January 2020 Conchshell Chronicles
Photo: Sunset bathing on the Rio Coco.
A Time For Buffing Bright
During a church service on December 8th, I sensed the Lord telling me that 2020 was going to be a year of moving forward. That got me excited as I have been praying for a personal move of God in my life. Things had gotten a bit dull and lifeless in my relationship with Him. I wasn’t reading the chapter of Proverbs for the day, as I had these past three plus decades. In fact, I wasn’t that excited about reading His Word. I found it often laborious.
My mind and heart were elsewhere.
It was the following week that I began to notice the brass tray in our sunken living room.
This is a tray my parents bought at the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul Turkey in 1963 when we lived at the Karamursel Air Force Base. I became the polisher of this large tray, and for the next six years, applying the Brasso and buffing it off was a bi-monthly event. Then my parents moved to Florida in the 1974, and eventually this brass tray ended up in the garage, leaning against the wall. After a camel trip to the Negev Desert of Israel in 2006, I had a table made for this tray and it became the centerpiece of our Bedouin Tent Living Room.
That week I noticed the stains on the brass tray. It was very dull and had dark water marks all over it. I realized it had been at least three years since I had taken the time to clean it. I keep noticing it day after day, and finally December 18th, I got out the Brasso and cloths and went to work.
Manual labor is good for me. I have time to think as I work. As I addressed the stains on that tray which I had neglected for years, I felt like the Lord made it personal.
He was going do to me what I was doing to the tray—cleaning off the stains and turning the dull sheen into a bright luster.
Part of that excited me, while another part of me dreaded abandoning some habit patterns that I had become comfortable in- like my “see food” diet which I have been indulging in for, coincidently, these past three years. Oooh! And those hours spent binge watching Netflix. And those mornings in bed when I should be out exercising.
It seemed like my physical, mental, and spiritual condition was going to get a buffing. I had, like the brass tray, become rather dull in my appearance, performance, and attitudes. These revelations took place in that hour that I worked on tray that day.
Then a strange thing happened on New Year’s Day.
When I opened our bedroom door that morning, the brass tip of the door latch fell off onto the floor. I had never seen that before. I could not close my bedroom door. I had to put the laundry basket against it that night to keep the cats out. What a strange failure to take place on the first day of 2020.
I pondered that for the next week. It was finally clear. God was going to my most intimate places, to buff me up in areas that I had closed the door to Him. In this new season, there would be no “Do Not Disturb” signs on my door!
I have many things before me these next months. The school project on the Rio Coco is requiring some serious attention as the Nicaraguan government is forcing us to pay higher teacher salaries (that the Ministry of Education somehow is exempt) and tax us in other areas. Fortunately, we have Tom Keogh and Danilo Cunningham to make all the important decisions how we are going to respond.
The ministry on Utila is expanding, as we expand the dock 30 more feet into deeper water. We are looking at another location here in Vero for a team house and coffee store. We are launching “Life Skills @ The Rio Coco Café” in an effort to equip our community. We are doing a class on Biblical Culture starting next week. I have a book that is almost finished to get published.
We are trying to raise all our salaries for our café team, as Laura and I continue to be the unpaid “volunteer missionaries” for the ministry.
Yes! There is a reason that my Lord has answered my prayers and has started the process of cleaning off the stains that have been there for years, and buff someone who has “dulled” due to lack of discipline. He knows that if I am to accomplish all that He put me on the planet for, then I need a maximum of His Holy Spirit Flow and to brightly reflect His Presence to those around me.
He wants this season to be my very best.
May this be your very best as well!
Happy New Year! Michael
As many of you know, our missionary and discipling efforts have largely been focused not only on our Project Ezra Miskito friends of 30 plus years, but now also in the last 10 years we have added efforts toward the communities we have been a part of via our Rio Coco Beans roasting and Café ministry. We still function as “Volunteer Missionaries” living our lives by faith even though we are instructed by our Boss to pay all of our Miskito Teachers, leaders, disciples, teammates and the rest of the workers that come alongside of us.
We continue to be called to build community and relationships wherever we happen to be… here, there, everywhere, foreign or local…doesn’t matter….God is with us doing this no matter where and with who…It is something that happens as part of why we feel we are placed on this earth for.
Michael and I both feel the Lord has instructed us to Lead the charge as volunteer missionaries ever since the beginning of our marriage (now 31 years) ….taking care of God’s business and having the faith and knowing that as we do His Business, He will take care of ours (this is a story for another time, but it was one of those moments of knowing by faith what His mandate was for us and our lives). He has taken care of us and many details as we have lived out our lives for Him. It has been an amazing ride of faith, excitement and risky out of our control adventure (but in our Creator’s Divine control).
