May 2021 Conchshell Chronicles
A Pioneer Passes
1983 was a tough year on the Rio Coco. Sandinista soldiers, along with their Cuban, Russian, and Bulgarian “advisors” had established their base in Living Creek, after burning 104 villages and forcing over 60,000 Miskito refugees into the swamps and savannahs of neighboring Honduras. Augusto Vicente and Truman Cunningham, two men from Sawa, had become leaders in the Miskito army (the KISAN later renamed Yatama) and were leading their soldiers from bases in Honduras on missions to drive out the Sandinistas from the Coco River region.
Photo: Michael and one of his KISAN neighbors.
The Sandinistas fought back, using their Russian helicopters and other arms supplied by the Soviet Union. They conducted their patrols along the river, searching the areas along the Honduran side for any KISAN activity. One day in May, they entered Kiwastara – on the Honduran side of the river- searching for KISAN soldiers, who had left the village earlier that morning. To send a message to all the refugees, the Sandinista soldiers lined up 13 village leaders and machine gunned them down, killing all but the father of one of our future teachers (Rosa Albina), who survived with a horrendous wound across his chest.
I discovered this event in 1985 when our medical team visited Kiwastara, and during the clinic, and one of our doctors called me over to see this foot long scar across the chest of Rosa’s father.
Shortly after this massacre, South Korean military advisors arrived and trained the KISAN soldiers in assault tactics. As a result of this training, the KISAN set us a series of successful ambushes along the road on the Nicaragua side of the Coco River in 1984, which resulted in the Sandinistas withdrawing all their soldiers from Living Creek back to their base in Waspam. The lower Coco River began to slowly return to the pre-war peaceful conditions. We arrived in November of 1984, and made our plans to deliver a container of cargo to these refugee villages along the Lower Coco and Kruta rivers. The cargo arrived in February 1985, (because of the “often miraculous” help of Joe Walters, Neil Lockhart, Alan Danfort, and many others) and it took us until June of that year to get the clothes, shoes, food, and medical supplies into the hand of the 15,000 refugees in our small corner of Honduras.
It was then that Augusto Vicente approached us with a request to help him begin a primary school in Sawa. Augusto had been a teacher before the war, and the KISAN leadership had assigned him and Truman to focus on refugee care now that the Sandinistas had withdrawn from the Lower Coco River. Augusto told me that it had been five years since there had been classes in our villages. We thought it to be a worthy idea, and purchased a few cases of notebooks and boxes of chalk and pencils for Augusto. He and his cousin Sofia Borst began teaching first grade in Sawa. Little did we know that was the beginning of a lifelong adventure.
That idea of Augusto for primary schools grew in 1986 to four schools, and by 1987 we had schools in 12 refugee villages. Sharon Washburn arrived to help us train our, followed by Professor Victoria Palacios, of the National University of Honduras. Augusto became our Superintendent of Schools, a post he faithfully held until last week when he passed away when his heart simply gave out.
Here is a portion of my message to Augusto’s family and friends who attended his funeral in Waspam last week.
“Because of Augusto, thousands of Miskito children have received an education over these past 35 years. Think about how God used my brother to start something so big!
Augusto traveled with us to Israel in 1997 and God touched him while he was there.
One afternoon we sat in the Garden of Gethsemane to hear from the Lord. Augusto told me that Jesus told him to become a worship leader and show children how to worship God. One his way back to Nicaragua he bought a keyboard in Miami and that year started the youth worship group ‘Asasia’ (a fire that never goes out), which impacted many of our children during the next years.
Augusto served in our regional government and helped bring many school supplies, clothes and food to our communities on the Río Coco.
Augusto was a true servant of the Miskito people. He was a visionary who could make things happen. God used him in my life to inspire me to greater things, as he did to many.
A few days ago, Augusto met his Savior. I’m sure that he heard Jesus say to him
“Well done good and faithful servant”.
I will see Augusto again along with my other brother Truman. I’m sure they are together now, probably working on the next project that God has when He returns.
To all our friends and family of Augusto, please, have faith in Jesus. Walk with him in your life here. At the end of our days, we will meet Jesus. I hope we all hear “Well done good and faithful servant “.
I spoke with Sofia a few times last week, and asked her to move to Waspam and take over Augusto’s position as our Superintendent of Schools, and she agreed, and asked us help in competing her house that she began a few years ago in Waspam.
Photo: Sofia and Michael
The project continues, this year educating over 1700 students.
Augusto leaves an incredible legacy.
