An “Ask” of the Lord…

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_68d0Krista and I had a really incredible weekend a few weeks ago at the Tim Tebow Foundations Celebrity Golf Classic. ¬†Being that we are neither celebrities nor golfers, and we live in Nicaragua it doesn’t make much sense that we would be in Jacksonville for this, right?!? ūüôā ¬†Well, we have some long time family friends who had a spot open up on their golf group for that weekend at the last minute. ¬†They invited Krista and I to come as a “date weekend” and to enjoy the event as guests. ¬†This was only a week prior to the event, but¬†in an almost miraculous way we ended up being able to go. ¬†Gramma and Papa gave the green light to watch our kiddos, our calendar was open for just that weekend, and all of a sudden we were booking tickets to Jacksonville.

It was such an awesome weekend in many ways! ¬†Once we decided to go, it was honestly a little intimidating. ¬†There was¬†a formal dinner to attend, golf on a PGA tour course, and all the refined things that go along. ¬†I made sure to try to not embarrass Krista too often! ¬†We got great advice on what attire to wear and the Lord provided that for us too, in pretty wild ways. ¬†You may know this, but we do not often wear formal attire. ¬†Ok, we never do ūüôā ¬†The Lord settled my spirit by giving us the assurance¬†that He was giving us a fun weekend together and we should just enjoy it. ¬†We also felt confident we should go and just point to whoever we ran into and pray for them and bless them in Jesus name! ¬†Both of those things happened all weekend long. ¬†We had an amazingly enjoyable time together and prayed for people all over that place! ¬†It was awesome!!!

IMG_6075We have so many crazy stories to tell, but the “where are we” feeling of the weekend is captured in this story. ¬†During the Friday night celebrity gala there was an amazing presentation of all the incredible things the Tim Tebow Foundation does, it was so encouraging. ¬†There was introduction of celebrities and a live auction and silent auction to raise funds for the Foundation. ¬†Praise Jesus for that! ¬†Their ministry includes¬†“Night to Shine,” which is a Prom put on all over the US and the world¬†for special needs children and their families. ¬†The weekend before Valentine’s Day these families are invited to¬†a huge party. ¬†It was so incredible to hear these stories!

Back to the story I mentioned. ¬†Our table was off to the side and after the auction¬†Hillary Scott from Lady Antebellum got on stage to sing. ¬†The Emcee for the evening was Scott Hanson from NFL Redzone, and as the concert started he stepped off the stage next to¬†us and we introduced our selves. ¬†This guy loves the Lord! ¬†He shared quickly about how long he has known the Lord and asked us what we do. ¬†He said his family does missions once a year and he gave us his contact info. ¬†Really cool. ¬†As we are finishing our conversation, Krista asks if we can pray for him. ¬†Well as we start praying, Chris Tomlin walks right by us onto the stage to sing¬†“Good Good Father” live with Hillary Scott. ¬†We could feel the Lord’s presence in the room and here are Krista and I at the side of the stage praying for the guy from NFL Redzone while Chris Tomlin is singing live on stage with Hillary Scott. ¬†If that is not a crazy Christian dude’s wildest scenario ever, well I don’t know what is! ¬†And that is how the whole weekend went.

We spent a lot of time with friends we hadn’t seen in years as well as our friends we were just with in January. ¬†Special times. ¬†We got to meet so many different cool people and hear some amazing stories about ministries in Haiti and in Tennessee. ¬†These were ministries that do amazing work. ¬†We had a powerful time praying for that couple from Tennessee after a luncheon on Friday. ¬†Such amazing stories and very compelling about the need to reach families that have children with special needs.

We got to meet Tim Tebow and pray with him for the weekend.  He is a genuinely good man of God, very impressive with all he has going on in life right now.  He takes time to speak with everyone and engages in conversation.  We brought him a cool man gift from Nicaragua that we were able to give to him at the end of the event.  It actually had a real spiritual meaning behind it and tied into a word the Lord had given me to share with him before we left.  To be faithful to share that word was another moment where I just had to let go and share.  It was awesome to pray with him.  There were surprising connections to Nicaragua with some others who work for his foundation, so that was very fun too!

