It has been awhile since my last post so a lot has happened. Work at the project is going well for both Mike and I. Mike has been very busy with repairs, maintenance and team projects. Currently he is in the process of helping to complete a larger chicken pen for the chickens, working towards the goal of increased self-sustainability at Shadow. He is also working on an ever-growing list of repairs and replacement needs in all of the buildings as well as helping the missionaries with problems in their homes. A lot has been done already with the help of two teams who recently visited: Painting projects, clearing out brush and weeding around the property, replacement and/or repair of many of the broken toilets,showers, and overall plumbing in the homes,continued progress in completing the daycare/preschool building,completion of the preschool playground, replacement and /or repair of screens in the homes and much, much more.
Those of you who know Mike personally know that he fit right in immediately and got right to work. At home, however, things have been more difficult. He has had to go back to Ohio again for 4 weeks to work at our business and try to fill personnel positions that are necessary for us to remain here. It has been a struggle for us financially, as we are completely self-supporting so far and mentally and emotionally as we try to adjust to being apart as a family and try to understand the series of events that we feel are pulling Mike away from being where he feels called to be. It has been a difficult time, but we know that in all things God is in control and His will will prevail, so we are moving forward uncertainly but with faith that He will guide us. Please pray that we will be able to stand firm in whatever the future holds and that we will be given clear direction as we go forward.
For me, my work with home school assistance with the missionary children as well as homeschooling my own boys and teaching at the Preschool are immensely rewarding. This month I received 4 new students at the Preschool and they are such a blessing to the class and to me. The one little girl in particular would not even look at me the first few days and if I even so much as glanced in her direction, would burst out crying. Now, she runs up and hugs me with all the other students when I come in and she is even using some of the English I have been teaching her. The other 3 children just arrived this week and they are unbelievably sweet. Knowing a little of their home situation and why they came to Shadow, it always amazes me that they can still be so loving and accepting of what we are trying to speak into their little lives. Just being able to speak the name of Jesus to children such as these is an unmeasurable blessing.
A friend from church was in Jalapa (a nearby town) on a mission trip and so I got to spend the day with her and her daughter and show them around Monjas and Shadow. What a blessing to see a familiar face from home! Also, a team from Heartland Christian School will be here at the end of April, so we are very excited to see our friends and work with them here.
Jonathan and Jacob are growing and flourishing here in every way. They have both been admittedly homesick from time to time, but they both also love it here for many reasons. They have developed new friendships with the other missionary children as well as with the children at Shadow. The opportunities to educate them not only about culture, geography and language but also about what it means to be a “missionary” and how God is at work everywhere all the time are endless. I know in my heart that this experience has already changed them forever. Jonathan celebrated his 10th birthday here. We can’t believe he is 10 already! And we were able to celebrate Ashley’s 20th (!!!) birthday with her in the city.
We have many needs at the project, which you can look into on the website Shadowofhiswingsorphanage.org. We also have many praises: We recently received a donation from a friend at home for shoes for all the children, we have received some truckloads of vegetables that have supplemented the children’s meals, we celebrated another Quincenera party for all of the girls turning 15 this year (a traditional coming of age celebration here), the new staff is settling in and everyone is working well together, we are developing discipleship programs and a pre-transition program for the older girls, as well as seeing prayers answered for healing and spiritual growth in the children. I wish all of you could see the difference in the children from when they first come to Shadow and a few weeks later after having been fed, clothed, prayed for and most of all shown the love of Jesus. It is like a light comes on in their little eyes and it is a blessing to be a part of it! If you are interested in seeing it for yourself please contact us and we can explain how we can make that possible.
The Hispanic ministry at home in Ohio is expanding tremendously. Many people have felt called to help and I would like to thank them all, but I know that I would miss someone so you know who you are: Thank You! The building project is moving quickly along, as friends have taken it upon themselves to present the project before city council and gotten approval to move forward. They have the necessary drawings and plans and they have been submitted, accepted, and work is underway. If you are interested in being a part of this in any way: tutoring, English as a Second Language teaching, construction, cleaning, transportation, mentoring or Bible Study assistance to name a few areas please contact us by the e-mail listed here and we would be happy to fill you in on what is happening. Pastor Herri has received donations to fulfill his salary requirement and we are very grateful that he will be able to continue his work here.
I have included some pictures of the things I mentioned above. I hope it gives you a glimpse into our lives here and allows you to see a little bit of the awesome work that God is doing in this beautiful place with these beautiful people. By the way, for all my Ohio friends and family, it hasn’t been under 90 degrees here for weeks! I am praying for a beautiful and warm spring for all of you! Waking up to the sunshine every day is definitely a perk of our work here!!