August 2018 Conchshell Chronicles

Looking For Community

The days are busy here at the café on Utila. We are generally up at 5 AM for our run out to the other side of the island, and then jump off the dock and shower. It’s a great start to the day. At 6 Am we begin prepping the café area, which is under our home. The girls make coffee and set up the service area. Laura preps her daily specials and prepares her kitchen, and I wipe the tables and benches, pump water from the municipal pipe if it is available, and generally straighten up the area. At 6:45 we often sit and have breakfast and prayer, and then open the gates at 7:00 AM.

People are often waiting outside. We are surrounded by four dive shops, and they all begin early. The first dive boats go out at 7:30 so there is a rush to get coffee and banana bread/Blondies/Brownies and a healthy Laura Breakfast (granola, muesli, papaya, mango combo or egg casserole). They stream in. Many are instructors and dive masters who have been here for months and years. We know them, their drink of choice, and many of their stories. They tell us that our café is inviting and comforting. We treat them as our friends, and many are.

When the dive boats leave, others begin drifting in. Many are shop workers, owners of local businesses, and long-time residents. At 10:30 the dive boats are back, and a rush comes. Now hungry divers are ordering Laura’s lunch plates, which are filled with fresh veggies, savory chicken, snapper, and ahi, with watermelon, mango, and papaya garnish. She is doing an incredible job, and each day she sells out. I’m lucky to get lunch on many days!

While we have many clients who are born on Utila, most come to this island from every European country, from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, with many Canadians, Americans, and Israelis, and a lot of English. It’s our seventh year here, and we now have friends scattered across the world, many of whom we still chat with on Facebook and Instagram.

One thing I notice: All of our guests come here for good coffee, delicious food, and cool breezes. Many come for something else: community.

“A group of people living in the same place or  having a particular characteristic in common; the  condition of sharing or having certain attitudes and interests in common.”

Coffee is the friendship drink. In Biblical culture, meals are shared only by friends. Intimacy often develops through times of nourishment. It is somehow built into our basic human nature. We notice that often there will be six or eight people around a table, all from different parts of the world, but engaging each other, with drink in hand, chatting as if they had been lifelong friends. Maybe it’s the time away from home, from familiar surroundings, that draws travelers together. Sharing the experience of seeing God’s underwater creation provides a common point of connection. We watch new arrivals meet others here at our café, and a few days later act as if they are family.

Jesus was all about developing community. He shared food and beverage with notorious outcasts from Hebrew society- smelly fishermen and shepherds, unclean prostitutes, traitorous tax collectors, drunken lowlife. Along with the occasional well off citizen and priest, these formed the ecclesia” (the called out ones, the church) of the First Century, probably because they felt His love and compassion.

Talking with the Swedes and South Africans

We hope all who walk into the Rio Coco Café will feel His love and compassion through us- the servers. It is a great opportunity to provide a wholesome community to many who have been travelling down dead end roads, just like Laura and I were before we encountered the King. We see ourselves in so many who purchase food and beverage each day.

I know that God is doing something in many of our guests and friends. I count on it. The way I see it,      everyone is on a spiritual line that runs from -7 (a satan worshipper) to +7 (a saint). Our assignment at the Rio Coco Cafe is to only move them along one notch closer to God.

A tattooed, pierced, dreadlocked girl holding a cigarette as she orders her coffee may just need a word of encouragement, or an expression of love and care. God will use that to nudge her a notch closer. A software engineer who is taking a year off to discover his   purpose in life may respond to an explanation of relational Christianity. Many have!

 It is amazing how confused this generation is when it comes to God.

The Canadian Jewish lawyer and the Israeli dive instructor who have gone through the motions of religious traditions respond to the understanding why we dip the Shabot    Challah bread in salt before we eat it, as we did a few weeks ago. Salt equals faithful, loyal relationship according to the Bible. Many have been surprised at the symbolism of God’s love for them through this simple gesture. This moves them a notch closer to God.

A medical student who grew up in a Christian home and is trying to figure out how her spirituality can grow within the framework of her university is encouraged to understand that God has a very specific plan for her life find! , and . She responded to our encouragement to find genuine Christian community on her campus.  A notch closer to God.

