September 2018 Conchshell Chronicles


September/October is one of the birthday seasons for the Bagby Family. The other is May/June (Mikaela & Arielle). We celebrated mine on the 1st, and we will celebrate Lukas’ on Friday the 14th. Then we get to celebrate again with Laura on the 30th.

Birthdays are a time to celebrate a life, and it seems a time to reflect on your life. Past.  Present. Future.

I read this today that my friend Randy Smith posted, which prompted some thoughts. September is his birthday month too:

“As another birthday nears, I have concluded that age is not a number read off as one hears a prison sentence. One isn’t truly old until the stop dreaming of what is next- the new friend, the new breath- taking vista, the star filled night, and the sparkle of a newborn’s smile, It is true that as a believer, much of my life is focused on after this life. Yet as a happy believer, I also celebrate chocolate. God made Heaven for later, and chocolate for now.”.

I agree. Without purpose and dreams, one ages quickly-even if you are in your 20’s and 30’s.

Fortunately, I have purpose. I know God has a very specific plan for me, and for this coming week. I’m excited about living it with Him, as He is the one that is making all good thing happen. I have to ask Him for focus on His agenda, and grit to get through the pile of papers in my office, house and yard cleaning, and other chores.

The Rio Coco Team

But I have dreams as well that propel me; His dreams for my life. Here are a few of them.

1) I so want to be a part of God revealing Himself to this generation. He’s placed me in a talented group of 20 and 30 year old’s who are catching a God — vision for their lives. I get to do my part to equip them. I’m teaching them how to fish;   Multiplication of the fishing force;  Modelling the lifestyle; Teaching God’s Word; And lots of prayers.


Worship with the Project Ezra teachers

 2) Danilo Cunningham is functioning very well as the leader of our project in Nicaragua. My friend

Onofre is nearing the completion of a new translation of the Bible in Miskito. Augusto continues to lead our teachers, who have become a very stable force in their communities. Tom & Nutie continue to be the spark of spiritual growth among our  communities. I want to do my part to support them all with finances, resources, and equipping. I see much progress possible in these next years, especially with the  political  turmoil and loss of life continuing in Nicaragua this month.


Project Ezra Leaders

3)  I have one book that is more than half way complete called “A Cup of Life”. It focuses on the ministry of the early church as described in the book of Acts. I dream that this will become an effective resource for making disciples in this time. I have other books after this one. May God give me His inspiration.


“Community” at the Utila Rio Coco Cafe

4)  There are so many who are lost who have little direction in their lives, who come into our café each day. They are just like I was. I want to see the  ministry of ‘The Friendship Drink” grow, with more “ministers” serving at our cafes, at more locations. I have asked many to join our team, but I realize that it will be my Boss who will assign me my teammates. I am praying for  mature, energetic people whom I can love, and who love those around them as well, to come and be part of the Rio Coco Team. Pray with me please!


5)  I see my four children stepping into their professional lives with great skill and gusto. They are catching the Vision for our café ministry. I want to see them leading more and me less.

6)  I am married to a most extraordinary woman. I see these next years as our most enjoyable, and dream of walking out God’s adventure for us  together.

God has shown me that to see these dreams become reality I have to make the best use of His most precious resource that He has given me: my time. He is calling to a greater lever of personal discipline, great sensitivity to those around me, and greater wisdom in my words and actions. He’s waiting to give it to me.

I like this “birthday season”. It is a good time to catch up with my own thoughts, as well as my office work! Thanks for your prayer for me and my  family. I need them please!                                                                               Michael


Lamb Bleatings

Beware a woman with a sharp knife!

Good Relationships take time, energy and lots of hard work.  The really special ones take well thought out intention.  Some relationships have a little more “magic” and natural mutual enjoyment, but humanness always has a way of creeping in and the amusement of relating to other humans gets tiring.  Our bad behavior, Issues and attitudes has a way of hitting the forefront in especially close relationships.

In marriage, the constant challenge of becoming one is part of the relational battle. The person I love the most, who I know God gave to me as my greatest gift is at times my greatest frustration.  I am normally a sane, calm, joyful and light hearted person, but I have had moments of extreme irrational crazy lady , so mad creative words spew … the action of slamming a door feels oh so fitting and other general unbecoming behavior emerge and my emotions get the best of me.
Then the awful wondering and contemplating how I can be that way and not pull myself out of the huge hole I just dug emotionally where I became a useless black hole of ugliness and ineffective lame behavior.


