Egg-citing Times

We hope you enjoyed a wonderful Easter! We had fun celebrating the Risen Savior! The Saturday before Easter was a most egg-citing day. Most of the kids had not decorated eggs before, so we hardboiled 50 eggs giving them each 2 to dye. When we brought the eggs and dye out, we told the kids what we would be doing. Their reaction was, “We’re doing what with the eggs?” And, “Won’t they break? Then we’ll get the gooey stuff all over our hands.” Quickly they were having fun watching the white eggs change into eggs of color. Some of the older kids asked how they could get more than one color on an egg, and so we told them to hold half of the egg in one color, then do the other half in another color, and, if they want to, they can add a third color by combining colors. Off to the races they went with their decorating. We talked about how like the dye changes the egg, Jesus changes our lives when we love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. He gives us the gift of eternal life through His death and resurrection. Sunday we did a candy hunt using bags since we couldn’t find any plastic eggs here. Sunday night the Big Family attended church together.
In April, we’ve celebrated 5 birthdays. Dayana’s was on April 5. She turned 8 years old. Gaby’s was on April 15, she turned 14 and now joined our older kid’s devotion group. Jorge (also goes by Noel) had his birthday on April 21 and turned 9 years old. Shenice’s was on April 22 and she turned 16 years old. Yulissa’s was on April 25 and she, too, turned 16 years old. We’ve enjoyed lots of cake and ice cream!
Our devotions this month included Paul’s second missionary journey in Acts and James. We finished this last week together doing the Bible School program titled Cave Quest. During our Bible School week, the kids learned that Jesus gives us hope, courage, direction, love, and power through the Holy Spirit. This tied in great with our Acts studies.
It’s hard to believe that another 3 months is coming to an end! Our hearts are touched deeply as the kid’s share their desire for us to stay and some tears are shed. The kids surprised us with a little going away party after devotions. We love seeing God moving in their lives and allowing us to build a relationship with each of them. We pray that our relationship will guide them into a deep relationship with Christ. Again, the two of us talk about the joy we have as we share in the “ministry of presence”…getting to share everyday life together with these kids. What an amazing gift that God gives all of us…the ministry of His presence in our lives. It’s hard to leave, and yet we look forward to seeing family and friends at home. We will be home in MN a bit longer than usual, as our son is getting married. We will be back here in Honduras in mid-September.
We thank you for your continued prayers as we serve God here at the Children’s Home!
In His love,
Christie and Rick
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Let’s Go Fly A Kite!

The wind has been strong in the evenings and the weather has shifted from the more comfortable “winter” Roatan temperatures to hot and humid! The wind has come at a perfect time in our lessons as we studied Pentecost. In one of our earlier lessons, we used kites as a tool for discussing the Holy Spirit. The cross shape dowels reminded us of the cross. The kite needs a tail to keep the kite stable in the wind and we need God’s Word to keep us stable. A kite needs a covering; Jesus covers all our sin. A kite has to be anchored to something that won’t blow away, and we, as Christians, have Jesus as our anchor. And kites need the wind to fly; we, as Christians, have the Holy Spirit to lift us up and guide our way. Of course the kids knew we had the kites, so with homework done, Jairo came and asked if we could fly kites, and so down to the field we went to fly kites with the kids.
It’s hard to believe that 2 months have already gone by since coming back to the Children’s Home after the holidays. In March we had 3 birthdays. Angel and Carlos turned 14, and Ana turned 11. Birthdays are always special for the kids!
March also brought another team to the Children’s Home a few weeks after the Shepherd team came. This team included the president of the board for the Children’s Home, Don Shire. It was fun to spend time with them. Their focus was on repairs needed around the home, which included a fresh paint job on the living room and kitchen of the apartment we are staying in. It’s amazing how a fresh coat of paint and some things put on the walls make it feel homier in our apartment. We had used the kid’s artwork for our wall decorations beforehand. Now they have a new home on a quilt that was hung for the purpose of displaying their work. The best part for the kids was the gift of 3 new bikes from their team! One with training wheels for the youngest, one middle size bike, and one larger size. They are getting heavy use!!
In March Father’s Day is celebrated. It happened on Sunday, March 19.  Rick can share this: During worship at the Spanish church in Punta Gorda; the fathers were invited to the front to be prayed for. Towards the end of the prayer the families of the fathers came forward to join them. A bunch of kids from the Children’s Home came forward and gathered around me with hugs. They made me feel very loved…even though that’s why we’re here, to love them and teach them of Jesus’ amazing, sacrificial love for all of us. It’s a mysterious thing, the more love you try and give away, the more love there seems there is to give, and the more that seems to come back at you. I suppose that’s why after loving God with all of ourselves there is still love to give to our neighbors.
The kids are taking exams this week and are excited that they will then have the next week off of school. During Semana Santa (Holy Week), we will be sharing, once again, God’s amazing sacrifice of love…John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” 1 John 3:16, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.”
Have a wonderful Easter!
In His amazing love,
Christie and Rick

