together.  And the tombs cleaned up well.  There is so much to do if one wants to keep busy.

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Sisters Fermina and Marsela Lacoth

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Boys and their Machetes

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I can see the cross clearly now!

Thank you all for the prayers and the financial support that makes this life possible.  You have allowed me to love a people far from home.  But they are now a part of my life and I am now a part of theirs.  And they are teaching me more than I could ever have imagined.  We are growing together, and I trust the best years are yet to come.  Keep sending me please.  For the glory of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

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Praise our Mighty Creator! 

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Living the Word of God …

 

 

Nicaragua Training Event on the Coco River – July 2017

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The Coco River in Suhi, Honduras

It is with much anticipation that the MAG Pastors Team traveled up river to the town of San Carlos, Nicaragua.  This key town is located right smack on the Coco River, which makes up the border of Eastern Nicaragua and Eastern Honduras.  Here is the view of the river from the town of Suhi, Honduras.  Suhi is where I often minister to a small baptist church.  And it is my second home away from the Rus Rus mission base.  The river bank on the right hand side is Honduras and the left side is Nicaragua.  I am standing on Honduran soil looking at a high river.  A closer look would reveal the brown muddy color of a high and fairly fast moving river.  The week before the river would have been too dangerous for us to travel due to heavy debris from homes destroyed by the high crested river and fallen trees swallowed up by the same.

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On July 24th our team of three members, plus a couple other leaders from Rus Rus got ready to head down this long steep set of stairs to get into our batu (river boat).  The following is the good pic of our batu.  It is the green one.

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Our Long Green Batu in San Carlos, Nicaragua

It would be this green batu that we traveled on.  It is about 35 to 40 feet in length.  I forgot to measure it this time.  Larger and deeper than the one we used two years ago when we last traveled to San Carlos.  Here it is parked in San Carlos.  It is a quiet and beautiful scene.  Reminds me that Jesus invited me to follow Him to this part of the world seven years ago.  And He was calling me then to a great adventure.  The beauty and neediness of the area helps me to be reminded that I am on a journey.

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Here you can see several of the pastors we picked up along the river.  This is the pier in the town of Esperanza, Nicaragua.  They were not all from Esperanza, but this was the town nearest to their own village.  They knew to meet us on the river by hearing a message on AM radio sent by their regional leader, the Rev. Orlando Marquez Mendez.

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Orlando Marquez Mendez in the Light Blue Cap

Missionary Pastor Orlando Marquez has become a great partner is this ministry to the spiritual leaders of the river region.  We met three years ago and have since been working very closely to ensure that the evangelical pastors of the remote area receive training from our MAG team.  According to him, no one else is willing to come into that area to train these men and women.  Apparently it is remote enough, and in some ways, costly enough, to prohibit others from going.  I think that the reason may simply be that it is not glamorous enough, or maybe looks intimidating enough, that it would cause other possible trainers to leave it alone.  In my opinion, as I have become acquainted with the area, it is NOT that dangerous, or that remote.  A beautiful, leisurely ride on a large enough batu makes the trip seem like an enjoyable tourist event.  My take mind you.

Consider how beautiful the region is….

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A Couple on Dug Out Canoe

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The beauty of the region inspires me.  I honestly felt that I was on a vacation with people I love and in a place that can easily take your breath away.  Not all ministry and remote places are dangerous.  I felt safer here in this region than I feel back home in a large city or in the more populous areas of Honduras.  My heart is eager to serve here in this area. The Spirit of God has prepared me to serve here.  And many of you make this possible. Thank you for sending me and my team to represent Jesus!

We experienced real joy; the many pastors and families, as we traveled for a few hours on this batu, on this river.

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Playing Guitar

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Happy Fermina Lacoth Montoya from Rus Rus

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The joy of being together for a special spiritual event makes life a pleasure.  The pastors expressed their excitement about what we were teaching them over three full days of training.  We covered topics like, OT Overview [CASKET EMPTY], How to Study the Bible, Spiritual Leadership, Doctrines of the Holy Spirit, and the Trinity, Grace vs Law, the Power of Christ, and discussion of pastoral ethics and best practices, as well as lessons on True Repentance, What It Means to Follow Jesus, and Taking the Gospel to the Nations. The conversations during the presentations was another great blessing for all involved.

Here are some pics of the pastors during the training sessions.

