Pigs, micro loans, and the freedom to respond


We wanted to take a moment to show how your monthly giving frees us to respond and serve our community well. Sometimes it’s easy to see big projects and not realize that we are able to be here because of faithful monthly giving. For example…

Because you give monthly…

When abuela (grandma) is sick, we can buy her pig and she can go get the treatment that she needs.

Because you give monthly…

We can turn on the very expensive power and run a computer lab where kids can work on projects and finish homework.

Because you give monthly…

We can give salaries to the teachers who make the reinforcement class manageable and effective.

Because you give monthly…

Everyone who comes to our property and asks for clean drinking water receives it.

Because you give monthly…

We are able to use discernment and give microloans to people who work for us when we believe it will enable them to provide for their families. Like the other day when one of the faithful workers came to us early Sunday morning on his day off to ask for a loan for three weeks to buy tools so he can do more construction jobs in the future. He had a friend who was leaving the country for Costa Rica and was selling all his tools for really cheap. He was so excited to have the opportunity and had creative ways to pay it off as quickly as possible.

Because you give monthly…

When there is an earthquake and the pipe breaks in the kid’s club bathroom we are able to repair it.

Because you give monthly…

We can pay for visa extensions and residency paperwork to stay in Nicaragua as foreigners.

Because you give monthly…

We can replace pencils, erasers, paper, and ink for copies. We can buy bracelet making supplies, paint, and craft paper and all the things that are available to be creative here.

Because you give monthly…

We can buy lots and lots of food to feed our growing family. Fruit and vegetables at the market (cheap), overpriced things we miss like crackers or parmesan cheese, and lots of rice and beans. When someone is in need we can bag up rice and beans that we always have on hand.

Because you give monthly…

We have gas to go to a house church 30 minutes away where we feel loved, connected, and challenged. We can attend Spanish classes and the kids can attend guitar lessons that are not available in our small village.

Because you give monthly…

We get to wake up each morning and whisper the truth. In a country torn by fighting and fear, we get to declare He is near and His kingdom has come. We get to pray for courage to boldly stand for a Kingdom that we can’t see.

I think our greatest freedom has been the ability to respond to immediate needs (like notebooks, food, and medicine) without hesitation when it falls in the perimeters we have decided. This freedom would not be possible without faithful monthly giving. Please don’t misunderstand, there are more needs where we live than we could ever respond to, but we are seeking discernment about our role living among poverty. We constantly refocus and ask for direction and wisdom to maintain the dignity of our friends. The gift for us is that we get to live day by day asking, “What should my focus be about today?” Or, “What peace and love could I extend to the kids who show up in the rancho today?” We have found the Spirit is very faithful to answer and lead when we start our day with open minds.

Thank you to those who give monthly, to those who pray, to those whose hearts have been stirred by projects, and for those who follow the journey to be inspired. We wanted to take a moment to reflect on how monthly givers have impacted our lives.


On the unrest in Nicaragua

What is happening in Nicaragua? 
The people are rising up and demanding that the current president be removed.  After Daniel Ortega passed a law that diminished social security and required more payout, the people protested.  The current government brutally opposed these protests and as many as 65 have been killed.  I have linked a couple of articles that explain what has taken place over the last two weeks.  The protests have been peaceful the last week but continue to demand change. 
Are we safe?
The place we live, Salinas Grande, is very remote and very little has changed.  There are food shortages but so far we have been able to drive into the city on non-protest days and stock up on food and gasoline.  We have plans should things escalate and we are being careful to watch closely to the atmosphere of the country.  We feel able to move inside and outside our house and have continued to hold classes in the children’s center.  We are not being silly or unaware.  We are heavily invested in the lives around us and want to continue working in our community with our eyes wide open to what is happening around us.
How can you help?
Please pray for justice in Nicaragua.  This beautiful country has been held in poverty for a very long time and we are praying that every chain will be broken.  Pray for Nicaraguan leaders to rise up.  The students have been a big part of this uprising.  Pray for protection of the students and all those involved in resisting violence.  Truly this change could bring stability and hope to many in Central America so pray for wisdom and strength for all of the people of Nicaragua as they face the days ahead. 

My children and I are rereading the Chronicles of Narnia together.  This quote stood out to us…

Who said anything about safe?
Course He isn’t safe.
But He’s good.
He’s the King, I tell you. 


Let us chase after our King.  His goodness I continue to see. 


Mouse in my underwear drawer again...

Our house doors are always open trying to get some wind flow to cool off the interior.  This also means that all kinds of critters find their way in.  Geckos, flies, giant moths, small birds, spiders, and mice to name a few.  We have some mouse traps that snap as often as we set them up.  Brielle refuses to let us kill them because they look like the sweetest little mice from all the stories we have read.  The other day I opened my drawer and a little mouse jumped out of my underwear drawer.  I screamed and yelled to Dustin, “there was a mouse in my underwear drawer.”  He replied, “Again?”  I said, “When was the first time?”  I didn’t even know they had been nesting in there.   Apparently it had been a problem for a few weeks.


Crotch beetles and shrimp scones

In the middle of the night I felt something on my upper thigh and reached down to feel a hard insect.  I quickly grabbed it and threw it at the wall.  Of course I had to turn on the lamp to see what it was and freak out!  It was a giant black beetle.  Dustin was still pretending to sleep this whole time and I couldn’t stop squealing about it waking me up from a dead sleep when he starts laughing and says, “I guess the dreaded crotch beetle finally came for you.”  Not funny.

