It’s a New Year!

4 Jan

Remember do-overs? Reboots? How about reformats? That’s my life this year.

Living with 40 or 50 kids will change your perspective about what is really important and especially what it means to truly love someone else. I’ll give you an example.

The last week of December I served as a house parent here at Village of Hope while Edgardo was on vacation. I lived in a casita (small house) with six boys: Carlos, Engleis, Mario, Noe, Adan, and Junior. On New Year’s Eve, we had pork sandwiches as part of our celebration. Later, when I ordered the younger boys to bed, Junior didn’t go. He slowly sat down on the kitchen floor, leaned forward, and puked. The other boys thought it was hilarious. I thought, “Oh joy.” Another temporary house parent, Keyla, came to my rescue. Keyla is bilingual. She brought some antacids and asked Junior some questions. She smiled at his answer. Then she laughed. When she had me feel his stomach, it felt as though he had swallowed an entire watermelon. “Ready to pop” was the phrase that came to mind.

Remember those pork sandwiches? Junior ate all three on his plate. Then he ate one of Mario’s. Then I gave him half of my last one. He also got another half or full sandwich from someone else.  Now Junior isn’t the youngest of the boys in my house, but he is the smallest. He is tiny. We got the antacids into him and got him to bed. I thanked Keyla and she went back to her house. Then I went into the bedroom to pray for Junior. Here’s where I got my lesson.

I put my hand on Junior’s tummy and started to pray. Then it hit me that no one in the room would understand what I said except God. I had an audience, but my faithful sounding words would not encourage Junior nor would they sound spiritual to the other boys. What a shock to realize how much I depended upon impressing other people with my prayers. At that moment, I entered  into a true test of my faith. Did I truly believe God was there, or was I just spewing empty words to an empty room?

Yes, I pray for others all the time when I am alone with God, but this was different. Junior needed help right then. He wasn’t in great pain, but he was laying there looking up at me. He knew I was going to pray for him and I think he was depending on me to come through. What a helpless feeling. It may not sound like that impactful of a moment, but it shook my world. Why? Because all that mattered was results. Not for me, but for Junior. Once again, I received the lesson that this life is not about me.

After a few moments of hesitation, I finally prayed out loud in English. And guess what? Junior went to sleep, slept all night, and woke up feeling great. He also had a much smaller stomach. Sounds great doesn’t it. Just what missionary stories are made of. But what if Junior had gotten sick again that night? What if we had to take him to the clinic or hospital in the morning? In my prayer, I covered all that.

I told the Lord that I believed in Him. I told Him that I had settled the matter in my heart. I not only believed that He is real, but that He is good! Whether Junior got better or worse didn’t matter as far as what I believed. However,  it mattered to Junior. I believe this prayer set God free to act in Junior’s best interest, not mine. With my statement of faith, I got out of the picture and God healed my little buddy.

But the question remains. How will I pray next time I pray in front of a group of people? Will I strive to sound spiritual or faithful. Or will I humbly approach the throne of mercy and grace to ask the Master to help others? Will they be offended if I ignore them to speak to my Savior and Master as though He and I were alone? Well, if not before, I will find out when I visit the USA in January and February.

“Don’t forget in the darkness what God told you in the light.” T.D. Hall 

Blessings,

Gideon

PS – ANNOUNCING THE FOOD 4 KIDS BACK TO AMERICA TOUR”

Eighteen days! 4 airports (2 times each!) Several Presentations!

Dates: January 29, 2014-7:00PM

Georgetown, TX at the home of Bruce and Joyce Hammack. Includes dinner of rice, beans, and tortillas. Ensalada & carne tambien!

February 2, 2014: 8:30 AM & 10:00AM

Breckenridge CO at the Agape Outpost. I will bring the message from the book of Luke at both services. (I may mention kids, mission opportunities, and show some photos too.) Can’t be there? No need to be square, watch the 10:00AM service live by streaming video.Still can’t make it? No problema. Watch it later on the Agape Website.

February 9, 2014: Agape Outpost, after the 10:00AM service. A short meeting to form a team for short-term and/or long missions.

Small group members of Agape, ask your leaders to book a night. Food 4 Kids will be in Summit County, CO for the entire week of February 2 thru 8. Your leaders can contact one of the pastors at Agape or email me directly at food4kids@agapeoutpost.org  Questions can be sent to the same email.

All sessions include photos and home movies of KIDS FROM HONDURAS!! (What could be better?!!)

