Happy Happy Birthdays….

We had so much birthday fun in the month of March we nearly started a petition on whitehouse.org to rename the month of March “Birthday”.  But we resisted the temptation and will just allow the month to keep its name :)  But we will share here on our bloggy blog some of the fun photos from the last month….a.k.a. Birthday.

IMG_1100     Easily the most touching and special birthday party of the month was with Jaquelin from Casa Havilah.  She turned fifteen so we had a semi formal celebration for her “Quinceañera” with all of our family, all of Casa Robles and Jackie’s family.  The best moment by far was when she came out with her procession and then all of them gathered for a special dance.  I will post the video on our facebook because we can’t put videos on the blog…but it was so so sweet watching Jackie dance with Papa Mike and all the little Robles and Havilah children dancing around them.  Now that Jackie is a young woman we would ask for your continuous prayers for her.  We want to see her grow into a prosperous and virtuous young woman…amen!

IMG_1078 IMG_1099

IMG_1094 IMG_1113

    Later in the week we celebrated Andrews from Casa Robles.  We had everybody over to Casa Robles and had a big bang up party with a Batman Piñata, music, dinner, cake, and a load of kids running around in circles screamin’ trying to wipe icing on each other…Lots Of Fun!!!

IMG_1156 IMG_1167

     Juliette turned three this month too.  Krista (with our super intern Madeline’s help) put together the funnest “Tangled” party ever, complete with a replica of Rapunzel’s tower and her hair running across the rancho.  We had a painting wall and even a “May Pole” which we finally figured out towards the end of the party.  Juliette was so cute the entire time!  As loud and crazy as our baby girl is, she is the sweetest little thing…its worth a million bucks when she comes up and smacks one on you out of the blue and says “I love you”.  Our little Juju bean is such a blessing!

IMG_1193 IMG_1204

IMG_1217 IMG_1244

     Then lastly but certainly not leastly Johanna and Jolando Buzbee turned 15 on April 1st!  We had a fun little gathering for them at their house complete with what is quite possibly the greatest cake ever!  Happy Birthday Girlz!!!

IMG_1368 IMG_1369

Thank you for your continued prayers for our families and for the ongoing ministry here in Nicaragua!  God Bless from Nicaragua!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Happy Easter…prayers for the persecuted church

I have started reading a book called “Killing Christians: Living the Faith Where It’s Not Safe to Believe” by Tom Doyle.  In light of Easter and the great sacrifice of Jesus on the cross for all of man kind, I want to share some excerpts from the book.  It is from a Syrian pastor living under war and the threat of death from “Al-Nusra front” an Al Queda group that has taken over their town and is killing Christians.  His name is Farid.

“I think what followers of Christ in Syria fear the most are the crucifixions.  It’s a horrifying prospect.  Death on a cross is gruesome, and on top of that, crowds mock and torture the believers leading up to actually nailing them onto crosses. Some who face this are new in the faith, and I don’t blame them for being frightened, but it would be an honor to die for Jesus in this way.  Just think:  the Lamb of God went to the cross in Jerusalem only two hundred miles from Damascus.  Now two thousand years later, the prospect hangs over our heads as a real possibility, just like it did for Jesus and His followers in the first century.”  (p.41)

It was really challenging and quite the heavy reality check to realize this Christian man is telling a story that is happening today.  Reading his words as they are shared in this book about his small group of believers in Syria is very powerful.  It is a gathering of Sunni and Alawite men who had given their lives to Christ.  They meet in secret in early morning meetings at secret locations.  These two factions are waring today in Syria with large scale death and tragedy.  But, in these meetings, because of Jesus, they meet together in peace and wash each others feet.  Here is another exerpt from the book, Farid speaking at one of their secret worship services…

“‘Think of it:  Kamal, from a Sunni family, led me, from an Alawite family, to Jesus, who was from a Jewish family, so I could join the Christian family.’  Laughter rippled across the room. ‘What an amazing peace plan that is!'” (p.31)

Indeed, what a beautiful peace plan!  As the story continued, it shared about how Farid gathered with his group of brothers in one of their meetings and prayed about leaving Syria for safety.  Farid’s own mother and father had guns to their heads the previous week being told to convert to Islam or pay a $10,000 fine or be killed.  So he prayed with his brothers telling each one to fast and seek the Lord that week.  If they felt they should flee Syria during their fasting, then they should do it without shame or hesitation.  If they felt they should stay then they would meet again the following week.

