Sunday, January 29, 2017

Our Biggest News Yet!

We have a huge announcement---God has made a way for us to become foster parents here in Honduras.

Even before we set foot on the ground we knew there was rumblings of changes to how the government here was going to be handling the care of their precious children at risk.  We knew that there was talk of stopping any new families from becoming foster families.  And during the process of our move--that is exactly what happened--they stopped accepting any new foster families.

But we knew that God had not changed our call, that he had still called us to become a family to these little children at risk.

So not knowing how or when we just decided to let God figure this all out for us....and He has!

God's great plan, in His time, in His way.

That is the only way I can describe all the details that God has been putting into place over the last few days, weeks and months.

We are excited to announce our partnership with Legacy of Hope Foundation based in Santa Rosa Honduras.

Through this partnership we will be able to begin taking in infants to 2 year olds beginning in June. Of course, we will be completing paper work and gathering documentation to fulfill our part in being paper ready by June.

Over the next few months we will be getting ready for our precious deliveries.  Here are some of the things that we will need to accomplish:

1) Get cribs and toddler beds.  Of course we have to be practical--they will need a place to sleep.  We are hoping to find some gently used cribs because new cribs here in Honduras cost about $250+.  Unless someone can direct us to some that cost less.

2) Get some storage/shelving for all things baby/toddler.  This will either have to be made or bought, so begin praying that we can find something useful or that our men figure out how to make the things necessary.

3) Baby/Toddler Clothes.  In the next few weeks, we will be finding out what clothes that will be available for us to use.  So in a month or so, we will have a better idea of what we will need to have on hand.

4) Developmental toys that are sturdy and will last.  We will be letting you know how you can help with this in the future!

5) Diapers, wipes, and formula--These will be our biggest costs.  We all know that little ones go through these very quickly.  Unfortunately, these items cost a lot here in Honduras.  A can of baby formula that last about 1 week costs almost $20--that comes to $80 a month per child on formula.  Diapers--around $80 a month per child.  These prices are Honduran prices--these items are less in the states.

6) Outside roof over the back of our house.  Without this we will not have any place to hang clothes in the rainy season which begins in May and lasts through October.  This will also allow us to get a dryer for helping to dry necessary items during this time.

7) Baby gates and doors for cabinets.  These will have to be made over the next few months to child proof the stairs, the kitchen, and the cleaning supplies.

8) A play ground/play place. This is a future goal.  But it is a great need for the future.

9)Screens on front and back doors.

Ways that God is already at work:

1) We got our certificates from our doctor here in Honduras that we are healthy for taking care of children.  Dr. Maria came to our house this week and gave us physicals, then sent us to the lab for blood work and testing.

2) We now have a family doctor that we can call and she will come to our house and do the exams for our children and us when needed.  She works for a non-profit from the U.S. and speaks English beautifully.  We are blessed to have made this connection.

A side note:  Dr. Maria is working with a brigade of medical doctors from the U.S. this next week with a foundation here in Gracias.  She has invited Leighanne to come work with them this week so she can begin to get experience for her future plans to be a doctor.  Isn't that amazing that Leighanne will have the opportunity to start being around other doctors and nurses and begin to start seeing how to work with others.  I just love how God is at work!

3) We have a house big enough to meet our immediate needs.  We are grateful even though we always think we could use more space, but that is our cultural "American" side coming through. Our Honduran friends always comment about how big our house is--so I guess it's just a matter of prospective.

4) Connections.  Matt and Marianne Spangler (founders of Legacy of Hope) were some of the first missionaries on the ground that we spoke to about what we felt God was calling us to do in Honduras.  They have helped answer questions for us and given us great advice along the way.  We are looking forward to what God is going to do in the future.

5) Our supporters:  We can't say this enough:  We love you all and are thankful that because of you we are getting to do what God is calling us to do!

Be on the lookout over the next few weeks and months as we lay out the immediate and future needs of this awesome work!




Sunday, January 22, 2017

Flow Like A Fluid

Before I get started I want to give you a definition, and I want you to keep this word/definition in the back of your mind as you read the following.