 

 

NOVEMBER, 2013

19 Nov

NEWSFLASH from the Jesus News Network! November 1, 2013.

“FIRST CONTACT” An alien Gringo has landed in Tocoa, Honduras. Hugs delivered and received.

Hola y’all. I must warn you that this update is a long one. I know, I say that with every update I send, but hey, this is my first one since I landed in Honduras.

First, I’d like to take a moment to say, “WOW! I’m really here.” Yes, I know that I’ve been in Honduras over two weeks and I should be settled in, but I’m still in that “Pinch me, I must be dreaming” state. To me, it seemed like it took forever to get down here, but to Barry and his daughter Lauren, they can’t believe I got here this fast. To them it is proof of God’s involvement.

Now look, I may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I have learned that when others see God’s hand in something and I don’t, then I’m missing something. Therefore, I did some calendar work. Here’s what I found. I returned from my first trip to Honduras in late February, 2013. Then I spent a month planning. Then God changed those plans and revealed that He wanted me to stay in Honduras for at least a year. Let’s call that the beginning of April. Next, I proposed two budgets to the pastors at the Church at Agape Outpost and to you, the supporters of Food 4 Kids. The 1st was to cover my time down here. The 2nd was for the projects I believe God wants done.

SECOND NEWSFLASH! Did you know that no budget was presented for hug distribution? It costs nothing. Just saying.

Back to the calendar story. God completed raising the money for my trip in August. Then came two “long” months of preparation, purchasing items needed, and praying. My first full day here was November 1, 2013. From the time He told me to come for at least a year, God raised the full amount for that year’s stay (including travel) in only 5 months and got me down here in only 7 months! So, yes, I did get down here fast and it had to be God’s action because several of those months I spent in Texas working with the aquaponics system in Bruce and Joyce Hammack’s backyard. WOW!

THIRD NEWSFLASH!!!  Alien completes water tests from the orphanages’ wells and the fish farm. PRAISE THE LORD!! (I’m doing a lot of shouting aren’t I?) The pH is low and the water is soft. Both are great for plants. Remember, high pH and hard water were the problems we had with the system in Texas. But not in Honduras!

Now, where was I? Oh yeah, God got me down here in only 7 months, but in the meantime, He sent me back to school for a refresher course. No, not just in the Hammacks’ backyard, but He actually sent me back to Florida and Morning Star Fishermen for a week. Then I got to return to Colorado for a few months. Another important bit of information that is praiseworthy is He got me out of Colorado before winter set in! YEAH GOD!! (Sorry Rita, Candy, Mark, Carol, and any other warm-blooded friends still in the mountains.)

Now, here’s the important stuff. These are just the names that I can put a face to. I’m trying, but I can’t learn them any faster. Seriously, show me how to do a memory trick with names like Mayalin, Miyeli, Eyeni, Yami, Fany, or Eili.

THE KIDS: Manuel, Jonathan, Jasmin, Briana, Nohemy (pronounced no-amy), Amalia, Esther, Jona, Jose, Yami, Sebastian, Estefani, Eili, Saidi, Fany, Zahir, Junior, Carlos

My newest BFF is Manuel. He is about two years old and before Sunday, all I ever heard him say was “Hey.” Today Manuel said, “Hola!” On the trip from the airport to the orphanage, Barry Compton and his friend Jay said that I didn’t have to pick out a special kid, that he or she would pick me. The next day Manuel walked up and held his arms out for me to pick him up. I did and that was special, but then he laid his head on my shoulder and just melted against me. He didn’t move, talk, or do anything. In my imagination he said, “Hey Gringo. Love. I need it. Give it up.”

Next I met Nohemy (At first, I thought her name was spelled like it sounds = Noamy.) Nohemy is 13, almost 14, and her daughter’s name is Amalia. Amalia is around one year old. Yeah, that’s right. Do the math. Nohemy loves Amalia tremendously, but dang it, she is still just a kid herself. She should be skipping rope, but instead, she is trying to be a Mom. If I let it, her situation could break my heart, but instead, I have chosen to let Nohemy inspire me. Manuel may be my new BFF, but Nohemy is my new hero. By the way, I’ve been privileged to earn her trust and give her a bunch of hugs too.

Another new friend is Jonathon. He is one of Manuel’s older brothers. Jonathon joined me one day at the garden and became my first helper. He stayed beside me for hours and helped as I dug up sod and then helped me separate the dirt from the grass. As more kids came to join us, he instructed them on how to help. He even told them to keep the red worms in the garden and throw the white grubs away. He gets hugs from me too, but what’s better is that he gives them back.

