Saturday, February 25, 2017

Meet the World's Cutest Brother-In-Law! - February 2017 Ministry Update

As I prepared to leave the Ranch for a time to be with my husband in Nicaragua, I knew that I couldn't leave without letting the kids who come to Bible study ride Zoeva, so on our last Friday together for a little while, I groomed and saddled the little mare and got all of them on for a short pony ride. Most of them got on without hesitation although a couple took some extra motivation. But they all enjoyed it, and of course I made sure I got pictures of them.

Hold on tight, cowboy!

Ready to ride while Oscar plays soccer with the boys as they wait for their turn.

Excited to finally get to ride!

We even convinced P to ride! 

Seflies!

The following week, we all headed off to the Honduran Fellowship retreat, where us and a couple hundred other missionaries spent time worshipping together in English, attending workshops about a number of problems missionaries face, and eating meals together. I was able to secure housing off-site with a family so that I could bring my kitten along.

It was an AMAZING time of rest, learning, and fellowship. It was really good to be able to reconnect with friends I had met at previous events throughout the year and last year's retreat, and to make new connections. Although I was no longer able to be a part of the single missionaries event, I enjoyed sitting down with other married missionaries and hearing their stories. What an inspiration to be with couples that have been serving for over 30 years together!

Are we there yet?

Directly from there, Roberto and his dad came all the way to Tegucigalpa to pick Olivia and me up. We all had lunch together and then as the Beards went back to the Ranch, I went with my family to Nicaragua. It was a long journey made even longer by the construction that was everywhere along the two-lane highway, but we made it to the border around 10pm and then finally to the house around 2:30am.

Stretching out after a LONG day of traveling.

My mother-in-law thought she was done having kids nearly 14 years ago with the birth of her third son, but God had other plans and so while I was at the retreat I got the news that her water had broken which eventually led to a c-section because she had some heart issues during the pregnancy. Little E had some minor complications after birth so he was kept in the hospital for a few days.

I was excited to get the invitation from my father-in-law to go with them to pick him up. Of course I instantly fell in love with all 5 and a half pounds of him. He's not only super adorable, but he's also a really chill baby.

Like I said, world's cutest brother-in-law!

The young woman who's been helping out with the cooking and cleaning is on a short vacation, so I've been taking over a lot of her duties along with Roberto. I've never cooked Nicaraguan food before and never really consistently cooked for more than one or two people, so it's definitely been a learning experience, but overall it's been good, and I love being able to help out around the house.

Hanging out with E while his bathwater is readied!

And I've of course been able to spend a lot more time with my husband which has also been really good. We're still really new at marriage, so it's not all pretty, but we're both working hard to overcome our cultural differences and really communicate well with each other so we can have an amazing marriage. I can't help but to be in a constant state of awe at the amazing man that God has blessed me with.

Brothers!

I've also been able to get a good start on some marketing ideas M and I have for the trade school. I'm working hard to gather lists of names and contact information that we will start working our way through to hopefully get more of the trade school products out there in the world. If we can get even a few positive responses, then it will be a huge blessing to the students in the trade school.

Please be praying:
- For the staff at the Ranch as they continue doing ministry without me, that God brings in more help as needed and that they wouldn't burn out with too much work.
- For the connections I will soon be trying to make, that it would be a blessing to the trade school students.
- For the Bible study lessons that I'm planning that I would be able to reach the kids for Jesus through them.
- For unity within my new family, that I would continue to adjust to the culture and be able to help them as they need me. In particular, for my mother-in-law as she cares for a new baby while her body continues to heal.
- For our marriage that it continues to be honoring to God and that we continue to work together to make our relationship rock solid.
- For Roberto's work situation as he continues to wait to hear when he'll start at the call center where he applied a month ago, as well as that we would be able to get his visa to be able to travel together to the US this August.

Weak kid who spent the night in my room.
He's now doing great!

If you are interested in supporting us financially, you may do so online or by check.

Online: Visit www.ro4y.com and click the “Donate” button on the sidebar to give through PayPal. Make sure you include my name (or Roberto’s) and your email address so the funds can be directed to us.

