We want to send you and your family the blessings of a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!! Being with family and friends over the holidays is so special and we know that this year hasn’t been the easiest for getting together, but we hope you found encouragement in the moments you did find together with people you love. Christmas is such a beautiful time of happiness, hope, joy and love…it really is such a special time of year. All the things that Jesus brings into our lives when we have that personal relationship with God are celebrated…I love that! In the hardest times like the ones we are living in, we can be encouraged that God is with us! How amazing is that?!? Merry Christmas friends!!!
We had a great time together with our extended families at Casa Havilah and Casa Robles earlier this month. (click the house name for more info on the homes) We had so many wonderful things happened throughout the year. Alejandra graduated into High School and Denis graduated from High School. All of the kiddos are doing well, and Maryel is still the funniest little kid you will ever meet! Also two new little faces arrived at Havilah this year…Abu and Diego, two sweet little dogs that are a great comfort for the girls. Our girls are having the best time baby sitting them while everyone is visiting family for the Holidays! Merry Christmas from our bigger family! Also, thank you for all of the financial support and prayers throughout the year!!!Read More
This past week we got to participate in one of the best Christmas gift givings you could ever dream of. We made the trip back over to Port to visit fifteen homes that were being completed this week in Wawa Bar and in Hallover. Hurricanes Eta and Iota completely destroyed these two communities last year. Helping to rebuild has been one of the ways we have joined with Verbo Church and Pastor Earl in Hurricane relief. So, it was such a huge blessing to be able to be there when each of these homes were dedicated! What an amazing amazing Christmas gift…getting to move in to a new home this December!
In every house we visited with the team from Verbo Church we got to join in celebrating with each of the families. We spent time with three sisters who grew up as orphans and had lost everything. We spent time with Jackson who was filled with so much joy in receiving this new home. His joy made each and every one of us on the trip lift up our heads and PRAISE THE LORD! There was a young widow with her four children, a home with four generations moving in as the grandmother was taking care of her ailing mother, a family of five moving from a temporary shelter of plastic and drift wood, and many others.Read More
We know Thanksgiving just ended and it may be a little early for Christmas…but maybe you can use Cyber Monday to make it special for one of our kiddos down here!
Every year we want to make it possible for every child at Club Esperanza to get a present for Christmas! Last year we couldn’t do a big party because of COVID. But the alternative was so fun! We rolled out a red carpet and as the kids came to the club in small groups throughout the day…each one got to walk the red carpet on their way to a special Christmas present just for them!
We have over 300 children at the Club and are trying to raise money to buy a $12 gift for EVERYONE! Maybe you can donate for a couple? Maybe you would like to bless ten kiddos? Or more? Maybe the Lord has blessed you and you just want to buy all of them…amen!
Anything will be a huge help, you can donate here.
We hope that we are the first to wish you A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS!!! It is indeed the most wonderful time of year. We celebrate that Jesús, our savior was born! Amen.
We just want to tell all of you how much we love and appreciate your prayers and support for our family. The past few months have actually been very hard. We have lost very close friends and co-workers to Covid. We have never experienced so much loss of life in such a short period of time. Adding to that is the unstable situation in country here, being sick ourselves and just so many uncertainties. But God has been with us and comforted us through it all…and really we only mention those things to say thank you. We thank God for blessing us with all of you who have reached out, offered your prayers and supported us so well in this time! We feel God with us and are so thankful for that!
We wanted to take a little blog space to share pictures and updates on our little familia…to let you everyone know we are doing ok. Praise the Lord!
In September Mason turned 14 years old! We had a really fun birthday…Bacon for breakfast then a fireworks war after dinner and cake! What more could a boy ask for LOL! Mason is such a great guy and is becoming such a wonderful young man. He loves playing soccer with his club team Chiquilistagua FC, he gets his school work done on time, hunts down pests around our the Quinta with his pellet gun and is always willing to help whenever anything is needed. Anytime he sees his momma doing dishes he walks up to her and offers to take over….what a guy!!! A great example for his dad :-). We are very thankful for him and are blessed by his life!
Aliyah and Mason both have been wonderful teenagers! Krista and I know it is always possible for that to all go sideways one day, but we hope and pray it never does….amen! They have lots of fun together as the older two siblings, watching too many movies, playing too many video games hahahaha, but also getting outside and kicking the ball around. Aliyah is working into those upper levels of high school and is merging into taking online courses combined with her bookwork here at home. She joined the varsity girls soccer team at NCA, which is a high school down the street. They have been winning some and losing some, but it has been an all around excellent experience!
At Club Esperanza we have a fully functioning Primary Education center called Illeana’s School in partnership with our friends at Love, Light and Melody. The story of Illeana’s life, her beautiful smile and the hardships she endured leave a big impact on your heart. Our goal is not just to educate with Ileana’s School at Club Esperanza…it is bigger than that. We are a refuge of God’s love and protection for the most vulnerable. Below is a testimony about one of our students this school year…
Aracelly is 13 years old, she did not know how to read or write when she started this year in the First Grade at the Ileana school. She lives in the Villa Guadalupe neighborhood that was constructed as a refuge for families living in the dump seven years ago. She has five other siblings, her mother cares for them while her stepfather works at the recycling center that is at the entrance to the trash dump.
