October 2016 Conchshell Chronicles
Today on the Rio Coco
Onofre Zamora is one of the leaders of Project Ezra along the Rio Coco in Nicaragua. He traveled with us to Israel in 1997, and it was there onn day sitting in the Garden of Gethsemene in Jerusalem that the Lord let us know that Onofre would become a Bible teacher for the Miskito culture.
19 years later, we can verify that this was indeed a word from the Boss. Onofre teaches the Bible weekly in his position as a pastor at the Moravian Church in Waspam. In addition for the past decade he has had a weekly radio show that reaches thousands along the Rio Coco. By the way, Onofre and his friends Augusto and Danilo pay for the radio time out of their own pockets. Nice.
Onofre travels downriver where he works with our teachers and the pastors of our communities. He brings true Biblical understanding to a culture that is relatively new to Christianity.
Onofre is working on a very significant transgenerational work- he is doing a modern day translation of the Bible into the Miskito Language! He is almost finished with the New Testament, and already a published “Book of John” is circulating in the families along the river.
Because of the nature of this translation work, Onofre was having headaches. With the help of many of you, we sent him to Managua for eye exams and we purchased him two new pair of glasses! No more headaches!
Augusto Vicente is the refugee teacher who came to us in 1985 asking help to start a school in Sawa, where the children had not had a school since 1980. He and another teacher, Sofia Borst, began classes that year, and the next year they helped us establish four more school in refugee villages along the war zone. By 1987 this project had grown to 12 schools. Since then we have educated tens of thousands of Miskito children and adults!
Augusto has been our school district superintendent all these years. Through his leadership, our teachers are now all certified primary and secondary school teachers, and our students are achieving academic levels that often exceed the Nicaraguan Ministry of Education norms!
Augusto also traveled with us to Israel in 1997, and is now stepping in to fill the gap in our leadership team since the sudden death of our project leader Truman Cunningham in August.
In this past year, Augusto has had some health issues, and with your help, we were able to send him to the best hospital in Managua last month for a complete checkup and treatment. He is doing much better now. He told me “Maik, the doctors at the hospital were very attentive and effective, and they really helped me, but it was very expensive!” He’s right. He got the best doctors in Nicaragua who took care of him in a few day where the government hospital would have taken weeks.
Thanks to many of you who contribute monthly to our project. Here are two example of how your support touches the lives of our team and allows us to have the impact that we do on the communities along the lower Rio Coco.
Photo: 1989- Laura begins collecting the biographies for our child sponsorship program.
After my birthday on September 30 , I began to develop a skin infection in my nose cavity…today it is raw, red and sore creating a constant drone of irritation and pain . It is amusing how I can focus in on one source of agitation and allow it to cloud my days. Yet in the middle of my day I am reminded how all things can always be worse…
While in the Café, I felt to meet and greet a sweet looking woman and her two sons who ordered and were sitting at one of our tables. I asked the usual questions and then she began to share that she had just gotten back from Ecuador and did some treatment for her cancer that she has had for 4 1/2 years. She disclosed that she was about to leave for Germany for another kind of treatment in two days. Compassion filled my heart as I thought about all the difficulty for them as a family.
So as I stood there with my new friend struggling with cancer, I asked if I could pray with them . They all held hands and I prayed over her for God’s healing and presence in their lives. They were appreciative, but they left before I could touch base with them to get further info. So I could keep informed. I felt bummed, but trusted that God would connect the dots for me.
In the next days, my swelling on my nose notably increased as did the pain which was simultaneous with this hurricane about to ruin us. In the middle of this storm (2:30am)I received a text from Oahu saying my dad had fallen, bleeding on the brain, vomiting blood and seemingly confused. Wow, I am laying in bed waiting for the storm to hit and this was the bigger blow between everything. Perspective once again.
I was battling it all out, ”God is this his time? Should I go and see him…I feel you have been saying how I need to let go and how selfish I feel not to want to let go. What am I gonna do without my dad?!
My father has been tired for a long time…since my mom’s passing he has been grieving her loss and going down hill with his health and his attitude of sorrow and even regrets. Dialysis is draining…three times a week. He doesn’t sleep well and has little appetite. His mind is sharp and I love having him in my life. Anyway, the ensuing battle of my mind and heart…On Saturday, after the hurricane, my good friend Sherry comes in to our Café with one of her neighbors. Sherry is a scientist and very smart well informed person that I respect. She took one look at me and said, “lets go to a doctor and get a prescription for that infection. We don’t want that to spread”.
