We Begin Year 37!
It was a momentous day in 1985 when a refugee teacher named Augusto Vicente asked us to help him start a school in his community of Sawa on the Honduras side of the Coco River. A hot war had been raging along the lower Rio Coco since the Cuban and Sandinista soldiers arrived to "relocate" 104 communities into "Free Land" camps closer to the civilized part of Nicaragua in 1981 & '82 and kids had not had education for 5 years.
Jaime & Michael, Rio Coco 1985
That 'relocation' involved burning homes, killing cattle & pigs, cutting down coconut and fruit trees, and destroying school buildings. the result was 60,000 Miskito Indian refugees crossing the Coco River into neighboring Honduras. My friend Mirna Cunningham (the wife of Truman) told me that she stood on the Honduran side of the river and watched the soldiers shoot her cows, cut her lemon and coconuts trees, and burn her house, while holding her baby Celia with Rodolio, Danilo, and Leskia by her side. How tragic for her!
By 1984, the refugees had built bamboo and rough wooded houses on the Honduran side of the Coco River, staying close to their rice and bean fields. The soldiers had retreated upriver to Waspam, drivien out by Yatama Miskito resistance. We began our relief efforts for these refugees in November of 1985, with a container of clothes, shoes, food, soap, toothbrushes and toothpaste, and other supplies arriving in February of 1985. Because of the remoteness of this region from the civilized part of Honduras, it took us 6 months to deliver these relief supplies to the refugee communities along the Kruta and Coco Rivers. By that time Mirna and her children joined her husband Truman, and we began working together help these refugees get through this tough time. That's when Augusto arrived in our community of Auka asking for help in starting a school.
Truman, Mirna & Michael Auka Honduras 1985
The following year, Earl and Sharon Washburn arrived from Maple Valley Washington offering to help us start more schools. Earl was a scientist that worked for Boeing Aircraft who had been on that first trip with me in 1984 and his wife was a bi-lingual teacher. With their help we started 4 more schools, and by 1987 we had 12 primary schools! God was doing some amazing things!
Augusto, Michael & Truman meeting with students in Sawa Honduras side
In 1991 when the refugees returned across the river to Nicaragua, we met with the new Ministry of Education leaders who coerced us to cross the river and become the community school- they told us that they could not put any teaches in this most remote corner of Nicaragua and we committed to a long term project educating children and adults using the Nicaraguan public schools curriculum with a bilingual approach (grades 1-3 in the Miskito language) and our own Bible curriculum which we wrote in the Miskito language.
Srumlaya Honduras School 1987
It's February of 2023 and Truman, Mirna, and Augusto have all gone on to be with the Lord and we continue to administrate and fund primary and secondary education in eight communities as we begin our 37th year of education on the Coco River. We are reaching a 3rd Generation with teachers from our 1st and 2nd!
Thanks to all you who have helped us all these years to pay teacher salaries, construct school buildings, buy school supplies and the gasoline needed to get downriver.
Its a big effort, but with the leading and supply of our Lord we have educated tens of thousands of boys and girls and helped them reconstruct their communities and lives after the traumatic war of the 1980's.
Please help us begin our classes strong with a gift this month.
Remember, we are sending Echoes into Eternity through our combined efforts.
Israel Study Tour April 25 to May 5, 2023
There is still room on our bus! Please consider joining up on this very special time walking in the footsteps of Jesus. We will travel the width and length of Israel, walking in the footsteps of the Biblical personalities, understanding their culture and life experience with God.
Israel is wide open for travel. There are no vax or mask mandates.
Please contact Larissa at Christian Travel Study Programs to get on the bus.
PHONE: +1 (800) 371-4485
The world will know that we are the disciples of Jesus by the love we have for one another. God is Love and all of Life began with Love and will end with Love being at the forefront of all things now and forevermore. We were created and designed in Love and we were meant to live our lives by the power of that Love propelling us in all that we do, think and say. It is a divine Loving design from an Infinite Creator who lacks nothing and is perfect in every way. I am a believer and follower of a Living breathing Savior who soars and causes the world to turn.
All in the Name and Power of Love. I am in constant awe of this Truth.
Life is full of losses and gains. I lost my dad recently to eternity where he is soaring free in his eternal rest and destiny . Heaven.
I realize how Love was helping me let go of him for awhile. The power of my relationship with God and his unconditional love indeed made my transition of loss the best case scenario for my heart because He knows me and understands me from the inside out to completeness. He is my Creator. I ponder my own Father & mother who loved me deeply and only thought the best and most of me. I think about Michael’s father and mother who from the onset received me as one of their own to cause me to feel I was the very best thing that could have ever happened to their son.
