January 2017 Conchshell Chronicles
Project Ezra Begins 31st School Year
This week, Danilo, Augusto, Onofre, and Rodolio are downriver receiving the enrollment from each of our seven communities. Last year we had 1607 students.
How does a school project in one of the most remote corners of the Western Hemisphere exist and operate for 31 years? It’s only through the grace of God- it’s His plan and He is the one who orchestrates it all!
We began as an outreach to the Miskito Indian refugees from the Sandinista War of ’80-91. Then we crossed the Rio Coco to the Nicaragua side at the invitation of the new Minister of Education, Humberto Belli, who wanted a Christian worldview and morality taught to Nicaraguan children after 11 years of Marxist-Atheism lessons! We agreed, and since then we have been the “official government school’ in all of our communities on the lower Coco River.
Since then we have educated over 12,000 Miskito children and adults. All of the teachers on the lower Rio Coco are our former students. In addition, many graduates of the Project Ezra schools have gone on to become lawyers, doctors, business managers, agricultural engineers, farmers, father & mothers, pastors, Sunday School teachers, and one became the governor of the Autonomous Region North on the Atlantic Coast.
We have made a difference! Thanks for your participation.
If you would like to make a contribution to our school project, or support one of our many Seek The Lamb missionaries, here is the link to our secure PayPal page.
Thanks for being a part of the adventure!
Our 2017 Strategy
I was sitting in our front yard on the last morning of 2016 sipping a cup of coffee enjoying the new blossoms on the Meyers Lemon tree. Bees were flying around the flowers, creating new fruit. Then I noticed a full sized lush lemon on the tree- this past year’s crop. There are still a few left. These lemons are sweet and full of juice, and we have all enjoyed them this past month!
As I took in this scene, I sensed the Lord saying: “I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit.”
This is a quote out of John 15 where Jesus is talking with his close friends about Him being the vine and us being the branches, and if we stay connected with Him, and live in His words, then we together will bear much fruit in our lives (John 15:5-8). I thought this message was very significant, since the next day would be January 1st. I realized God was giving me our 2017 strategy. It was exciting! 2017 was going to be a fruitful year!
I have a friend named Rob who has been my coach at Vero Strength & Conditioning these past two years. Rob has taught me the principles of Olympic weightlifting (which I had never done) and helped me stay in shape. In my enthusiasm I have had a few injures in my back and shoulder, and Rob, along with his wife Wendy, and the other coaches at the gym, including my daughter Mikaela, have helped me correct my technique and actually get better. Rob has given me special exercises to do, and watched my workouts. He has advised me to take off some weight when necessary, and added many sandbag squats to the workouts just so I don’t miss out on the strengthening part. He smiles when he knows that I will be taxed on a particular workout, and he watches me during the time so that I don’t reinjure myself. He is a good coach, because he cares for me personally, and he knows his stuff.
I have another coach that helps me in my spiritual life. He’s called the Holy Spirit. As I have meditated on this strategy of bearing lasting fruit in 2017, He has brought many opportunities to my attention, and a few days ago gave me my personal coaching tips on how to reach my goals.
His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.
For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.
For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:3-8
If I am going to be fruitful in 2017, then my coach tells me that I must focus on maintaining moral excellence- that my actions should reflect God’s morality regarding relationships, business, and my personal life. I’ve had to take an inventory of these areas, and see a few cracks that need to be shored up. Next I am to increase my study of His Word and my personal time with Him, that I may know God and His ways even better this year, and with this knowledge, apply self-control to put these things into place in my life. I must admit laziness in a few significant areas. There will be hardships and personal attacks this year, but I must always look past them to the greater goals that God has for me. Rob was smiling Saturday when he assigned me 80 sandbag squats in the middle of an intense workout. Yes, I got through them and am stronger as a result. He knew that.
In the midst of these trials and strains of this new year, I am to reflect God’s character even more than last year. That means more care and patience with my family members, our teachers in Nicaragua, and people whom I serve in the Rio Coco Cafés. I have been on record as being a bit abrupt in past years. That is changing, because I am being directed to be known for my kindness rather than my intensity. My task oriented nature is being refocused toward caring for the people in front of me at the moment. Finally, I am to view all events through a lens of “How can I love these people now?”.