Laura visiting her father Ronald this month with our dear friend Madeline.


 In true relationship, there is always the “reckoning “ . For me it first happens with God who I start to dialogue my woes and complaints to and the reckoning with the person or people affected by my evil ways. I hate that part and always regret my crazy lady actions because now I have to reckon with it.  Man!!!

Since I hate it so Much I asked the Lord about it … specifically I Said, “God how do I get free from these lame frustrating reactions and emotional upheavals and free from feeling affected by others as I am???

I heard clearly in my head, “CHOOSE.”
Choose who you are serving first, choose good over evil, choose your words wisely , choose how you want that moment to be, choose your freedom from other people’s idiocy and choose not to get sucked in (I am a sucker for a good fight or confrontation… I have lots I am working on … have not really started trying to figure this one out yet , too many others ahead in The line of issues that have taken priority) Choose. Good word. I will let you know how i do on my next episode.

In the meantime, I am currently focused in on my dad who I came to visit for a week on a Oahu. We are enjoying our focused, intentional moments of talking and sharing, thankful for the opportunity and gift.  No matter how old or young, it seems we will always be working out relational challenges and making the choices that lend to optimum relationship health and well-being.    





Editor’s Note: Laura feels emotions in many situations where I don’t. That is a good thing! Because of her, I am much more sensitive, and together we make a good team. We celebrate 30 years of marriage on October 1st.  These are the best years of my life! 


How You Can 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 use donate online at—”Give”.  Thanks!


Spiritual Arrows:

Please pray that God will:

1) End the violence in Nicaragua and send the bad guys out.

2) Provide us with workers for the Utila Café this fall and next year.  We are in need of motivated team members.

3) Provide all the financial resources needed for this month.

       We appreciate your prayers.


What is happening in Nicaragua?

Insight from Tom Keogh, our missionary in Waspam who had to quickly leave Nicaragua in June due to the violence. He and his wife Nutie have been serving there since the early 2000’s. Tom has lived in the Miskito culture in Honduras and Nicaragua since his Peace Corps days in 1978.


We talk about going back to Nicaragua this year. We have return tickets to the States which can’t be

redeemed if we don’t show up at the Augusto C. Sandino Airport on January 5th. Is that a good reason to go? We know that many of you who care for us must be concerned. You’re probably asking, “Is it safe?”

Of course, the correct answer in Sunday school is, “Safe is wherever God is.” But that probably won’t do. Many disasters in history have occurred “With God on our side.” We would hope to reassure you, if indeed we do return, that we are seeing things straight on the ground, and that our hearing is spiritually sound.


The Two Nicaraguas

When talking about troubles, historic or recent, it makes

sense to divide Nicaragua in half. There’s the Pacific, covering

a little less than half of the total area with 95% of the

population, most of them Spanish speaking mestizos. All of

the national political leadership as well as the intellectual

authorship of many resistance movements and power struggles

that have periodically rocked the country, are from this side.

The Atlantic, the so-called Autonomous Region(s), is

home to only 5% of the population, most of whom speak

indigenous languages and/or are of native ancestry, including

the Miskito, by far the largest minority people group.

Historically, the Miskito pledged allegiance to the English

Crown, fought with the British against the Spanish, and were

protected by them until 1860. There still exists plenty of ethnic

animosity toward the “Spaniards,” and skirmishes between

Indians and “colonizers” of autonomous lands have erupted in

recent years.


The people of the Atlantic side have always been

disgruntled with the Central Government. Be it because of

neglect or because of intervention, they are ever resentful,

although their isolation keeps them from thinking about it all

day long. They have lent their territory for battlefields and, in

the case of the Contra War, joined in armed resistance, but

their cause has been distinct, and their peace, a separate one.


An “us vs them” mentality pervades the collective

consciousness. They consider themselves the “unconquered

people.” Although everyone has guns—even automatic

weapons left over from the Contra War—I can’t imagine

anyone picking them up for any cause other than to defend

their land and their traditional way of life.