Nicaragua has two seasons hot and very hot.  The garbage deteriorates very quickly and often is rotten and terribly smelly in one day.  One night we had shrimp for dinner and the next morning we came out to a reeking garbage can.  We tried to air it out but the whole morning as we made scones we joked that they were still going to taste like shrimp.


Fevers and Snakes in the Moto


This week I came down with a terrible virus with a high fever and body ache.  I have never experienced anything like it and I was knocked out in bed.  The tropics have some crazy viruses and I had to try to sleep in an extremely hot room and recover.  My kids kept bringing me water and trying to see how long this was going to last.  It was sweet, but I think they were really trying to figure out how long they had a break from school. 

Meanwhile, Dustin was managing all that is happening on the property.  We have seven workers now finishing up the bathrooms for the children’s center and creating the water system.  Water is not something you hook up and turn on but something you calculate carefully finding ways to save, pump, and preserve every drop.  Right now is the dry season and there are many people along our road without any water.   After a hot day of work, the guys and kids from class saw a snake climb up inside the frame of Icidro’s moto.  They tried for awhile to get it out but never could, so he drove away standing up and hoping for the best. 



How did we get to Salinas Grande?

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One of my favorite things about living abroad is meeting people from all over the world.  Last weekend we showed a movie as a reward for good attendance to some of the English Club kids.  As we were setting up, we crossed paths with a group of German students who had used our beach Rancho to cool down after visiting the school during the day.  Right about then a couple from Italy stopped by to check out the movie and learn about what is happening to further education here in Salinas.  There is no way to plan who is going to show up or when, which brings me to the story of Surfer John from San Diego, CA.

About a year before we moved to Nicaragua, Surfer John showed up in Salinas Grande chasing waves.  Within a couple of days, he had broken both of his boards and was wondering what in the world he was doing in this tiny fishing village.  With no board, John spent a lot of time praying and ended up having a profound experience with the Lord.  Some locals took him in like family and he spent the rest of the trip doing what he could to help out in the community.   As he was leaving Managua, he happened to mention to our friend, Chachi, that he knew of a place for sale in Salinas Grandes that was all set up for a big family and entertaining guests.  When we were looking for a place to land in Nicaragua, Chachi remembered the house and told me about it.  We ended up renting that yellow house and it turned out to be the reason we found Salinas Grande.  It was the place where the Lord solidified our vision for Water & Light, where we built community with new friends and welcomed old ones, where the first English class happened on the patio, and where we learned how much water a family of 6 can use.  It was the place where we sat under the stars in awe of our Creator and were encouraged to dream bigger than we ever thought possible.

I got to hug Surfer John a couple of weeks ago and share our story with him.  I am constantly amazed how God weaves lives together.  Our words are powerful.  The most insignificant conversation may provide the spark that ignites a new fire for someone else.


Luisa's story


This year we have met people around us that have made our transition to Salinas Grandes possible.  It’s the people in our lives that inspire us to keep working to build a future of hope around us.  Our neighbors next door are a great example of where we get our inspiration.  Our friend Luisa lives next door with her children Monica and Josiah and their grandmother Mercedes.  She works hard as a single mom to provide for her family.  She is always willing to take on extra work, but there are very few jobs where we live.  In our surrounding area there are about 2,000 people and only 250 jobs and some of those are seasonal like fishing and salt mining.  Luisa taught me how to wash my clothes by hand and is always willing to help me when I leave my clothes on the line too long and a storm comes in.  She approaches the days with a hope that I couldn’t muster myself in her situation.  Her son Josiah has been sick most of his life off and on.  He had meningitis as a small child and continues to struggle with staying healthy.  Josiah is always smiling, even when I drop him off at the clinic to wait for the day for blood tests or exams.  I have never met a harder working grandma.  She caretakes several properties where she cuts the grass with a machete and keeps the property clean.  When we came back from our trip to the states in October, they were the first to greet us with smiles, hugs, and stories of all the happened while we were gone. 

photo by James Galt

photo by James Galt

The past nine months in Nicaragua we have become part of a very special community of people in Salinas Grandes. A land of contrasts where we find ourselves living in the tension between the beauty of our Creator and the many needs surrounding us. The next step for us is to build a children’s community center for more classes and mentorship. We have been able to purchase property and hope to break ground in the next few months. Would you consider joining us to create a place for the next generation to grow in love and hope? We have a goal of $20,000 for the center and are almost half way there.

Martin and Rosa

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Our neighbor Martin and his family have been a huge blessing to us living in Salinas Grandes.  They are the caretakers of the house we rent.  Martin and Rosa live in a one-bedroom structure with 6 sons.  They are kind and generous and have the gift of prayer.  They prayed over me the day that Dustin was at the jail trying to sort things out with our motorcycle accident.  They have shared many shocking stories with me, but on the day that Dustin was working out the accident paperwork Martin told me how one time he went to jail unjustly but used the time to encourage the other people in prison.  When his family brought him food in jail he shared it with other inmates because he said they had nothing and he had his caring family.  Martin and his sons are fisherman.  Lately the fishing has not been good so everyone in our community suffers without people buying, selling, and trading fish.  Martin is learning English and hoping that at some point the his new skills has will help provide further for his family.   He asked Dustin to help him with his homework so now the two fathers will be learning a new language from each other. 

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