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Pastors at Training Sessions

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TD Bank Folders with Messages for Graduates

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Here I Am!

The five of us from Rus Rus stayed in very meager accommodations.  I get a laugh discovering where we are going to sleep.  I am usually more concerned about where we are going to eat and what we are going to eat.  The hotel was just less than $5.00 a night per person.  Being so cheap, I invited our batu driver to stay with us.  And we ate reasonably well at a humble but mostly clean kitchen just around the corner from our hotel.  Check out my room.

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Mosquito Nets are Essential for Survival and Adequate Sleep

We had many mosquitoes to avoid.  Due to the heavy rains and the region, mosquitoes are a premium.   I got bitten more than ever before.  Hope malaria stays away.  The kitchen as a fun place to hang out.

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Tajadas – Thin Fried Bananas

Rice and beans were served at almost every meal both in Rus Rus and on this trip to Nicaragua.  I am avoiding eating rice and beans now that I am home.  It is a good diet. But a steady diet of it makes me want to wait til October to eat them again.  Kind of like having cheerios for every meal.  I ate a hamburger the first chance I got when I got out of the region on my way home.  I do not recommend Pizza Hut or Burger King, but it was a blessing after five weeks of rice and beans.

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Yahtzee & Farkel at Nights

This event was one of the most blessed for me personally.  Out team was very cohesive, the pastors very attentive and grateful.  The discussions were rich and informative. Everyone got to share their thoughts and asked questions for clarification and further insights.  Thank you, Lord Jesus!

Check out some pics of others and our return trip.

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Missionaries Orlando Marquez and Carlos Paz

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With Batu Driver Romel Zamora

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Romel on the move….

Batu driver Romel Zamora (no relation to Nazi General Rommel), was a great blessing. Not only was he an excellent batu driver, on what was a challenging river at the time, but he participated in the training event.  He gave some of the most insightful answers.  I hope never to travel on this great river without Romel on the helm.

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Mario Alexis Lopez of Rus Rus

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Daughter to one of the pastors

This little girl traveled with her dad to the training event.  He brought her along because he had no one to leave her with.  Mom had left the family.  It was hard to cheer her up.  I gave her a whole bunch of my Maria Cookies.  She did not smile until she got home and got off the batu.  Life is hard in that area.

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My Tree in Rus Rus

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My Bed and Fan In Rus Rus

I am so grateful once again for how God is leading me.  I am grateful for how our MAG team is building men, women, and children in that part of the world.  God is good.  And all of you reading this blog and praying for us throughout our journey are the complete team that makes all this possible.  Bless you all!

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Teaching the Word of God

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Thank you all!

Teaching CASKET EMPTY in Guatemala March 2017

Entering Guate

Entering Guatemala

These suspicious looking characters are non other than Esau Nunez and myself just about to enter Guatemala by car.  This was my fourth visit to Guatemala, but only my first representing Missionary Air Group.  This was the second country Esau has visited with me. His first was Nicaragua two years ago, and now Guatemala.  God is allowing us to represent Him in the world of Central America.  And for that we are both deeply grateful.  It is proving to be a true joy and a great adventure as well.

We had been invited to share our Casket Empty Old Testament teaching curriculum in two areas in Guatemala: the northern department of Peten and in Guatemala City.  Our hosts were leaders of the Commission to the Americas (Comision a las Americas).  This is an evangelical ministry that has established over 40 churches in the last 30 plus years.  Upon our arrival in Guatemala City we were received by the president of the board for Commission to the Americas, Pastor Jerson Cartagena of Iglesia (Church) Jesus el Buen Pastor in Iluciones, a neighborhood in Guatemala City.  He and leaders of his church were present to give us a welcome dinner at the church site.

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Pastor Jerson and MAG Volunteer Esau Nunez

The following morning we headed out toward the Department of Peten, located in the northern most region of Guatemala, with Pastor Jerson and two other leaders, Pastor Jaime Lopez and Pastor Pedro Castillo.  The five of us hit it off in gran style and had the most fun getting to know one another.  These pastors and tour guides would prove to be the most loving and encouraging men Esau and I could ever hope to be with on mission.  Our trip consisted of traveling in a rented car for about 10 hours; mostly due to the fact that we stopped to eat, take in the sights, and to answer the call of nature.  😉

Iglesia Barrio Tikal

Upon our arrival in Flores, Peten, we settled into a humble but comfortable hotel for the night.  The next morning we visited the island of Flores for a couple of hours.  This is a most beautiful island and the center of it all in the Peten region.