A local boy who just opened a business, and was married earlier this year is trying to figure out how to care for his family and grow his business. When he heard how we talk to our Boss throughout the day for guidance, he was surprised. He sees the results of having a God led business. I also encouraged him to pray daily for his wife. He left the café a few notches closer to God.

These are just a few of our encounters with our guests this past month. We see so many potential members of God’s Family each day when we open the gate here at the Utila Café. We also see potential evangelists, pastors, and disciple makers. We see godly fathers and mothers, and selfless  community members turning their culture towards God. Most are not there yet, but neither were we when we started our journey with the Lord.  We love our jobs! It’s one we all really have been given by the Lord!     MB


 Lamb Bleatings

The joy of developing relationship with those I am called to is the greatest blessing I have in this life. I find so much pleasure in “hanging out” with Michael, Arielle, Moselle, Maria and many of those who walk through our gate.  I remember when I felt God “talking” to me about how I was to help the lives around me by allowing them into my kitchen so I could do life with them as we worked together.  This,  for me, is the way I felt God allowing me to know how He would use me most profoundly in the lives that are close enough for me to share my heart and  passions with.

God does not expect me to “disciple” everyone…only those I feel comfortable letting into my kitchen (a very intimate and important place in my life).  I feel  blessed with the various opportunities that I have been    given, especially with the chance to “do Life” with my two youngest here on this little spit of land called Utila.  What a privilege to be able to serve with them and to watch them do their thing with all those we are serving.  They are impressive servant Leaders that are disciplined, on the ready and know how to maneuver successfully through their lives.  I thank God for them every day…we all know our parts to play and by and large really enjoy playing our role well before (and for) our King.  I am living out so many of my dreams that I didn’t even know I had, but there I am, often right in the middle of living it and truly basking in the glory of God.  How thankful I am for his goodness !

I have been thoroughly enjoying my time with Maria, my helper. She is a pure hearted gem that God sent to me at the right moment.  I love her and want to continue supporting her.  She has two young cute little children and the father has left to go to the states and has not been responsible for these precious ones.  We get our kitchen and household duties done and enjoy the process very much.  She is a high achiever and fast learner.  We are helping one another in our Spanish and English skills and getting better!


Laura & Maria

 There is always so much to do and so little time to do it, but we are trying our best to fulfill  every one of God’s opportunities…and enjoy each step and especially enjoy each other in the process of all that has to be done.  We continue to pray for the workers of the harvest because the fields are white, ripe and ready for the picking.  We just need God’s choices to be amongst us to enjoy the harvest and be willing to work it for His glory.      

Please pray for us.            Laura



Nicaragua: Not Good

The political situation in Nicaragua continues to get worse. Over 350  people have died in protests against the Ortega government, killed by masked armed “thugs” who take their orders from the president. We have heard of personal experiences with houses being fire bombed by these thugs, snipers with high powered rifles taking position on top of buildings and shooting many– including women and children. The Human Rights Commission has closed down due to threats against their lives.

Our schools are far enough away to not be affected by the political unrest, and continue to meet each day. We are paying our teachers and purchasing school supplies and fuel this month as we have for the past 32 years.

Our project director Danilo Cunningham advises me that it would not be good for me to come to Nicaragua now. He has the wisdom of his father Truman.



Tiberias Sunrise Over the Sea of Galilee

Please join us in praying that God will:

1) Protect our team in Nicaragua during this political unrest.

2) Protect us as we work in Utila this month.

3) Provide us with workers for the Utila Café this fall season. We are in need of team members.

       We appreciate your prayers.


How You Can Help

Kiwastara School 1986

How Can You Help This Month?

1) Help us buy school supplies.

2) Support one of our teachers.

3) Support one of our missionaries;

4) Pray for us!

You may donate online at—”Give”



Rio Coco Beans Coffee

We are roasting some very good coffee! Have some delivered to your door and help us buy school supplies for our 1600 students.

Order at


We finish this month with a spectacular photo of Arielle making rings ……


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