Farid shares how he honestly was hoping for at least one brother to be their the next week, so he could have at least some fellowship in their suffering.  To his surprise the meeting was full the next week, nobody was leaving Syria.  That night they took up an offering amongst the gathering.  They used the money to buy a plot of land.  The reason for the plot of land is so they can at least  have a place to bury each other should the time come that they are killed for not denying Jesus and converting to Islam.  This is the final quote from Farid in the book…

“Pray for us in Syria, but please do not feel bad for us.  We have never been more free.  And even though we’re willing to die, our graveyard is still empty.” (p.42)

As we celebrate Easter tomorrow, we are celebrating an empty grave that changed all of history!  Farid’s story is recent but I assume some time has passed since it has been published.  I hope that we would all join in praying for Farid and all the Christians in Syria…that the graveyards would remain empty!  Amen.

IMG_1346

We joined a movement this week to wear Orange for Holy Week.  The idea is to wear the orange in solidarity with the Christians and others who are being marched out in orange jumpsuits and beheaded by radical Islamist in Iraq, Syria, Kenya, Somalia, Libya and other countries.  I am planning to wear orange for Easter Sunday.  Will you join us and wear orange tomorrow too?  And let’s pray for peace, pray for the Christians who are being persecuted today in 2015,  and pray for Jesus to change that entire region of the world where darkness is so heavy and people are suffering greatly. 

God Bless You and Happy Easter!

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Miracle Man…

In a break from Nicaragua news, we want to take a second and share the link for our friend Brett Parks’ new book. Brett was nearly killed almost two years ago coming to the aid of a robbery victim in Jacksonville, FL. We were in desperate prayer for weeks, asking God to give him life.  You may remember us asking you to join us in prayer for him here on our blog.  He suffered greatly as a result of his heroic courage, but he is living his life as a testament to God’s salvation. The hospital dubbed him “Miracle Man” in his recovery and Brett tells his story in this new book; his spiritual journey with the Lord through this time, how Jesus sustained him, and how he is living his life to glorify God amidst a difficult tragedy….”beauty from ashes”.

We hope you will Pre-Order his book, as a supportive effort and to be encouraged by the incredible story he tells.  Praise Jesus!

You can preorder it here on Amazon.com

Miracle Man

This photo on the cover of the book is a X-ray of where the bullet is still lodged in Brett’s body just near his hip joint…that 9mm bullet tore apart his large intestine, his kidney and the major artery that delivers blood to the the lower part of his body.  Doctor’s called him Miracle Man because his survival chance was not even .000001 percent.

We are very thankful to Jesus, that we still have our friend with us, that we get to visit him and his beautiful family; Susan, Jason & Stella who was born months after Brett was shot and he was still in the hospital recovering…God is so good!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Hodgepodge of February happenings…

IMG_0455We had some fun family time for Valentine’s day…because when you think of February what else is there really.  The kiddos surprised us with cards and decorations in the morning and we made sure to do something special with them later in the day, and what is more special than ice cream?!?

IMG_0457 IMG_0456IMG_0881 IMG_0888

Our Highway has been under construction for the last six months or so and it has been quite the maze to navigate every morning.  We are all hoping the end product is going to be great but it has been an adventure!  We came across this accident the other day, a truck full of stones flipped over and plowed over a row of little shops.  Nobody was killed but a number of people were injured.  We are definitely concerned about the danger of the new highway when it is done.  We are praying we see less of these types of scenes as the trucks will be traveling faster in the years to come.

IMG_0617 IMG_0660

We had two teams come down to build houses in February which is such an awesome thing to be a part of!  Palmer Trinity School and Westminister Christian School from Miami both sent down teams to put their hands to the plow and build houses for Nicaraguan families who would never be able to do this on their own.  This year Franklin (who drives for Open Hearts) and his family received a house.  Also a young man named Byron, who has showed up to help Palmer Trinity nearly every year for the last ten years that they have been building houses, received a house for his family.  It was awesome to be able to bless Byron, his mother and siblings after so many years of him helping on the job sites.  The cement pan is where all the sweat, blood and sometimes tears happens…but the end product is worth every drop!

IMG_0953 IMG_0920

IMG_0922 IMG_0466

We also had a group of students down from the Atlanta area public school system.  Our friend Jeff Flavin has gotten this team together over the last couple of years and it has been a great blessing to us here.   This year they brought school supplies for our students at Club Esperanza and spent the week loving on our kids and our staff at the Club as well, which was really appreciated!

photo IMG_0962

We are pretty deep into the dry season and we are hitting that time where all the grass has turned to dirt, it is blistering hot, and the dust covers everything, everywhere!  Mason and Aliyah turned their tree into a lemonade stand to sell to their aunts and uncles to deal with the heat….Juliette, well she is happy with watermelon!