The final new friend I will tell you about is Esther. I know less about her than any of the others, but I also know her the best. I met Esther last February on my first trip to Honduras. I sat outside one night at the girls’ home and played “quick hands” with a group of the girls. You know the game where you put your palms on the other person’s palms and they try to flip their hands over and touch you before you can remove your hands. Esther was there that night only 8 short months ago. She is a beautiful, young lady about 15. It is easy to tell that Esther has a problem with her temper and her mouth. She is brash, bold, and yet, surprisingly gentle. When she yells at one of the little kids, it will leave your eardrums ringing. Two minutes later, she will hurry over to pick up a little one who has fallen. She seemed embarrassed both times I saw her do that. She will hurl dirt clods at one of the older kids with the speed of Nolan Ryan, but then gets sad if I squish a grub I find in the garden. She reminds me of some of my heroes from the Bible. I think Jesus would have named her “Daughter of Thunder.” Soon, I will ask Lauren about Esther’s story, but for now, all I know is that she is here, and that means her past is probably not a good story. However, she gives great hugs.

I’m going to wait a few days before posting some pictures. Right now, I would ask you to just dwell on their names and their stories. Then try to imagine life as Manuel, Nohemy, Amalia, Jonathon, or Esther. No, I’m not talking about imagining life in a nation of poverty. I’m talking about life as an orphan. Some of you may have lived this life, but most haven’t. Many of us did grow up with only one parent. Some had a parade of stepparents. Others lived in houses with two parents but no love. Some of you may have been taken from your natural parents and grown up in foster care. In truth, without Jesus, we’re all orphans. As you pray, remember that the kids I have introduced to you are the fortunate ones. They are clean, well-fed, clothed, and loved. So as you pray for them, pray for those still out there that need help, and love. And don’t just pray for the orphans of Honduras.

One of the reasons I am so grateful to be part of the Agape Outpost is that this little mountain church helps orphans all around the world in places such as Kenya, India, Uruguay, and now Honduras. (and I’m probably leaving out some other nation where we help orphans.) We help the spiritual orphans of the world too by supporting churches and/or missionaries in South Asia, Uruguay, Mexico, China, India. (Again I am sure I’m forgetting someone.) Friends, I am honored, humbled, and I thank you for sending me to Honduras. And remember, each of the hugs I give away is from you and each one that I receive is for you.

Don’t forget in the darkness what God told you in the light,  Gideon

NEWSFLASH!! “An alien sits alone in a room and there is a knock on the door.”

As I finished this update, I heard a light tapping on my door. I opened it to find Jona, a tiny fellow about the same age and size as Manuel. While Manuel is quiet and serious, Jona is a talker and a grinner. I picked him up and he wrapped his arms around my neck and squeezed for all he had. No talking today, just a long hug. We hugged for a couple of minutes before I set him down. Then he grabbed my hand and started tugging on it and talking. I didn’t understand a single word, but I knew what he wanted. Jona loves to be pushed on the swing set. So I set the tiny fellow on the swing and started pushing. An older boy got in the swing beside us and said, “Hola, Gideo.” I have to admit, I don’t know the older boy’s name – yet. However, there is still tomorrow. Then Esther came running from the front porch of her casita. I stepped away from Jona for a moment as Esther and I bear-hugged. Then I went back to pushing Jona. Bold, brash, beautiful Esther pushed the other boy. See, I told you she was gentle too. We did this for about five minutes, and then the older boy jumped out of the swing. Esther took his place and I pushed her, a 15 year old, and Jona, a 2 year old, for another few minutes. As I pushed I thought how similar they were, both are starving for love from someone they can trust. Then Esther jumped out and ran to her casita. She waved and called back, “Hasta luego, Gideo.” I somehow convinced Jona it was time for him to play with the other kids and then returned to my room where I typed this  – and cried. In many of my recent emails I have stated that I am the most blessed man you know. I mean that, but let me clarify something. I am not saying that I am the most deserving man you know. Friends, that is why I am so blessed, I don’t deserve this. But in His mercy, Father God has chosen to give it to me. So yes, I am blessed, but it is because God is good, not me.

September 24, 2013: Two Updates in One!

24 Sep

Yes, I’ve waited so long between updates that now you get a twofer. Wow! Are you blessed or what?! Don’t worry, the first update is short. Kinda.