Fluid:
1 a :  having particles that easily move and change their relative position without a separation of the mass and that easily yield to pressure :  capable of flowing
 b:  subject to change or movement
2:  characterized by or employing a smooth easy style
3:  available for various uses

Jesus Feed the Five Thousand
Matthew 14:13-21

13 When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place.  Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. 15 As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, "This is a remote place, and it's already getting late.  Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food." 16 Jesus replied, "They do not need to go away.  You give them something to eat." 17 "We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish," they answered. 18 "Bring them here to me," he said. 19 And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to the heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. 20 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 21 The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides woman and children.

In verse 13 Jesus had just found out that King Herod had killed John the Baptist, so Jesus wanted to have some time alone to reflect.  In the last part of verse 13 crowds gathered to where Jesus was.  I'm sure that Jesus had not planned for large crowds to come to him while he was seeking alone time, but he was fluid and had compassion on these people and healed them. After that, it was getting late (it had probably been a long busy day), the disciples came to Jesus asking for the crowds to be sent away and that they had a place to rest.  The disciples had "their plan" or "their schedule" and the last thing they wanted to hear was Jesus telling them that the crowds do not need to go away, and not only do they not need to go away, but I want you to work and feed them.  The disciples were fluid, they changed their plans and did what needed to be done.

This week here in Honduras has been a prime example of being fluid and completely changing things around.  Tuesday we had planned to go to San Pedro Sula (about a 3 hour drive from where we live) to extend Ben, Julie, Leighanne, and Hannah's passports for another 30-60 days while they still wait for residency.  Everything was going so smoothly, we were able to get the extensions and do some other things we wanted to do while we were already in San Pedro....until we were literally pulling out of the parking lot to head back home, all of a sudden the Honda had no power(alternator went bad) and we were stranded in a not so good part of San Pedro.  But with the help of another missionary, Russell Sowers, we were able to get the Pilot towed to a mechanic, and get hotel rooms for the night. We had to adjust and shift our plans completely around and resolve our problems. Thankfully God put people into our lives who are living their lives fluidly also.  They adjusted their plans and helped us tremendously.  Ben and Austin were finally able to leave San Pedro early Thursday morning in a repaired Honda to make it back in time for a meeting that we had scheduled.

We have been having some small plumbing issues in our house since we moved in, so Friday (we had other plans for that day) we thought we would take a look at it to attempt to resolve these issues.  Well naturally things around here aren't repaired quickly, and it ended up taking all day Friday and most of the day Saturday to actually get nothing fixed.  Again, making changes in our plans.

Saturday while we were driving around doing a little bit of shopping, the power in the Nissan went out(luckily we were just in town), we ended up getting it back to the house, but we believe it to be the beginning of the alternator going out as well.

As Christians and missionaries, we need to be fluid.  We need to be ready and equipped to do whatever it is that God wants us to do.  Being fluid is not easy, it can change your whole day, it can shift your entire week, but being positive and being able to do whatever is needed to get things done in order to reach those around us in physical and spiritual needs.

***Other Exciting things***



1: While most of the family was getting passport extensions Austin and Taylor received their residency!!!
2: We have had several pastors come by the at cost bible book store, that too is really exciting because we are getting to meet and make relationships with them and practice a little Spanish.
3: Continue to pray for the exciting opportunities that we are working out the details with, and we will be sharing those details soon.

In Him,
Austin

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Eve the mother of all


Our family has started going through the books Women of the Bible and Men of the Bible in our weekly bible study (me and Julie alternate with the women and Austin and Ben alternate with the men).  This week we studied about Eve; about her character, her joy, and her sorrow. She was the first women to experience paradise and possessing every pleasure imaginable, and the first to experience grief, pain, suffering, guilt, bitterness, and estrangement.

Here is some food for thought... one of the questions it asks in the book is "How easily do you think the serpent deceived Eve? Do you think she ate the fruit the first time he approached her, or did he wear her down over a period of time?" We don't know the answer to the question the bible doesn't tell us. We would like to think that she didn't cave on the first encounter and that she resisted at first, but think how easily we sin. When we are tempted with our struggles think about how easy we are to fall into the enemies trap. But God's grace and mercy is unending, when he punished Adam and Eve he gave them the promise that one day their offspring would eventually destroy the enemy, and one day they would be able to return to paradise. God is so merciful, with each punishment that God gives he always gives a promise. That is comforting to know.