By check: Make checks payable to “RO4Y” and include a note with my name (or Roberto’s) and your email address, then send the checks to: Rancho Oasis for Youth, P.O. Box 1853, Mason City, IA 50401.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Our Wedding Story and BIG Announcement - January 2017 Ministry Update

When you have less than 3 days to plan a wedding, things can get a little crazy. I arrived in Managua, Nicaragua Saturday evening and the plan was to get married that Tuesday. We needed to get legally married through a lawyer, have the marriage officially recognized by the government, make arrangements with the pastor and the church, get me a dress and him a ring, buy a bouquet, find a caterer, and rent tables and chairs for the guests. It sounds insane and impossible, but we did it. It all happened so fast that it’s all blurred together, but here’s how we did it as I remember it.

On Sunday, we went to see a friend of his dad who’s a lawyer and were able to get the legal marriage taken care of. That evening, we went out and found me a dress and did some other shopping with his mom and brother. Monday morning we went to the government office to get the paperwork and fully legalize the marriage, and that’s when things got interesting…


Roberto’s mother’s name was not written correctly on his birth certificate, which meant it didn’t match her name as we had put it on the marriage paperwork which meant we had to go back to the lawyer to get it fixed, but he was out of town all day. So, we spent the rest of the day getting everything else done while praying that we’d be able to get the legal stuff finalized first thing in the morning before our 10am wedding. We managed to find everything we needed (his ring, bouquet, caterer, tables and chairs, and a few other things we realized we needed along the way), so we were as ready as we could be before heading back to the lawyer and handing over more money to have him fix the mistake and print a new paper.

The next morning, we headed back to the government office and this time, Roberto had to go in alone while I waited outside (it was the last day they were open before Christmas, so everybody and their brother was there, so only one person per need was allowed in). After a while, he came out, and was frustrated. On the way to the car, he explained that the legal check went fine (where we had the snag with his mother’s name before), but when he went to pay, the lady there said it hadn’t been written correctly.

I read over what the lawyer had given us as Roberto explained the problem. It was supposed to say that I was a US resident but was currently residing in Nicaragua, but it didn’t… Except that it did. Right where it was supposed to say that I was living in Nicaragua, it did, with the exact wording that it was supposedly missing. I pointed it out to Roberto and he headed back inside to show that it was indeed correct.

By the time we were back in the car, it was already 10am, and the house wasn’t set up for the reception and the caterer was not there yet. Not to mention we were still in jeans…

There was a whirlwind of activity going on at the house, and soon everything was ready. We got dressed and ready for our wedding, and Roberto went for the caterer while I finished putting up decorations with the help of his little brother and his brother’s friend. Roberto went ahead of me to the church and his dad brought me there, and so it began.


I was super nervous. Not only was this a huge step in my life, but I was also doing in front of people I didn’t know and in a language I’m not 100% fluent or comfortable in. But I was also incredibly excited to be marrying the man that God had brought into my life to be my husband.


His dad walked me down the aisle and gave me away. The pastor spoke of what marriage is and means, and as he said the familiar lines about for richer and poorer and sickness and health, I thought for one glorious moment that I wasn’t going to have to repeat anything in Spanish. Having never been to a wedding in Latin America before, I had no idea how the ceremonies are, or how they differ from those in the States.

Then we brought out the rings, and did indeed have to repeat our vows to each other… Uh, oh. I was glad that Roberto was first because it gave me the chance to hear them a couple of times before it was my turn. The pastor then asked Roberto quietly “Is she going to be able to do this?” to which he confidently replied “yes” and I said “I hope so.”


And I did it… Mostly. There were a few words I had trouble with and I had to have Roberto help me out a couple of times, but I muddled through. Roberto was holding back laughter the whole time, of course, and teased me about it later, and about halfway through the pastor breathed a prayer of help for me, but I did it. And I didn’t break out in hysterical/nervous laughter or pass out from nervousness or the heat.

As we held hands and the pastor laid his hand over ours and prayed over us, I felt God moving through me and something inside me seemed to changed. I knew that it was at that moment that we were married. I’d wondered before at what point exactly does a couple become married… Was it when they said their vows, exchanged their rings, or kissed at the end? Now I know it’s when God touches you after you’ve made your promises to each other before Him.