Update #1 – “I’m outta here!” No, really, I mean it this time. Really! I am headed to Austin, TX on October 28 for a few days and then (drumroll please) on October 31, 2013 (cymbal clash) I will fly from Austin, TX to San Pedro Sula, Honduras (trumpets sound, bugles blow, & angelic choirs sing). Yes, except for leaving every 90 days to get my passport stamped, I will be there for the next year. See!! I really am outta “here.” And just in time too. “Here” is the Colorado mountains, and it snowed “here” last Sunday night. Snow! In September! I’m shocked and outraged. Well, not really shocked, but I am outraged. Okay, I’m not outraged either, but do you know why not? Because I’m outta here! YES! Let my whining end. I’m outta here! Oh. Umm. No offense meant to those of you who still live in this winter wonderland called Summit County, Colorado. Please enjoy it, but as for me and my house, I’m outta here!

Before I go on to Update #2, I need to make my first apology to all the supporters of Food 4 Kids. I am sorry that it’s been so long between updates. I kept putting it off, hoping to announce a departure date. And now I have one, I see that I waited too long because Update #2 should have been out a long time ago. Sorry.

Update #2 – “Bricks and Sticks!” It has come to my attention that many people misunderstood me when I said that the Lord had provided all the funds I needed for my year-long stay in Honduras. Several thought we had all the funding we needed for everything, including the construction of the aquaponics farms. Unfortunately, the Lord has not provided those funds – yet! While God has provided for all expenses needed for traveling to and staying in Honduras for a year, we still need funds for the projects we want to do while there. This is my second apology, I should have corrected this misunderstanding earlier. We still need money for the “Bricks and Sticks” part of the mission to Honduras. Funds will be needed during the next year for the aquaponics farms and the solar energy system. Until Father God provides these funds, I am blessed to proclaim that our mission to Honduras will go on. As soon as I arrive, I will start planning and building the small gardens for the gardening school. More on that later.

By the way, from now on, I will write all the updates in first person plural. Why? Because I, Gideon Cooper, may be the one going to Honduras, but this is not just my mission. All of you have made it possible by giving your money, your encouragement, and most importantly, your prayers. This is your mission too. From now on, you will get to read about what “we” are doing on the Food 4 Kids’ mission to Honduras. I may be the boots on the ground, but “we” are the army.

As soon as we get to Honduras, we will begin to seek out the best method, the best location, and the best vegetables for our gardening school. Everything we do will be with an eye toward self-sufficiency. We have already purchased several packs of heirloom seeds for this reason. What are heirloom seeds? Well, most seeds are Genetically Modified Organism or GMO seeds. Companies genetically modify their seeds to prevent diseases and to increase production. The process also prevents people from saving the seeds at harvest and planting them the next growing season. Some of us may not know this, but most of the seeds we buy from our local store are GMO. Heck, we can’t even save unused GMO seeds plant them the next year. Most, if not all, GMO seeds have a built-in expiration date. If you don’t plant them during the current season, they will be unusable before the next season.

Not so with heirloom seeds. Most heirloom seeds are saved from private gardens. They may be a tiny bit more expensive, but the extra cost is recouped when we harvest the seeds to use in our next crop. Part of what we will teach in our gardening school is how to save seeds and store them until there are needed in the next garden.

We will also operate by the self-sufficiency model when it comes to fish. One of the important things we hope to do is install an inexpensive tilapia nursery. Currently, Open Door Ministries must purchase each new batch of tilapia they wish to raise. Installing a nursery will free their money to care for their children’s other needs.

Back to the gardening school. First we’ll build small, raised-bed gardens. Each small garden will be about four feet across and then marked off into small sections one foot across. We’ll give each child one of the small sections and let them grow plants of their choosing. (The older kids will be encouraged to help the little ones) Those who show a passion for gardening, a desire to help younger kids, or other, as yet unidentified actions and attitudes, will be rewarded with extra sections to garden.

Once Gideon Cooper, our man with boots on the ground, learns to truly communicate in the Spanish language, we will use the gardens as tools to disciple the children about our Lord Jesus. While we have many ideas and plans, most of our final plans will be made after we are in Honduras. This is to ensure that our plans fit in with the vision that Open Door Ministries has for their facilities and the kids under their care. We already know we are in agreement with them in the general concept of the gardening school, but before we get specific, we want their input and we need their permission. Remember, our goal is to actually help, not just do something to make ourselves feel good. Such an attitude would only create problems that Open Door Ministries would have to deal with once we’ve returned to the USA. None of us wants that.

