May 2016 Conchshell Chronicles
1) Myrna Cunningham is in the hospital in Managua with serious kidney problems.
2) Rachel Johnson and Drew Dillon are serving at the Rio Coco Café Utila. Laura Herald, Mikaela, Arielle, Moselle, Lukas, Josiah, Jerzy, and Cameron are serving at the Vero café.
3) Laura & Michael are heading to Virginia to help their friends Joe & Karen Johnson open a café.
4) Nutie & Tom Keogh are back in Waspam after serving at the Rio Coco Café Utila.
5) Seek The Lamb is purchasing a new truck to replace the worn out one bought in 2005.
6) 1608 students are attending classes in the Project Ezra schools on the Rio Coco in Nicaragua each day!
At our study this morning we read a portion of Paul’s letter to his friends in Corinth, in which he deals with a number of issues that were current in the group of Jesus’ followers. One of the questions was “Can we eat meat that has been offered to idols?” Since there were many pagan temples in Corinth that used animal sacrifices in their ceremonies, this was an issue. In the photo Laura is standing in front of the ruins of Apollo’s Temple in ancient Corinth.
Usually after the sacrifice the carcass of the animal was dragged to a butcher shop where the meat was cut up and sold. In Corinth there were restaurants close to these butcher shops where you could get the freshest steak in town. Laura and I have actually stood inside the ruins of a few of these butcher shops in ancient Corinth. They are right down the street from the remains of the temple of the sun god Apollo.
It takes Paul 64 verses to finally specifically answer the question, and in the lengthy and seemingly random discussion, he writes a brilliant essay on how we are to reach the people around us, while keeping ourselves from getting lost in the culture: “Otherwise I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.”
How do we live in the world, and function as representatives of our King, and not become part of the world order? How far do we go in our outreach to our neighbors without adopting their moral values or cultural practices that go against the character of God and His desires for us?
These are very pertinent questions in a time when our culture is drawing away from the Biblical values that our nation was founded on. It has already happened in Europe, where most non-muslims don’t have a clue where their cultural values come from.
When we arrived on the Coco River in 1984, the native Miskito spiritualism was very alive and present in the lives of almost everyone. Farmers were sprinkling blood around their rice fields; pastors were tying red ribbons around their cattle to protect them from evil spirits; almost every house had a bottle of garlic, lemon, and other ingredients over the door to ward off evil spirits. Children still knew the names of the demons.
What did we do in such a culture? We began teaching the Bible. Here Sofia Borst is teaching a memory verse from Mark 3 to our students in Sawa, in their native Miskito language.
As I read today 1 Corinthians chapters 8 thru 10 Paul makes some amazing statements that I find to be very helpful in my own walk. First he tells me that I don’t have to be right when I converse with other followers of Jesus. It’s loving them that will really make a difference. I should think about them first and curtail my own liberty if it interferes with what they think in their own conscience, even when they are wrong. The last thing I want to do is cause my brothers and sisters to stumble in their own walk with the Lord.
When I am with others who don’t yet know Jesus, I should not judge or shun them, but I should look for areas of commonality and focus on building relationships with them. In this process I should be careful not to step across any moral lines or discard the wishes of my King for my personal life. I was reminded that even God’s chosen people who witnessed the many miracles in the escape from slavery in Egypt and experience God’s presence in the wilderness eventually turned away from Him and died in the desert without entering into the promised land. Temptations will come to me just as they did to them and other Biblical characters, and I will have my choice. God will give me a way of escape from the situation, if I want to take it. Sobering thoughts. Even though I can do all things, some things are really not beneficial for me. Too much of anything is harmful, and a little of some things can easily get us off track. I should “run the race in a way that I will win”. I should focus on disciplining my body and mind like an athlete who has plan for training to win an eternal prize.
Why am I pondering on this today? Maybe it’s my age, or something, because I’ve noticed a certain laziness in my spiritual disciplines. I lean toward comfort and self-gratification. As a result I’ve noticed that I have inched away from my relationship with my Lord. Inches lead to yards and then to miles. My world is walking away from Godly character and behavior rapidly. Only us who are truly connected to God can stem this tide by reaching out to those around us, one by one. But it starts with me. Small decisions.
After 32 years of working on the Rio Coco, I’ve noticed that our teachers are more spiritually mature, and more willing to move toward God in their hearts and minds. Most of the pastors and leaders in our communities learned about Jesus and God’s Kingdom from our daily Bible lessons in primary school.
God has entrusted this mission of inviting people to spend eternity with Him to very imperfect, flawed individuals- us! Yet it is through His Holy Spirit that we will be able to reach many in these present times. I spoke to a friend of mine in a Mexican restaurant a few days ago. We were there to listen to one of our friends play music. We talked about “being in the world but not of it” and she said something profound: “Michael when I look around this place, there is nothing here I need from anyone; no affirmation, no resources, nothing. I am free to move through this place and speak as God wants me to speak, with no restrictions, enjoying the people I am with. It is most effective in bringing the life of God into this culture.”
She’s right. Michael
“One Step Ahead”
I had a strange revelation during an exercise class I was taking…. An advanced “step” class that is full of fun choreographed movements up, down, side, over, at times “dancie” like movements around these step platforms. The platform is like your personalized dance partner that you can step on and around. We go for an hour getting an amazing cardio workout without even knowing it….unlike running where you feel every bump, bounce and step…I love the distraction of the music, quick pace and full spectrum of movement…..Kind of like life, you know….