When she was young she missed classes very often and didn’t even attend school on some days. As a result, she did not manage to learn to read and write at the usual age. Because of this difficulty with school and the hardships of daily living she was at risk of her life becoming one of the many kids who leave school and spend their days on the streets. There are too many horrors to share about that sort of life, but Aracelly’s life did not take that turn. Praise Jesus!
She is now at Ileana’s School from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm all day. The Nicaraguan school day is only a half day but because Club Esperanza is more than just a school we are able to keep the doors open for Aracely and other’s like her for the entire day. She has teachers who love her and are taking care of her. Because of this she is already having more success with her schooling. At the beginning she came to class disheveled and she was aggressive with her classmates…adjusting to a safe school environment took a little while for her.
But, her behavior at school has improved dramatically and now she gets along and socializes well with her classmates. She is a very responsible student with her homework, she likes to attend class daily, and she even helps her younger classmates. At other schools in Nicaragua she would not be accepted into lower grades because of her age, but at Ileana’s School we are able to make exceptions to help individual students advance. Our teachers and staff are working individually with her to support her in her learning. Today Aracelly is progressing in reading and writing and she feels motivated to continue advancing, which is awesome! Her physical appearance and nutrition have improved as well….at Club Esperanza every students has a meal twice a day. The significance of that cannot be overstated. All the families we serve live paycheck to paycheck and some of them don’t even have that. God is so good to provide for his children in this awesome way!
We appreciate your help to continue supporting Aracelly to have a better future, to dream big dreams and achieve her goals. Aracelly is just one of hundreds of children coming in and out of that little white gate in front of school everyday. God is doing special things…we love to be doing it together with you all!
Thank you for your prayers! Thank you for your financial support!
Our hearts are broken to pass on this news. Santos who has been part of our lives here for over two decades died last week from Covid. We are really devastated and honestly still trying to grasp the reality of what happened so suddenly and so shockingly. Please pray for his family. This is a very very hard time, it is unimaginable. We want to take some time to memorialize Santos…
If you ever came to work with Open Hearts Ministries, you definitely saw Santos around. He was Mr. Buzbee’s main guy and oversaw pretty much everything. If you had the chance to meet Santos, you almost 100% walked away laughing whether you spoke Spanish or not. He was just that kind of character. He would stick a nick-name on you, tap you on the shoulder and walk away, toss a lime at you from across the way and blame it on a 6 year old standing next to him. Ah man, I remember in the early days here at Quinta Havilah, we used to have wars with all the fruit. Santos was left handed and could hit a guy running full speed at thirty yards with a line drive to the side of the head. I can still see the fruit exploding now. We had so much fun together back then. Santos watched all of Krista’s younger siblings grow up their entire lives and was like the always present Tio for them. He was here for the birth of all of our children.Read More
I was in a great conversation yesterday with one of our long time teachers about where the Lord has taken us at Club Esperanza and how much history we have together all the way back to the days inside the dump. It was so encouraging reflecting on all the good things the Lord has done, but then I asked how the new neighborhood where all the families from La Chureca were moved to was doing. She does some tutoring at one of the homes about ten blocks away. Wow, there is still so much darkness. We are on the main road, we operate during the day and Club Esperanza is a place where the light of Christ shines and darkness is getting pushed further and further away, so we don’t always see the visual evidence of the darkness.
She continued to tell me how only last month a few full blocks were incredibly intense because there was a dispute among some young men that led to one being killed. There was accusations of drugs and a turf war type of thing. Apparently the wrong person was killed by whichever evil person was resorting to deadly violence. That led to family of that person seeking revenge, which led to a week of violence and gunfire and another death. Incredibly scary stuff and real darkness.
I don’t know if any of you have ever seen the movie “Lean on Me” in the late 80s. Morgan Freeman’s character Crazy Joe takes over a High School that was overrun with drugs and violence and cleans it up. That movie impacted me and little scenes from it always come to my mind…sometimes I even sing the “Fair East side” tune which was the school alma mater (watch the clip here it is awesome). I loved how the movie portrayed the darkness of drugs and violence and laziness and settling for the same old cycle of poverty and crime was being defeated by adults who cared enough about the kids to make a difference in their lives.
So, as I left Club Esperanza reflecting in prayer on the difficulties and hardship that surrounds us, the Lord gave me this picture of two of our students waiting outside for afternoon classes to start….
Right out in front of our school, on a street that has plenty of darkness…two of our elementary school students were playing chess. I watched them for a minute thinking to myself they can’t possibly know the rules. But they did and it was fun to watch her take his knight with her pawn. I asked them how they knew the game of chess and they told me Teacher Eber taught them how to play after school. How awesome is that? It is something simple, but it brings tears to my eyes because something so simple as a game of chess can certainly have the power to change entire generations.
Jesus has not just planted Club Esperanza in this neighborhood to keep children safe, to keep them healthy with a meal every day, not just to give them a good education. Jesus is growing up a generation of children who hunger for knowledge and new things that will challenge their minds, change their view of the world, and deliver them from dark places. Our third graders play chess in the streets….and I love that!