The reception was another adventure, but I won’t go into too many details… The main thing was that we had only invited (and therefore planned on feeding) about 20 people. Although we had made that point clear to the pastor when we had agreed to invite the whole church to the wedding but not the reception, he invited everyone to the house anyway, and since it was within easy walking distance, we soon had about 25 people (fortunately a number of them were children) at the house.


We had to have the caterer divide meals to make sure the kids were fed, give up our table until the caterer was done with the dining room table before sitting down to eat, and hear about a woman complaining about how the children she brought with her (some of which weren’t even hers) didn’t get enough to eat. But, despite the minor frustrations, we enjoyed ourselves, and as soon as everything was cleaned up, we headed off to the hotel to get some rest and then to have a nice dinner together.


And now, for my BIG announcement!

Long story short: we thought we could handle a long-distance marriage, but we can’t, so I’m moving to Nicaragua for a few months. It took several days of praying and crying and thinking before we both felt like God was leading us to be together during these first few months of our marriage.

So, in mid-February, I will be going to Nicaragua for three weeks not only to spend time with my husband, but also to help my mother-in-law as she’s due to have a (surprise) baby on the 18th, and I have agreed to help her with that. The first couple of weeks of March will have me back at the Ranch to help with two teams that are coming back-to-back, and then I will be back in Nicaragua until the end of May when Roberto finishes the last credits he needs to graduate.

From there, we will both be coming back to the Ranch to serve full-time. I will return to my roll of assisting with the equine program and trade school, and he will be starting up an English program as well as helping out in other areas as needed around the Ranch. We’re both incredibly excited about all the things that God is going to be doing through us here at the Ranch.


During my time in Nicaragua, I will continue to work on ministry things by planning the girls and boys Bible studies (which will give me more time to train the horses when I return, rather than all the planning that goes into it), marketing the trade school, and a couple of other projects that you’ll find out about soon enough!

The trade school is such an important part of the ministry and helps meet a number of needs in the community, but in order for it to grow and make an even bigger impact, we need to market it more so we can make sure we’re selling everything that the students put so much work into. And, unfortunately, I don’t usually have the time to devote to getting the word out, so I’m excited that I’ll have a chance to help it grow.

A small part of the motivation behind spending time in Nicaragua is being able to save up some money for a couple of things: a visa for Roberto to travel to the United States, plane tickets for both of us as well as other traveling expenses, and Roberto’s living expenses while being at the Ranch during the summer. He will also be working hard to cover as many of these expenses as possible, but once he’s at the Ranch with me full-time, he won’t be able to find outside work.


Please be praying:
-          For the directors and Ranch staff. My absence makes things extremely difficult for them, which is a huge part of why leaving was such a hard decision. Pray that God would bring in others to help or else show them why He’s leading them into a time of slowing down in the ministry.
-          For my mother-in-law to have a safe birth for both her and the baby as she has already had a number of medical issues throughout the pregnancy.
-          For Roberto’s visa process to be quick and simple, and for the visa to be approved.
-          For our finances, that we would be able to have everything that we need to serve God as He has called us.
-          For our marriage, that God uses this time to strengthen us and help us build a strong foundation for our future.


If you are interested in supporting us financially, you may do so online or by check.

Online: Visit www.ro4y.com and click the “Donate” button on the sidebar to give through PayPal. Make sure you include my name (or Roberto’s) and your email address so the funds can be directed to us.


By check: Make checks payable to “RO4Y” and include a note with my name (or Roberto’s) and your email address, then send the checks to: Rancho Oasis for Youth, P.O. Box 1853, Mason City, IA 50401.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Why I’m Here – Mini Update

After a few months of teaching the kids things about horses and how to work with a horse that’s standing still in the barn (how to groom and saddle, etc.), it was time to start getting them to interact even more with the horse, and teach them how to lead.

Some kids fell in perfect step with Zoeva.

Zoeva is easily one of the sweetest horses you’ll ever meet. She’s not fond of having her cinch tightened and she might squeal and squirm when you hurt her bad leg, but she’s an angel otherwise. One week to demonstrate what faith meant, I sat beneath her belly while she was tied and then left the rope hanging over her neck and had her follow me in circles around the riding ring, which she did despite me having never trained her to do so.