The violent events surrounding the Ortega regime and the

popular resistance have occurred in the population centers of

the Pacific side. Although they affect the Atlantic side

economically, the Miskito masses act like it’s a Spanish

problem. For the Autonomous Regions, it’s almost life as

normal. The few who demonstrate passionate concern are

either those (increasing numbers) of the younger generation

whose high school or university studies on the Pacific side

have been violently interrupted, the traditional YATAMA

political leaders who are seeking to climb back into seats of

power, and those who currently owe their employment,

political post, or privileged position directly to the hierarchy of

the Frente Sandinista.


To be fair, isolation plays a big part. It’s not all ethnic

indifference. Living in Nicaragua, the horror I felt at mass

shootings in Las Vegas and Orlando was not on the same level

as the grief of those who were present, or who lost friends or

family, and maybe not even on the level of many of you who

experienced these tragedies in the United States. Like most

Miskitos, we don’t own a TV.


Peace Pacifica

Like every contestant who vies for the crown of Miss

Universe, everyone comes out in favor of peace. Daniel

Ortega wants peace. For him, peace requires his continued

tenure as President. He recently ordered a secret polling of his

popularity and his approval rating came back at 9%. Ninety

percent of Nicaraguans want him to step down and allow

expedited elections. In order to make it until the next

scheduled electoral period (2021) when he might manipulate

another victory, he needs peace in the interim. His strategy has

been to clamp down violently on all opposition, resulting in

over 300 killed, many kidnapped, tortured, and imprisoned,

and tens of thousands in hiding or having fled the country.

Daniel has achieved a measure of his peace. Things have

calmed down, on the surface.


The opposition wants peace. Until now, they have resisted

the idea of armed conflict. Many have seen the ravages of war

in their country first-hand, including the economic devastation,

and are committed to non-violence. Nevertheless, merely

showing up on the Masaya Highway in huge numbers hasn’t

gotten Daniel to reconsider. The Organization of American

States and the United Nations also want peace and have

condemned the regime for its human rights abuses. But harsh

rebuke and carefully crafted resolutions can’t make Daniel go

to the principal’s office. On the contrary, he has sent them

away. Foreign military intervention is off the table. Everybody

is just waiting for a savior, for something extraordinary to

happen. Maybe his lupus will take him down. Maybe

somebody in his inner circle will become a patriot. Or perhaps

it will all slide into chaos, like Venezuela.


The Church on the Pacific Side

On the Pacific side, there’s the Catholic Church and the

Evangelical Church. Since the beginning of the protests, the

Catholic clergy has been in the thick of the political process as

a vocal—and untouchable—advocate for the opposition, both

on the community level and in the dialogues. Historically

entrenched as a player in questions of state politics, they have

fulfilled a moral and political role, yet their efforts have not

yielded much fruit. The President and his wife remain



The Evangelical Church, on the other hand, has taken up a

strategy of intercession. They are seeking God for a miracle. A

number of prophetic declarations have been shared by

believers on social media.


But evangelical pastors have not typically been on the

megaphones at political rallies and protests, which has resulted

in some criticism from Catholics, saying, “Only the Catholic

Church sticks out its neck for us.” Daniel Ortega even bought

some Pentecostal pastor from Puerto Rico a plane ticket to

come out and say nice things about him.


Atlantic Peace

The local authorities in Waspam are all Sandinistas whom

the hierarchy in Managua has appointed to their posts, either

directly or as candidates in uncontested elections. They are

native Miskitos like everyone else. Compared to the corrupt

opposition politicians of the YATAMA, who formerly held power, the Sandinistas are doing an

excellent job.


Regarding vision, intellectual capacity, honesty, and production,

there is no comparison. However, they are loyal to their

political superiors on the Pacific side and tend to take criticism

personally. They keep a record of wrongs.

Danilo Cunningham and the Seek the Lamb team have

always exhibited wisdom and impartiality when dealing with

the political system. The schools they administer are public

schools; they have worked well with both YATAMA and

Sandinista governments. While teaching and other government

jobs—even jobs with secular non-profits—are given only to

those with proven allegiance to the party in power, Project

Ezra’s finances are not tied to politics; teachers from both

sides of the isle have found employment. The present school

year has not been interrupted by the convulsion that has

gripped the rest of the nation, and although Autonomy Law

and the older Miskito nepotistic values factor in (the mayor

is a Cunningham, for instance), the status that Seek the

Lamb enjoys in the community cannot be attributed to

anything other than God’s blessing. The attitude from Caesar

has been, “Leave them alone, they are doing a good work.”