Seasons

It’s Friday, November 18th. The last day of school for the children for this school year. Last night was our last devotion lesson before returning to the states on Sunday. A day of mixed emotions; good to have completed something but a little emptiness looking at the next few months.
We have finished teaching through the whole Gospel story in chronological order. It took a year and a half but we saw the most amazing story ever; Jesus coming into our world as a little baby, growing up, teaching us all about God, doing all kinds of miracles to help us believe, going to the cross for our forgiveness, rising from the dead, showing himself to many people and giving us some final instructions, then returning to the Father in heaven. It worked out perfectly to finish the story just before the break and to have the entire story fresh in our minds as we approach the Christmas season.
We look forward to catching up with everything in Minnesota and visiting with everyone over the holidays but these children and staff will never be far out of mind.
Here are a couple of photos from when we studied the story of Jesus being placed in the tomb. We had doughnut tombs complete with a cookie stone door and gummy man Jesus in the tomb and two gummy men guards. Any activity involving treats is a very popular activity here!
We also celebrated three birthdays recently, so we hope you enjoy the birthday pictures as well. Happy birthday Sindy (9), Eduardo (4), and Yui (16)!
Thank you for your continued prayers!
Gracia y paz de Dios,
(Grace and peace of God)
Rick and Christie

 

 

Rain, rain, go away…

It has been a rainy few weeks here on Roatan, so what happens when you have 23 kids that can’t play outside?  You guessed it…lots of energy inside!  What happens with all that energy?  Well, either craziness or fun craziness.  The other night, after having a few days of rain in a row, the long jump rope came out and was used in the porch.  How many kids can jump at the same time?  The most we had was 3.  While this was happening in the porch area, Rick and some of the kids were in the living room area playing volleyball.  A balloon was used as the ball and the couch was the net.  I wish we would have taken some pictures, but you’ll just have to use your imagination.  With the humidity level high, a lot of sweat happened quickly!  Since not everyone wanted to play, I sat with some of the kids on the other couch and we read books together.  Yesterday we welcomed some sunshine in the afternoon.  Being able to be outside and do homework, chores, and play was great!  Today we have clouds and sun.  God teaches us patience and flexibility every day!
Our devotion lessons have moved into Holy Week.  We shouted, “Hosanna!” to the King, talked about Passover and had a Seder meal together, and washed each other’s feet (some had more of an odor and turned the water dirty fast) after reading how Jesus washed His disciples feet in the scripture passage of the Last Supper.  Last night we went to the garden of Gethsemane with Jesus.  Since the setting was at night time, I brought a flashlight and we read the passage in the dark with only the flashlight shining on the page.  After the elementary age devotions, the younger kids went up to bed.  While we were doing devotions with the older teens, the electricity went out.  God knew this would happen and had us ready with a flashlight in hand to help calm the scared little ones.
Tonight, we had the kids be a part of the experience of the arrest of Jesus.  The older kids played the parts of Jesus, the High Priest, Peter, Pilate, and some of the extra people needed.  The rest of the group was the crowd that yelled out, “crucify Him!”  It didn’t take long for them to really yell that out!  Next week we will finish out the death and resurrection passages.  The week after next will be the final week of our three months here, we will finish with Jesus appearing to His disciples, giving them the great commission, and ascending to heaven.  It’s crazy how quickly our three months go by!
Here are a few pictures from the Seder meal and from the kids in action at the trial of Jesus.  We thank you for your continued prayers as we serve God here at the Children’s Home!
In Him,
Christie and Rick

