Praises and Prayer Requests 27-Oct-2014

Friends!  Man it’s been a busy month!  Now as I sit down and watch the Monday night Raw after the last WWE Pay Per view (don’t judge), I realize that we have not provided some prayer requests and praises recently.  Our bad!!!  So without further adu…an update of sorts.  We covet your prayers as always.

Praises:

  • School Update – Both kids LOVE school.  We are so thankful for this.  There is joy in their eyes when they come home and when they leave!  We are so blessed to be in a situation where they love their teacher and their teacher loves them.
  • Work Activity – Last week I finished leading a top 5 group of all time!  The trip was just amazing including 13 baptisms on the morning of leaving the Caye. So thankful for my friends from Colorado!
  • Growing up – We weren’t really sure what we were going to do with a bed and the boys and house guests.  We knew we didn’t want to blow up an air mattress.  So this past Friday, Amy and I built a bed and then Jojo immediately wanted to move into Elijah rooms.  We thought Madeline would freak out being by herself. Nope.  Seamless transition!  Praise God for easy-going kids!
  • Financial Support – We are in a pretty good place right now for support.  Thank you for praying and giving!  Praise God for his provision!
  • New Opportunities – Burton and I had the opportunity to meet a missionary and the denominational leader for a specific denomination in Nicaragua. Through this meeting we now have information to position our organization to enter into ministry in Nicaragua and Honduras in 2015.  Praise God for divine appointments!

Prayer Requests:

  • Community for Amy – Community is still hard-going.  Kimbell has been going through some family issues and that has been stressful for our family and specifically Amy.  Things seem to be slowly improving or better than they were last weekend.  Pray that the Lord would give us wisdom in how to minister appropriately to Kimbell and her family.
  • Basketball – I heard there was supposed to be a basketball tournament last night, so I travel over there geared up and hyped up on coffee. Unfortunately, the guys wont play a tournament unless both lights work.  No one knows what’s wrong with the other light!  Pray that the light is healed and we have a tournament.  Side note: I was able to give someone a jump while I was at the bball court so that awesome! if I hadn’t had gone then he would have been stranded there with his three small kids!
  • Homework Central – Our house continues to be homework central.  Amy and I are getting the hang of the assignments.  Unfortunately, for the students coming over, we are making them do their own work instead of having us do it (which is what most parents do here) so things are slow going.  Pray for patience and opportunities to share about Jesus!
  • Work Activity – I am getting ready to lead my last trip of the year on Saturday. It’s an awesome return team from Jersey.  We will be building bunk beds, visiting some mercy ministries and working with some children.  Pray for my uneasiness as I am nervous about the bunk bed project and my personal construction knowledge (lack there of).
  • Visitors – Linda comes to hang out with Amy and our family this Thursday!  Pray for this to be a HUGE answer to prayer and the beginning of a beautiful relationship!
  • Huge Development – As we mentioned at the beginning of the month, Michelle, a staff from this summer, is coming to Belize in January to be part of our family! Continue to pray for Michelle as she prepares to come down to Belize for 9 months at the start of the new year!
  • Date Night – We still did a HORRIBLE job of prioritizing date nights, although I did a lot less work at night and on the weekend this month so PRAISE!  We are going on a date night this Friday.  Pray that it is a great time to get away, relax, and enjoy each other’s company.
  • Homesickness – Fall is the HARDEST time for us here in Belize.  We suffer from a lot of homesickness.  Especially Halloween, we will be staying off social media on Friday and avoid seeing all the kids dressed up. It’s silly; we know.  It’s just something that we miss.  Pray for our homesickness through this time.
she is so beautiful

she is so beautiful

Learning to play the guitar

Learning to play the guitar

Jojo driving on the new playground at school

Jojo driving on the new playground at school

Oh Elijah!

Oh Elijah!

One of the 13 baptisms on the Caye with my last team.

One of the 13 baptisms on the Caye with my last team.

A sunrise walk on the Island last week.

A sunrise walk on the Island last week.

