Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Celebrating our Second Anniversary

Yesterday we celebrated two years of marriage and had a wonderful day together, remembering our wedding day and thanking God for all He has done this past year. Here's one of my favorite pictures from our wedding:

Our first anniversary:

Yesterday (a bit blurry because the lights were flashing on and off!):

We want to thank all of you who have blessed us in our marriage through your prayers, encouraging words, and example. Our prayer is that the Lord will help us continue to grow in our relationship and use it to reflect His love to others. We're looking forward to what He will teach us in this new year of marriage!

We also want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, and we hope the coming weeks bring us all a renewed sense of joy, peace, and hope in Jesus. As we spend the holidays with Fernando's family, you will be in our thoughts and prayers. Have a blessed holiday season!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Guess the Mystery Meat!

We were given some meat that many people here find quite delicious. A friend came over to teach me how to prepare it. If you think you know what it is, leave a comment!


Cooking it in coconut milk

Ready to eat!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Family of Families: Bible School Classes (Dec.)

"Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household." Ephesians 2:19

The topic of this past week's Bible school classes was "Belonging to a Family of Families." Since the last session, in September, students have been studying Scripture that addresses God's design for families and His church, which He refers to as a family. It was a time of digging more deeply into the Word, sharing rich discussion about how it relates to our own families and church ministries, and being convicted and encouraged as the Lord spoke into our lives.

We found several recurring themes throughout the week. One was that we must live what we say and be an example to others in such a way that draws them to Christ and into His family. Another was the deep need we encounter among people who have experienced broken homes. A beautiful aspect of this week's classes was how the Holy Spirit used the Word to bring together pastors from different cultures and denominations as they learned from each other and enjoyed fellowship together.

We were blessed by our teachers: Felix (middle), a Honduran pastor, along with Mario (left) and Dennis (right), who came from Toronto to join us. Mario is originally from the Philippines, and Dennis from St. Vincent. This was a big highlight for the Garifuna pastors, since St. Vincent was where the Garifuna people came from.

I translated between English and Spanish for pastor Dennis:

As we concluded this week's session, there was a special time of worship and prayer together:

Just like last time, we would like to introduce you to another Garifuna pastor. In this video clip, Pastor Gabino shares about his experience in the Bible school and how you can pray for him:

Thank you so much for praying for these pastors' studies and ministries. We praise God for this opportunity He is giving them to receive training as they serve in their communities, and we remember that you are a big part of making that possible. Pray that the Holy Spirit will guide them as they apply what they have learned to their families and congregations.

We invite you to praise God with us that the first set of materials has been translated into Garifuna and is now in the revision process. Please pray that this will be a helpful tool for training leaders and building up the Garifuna church.

We also are excited to share with you that some pastors will begin implementing in their own churches the materials they have been studying this year. They need prayer for wisdom in choosing "Timothy"-type leaders to disciple, as well as continued diligence and perseverance as they continue their own studies between now and February, when we will meet again. We look forward to reporting to you what God does then!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Unconventional Thanksgiving Meal

Happy belated Thanksgiving! I hope you all had a day full of good food, time with family and friends, and, especially, celebration of all of God's good gifts in your lives.

We spent the week in Wageira, working on more stories for the OneStory project and visiting several pastors to encourage them in their studies. As usual, I enjoyed practicing Garifuna with Fernando's family and am happy to see continued progress.

The meal we ate on Thanksgiving wasn't turkey, but it was delicious! We had machuca (Spanish) / hudutu (Garifuna): mashed plantains, coconut soup, and fish. It was so good I forgot to take a picture until half-way through! :)

For dinner, I helped make tortillas, which we ate with refried beans and cheese. It's obvious that I made these ones because they're not exactly round! But, thanks to Fernando's sisters, my skills are improving (good thing for him!).

This year, I feel particularly thankful for being part of Fernando's family, especially since I am far away from my family in the U.S. I also am thankful for how God brought Fernando and me together in this adventure of serving Him, and for all of you who are a blessing in our lives!

"We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you." Colossians 1:3

Saturday, November 17, 2012

A Special Gift

Today was a special day for the girls discipleship group. We had our last meeting for this year, before people return to their home communities for the holidays. We celebrated with a meal, games, and birthday cake for those who recently had or will soon have birthdays.

A very special part was giving them Bibles my home church, Grace Community, sent us. Some of the girls' Bibles are very old versions of Spanish and are quite difficult to read. The Bibles they received today are a much easier version, more like the Spanish spoken in this part of the world nowadays. Kety (co-leader) and I included notes with a different Bible verse/promise for each girl. (Five of the girls weren't able to be there, so they will receive their Bibles later.)