 

Connected

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.  I am the vine; you are the branches.
If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit;
apart from me you can do nothing.”
John 15: 1, 5
As the calendar year inches towards Christmas, Rick and I are working through the Gospels with the kids in narrative order.  As a result, instead of heading towards Advent, we are heading into the study of Holy Week.  As we read through the scriptures with them, what important things Jesus has to say to His disciples…to us!  Last week we kept seeing how the pieces connect together, one passage after another, as Jesus prepares to go to the cross.  The message continues to say to us stay connected to Jesus!
In John 14:11 Jesus says, “Believe Me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me”…connected.  He continues and in verse 20 says, “On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you”…connected.  Then a promise, “If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever – the Spirit of truth…for he lives with you and will be in you”…connected!  We braided bracelets together with a strand representing God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, and us…connected.  What an amazing opportunity, to be connected to God and have a relationship with Him that will last an eternity!
Next we learned that God is the gardener, Jesus is the vine, and we are the branches…connected.  During this lesson, we watched a video of a gardener pruning the branches so that they will produce much fruit.   After seeing the video, we read through the passage (see above).  Next we made a wall mural and each of the kids put their names on the branch as a picture of them wanting to stay connected to the Vine, Jesus.  We talked about how pruning can hurt and how Jesus said that in this world we will have trouble.  We also talked about how when we are attached to the Vine, Jesus, He will be there with us through the pain of pruning and in the end, will use it to produce fruit.  That is our prayer for each of these kids!  All of them in their young lives have already experienced “trouble” and it is our prayer that they stay connected to the “Vine” as He carries them through and produces much fruit through them.
Next we got to listen in while Jesus prayed to God the Father in John 17.  Jesus prayed for His 12 disciples followed by a prayer for us, His future disciples!  “My prayer is not for them alone.  I pray also for those who will believe in me through their (the disciples) message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.  May they also be in us”…connected!  That is our prayer for everyone we know!
At the end we close the devotion time in prayer, hand in hand, connected to each other and to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, in relationship together.
Thank you for connecting with us!  Thank you for your continued prayers.  By the way, we are still dealing with the chicken pox.  Three more boys came down with them yesterday…we don’t have many more that haven’t had them yet.
Connected to Him forever,
Christie and Rick

Good Routine

We’ve been back now for about a month. The adjustment back for us and for the children was quick. We’re all accustomed to each other. The two new girls, Perla and Noremy, have fit well into the family. They both love being pushed on the swings, and playing with their dolls and stuffed animals. It’s so cute to see them start to learn English. Noremy loves to sing in her four year old broken English the Happy Birthday song and some songs from the Bible School sing along DVD that we use during devotion time. One of the songs she sings is, “My God is so Great!” Noremy was singing last night while we were playing outside before devotions began, and instead of “My God is so great!” she sang, “My God and Mr. Rick” (it kind of sounds the same in four year old Spanglish). Last night as I took my shower, the thought of her singing made me weep thinking God is love! and by being loving to this little girl, we can help her to know His great love.
Devotions began the Monday after we arrived. We have made some small changes to the devotions groups for this fall. Because of adding the two new girls to the youngest group that we do before lunch, that group grew to four. With four preschoolers, two of which speak only Spanish, their devotion time is always busy. Our elementary groups that happen during the devotion time at seven-thirty changed. Christie has six in her group of first through third graders, and I have five in my group of fourth through sixth graders. This is a nice group size to do devotions with. We meet with the six oldest kids, three girls and three boys, for a devotion time at eight o’clock. Surprisingly, this was the biggest adjustment this fall. With the teenage attitudes and attractions, we decided to break the boys and girls into two groups most of the time to minimize “distractions”. So now I kind of feel like we are in a good groove.
This week and until next Wednesday, we are caring for the kids while Orsy and Banesa (the house parents) are in the States for a board meeting. This makes for a busier 10 days of taking care of kids and driving. We have moved our sleeping arrangements temporarily to the apartment that is located upstairs with the children. Thanks to the great help that works here, the days are flowing smoothly.
Two weeks ago, the children were exposed to the chicken pox and have been slowly passing them around. Eduardo and Perla have them now, with Eduardo having the worst case so far. His picture makes me itchy! We’ll see how many more come down with them this week!
Thank you for keeping us in your prayers!
God’s grace and peace,   Rick (and Christie)

Back in Roatan

A week ago we left Minnesota embarking on the next 3 months (the length of our visa) of God’s adventure for us at the Sandy Bay Children’s Home in Roatan, Honduras. It was fun to see the kids and be greeted with excitement and hugs!

