Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Out There with the Beams -- April 2013

Hi! This is Vanessa writing this month. I love this opportunity to connect with all of you and remind you how important you are in the lives of everyone in our ministries and to us personally. Whether you support us financially, pray for us, send out our mail, send us teams, or raise funds on our behalf, we are so glad and grateful God has put you where you are and that you are being obedient to our Father. I know being obedient is not the easiest thing, I know it can be very hard and at times feel wrong, so THANK YOU!

Some things are new:
I know this is last minute, but if you haven't already heard, today, Tuesday April 16th, our friends at at Crossroads Christian Church (our beloved home church) are sponsoring a “Bolivia Benefit Night.” They are having a dinner and have invited as a very special guest Mr. Joe Castillo whom many of you know from the show “America’s Got Talent.” We would like to extend the invitation to you, so if you are in the area, please go and have fun and support our ministries! Tickets can be purchased at the church itself or contact Jason Newland via Facebook.

At the transition house we have 3 new girls, one of them has a beautiful baby called Matias. These three girls have come to us from three very different backgrounds, yet all very painful and sad. Out of respect and confidentiality, I cannot share more with you about these girls, but I do ask you to pray for each one of them. Pray for their salvation, that they will see Jesus in a powerful way that no one and nothing can take away from them. Please also pray for their future, for their jobs (for bosses with integrity), for their babies’ health and for their hearts to forgive and move on.

We also have one other girl who is with us for the second time. I have seen the change in this girl since the time a dear friend of mine prayed with her and she saw Jesus coming to be with her, and then despite all the sad memories and pain, she said: “it is going to be okay, He is here!” Of course I know becoming new in Christ takes some time. During her first stay with us she made some poor choices and had to leave. This girl would not make eye contact, she didn’t want to be hugged or even kissed on the cheek as we do here for a greeting, she challenged us in everything we said and did. She was gone for about eight months--she kept in touch for a while but then kind of disappeared without telling us her new address. Finally, one day she called our director saying she needed help to find a new home for her baby. We were surprised, knowing how much they loved each other and how attached she had been to her baby for 2 ½ years now. When she came to us, we saw the misery and poverty in her clothes and in her eyes. She and the baby were wearing rags again. As she told her story we found out that the baby had become extremely sick and had to be in the hospital for several days. Because she could not show up for her shift, the mom had been fired from her job. They lost or sold “everything” they owned and were practically living on the street. She finally came back to “Ruth and Noemi” desperate for another chance. Of course we took them back in with open arms and shared a warm meal and gave them a bed.

She stayed, and after a while she confessed to us all the terrible things she had done to feed herself and the baby. When she told us, Dorcas and I hugged her and cried with her. I was mad that she had been too proud to call us when she first needed help, but in her mind those appalling things she did were the only choices at the time. We spoke truth about how there is always hope in Jesus, that the devil is a liar who makes us feel desperate and choice-less at times, but we need so seek until God opens a door. I am so very glad and grateful that she did. She called!!

God is so big. This second time the same dear pastor who prayed with her the year before was in town again!!! She had even more amazing personal time with Jesus again! These days she has a job in a nursery where she is allowed to bring her little girl. She is preparing to take an exam to become a certified nurse’s aid, also thanks to someone who was here on a team and is a nurse and who encouraged this girl. And she encourages the other girls by example on how to work, talk and even dress.

Sometimes we look at someone’s life and see no hope, but I try to remind myself to “look with the eyes of God.” He changes hearts and He changes circumstances. I have seen how He has done this for this wonderful, beautiful girl and her baby. He has used you, my pastor friend, my nurse friend, everyone who has painted and worked and visited at the Transition House. Thank you for being a part of this ministry. I am so blessed to be here and have the opportunity to see the results from the seed you have sown.

Urgent Prayer Request: Last night, Maria, one of our girls at “Ruth and Noemi” had an appendicitis attack. She was extremely sick with pain, fever, and vomiting, so we took her to a public hospital emergency room at 11:00 PM. They did laboratory analysis and said she needed surgery immediately but that they could not help us. We drove around the city to five other hospitals before we found a doctor who could perform the surgery. Thankfully, the doctor caught it in time. Pray for a quick recovery for Maria. This “Bolivia Benefit” night in Lexington could not be happening at a better time. Your generous support will help us cover the costs of Maria's medical bills.


Monday, March 11, 2013

Out There with the Beams -- February 2013

Dear Friends and Family,

Here are some interesting facts about Bolivia, according to a recent poll: Bolivia is 81.6% Catholic; 10.3% Pentecostal or charismatic; 2.6% non-charismatic Protestant; 1.7% Mormon or Jehovah's Witness; 0.4% Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, or Buddhist; 0.1% native religions; and 3.3% have no faith. So even though Catholics, Pentecostals, and mainline Protestants may not agree on the details, the overwhelming majority of Bolivian's believe in the same God. That is a great place to start from in a conversation about God's love and forgiveness. There has been a good bit of discussion in the public media in Bolivia about Mother Earth and the resurgence of traditional religions that worship nature. If this poll is accurate, it doesn't look like too many people are buying into that theology. Vanessa and I try to share God's love with everyone regardless of their religious background. We know that God calls each person to Him and that He has the power to heal all pain and provide for the needs of everyone in Bolivia. Pray with us that we can be a conduit to that end.

