Wednesday, February 28, 2018


Lawlessness - It really is a word.   It describes people who are not restrained or controlled by law.  Lawlessness is found in society, nature, government, religion.   It's all over the world, but since we have not been out in other regions of the world in many years, I can only speak about what I know to be in Nicaragua.

Image result for lawless society

I see it out in society whenever I leave my home to run errands.  Something so simple as waiting your turn in a line is nonexistent.  Everyone moving and pushing to be first.  There is no longer respect for the elderly, the young pregnant woman or the incapacitated to have first seating or first service.  Or a person is forced to step off the sidewalk into the street because a group of people decide to walk abreast and not step into single file for even a moment.  There is no respect for another's possessions, if they want it, they will take it.

Nicaragua is a beautiful country, but it is hard to see that because of all the trash and filth that litters the neighborhoods and streets.  I have seen people walk to the door of their home and throw out papers and trash into the yard and street.   In the commercial areas, trash bins are ignored.  A person will open up whatever is in their hand and throw the wrapper immediately on the ground; this also includes plastic bottles, paper plates and leftover food.  Rat infestation is a HUGE problem everywhere.

The government does not keep their own laws or enforce them to the people.  The reigning President has abolished term limits and will be in office indefinitely.  The police make traffic stops in hopes of receiving bribes; some of the stops are for no purpose - it's their word against yours.  The people do not observe traffic laws and driving is now very dangerous.

The final category is religion.   We have attended several churches in our years living here and we do not hear teaching about adultery, pregnancy outside of marriage, abortion, physical abuse, sexual abuse, lying and truth, a person's responsibility to their family and community.  All of these topics seem to be taboo in the church.   If the church will not talk about them, how do the young people learn?  They definitely are not talked about in the home.

One of our programs is to teach everyday life skills, respect for authority, each other and the environment.  Many times it's a continuous battle, Americans vs. Nicaraguaneses.  There is not a month that goes by that we do not hear "well, you are Americans, it's different here".   We tell them that the laws of society and nature should apply everywhere.  When they don't want to believe us,  I love to take the "American excuse" out of the argument by turning to scripture and telling them what God has to say about the matter. 

As we get older, we also have to weigh our aging against societal changes to determine the extent of what our tolerance should be.  However, there is never an excuse for a lack of goodness, kindness, and love no matter how old or young.

Please pray for us and our ability to continue to teach what is good and true.


Wednesday, January 31, 2018

He Was Born to Teach

We are filled with such joy.  One of our students, who also happens to be one of our Nica sons, has just signed a contract to teach English in a private school.  His story is truly a "rags to riches" story.

James was 16 years old when we met him and at that time his name was Israel.  You can read the original story on the December 2010 blog.

There was an agreement made with Remar, for participation of some of their young men to attend our vocational carpentry school; Israel was one of them.  It was clear early on that he had leadership qualities. 

In June, 2012 Israel came to us to inquire about the criteria for a person to live in our home.  He said he did not see much future for himself and that he would probably always live at the Remar center.

For 2 years, our message to all the boys was for them to find their passion and pursue it.  We were here to help them and provide whatever opportunity was needed to accomplish their goals.  It was hugely gratifying that someone was actually coming to us to begin the pursuit.

After Israel moved in with us, the first item of business, was to get him enrolled in school.  He had learned the basic reading skills from his grandmother in Honduras, but had no formal education.  As I think back, I feel as though it was a miracle for him to jump over all the primary grades and to be accepted as a student in a combined 5th and 6th year.  This story also can be read in it's entirety in the February 2013 blog.

While all the other boys were out playing or sitting around watching TV, Israel was taking our Spanish/English dictionaries and trying to read from them.  He devoured
 book after book and when  words were too difficult to pronounce on his own, he would write them down on a sheet of paper and come to us for help.  To say that he was passionate was an understatement, obsessed might more accurately describe him.  He loved languages and soon sought to learn Portuguese and dabbled in Mandarin.

The time came for Israel to have an official identity.  Years ago, it was very common for people born in rural areas not to have their births recorded.   We all know that the modern world demands that we have an identification  number and it was time for Israel to be recognized.  We spent months of constant trips back and forth to various government offices delivering any and every piece of information that they demanded.  Since there were no relatives to attest to his birth, so much of what we provided were sworn affidavits by us.

Along with an official identity, Israel wanted a different name and since the government was going to construct an official birth record, they agreed to allow him to choose his name.  He wanted a new name to identify his new and changed life.  Finally in late 2014, he officially became James Israel Ramirez Hernandez.

Now James will soon be 24 years old.  He teaches the Word of God in his church,
another of his passions.  He has worked as a receptionist / manager at a local small hotel for 3 years while going to school on Saturdays to complete his education.   He was growing tired of the hours required at his job and began to pursue other opportunities.

In Nicaragua, the requirement for a school teacher is to have completed the 6th grade.  James more than qualifies because he will begin the 10th grade next month.   He is committed to finishing school and receiving his diploma.  He has learned that advancement in the work place is given to those with higher education.

James is fluent in English and loves to work with young people. Working in a private school would give him more freedom.  There is a lot of political propaganda in the public system.   He wants to encourage as many as possible to not give up on their education and to pursue their dreams.   He will be paying it forward.  He could not do this if it had not been for you, our precious donors who have made it possible for us to be here to give opportunities to boys like James to have a chance at life.