September 2021 Conchshell Chronicles
My Friend Sofia
Our longest serving teacher on the Coco River is my dear friend Sofia Borst. In the early 1900’s many Germans and Americans came to the Rio Coco looking for gold, and Sofia’s grandfather was one of those German goldminers. I’m convinced that German character is genetic. I grew up with my adopted German sister Siglinda, and she displayed many characteristics of that culture: hardworking, outspoken, and very soft hearted once you got past the exterior. Sofia shares those attributes. She is affectionally called by her friends “La Tora” (the female bull). Sofia knows how to run a classroom, as well as a group of teachers. She is well respected.
In 1985 as the war was going on Sofia and Augusto Vicente came to us in Auka asking for help in starting a school. With our help, they were successful in starting classes that year in Sawa, on the Honduran side of the river. She has worked with us ever since.
After Augusto’s death earlier this year, I asked Sofia to take over as our Supervisor of Schools. She is managing our nine schools and leading our group of 40 plus teachers who educate over 1700 Miskito Indian children each day.
When I met Sofia in 1985, we both were younger and more slender. Times were tough during the war years, and we all ate a diet of rice, beans, boiled bananas and whatever animal was caught. In that culture, skinniness shows poverty and chubbiness shows wealth. The fatter the more prosperous. When Miskito people go on a trip out of the region, the success and enjoyment of the trip is measured by how well you ate while you were away. If it was a good trip, you came back heavier than before. Thus the most polite thing you can say to someone who has been away for a while is “It looks like you have put on some weight”. That means it must have been a good trip since you ate delicious food. Even if you didn’t put on weight, it is still the polite comment upon greeting the traveler.
I learned this one day in 1986 when I got back to the river after a few months in Maui. I saw Sofia as I was walking along the riverbank and she smiled and said “Welcome Maik! You look mas gordo (fatter).” I replied: “Sofia, you have put on a few pounds yourself!”
She didn’t quite understand that response, and we began laughing. I later got the 411 from Truman. Sofia was trying to be her politest!
Ever since then, whenever I have not seen Sofia for a while, I always look at her, smile, and say “Ah Sofia! Mas Gordo! Que Bueno!” If she has the chance, she says that to me first. We laugh often at this, especially since over the years we have been eating better than the war years.
Photo: Sofia with some of our teachers at a recent conference.
More than a few years ago, Sofia began sending her children to Waspam to attend high school. She needed a place to live, so some of you along with us helped her purchase cement and blocks to build a house. When the outside shell was complete, the project bogged down due to other priorities. It came to a screeching halt on the night of the 6th of November 2017 when her daughter Derlin was violently murdered at her home in Sawa.
You can imagine the effect of this loss to Sofia and Derlin’s two children, whom Sofia is now raising. Very tragic indeed. We are still sad about this.
I have been talking to Sofia about our school business, and I can tell that her living situation in the spare room of Augosto and Yunila’s home is not working for her anymore. Derlin’s children are growing, and its time to finish her home. I asked her to send me a photo of the house, and as you can see, it needs windows, doors and a roof.
Sofia estimates that it will cost about $5000 to finish this project. I told her that we all would begin asking God for an answer. Would you join us in praying for some resources to finish Sofia’s home? God is the Great Provider, especially in this righteous cause.
For those of you who want to help Sofia with her home, please use the enclosed envelope or donate online at:
The generous man will be prosperous,
And he who waters will himself be watered. Proverbs 11:25
In a few weeks, Michael & I will celebrate our 33rd anniversary on October 1st. It has been an adventure living with this guy! Imagine a townie like me who never went camping going to live in a refugee village in one isolated corner of Central America! So many changes since then. Michael often tells others that the greatest agent of change in his personal and spiritual life is......me! We are both very opinionated souls.....and somewhat hardheaded. Great character traits for the type of work that the Lord has called us to do, but it can cause much discussion in our private moments. I would have to agree with him though- my life with him and our children has made me a wiser woman.
September/October is also Birthday celebration time for four of us: Michael (1st) Lukas (14th), me on the 30th, and Moselle on Oct 12th. We have good bakers, so the pistachio cake Arielle made was only topped by the Reese's Pieces cake she made for Lukas.
