December 2016 Conchshell Chronicles
This month is a big for us followers of Jesus. We Celebrate The Event.
If we believe that there is a God who loves us and has a plan for us that includes this life and the one to come, then the most important thing that could happen in His Created Universe is that He would actually come and live among us in a human form so that we could completely understand who God is and what He wants from His relationship with us.
“Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son He created the Universe. The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of His command.” Hebrews 1:1-3
Now we don’t have to question what God looks like, or what He is like, or how much He loves us and wants to spend eternity with us.
Jesus was born in a feeding trough in a cave home in a politically oppressed region. He worked as a stone mason, and paid taxes. He had close relationships with friends and family, and had many scorn and reject him. Sound familiar? He lived just like we do, surviving day to day.
He is a verifiable historical character. His words and actions have changed the course of human culture. No one else was killed and resurrected Himself from his tomb! No one taught a life philosophy of living our lives for others like He did. No one demonstrated it more than He did!
It’s The Event of our Universe: The Creator coming and living among us !Celebrate the Real Reason
for the Season!
Happy 5th Birthday!
December 5th, 2011 was the day we opened the Rio Coco Café in Vero Beach Florida. We had only two tables then in less that 1000 square feet, which included the big roasting room. Many friends came by that first day to celebrate with us. Here is a photo from that first day!
It was the following week that a group of Swiss pilots walked through the door and suddenly I realized why our Boss had “strategically” located us at the Vero Beach airport. Here is a group of Swiss Air Force pilots who spend four months with us in 2014.
A few weeks later our chef friend Daryl Mackin came and taught our kids four sandwiches that we could make. He left thinking that it was only a matter of months before we would be forced to close. Daryl is a professional chef, trained at the best culinary school in America. By all logic, he was right. But he did not include the “God Factor.”
After a year, the furniture store next door moved out. The landlord made us a sweet offer to take over the adjoining two bays. It took us three months to tear out the carpet, build a kitchen and dining room, and lay down a very unique floor.
Our menu changed as we added more heathy breakfast and lunch options. God brought quality people to join our team as we expanded our service: Christianne, Jodeci, Rachel, Eric, Barbara, Laura, Paul, Kara, Amber, Mary, Nick, Josiah, Cameron, Straya, Jerzi, Tom, Nutie, Naomi, Daniel, Hila, Gal, David, Ali, Sherry, Marty, Garrett, Camden, Trent, Abby, Morgan, Tim, Kevin, Seth, and others.
When Moses asked God (Exodus 3) “Who am I to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt?” God replied:
“I will be with you. And this is your sign that I am the one who has sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God at this very mountain.” Exodus 3:12
That is a strange answer! So Moses will only know that it was God leading him when he arrived back at Mt Sinai months later with the Israelites?!?! In the meantime, it would have to be a walk of faith, and day to day dependence on God for direction.
Amazing! It has not changed. This Adventure With God that we call “Life” is necessarily a daily dependence on Him to guide and provide.
In 1996 we got an inkling that God wanted us to do something on Utila to reach out the travelers. We thought it was a church. The next year (1997) we found ourselves working and living in Israel, where we learned Biblical Culture and helped our friend Dr. Randy Smith provide food and medicine to many Arab Christians and Israeli families affected by the Intifada of 2000-2003. In 2004 with the help of our friend Mike Remedios, we started Rio Coco Beans and began selling coffee. In 2007, my Arab bus driver friend Mohammed told me that “Coffee is the Friendship Drink” as we sat in the shade of a tree in Jerusalem sipping Nicaraguan coffee made on his portable gas stove. It was in 2008 that we finally made it back to Utila, where I had a long conversation with an Israeli kid from Haifa, and it became apparent that God was indeed doing something. We brought our children to Utila that summer for the Open Water scuba course, and that’s when we began making friends over cups of coffee. We returned each of the following years and in 2011 found the property for the Utila café, which we opened in August of that year. Four months later we open our café in Vero Beach.
Like Moses, God didn’t give us the complete picture at the beginning. He just gave us specific steps to take along the way. I can say with confidence after five years of café ministry that it has indeed been God leading us! Hundreds of Swiss, German, Saudi, Egyptian, Korean, Chinese, and American pilots have come to the café since we opened in 2011. Most have had “stimulating conversations” about things other than flying with the oldest pilot in the room (me!). Many of our Utila friends have come to Florida to visit us at the Vero Café. Thousands of dollars have been raised to buy school supplies, and pay our teachers in our nine schools along the Rio Coco in Nicaragua.