I reflect upon the Love I possess for all of my children and how they feel for us. I feel blessed to know that there is a great deal of love and respect that goes both ways and amongst all four of the sibling relationships between them.
Our third adult child named Arielle Saree’ will soon be wed to Paul Ritto and we will happily gain another son. I don’t consider myself losing a daughter as much as gaining a son. We are having effective times working through details and the celebrations (bachelorette party on Utila coupled with taking care of Café preparations; it was a divine blast) Full of goodness and laughs among lifelong friends of the heart. Memories and new ties made in relationship and love. Beautiful meaningful moments all in the spirit of Love.
Arielle & Her Bachelorettes on Utila
Moselle, Laura, Mikaela, Megan, Arielle, Krystal, Malory, Naomi, McKenzie
I continue to realize how much time, effort and follow through all good relationships require. I have also been discovering how precious my moments that I take to be with those I love most. Especially the Author and Perfector of my Faith. I am learning of a new found strength in those quiet moments of listening to that still small voice that speaks with clarity and right judgement.
“Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall feebly stumble and fall exhausted; But those who wait for the Lord (who expect, look for, and hope in Him) shall change and renew their strength and power; they shall lift their wings and mount up (close to God) as eagles (mount up to the sun) ; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint or become tired.” Isaiah 40:30-31
Daily I am aware of the soaring birds that I know my Creator sends my way to remind me of these words for my heart. He gently reminds me that I am surrounded by Love and His hand through many…. Laura
We celebrate Love this month on the 14th- Valentine’s Day.
Laura found a heart shaped rock on Utila
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 who joined me in forming the Coupeville Athletic Association. The CAA was an informal organization that centered around sports and “refreshment”. Dave, Bob and I were the founders, and Bob still has the Log Book where our Yahtchee game results, along with Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year award winners are recorded. There was always a cold beverage or shot of Jose Cuervo alongside. We spent hours in our athletic endeavors, whether it was at Center Court, the Crown Avenue Frisbee Golf Course, 9th Street Bong Dart Bar Room or the Star Trek pinball machine at Toby’s Tavern just a few blocks away. When Dong joined the team, we added bowling to the list of sporting endeavors at the Coupeville Lanes.
Bob, Doug & Dan discuss as Bags opens a bottle of wine.
Coupeville Athletic Association Vail photo & Logbook entries,
One evening, I was talking to Bob and Dave about a personal situation that was bothering me. They listened and poured more drinks. I began to have understanding and Bob finally said it: “Bags, you are all screwed up.” (He actually use another word)
“I am?” I replied incredulously.
”Yes your are!” said Dave, “But we love you anyway.’
Those are true friends. Still are! In fact, they are reading this along with you all. Bob provided the excerpts from the official logbook and the photo from the Vail visit, where we focused on refreshments.
My closest friend now is my companion and lover, Laura Uyeda. She’s a professional social worker, and the Lord knows I needed expert help! For years she has been telling me things about my thoughts and behavior that I just didn’t accept. In the meantime, she has treated me like I am her best friend. Amazingly after living with her for almost 35 years, I have come to some understanding and agreement with many of her points of view.
Friendship creates the fertile ground of personal growth.
Jesus told his disciples something that surprised them and maybe many of us. He said people would know that we are his disciples by (choose one):
1) Our ability to correctly explain major points of theology;
2) Our ability to correct others in their opinions;
3) The hard work ethic we demonstrated in their jobs;
4) The love that we had for one another.
Which one would you choose? Here’s the answer:
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 verb phrases like:
“Be Devoted to,
Give Preference to,
Contribute to the Needs of,
Do Not Judge,
Do Not Complain against,
Confess Your Sins to,
Be Hospitable to,
Do Not Be Against,
Why does God 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 Valentine’s Day!
Rio Coco Beans Coffee
Timor and Papua New Guinea Are Back!
After months of waiting for the ship to arrive in New Jersey, the crop from Timor as well as Papua New Guinea has arrived at our roastery in Vero Beach Florida. Both are longtime favorites for Rio Coco Beans aficionados.
We received these bags on Wednesday and roasted on Thursday and by Saturday morning we had exhausted our first buckets of these two tasty coffees.
Order yours here and have it delivered to your door.
We leave you with this photo of one of the many sunsets on Utila.