Are you doing That, Dad? part 1

 

     

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Rachel learning to lead guitar for our prayers

Part of our family part of our routine in in missions and stateside is the Liturgy of the Hours which includes singing together some praise and worship. Most of the time Missions allows for a much more prayerful life. Since we in arrived Guadelupe Gardens we have had the pleasure of the Rush family joining most mornings and evenings. What a blessing it is to sing and pray together and share as the Lord inspires us. Paul shared one morning about how we have the life of God within us. Such short sentence to convey such a magnificent reality, THE LIVING God, dwelling in us and giving us grace to live this life loving Him and our neighbor.

     When we discerned Nicaragua we did not know where we would live.  Finding a place to live in a foreign country and in another language presents serious obstacles so the offer Paul and Bing to allow us to land at Guadeloupe Gardens Just making a “life that works” in a foreign country takes a while and there is has been a lot of work to get our living quarters in order including helping get a consistent water supply. (Lora always says she would rather have water than electricity.) Then after getting that situation stable we started working on other things. One afternoon I am working on some electrical so our refrigerator that is getting repaired can have a plug not an extension cord and Meg comes up the stairs and says “ Hi Dad, can help you?”

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Meg tries to help with any work the other kids are doing

“ Sure Meg” I reply while thinking I’m not sure what you can do as a 2yo but I love that you want to and I love you being with me. Next the appropriate questions for a 2 y.o. follow:

“Are you doing that Dad?” she says. Not sure exactly what thoughts are going through her mind, but realizing how serious she is about her question, as if she things she really understands what I am doing I reply with a loving smile, “Yes, Margaret, I am doing that” Next as I am working with the wires and as the questions continue the wires bump her head a couple of times, to which she comments “Dad, your hittin me or hurtin me” I’m not sure which. So I apologize and keep working. Then she says “ Dad, can I not help you?”

“Sure Meg” but less than 2 minutes later she is back.

The next morning while reflecting on our call to realize the life of God in us and to live in His presence in our community prayers I shared about Margaret “helping” me and I realized that we Christians, called to enter the Kingdom of God as little children, listening to Him, watching Him, being in His presence and really we don’t understand what He is doing in the whole scheme of things but that He desires us to be with Him, loving and being loved.

Lord how I want to be content in Your presence asking “Abba, Daddy, are you doing that?” not really knowing what He is doing but knowing He does……

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Travel to Nicaragua

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Going up the mountain from Managua to San Marcos

IMG_20161021_072503.jpgMost of you know we left Kansas City for our new mission with A Simple House on Wednesday, October 19th.  We arrived in Costa Rica and spent 3 days  with the Bailey Family. We really enjoyed being with them and seeing a little bit of their mission, including going to a couple of chapels with one of their priests and participating in 2 masses and a prayer service.

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Leaving from there, we traveled on the TicaBus for 9 hours to Managua, Nicaragua, arriving in our mission territory on World Mission Sunday.  Our trip takes us through Costa Rica because it saves us about $2600 in travel costs as opposed to flying directly into Nicaragua. Our first item on the agenda in Managua was getting settled into our Home Stays and language school.  They didn’t have a host family big enough to fit all eight of our kids and us so the oldest four stayed down the street from Lora, the littles and I.  It was a great two week experience with the Managua Nicaragua Language school. Our time in Managua included a pre-election march/rally going past our house and special times with our host families.IMAG0670.jpg

 

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Isaac studying with our host.

  At the end of our time in Managua, we arranged for a private Microbus to take us to Guadalupe Gardens where Paul and Bing Rush have their mission. Paul Rush, founder of Guadalupe Garden, decided to welcome our family into his mission (which is located about 2km away from San Marcos, Nicaragua on a rough dirt or mud road) while we investigate and enculturate and try to figure out the business(es) we will try to start here.  Guadalupe Gardens is dedicated to the New Evangelization and supporting other missionaries in their call, so it has been a wonderful place for us to land. The 3 acres includes many old building that were the heart of a coffee plantation before the Revolution. It includes 2 cisterns that used to hold water for the dry season and a well that is about 1000 feet deep but needs to be repaired. Paul and Bing also serve the community around them in various ways. There have been many struggles, difficulties and setbacks in the last few years, but Bing and their first baby on the way, are a couple of really bright spots. We feel our coming to the mission at this time to be very providential for us and Rush’s.

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The adventure of of serving God

Standing on the shore of decision,
looking into the face of adventure,
desire to abandon all I know
what pushes me is rooted somewhere
between misunderstanding and knowing
knowing that what I want to understand is not within my reach
so I ponder my escape.
not knowing what lies ahead
adventure in theory is full of excitement and bleeds with passion for life
adventure in reality is full of breathless moments and silent nights and
wounds that leave scars of memories on a heart
 Can I go the distance?
Can I give all my mind to get what the messenger is saying?
Can I surrender the knowing?
Will i survive the humility of ignorance to obtain the treasure earthly gold cannot buy?
Will i ask the question of honesty even if the answer convicts my soul and
sends me to the land of repentance?
words from a song, Cageless Birds by Melissa Helser

Announcing A Simple House Nicaragua

Below is basically the newsletter that went out in the mail a couple of weeks ago with A Simple House (ASH)

We are starting a new Simple House in Nicaragua!(in fact leaving in a few days, Oct. 19) We have always dreamed of being missionaries,(atleast since we encountered the Living God in our teenage years),but we put that desire aside as our family grew. Seven years ago, we felt God stirring our hearts to make a radical change to heimag0504-2lp our family grow in faith. This led us to reconsider our desire to be missionaries and take the plunge. Since then, we have lived in the Philippines, Mexico, and on the island of St. Lucia. Missions is the wonderful grace-filled life that our family needs, yet we have been surprised by some of the pitfalls and lessons of missionary work. 