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Entering Flores

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The Island of Flores

I know what you are thinking, these guys are having way too much fun. True.  Such is the life of a missionary on a world tour with Jesus.  You should consider going with Him someday.

After a brief visit around the island by boat, we headed to the neighborhood of Barrio Tikal, to the Iglesia Jesus el Buen Pastor.  Most churches have the same name; at least for the most part. Esau and I would enjoy the blessing of executing a two day (12 hour) teaching event of the the curriculum CASKET EMPTY; for 34 men and women leaders to be exact.  We would cover 6 major time periods: Creation, Abraham, Sinai, Kings, Exile, and Temple.  Esau covered Abraham and Exile.  I covered the rest.  It was truly well received.  The attendees received an Old Testament Timeline (Guide) and a full outline of the whole presentation. They were grateful and excited to receive these resources and to participate in the whole event.  It is serious work both to teach for so many hours, as well as to take in so much information over that stretch of time  as well.  But we all shared and received it with a full heart.

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Imagine this in Spanish…

Dr. Carol Kaminski would have been proud.  I let all the leaders know that Dr. Kaminski had generously contributed the Timelines and the Outlines.  Our time together also included times of worship and prayer.

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Barrio Tikal Training Event

The two day event took place on a Saturday afternoon into the evening, and the following Sunday, from 8:00 AM until 5:00 PM.  What a blessing these folks were.  They worked hard to take in all the teaching, and they enjoyed wonderful meals with us over the two days. That Sunday night we went over to have dinner at a church building in Libertad, the church led by the area leader, Pastor Oseas Venturaescobar.

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Pastor Oseas Venturaescobar

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Beautiful New Temple in Libertad

Following another wonderful meal with more loving and generous people, we headed back to Flores and drove around on the Island of Flores.  It is so impressive at night as well; as you can see.

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The Island of Flores at Night

You can most definitely tell that I did not take this photo.  But mine is not as impressive or as clear.  And now you can take in some of the sites of the Ruins of Tikal, which we visited for a few hours on Monday morning before heading back to the Capital of Guatemala City.

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View from another temple

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Suffering for the Lord.  Some one has to do it.  Might as well be Esau and I.  The trip home on Monday around noon took another whole day in a small car.  But we enjoyed the fellowship more than should be allowed.  The time in Guatemala, as beautiful as it is, and the time with these precious Guatemalan leaders, made the 5 plus weeks away from home not so long.

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Our Hosts – The Cartagena Family

Upon our return to Guatemala City, Esau and I settled into the home of Pastor Jerson and his gracious family.  We spent a week in their home, participated in a couple of evening services, and got ready for the big event of teaching over 100 leaders at the Seminario de Comision a las Americas.  But before the big weekend arrived, Esau and I were invited to take part in the Fifteenth Year Anniversary of a church in the neighborhood of Rosario. Come to find out, I had helped to build their church building many years before.  So it was quite special that I should be asked to preach the sermon for that occasion.  I felt blessed by the Spirit to be in that very place, with those precious people, in a place familiar to me.

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Anniversary Service in Rosario

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Praying Over People

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Esau Praying for Children

The following day was Saturday, March 18th, and the time had come to teach the CASKET EMPTY curriculum once again.  But this time it would be for 111 men and women leaders. And could they ever worship and pray with unequaled enthusiasm.  It seemed like heaven had come down.  Praise God.  Esau and I were both deeply moved.  They received the teaching well and participated fully.

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Carlos teaching the Old Testament

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People in Prayer

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There were several moments when the worship was so strong and the presence of the Spirit so obvious that I did not ever want to leave this place and these people.  Praise God for the blessings He so richly bestows upon us.

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A Joyful Ending

I am so thankful to God once again.  He has called me into so many blessed events these last six years of my life.  I could not be more grateful for all that the Spirit of God has shown me and for how He has led me.  Bless your Holy Name Lord God!

THANK YOU ALL FOR MAKING THIS MINISTRY POSSIBLE!

