May 2018 Conchshell Chronicles
The Monthly Miracle
How do you educate over 1600 students in the most remote school district in Nicaragua, or Central America for that matter?
It takes a monthly miracle.
We start with good administration. We are fortunate to have Danilo Cunningham, who was trained at the School of Worship in Jerusalem and Hope Chapel Maui, as our lead man on the Rio Coco. I have known Danilo since he was six. As we watched him grow up, we saw a potential leader for the Miskito people.
Danilo is ably assisted by Augusto Vicente and Onofre Zamora, who were part of the 1997 delegation to Israel. Augusto is the original Project Ezra teacher who began with us in 1985.
Assisting our Miskito leaders are Tom and Nutie Keogh, who are the most extraordinary missionaries to ever serve on the Rio Coco. Tom’s fluency in the Miskito language and culture, and Nutie’s gift of music have made them very effective in communicating the Gospel to this culture.
Except for two oldest teachers, Eusebio and Oswaldo, who both began with us in the mid-80’s, all of our teachers are our former students. Many of them also serve as pastors and Sunday School teachers in their communities.
Assisting Danilo is his brother Rodolio who takes care of our financial reporting. Every month I get two reports from Rodolio. One is the budget for this month, and the other is the accounting for the money I sent last month. Each month we pay salaries to 48 teachers, administrators, and carpenters/watchmen. They average about $145 each. We also purchase about 80 gallons of gasoline for the monthly trip downriver, as well as fuel for the truck. Gas is about $5 a gallon. Then there is the repairs on school buildings, on our two boats and outboard motors, and on our diesel pickup truck.
Then there is school supplies that we purchase two of three times a year. We spend about $3 per student for pencils, notebooks, and erasers. We also supply the teachers with rulers, chalk, dry markers, books, and thick paper for classroom signage. If you would like to contribute to our school expenses this month, here are our needs:
- Teacher salary: $145
- Fuel for downriver trip: $523
- School supplies: $3 per student .
You may contribute at our PayPal donation page.
Be a Part of the Monthly Miracle!
“WAIT FOR IT….WAIT FOR IT….WAIT FOR IT……….”
These Words came to me in the middle of a chaotic moment of panic when we discovered that five of our passports had been stolen in front of the Trevi Fountain in Rome, Italy.
It was a very crowded day in Rome. We had flown all night from Miami, and were on our way to Tel Aviv, with a 10 hour layover in Rome. Michael hired a driver named Luca with a very nice van to take us to see the sights. We figured we would make the most of our time with our kids who had not seen the Sistine Chapel, Colosseum, etc. We were at our last stop before we headed back to the airport to be on our way to Israel. Michael found extraordinary well priced tickets our flight. He tried to plan out a three day stopover time but it would cost us so much (multi-city fare) more so we accepted our blessing of 10 hours as a gift.
As we walked through the Colosseum area, the Peter in Chains Church (where the Michelangelo Moses is), and the crowded Pantheon, Michael had our five passports in his waist bag which he had his hand on the whole time.
Our driver Luca stopped by the “Three coins in the fountain” Trevi where it was wall to wall people. It was then that Michael took out his phone to take some family photos in front of the fountain. Moments later Michael noticed the zipper of his waist bag had been opened and this important black leather holder containing about a $1000 plus five passports was not there. Lukas had his in his pocket.
Few are the moments we have ever seen this much horror, anxiety and disbelief cross my husband’s face. Luca told us all to fan out and check all the trash cans to see if the passports had been discarded. I talked to a few policemen who indicated that this was a very common occurrence and that the metro train station is right below and they usually just go underground very quickly. I also was told that passports, especially American ones, are sold for thousands of dollars…
I had a distinct picture of this gypsy woman who had passed us a couple of times almost bumping into me but not quite…she never gave me eye contact, but I noticed her go by me once and then come back from the other direction and pass us again. We were literally wall to wall people so I had the thought of how odd that lady seemed and out of place.