We are so THANKFUL for the generosity of those who made it possible for the girls to receive these Bibles! They were very happy, as you can see in this video (saying "thank you" in Garifuna, Spanish, and English):

Please pray that each girl will commit herself to studying God's Word and continue to grow in her faith. It is beautiful to see how God has worked in their lives and knit them together as friends. Thank you for being a part of that through your prayers and partnership!

Here are a few other pictures:

Playing games 

 Happy birthday!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Pastoral Visit

This past weekend, Fernando and I enjoyed the visit of Stephen and Tammie, a pastoral care couple with CTEN (our missions organization). They visit CTEN missionaries in Central America to see how their work is going, spend time with them, encourage them, and pray for them. We shared conversation over meals and heard about how God has worked in their lives and in the ministries they visit in this part of the world. It was also fun for me to talk to them in English! :)

Tammie was able to come to discipleship group on Saturday, and we all went to church together yesterday. While Stephen saw Fernando preach, Tammie joined me as I taught the children's Sunday school class. It was fun to introduce them to people and share about how God is working.

Perhaps the best part of the time was when they prayed for us at the end. We are blessed to be part of such a supportive organization, and we are thankful for Stephen and Tammie's interest and encouragement toward us and the Garifunas!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Travel Adventures

I thought it would be fun to give you a glimpse into traveling along the rural coast of Honduras.
To go from La Ceiba to "Wageira" (this means "our community," our blog nickname), we take a two-hour trip in a big bus on a paved road. From there, we either (1) go by truck (cabin or bed, depending on room) on a dirt road, crossing the mouth of a river to go the final stretch on the beach; or (2) we take an old school bus on the dirt road and then take a boat (lancha) by river on the final stretch.

This past time we took the school bus and lancha. On the way back, we also took a mototaxi (motorcycle with a bench on the back) part of the way. Here's some video of the school bus, mototaxi, and lancha:

You might have noticed a nun sitting in front of me in the lancha. While riding in the mototaxi, I found out after a big BUMP that we had run over a snake (but, happily, I didn't see it!).

Wageira is a beautiful community nestled between the beach and the river - a completely different world from the city. Here is a picture of the kitchen from the outside:

I think food tastes better cooked on a clay stove:

November is a really rainy month here, as you can see in this video (you can probably guess we didn't go for a swim in the ocean during this trip!):

In addition to working on the stories, I practiced speaking Garifuna, and we enjoyed some time with Fernando's family. I am so thankful for them and their hospitality! We always have lots of fun with Fernando's nieces and nephews.

Working on OneStory in "Wageira"

Fernando and I spent one week in "Wageira," the community where he grew up and where his family lives. ("Wageira" means "our community," our blog nickname for it.) Our main reason for going was to work on the OneStory project in Garifuna. (Click here to read more about the project.) We are working on a set with stories from the Bible about covenants with the goal of demonstrating how Jesus provided the way for God's covenant with His people. Story sets are then used for evangelism and discipleship.

In order to test out the stories, we have people listen and retell them. However, in La Ceiba, it can be difficult to locate people, who tend to be busy working and studying. In contrast, in rural communities, plenty of native speakers are within walking distance and available to help.

These are the stories we worked on:
  • Birth of Isaac (showing how God fulfilled His promise to Abraham)
  • Ratification of the God's covenant with Israel in Exodus 24
  • Gold Calf (showing how Israel broke the covenant right after it was made)
  • Fall of Jerusalem (showing the consequence of breaking the covenant)
  • Promise of the new covenant prophesied by Jeremiah 32 (which points to Jesus)
One teenager, CB, has helped us retell stories, and he and Fernando met each day to work together. CB is very interested in Bible and reads from a Bible story book each night. We are thankful for his willingness to help and are praying that God will speak into his life using the stories he retells with Fernando. Here is a picture of them:

We invite you to pray for CB and the others who are helping us, and for God to use us to provide His Word in this format so that many more come to know Him!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Fall Newsletter!

To view our newsletter, just click on this link. We welcome your questions and feedback, and thanks for reading!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Spending Time with J

One of the best things about being back in Honduras is reconnecting with the girls in the discipleship group I've helped lead this year. One of the girls is my sweet friend, J, an MK ("missionary kid") in her senior year of high school. Some of the things I appreciate about J are her tender heart toward the Lord and her kindness toward others. Since we both live in the same neighborhood, I get to see her a few times a week.

When I got back to Honduras, J asked me to help her with some of her writing assignments for the distance homeschool program she is carrying out. I was homeschooled, as well, so I understand the challenges of a more independent learning situation. It's fun to go over her assignments, discuss how to make writing easier and more fun, pray together, and (of course) have some time to talk, too!