They took me to a doctor. While waiting, I shared how my woes don’t even come close my friend with cancer. I wondered outloud how she was doing and how I wanted to get more info. Sherry’s neighbor said, “Oh, I know her…she is my cousin.” GOD;THE GREAT DOT CONNECTOR/PERSPECTIVE GIVER AND GAME CHANGER. FRET NOT. TRUST.
I began this past week feeling good. It had been two weeks since my dengue attack of September 18th, and I had a productive weekend build new shelving for the café. Monday morning I noticed a hurricane in the southern Caribbean that had just turned north. The projected path would bring it close to Florida. I began to pray. Tuesday after our men’s group, I pulled my emergency generator out of the shed. It had been there since October 2005, when it was last used for Hurricane Wilma. Even though I had run the tank dry 11 years ago, it refused to start. I cleaned the plug and worked up a sweat pulling and pulling on the start rope. Nothing. I made a note to take it to the repair place and get it fixed, but realized that my chances of doing that before the storm were very slim at best.
That afternoon, the projected path of this Hurricane Matthew shifted west, closer to Vero Beach. I continued to pray, and mentally make plans for boarding up our house and café. Our plywood shutters were sitting in the shed right where I left them 11 years ago. The storm was projected to arrive offshore on Thursday evening. I went to Lowes to buy plywood for the café windows. There was a frenzy going on and no plywood was left in the store.
Wednesday morning began a look at the projected track of Matthew. It had drifted west and now would pass by Vero about 20 miles offshore with 135 mph winds. It was getting serious. I prayed, asking God for guidance, and suddenly realized that I would have to board up the café and our homes. I jumped out of bed and borrowed Arielle’s truck to go to Home Depot to buy plywood for the café. They were sold out. Then Arielle and I began working in the garage, moving plants inside. We moved the generator, and she asked me if it was working. “Give it a try!” she said. I pulled one more time and it almost started! Surprise. I pulled many more times. Nothing. With inspiration, I asked Arielle to help me load this generator into the back of the van, and we drove to the area where a friend told me was a small engine repair shop. We drove around looking, but didn’t see anything except three guys sitting at a picnic table in front of an auto shop smoke cigs and drinking Dunking D coffee. “Do you know where the small engine repair shop is?” I asked. One of the guys said “It’s one street over but he probably gone due to this coming storm.”
“I have a generator that needs a fuel filter because when I start it, it runs for a few seconds and then dies.”
“It’s not the filter, it’s the carburetor all gummed up. I fixed one yesterday.” He walked over to the van and said “Just like that one”. In a few seconds he was helping me carry the heavy generator out of the van and began to disassemble the carburetor. Sure enough, even though I thought I had run it dry, there was yucky yellow gas still in the carburetor, and all the ports were clogged. In a matter of minutes the carburetor parts were on his bench, and he began cleaning each one. As he worked he said “I repaired so many of these generators in the 2004-5 hurricane season (when we had eight major storms pass through our state) that people began to call me “Generator Tom”.
What a fortunate coincidence that we happened to turn down this street. Twenty minutes later we were loading a now smoothly running generator into the van. He asked me for only $20.
Arielle was smiling: “That was a miracle!” It was! Think about it.
We went to the café where my builder friend Scott was finishing up a meeting. I told him I was looking for plywood, and he called his supplier in Ft Pierce to see if he had any. A few minutes later he texted me to drive to Ft. Pierce, 20 minutes away, so Mikaela and I hopped into her truck. In just a few minutes Scott called me told us to go instead to a construction site in south Vero. We arrived and saw 30 pieces of plywood stacked on the roof. Scott told the roofers he was going to take eight pieces (they were happy as they had to do something with these exposed sheets before the storm) and he climbed the roof and began tossing them to us down. 10 minutes later we were driving back to the café with the needed plywood. Mikaela said: “That was amazing that we could get plywood off the roof of a construction site, just like that!” It was Amazing!
As we arrived back at the cafe, one of our team members Daniel arrived with a few of his friends to help us cut and put up the boards. “What timing!” I thought as this was not planned. The sun was blazing, and I almost suffered heat stroke, but in less than two hours we had the plywood cut and screwed in, covering all three glass doors and windows. As I drove home, I began smiling. “You are letting me know that You have all these things arranged, aren’t you?” I said to my Lord. “Relax and enjoy being with Me as we do this together” He replied.