If I give attention to these seven qualities, my spiritual coach says that I will be very fruitful this year. I believe Him, and trust that He will give me the power to do this because He tells me that I will be a “partaker of the divine nature”! I will have His power available to accomplish all of these things. That’s encouraging because I have realized the limitations of my own power resources. I find myself naturally distracted by the things in this world, and often content to sit and watch life pass me by. I’m at an age where I could accept my natural state- of the way I am in many areas- but I know that fruitfulness will require greater obedience (abiding in His words) and greater reliance on His leading and His power assets that will result in a changed Michael in 2017.
That is the essence of Christianity- changing from your old self to adopting more and more of God’s character, care, and concern for those around me. And it is Him that supplies the juice to make it happen. Sweet! Michael
“For we are God’s masterpieces created anew in Christ Jesus so that we would be able to do the things planned for us to do long ago “ . Ephesians 2:10
Our friend Truman Cunningham left this planet on August 6, 2016. Since his passing, I have thought much about the words, “Well done, my good and faithful servant…come into your rest.” Our reality as followers of Christ is that Truman suffers no more. He finished the race, fought the good fight and stayed true to the end which by all the stories of his family, he seemed to “know” that his end was near. He didn’t fear death. He came close to it many times in his full and amazing life…wars, natural disasters, bullets flying past his head, sicknesses, injuries, undiagnosed issues of many kinds, etc.
A life that passes on seems to have a few aspects that stand out …Truman was a man of faith who would always say, “You have to trust God…have faith.” For thirty years + Truman and Michael worked together to do a work of God that is still here today…Project Ezra…providing not only Christian education for the generations, but also providing the sense of stability and faithfulness that only God Himself could generate in such a faraway place that still exists without electricity or running water. Where the kids still run around naked free from the “normal” stresses of the world at large.
A spectacular feat just to have survived over all these years still in relationship with those we began with…Truman now becoming “the cloud of witnesses” that have gone on before us.
We miss him and it doesn’t even feel real that he is gone. He is “with us” in so many ways. I see him in his children. I see him in the ways of us taking in people into our homes and lives…something Truman and Mirna did…having a house full of people who they were helping to get through school. They in turn helping with the household chores etc. Kids becoming a part of their house in order for them to be educated further.
I see that we play a similar role here in our café ministry where we have had many come through who for a time become a part of the fabric of our “ohana” putting in some time and energy and receiving the experience of ministry, developing their gifts, learner to become a useful part to the family under Christ and growing into the people they are designed to be. It is an educational experience whenever we are in relationship with humans we are working closely with. We are designed to sharpen one another in this sometimes messy process of relating to one other….ever trying to keep the unity of peace and our bonds full of grace.
We all fall short of the glory of God. Our issues often prevailing over the better good of our situations and relationships.
I used to love when Truman would be his happy self talking up a storm telling us stories. He could be so jovial…yet the life of a leader has its price and he was one of those great Leaders that every one looked to for everything you could think of….for a hand out, for advice, for resources, for help, etc…
His burdens and responsibilities were many and I often think how relieved he must now be ….just being in the presence of the One he serves.
I can still hear him saying when we would be on our long hikes and ask “How much longer Truman?”, He would almost always answer “Ten more minutes.” Which turned into more like 50 more minutes. It was his way of saying, “almost there….take heart almost there.”
As we begin our 31st school year in Nicaragua, we are all carrying on the legacy of a great anointed man of God who we loved and enjoyed. Making the most of our time….for none of us know when our ten minutes will be up.
May we each fulfill the call and direction of the Lord upon our lives. God speaks if we take time to listen. Laura
Rio Coco Beans Coffee
We just received our bags of the green Timor coffee. It has taken 6 weeks to ship from that island on the border of the Indian and Pacific Ocean. We roast it medium -dark, and our friends here really love it.
Order our Timor coffee as well as our 14 others right here at our online store. Much of our profit from our coffee business goes to purchase school supplies, and pay salaries for our 43 teachers in Nicaragua.
Thanks for spending time with us this month. We hope to see many of you in these next months either in Hawaii, Florida, Utila, Nicaragua, and points between.
Its going to be a fruitful year!
Seek The Lamb
P.O. Box 2151 Vero Beach Florida 32961
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