 

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February 2017 Mission Event – Medicine and The Word of God

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My Home Tree

This small and simple tree is one of my favorites in the world.  Yes, in the world.  Why could such a humble tree be so huge in my estimation?  Because, though seemingly insignificant, it reminds me of the place God has called me to in Rus Rus and the region of La Mosquitia.  I took this photo some years ago. Now the tree is larger and even more beautiful.  I enjoy it most in this foggy state. I love how it reaches out some.  Notice the wind sock to the right of it in the background; it serves as a reminder that there is an airfield just a few feet beyond.  We who serve in this place are members of the Missionary Air Group team.

This February event allowed me to serve as a medical interpreter once again.  Now six years, at this time of the year, and counting.  It also allowed me to reach out to hundreds of Honduran and Nicaraguan patients from the area with the Gospel.  And God had planned that I should also join many others in ministering to a family who had just suffered the death of their two year old son, Mark Anthony Salomon.  He died the Sunday I arrived from asthma complications.    Alfredo and Berdina, parents to this precious child, received our love and support.

MEDICAL EVENT

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My God Child in the Yellow Dress – Carla Maria

The medical event allowed me to interpret for three nurses who took turns doing consults with patients while I chimed-in in English and Spanish.  I am not yet sure how many patients a team of twelve medical professionals  and three dental professionals saw over a nine day period. But it was over a thousand for sure.  This family is a local family from Rus Rus.  Yomari, the woman on the right, is the mother of my god child Carla Maria on the far left in the yellow dress.  Carla Maria is what the locals call her because I gave her the name. I simply named her Carla, after me.  Hahaha.  Truly original.

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Colorful Happy Nicaraguan Woman

I share this photo just to bless you all.  This woman could tell I was happy to see her.  She has seen me several times over the years.  I wish I knew her name.  I do not.  Sadly so, since I am so good at names.  I believe she walked in from Nicaragua once again.  We know each other only by sight, and only by the years of her visiting the Rus Rus Hospital during this crucial annual medical brigade.  I know we gave her parasite medicine, pain medicine, and vitamins.  I am sure of that.  How sure?  We give this and more to almost everyone we see.  And if we did not give her such basic care and medicine, surely her life would be more difficult.  Does she not look big time grateful?   Colorful?  Loving?

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Young Nicaraguan Patients

These kids shown here above were all from Nicaragua.  They walked in from up river – the Coco River.  Imagine going to the doctor and having to walk for two days or more just to make sure the parasites in your belly don’t rob you of your health and quality of life. You too would do it.  You would have to.  For them, it is our hospital that offers them the basic care that allows them to endure.  I also had a chance to get them all riled up yelling “Ajua” in Spanish, Mexican style.  They seemed to like it as much as I did.

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Future Red Sox Fan

I have the simple pleasure of caring for babies often while their moms are somewhere else being examined by a doctor for some infection or the other. This little girl, unbeknownst to her became a member of Red Sox Nation.  Does she not look like someone God would create on His best day?  This is also why I serve Jesus in the world.

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Maria y Gabriela – Las Dentistas

Let us not forget that this year’s medical brigade included dentists; three young women form Honduras.  Zaide, Maria, and Gabriela.  Gabriela is from Roatan, and Zaide and Maria are from San Pedro Sula.  They filled cavities, extracted teeth and molars, and they cleaned teeth.  They even cleaned mine when all the people had been cared for.

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Gabriela working and Marvin Valle helping…

Once in awhile a patient will walk into a consult and surprise you with their amazing life and potential.  The child below is Jesly Coleman.  He is from Puerto Lempira.  And he is a truly intelligent person.  When he sat down and looked over at me, I knew he was going to be clear and precise in his description of his own medical needs.  He went to work like some experienced and competent person would do.  He was detailed and confident about what he was dealing with regarding his health.  He was articulate.  He was impressive.  He was a breath of fresh air.  He was memorable.  I will not soon forget him.  In fact, I hope I run into him many times in the future.  I am always looking for a few good men and women of God.

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The Most Promising Jesly Coleman

MINISTRY OF THE WORD

This February 2017 allowed me to share the Word of God in preaching opportunities and during the vigil of the two year old who died, Mark Anthony.  But I was especially blessed to have baptized six believers.  They are seen here below.  They are from left to right: Benigno, Eloida, Kevin, Aracely, Silvia, and Felencia.  I have been working in the lives of most of them now for some years.  What a joy it is to see them take this step of faith and obedience.  May they become dynamic and faithful men and women of Christ

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Baptisms on The Rus Rus River

 

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Sean Donnelly Challenging Baptismal Candidates

 

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Teenager  Aracely Being Baptized

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Felencia’s Baptism

I praise God for how His Spirit draws people to himself.  I rejoice in how he awakens in them the desire to follow Jesus.  I just get to be there to see how great and powerful our God truly is.