Eve was also the first mother. She went through labor multiple times... (I just want to say that I am glad that it wasn't me. If I was Eve our family would have consisted of Adam, me, and Cain. That's it! There wouldn't be any more children unless their is an epidural involved. After feeling the pain---I would be done.--- Ok lets be real, that's probably not true there would be more children because the end result is worth the pain.) The only other physical person to help Eve during her labors was Adam. This was all new to her. She didn't have any access to medicine, I'm sure that eventually she found/made some medicine to help by using the vegetation that was around her, but nothing to touch the pain that comes during a contraction (I think the only thing that would relieve that pain is an epidural). Eve was a very strong women.



 I think back to my labor story with Emma. During our appointments with the doctor she asked if I planned to get an epidural or not. I told her I wanted to try without drugs but to have them ready encase I changed my mind. Well at 5pm the contractions started. It was pain that I had never felt before. I thought yep an epidural sounds good right now. I told the doctor that I changed my mind and wanted the epidural. The doctor told me the Anesthesiologist was 10 minutes out. I knew at that point I wasn't getting the drugs. Emma was coming and I couldn't wait 10 minutes... I needed to push. The pain only intensified as the time went on. I am very lucky because my labor time was short. At 5:45pm Emma was born and the pain was gone and my heart was filled with a love I had never known. Eve felt that same love. The love of a mother for her child. That is a strong and powerful love. But it is nothing compared to the love that God has for his children. Even though I love Emma with everything I have, God loves her more. I can't fathom that. It is a love that only God has. God's love is unconditional. Even in times of punishment and trials God's love is present. God will never stop loving us. How great it is to know that.

In him,
Taylor


Sunday, January 8, 2017

Advancing the Gospel in the Mountains of Western Honduras




This week, I had the opportunity to go into Mercedes (a mountain village about 45 minutes outside of Gracias) with Clay Powell to meet with some pastors that graduated from the Level 1 training of the Pastor Training School in October of 2016.  I want to introduce you to these pastors.


Each of the pastors that I met today owns a small coffee farm and they are therefore all dependent on their coffee crop for their entire annual income.  Although it is currently a critical time of harvesting coffee, each of these pastors left their coffee fields long enough today to meet with us for a couple of hours and feed us lunch.  There were anxious to learn more about what we will be doing with the pastor training for 2017.  Although it would mean leaving their coffee in someone else's hands for a short time, these pastors thought it was that important to come and meet with us.  The pastors were excited to learn that we are providing more training for them for this year as well as opening up the level 1 training to additional pastors.  This particular group of pastors is very interested in doing the level 1 training themselves for their small group leaders and they asked for our help in doing that in their community.  It is exciting to see that these pastors are getting excited about raising up their leaders to be more effective and to reach deeper into the mountains with the gospel.

I would like for you to meet the pastors that I met today and let you hear a little from them about how the pastor training has impacted their ministries.  German Diaz is the pastor at the San Juan neighborhood church in the Mercedes village.  German is married and has two children.  German spent some time in the United States working before he felt God calling him to come back to Western Honduras to be a minister of the gospel.  German expressed that before the pastor training he had many doubts about how he was handling Scripture, but he now has the confidence that he is properly teaching what God has communicated to His people through His word.  He said that his congregation is now more attentive and eager to hear what he says in the sermons.  He said several in his congregation spend a lot of time reading their Bibles, but don’t understand what it is telling them and he is now able to help them learn to study God’s word for themselves.

Melvin Portillo also graduated from the level 1 training in October.  He shared of how it has impacted him to learn the importance of looking at the context of a verse to properly understand it.  He shared they had received some devotional material that took one part of a verse out of Proverbs and as he studied it he didn’t understand what it was saying, but with his training, he went back to the verses that surrounded that verse and understood the context and was then able to understand and explain the meaning of the verse and the devotion.