And yet, nearly all of the pre-teen girls were terrified of her and didn’t want to step up and lead her. N led the pack and led Zoeva around the round pen first, but since she knows the horse well and is fearless (in their minds), that did nothing to encourage them to do the same. I got a few of the other girls to take the pony out for a spin, but the others took more convincing.

The little girls were shy but fearless.

As a couple of them cringed away from her while declaring their fear and desire to NOT lead her, little Zoeva would turn her head toward them, ears forward, and seemed to be asking them why they were so afraid of her. I don’t know how, but every time she picked out the girl who I had asked to go next, and stared her down until she relented and grabbed the lead rope.

She wasn't a big fan of the "barrel race" I set up, but the kids got a kick out of it!

I walked with the last three, and a conversation that I had had dozens (if not hundreds) of times at the camp in Michigan came to mind, and so I began it with all of them as I leaned casually on Zoeva’s neck. I asked them what is bravery. The answer came quick: “Not being afraid.” I shook my head and told them, “Being brave means doing whatever it is you want even though you’re afraid. It’s ok to be afraid, but you can’t let that fear stop you from reaching your goals or from doing what you need to do.”

They nodded their heads in agreement, but I pray that they meant it, that they really understood the lesson, that something has sparked in them and that by overcoming their fear of leading a horse, they can become emboldened to overcome other fears they have in other areas of their life. That’s why I’m at the Ranch. For this moment, where I can use a horse to reach the heart of a child.



Thursday, January 5, 2017

Merry Christmas from Nicaragua! (December 2016 Ministry Update)

This month started out with a TON of sales! We were blessed with several opportunities in Tegucigalpa (the capital city that we’re about an hour outside of) to sell the jewelry and other things made by the trade school students. Because they were specifically for Christmas, we got a group of students together to make Christmas ornaments, wreaths, and paper bead garland.

Just a few of the beautiful Christmas wreaths the students made!

One ornament in particular, which one of our youngest students and myself had been making (he was new at it and therefore slow, so I contributed a few as well) ended up being WAY more popular than we had anticipated and so we sold out before the end of the first sale at the US Embassy. Praise the Lord! It was a HUGE blessing, and then we got several orders for more, so we put the whole “Christmas team” onto making them and cranked out 31 of them in just one day!

A few of my contributions to the sales.

The following week, we had three days of sales, two for one school and one at another. Although these sales didn’t go as well as the first one, it was still a blessing for the students, and I believe we’re planning on attending at least one sale again next year!

J and I stayed in the city since the sales were in the evenings and it was too late to be driving all the way back to the Ranch. It was a nice little mini-vacation in the city. J stayed with a friend and I stayed at a retreat center for a big non-profit organization which was really nice. It was slightly outside the city and up the mountain a bit so the back porch had an AMAZING view of the city and surrounding mountains.

We had all been waiting for the arrival of “Baby Cinco,” who decided to arrive halfway through our three days of sales, so J headed back to the Ranch and I went to one by myself with the help of another missionary. As soon as I finished setting everything up, I got the text I had been waiting for: Baby Cinco had arrived safely via a water birth attended by M, J and the kids, and M’s parents. He was healthy and beautiful!

My first time meeting Baby Cinco!

The following week, we wrapped up girls and boys Bible studies for 2016 by combining the two groups and watching a Spanish version of the story of the birth of Christ, putting on a play about the birth of Christ, and then doing a Christmas craft. It was a LOT of fun and the kids had a blast!

The angels announce the good news of Jesus' birth.

The shepherds come to worship the newborn King.

J gets the magi ready to follow the star to Bethlehem.

After that, I headed to Nicaragua to spend Christmas there with Roberto, where we also GOT MARRIED!! Our original plan had been to simply do the legal wedding so we could start the visa process, but then decided to just go for it, and also put together a simple church wedding… In 2 days. It was insane and super stressful, but once it was done and we were married, we were able to just hang out and relax for the rest of the time together. (Special blog coming soon just about our wedding.)

Small and simple. <3

Christmas in Central America is different than the States. Here, they celebrate on the 24th, which they call “Noche Buena.” They eat a big meal late in the evening with their families (around 11pm), and then at midnight, everyone lights off fireworks in the streets so that it sounds like a war zone. Gifts are also often exchanged at that point. Then on the 25th, most people have the day off to just relax and spend time with family.