At the house, we began taking our plywood panels out of the shed, and stacking them next to the windows and doors as they were marked from three previous hurricanes. It was sweet to see my four, six, and thirteen year old daughters’ writing on these plywood sheets from 11 years ago! By sunset we had all the panels positioned.
Thursday morning began with a check of the projected track of Matthew. Nothing had changed except for a forecasted strengthening to a Category 4 storm as it arrived off shore around 1 AM. I sensed my Lord telling me that all was in control. He would take care of the day.
Our hurricane crew consisted of the four Bagby kids, our friend Marten and as well as our English friend Karl, who was visiting us from Utila. What a time to come for a “vacation”! With all of us working together we had the shutters up in a few hours, and time to go over to Lukas house and cut extra plywood boards that we happened to have in the shed (from a building project in 2005 that I completely forgot about!) and make custom sized shutters for all his windows and French doors. It started raining just as Karl and I cut the last one, and Marty, Lukas, and Josiah screwed it in. Then I asked Marty if we could do anything at his house, since we had more plywood sheets in the shed. We loaded 5 and went to his house to cut shutters for his French doors in the back. By four o’clock, we had prepped three houses for this approaching storm. I personally was so surprised that we were able to do so much in such a short amount of time!
We ate dinner and began to watch movies. That’s when a friend from Tennessee called and told me that he had just seen the report that Matthew was headed right at Vero Beach with 140 mph winds. “Why are you not evacuating?” he asked with excitement and emotion in his voice. He was correct: 140 mph winds are not something to ignore. I asked our “team” if any of them felt uncomfortable staying. “We should consider what if the storm has a direct hit on Vero,” I told them and I began to feel the fear factor. It was intense. “Maybe we should consider driving west?” I added. Marty asked me “Will this house handle those winds? After a pause, I replied “I don’t know.” That sent the team into a momentary panic. They later told me that they had never heard me say “I don’t know”.
I walked across the street to see my friend Ted who is a policeman. He and his family were watching the weather channel, making cookies, and settling in for the night. He had heard nothing from the police department. I walked back and into my bedroom and asked my Lord if I should be concerned about 140 mph winds hitting the house and possibly endangering our lives. I sensed Him saying “Be concerned but don’t worry. I have it under control.”
So we started the movies. First Rush Hour 2, and then the Pink Panther. I fell asleep at midnight, and awoke at 2 AM. I checked the weather radar, and the eye of Matthew was right off of Vero Beach, but not at 20 miles, but rather 45 miles. The storm had taken a veer to the east, and we were missing the heavy winds, and resulting surge and flooding!
Compare the projected pink path of Matthew to the actual black path!
The next morning there was not water on our street like the last three times. Our mango tree was down, but it fell away from our bedroom! The electricity was on all night, going off at 7:58 AM! Lukas had power all night at his house! All in all it was a remarkable 48 hour period where God continually showed Himself and turned fearful times into a glide with Him and my family and friends.
How do people like without Him in their lives???
How Can You Help This Month?
- Sponsor Truman Cunningham’s honorary fund. There are many needs that Mirna has now to cover the expenses of Truman’s death. Here is a link to our secure PayPal page for those of you who want to help, as well as those of you who have traveled with us to the Rio Coco and have had the Cunningham Family care for us. Truman Cunningham
- Sponsor a Seek The Lamb Team member serving in Central America and the United States. Here is a link to our support page. Seek The Lamb Team
- Contribute to the Utila Cafe building project. We are adding two bedroom to serve our team members. Rio Coco Cafe Utila Team House
You prayers send out power arrows that impact many around the world! Please pray that God will:
- Provide every need for the Cunningham Family in Nicaragua;
- Heal Laura’s dad who had a fall and subsequent stroke. She is in Honolulu with him now.
- Bring us more Rio Coco Cafe team members.
Rio Coco Bean Coffee
Our coffee profits pay teacher salaries and purchase supplies for our schools in Nicaragua. We roast high altitude specialty coffee each week and ship to homes all over America.
Thanks for spending time with us this month!
Seek The Lamb
P.O. Box 2151 Vero Beach Florida 32961 USA tel: 772.226.5760 email: email@example.com