Please pray for J's studies, particularly a research project she's working on, and for the Lord to guide and prepare her as she seeks His will for her future. I am excited for what He has in store and I know that He will use her in beautiful ways. It is a blessing to get to know her better as we spend time together.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Subscribe to our Newsletters

We would like to invite you to subscribe to our quarterly newsletters, if you do not yet receive them, which are sent via email and include a summary of our ministry news, pictures, and prayer requests. We will be using a new format that displays the letter in the email body so it will no longer be necessary to open an attached PDF document (thank you to my friend Christina for helping me get started!). If you would like to subscribe, simply click here for English or here for Spanish. We will send an update by the end of this month!

Studying Together

Thank you for checking in! We are so thankful for your prayers and interest in our lives and ministry.

One of my favorite parts of the morning is when Fernando and I study the Bible together through the BILD program the Garifuna Bible school has been implementing. After the week of classes in September, we have submitted our homework and begun preparing for the next week of classes, which will be held in December. The goal is for students to maintain ongoing study habits and meet together to go through discussion questions related to what they're learning.

It has been encouraging to do this as a couple, digging into God's Word and talking about how to apply it to our lives and ministry. Here are several of the many benefits of doing this together:
  • Finding God's Word come alive as we talk about it
  • Learning from each other
  • Brainstorming about how to apply what we're learning
  • Praying for each other and others more specifically
  • Increasing accountability and motivation

The topic of this set of lessons is "Belonging to a Family of Families" and addresses God's plan for the church. On Saturday I shared a devotional with the discipleship group girls about how those who accept Christ are adopted into God's family (Eph. 2) and that someday people from every nation will worship Him together (Rev. 7). It is a particularly fitting topic since we represent three cultures, with Garifuna girls, one Miskito girl (another ethnic group in Honduras), and two of us from the U.S. It also is a great reminder that God has given us a place where we belong and can invite others to join.

On Sunday Fernando incorporated some of what we're studying into the sermon he gave. Here is a short clip of him preaching in Garifuna (left) with another pastor translating into Spanish (right):

Praise God for being able to study together and apply what we learn to our current ministry roles. Please pray that we would continue to grow together in the Lord, that God would show us how to put what we learn into practice, and that He would use this program to build up the Garifuna church.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Día de la Biblia (Day of the Bible)

On Sept. 30 our church participated with other churches in La Ceiba in an event celebrating the Bible. We walked through the city and then went to a service with music, dance, and a message from a pastor. Here are some pictures and a video:

Praise God for the opportunity to openly share His Word in Honduras!
Pray that its truth will change lives for God's glory in this country.

Garifuna Bible School Classes (Sept.)

This past week (Sept. 24-27) Garifuna pastors attended classes with the BILD theological training program. I (Alison) had the privilege of joining them as they began a module covering basic discipleship principles. Here is a video of Pastor David talking about his ministry, the classes, and how you can pray for him:



Honduran Pastor Felix leading the discussion
Students working on a writing assignment
Fernando giving a presentation
Garifuna pastors
Top (left to right): David, Elvis, Nahum, Castrillo, Felix, Fernando
Bottom: Eduardo, Carlos, Gabino, Emilio
The two men in the lower right-hand corner are implementing BILD in El Salvador and came to help teach this past week.
  • For this opportunity available to the pastors and for those who taught this week.
  • For not only the information learned but for how the Lord challenged and changed our hearts.
  • For the fellowship the pastors enjoyed together this week.
Prayer requests:
  • For the Holy Spirit to help each pastor apply what they have learned to their ministries.
  • For each pastor to in turn train other leaders in their churches so that strong discipleship programs to be well established in every Garifuna community in Honduras.
  • For discipline as the pastors complete their assignments and prepare for the next session in December.
  • For Fernando and those helping him translate this discipleship module into Garifuna, that they would be effective and that the materials would be a tool for God to raise up strong church leaders.

Alison's Trip Report

Here is a video about my (Alison) trip to the Northwest for the summer:


Sharing about our ministry

Spending time with my family
Reconnecting with friends
Enjoying summertime in the Northwest
  • Safe travels, time with family and friends, and good, frequent communication with Fernando.
  • Opportunities to share about our ministry and for those who joined our prayer and financial partnership team.
  • Time of spiritual and physical renewal.
  • The many people who blessed me in uncountable ways. Thank you!
 Prayer requests:
  • That Fernando and I can travel together to the U.S. next year to share about our ministry, attend our organization's orientation, and see friends and family.
  • For God to lead more people to become monthly financial partners (we are currently receiving about 40% of our monthly budget needs).
  • For God to richly bless all who have encouraged, prayed for, and supported us! We love you!