My husband took me to see the many nativity scenes set up along one of the main roads.

Some were quite elaborate. This one had a waterfall behind it!

New Year’s Eve is often celebrated the same way, with fireworks and a big meal late in the evening. Unfortunately for me, a meal I had enjoyed earlier in the week had come back to haunt me, so I spent most of New Year’s Eve in bed with frequent trips to the bathroom. However, by midnight I was feeling slightly better and as the clock rolled over into the new year, I was on my knees praying with my husband, undoubtedly the best way to ring in the new year, recognizing how good God is and placing the new year fully into His hands.

I am unbelievably excited about everything that this new year has in store for myself and for my husband.

Please be praying:
-          For our marriage, that we continue to put God first in everything we do and that we continue to learn how to love and support each other, and for strength as we will be living most of our first few months as a married couple separated as he completes his final semester at university in Nicaragua and I continue to work at the Ranch.
-          For the trade school as we start up with full days again and as we decide what the students will be making this year so that they can have a good income through the ministry.
-          For the girls and boys Bible studies, that the kids come with hearts softened and ears open to hear the gospel that we present to them.
-          For the horses that God has prepared for the Ranch that we don’t have yet, that God would make those connections and that we would be able to bring more horses here to keep expanding the horse part of the Ranch.
-          For finances, as Roberto plans on joining me at the Ranch as soon as he can, so we will need to raise support for the two of us.

If you are interested in supporting us financially, you may do so online or by check.

Online: Visit www.ro4y.com and click the “Donate” button on the sidebar to give through PayPal. Make sure you include my name (or Roberto’s) and your email address so the funds can be directed to us.

By check: Make checks payable to “RO4Y” and include a note with my name (or Roberto’s) and your email address, then send the checks to: Rancho Oasis for Youth, P.O. Box 1853, Mason City, IA 50401.


My Christmas gift to Roberto: a painting inspired by a dream he had and then shared with me.

Friday, December 9, 2016

November 2016 Ministry Update - Falling Off Nyssa and Starting Bible Studies!

This month started off with a bang, or whatever sound you imagine when someone hits the ground while falling off of a horse… After a little over a month of working on the ground with Nyssa, I felt like she was ready to be ridden, and so I got on her for the first time. She accepted me like she’d done it a million times when I first got on, and took 5 calm steps before she felt too off-balance and decided she needed me off of her…


If you review the video several times (as I have, occasionally frame-by-frame because it's even funnier in slow motion), you can see that she’s actually started to settle down about the time I’ve completely lost my own balance. It wasn’t the LEAST painful fall I’ve had, but other than a couple bruises from the horn and a need for some self chiropractic care for my hips, I was fine, and never happier to have decided to set my phone up to record the event.

The next time I got on her, it went a lot better. We took it a couple steps at a time and even though she felt off-balance again under my weight, she stayed calm and we piled praises on her for doing so well. M and I are both SUPER excited about that and her future as a Ranch horse. She’s very smart and catches on pretty quickly to whatever we ask of her.

The second week in November I got to take a little break from the Ranch to go and visit my fiancĂ© and then go to a women’s conference! It was nice to get some rest, and I’m so thankful to Lu and N for feeding my baby kitten while I was gone, and for a friend who picked me up to the bus station to go to the conference!

One of the recurring themes in my life seems to be brokenness as I often feel broken in many different ways which also makes me feel like I’m not good enough or that I can’t serve as well as I could if I were whole. Sure enough, the focus of the conference was on brokenness and how we shouldn’t be afraid to keep living even as we’re broken and that we can still serve and love and be loved no matter how broken our hearts may be.

At the end of the conference, one of the women shared (half-jokingly) about how everything there had been specifically for her and how she was glad we’d been there for “her” healing time. We laughed, but I couldn’t help but to have felt the same way, as it seemed like everything that was said, sung, and done spoke directly to me. God is really cool like that.

There was plenty of time for laughter and fun at the conference as well!

This month, we also started up with girls and boys horse/Bible studies. We decided to launch into incorporating the horses into ministry by combining the girls Bible study with horse lessons. Then, as there has been an ongoing need for a boys Bible study (that doesn’t involve soccer since not all the boys in the community play and some are too young to join the teams), we also started a boys Bible study doing the same thing.