Adding value, fulfilling dreams and some praises and prayers

Adding value – that’s something that I tend to view most activities through that lens.  I guess it comes from my training in Lean Manufacturing.  Mostly, I blame or credit one of my bosses, Tom, for ingraining this into my brain.  But yes, if I do something, I am asking myself, how is this adding value to the customer, whether that customer is my wife, a local church, my children, anyone.  Adding value, it’s kind of a daily mantra.

Fulfilling Dreams – This is more of a life goal.  I deeply desire to fulfill dreams. I want to help Amy realize her dreams, help our kids fulfill their dreams no matter what.  I desire for the Lord to shape our family’s dreams and then chart our course to reach those.

Deeply, I feel the same way about our mission teams and ministry partners.  How can help form a partnership that adds value and fulfills dreams?  When I led a team the last week of September into early October, I was able to witness that first hand.

About 3 years ago, a small group went to the Youth Hostel, a home for at-risk youth.  These youth are “criminals” those who have broken the law (non-violently), or have horrible behavior problems.  This small group didn’t care.

They loved.

They invested.

They were broken.

The thing about the Hostel is that groups don’t go there often.  If any group goes at all, it’s a fly in / fly out.  No group invests a week in the teens there.  I mean they are hardened, they are hard, they are offensive, ministry is dirty.

This group didn’t care.  They ministered and then they came back. They were interested in adding value to these students / teens’ lives.

The following year, I had the opportunity to lead them and we did “science” at the Hostel.  Students / teens who didn’t ever engage in school were captivated by baking soda and vinegar, mentos and coke and dropping eggs from balconies!  For one week of the year, they LOVED school!  Walls were broken, relationships formed and continued.  The teens who are “bad” felt valued, meaningful to society, and loved.  Value added.

This year I had the opportunity to go back with the same team.  As we got there, I saw a gentlemen was on lock down.  It turns out that he ran away, got everyone in trouble and then 9 of the residents thought they would teach him a lesson.  They jumped him in his bunk and beat him up. As I sat down with this resident in “lock-down”, I saw the bruising on the side of his face. I saw his jaw broken.  I saw him spit out broken pieces of teeth.  And I was mad.  Shamefully, I thought to myself these teens don’t deserve to have this team serve them.  These teens are beyond help.

But in that moment, the Lord reminded me that grace and mercy is available for those who desire it.  It was my job, literally, to facilitate these ambassadors of the gospel to shower the residents at the Youth Hostel with God’s love.  It’s true that they don’t deserve it but neither do you and I. We continued ministering.

This time our plan was two fold:

  1. Guys – work on the chicken coop (see last blog post for the finished product)
  2. Girls – work on reading and art – teaching about Fables, short-stories, scary stories and parables.

We got there on Sunday and I noticed a familiar face, only this face was from the orphanage not the Hostel.  I did a double-take, a triple-take and then our eyes met.  She then ran away.  It turns out she did something at the Orphanage to be placed at the Hostel.  I was crushed….again.

Anyway, we entered through the getting to know you stage on Day 1 and had a great day of “ministry” on Day 2.  Day 3 the students challenged us.  Disrespect was abounding and they weren’t “interested” in what we were doing.  We were almost to our breaking point, frustrated with the idea of adding value.  Did we add any value or just beat our heads against the wall?

That night in our meeting, we shared an idea.  Value doesn’t necessarily come during the day that you are doing activity; value may be added to these teens when you show them when we come back following a difficult day.  We may have reached a breaking point; we may have been frustrated.  However, one thing was for sure.  We were coming back.  The thing about God’s love is there is no breaking point.  He is always there forgiving, loving, restoring.  Our team did the same thing.

We went in Day 4 and poured out more of ourselves on the youth.  By this time, some of the guys from the Hostel started to get more interested in the chicken coop and our construction crew of 5 grew to 10.  All of a sudden we had guys yearning to be guys; yearning (and at times fighting) to drill, saw, hammer, in short be a guy that works hard.   And it was awesome!  Guys were taking younger ones under their wing, getting them set up with a tool belt and screw-gun and letting them go!  The look of joy was priceless!  Adding value, fulfilling dreams….