Ministry Updates—Agua Yaku

We recent took a road trip of sorts, traveling up to the highlands of Cochabamba to drill a water well in a rocky valley and to do a little more research for our new water filter project. We were contacted by a fellow missionary, Craig Oliver of SIM, who is helping provide clean water to Quechua communities in the Vacas municipality of Cochabamba. He would like to drill wells manually in this area, but wanted us to come in first with our equipment to see if it was possible before he invested to much of his time and resources in the project. I was pessimistic after seeing a narrow valley surrounded by rocky ridges at over 12,000 feet in elevation. A number of families had already successfully made hand-dug wells up to about 10 meters deep and Craig was hopeful we could penetrate the ground with our manual drilling system. The first attempt was not successful. In four or five different locations we hit rocks within the first couple of feet that we could not drill through. On the second day we drilled into an existing 6 meter hand dug well and were able to drill to about 14 meters without hitting any more rock. This greater depth will allow the family to pump water throughout the dry season, providing clean water for both consumption and for the irrigation of a second potato crop each year. So it looks like if Craig and the families of Vacas can get passed the top layer of rocks they will be able to successfully drill wells down into the deeper water aquifers and will have access to good clean water year round.

A second reason for our trip to Cochabamba was to speak with the staff of Food for the Hungry (a Christian relief and development organization), who had completed a pilot project with Sawyer filters in Cochabamba to study the health benefits of using water filters. The study was completed in a peri-urban squatter settlement where the residents do not have access to the city water supply. They have to purchase water from private companies who truck it in on a daily basis and sell it residents for $5.00 to $7.00 a week (10% to 20% of an average family income). There is no guarantee to the safety or cleanliness of the water they purchase. The drivers say they get the water from deep wells or other clean sources, but the residents say the water often smells of fish and they know it is unsafe to drink. I personally saw these tanker trucks pumping water directly from a filthy river flowing through the middle of downtown Cochabamba. Two years ago Food for the Hungry distributed 1100 filters to project participants and trained them on how to use and maintain the filters. They found that after four months of use, the occurrence of diarrhea in children under five years old had decreased by more than fifty percent.

While we are certain of the link between clean water and better health, we weren't so certain that people would change their old habits and continue to use the filters after the study ended. Jason and I went to the project community and interviewed Karina, a local FFH staff member, and also a number of families who began using the filters two years ago. Even though Sawyer guarantees the filters for 1,000,000 gallons, we were doubtful that families would actually perform the regular back-washing necessary to insure long-term functionality. We were pleased to find that the majority of families who received filters through the study were still using them consistently and reported marked improvement in their families health. Karina said many new families had moved into the settlement since the study and that there was a tremendous need for additional filters in the area.

We in Agua Yaku are excited about this new phase of our water project and cannot wait to get the first shipment of filters in from the U.S. The Bolivian paperwork is almost completed and we will soon be an official importer and distributor of Sawyer filters in Bolivia. A donation of $80 will help us provide a family in Bolivia with clean water for up to ten years.

Okay, since I'm (Danny) writing this month, my focus has been on water—but Vanessa is also going strong with her ministry in the Ruth and Noemi Transition House for Girls. So please don't forget to prayer for and support her ministry as well. Next week we will be hosting a team the Ames E Free church in Iowa who will be split between drilling water wells in Isosog, and helping Vanessa out in at Ruth and Noemi and the Talita Cumi children's home. If you have come down to Bolivia on past teams or just feel God calling you to support these ministries please click on the donate link and become a financial partner with us in these ministries. If you have read this far into our newsletter, I know you believe in what we are doing. In order to continue serving in Bolivia, Vanessa and I need additional partners for our personal support as well as for the projects. Please consider making a monthly pledge of $25, $50, $100 or more a month. We know that God will richly bless your faithfulness.

Danny and Vanessa

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Out There with the Beams -- January 2013

News from Ruth and Noemi
As for the ministry, it is going really well. I am learning about God's provision. We feel held by Him. In the beginning of this ministry we had a few big donations which made it really easy to do help young ladies, we were even able to provide education then. But now we are still operating, we have reduced all our costs and expenses and even though money comes in slowly and little by little, I can almost see God holding Ruth and Noemi in his hands and saying: “I've got you, you are OK, just trust me” So here we are, trusting the Lord for the next month and the next girl that will come in our doors. Right now we have two girls, Jenny who is coming from Talita Cumi and Carolaen with her baby Sarai. Vicky another one of our girls just left. She just got married and the wedding was beautiful, very simple and very sweet. She has married into a very loving Christian family that loves her and her baby already. Reminds me of a young me! Isn't our God great? He changes lives in one day!