It has been AWESOME! I take a group of kids in the barn and teach them something about horses and then Jon teaches Scripture that goes along with that lesson. We spent the first three weeks in I Corinthians 12, talking about how we all have different spiritual gifts that are all equally important, how there are different parts of the body, and how we need to take care of the body of Christ. So, in the barn we talked about the different brushes (they all have different purposes but are all equally important), the parts of the horse, and basic horse care (we need to take care of the other members of the body of Christ) which involved listening to the Zoeva’s heart and stomach sounds as well as taking her temperature.

After that, we had a review day during which the kids were able to win prizes for memorizing the Bible verse (Lo cierto es que hay muchos miembros, pero el cuerpo es uno solo. 1 Corintios 12:20… Where’s my prize?!?), and for winning the games. We had a relay race to find the correct brush, a Healthy/Unhealthy challenge (if the horse has green stuff and blood coming from her nose, is she healthy or unhealthy?), and they had to tape the names of the parts of the body onto the horse.

J leads the boys in worship.

The boys loved brushing Zoeva!

Zoeva gets a full-body beauty treatment from the girls Bible study!

I think she wins the most tolerant horse of the year award!

Race back to the pole, but did you grab the right brush?

Needless to say, this month has been AMAZING, and ended with two Thanksgiving meals, one at the Ranch which was INCREDIBLE and one at the church with the other missionaries which was a lot of crazy fun! I’m so excited for everything that December has in store for me!

This little one was a bit intimidated by all the older girls,
so she brushed Sheeba with N. Dogs need some loving with brushes, too!

Prayer requests:
- For my fiance and I as we continue to learn to love and respect each other more, and as we struggle with the long distance and as we prepare to do all of our wedding planning in two weeks in December.
- For the sales events we've been invited to, that they would be a blessing to the students.
- For the boys and girls Bible studies, that the kids would come with soft hearts and minds open to receive the gospel and that J and I would have wisdom while teaching these precious ones about horses and God.
- For the continued training of Nyssa and for the connection we made during the conference to be fruitful so we can get some more good Ranch horses.
- For peace and comfort for me as I head into the Christmas season away from my family and normal traditions.
- For the funds to come in to finish the staff house so I can move in!

Last year I planted some strawberry seeds from some store-bought strawberries,
and now I've got a strawberry developing! They love the cooler mountain weather!

If you are interested in supporting me financially, you may do so online or by check.

Online: Visit www.ro4y.com and click the “Donate” button on the sidebar to give through PayPal. Make sure you include my name and your email address so the funds can be directed to me.

By check: Make checks payable to “RO4Y” and include a note with my name and your email address, then send the checks to: Rancho Oasis for Youth, P.O. Box 1853, Mason City, IA 50401.

To give specifically to the completion of the staff house, make a note on your check or when giving online!

Monday, November 14, 2016

New Beginnings – October 2016 Ministry Update

This past month has seen a lot of new beginnings, and has been awesome! After spending some time in the States and some time in Nicaragua, I arrived back at the Ranch at the end of September and started gearing up for my first full year of ministry at Rancho Oasis for Youth!

Before I got to the Ranch, however, I got ENGAGED! I’m so thankful to God for bringing me to a wonderful man who loves the Lord and encourages me in my own walk in so many ways. I get more excited every day for everything that God has planned for our future together!


After taking me by horse-drawn carriage to the lake, he brought me to the top of an old fort
where he asked me to marry him and gave me my mom's engagement ring set with a new stone.

The day I arrived at the Ranch, there was another arrival, a surprise baby goat. His mom sort of rejected him (she herself had been rejected as a kid) and so I spent the first few weeks of his life holding her so he could eat. And, a couple weeks after he was born, we had three more surprise babies, a pair of twins and another single kid. These two mamas are great, though, and watching the four kids play together has been SO much fun!

Twins! A boy and a girl!

Our only black goat gave us another to match her!

Before his friends got big enough to play, this little guy hung out with me a lot.