Anyway, during one such class, there was obvious difficulty with catching on to one of the more complicated movements. I realized what helped me in learning that movement was my thought of where I needed to place my foot next….to be aware of where I needed to land in order to get around the step in a timely fashion. Being “One Step Ahead” in preparation was a key for me being able to execute the whole sequence properly without tripping or confusing myself.
I started to think about how I “play” other “games” in life…like billiards where you have to start planning your route of being a couple steps ahead and not only make the shot that is in front of you or ping pong where you notice your opponents weaknesses to plan where you will place your shot next….sometimes we can just go into survival mode where we just want to get the shot over the net. Such is true in life…just dog paddling with our heads above the surface trying not to drown in the process…but there are these occasions where we have the privilege of being able to think “One Step Ahead” and be engaged with the moments with foresight and intentional planning. What a concept for spontaneous fly by the seat of our pants kind of people like us…appearing so often like we are bumbling along in life…our greatest asset being our relationship with our Heavenly Father who knows everything and lets us in on His plans because He is always above that time line knowing what steps need to be taken and how. It comforts me greatly to have such the Perfect Backup! No need to fret or worry with One that is perfect, complete and full of wisdom that I bank on….Love, trust and obey…beautiful ingredients for a good relationship. I love feeling the safety of knowing that even in all of my bumbling along in the dance of life…with all the twist, turns, emotions, events, responsibilities, etc… I can feel so safe and free in the Arms of One that is always a step ahead, above and beyond. That is true freedom and liberation and fills me with a song to sing and a peaceful glide in my stride.
As a mother of four, I am feeling the blessedness of having my children close to do life with one another. We will be going on another mission to Utila to tend to the harvest there…The other night we took a journal book that I had presented to Michael as a wedding gift 27 years ago out and I read with interest a letter my sister in law, Maureen Uyeda gave to me in 1987…before Michael and I even got married. In this letter was a thorough and full description of us being on an Island and doing what looked like a “Church” where we were effectively being used by God to reach many…That prophecy is being fulfilled. I continue to be amazed by the beautiful hand of the One that is ever ONE STEP AHEAD, ABOVE AND BEYOND. I trust in God. It is a beautiful thing.
Please join us in prayer and support of what He is accomplishing abroad. Especially for my friend Myrna. Laura
How Can You Help This Month?
- Become a school sponsor. Support a Seek The Lamb missionary serving in Central America and the U.S.
- Purchase Rio Coco Bean Coffee at www. riococobeans.com. Our profits go to the school project!
- Pray for us! Check out this month’s Spiritual Arrows
You may use the enclosed envelope or donate online at
Spiritual Arrows: Your Prayer are Powerful!
Please pray that:
1) Good Health for Myrna, Truman, Michael, and our missionaries. We have needs.
2) God will send us more missionaries for the Café ministry.
3) Provide the money for the new truck we are buying.
4) Michael will be able to do all his writing and office work.
We appreciate all your prayers.
Rio Coco Beans Coffee
This past month we received a pallet of coffee from our friends Mike Stem and Craig Meredith at New Covenant Foundation/Dominion Trading who work with coffee farmers in Ethiopia and have a similar project as ours in Nicaragua. With the profits from their coffee importation business they are providing community health education (physical, mental and spiritual) in rural areas of Ethiopia. Since they began in 2001, nearly 800,000 people in 500 communities, in the coffee growing regions of Sidamo and Yirgacheffe, have received the training resulting in nearly a 50% reduction in infant mortality and malnutrition.
We have begun roasting and selling three Ethiopian coffees that Dominion Trading sold us in our café in Vero Beach and on our website. In the next few days, we will send money from the sale of these Ethiopian coffees to Truman Cunningham, our project director in Nicaragua, who will purchase some school supplies, and then travel down the Coco River to visit our eight schools, and pay our 46 teachers.
Coffee is a very valuable tool for us to take care of the people around us. When Jesus was asked by one of the religious scribes what was the most important commandment, he replied: Jesus replied, “ ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ 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 22:37-40
Mike and Craig began their coffee business to help their neighbors in Ethiopia. We began ours to help our neighbors in Nicaragua. It was over a decade ago that we began looking for a word that would describe our coffee. Many of our coffees are organic, many fair trade, and most shade grown. These words all refer to environmental and economic issues. We wanted a word that touched the heart of our coffee mission. It wasn’t in the dictionary, so we invented and trademarked it: Humanic: Bettering the lives of Human Beings around the world.
Drink up! The profits go to help our neighbors here on Planet Earth. With these Ethiopian Coffees from Dominion Trading, we have 100% Humanic from the coffee fields of Ethiopia to the classrooms of Nicaragua. Here are the three coffees. From the response at the café, these are extraordinary coffees.
Yirgacheffe Washed: Lemon Zest; Caramel; Sweet dried Orange
Gwangwa Abaya Sundried Natural: Ripe Blueberry; Boysenberry Syrup; Vanilla; Honey
Harrar Sundried Natural: Dried Honey; Vanilla; Cherry Cordial;
You will find these on our Rio Coco Bean webstore as our “Ethiopia Yirgacheffe”, and under the “Rio Coco Reserve” category. We are very happy to be able to offer our friends not only a very special coffee, but also the opportunity to participate with New Covenant/Dominion Trading in their project as well as ours! It’s 100% Humanic!
Thanks for spending time with us this month. We appreciate your time, prayers, and partnership.
Contact us at :
Seek The Lamb P.O. Box 2151 Vero Beach FL 32961.
You may email us at email@example.com
Call us at the Rio Coco Cafe everyday except Sunday: 772.226.5760
Aloha for now!