IMG_6063Definitely the wildest moment for us was when we found out Chip Gaines from the show Fixer Upper was going to be the celebrity our foursome would golf with on Saturday. ¬†Krista and I love that show and their Magnolia products too. ¬†So, when I told Krista who our celebrity was going to¬†be she really did flip out a little. ¬†She stopped for a moment and we had a God moment in our rental car in the parking lot of the hotel. ¬†Back in January the friends who invited us visited Nicaragua and we did a Bible Study together as families with another friend Kerry who is developing a really powerful series called “Becoming.” ¬†It is a powerful study and really gets you connecting to the Lord. ¬†At the end of one section we came to the “Ask” moment. ¬†We were challenged to ask God anything, anything just something crazy, something the Lord could do for you, hang it on a clothes line and let the Lord do it.

Well sitting in the car Krista looks up at me and says “babe you know what I asked God for in January during Kerry’s Bibles study?” ¬†I said “What?”, and Krista said “to meet Chip and Joanna Gaines.” ¬†Of course I said, “NO WAY!” ¬†She said it was so funny but she just felt if the Lord wanted to do something for her she¬†would love to meet Chip and Joanna Gaines, so she asked.¬† But she thought, we aren’t¬†even going to Texas any time soon. ¬†Well here we were are a month and a half later and we are going to play golf with Chip Gaines the next day!!! ¬†We not only got to meet him¬†but were going to spend the day playing golf together! ¬†As goofy and random as that is, the Lord showed himself real to us in that special way. ¬†Nobody knew this was Krista’s “ask”, except maybe her mom. ¬†There is no way we could have planned or arranged this, last minute trip, being able to go, both being invited, etc… ¬† There were so many celebrities there, most of whom we never even saw from a distance, but we end up golfing with¬†Chip Gaines! ¬†It was crazy! ¬†And if you know Krista she isn’t particularly star struck so an “ask” like that was so random. ¬†But here we were on this crazy weekend. ¬†It was such a crazy¬†and random “ask”. ¬†We are encouraged by the reality of God and his crazy love for us. ¬†Also encouraged that the other things I asked for that day are being worked out as well! ¬†Amen.

We had a great time playing golf on Saturday. ¬†The whole event was incredible! ¬†I played the TPC Sawgrass which has the famous island green on 17. ¬†I didn’t land my ball on the green, but at least I shot past it and didn’t land short in the water ūüôā ¬†Chip Gaines was equally as genuine as Tim Tebow. ¬†He signed autographs all day, shared some stories and testimony with the crowd before we had to do a crazy lip sink dance on 17. ¬†He always took pictures and always seemed full of the joy of the Lord. ¬†So great to be around and very encouraging. ¬†We had an awesome time praying with him as well on the last green, and Krista was able to give him a gift she brought for Joanna Gaines just in case we happened to see them on the weekend ūüôā ¬†Joanna wasn’t able to come at the last minute, but we sent it back with Chip. ¬†It was awesome to pray with him and his coworker who was traveling with him! ¬†A moment with God on the final hole at the TPC Sawgrass. ¬†Awesome!

We had gifts for other dear friends we got to see and even for some random people we didn’t really know. ¬†I got to hand Gary Shuffield a Nicaraguan cigar on the practice range. ¬†We prayed for many more people on the golf course, at the gala and at the dinner after golfing. ¬†We had the feeling that the Lord was just carrying us along.

The true feeling Krista and I had, all the way to the last minute getting on the plane coming home, was that we were in a dance with the Lord. ¬†He was guiding our steps without us even having to think. ¬†We didn’t have to arrange seeing our friends as they arrived, we just ran into them in the lobby. ¬†Timing was perfect. ¬†And we were faithful to just pray for whoever the Lord led us to pray for, no matter where we were or who it was.

We do feel like God had some other purposes for that weekend as well tied to things here in Nicaragua.  We will see what all unfolds, but we are going to be faithful to do whatever the Lord wants for his Kingdom here in Nicaragua as it is all over the world!

Krista and I had an amazing weekend together too. ¬†It had been nine years since we last got away just the two of us. ¬†We love being with our kids so it was something we never lamented or even realized was the case. ¬†But it was surprising when we realized it had been that long LOL! ¬†This was the most amazing “date weekend” we could have planned. ¬†And we didn’t have to plan it. ūüôā

So we wanted to share this crazy story with you who know us, support us, pray for us and are a part of our ministry.  God gave us a huge hug with this weekend and we wrote this to testify to that!  There are so many more crazy and funny stories.  We hope to share if we get to see you in person.