The Waspam Church

For several years now, we have been

working with the Waspam Pastoral

Council. With a vision to see the Kingdom of God

come with power to transform communities,

we have held vigils for peace since the violence

of 2015, and have seen results not visible

elsewhere in the Autonomous Regions.


We continue in a posture of intercession and cooperation

with the local authorities. We have faced some challenges,

however, which I will briefly outline.

In years past, tensions within the Council resulted from

differences in priorities. The Catholics and Moravians

pushed for an agenda focused on physical needs, while the

Pentecostals fought for a program of spiritual activities. The

Baptists were somewhere in the middle. The former camp,

being the demographic majority, held the reins of power

early on. In 2016 and 2017, a Baptist pastor was elected

President of the Council. An Assemblies of God minister, a

woman entrepreneur of strong personality from a prominent

Miskito family, presented a prophetic vision for revival in

the region which the President and the Pentecostal pastors

applauded. The Catholic/Moravian camp did not openly

oppose, but became non-participants.


Last year, the Baptist pastor was caught surreptitiously

soliciting funds in the name of the Council and generally

found to be “rushing headlong into the error of Balaam,” so

we voted him out. Seeing the writing on the wall, he did not

attend the board meeting and subsequently refused to turn

over the Stamp, with which he was accustomed to seal his

letters of petition. He recruited the Catholics and Moravians

to join with him, and together they formed a second Consejo

Pastoral Municipal, retaining the original name. Since the

Ortega Government disburses subsidies to the Municipalities

for the religious denominations, the bandit Consejo

continued to lobby mayor Rose Cunningham hard for funds,

insisting that they were to only legitimate receptacle. Doña

Rose balked at their brazenness, and declared that City Hall

would release these funds directly to village churches where

real needs were, rather than to their denominational leaders

in Waspam.


The other Pastoral Council—the one we support—had

no problem with that decision. These are trustworthy men

and women with a godly agenda. We have the Mayor’s

confidence. In our exile, Nutie and I have maintained regular

contact with them and continue to contribute financially to

their initiatives. They ask, “When are you coming back?

Everything’s tranquilo.” Recently, they collected offerings

from local believers and distributed relief supplies to some

of the villages downriver where our schools are. I was

disappointed that I was unable to go with them.


What’s Everybody Else Doing?

This maybe not the best reason for making a decision,

but definitely worth consideration. There are three other

missionary families in our area. One, the Lee family, has

never left. They, mostly adult children and their father (the

Mom is in the States), continue their thriving ministry in the

remote village of Krinkrin. The Hansens are out, having left

early for a scheduled furlough. Norman, a pilot who does

medical evacuations, says that they and their school-aged

children will return to Tronquera after doing some medical

training. The Hawleys, our friends in Waspam, are back in

California, waiting it out. They have small children and a

cautious mission board.


We stayed with a couple in Managua who were ordered

to evacuate the day we left. They are plugged into a hostcountry

Christian non-profit. They recently returned and are

back at work. Charles and Sarah Kaye, pastors of the El

Puente church in Granada, escaped town traumatized. They

saw people shot in the street in front to them. They have not

returned. Nathan Johnston, also based in Granada, never left.

He’s still there, doing awesome things in the power of the

Lord. Nathan’s the one who got slightly gored the day we

were on hand for Granada’s annual running of the bulls. You

could say he’s a risk taker.


The Verdict

We believe we are walking under the covering of the

Sovereign God. We just happened to program a reunion with

Nutie’s siblings in England for the moment when it became

necessary to leave Nicaragua. Unfortunately, I came down

with a tropical disease that has lingered for three months

now, but it has served the purpose of preventing the urge to

rush back too quickly, while giving us time with children

and grandchildren and also a chance to work on a writing

project that has, because of other ministry demands, always

been kept on a back burner. We have been afforded a car, a

beautiful place to stay, and Jesus-work at the Rio Coco Cafe.

All these things, temporary in character, come with

permanent growth toward God. We do not feel that the

present circumstances in Nicaragua are an obstacle to our

safe return. Nutie wants to help out with the births and go

down there afterward. God will show us when it is time.

Meanwhile, we want to be where the Spirit is streaming live.

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