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Honduran & Nicaraguan

One of these two boys took one of our hats.  I wonder witch one it was.  It looks better on him.  Adonis.  Little brother to Adonai.  Thank you for all you do to make it possible for me to serve our Lord Jesus Christ in the world.  Bless you.  Thank you for your support and for your prayers.  To God be all the glory.

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Heading for Guatemala Next

There is nothing more adventurous, more fulfilling, and more joy-giving than following Jesus…..

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ORALE

2017 MAG/Common Ground Mission Team Blesses Children in Eastern Honduras

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2017 MAG/Common Ground Mission Team

It is always a joy to minister to the children of the villages of Rus Rus and Mahbita.  These one hundred or so kids have been blessed to receive Bible lessons and encouragement now for four straight years by teams that have traveled far to love on them and to grow with them.  This year’s team was made up of 9 members plus myself.  Here in this photo there are six of us.  Myself on the left, Amanda Pierce, Pastor Frank Jewett in the back, Corinne Hennessey, Ron Mills, and Angel Vargas.  The four  others were Felicia Dowling, who led the Vacation Bible School, Jeremy Tejada from the Bronx in New York, Carmen Garrigan from MAG, and Esau Nunez from Honduras, a member of the MAG Honduras Pastoral Team.  Here below you see some of their photos serving the children.

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Felicia Dowling, VBS Leader, from Central Congregational Church, Derry, NH

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Jeremy Tejada from Redeemer Presbyterian Church, in New York City

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Carmen Garrigan, of Missionary Air Group, North Carolina

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Esau Nunez from MAG Pastoral Team, Honduras

It would be hard to decide who was happier on any given day; the kids or the team members.  What a joy it was to see them so engaged day after day. They spent their time giving affection, coloring, singing in Spanish when they could, helping with crafts and projects, teaching lessons in Spanish and Misquito, and playing baseball, jump rope, dodge ball, and all other manner of craziness.  Oh yeah, and there was this dancing to Misquito children’s songs.

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You saw it here first.  Hahaha.

But these ten did not make up our whole dream team.  We also had those we recruited in Rus Rus to make us twice as effective and impressive.  We had Fermina Lacuth Montoya, and Tirza Lopez, and Naomi Chow Coleman.

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Tirza, Fermina, & Naomi

We formed a beautiful bond right out of the gate.  And all thirteen of us were together Monday morning in Rus Rus all the way to Friday.  And the two teen girls were glued to us on our mission to Suhi the afternoons of Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  Tirza and Naomi sang worship songs all the way to Suhi and back; all three times we traveled there. What a joy it was to serve with this dream team.  Praise God for the love that is shed abroad in our hearts.

Now for some great pics of the children we served in Rus Rus and Suhi.

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Some Rus Rus Faithfuls

The Rus Rus bunch were made up of kids from Rus Rus, a handful from Mahbita, and several Nicaraguan refugees settling down in Rus Rus for now.  We are getting to know the kids from Nicaragua much better over time.  They understand Misquito more than Spanish, and for that reason we interpreted our messages to that language every day.

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The Six Regulars from Mahbita

I have seen these six girls from Mahbita grow over the years.  What a joy to minister to them as well.  They walked five straight days to get to us at Rus Rus.  Fifty five minutes on a very muddy footpath to RR, and fifty five minutes back to Mahbita.  All for the passion of learning more about Jesus.  This effort on their part will result in a better life for them; a life lived in love for Jesus Christ.  Look at them.  Are they not precious?  This is what life is all about.  Coming through for the children of the world.

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Two Happy Cowboys in Rus Rus

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Eliezer and the Best Smile in Town

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That was a solid sampling of boys.  And these guys are getting better and better at baseball. They may be hard to beat someday when they travel to some Nicaraguan town to show their strength.  But the girls have been learning to play ball right alongside of them.  I hope to provide a Christian based Baseball Camp for all of them some day soon.  Just a dream for now.

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We are fearfully and wonderfully made.  God’s kids seeking Him out.  These last two girls from Suhi may have wondered if I would really bring a team as far as their very remote village of Suhi along the Coco River and the border to Eastern Nicaragua.  They beamed when they saw our KIA vehicle pull up to the church.  Some day maybe many of these children will help me reach more and more people for the Kingdom of God.  And showing up time after time will make all the difference.  Many of you make this possible.  Thank you!