He also leaves behind is wife Yunila and their six children. Some are sending gifts of support for Augusto’s family. Please feel free to make a gift.
This past month we have been repairing our school buildings with the 250 roofing panels that we purchased at the beginning of this year. Our next purchases will be paint, wire screen for the windows, and new seats.
This week, as Danilo and I spoke by telephone, he told me that our two outboard motors are wearing out. With the multiple trips we have made since the two hurricanes hit last November, we are now having to purchase spare parts to repair these motors each month. We have reached the end of their service lives.
Dani asked me to pray about God helping us with two new motors. So I pass on this request, as God has been faithful to answer our prayers. He knows that these motors are vital to our efforts to rebuild our schools after the devastating passage of Hurricanes Eta and Iota in November 2020. A 40 hp cost $4570 and a 60 hp $6500. Over the past 35 years we have purchased many of these necessary motors.
Pray with us please.
TRIGGERED: (of a response) caused by a particular action, process, or situation: “a triggered memory of his childhood”
At year 60, I have realized one significant revelation that seems to repeat itself time and again as I go through each day… ”I am truly dumber than I think”
I do not say this in a derogatory way because I have a low self esteem or an unrealistic evaluation of my worth, value or view of who I am. I understand quite thoroughly that I am linked to my Eternal Creator who designed me fearfully and most wonderfully and I exalt Him daily for this. I am a grateful human to be alive, well and have movement and the blessing of true inward life, contentment and peace.
DUMB: UNABLE OR UNWILLING TO SPEAK.
Make dumb or unheard: silence. “a splendor that dazed the mind and dumbed the tongue”.
Over and again, I have heard, “Let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger for the anger of a man does not achieve the righteousness of God.”
Over the years, I have conditioned myself to get a grip over moments that fly me into a rage of sorts; Moments that provoke an atypical response of anger or reaction that is over the top. I ask myself, “Where did that come from and what trigger just got pulled within me”. At times I have the actual visual on the still open sore or wound that just got touched and the pain suddenly reignited and caused the sudden reaction of response to pain and anguish. Many a moment I have been dumbfounded by my behavior and ugly reaction. I am not happy to admit my “tita” behavior escaping through all the usual hatchets of expression: stink eye, loud rough voice, angry sounds coming forth, lots of old words that are still there as familiar and useful as ever. At times, I have had the discipline to be “quick to hear myself raging inside, slow to speak (keep my grill shut)” and allow my anger to find understanding in the trigger that just exploded within. I have been victorious at times finding God my Personal Savior in the midst of my emotional turmoil. My speaking to my only Hope and sound of reason helps me in my stupor of being slapped senseless. The more I rely on the Truth I am able to come out of my dumbfounded state of speechless stupor.
This year has been a year of dealing with many an inner turmoil to become freer, clearer, more focused, and having a greater sense of the presence of my Victorious Creator who knows me most and completely with great intimacy and compassion. He knows my every hurt, pain, misunderstanding and desire. He is the Only One that cannot fail me and to Him do I cling tighter and tighter in this ever changing fear filled world of anxiety and instability. God is Love and Perfect Love casts out all fear. Knowing my Creator more means coming to grips with all that is not in Line with His Way, His Truth and His Way. This year has been a year of greatly and profoundly looking within my dumb little self and focusing in on the all KNOWING AND CARING ONE that cares for me. I have come to grips with over and again,
“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…and If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
My facing my own dumb stupidities in life has caused a deeper sense of compassion and care for those around me and for this I am truly grateful.
God has been so true to His character ….He is the beginning, the end and all that is meaningful in between. The Perfect Author, Perfector and Victor of our faith and all of eternity.
I will place my trust in Him…..now and forever and I will try to “behave” myself mostly ….. Haha.
I’ve crossed muddier streams before. Laura
Rio Coco Beans Coffee
This month we have been roasting every Tuesday and Friday, and the coffee continues to move from green coffee bag to the roaster, to our bins, and into bags in just a matter of days. Fresh Roasted Coffee is the only way to go!
Please take opportunity this month to have some of our coffee delivered right to your door. You will have a delicious drink as well as helping us fund the school project on the Rio Coco.
Here is the link to our online store:
Seek The Lamb Giving
Thanks for being with us this month. As you can see, it has been a trying time for all of us, with the hurricanes and Augusto's health issues. Thanks for your prayers for our friends and families along the Coco River. Your response over these months have allowed us to meet so many needs. In America we have the FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) that steps in for such situations. For our families, we are FEMA. Thanks.
Here is the link to our secure donation page. You prayers and efforts are greatly appreciated!
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