As long time¬†Seminoles fans and alumni we can say….Tim Tebow is an incredible guy! ¬†Even if he is a Florida Gator! ūüôā

Ask God for crazy things!  He will surprise you!  We testify to that!

 


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Family Update: Our baby just turned 5!

IMG_7182Time sneaks up on you sometimes and all of a sudden your baby girl is turning five years old! ¬†We know, we know, just wait ’til they are graduating high school! ¬†LOL! ¬†It is so true, time does keep on slippin’ into the future. ¬†But praise Jesus for every day of it that we get to LIVE!!!

Juliette is an incredible little girl and it was so much fun to celebrate her birthday. ¬†She has a pretty awesome big sister Aliyah who made her birthday cake for her, all by herself! ¬†Check out the photos of the pink cake with multi-colored layers! ¬†The funniest thing about Aliyah and Juliette is that they could be identical twins except one is our oldest and one is our youngest. ¬†Juliette is always pointing at Aliyah’s baby pictures saying it is her. ¬†She is stubborn as her daddy, so no matter how many times you tell her it is Aliyah she will not be convinced! ¬†We are being faithful as her parents and look so forward to the great leader she is going to be in the future. ¬†We love our baby girl!

Our family is doing very well through the dry season and we are so thankful for all of your continued prayers for us! ¬†In the middle of excessive heat and dry dusty land, we have had an exciting Springtime in ministry down here and things are cranking! ¬†We will have a newsletter out soon with some of the fun stories. ¬†Krista and I took an incredible weekend trip on a last minute invite to Tim Tebow’s Golf Classic that we really need to blog about. ¬†It was a huge hug from God for us and a wild weekend of God moving us around together, praying for people all over the place in the middle of an awesome celebration of the great things the Tebow Foundation does! ¬†Our kiddos are all doing well in school with Krista as the greatest teacher ever. ¬†Not every day is easy. ¬†But, it is the best classroom they could ever hope for! ¬†Mason has been getting back into his groove after his broken leg and we are so thankful for that…soccer, football, frisbee, swinging from trees…he is back in action! ¬†Isabella is a star and and seven years old, she can read better than anyone in the family…daddy included LOL!

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Again thank you for your continued prayers and support for our little family!  It is an encouragement greater than you could ever imagine!

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Juliette at the beach on her last day being 4!

This is a great story of who our little Juliette is. ¬†Right after our friend Anna-bel took this picture of her, a big wave crashed up and splashed all over her. ¬†She turned immediately and said “Oh, the wave just gave me a big hug…because it’s my birthday!” ūüôā

Happy Birthday Baby Girl!

 
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Walakitang Update: Great News…keep praying!

I was just now able to talk to Pastor Victor and he had a great report. ¬†Since yesterday the “Crisi Sikni” has been gone from Walakitang! ¬†That is amazingly incredible and it is because of your alls prayers! ¬†Hundreds of people praying from all over the world makes a difference and this is not just flattery, it is God’s people joining together to fight evil!

I am convinced of this because the Evil one is trying to steal the glory. ¬†Guess who came to Walakitang the same day we all started praying? ¬†The Sukia. ¬†And so there will be many who just nod to the witchdoctor as the cure. ¬†But we know the truth and I sincerely feel because of all of your prayers, prayers that are not tainted from years and decades and centuries of influence from the evil black magic of the Rio Coco, that this evil went away. ¬†We need to help our brothers and sisters who live under such oppressive darkness…

KEEP PRAYING PLEASE!

¬† ¬† ¬†Pastor Victor said three more communities near Walakitang have been affected heavily by this same “Crisi Sikni.” ¬†Let’s all go to battle now and call on God to show his power. ¬†Let’s pray that before any Sukia can get to these villages that the evil would leave and be gone and peace would return! ¬†Tonight let’s pray for these three communities. ¬†Here are the names, pray specifically for the evil to be gone tonight…

RAITI – WAILASKA -ARANDAK

Jesus give freedom from this evil that is striking fear all along the Rio Coco.  We pray that you will get the glory and this evil will be gone tonight!  In Jesus name, tonight!