So we took that step to get to Suhi with a MAG/Common Ground Mission Team.  And the kids literally came out of the woodwork.

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We met in the baptist church, called Iglesia Bautista Galilea.  I have had the joy of being a part of this church now for about 2 and half years.  They have embraced me and I can feel their love every time I am with them.  Pastor Durlin Dixon is now their pastor.  He served as a deacon for several years leading up to this.  He is steady and a true joy to know.

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Pastor Durlin Dixon

Pastor Durlin’s wife, Alicia, hosted our visit since he was away to Managua, Nicaragua for a pastors event.  We were able to leave a good amount of resources in her hand to help this church with their children’s ministry.

This team was also blessed to have spent some time with the Honduran soldiers in Rus Rus.  They belong to the 5th Battalion of the Honduran Army.  I had the privilege of doing a Bible distribution with the soldiers once again.  I have mostly given them New Testaments in the past.  This time our team gave them a complete NIV Bible in Spanish.  Ten in total. Nine men, and a young woman who was the wife of one of the men, received a Bible.  And they were so grateful and formal about this.  Next time I will need to dress the part and act a bit more formal in this endeavor.  If they consider it so special, so should I. Check it out.

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It is not only a great joy to put God’s Word in the hands of military men, but it is a greater blessing to give the Scriptures to men who take it so seriously.  Praise God for these men.  I have been ministering to them now for four years.  They have come to trust me over the years.  Esau and I have had the joy of teaching several platoons.

But this mission team included Pastor Frank Jewett of the Advent Christian Church of Haverhill, Mass.  He was so excited to share with them on discipleship and baptism.  They listened with respect and had to do some serious soul searching after Pastor Frank was done teaching.  I trust that in the days to come that message will bear much fruit.

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Sgt. Rolan Garcia & Pastor Frank Jewett

Sgt. Garcia has been a loyal partner in helping his men study with us over the years.  Thank you, Pastor Frank, for pouring your heart out to these men.  They will long remember you!

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All Business

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Trying to Be Mexicans like Me!  Ajua!

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My Favorite Pic This Trip

This pic is of a young girl from Suhi.  She was baptized the last time I taught in Suhi.  But here she is shown arriving for the event with her special needs little brother.  God impressed upon me to hand over her kid brother to one of our team members so that she could participate more fully in the event, and so that her brother could be loved on by one of us.  I thank God for children such as these.  They are the reason we serve.  It is so plainly obvious that Jesus loves them beyond description.  And that being the case, how could we not show up for them.

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Here she is being baptized in July of 2016

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This is how you build their lives.  You form relationships of love and sincerity, and you keep showing up when you say you will.  So I thank my God for allowing me to serve these children.  And I thank Him all the more for allowing me to do so with teams like the one that just visited them.

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Carmen Garrigan  and Felicia Dowling on the road to Suhi

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Amanda Pierce on the Move

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Kids arriving at Suhi Church

I thank all of you who make this possible by your prayers and financial support.  Thank you for sending your family members to serve Jesus far away.  The kids thank you, I thank you, the team thanks you, and God loves it when we trust Him with his kids.

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Gracias hermanos!

May God receive all the glory He deserves for all that He does and for how deep and long distance is his love.  Yes, I meant “long distance” this time.

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And the Coffee is Good!

You really should come to Honduras with me someday.  It would do you a world of good!  And you can go around yelling “Ajua” with me everywhere.

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July 2016 Pastors’ Training Event in Nicaragua and Honduras

I personally want to thank all of you who have supported and prayed for the work God has called me to do in the eastern most parts of Honduras and Nicaragua.  As most of you know, the work I have taken on has been determined I believe in great part by the leadership the Holy Spirit has given me and the work he has introduced me into.  I strongly believe that a follower of Jesus Christ is just that, a follower.  That means the Holy Spirit of God gets to lead and call us into the work he desires to do through us, or for that matter, me in this case. That begs the question, can a man (believer) truly be led of God? Most definitely, yes! Am I such a man?  Am I being led by God’s Spirit?  Not so sure all of the time.  But he knows my heart, and he knows I beg to be led.  In fact, I am afraid not to be led by him.

