February 2017 Conchshell Chronicles
We are beginning our 31st year of educating Miskito Indian children on the Coco River in Northeastern Nicaragua. The initial enrollment is 1706 students, grades K-12. We will employ 43 teachers and seven administrators.
When we began in 1986, who would have imagined that we would be working with our former students to educate another generation of Miskito children? Now almost all the pastors, community leaders, and our teachers began their education in our schools during the Sandinista War. Thanks!
We celebrate Love this month on the 14th– Valentine’s Day, and really every day of the year.
I remember as a first grader having “Valentine Cards” that we would sign, and drop in the brown paper bags taped to the chalk shelves under the blackboards. Each bag would have the name of one of my classmates, and in this way we would send Valentine messages to our friends.
First Grade is too young for romance, so these messages were all about affirming our friendship with our classmates. After the day was over we would look with anticipation in the bag to see the cards from those who wanted to be our friends.
Having friends is a good thing. They are the spice of life. The longer I live the more I value my friendships. Why?
Friends affirm me. They support me. They are there to help when I need it. When I need to talk to someone, it’s usually a trusted friend that I turn to- a friend who loves me in spite of my shortcomings. Friends often correct me, because I have discovered that I can be wrong about some things in life.
When I was in the Navy, I had some friends in the Coupeville Athletic Association. The CAA was an informal organization that centered around sports and “refreshment”. Whether it was playing Yahtzee or throwing darts, there was always a cold beverage or shot of Jose Cuervo alongside. We spent hours in our athletic endeavors, especially playing the Star trek pinball machine at Toby’s Tavern.
One evening, I was talking to Bob and Dave about a personal situation. They listened, poured more drinks, and Bob finally said: “Bags, you are all screwed up.”
“I am?” I replied incredulously.
”Yes” said Dave, “ But we love you anyway.’
Those are true friends. Still are. I heard from Bob this week.
My closest friend now is my roommate and lover, Laura Uyeda. For years she has been telling me things about my thoughts and behavior that I just didn’t accept. In the meantime, she treated me like I was her best friend. Amazingly after living with here for almost 28
years, I have come to some understanding and agreement with her point of view.
Friendship creates the fertile ground of personal growth.
Jesus told his disciples something surprising.
He said people would know that they were his disciples by
1) Their ability to correctly explain major points of theology;
2) Their ability to be correct in their opinions;
3) The hard work ethic they demonstrated in their jobs;
4) The love that they had for one another.
Which one would you choose?
So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” John 13:34-35
The New Testament has an interesting phrase that is repeated at least 21 times: “one another”. Usually its proceeded by verbs like: “Be Devoted, Give Preference, Contribute to the Needs of, Do Not Judge, Build Up, Accept, Care For, Encourage, Do Not Complain, Confess Your Sins, Be Hospitable To, Submit, Do Not Be Against, Admonish, etc etc”.
Why does God want to give us specific practical ways to “love one another”?
I think God knows that one of our deepest needs is to feel love, acceptance, and affection. He created us that way. When this happens in a healthy way, our contentment and satisfaction levels are high. When there is an absence of love in our lives, there are serious consequences in our lives that affects all levels of society. Just ask any social worker or psychologists.
Second, we need help in this life. Anyone who says otherwise is a true “lone ranger”. I remember that television show from my youth. The Lone Ranger travelled around with an Indian named “Tonto”. When I moved to Honduras and began speaking Spanish, I realized that “tonto” means “idiot”. Lone rangers travel with idiots- themselves. Loving and serving one another is God’s solution to many of life’s problems. He doesn’t have to send a legion of angels if He has a few willing servants who will respond to the needs of others around them.
Finally, God knows that when we involve ourselves in serving others we grow spiritually and become more intimate with Him. Loving one another in a practical way allows God’s character to come forth more and more. Asking ourselves “What would Jesus do?” in each interpersonal situation will always result in a practical expression of love. When we serve others, in effect we are partnering with God in a work that will have a profound effect. That other person will benefit from your love, but perhaps the greatest beneficiary will be you.
If I believe the Bible (and I do!), then I know that relationships are eternal. Perhaps that is why when Jesus was asked what is the greatest commandment He said:
“You must love the Lord your God with all your heart (emotions), all your soul (obedience), and all your mind (thoughts). This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:38-40
Loving God and Loving the people around you are The Most Important Things!
Happy Year Long Valentine’s Day! Michael
Lamb Bleatings by Laura
I read something this morning that has played out repeatedly in my own life and in the lives of many I observe…
“Forsake your folly and live and proceed in the way of understanding. He who corrects a scoffer gets dishonor for himself and he who reproves a wicked man gets insults for himself. Do not reprove a scoffer lest he hate you. Reprove a wise man, and he will love you. Give instruction to a wise man, and he will love you. Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser. Teach a righteous man, and he will increase his learning. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. For by me your days will be multiplied and years of life will be added to you. If you are wise, you are wise for yourself. And if you scoff, you alone will bear it.” Proverbs 9:6-12
Consequences to our poor choices and behavior are not pleasant to bear, but it is with these consequences we are often motivated to act….to change….to choose differently….to perhaps multiply the years of life by better choices. The hunger for understanding and wisdom often gets pricked when we are experiencing conflict, unrest, pain, confusion….we attempt to go after what we do not have.
I am inspired by God and His ultimate good intention for me and my life. As I look to Him, He defines my purpose and ambitions for me. I avoid the pitfalls of my own flaws and sinfulness as I look to Him to guide and protect me….mostly from myself and my issues.
My greatest strength… knowing how much I need Jesus in my life. He is real, He is present and all knowing and able. He is my help in times of trouble, sadness, conflict, pain and confusion. He is my Answer and the Perfect Inspiration who possesses all wisdom, knowledge and holiness.
I am obsessed with Him and pray that all those I love would be able to experience the reality of such a magnificent Being. He is the ultimate Game Changer and Lover of my soul. He overrides every political, worldly and personal concern…I am celebrating this overriding Perfect Presence in my life.
I have the privilege of being surrounded by a man who is still in love with me, four children I get to work with who rise up a bless me, two of which still live with us, a ministry team that I adore, a Miskito family that we get to serve and give to, friends who inspire us, people that flow constantly in and out of our lives who we have opportunity with….
I am also celebrating how God is allowing me the opportunities to use my gifts in the creative arts of hair, food, movement and dance. I have been enjoying myself so much in these gifts that breathe life, energy and joy into my being.
How You How Can You Help This Month
1) Help us purchase school supplies for our students in our 8 school on the Rio Coco.
2) Sponsor a Seek The Lamb missionary.
3) Purchase Rio Coco Bean Coffee– profits go directly to the school!
4) Pray for us! See the Spiritual Arrows list.
You may use the enclosed envelope or donate online at seekthelamb.com—”Give”. Thanks!
Please pray that God will:
1) Provide all the needs of Project Ezra schools in Nicaragua this year!
2) Send us more Rio Coco Café missionaries !
3) Provide us good health as we travel this season, and all our needs!
We appreciate your prayers. They Change Everything!