We are so pleased to report that after a year and 8 months, we’ve finally received the 501(c)3 acceptance letter from the IRS for Instituto El Rey Foundation. Though we are exceedingly grateful for the covering of the ACTS Foundation over IER’s last 14 years, we are excited about the opportunities for grants and other possibilities that independence will offer. We thank you so much for joining us in praying through this process and recognize God’s Sovereignty.
On the homefront, we have just said our farewells to our final group of the year. We’ve had a lot of projects, charisma, blessings, and fellowship over the last 10 weeks, and we are so thankful for the relational support that God blesses us with through the visits. We’ve had some terrific adventures and have been blessed while blessing others throughout the mountain communities. All of us have enjoyed gaining new knowledge and skills–both academic, spiritual, and handicrafts. The school facilities clearly reflect the renovation and beautification projects that groups have so generously donated time, energy, & finances to complete.
After finishing the bi-annual Recycle Fair on Friday, we’re busy preparing now for Independence Day, Children’s Day, and Teacher’s Day for the month of September. Please continue to pray for us as we strive to consistently point the students to Jesus while also organizing all of these extracurricular events that make really special memories for all of us! Thank you for being such fantastic blessings to us; we appreciate all that you do for us.
Rejoice with us that we were given sufficient donations to buy a 2010 high top Toyota Hiace van! Thank you so much to all of you who made that possible! It has permitted us to travel with our groups (some up to 13 members) into the communities for home visits of the students who they sponsor and for community outreach programs. And we have more groups to come and more field trips to take! We’re so excited for this blessing!
Since the government has a new law that each vehicle purchased requires a government inspection, we went down to the little government office in the back of our Ceiba Cultural Center. As former Dole fruit warehouse that housed the bananas and pineapples before exporting, this building sits less than 100 feet back off the beach. So I took the opportunity to perch on a rock/boulder out on the beach to meditate and reflect while we were waiting for the inspector to stroll out with his clipboard. (You know by now how nature inspires me to worship God and opens my spiritual ears to listen as He speaks to me.) As I rested on the rock that day, I noticed how much position matters. The rocks that were a foot farther out into the surf were overwhelmingly battered without relief; as a wave rolled into shore, it totally submerged that rock…and before that had passed over, a wave rolling back out to sea covered it again so that it was constantly smothered without reprieve. Don’t we have seasons like that…where we get too far away from our Father and are constantly submerged and just can’t seem to catch our breath or catch a break? I’m reminded of the verse in James 4 that says, “Come near to God and He will come near to you.” There were rocks closer into shore that rested on higher ground…so waves rolled over them, but they were only temporarily covered, and then they were quickly free again to soak in the sun/Son. We might even imagine that the waves refresh after exposure to the sun. Let us be inspired to check our positions…I’m studying Gideon right now and have spent the week in Judges 7 where God whittled down Gideon’s army by selecting the warriors who scooped water up into their hands to lap while dismissing those who knelt down to slurp. Position matters!God has truly blessed us with 3 groups this month who have encouraged and inspired us just by dedicating time to come down and serve alongside us here at IER. It means so much, it’s so refreshing to have “family” and friends come to invest in God’s amazing work here…to serve together. And they’ve accomplished some tremendous things that we absolutely couldn’t do on our own–like training teachers in best practices using inquiry-based, hands-on learning (AMSTI), building new tables and benches for the lunch area, buying supplies for families and delivering them out into the communities, painting a mural and individual art projects, teaching new material like 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and how to make colored band bracelets, and so much more. (See Ricky’s mural before…everyone in the entire school put fingerprints to make the scales of the fish!!) We’ve seen God accomplish so much more through so many as opposed to just the 2 of us or just the 13 of us school staff. God is so good all the time, and the plans He has are to bring glory to His Name, to bring more followers into His Kingdom, and to love on us as He showers us with long-suffering patience, with mercy (not giving us what we deserve), and grace (giving us what we don’t deserve). May it be unto us!! And to all of you who stand shoulder-to-shoulder with us in prayer and finances, we thank you for all the sacrifices that you make to bring the kingdom down from heaven to earth here with us in this place!
As we end our first quarter, we praise God for His faithfulness and answers to our prayers and yours. I just read a wonderful book The Circle Maker on prayer. It has inspired me to communicate bolder prayers of bigger faith, to “draw circles” around family, friends, faculty, and students to pray tenaciously for their salvation, and to pray for the future of our children, grandchildren, and students recognizing that our prayers can outlive us. May we all recognize the power of effective prayers of people seeking to live right!
In the last few weeks, we’ve celebrated our 13th anniversary as a school, Father’s Day with our parents, and a host of visitors from MN, WA, FL, and AL. Washington’s Generational Leadership team of 35 shared the miracles that God has done in their lives, and they accomplished many work projects. Our students and teachers love the new renovations, but most of all enjoyed hearing how God saves in various ways, practicing English, and making science experiments and art projects. We are so blessed to have the opportunity to meet so many amazing brothers and sisters in Christ and to have our faith boosted by hearing of God’s plans for our good and hope.
We’re so excited about our fantastic new 7th graders, who are adjusting well to IER and settling into a routine. We have all but 13 of our new 7th graders sponsored, so pray with us for 13 more sponsors. We thank you for your finances and prayers that make it possible for all of us to be here and part of sharing how God is still doing miracles, giving beauty for ashes, joy for mourning, and praise for hopelessness. God is our Fortress and Strength, and we draw circles around you and pray for you!
We have officially arrived at the end of a challenging, exciting, demanding, rewarding first school year as full-time administrators! With more grace than we’ve ever required before, we credit God with carrying us through while teaching us the value of depending on Him to be strong when we are weak, of walking by the Spirit, and of seeking peace-loving wisdom to live in unity with all. We are so blessed to have such an amazingly capable Christian principal who leads our wonderful teachers and students with grace and truth. We also recognize the blessing of having you upholding us, supporting us financially, prayerfully, and emotionally. We could not be here without you. Thank you for being our pillars of strength as God has been our Firm Foundation!! We had many moments to celebrate like the 10 students who earned Academic Excellence by earning 91% and above in every class, an increase in students with perfect attendance and also with honor roll, our resident chess champion, our 11th & 12th graders teaching community adults to read and write as part of a national literacy program, and the great blessings that the groups provided throughout the year.
We thank you for your prayers and ask you to continue praying for our principal Ester as she lost her mom a couple of weeks ago after a long, excruciating battle for her life, as well as for our 2013 salutatorian Aneth as she lost her dad quite suddenly on graduation day. We postponed graduation out of respect for her and her family; she and her family bravely managed to attend the once-in-a-lifetime event made more solemn by the two recent losses. We were excited to have 8 sponsors in attendance, and thank you, John, for our fantastic caps, gowns, and tassels (along with all the other senior gifts) for the special day!!
As we step back to refresh during the school holidays, we have much administrative business to accomplish this week before we return to the states for December to raise our funds and seek sponsors for next year’s entering 7th graders. We praise God that for the first time since we’ve been here, 100% of our current students are sponsored…so we only need 40 new sponsors for the incoming new students. Continue to pray for us as we continue to pray for you. And we wish for all of you a very HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!