“Lego Farm On Display” Please lift these upcoming events up in your prayers. This weekend, the Food 4 Kids new and improved Lego aquaponics farm will be set up at the Church at the Agape Outpost. On Saturday, September 28, it will be on display for the member churches of the High Country Baptist Association. On Sunday, everyone at the Agape Outpost can see the new additions we’ve made to the model. We’ve added small gardens like those we will use in the gardening school, a solar electricity system, a compost bin, and a barrel garden. Later in October, we’ll set the display up once again at the Agape Outpost for the Fall Festival. This just in! On October 6, Gideon Cooper will be speaking at High Country Church in Frisco, CO. He will share his testimony and talk about our vision for Food 4 Kids. He may even set up our Lego model. Prayers for new prayer warriors, new short and long term missionaries, and new donors who want to give to the Kingdom work in Honduras.

Most of us still wonder this, “Why did the Lord give us the vision about Food 4 Kids through Gideon Cooper? Is it because Gideon loves kids? Or is it because Gideon is the biggest kid of us all? Many have verbalized their puzzlement (and maybe their jealousy) that Gideon is the one called by God to play with our Legos. Gideon would tell you that being the vision-bearer and the Lego-builder is a tough job, but someone has to do it.

Be blessed fellow missionaries to Honduras, and as always,

Don’t drop your swords.

Gideon Cooper (Writing for the Food 4 Kids Team.)

On the road again!

5 Aug

 

Hello from Georgetown Texas.

 

Yes, I’m still in TX, but soon I will be on the road again. Monday, August 12, I’m heading to Dade City, FL where I will visit with the wonderful folks at Morningstar Fishermen, the aquaponics school I attended last year. While here in Texas, I set up and operated a small, backyard aquaponics system at Bruce Hammack’s house. I learned much from the experience, but it left me with some questions that I hope the staff at Morningstar can answer. Although they are in the midst of a major remodel, they have graciously offered some of their valuable time to help me with those questions and to review the system I designed for the orphanage in Honduras.

 

Barry and Penny Compton, the founders of Open Door Ministries, live only about an hour away from the school. I hope and pray that they will be able to travel to Dade City. I want them to see a large aquaponics system in operation. I think it will give them invaluable insight on how aquaponics will help feed their kids.

 

And finally, I simply want to walk through the greenhouse, feed the fish, and “smell the aquaponics” again.

 

On Friday, August 16, I am traveling back to Colorado. I will be there for just over two weeks. On Sundays I will set up the Lego model of an aquaponics system and tell anyone who will listen about the vision and mission that God has given Food 4 Kids. I hope we can finish the fund-raising for my year in Honduras during these two weeks.

 

Speaking of fund-raising – you – the supporters of Food 4 Kids – are amazing. Between donations and pledges, we now have over $9,000 of the $15,000 needed for my year in Honduras.  That means with less than $6,000 more in donations or pledges, I can make travel plans. And man I am ready to travel. Uh, not that I haven’t like waiting. Waiting is good. Thanks everybody for your support with the ministry. And most of all, Thank you Lord Jesus for these wonderful people who have caught the vision of Food 4 Kids.

 

Okay, you knew I would eventually ask for something in this email – or you should have. I need a place to stay for the two and a half weeks that I am in Colorado. This would start August 16. I will also need someone to pick me up in Frisco that night and take me to wherever I’m staying. (Too much luggage to ride the shuttle) So, talk it over with Jesus and send me an email if you can help. Oh, one more item.

 

The Info and Update Blog for Food 4 Kids is up and running. Check it out. We got pictures. We got videos. We got a mission statement. We even got updates. (Unfortunately, we don’t got good grammar.) After September, all the updates will be posted on the blog and you can receive an email notification of them. To receive the notices, all you have to do is go to the blog and click on the button that says you want to receive the updates. Once you click on it, type in your name, email address, SSN, and your credit card number … Um, no, legal counsel just advised that I should only ask for the first two. Please sign up. It will make things much simpler for me. And after all, it’s all about … no, no that’s not right either. It is not all about me. However, you do want to get my blogs. Each month I will make a report on the work I am doing in Honduras. I may post a video about some of my experiences or the sights in Honduras. I’ll also post pictures and names of the kids so you can pray for them. If you don’t want to receive email notification of updates, you can always just check out the blog by saving the link below to your favorites or bookmarks. Give it a test ride. Hit the link below now. Um, I mean gently click the link below. (Legal counsel again.)

 

https://f4kagape.wordpress.com/

 

Thanks & be blessed my family in the Lord, and don’t drop your sword.

 

Gideon