We met Ray, a construction worker, while living in the Philippines. He was working on a construction site next to our house. During the day, he did construction work, and at night he was the security guard on the worksite. This left little time for his wife and four children. I spent many early mornings sitting with Ray drinking coffee, eating delicious Filipino bread, and learning the local language. When I noticed Ray’s broken hammer, I let him borrow mine. When he gave it back, he had polished it. As our friendship developed, I found out that Ray’s house was a converted chicken coop. When a typhoon hit the island, his house was badly damaged. Although he did not complain or ask for help, we decided to help him with some materials and labor. He worked long after we would go home each day. He was given the scrap ends of a metal roof which he spliced together to make walls. When it was completed, he invited us overfor a special meal and started a monthly Bible study in his house. On the morning we left the Philippines, Ray was at our house with fresh bread to say goodbye. We have reflected about Ray and the many others that lack opportunities to use their natural gifts for their family and others.

While living and working in Mexico, we met Gonzalo who replaced roofs for those in need. He was eager to teach us the way of doing things in Mexico. Our families shared meals and became great friends as we conversed about faith and family matters. We learned about the culture through our friendship. He was a kind-hearted, hard-working man who thought of ways to help others while trying to provide for his own family. It was difficult to know who truly is in need of help, and we looked to him for advice. He told us of a mother whose husband had left her. She worked to support her family and had a half-built house. She couldn’t complete the house and was forced to sell materials to feed her children. With Gonzalo’s lead, we were able to finish the house. She was even able to find a job towards the end of the project. While working with Gonzalo, we learned the importance of listening and working with the locals to find those who were not begging but had serious needs.

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A map of Central America getting painted on our wall

In our time working with the poor, we have found jealousy and rivalry when material goods were given out. Living in the Philippines, we had the opportunity to work in a squatter village of about 100 families. We were looking for ways to create community among the families and encourage working together. Money was donated from the states to give a few families a piglet. Instead of choosing only two families, we obtained permission to build a piggery, which would allow more families to receive a piglet. We bought one sow and randomly selected seven families who would work one day a week caring for the sow. When the sow delivered a litter, each family had earned the right to one piglet that could be raised for meat or breeding. Extra piglets would be sold to buy feed and begin the process again. With the community’s help, we built the piggery, but we had to leave the Philippines before everything was organized and completed. A local family did their best to manage it. The first litter died, and the project fell apart after the second litter. Even though the piggery project was a good idea, we learned the importance of creating a sustainable plan and living long-term with the people being served.

When Clark approached us with an idea for a different type of mission, we were intrigued. We spent time thinking, praying, and talking with the children. We felt that this was an answer to how we would like to do missions differently. As a family, we are excited to begin this new mission that focuses on solidarity, friendship evangelism, sustainability, and working through the locals. We deeply desire to live in solidarity and work as equals with those we serve. We are excited to announce the name of the new Simple House in San Marcos, Nicaragua as Una Casa Simple de San Pablo y San Juan Diego.

Peace and all things Good,

The Eckstine Family

What Mark-Jerzy is teaching me

     Never in a million years did I imagine we would have a baby with problems, not that it mattered. I had actually kind of hoped we would be blessed to have a baby with Downs Syndrome….Syndrome what at word.

Never did I imagine there even were other Syndromes, I always just heard the word “Downs” identified what it was and never really heard the second part. It was just a word you take for granted.

     Never had I ever imagined having a baby with a Syndrome, especially since we have 11 healthy children or that there is a whole world of people whose children have any one of the number of Syndromes. I have always thought how beautiful the children were and how much love the parents of these super special kids had.

Never in a million years did I even think about hearing, “we think your baby has a Syndrome”

Never did I think I would hear the words “a Syndrome incompatible with life”

Never did I know how much pain others have gone through……and are still going through

I never knew how small my love and compassion were and that is one thing Mark-Jerzy has taught me. I know that I would never want to live in the world I lived in before that was so blind to it and now I constantly think that there must be so much more pain out there in the world and that it is more real than I understand and I want to have compassion on people and love as God loves, because I don’t.

Mark-Jerzy is teaching me:

That God’s love is great, that His love is so “other”, so infinite, so much more than our human love.

 

That God’s love is incomprehensible and marvelous I knew and believed, but now I know that I do not truly know or truly believe as I should, but I want to. I want to love like He does.

 

Mark-Jerzy’s little coffin that Odilio and the kids helped with

That I can’t wait to spend eternity, only in part because Mark-Jerzy is there, but because the reality of God’s love and His love being so much more than is possible for a human mind to imagine, then going from surprise to surprise and marvel to marvel, wonder to wonder, and delight in His loving presence and His goodness is ever new.

      Because of Mark-Jerzy I have tasted a tiny bit more of our Loving Father’s Goodness and Love and I want more and I want to show it more. I want to walk in God’s Grace that allows me to lay aside my failure and sins and truly love.

  “Above all preserve an intense love for each other, since love covers over many a sin”

                                                                I Peter 4:8

Thank you Mark-Jerzy for all you are teaching me!

Thank You Lord for giving Mark-Jerzy to us for those 40 hours and all the time in the womb!

Thank you loving Father for being “Faithful to the end”