I have never been a missionary who embellishes stories to impress my supporters. Guess what, it is not always easy to do what we do, and it does not always work out the way we would like things to work out.  God is in control and he does not take his cues from men and women. But he does accomplish his purposes through people who look to him, who rely on his leadership, and who willingly submit to his will.  Because the fact of the matter is, that apart from Jesus, we can do nothing (John 15:5).  Zero.  We can posture, brag, embellish, and even talk a big talk; but apart from what God actually accomplishes, nothing of spiritual substance actually happens.  God will someday make crystal clear what will endure, and that will actually be a very sobering day for some of us.  May he get all the glory that he deserves.

My most recent mission event proved to be quite challenging; in great part because it is always more difficult to move about the region of La Mosquitia without the MAG Cessna airplane.  One has to fly by commercial plane into eastern Honduras, in this case, Puerto Lempira; a not so impressive town that has a couple of gravel roads that allow access into the region.  In Puerto Lempira Esau and myself stayed with a family I have known for about four years; Aracely and Yvette Chow Coleman, daughters of Geraldina Coleman, the head nurse of Rus Rus Hospital.  We were well received and well cared for.  I bought groceries for us and for this family so that we could spend a weekend together while Esau and I awaited the arrival of our third team member, Roman Lopez Chow.

That weekend proved to be a true blessing.  I have been wanting to reconnect with Pastor Celia Ruiz of the Church of God in Puerto Lempira.  She is a sort of leader in the region and a highly respected woman of God.  She was the first pastor to welcome me as a missionary to the people of the region when I officially began to serve Missionary Air Group in September of 2012.  She was glad to get reacquainted with me and to meet Esau.  She asked us to sing and preach the Word that Sunday that we were in town.

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Children of the Church of God of Puerto Lempira

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The Joy of Being with Pastor Celia Ruiz

I sang and I preached a message from 2 Kings for the Sunday Morning Bible Study hour.  It appears to me that it was well received.  Pastor Ruiz asked if we could  return and help her train their leaders.  I told her that it would be an honor if God led us to do so.  Esau was slated to share in the evening service but a major rain storm led the church to cancel that service.  We hope to return to serve Pastor Ruiz in the not too distant future.

The Saturday we stayed with Aracely Chow’s family we had a chance to minister to her children in the Word of God; like a mini Vacation Bible School. We had a great time with the few kids that participated.

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Loving Kids in Puerto Lempira

On Monday of July 4th Roman Lopez was able to meet up with us.  We had spent most of that day awaiting his flight from Wampusirpe.  Flights in and out of Wampu are not a guarantee on any given day, so we were quite happy to see him.   We made plans to leave the next day, July 5th, for Nicaragua.  We would be traveling on a pick-up truck, full of several people, for a four hour trip to the village of Leimus, Honduras, that is located on the Coco River, just across from Nicaragua.  We crossed the river by Batu and were met on the Nicaraguan side by baptist leader Rev. Orlando Marquez Mendez.

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Batu Awaiting Our Crossing into Nicaragua

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Esau and Roman getting ready to cross the highly crested river

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Baptist Leader Orlando Marquez Mendez

Upon crossing the Coco River and meeting up with our good brother Orlando, we made our way to Waspan, Nicaragua on another pick-up truck.  This time we were met by immigration people (Nicaraguan Soldiers) and this year we were ready for them.  Esau and I had real passports and Roman had the right permission paperwork.  In Waspan we settled into a humble but clean and safe hotel; el Hotelito Piloto.  The owner received us well and we were able to have some meals there and all of our dinners.

The training of pastors in Waspan, Nicaragua turned out to be a greater blessing than last year.  There were more pastors, we were better prepared, and the lessons we shared with them we trust were enthusiastically received.  At least they said that they were.  Here are some pics of us and the pastors.

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Teaching the Old Testament in Waspan

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Pastors and Leaders holding the OT CASKET EMPTY Banner

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Omar holding up his Old Testament Guide

Leaders like Omar, shown in photo above, were very grateful for the Old Testament overview.  It consisted of 12 full hours of teaching, covered first thing in the morning for four straight days.  Other doctrines were taught in the afternoon sessions.  I did most of the OT teaching as Esau and Roman assisted me with the reading of key OT chapters that needed to be highlighted.  One pastor expressed his gratitude for this OT training and did so with tears in his eyes.  It does not get any better than that.

