Project Ezra Begins Our 37th Year
Yes, we are still needed on the Coco River to supply and direct 9 schools in eight communities. Our families that we have worked with for two generations are happy that we have agreed to another year of educating children in the most remote corner of Central America.
So is the government of Nicaragua.
Please join us in our adventure that began in 1984 with relief cargo being brought from Hawaii, California, Washington and other states to a swampy area betwen the Kruta and Coco Rivers- while a hot war was being fought only a few miles on the other Nicaraguan side of the Rio Coco.
Classes begin in February. Preparations are in progress.
School supplies, teacher salaries, building supplies and gasoline for our two cargo boats will be needed. Here is how you can help.
Thank you for your consideration.
Perhaps you have heard this story before but it bears repeating as we begin a New Year 2023…..
It was the day after Christmas, 1986, and I was on a flight from Miami to Tegucigalpa Honduras. I was seated next to a young lady. After takeoff I asked her: “Why are you going to Honduras?” With the war going on in Nicaragua, and the refugee situation, Honduras was not a normal tourist destination. “I’m going scuba diving in Roatan. What about you?” she replied.
I thought for a moment. I had just experienced a year of God doing some pretty amazing things- cargo had been shipped from Houston to Tegucigalpa free of charge, an Eastern airline pilot brought his twin engine Piper Seneca to Honduras and delivered our cargo to the most remote corner of the region, and he paid for the fuel, and we had helped Augusto and Sofia start a school in Sawa. How can I make my reply interesting? Then I blurted out:
“Well I work there.”
“What do you do?”
“I work for a company headed by the smartest and wisest guy!
He knows everything”
“Yes, and He gives us everything we need to do the job.”
“That must be nice.”
“But the best part is that our retirement plan is out of this world.”
“That sounds like the company that I should be working for.”
“Funny you should say that. We are taking applications now!”
“You are? Tell me.”
I laughed and began to tell her of my adventure that began 13 months earlier when I arrived in Honduras the day after Thanksgiving, and how we managed to move a container of relief cargo to from Houston to the Miskitia, and all the details of the plan that God put in place. She was amazed, and I am too each time I remember those events.
Some things have changed since those early days. My brown hair is gone replaced by slate gray, and I have four adult children and a getting-more-beautiful wife. Our students from the 89’s and 90’s are teaching our classes in the same nine villages along the Rio Coco. Truman’s sons Danilo and Rodolio and daughter Myga are managing the school project, and I have become a volunteer at a coffee shop in Vero Beach and Utila Honduras. I’m thankful to be able to run a mile in less than 10 minutes.
But one thing has not- I still work for the same Boss, who continues to lead me on into an even more exciting adventure.
The most delicious bowl of rice I ever tasted- Utalmatha Rio Coco 1987
Michael & Truman Tegucigalpa 1986
Laura "Wanki Girl" 1989
I hear many conversations in the modern church about “grace” and the “law”, and other theological points. But I rarely hear discussions about this grand adventure that Laura and I have experience ever since that day that we decided to call Jesus our Lord. Many of our modern churches seem content to only ask us to show up an hour or two each week, listen to a talk on being good, or how our theology is correct, or how its all about love. And of course they ask us to give some money to support the club functions, and that’s it.
I was talking with a friend last week about the post Christian culture that we Americans seem to be in now. How did the church of our youth lose its influence with our generation and the current“ one?”
We concluded that it was because we were offered a watered down, unexciting version of what the Body of Christ should be, or at least what we see portrayed in the Bible, especially the Book of Acts. The dynamic, Spirit-led group of followers of Jesus grew from a small band to a significant portion of the Roman Empire in less than 300 years. We spread to North Africa, to all parts of Europe, some parts of Asia, and eventually all of North and South America. They were adventurers, willing to take courageous risks to be part of something much bigger than themselves. Their success has shaped Western Civilization.
Evangelical Christianity is still the fastest growing religion on Earth.
Adventure is defined as
“A risky undertaking; a remarkable experience”.
The Flying Banana 1987
Most modern-day Christians have never experienced the adventure that God offers all who call Him Lord, which in the Greek Bible is the word Kurios – Maximum Leader. When Laura and I decided to call Jesus our Maximum Leader, we turned control of our lives over to Him, and we almost always were willing to follow His leading into the personal adventure that He designed for us long ago.
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10
The Adventure Lifestyle is addicting.
Has God said it is going to happen?
Then all we do is lean into what He is doing, and proceed with faith, wisdom, and anticipation of Him showing up.
I am thankful that I had leaders early in my Christian Life that modeled this for me: Craig Englert, Jason Spence, Kean Salzer, Ralph Moore, Jack Dyer, Keith Larkin and others. The Christian Adventure is normative, not exceptional. We should all be participating in it!
In 1989, we had 20 teachers that we were paying $50 a month. One month, we didn’t have the money to pay our teachers. We were living in Auka, the most remote corner of Honduras. We prayed that God would provide. Within a few days an airplane landed at our airstrip. Out stepped a man from Australia, Ned Blasko, who ask if there were refugees from Nicaragua nearby. I pointed to the huts nearby.