“In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.“ -The Gospel of John 1:4-5
Thank you for your continued prayers and support for Club Cristiana La Esperanza,
Wow we just had the best time traveling home for the summer! We got back to Nicaragua a couple weeks ago and have hit the ground running. But wanted to take a little bit of blog space to share pictures and some of the fun we had. When we made these plans to travel in the summer time we realized something. We have not been home during the summer since our kids were born…none of them have every experienced summer in America! Can you believe that? Time passes fast!
We are so very thankful to our friends and family and our church who support us. You all make trips like this possible for our family…we get to do things we never would have imagined because of your love and support for us. Opening your homes, taking us places, sending our kids to camp, sitting with us and letting us pour out our highs and lows…we are very very very blessed by all of you! When we make a decision to follow the Lord into this type of life living by faith, there is so much unknown. The Lord uses you to encourage us in hundreds of ways!
We won’t get every story and every picture in here…heck sometimes we didn’t even take pictures. But we did take alot of them! Thank you for an awesome recharge of our batteries…
What is so special about going home is to be able to see our family. That is the hardest part about living overseas. We are far away from people we love. So, when we are home we take as much advantage of that as we can. It started with a full week of cousin time in Miami with the McDonalds and Rahals (and we have a new nephew baby Levi…who is a beautiful miracle!). Mema’s house is the favorite place of all time! We visited Grandpa and Gramma Losi in Jersey. The Barbers and Murrays in North Caronlina was more fun Cousin time!!! We met the Rahals at Mema’s cabin, saw Aunt Grammie and Uncle Lion, stopped by to see Gramma Pat and got to see Pop Pop’s new place and his river!Read More
As Hurricane season is just around the corner I know many of our friends and family back home in Florida will be getting ready as we do every year. You may remember that last Hurricane season Nicaragua was struck by two Category Four Hurricanes back to back in the same community of Puerto Cabezas.
We mobilized with a group of other missionaries and friends here in Managua and went to work. We wrote about some of our efforts in immediate relief and in the recovery here on our blog. There was so much severe devastation and the scenes were tragic, but the Lord is good and the people were not left to suffer on their own. Thank you for your generous help in that! We have made a huge impact together. Today we want to share about some of the continued work that is going on….it was such a massive destructive event and even 10 months later there is still much to be done.
We want to send a special thank you to our home church, Christ Journey Church in Miami. They have been a great support in this relief effort. When the word went out that we would start building homes in Wawa Bar and Hallover, our church immediately stepped up. These two communities on the coast of Puerto Cabezas were nearly entirely destroyed. Hundreds of houses gone in one night. Little by little we are part of a large effort to bebuild. Early in the summer, we had a team in Wawa Bar building two new homes.
After those two homes were built we joined in helping Verbo Church with the efforts to build six more homes. The houses were funded but there was an unanticipated need to transport materials. There are many many complicating factors in getting this work done, but God is with us! It is a several hour long boat ride to each community, so that makes transporting materials costly and laborious. If you forget a tool, you are in trouble and you just have to make do. There is no safe drinking water yet in the communities and there is no electricity, so all of those things need to be brought in. With all of that said, it is happening….people are receiving new homes! Just last week we bagan construction on three more homes…Praise the Lord!!!Read More
Isandra is a part of our “Juntos Para Una Inclusion” program at Club Esperanza. She is from a wonderful family that lives in a neighborhood surrounding the Managua Municipal Dump (formerly La Chureca). Her parents Daniel and Mercedes have actually been the family responsible for keeping Miss Ruby’s home and the Prayer Upper Room in good order for the last three years. Isandra is one of their five daughters.
We got a pretty scary call from Daniel telling us that Isandra was severely ill with abdominal pain and a fever. On their first visit to the clinic they were told she would be fine. But, as her parents, Daniel and Mercedes knew something was wrong. They went to the hospital and Isandra was taken in for emergency surgery for a ruptured Appendix! Appendicitis can be life threatening in cases where it ruptures. Daniel asked us to prayer and we passed on word to all of you through social media. Wow their family was so deeply touched by all of your prayers!
Daniel even reflected with me when I visited him while Isandra was in recovery. He said over the last few years his wife and one of his other daughters had been hospitalized and they just sort of felt like they were in a desert by themselves. But with Isandra just by happenstance of seeing us recently and reaching out for prayer there was such a movement of people who hit their knees…and he said he could feel it! They didn’t feel alone. He went on to say with tears in his eyes how he thinks Isandra is special, how the grace of God seems to settle on some in powerful ways. As he was crying Daniel said Isandra has a special anointing of God’s grace on her life.
We say amen to that! Here is a special video from Daniel and Isandra….
Isandra’s Story is Amazing! Praise the Lord! Daniel told me as they left the hospital after only five days, there were two others in the Intensive Care that had been there for a long time after surgery for ruptured appendices…one for over 20 days and another for over a month. Wow! So encouraging how the Lord brought Isandra back to health so quickly! And also an encouragement for all of us to pray for those other two people as well….amen amen amen!Read More