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Pastor Victor, his wife Damaris and their daughter Mirari last Christmas when we met in Managua

Victor also asked for a personal prayer and as you pray for these three communities, please pray for him too.  A coconut fell and hit him in the head a couple of months ago.  He has had a lingering pain deep in his facial bones that is very painful and affects him any time he chews.  While I was talking with him he brought this up and asked for prayer.  So, praying people, ask Jesus to make this pain go away tonight too!  Amen.

     In talking with Victor he said the siknis was very hard on the community this time.  So many young people, little girls the age of seven were being affected.  They are all so relieved that it is gone, but they are also very weary from it.  The church was nearly destroyed but the main structure is still there.  Victor said that when they can get gas for the chainsaw they are going to cut more planks and rebuild the church.  He was able to save the sound system and the tin on the roof as well as the solar panel were not destroyed, Praise God!  We will pray that God will make a way this year to get a solid concrete structure built in Walakitang for the church.  It is a big task, because Walakitang is so remote, but it is doable!

For now let us keep praying! ¬†I am so encouraged by the deep care of so many of you for Walakitang and the Rio Coco. ¬†I know Victor and all of the church members are very encouraged as well. ¬†What a great testimony. ¬†There is still more left to happen. ¬†Let’s be praying for Raiti, Wailaska and Arandak tonight and as often as we pray. ¬†Victory from evil and peace returning to these villages! ¬†Amen.

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Walakitang: Urgent Request for Prayer… “Crisi Sikni”

We received a message last night from Pastor Victor in Walakitang. ¬†He said that in Walakitang there has been another manifestation of the “Crisi Siknis”. ¬†As many as forty-five people in the village are being affected. ¬†This “sickness” is better described as a demon possession and unfortunately is pretty common along the Rio Coco. ¬†Communities often pay the “Sukia” thousands of dollars to come and cure the village of the possession. ¬†The Sukia is a witchdoctor who many believe is the one who actually casts the spell in the first place, so that he or she will be paid later to come and cure it with mixtures of pigs blood, water and different charms. ¬†It is serious and it is wreaking havoc on Walakitang as I write.

The possessed, most often young people, run through the village, eyes closed and in a trance. ¬†They often become violent and destroy buildings, some have drowned in the past if they get near the river. ¬†Pastor Victor said they have destroyed the chapel. ¬†The church is not a building it is God’s people. ¬†They need our prayers today.

Seven or Eight years ago we were present in Walakitang delivering Crocs when there was a heavy outbreak and we witnessed this first hand. ¬†It is serious and frightening. ¬†When we were there we prayed for whoever we could get a hold of. ¬†We prayed specifically that the blood of Jesus would cover each individual affected, that they would have no fear and be able to look directly into the eyes of this evil and say “I do not fear you I am covered in the blood of Jesus.” ¬†We saw the evil broken by that prayer. ¬†The blood of Jesus is more powerful than any blood of any pig or any potion a witch doctor can conjure up!

Pastor Victor has taken a stand in the community over the years, praying instead of seeking the Sukia.  Will you please pray today?  Pray that in Jesus name this evil will be broken and peace will return to Walakitang.  Today!  Amen.

Satan is using fear to try and control an entire village.  This is an opportunity for the God of all creation to show his power.  So please pray, pray that it will be gone in an instant.  Today.   Thank you!

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This is a picture from a recent meeting with Pastor Victor here in Managua.  Walakitang is one day by bus and two days by boat up the Rio Coco on the border with Honduras.

Jesus give Victor and your church there in Walakitang power today and make this evil be gone today!  In Jesus name, Amen.

 


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Mercy Homes: Westminster Christian School 2017

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We were blessed once again this year to build two homes during early Winter Break from school in the U.S.  Westminster school was back again this year and came to Nicaragua ready to bust their tails to build a home for a family in need!  (They also delivered backpacks to Club Esperanza as we shared about earlier.)

Nancy Carrion and her husband Juan have been married for sixteen years. ¬†They have lived with their two daughters Fernanda and Darlin in Nancy’s parents home for all those years in one bedroom. ¬†Juan has kept good employment over the years, but never able to put away enough funds to have a house of their own. ¬†Nancy has been writing us letters asking for help for the last four years, and honestly we probably have a stack of forty letters from her, from Juan and from their daughter Darling! ūüôā ¬†This year we were able to build them their own house and it was awesome!