This first week we met the 2 new girls who are now at the Children’s Home, Parela who is 3 and Noremy who is 4.

We also began our first week of devotions, celebrated Sandy’s 10th birthday, and got all settled in. God is good!

We see how God is using this place to bring hope to children who were in hard situations, often with many layers before coming here.

Please continue to pray for us as we strive to be faithful to God and seek His direction as He affects lives for eternity!

Grace and peace,
Christie and Rick

Looking Up

Have you looked up at the sky lately? We have. Because it’s difficult to walk in the streets here, I (Christie) walk the driveway for exercise; it’s got a good incline! It didn’t take long before my walks included children walking with me. Sometimes just one or two kids, and other times eight or ten. Some of them become my weights, as they hold onto my hands and want to be pulled along. This week during our walks, we looked up at the sky and looked at how God paints pictures with the clouds. We begin walking around 5:00 island time (so somewhere between 5:00 – 5:30…whenever we get to it  J ) so by the time we are finishing, God is adding color in His sky paintings as the sun begins to set. The kids love it! We talked about how the Bible says that one day we “will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.” (Mark 13:26)  Oh what a sight that will be! It is our prayer that the kids will always look up.  🙂

It’s crazy how fast time goes. We’re coming to the end of our 90 day Visa and will be returning to Minnesota this Saturday for the summer. It’s been a busier three months here in Roatan than our first three months. We have teams come and serve at the Children’s Home (including a team from our home church, Shepherd of the Valley), as well as the addition of two new kids here, Andrea and Wilson. The larger planned events have been great and so much fun to be a part of, and yet it’s in the quiet of the day, as we share life together as a team, or with the kids, and reflect on how we’ve seen or experienced God that is so sweet…like looking at the clouds together.

Leaving is always bittersweet. We are excited to be going home to see our family and friends in Minnesota, and yet, it’s hard to leave the kids here. We pray that God will continue to use us each day either here in Roatan or at home in Minnesota for His glory! We’ll be back to the Children’s Home at the end of summer. Until then, we thank you for your continued prayers! God bless you!

In His grip,
Christie & Rick

 

The Invitation

“Invitation” is one of the words that has been heard a lot around here this week. Shenice and Yulissa have filled out the invitations to their Quinceanera, their special 15th birthday celebration, and are delivering them. They are excited for their party which will be celebrated on April 30th! Shenice’s birthday is on April 22 and Yulissa’s birthday is on April 25. Yesterday, April 1, they begin practicing for their special dance.

An invitation was given to the kids this week in school during Bible class to receive Christ as their Savior. Two boys accepted the invitation! They were excited to share the news with Rick and I after class. While talking with them, another boy said he raised his hand but the teacher didn’t see him, so I extended the invitation and he accepted! It was an emotional conversation as he shared with me the story of his early years before he came to the Children’s Home. We talked about how we have a Father in heaven who will NEVER leave us and loves us so very much.

Thursday night our devotion was from Luke 14:15-24, the Great Feast.  We read how Jesus told a parable of a great banquet that was prepared. An invitation went out to many guests. The guests were busy sharing different reasons why they could not come to the banquet and turned down the invitation. After hearing this, the man sent his servants out to invite anyone who wanted to come to the banquet to come and fill the house. We asked the kids what banquet Jesus is talking about. They answered, “the great banquet in heaven!” We talked about how Jesus invites us all to the banquet, and sadly some will be too busy and say no. We asked them, “How about you? Will you come to the banquet?” They answered yes. We pray that is true! With that, Rick’s group had prepared an ice cream feast and invited our group to join in the fun. We celebrated Jesus invitation to come to the banquet and those who will have summer birthdays when we are gone. It was a fun night!

Yesterday, the Children’s Home was invited to receive one more boy. The answer…yes! And with that a new 7 year old boy was brought here. We invite you to pray for him and for the salvation of all who live here. Thank you for your prayers!

In His grip,
Christie and Rick