We have 1607 students completing the 2016 academic year this month! Here are some of them.
What an adventure these past five years have been. It has been a risky undertaking, but a remarkable experience. Laura and I are still “volunteers” at the Café! We don’t derive any income from our hours working there. That to me is very remarkable!
Thanks for all of you who have been supporting the café and school ministry. Many thanks to you who support us missionaries in the café. Thanks to all you who purchase our coffee at riococobeans.com. Our monthly tithe to the Project Ezra schools is increasing thanks to you.
What an exciting way to reach this generation and educate kids in Nicaragua! Merry Christmas to you all! Michael
After 56 years of life on this planet, I can safely say that I am somewhat of an extremist. I have learned over the years to “subdue” my emotions to somewhere in the middle of the spectrum of my craziness. Perhaps learning the art of submitting myself more and more to my only foundation that has the ability to ground and transform me.
My very real and present relationship with my Heavenly Father has proven to be my deepest most effective point of reference in maintaining my sanity and balance. As we grow, life does not let up and become easier, but rather continues to prove itself to be evil, unpredictable, disappointing, sad, confusing, and tragic. At the same time, it also is full of goodness, grace, joy, beauty, fun, wisdom, miracles and a great deal of rightness on many levels. God is great and greatly to be praised and honored. I continue to be in awe of His way and workings in this evil world.
I could choose to focus on the many things to hate in my life…losing precious friends to cancer or accidents, dealing with medical issues with your own children (which actually takes my mind off of my own thankfully), suffering of dear loved ones, etc…
The better option, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
In this season I am focusing on thanking God for all that I have to be thankful for in this life…I get to work with my family in this season of life on a regular basis…I have a team that surrounds me that is based on love and growing in meaningful bonds of relationship (ohana=family)…I get to see talented young lives engage their gifts and callings right before my eyes and watch them develop the grit they need to face life in all of its challenges and complexities. I get to watch them be successful in many ways as they serve and give of themselves in sacrificial ways. I get to have fun with them in the process and enjoy who they are and who they are becoming. I get to meet new people every single day of my life and serve them the friendship drink (coffee…the second most traded commodity in the world next to Oil). I get to be in a business which has been a God level success since day one….till now …Five years going strong and growing. I get to challenge myself physically, mentally and emotionally on a daily basis … being a part of the different communities of gym owners, health professionals, business people, young vibrant souls and able to learn much from all the inspiration that constantly surrounds me. I
I get to use all my senses without fail today…no telling what tomorrow will bring in my messed up life and world, but I do know the One in charge of it all….the Creator, the Lord, the God of the universe that knows the insides, outsides, the beginning, the end and everything in between…the God that keeps good score and will never be in the dark about anything but only in the Perfect Light of day, the One that cannot fail, disappoint, do wrong.
I left the doctors office this past week with the future appointments and testings that they said I should have. I sat in the car after the appointment and then thought, “I think I would like to have a breakdown now…” Then I thought, “No do I really want to do that right here right now at this moment…I still have to go to the pharmacy to get the meds and shop for food while I wait…I need to save up my energy and not weep until I have a swollen face, no make up and stuck nose.”
“Okay fine…what’s the worse that can happen to me anyway?” This is what came to me:
“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Dying for us who believe is really not the worse thing that can happen…it is really His love that I never want to depart from my life.
I went on with my day with more pep in my step and glide in my stride…and even my habitual humming came while I went about my business which is a good sign for me. Laura
If you desire to help please consider:
1) Making a donation to our school project in Nicaragua. This is the month that we have to pay that 13th month salary to our 41 teachers and team. We really need to give them a raise in January as well.
2) Supporting a Seek The Lamb Missionary.
3) Giving a gift to Mirna Cunningham as she recovered from the loss of her husband Truman. We all miss him!
4) Purchasing Rio Coco Bean Coffee at riococobeans.com
Your prayers are mighty!
Please pray this month:
1) That we will be able to give our teachers a raise in their salaries in January 2017. The cost of living in Nicaragua has soared!
2) Ask the Lord to bring us more Rio Coco Café team members. We want to re-open the Utila café in Mid January.
3) Laura, Mirna, Ronald, Ryan, and Michael are dealing with health issues. Please ask the Lord to touch each one.
4) Pray that all our missionaries will receive all the prayer and financial support that they need. Thanks!