These pictures capture some of the highlights from the week, but if you want to get an even better idea of how their week went in Nicaragua, check out their blog.

We also go to go and visit with Maria Ney who Westminster built a house for last year. ¬†There were a few students on the trip who worked on Maria’s house last year and were¬†here this year on a return trip. ¬†We had a sweet visit with Maria and were so encouraged to see how much work she and her husband had put into their home!

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Being on the ground here in Nicaragua allows us to continue to do great ministry projects like these mercy homes.  If you would like to to donate to Open Hearts in any way big or small, we would be very appreciative!

And we love and appreciate your continued prayers!


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Mercy Homes: Palmer Trinity School 2017

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IMG_6902    We recently got to do one of the more incredible things we ever get to do.  We built a home for a young family here in Nicaragua.  For over a decade we have been building Mercy Homes in a small community outside of Managua every Spring.  This week we built with high school students from one of the schools that pioneered this project, Palmer Trinity School from Miami, FL.  We want to introduce you to Mercedita and Joel (pictured left).  They are a young married couple who came to us asking for help to have a home of their own.  They have been married over a year now and live with her parents.  When they reached out to us Mercedita was pregnant with their first baby.  But, as you can see in the picture Krista is holding Jessica Alejandra who was born the week before the team came to build their new home!

The team of high school students was a pretty incredible group of young people.  Most notable to us is that they are using their spring break to come to Nicaragua and bless a family in an incredible way.  This is notable because each of them probably gave up a ski trip or a fun vacation to make this trip.  For Krista and I that is really special, a bunch of teenagers doing this!  They worked so hard in the blazing sun mixing cement, hauling blocks, painting roof beams, pouring the floor, leveling the ground, and getting down and dirty!  It was a great week.  A fun aspect of the above photo is that in the background you can see the house that Palmer Trinity built last year.  It was so special to be able visit and see all the improvements the family made over the year.

On dedication day we delivered furniture for the home and had¬†a party together with people from the neighborhood. ¬†It is really special to not just build the home but provide furniture as well! ¬†After bringing everything inside we took some time to dedicate the new home to Joel, Mercedita and Jessica. ¬†Tears flowed as we exchanged words of thanks in both directions. ¬†The teens were so moved to be invited here and welcomed with such love. ¬†Mercedita’s father Uerney shared this,¬†“in a world with so many bad and evil things in the news, I am impressed and blessed to spend a week with so many good people doing something like this.” ¬†Amen to that! ¬†Krista’s father Mr. Buzbee led us in a time of prayer for this new young family and their new home and we all blessed them in Jesus name. ¬†It was an incredible time, and when we finished we handed them the keys to their new home. ¬†Granted the door wasn’t hung yet so we used the keys from the dresser ūüôā

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Palmer Trinity School with Joel, Mercedita and little baby Jessica

¬†For Krista and I these types of trips are so encouraging to organize and be a part of. ¬†Of course we’ve learned a lot about construction over the years. ¬†But¬†more than that, we love doing good things like this to glorify God. ¬†We also love that our kiddos can be with us on this crazy adventure in Nicaragua that Jesus has us on!

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Our little Bella on the construction site!

We love to say a special thank you to Adriana Truby the Academic Dean at Palmer who not only organizes everything from the U.S. for Palmer out of love for her students.  But she always joins them on the ground here getting down and dirty!


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Club Esperanza: Backpacks!

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We had a fun time last week visiting Club Cristiana La Esperanza with some high school students from Westminster Christian School in Miami, FL. ¬†They were in Nicaragua to build a¬†mercy home for a family in need with us (check out their blog here). ¬† But in the middle of the trip, we took some time to visit the Early Childhood Education Center at Club Esperanza. ¬†And guess what….

…They brought backpacks!!!

Every one of our preschool and kindergarten students got a brand new backpack filled with all sorts of fun toys and school supplies and candy…and so of course the team made sure to¬†include some dental hygiene supplies as well!

It was a fun morning and a great opportunity to bring a small blessing to a child in need.  The kids all loved getting their new backpacks!  We praise the Lord for these very special gifts at the start of this school year.

We also made sure to hang around for recess time. ¬† Really,¬†how on earth could anyone visit a school with so many cute little kids and not spend some time pushing them on a swing or being a human jungle gym! ūüôā


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