I often hear in my heart, “I GOT THIS….Do you TRUST ME????” Jesus resides in my heart and every moment I try to get smaller while consciously allowing Him to get bigger and more evident…in the way that I think, perceive, operate, live, talk, act and do. Trust….Because I know He is perfect and complete lacking in nothing, I am able to rely on such a Source that is unchangeable and True. Completely trustworthy. Incredible to have this Eternal Entity in charge and in my corner and intricately involved in my Life. He can do anything and everything. I will one day Live in Heaven with Him forever. For now, I get to have little engagements here on earth with my forever King and Perfect Heavenly Father. As my Life continues to grow and get bigger and fuller, my dependence has grown upon Him out of sheer necessity (on my part)…and my Love for Him deepens.
Today I was blessed by one of our customers. His name is John…a distinguished gentleman that plays Bridge…one day I might get to do that but that is after all the other things on my goal list I got going on. I always ask John how his bridge games are going and we exchange fun pleasantries since he is such a pleasant kind person. Anyway, today he said something that I told him I would quote him on because it blessed me so. He said, “Do you know that your Café is the Best thing that ever happened here in Vero Beach? I have already been in here twice in one day….”
Then a couple that had donated $20 to our Humanic Fund came back in and they started to tell me how much they loved all that we were doing in our community and abroad. It was a great moment of encouragement.
photo: Celebrating our 8th Birthday-
December 5, 2019
Interestingly enough about 30 minutes went by and I was having lunch with a dear friend of mine who I hadn’t seen in a long time. I invited her to come and dine with me so we could talk. She is intense like me so we were engrossed in a conversation and a woman named Jocelyn came up to me and said , “ I am really sorry to interrupt, but if I didn’t say something now I am afraid I won’t have the opportunity because we are leaving…my husband got a job up North and I wanted to tell you that I am really sad to leave here because of you guys being here and I will really miss you and I wanted to thank you for being here because I don’t know what I would have done without you being here. Your presence has meant a lot to us.” We have been through the birth of two of her children and celebrated with her these significant events and she has been a support to us and our whole team as well.
This happened at our Downtown location and then I had to drive to and meet up with one of our friends here at the Rio Coco Airport location and I had the fun of being at the counter when one of our biggest fans and supporters from the beginning was talking to Lukas who was doing dishes and Naomi was working the front… His name is Josh and he is always vivacious and willing to tip big and support whatever we are doing…just a beautiful person. He said, “It’s like coming to church here….I feel so encouraged and pumped…I will see you guys tomorrow for sure…” I said, ”Josh you are so supportive!!! “ He said, “Are you kidding…I love this place!!!”
And then if I didn’t feel already blessed, Michael said here is something Bob brought in…He handed me a $500 donation check from someone that just wanted to give to us because he believes in what we are doing here. Wow…I felt so encouraged. He gets two lattes a day…one in house and one to go. Lovely gentleman from Radford Virginia….
Many of you also have taken part in some encouraging miracles along our way of Faith, Hope and Love.
We are considering the opportunity to open up another location and also have more ministry opportunities via a property that is up for sale that will serve as our Ministry House, Functional Facility and or another Café location…We are asking God to make His will clear and searching out the way it needs to occur…whether it be a private banker, investor or donors (we are not physically able to get a loan from a bank in the traditional way)
We are praying for the way it is supposed to be and humbling ask that you would also pray with us for God to do something. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills…Once again we find ourselves in the position of asking God, “If you want to do all of this HOW?” We know He can. We are willing to do all of our due diligence, but we are in the process of just taking each step He gives to us and moving only when He says move and doing what He alone prompts. Not that it makes us more spiritual but only that we know this is one more impossible God thing that cannot be accomplished without Him.
So we trust, we pray, and are willing to obey.
Let’s Give Thanks!
1) For the many we opportunities we had last month to share the real reason for Christmas.
2) That Augusto is walking again with his new leg, and he will be back on his job supervising our schools as the 2020 begins.
3) That we are beginning our 35th school year in the school project in Nicaragua! The photo is of our school in Srumlaya in 1987.
If you want to help out this month, donate online at seekthelamb.com/collections/give
Fire Your Spiritual Arrows
Please pray that God would
1) Show us what our travel plans for 2020.
2) Give us wisdom in our dealings with the Nicaraguan government.
3) Provide for all the financial needs of our school project and our missionaries in Nicaragua, Honduras, and Florida these next months.
Your Prayers are powerful! Things happen when you pray.
Rio Coco Beans Coffee
Photo: Cameron and Michael slow roast our high altitude coffee.
Join our coffee club and receive monthly orders delivered directly to your door. Its high altitude coffee that is roasted the week that we send your order. Fresh!
Contact Mikaela at firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up.
Here is the link to the online store.
Seek The Lamb Giving
This month we will be sending out our annual giving summaries for those of you who have made donations to our school project, our missionary support, as well as other areas. Thanks for your faithfulness!
Here is the link to our donation page.
As we prepare for our 35th year of education on the Rio Coco, please pray how you can participate.
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