Here is a photo that Michael found from September 1988. It probably from his birthday party since he is wearing a lei.
We rejoice in what God has done with our family since the very beginning!
When Sofia called us to let us know how she really wanted to finish her house she had started years ago , I began thinking how we started that project out with the help of some of you giving her money to begin the process. As life happened , the project got stalled out for years. Now the time of need has arisen and we are all trying to act and help Sofia finish what we started with her house . Along the way of Sofia’s life, there were many life altering situations and experiences which prevented her from “getting around to” what needs to occur right now. We all stall out at some point and stop actively building and getting the “job” done and completed.
Personally for me I started rebuilding my house (Temple of the Holy Spirit) and focusing more and more on the Owner and allowing Him to build from the inside out. There has been a lot of retrospection and refocusing and alleviating unnecessary distractions in my life personally .The art of understanding what needs to get done , fixed , taken care of and adjusted in my own House has been a key factor in me being effective In my daily life .
I have rules in my intense ownership of this House that was a gift given to me to intricately care for, Nourish, expand (grow), alleviate the negative (get rid of the useless weeds and all that mar the gift of the Beauty). I am constantly and utterly amazed at how little I actually know how to manage my own home and life ; How I allow myself to be distracted and fettered by all the other buildings and surrounding influences around. Incredible !
I am learning the art of focusing upon the Head Builder and owning all that he gives to me to build in House with His vision and design . I have personally found more divine freedom, creativity, wisdom and insight . I continue to pray for Myself, those around me and the world at large so the One In total charge will show up and do what He does: Take charge of His Universe and cause us all to wake up and Live as we were designed to live !
Here is a photo from 12 years ago taken in Sih on the Coco River:
Unless the LORD builds the house,
They labor in vain who build it; Psalms 127:1
We Still Need Your Prayers!
Here is a prayer photo we sent out when Mikaela was born as we were returning to Honduras.
We were taking our newborn Mikaela to live in the refugee village in Auka, when she slept in a custom made mahogany crib under a mosquito net. She had a pet spider monkey who lived under our house. We flew our own Piper Seneca aircraft to Honduras– with refueling stops in Key West and Cozumel Mexico – and we travelled by dugout canoe on the Kruta and Coco Rivers.
All this was an extremely exciting adventure for me, as I realized the inherent dangers in such a lifestyle with my growing family, and I went through many scenarios of what could possibly happen during the flight to Honduras:
What if we had engine problems and had to land in the Yucatan Strait?—Could I get the raft deployed and get Mikaela and Laura out of the plane and into the raft? How could I ensure that Mikaela would not sink? Then what? How long would the food in my survival pack last?
So many other questions. Finally it all came down to doing my best preparation and then trusting God for the journey.
So we decided to ask you all to specifically pray for us, and as I looked at this photo a few days ago, I realized our dependence on God has not changed, as our need for your prayers as well.
Would you please think about us and offer up these prayers:
Monday: For Divine Guidance, Wisdom & Discernment ;
Tuesday: Spiritual Growth for our Miskito Families;
Wednesday: Health and Safety for the Bagby Family;
Thursday: Healthy Family Relationships;
Friday: That God would provide all our financial needs.
Please remember us each day this next month.
Your prayers are powerful and effective. We know that they have been one of the reasons for all the things that God has done in the past 33 years! Thanks.
Photo: The Birthday Workout
We are still repairing school buildings, and hauling supplies downriver. Just this week we had to remove the engine of our truck for a major repair. The roads and loads on the dirt roads in our region are tough on all vehicles.
Danilo drove our truck to Managua last week to take care of our monthly government reporting, and he told me that he was going to have something on the truck fixed. I don't think he expected the engine to be removed and the repairs this great.
Teacher salaries, school supplies, gasoline to haul people and cargo downriver, outboard motors to supply the power, and truck maintenance are all part of the monthly budget. Our 53 teachers and staff are supported, and over 1700 student are educated each day.
Please consider making a gift this month to Seek The Lamb. Here are the links to our giving pages.
Each gift is appreciated greatly.
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Thanks for spending time with us this month!
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