When it occurred, I decided instinctively to believe that there was still a Supreme Being in charge who sees the beginning, end and everything in between. That was my first conscious choice. My next verbal choice came naturally when I started my own internal mantra saying, “Please help us God.” This was the only thing I could muster up within me and it helped to keep me calm and alert for whatever it was that I felt God was saying to “WAIT FOR IT…” which sounded like what he often encourages me to do in uncomfortable situations when he has said , “Just TRUST ME…look to ME.” I have been there many times and have seen extraordinary miraculous results so I decided I would live in this space come what may. There is much freedom, peace and calm in this space of TRUST and knowing there is someone Higher, more powerful and all Knowing who wants to take care of my Life and situations.
It was Saturday afternoon when this occurred. Luca took us to the U.S. Embassy which was closed. They told us to come back Monday morning to get new passports. Next he took us to a police station to file a report. Then it was out to the airport to retrieve our baggage. There we spoke with the Alitalia agent, who told us we could change our tickets for $300 each. He suggested that we may not get our passports on Monday, and since Tuesday was a holiday (May 1) we should change the tickets to Wednesday night. We agreed. Then Luca began calling around for a hotel. After many calls, he suggested we come with him to his home town a few hours north of Rome, where there was a hotel.
At every juncture of having to fill forms out at the police station, change our tickets at the airports, get our bags from the flight we were supposed to be on, to finding a place for 6 people to stay where everything was booked because of the events happening in Rome, I rested in the fact that God MUST have a plan and I choose to go after that plan. We traveled with Luca for two hours into the countryside at night where he had friends who had a quant but beautiful hotel. We were greeted by a family who had put together a classic Italian meal at 11:00 in the night and treated like we were special. I felt well loved and taken care of…The four kids each had their own beds …two in one room and two in the other….I thanked God over and over again for His planning way above our own.
None of us had any idea where we were. All I felt was we were out in the country. Imagine our surprise when we looked outside the next morning to discover a medieval castle looming above our hotel! We were in the small town of Torre Alfina, population 300, in the middle of olive grove country. It was a place where I always wanted to come!
We could not have arranged such a moment in time …we walked around the next day by the castle and we got to enjoy gelato, afogatos, and cappuccinos. The sky was clear, the temperature perfect, the scenery soothing, the food delicious, and we had an incredible family time.
We met the owner of the gelato shop when we dropped one of his cups. He let us know that he was the proud owner and was gracious over his broken receptacle. I told him that my husband always wanted to do gelato in America the way Italians do. He lit up and said “I can come to America and help you…I do Gelato special….like art”. We thought, “We like this guy”. And invited Fabio and his wife to visit us.
Monday we drove back to Rome. The line at the Embassy was short, and the staff took very good care of us. In only four hours we had new passports, and we walked to our hotel, which was very nice. The owner Bruno had allowed Lukas to check in one of the rooms very early with all our bags.
We spent the next three days walking the streets of Rome, enjoying the espresso culture, and sampling some fine Italian cuisine.
We found a gelato place near our hotel which had won awards at the national competition.
We went to the Vatican and the kids got to see the Sistine Chapel.
And had a birthday dinner for Mikaela.
Michael told me that this is exactly what he wanted to do on our way to Israel- stop in Rome and show our children some history and culture. I look back and realize that God gave our family five days together in a special place before a hectic two weeks in Israel where it was go go go go. It is just what we needed to prep us for the time with 26 of our friends on a bus.
‘WAIT FOR IT….” It is good advice coming from the One that is always in charge at all times, over everything in every way. Glad He is In charge and not us.
How Can You Help This Month?
1) Pray for us!
2) Support one of our teachers.
3) Support one of our missionaries;
4) Help us buy school supplies.
You may or donate online at seekthelamb.com—”Give”. Thanks!
Please pray that God will:
1) Bring many people in to the Cafes this month;
2) Bring more ministers to our Seek The Lamb team. “The fields are white for harvest…”
We appreciate your prayers. They Change Everything!
Aloha until next month!
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