He spent three days with us, and when the airplane came to pick him up, he climbed in, shut the door, and then suddenly opened it again. “Here Mike, I almost forgot to give you this” as he handed me an envelope. When I got back to the house I opened it. There were ten $100 bills inside. Just enough to pay our teachers. If God can send a man from Australia to pay our teachers, I don’t have to worry…..
This is the Boss who knows all, who gives us what we need to do the job, and who has a retirement plan that is out of this world. I start this New Year as I have the past 36 New Years– by following His lead.
The Bagby Family 2009
The adventure continues! There are great opportunities this year 2023.
Join us for our study tour to Israel this coming May. We will have much fun and learn so much about experiencing God. Michael
One day, I heard in my thoughts , these three words ,
“Own Your SH!T !” It made so much sense to me in the moment because there are so many responsibilities I try to shirk everyday of my life especially my own flaws, sins and distractions. We all walk with huge logs stuck in our eyes and we try to deflect dealing with our blindness by recognizing and acknowledging all the “specks “ we see in others and in life . We get stuck in how others make us feel, think and behave as we allow ourselves the right to be affected by these factors. We “attach”
Power to people, places and things. We elevate our feelings, beliefs and thoughts and what we have to say about situations. I care less and less what I think or know or believe and more of what My Personal Heavenly Father feels , thinks and believes because only He possesses Truth, a perfect right Way and a Life worth living .
The OWNER of the Universe . Wow and we get to know Him.
Ownership is often the goal of life isn’t it? We strive to own , invest , buy , obtain and acquire. We want to own not rent . At least that is the way I grew up believing .
My dad always said , “Why you like pay someone else’s mortgage ?! Own it. Pay for your own mortgage and not someone else’s.”
My respect for my dad was great because all my life he always owned his own faults and tried to grow and become better . Whenever we would talk , he would be the first to admit his flaw and become vocal about it . It gave him the power to change and do something about it because he owned it . Being a simple person that hated school and being told what to do , he did not go to college but made up his own “schooling” all along the way. He owned his own home and proceeded to help each one of us do the same . He wanted to give each one of us ownership of our own .
Own Your own. Kind of like the saying we had growing up when we would describe someone good at something like school or a sport we were watching , “they can hold their own.”
Unless we make something our own , we cannot give it away .
At the Cafe , Michael and I are the responsible parties who have made the investment of our own finances and volunteer our time and energy. With us, Our kids (now adults) put in a lot of blood , sweat and tears to help grow it and now manage it. They are now able to gain from the investment of their time by receiving a pay check which they each use for their own lives . I notice they are generous with what they have and give freely . The four of them give to one another and take the time to be together on their own volition . I love that they value the relationship . They own their love and concern for one another and they will have each others back . When one suffers we all suffer …recently
Arielle’s cat named Peppi did not return home per usual . She went missing . Nowhere to be seen. We would each go and do our mini searches for her around the neighborhood when we could and ask neighbors we would see . Arielle , the owner of Peppi, made flyers and would walk around everyday for mikes trying to find her pet. The level of her ownership was evident and clear. She even posted a reward with the help of our friend who doubled it . On the 12th day, Arielle received a call at 12:30 am saying her little Peppi had climbed up from the outside construction into an attic. She asked whether Peppi was wearing the scarf she had made and if it was exactly the one like the photo . We had a false alarm with a call for another tabby so she had to make sure of the identity . She went to go get Peppi who was happy to see her . The power of ownership and the diligence to address that which we own .
Peppi was lost, peppi was searched for in due diligence and peppi was found . There was joy and elation amongst us all. Great example of owning and acting upon that ownership and getting the results we are searching for .
None have the right to give away anything they did not buy themselves . We can only give away what belongs to us . When we take ownership , we gain the ability to give that which we possess. No one else can come into our houses or cafes and give away what does not belong to them. We own it , enjoy it and give it away to others.
The beginning of my life came when I began to own the reality of My Creator of the universe reaching out to my purposeless wandering life of searching for “more” and making the personal decision to receive his Love for me as his favored Creation . He gave us the right to become a child of God when we believed . He has ownership over His Creation but only as much as we choose to let go of and allow His Life and presence to take over .
He owns it all yet is not going to force anything we are not willing to give up so He can take the reigns of control and power.
The battle of control and who is actually in charge is always going to be a factor for us as humans . We really are bent on ourselves and keeping us at the forefront of everything . It’s not about us but we want it to be because of our human nature .
Gods nature is full of Love, joy, peace , patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.
When I am not in one of these zones of being owned , and I am at unrest, uncertainty , angst,
Confusion , no peace ,
Love , joy ,‘patience etc , I am learning to examine and look for my Source to alter myself before him with his divine power and nature that is there for me always if I care to choose His ownership in those moments .
It is a moment by moment personal decision I make and no one else can make for me . It is a personal relationship that demands personal responses to a very detailed and specific God who ultimately reigns and will have the last say no matter what.
One day every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord .
Practice routinely and own our flaws, shortcomings , and sins. Grace and compassion comes more easily when we are reckoning with our massive logs in our own eyes causing great blindness .
Jesus says in Matthew 7:
Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. Matthew 7:1-5
. The same measure will be measured to you . Interesting how that works.