But that was only 1/2 of the activity.  

While that was going on, the women on our team, teaching stories, were allowing and encouraging the remaining students to express themselves through art.   We used drawing, painting, and play-dough to paint scenery, portraits, or model anything they wanted.  It was risky endeavor, especially given how “difficult” the student can be.  But the artistic ability began to shine brightly.  All of a sudden students who we couldn’t get to do anything with reading were spending HOURS on art.  The craziest thing happened each afternoon as the art supplies came out, so did laughter, so did conversation, so did joy.  As value was added to these students’ days through art, barriers to the gospel fell away.

On our final day, all the guys and new helpers stopped construction and everyone including the officers at the Youth Hostel went to an art show of the students’ art from the week.  These hardened “criminals” with joy in their eyes grabbed our team’s hands and showed us “their work.”

“Sir this is mine” “Miss come see what I did”  Smiles, laughter, joy, pride swelled.  Value added, dreams fulfilled.  All in a week of ministry.

We had to leave for the week from the Hostel with this team but as they were leaving there were extra-long hugs. There were a lot of tears, both from the teens at the Hostel and the team members leaving.  There was one other thing, a look of certainty, the look of a promise.  A promise to return, to add value, to help fulfill dreams, to come back next year.  I can’t wait to see this happen!

Learning how to use a screw gun

Learning how to use a screw gun

Art show welcome sign

Art show welcome sign

some of the art from the students

some of the art from the students

working on their portraits

working on their portraits

ownership, working hard, learning value

ownership, working hard, learning value

conversations over Play-dough. Christ's love through art!

conversations over Play-dough. Christ’s love through art!

Praise and Prayer Requests – 03-Oct-2014

Wow.  So a quick update from our family to yours.  And this picture says it all:

Madeline's first day of Kindergarten today.

Madeline’s first day of Kindergarten today.

School stories: To review the schooling situation ney saga.  So last year we knew Madeline had finished 1.5 years of preschool and was on par to go to Infant I (kindergarten equivalent next year).  SO we didn’t think the village preschool was “best” for her.  So she and Jojo started into the preschool in the village.  This school we were under the impression was far superior, better education, etc. Well, she and Jojo went and after each day we started asking questions on what they did.  The responses were interesting and all the same: write, write, write.  No songs, no games, no play…just writing.  We were a little frustrated but thought maybe that’s just the start.  Then I headed South and Amy had to drive them each day (30 minutes one day), so that’s a total of 2 hours driving time.  The kids ate their lunch in the car because we were heading home for naps and poor Elijah was in the car seat SCREAMING.  In fact he screamed so much and refused to eat that he lost 1lb that week.  There is only one word to describe that situation, Unsustainable.

So we decided after that to head back into the village but here we are challenged with what to do.  Do we have Madeline go to preschool or Infant I or do we home school her.  Those of you that know Amy and Madeline’s personalities probably could guess that home schooling at this time for Madeline wasn’t the best.  Plus we wanted her to interact with the kids.  So we sat down and talked with her teacher from last year and the Infant I teacher.  We then made the decision for Madeline to go into Infant I.  This meant a “real school day” because in Belize they don’t play.  We didn’t realize just how stark a difference it was from the States.

And then the stories and homework came.  Madeline was given on average 1 1/2 – 2 hours of homework at night.  Assignments included writing 100 number 4’s or memorizing 10 Spanish words or the specifics of the Battle of St. George’s Caye.  Amy and I were perplexed at the work load.  Even more perplexing was the teacher wasn’t checking any of the work.  We didn’t want Madeline sitting and doing hours upon hours of homework and we didn’t want to tell her that she doesn’t need to do the homework because that teaches that homework is not important.  Amy and I agonized this whole week (one of the reasons for this delayed post).  So just yesterday, I spoke to Madeline’s teacher (Infant I) and the one from last year.  I learned that the Infant I teacher is teaching the following way, literally saying “I didn’t come here to have these kids love me.  I came to teach.”  That was the deal breaker there.  I can teach. Amy can teach.  Madeline and all of our kids for that matter will be in environments where I feel that they are loved and cared for and that wasn’t one of them.