Carmen Amanda Murciashe also graduated from the level 1 training in October.  Carmen shared how the school gave her the confidence and she felt very full of passion and zeal.  She shared a testimony of a time recently where she was preaching the word to a small group (similar to a Sunday School) and that because of her knowing how to preach the word of God two people in the small group received Jesus as Lord and Savior.

Daniel C├íceres shared how much it meant to him that we were willing to bring the training to them.  He said that there are several Bible Institutes that they could attend to learn to be better pastors, but they are all expensive and require the pastors to leave their work and their families and live in another place for the time required to get the training.  Daniel was excited that we are bringing the training to them and doing it in a way that allows them to focus on their work during coffee harvest time and continue to lead their congregations and families while receiving the training.

By the estimates of some there are approximately 2,000 villages in Western Honduras that do not currently have a Bible Preaching church.  My Spanish teacher in Copan Ruinas even shared that some of the pastors in the "churches" among the indigenous people between Copan and Guatemala (part of Western Honduras) do not even have Bibles.  Most of these villages are too difficult for us to get into directly, but the Pastors that are attending the Pastor Training are from churches in villages that are reaching closer into those villages.  These pastors have the vision of taking the training and evangelism and discipleship into other villages and then as those pastors are trained they can repeat that cycle further into the mountains.  Over time, it is this duplication of pastors that will eventually lead to all of the villages having a bible preaching church.

So what exactly is the Pastor Training?  The Sowers started a pastor training school a number of years ago with a vision to reach and train pastors and plant churches in these villages that so desperately need a bible preaching church.  The missionary that was teaching the school for the Sowers left the area and the school was not operating for a time, but in 2016 a partnership between Allen and Russel Sowers, Shannon Hopkins, and Clay Powell enabled the training school to be re-started with a fresh vision and enough diversity to make sure the training is not dependent on one missionary to continue operation.  For the 2017 training, I was invited to enter into the partnership.  Each of the missionaries brings a niche to the partnership and when we all work together it leads to a better administration and operation of the training.  The pastors come down to a retreat center near Gracias, Lempira for 3 days each month (March through October) for the training.  The pastors pay their own travel costs and a small fee towards the food and lodging, but the four missionary partners raise funds from supporters back home to cover the bulk of the cost of the books, rent, food, etc.  The level 1 class focuses on teaching the pastors basic discipleship, how to interpret the Bible, how to put together a sermon, and how to preach the sermon.  The level 2 class will add topics such as Old Testament survey, New Testament survey, church history, biblical backgrounds, etc., but the pastors will get to continue to practice what they learned in level 1 while adding in what they learn from level 2.  The cost per pastor to attend the training is less than $200 for the entire 8 month training.  We are looking for church partners in the U.S. to help us with our part of the partnership ($3,000).  If your church is interested in partnering with us to participate with this important ministry (or if you would like to personally sponsor a pastor for $200 for the year) please contact me at ben.agee@newbeginningshonduras.org.

Blessings,
Ben Agee

Sunday, January 1, 2017

The Bibles and Books have arrived!

We have lots and lots of boxes filled with Bibles and books.





Over the next few days we will get these books and Bibles inventoried, create a master list, set prices, stack the book shelves, and then start selling Bibles, study resources, and other Christian books to preachers and lay leaders in our community.  The Sowers are able to buy these resources at a deep discount (pretty much wholesale) and provide the inventory for us to sell at that cost in order to make it possible for more pastors and leaders in the area to afford more resources.

It's a joy to be able to provide this resource to the community of Gracias because of our partnership with Sowers4pastors.  It is our prayer that the Word will transform lives all across this country. That the people will be able to get copies of God's Holy Word and allow it to penetrate their hearts with a desire and hunger for More.

Psalm 119: 9 - 11 "How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your word. With all my heart I have sought You; Do not let me wander from Your commandments. Your word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against You."

We pray that for ourselves also--that we will seek God's Word with a new desire for growth and maturity in this new year--2017. 

Would you join us in prayer for a renewed desire to know God more through the study, reading, and application of His Word?

Let's make 2017 be about a renewing of our hearts, souls and minds.