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 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.


  1. I am excited for you as you begin your new adventure of marriage. Glad you are going back to the ranch. I will keep you in my prayers.

  2. Wow! What a wonderful whirlwind! Just reading your wedding adventures exhausted me. Congratulations! God bless you, Melody and Roberto as your journey continues.
    Grace and peace,