The Ruth and Noemi Transition House has three local regular donors, four in the US, and one in Canada. That makes $330 coming in every month. We need at least $1500 a month to keep the doors open. Something you can do to help is tell other Christians around you, maybe the Lord is also calling them to support a girl and her baby and be part of a God's force that can change two lives.
To our regular donors and prayer partners: THANK YOU, because of your obedience the ministry stays with open doors waiting for our next girl. We love you and we pray for you every Tuesday morning. We hope you can come and visit us soon! We would love to have you and we do promise adventure!

News from Agua Yaku
Agua Yaku recently made a short trip to the Guarani village of Pirirenda, in the dry desert mountains about four hours south of Santa Cruz, to demonstrate how using a Sawyer filter can clean a dirty water source, making it fit for consumption. It was exciting to have Erwin, a Baptist pastor from the nearby town of Gutierrez, join us to give us an introduction into the community and to translate our Spanish presentation into Guarani. Also joining Danny and Jason were North American missionaries David Rossi and Steven Mullins who have been working in this area for several years. Pirirenda is an ideal place to begin our new filter project because the ground water is too deep to effectively drill water wells. We visited one private ranch in the area that had a water well drilled within the last year. They had to drill over 300 feet deep, through a good bit of solid rock before they reached water, and it cost over $12,000. Most Guarani families live on less than $500 a year. Even if they saved for an entire lifetime they could not pay for such an expensive well. There are no rivers in the area, so they survive by collecting rain water from their roofs and carrying buckets of water from stagnant ponds back to their homes. Pastor Erwin is planning a return trip shortly to present a Sawyer filter to the local school teachers and to encourage community residents to begin using the filters.

It costs Agua Yaku about US$ 80.00 to provide a family with a Sawyer filter bucket system, that will ensure clean water for many years, and the training necessary to improve their family’s health. Sawyer filters are guaranteed to safely filter 1,000,000 gallons of water, but what is so innovative and appropriate for the developing world is that Sawyer filters can easily be back-washed in under a minute and will never require replacement filter cartridges. We are asking families in this community to pay a nominal fee (about US$ 15.00) to help cover the cost of the filters. We do not do this to be mean, or even because we are under-funded, but rather so they will become “partners” with us in improving their family's and community's health rather than just “receivers” of charitable donations. We do not want to perpetuate the culture of dependency that has been created from decades of hand-outs and ill-conceived mission project or development projects. Hopefully this required contribution will help them understand the value of the filter and the importance of clean drinking water. We also don’t want this counterpart payment to be so high that it is a hindrance to receiving clean water for the poorest members of the community. There are 42 more rural Guarani communities just in the province of Gutierrez alone. It is our goal to insure that each and every family has access to clean drinking water. It is our prayer that each person in every community will come to know Christ’s love along with drinking boundless glasses of fresh clean water. Meeting “spiritual” and “physical” needs of the less fortunate is what Agua Yaku, and every Christian, is called to do.  Join us in this ministry. A gift of US$ 80.00 will give a family clean water, a gift of US$ 1,000.00 allow us to give a family their own water well. How many families do you want to help?

Family News
We hope you have had a very restful and fun Christmas and New Years' break. For us it was very special since our son Nathaniel came for a long visit, we had him here for almost a month. The boys (Danny, Isaiah and Nathaniel) went backpacking and the girls (Vanessa and Luciana) went to visit family in Peru right after Christmas. Luciana and I (Vanessa) had a lot of fun in Peru, the land of delicious and cheap fish! And of course it was wonderful to see my grandparents and brother and cousins again and to meet my precious little niece for the first time. Sometimes, I wish the Lord would call us to Lima- Peru so I could be close to my family but for now He has us here in Bolivia. I am also very thankful to the Lord for all the wonderful dinner/cooking times, outings and conversations I got to have with my son Nathaniel. It is so different being the parents of a grown person rather than just partents of kids! But nevertheless it is still a lot of fun. Nathaniel is a very sweet and gentle spirited man, besides being very smart and humble. We are proud of him.

As you may know we are in our super hot summer months right now, so while you all enjoy cold weather and perhaps snow, we here have gone hiking in a river! It was very challenging for Lucy and I since we are the only two in this family with short legs! It makes it hard to jump into unknown deep waters. The other two kids are also doing great. Luciana is in her senior year. Please pray as she makes decisions about college and life in general. And pray for protection during her senior year. Isaiah is growing up to be just like his dad and his older brother, wild and adventurous. He keeps on getting stuck high up in trees! He is a lot of fun, and since he is 10 he still kisses and hugs us a lot! I see God's image and provision in our kids! Please pray for all three of them, that they may continue in the Lord's path, that they may see Him and hear Him in their lives.

Danny and Vanessa