What a roller coaster year it has been. Think about riding a coaster. As it climbs the hill there is lots of anticipation, once at the top the excitement is exhilarating. Then the coaster starts down towards the valley; for me, fear starts to set in and I hang on because there is no getting off the coaster. Then there are the twists and turns and I think about if the coaster will be able to stay on the track.
Our year was much like that. We started out with excitement and so much anticipation about the Academy. Then we had fear as we wondered had we missed God's Voice and His plan. All we could do was hang on because life kept moving forward. There were twists in our plans when God revealed that He had different plans for the building that we had hoped would be for the Academy.
He was going to turn it into a church.
Mario's carpentry shop did not turn out as planned. He learned some valuable skills, but as of today, he is in his village doing nothing. But, as I spoke about last month, God will use everything for good. He has a plan and His ways are not always our ways.
Mid-year, we welcomed our third Nicaragua "grand baby". Oh, the promises of God come to mind. Long before Nicaragua or missions was ever on our "radar", God told me that I would have many children and grand children. Someone once compared me to Gladys Aylward and she led over 100 children through the mountains to safety. Well, I know that we've had influence to almost 100 young men. You don't hear about all of them, because they come and go out of our lives. We only hope that we left something of value with each one.
In August, we had a team member say to us that now there was no one living in our home with us, it was time to find 4 new young men. My eyes must have grown as large as saucers because he said, I'm sure that is not something that you find appealing, having boys live with you again. He was certainly right about that. We raised daughters and learning the ways of boys was the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. I was enjoying my rest from the challenges of caring for boys; especially boys with issues.
But, here we go, more twists and turns! Remember, God's plans are not our plans, His ways are not our ways. At the beginning of the year, we met a man in his mid 30's and there was a mutual connection. Recently, God began using him to bring our awareness to young men in need. As quickly as a coaster can go around a curve, God quickly took us toward His plans. The young men would not be living with us, but we would help them try to lay hold of a more stable life. So, the Restoration House now has it's own residence.
We finished the year with a wedding. Our Nica son, Jack Noel, married his love during a ceremony held in our home with his American "dad" officiating. As with coasters, we have experienced ups and downs, twists and turns in Noel's life, but it came to an exhilarating end. Now he is passing from son to responsible man with a family of his own. As he and I walked arm and arm toward the Pastor and guests to take our place, I said to him, "don't forget me". He replied "never, Madre". It was a beautiful evening, set in a magical setting of twinkling lights in the presence of loving friends and our ever faithful God.