So then we went back and talked to Madeline’s preschool teacher and she said she was willing to help Madeline with extra work if we can also potentially provide some of the materials.  We were ecstatic!  So after going back and forth to three schools in about 3 weeks, we are at the preschool in our village with both the kids.  We know they are learning and most importantly we are loved.  THANK YOU ALL FOR PRAYING THROUGH THAT!!

Praise / Prayer Request Update

  • Basketball – I got to hang out some with Brandon one of the guys that I play basketball with.  He works at the Youth Hostel where I had a team this week.  He and I were talking about playing and he asked me to build a half-court in my yard so they can come and play.  I am halfway considering it!  Pray for opportunities to play and for relationships to grow. KEEP PRAYING
  • Community for Amy – We had a team serving in Hattieville this week which meant that Amy was busy hanging out with Kimbell as she cooked and having to help cook the Belizean meals herself.  I bet the team didn’t know they were going to have an American cooking Belizean food this week!  It was a tiring but good week of community!  Pray for more weeks like that!  KEEP PRAYING.
  • Homework Central – So Bella and Christopher have been coming over for some time to do homework and play.  Now Bella invited a girl Evelyn from another school to come and do homework.  Evelyn brings her brother Jose and their mom.  The other night Evelyn’s mom helped Amy press out tortillas!  Pray for wisdom in how to teach these kids what they need to learn!  Pray that our house can always be a house that is open to others!  KEEP PRAYING!
  • Financial Support – We are still looking for 3 families to partner with us financially for $25/month.
    • Update:  We had two families feel God calling them to support us and they have!  PRAISE GOD.  Keep praying for one more family!
    • If you are interested in supporting us financially, please connect directly with Josh or Amy via email (joshua.m.edmonds@gmail.com)
  • Work Activity – I am just finishing leading a team today.  We served all week in Hattieville and at the Youth Hostel (a post about the Hostel is coming at a later point).  It was an awesome week.  We got to build a playground and an awesome chicken coop in addition to teaching the kids about Dr. Seuss all week!  We have two trips in October, both starting next week.  Pray for smooth logistics and awesome ministry!!
  • Visitors – Amy and I were talking and really felt that she needed to have a visitor.  So after talking to some here at Praying Pelican we decided that someone will visit Amy in the first of November, just to hang out with just her and the kids.  We are so excited to have Linda come down to hang out and we are feverently praying that her visit could be the beginning of a mentor relationship that Amy deeply desires.
  • Huge Development – So for some time, our family was wrestling with how can Amy hop on trips and how can we ease the burden of her being at home with all three kids while I am gone.  She needed consistency and help.  Not that we are giving the impression that Amy cannot do it because well she obviously can but it may help with the kids, give some rest to Amy and allow for some community.  So this summer, we were talking to one of the summer staff and asked her if anything ever fell though for her in the States or if she wanted an opportunity to come to Belize and ‘nanny’ she could.  So we prayed.  She prayed.  We counseled. She counseled.  And we are happy to say that Michelle will be coming and staying at our house, helping with the kids and hopping on some trips too!  Pray for Michelle as she prepares to come in early January.  Pray that God would clearly reveal to her how He is going to use her here!
  • Date Nights – Continue to pray for our marriage.  We did a HORRIBLE job prioritizing dates nights last month.  Pray that we are able to do date nights each weekend I am at home this month!

So a lot has happened.  We feel like the month of September was a complete blur and here we are heading into October.  This we know.  We have a team of prayer warriors lifting us up!  Thank you!  Without your support, we would crumble!  Thank you for petitioning our God together for us!

A front view of the 30'x22' chicken coop

A front view of the 30’x22′ chicken coop

roost for the layers to lay eggs

roost for the layers to lay eggs

the finished playground at the preschool.

the finished playground at the preschool.

Reading time with Bella and Christopher.

Reading time with Bella and Christopher.

Mommy and two happy kids with crafts

Mommy and two happy kids with crafts

starting their pizza craft for the day.

starting their pizza craft for the day.