 On October 20th, there were four kittens born to one of the barn cats, all calico girls. When they were just over two weeks old, the mother decided to move them from the barn, but left one behind, so I took her in. Keeping her fed (with goat’s milk out of a dropper) has been a lot of work, but it’s also been a huge blessing because it’s been so long since I’ve had an indoor cat, and for those of you who don’t know, I absolutely love cats.


I also spent much of this month refreshing Nyssa on her training. M had been working with her since she was a baby but hadn’t been able to actually ride her yet, so I started working several times a week with the young horse and could see that she definitely remembered her training. By the end of the month, she was ready to be ridden, but there were certainly some bumps and bruises along the way… Like the first day of training when she got overly frustrated and kicked me pretty hard in the leg… To her surprise and dismay, I worked her even harder after that.

Day 1: Getting her moving and remembering what she'd learned before!

Day 1, Later: Things didn't quite go as planned... But at least it's pretty! 

Trying to get her used to my weight on her... She wasn't a fan of me hopping onto her...

Ready to take the next step to being a Ranch pony!

Trade school started up again, but since this year they hadn’t sold quite as much as in previous furloughs and since “baby cinco” is coming soon, we decided to stick with having the students come just to turn in the beads they had rolled during the week and to dip the previous week’s beads in varnish. I also lead a simple devotion with them which has been a huge blessing to me as well.

M created some lists of work projects that need to be done around the Ranch, one for general things and the other for the animals. I got to organize and prioritize them and now that we’re more organized with our needs, we’ve been able to focus on our priorities and are excited to both check things off the list as they get done, and add more things to really get the Ranch to where we know it can be. It’s a long process when there’s a lot of work but not many workers!

I got some lead ropes and rope halters made and then put in the nails to hang them!

In our staff Bible study on Wednesdays, we are going through the book of Colossians, and it’s been amazing so far. One day we talked about grace, and what it meant. One of the questions to ask ourselves was “What is an example of God’s grace in your life?” Of course I thought immediately of how He brought a group of people together to support my ministry here, and that’s a great example of grace, but I couldn’t think of any little, everyday examples.

The very next day as I was cutting a freshly-cut tree branch on a miter saw for a couple of projects, something happened and the small block of wood I was holding still got sucked into the saw along with my hand. I believe it was the plastic guard I had been holding up with my other thumb that came down and smashed my thumb, but it happened so fast that all I know for sure is that my thumb was smashed but still fully intact.


Praise God that my thumb was not as chewed up at the piece of wood I was cutting.
(The orange on my nail is polish; all I suffered was the tiny cut at the base of the nail.)

As I sat down to avoid passing out from the pain/adrenaline, I couldn’t help but to feel overwhelmed by God’s grace in such a small thing as a thumb. Although it was so painfully swollen I had to take some ibuprofen to sleep for a couple of nights and had to re-learn how to do simple things like unbuttoning my pants for a week or so, I am SO grateful to God because it could have been SO much worse. Now it’s already healed up quite a bit and am just waiting to see if I’m going to be growing a new nail or not.

Once the polish came off, I found it a lot more bruised than I had thought...

A little worse for wear but not a bit deterred, I’m looking forward to what the next month has in store for me as I serve God here in Ojojona, Honduras!

Sometimes while you do your nails on a Saturday afternoon, it turns into a nail party!

Please be praying:
-          For my fiancĂ© and I as we plan our wedding from two different countries and for our relationship to continue to get stronger as we prepare to be married.
-          For sales on the Etsy store for the trade school students so they can earn money and reach their goals.
-          For our search for more horses for the Ranch, that God allows us to connect with the right people and find the right horses.
-          For the girl’s Bible study as we begin to incorporate horses into the Bible lessons.
-          For the finances to come in for the staff house to be completed.

Are you my mother?
Sheeba, the Ranch dog, thinks she's very helpful with the baby goat.

If you are interested in supporting me financially, you may do so online or by check.

Online: Visit www.ro4y.com and click the “Donate” button on the sidebar to give through PayPal.
Make sure you include my name and your email address so the funds can be directed to me.


By check: Make checks payable to “RO4Y” and include a note with my name and your email
address, then send the checks to: Rancho Oasis for Youth, P.O. Box 1853, Mason City, IA 50401.

Can you spot my assistant?

Lizards can give some great horse training advice sometimes...