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The Joy of Serving God’s People in Waspan Along the Coco River

We all agreed to continue to revisit this OT teaching and to explore some sections further. They could all recite the six major periods and most of the key events in each.  That is a great start.  I am very grateful to God for blessing us all in this way.  The main leader of these Nicaraguan pastors agrees with me that it would be a solid plan to take his best pastors and to begin to train them to be able to share this OT presentation with other pastors and to individual congregations.  I hope to use our team to visit key churches at some point in the future as well.  This is just the beginning.  We are getting to know and trust each other as we develop and nurture these relationships.

A Guatemalan leader has expressed an interest in our Pastoral Team sharing this CASKET EMPTY presentation at their seminary.  God appears to be opening doors for our team to develop other leaders in other places. These group of pastors have established churches in the area of Flores in the Peten region of northern Guatemala.

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Children at Waspan Baptist Church on Sunday Morning

One of the great blessings of this ministry is that I get to know so many people; men and women of God in remote places in this world.  But I love to connect with kids to let them know how special they are and how much Jesus loves them.  There are so many little friends, and even several teens who opened up to us some.  Praise God.

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Some of the Pastors in Second Venue in Suhi, Honduras

After having trained about 40 pastors in Waspan, Nicaragua, we went on to train about 20 in Suhi, Honduras, a key village on the Coco River.  We covered that training event in three full days.  A shorter version since we were able to make more progress with less people and shorter Q&A sessions.  But we covered the whole OT teaching plus all of our doctrinal lessons.  I am truly proud of our team.  I thank God for Esau and Roman.  They are faithful men who know how to love, serve, and teach with much passion.

Before leaving Suhi, two older girls expressed their desire to be baptized.  Their faith had been challenged during some of the evening services.  What a joy it was to see them get baptized.  I could have baptized them, but it is always a joy to see their pastors do it themselves.  Praise God.

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Living the Life!

After our ministry in Suhi I felt the need to travel back to the USA since my dad had been doing poorly and I wanted to be in the States in case he became more serious.  The plan had been for Esau and I to travel for a week’s visit in Rus Rus but it was not to be this time. I plan to return to only Rus Rus sometime in October, no later than early November.  As God leads and provides.  I am missing the kids, adults, and our missionaries there.

Upon leaving for Puerto Lempira across the forest of La Mosquitia we did not go far before our pick-up truck ran into some real mechanical problems.  Almost comical.  When I booked the trip on this vehicle I assumed Esau and myself, plus another person would be traveling together.  But I did not envision three huge pigs, nine large sacks of rice or beans, nine total people, plus two large empty (thank goodness) 50 gallon drums tide together, would be our full cargo.  Too crazy to imagine let alone see it with my own eyes.  I sat in the back with my feet hanging out the side of the truck, all while trying not to fall off.  Hahaha.  Lol.

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Broken Down in the Forrest – Awaiting Help

We would eventually spend a solid eleven hours in the forest trying to get to Puerto Lempira.  We did eventually get help and a ride for all of us stranded on the side of that lonely road.  Thought for awhile that we might have to spend the night before anyone came by on that road.  But God bailed us out again.  There was a moment when one vehicle offered to take me and Esau since we looked somewhat important (Lol), but I told them we would wait til they came by later.  I did not want to be that entitled north american that got to leave while the others were left behind.  Especially when there were two little girls who would be left behind.  At least I understood that Jesus would never leave then there. Besides, I had already gotten them to smile, listen to my singing, and had taken their pics. Here they are.

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My Forest Buddies

Esau and I sang to everyone with guitar accompaniment.  And we prayed.  And we got wet. And we had enough time to dry out also.  Another great adventure on the road with Jesus. You would love it.  I went to a nearby creek to get us water to drink.  Tasted funky, but it was refreshing.  I wouldn’t recommend it without a water filter.  🙂

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Hooking up to a better truck!

Have you ever pulled another vehicle with a pole?  It can be done.  It keeps the rear vehicle from plowing into the good truck.  Hahaha.  A good machete can get a tree ready for pulling in a heartbeat.  Yes!  Nothing like a sharp machete.

Thank you once again for caring enough to send me and our team to those remote places in the world were people are ready to receive what God has prepared for them.  Bless you.  I thank you!  Our team thanks you!  The leaders and their people thank you!  Little girls especially thank you for sending funny missionaries to keep them company on the road to Life.

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