IMG_0998 IMG_0494

I had a great meeting with Pastor Victor from Walakitang and two of the members of the church there.  It is always a mix of emotions in the stories we hear when we are able to meet with Victor.  There are great things happening with the church in the Miskito community of Walakitang.  The church is helping in many different ways and a great reputation is being established.  Several new families have become part of the church since we last met.  At the same time there was tragedy recently when a family in the church had two children drown in the river which was so tragic and difficult.  It is in moments of tragedy that we need God the most, and it is a good thing that Victor and the church are there to support this grieving family.  Please keep praying for Walakitang.

IMG_1026

We celebrated Uncle Timo’s birthday last week…yeah!  Timo is quite the farmer and has been growing zucchinis as part of our gardening projects.  Well Krista took a little bushel of his zucchinis and turned them into chocolate cake!!!  You may think I am kidding but it is totally true and here is the end product.  I am pretty much positive that all we have to do is eat chocolate zucchini cake from now on to stay healthy! :)

IMG_1059 IMG_1060

The last little blurb of this hodgepodge is a pretty crazy moment I had at Casa Robles the other day when I was over for lunch.  We heard motors buzzing in the street and had to go outside.  The Ministry of Health was coming down the street and it looked like houses were on fire, but they weren’t…it was the WAR ON MISQUITOS!!!  I was surprised that a kid had the machine, with no mask and he clouded the entire house…but hey, you gotta do what you gotta do right?!?  Nobody wants to catch Chickengunya!

IMG_1050 IMG_1053

Thank you for your continued prayers for our family here in Nicaragua!

God Bless!

If you haven’t had a chance to read our most recent newsletter where we detail Open Hearts Ministry projects please check it out here…

 2015 Summary Newsletter

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

2015 Newsletter…Summary of Open Hearts Ministries

IMG_4663

Here is our first newsletter of 2015.  Krista and I took this opportunity to lay out in detail the major Open Hearts Ministry projects.  We’re very thankful and appreciative for your continued prayers and financial support!

God is doing some really special things and we are all very blessed to be a part of God’s Kingdom work here in Nicaragua.

2015 Summary Newsletter (click to view)

If you would like to donate please click here for donation information.

IMG_4704

We hope that you will join us in praying for 2015.  All of these projects operate by the generosity of friends and family from all over the world.

God Bless from Nicaragua!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Club Esperanza…Scholarship Program

At Club Esperanza we try to make an impact on the lives of the children in the surrounding neighborhoods at all stages in life.  Our main impact on High School aged kids is our scholarship program.  We have a select group of students that are in need of a some extra help to make it through the school year.  Public school here is free but each student is required to wear a uniform and then there are all the costs of school supplies and school activity that add up throughout the year.  We meet those needs and then incorporate monthly “youth group” type meetings and also service projects every month.  It is a great way for us to impact the lives of teenagers!

IMG_0851 IMG_0876

We just recently took all the kids on a shopping spree to start the year.  Add in a little ice cream and it was lots of fun!  Thank you to our friends at Love Light & Melody for making this happen again this year!

Please keep our High School kids in your continued prayers.

IMG_0808 IMG_0806

IMG_0826 IMG_0838

If you would like to help with the Scholarship program our goal is to raise $15 a month per student.  There are twenty students in the program this year.

Thank you.  Donation information can be found here.

IMG_0875

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

School starts at Casa Farrington…

Since our lives are in Nicaragua we roll with the Nicaraguan school calendar which starts in January and ends in December.  Sure, if we ever move back home they will be one of those kids who don’t know what grade they are in LOL!  But it is really enjoyable to have the extended vacation over the Christmas Holidays.  Well, Christmas is long past and it is time to get tracking on learning.  This year Juliette will be joining her big sister Isabella in Kindergarten at a local Spanish language Kinder.  They are a funny pair :)

IMG_0676 IMG_0679 IMG_0682 IMG_0680

It never is easy saying good-bye on the first day of school for the first time.  Juju was tough having her sister with her, but the big tears started falling.  I am pretty sure it is one of the tortures of all time for parents to walk away on that first day, it was really hard!  She has adjusted well and now greets her teacher with a big smile, a wave and an “¡Hola!”

 IMG_0645 IMG_0646 IMG_0649 IMG_0640

Aliyah is in 4th grade now and Mason is in 2nd.  Krista is homeschooling both of them down here with a great curriculum called Sonlight.  It is no cake walk being a full time teacher along with everything else that we have going on, but it really is great!  Aliyah and Mason love mommy even more, and it proves once again that Mommy really does know everything there is to know!

Thank you to all of you who support our family and pray for us!  Our children are our first priority, so we appreciate your prayers so much for them too!

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment