At the close of July we reached an important milestone-our first full quarter of operations! As many of you know from experience the start up phase of anything new is usually challenging and our new ministry project has had it’s fair share of challenges. However, like the old saying goes, “no pain no gain”, and while pain is not enjoyable we have gained much as a result.
To say we experienced some surprises would be a bit of an understatement. One Saturday afternoon a group of business students from UCRISH, a local university in Gracias, came by the house to spend some time learning more about the project and the history of how it came to exist. While they told us in advance they would be bringing some donated supplies for the house we had no idea just how hard they had worked obtaining personal care and cleaning supplies, cookware and many other things for the kitchen and house. It was such a fun time and we were blessed greatly.
We also received a visit from friend and missionary Ben Agee who had lived in Gracias with his family before a health crisis caused them to have to return to the states much sooner than they ever imagined. Ben brought with him Mike, Zane and Jack one morning for a visit. We got to spend some real quality time together sharing about the ministry of La Casa de Rubén. They were a huge blessing and encouragement to us.
There have also been some other surprises that have caught us a little off guard that we are working through at this time. While some of them are forcing us to do a lot of thinking and praying they are developments that, once we work all the way through them, will turn out for the good of the house and the foundation overall. As these things develop we will be able to share more detailed information about these situations. In the meantime please pray for us as we determine the best decisions to make that will help us move forward and increase our capacity to help more people.
While there has been much focus placed on Rubén to date this project has never been just about him. Along that line we immediately began construction of two additional bedrooms and a bathroom to increase our capacity to bring in more patient guests. We find ourselves at a bit of a standstill as we have temporarily run out of construction funds. Please pray for us to find a donor, or donors, who are willing to help us with the materials and labor needed to finish these rooms.
In the future the other patient guests we receive will come and go on a rotating basis with their length of stay running anywhere from 1-4 weeks. This rotation will be coordinated with the therapists at CRILE and will help us maximize the use of the house for many more patients annually. While we don’t know exactly when we’ll be receiving more people we are certain that the time will come for more people to be blessed by all that is being offered at La Casa de Rubén.
It has been very good, although interesting at times for them we’re sure, learning more about us and each other and the specific strengths and skills each of us brings to the project. Through the challenges the Lord is showing us how to minister and serve each other better while we each do our parts to make this project successful. To that end we’ve implemented specific prayer and meeting times, both with the entire staff and one on one, to teach and encourage one another. Through all of this the Lord is drawing us closer to each other and closer to Him while improving our effectiveness as a team. Please pray for this process to continue.
Rubén & Marlen
As is the case in all of life there are ups and downs. While Rubén has made much progress he still faces some very serious short and long term health challenges. Without giving too much detail and compromising his privacy we can say that his last skin ulcer (there were 5 at one time) is in a very difficult location to keep clean and infection free. Because of this he has suffered many serious infections in the last almost three years. As a result his body has become very resistant to the antibiotics used to treat the particular bacterial infection that he gets the most often. It appears that we are down to the last and very expensive antibiotic for him that is available in Honduras.
On a recent Friday we requested some lab work because he was showing signs of having another infection. With medication his fever went down overnight but by Saturday late afternoon it was up again so we sent him to the hospital. On Sunday night before it was confirmed which antibiotic he would need (we were still waiting for the lab results from Friday afternoon) the hospital received a donation of the exact one he ended up needing! The attending physicians put his name on the box and set it aside for him and he has gotten over this infection.
There is a permanent surgical procedure recommended that would more effectively prevent this from happening again but for personal reasons, and with full understanding of the potential outcomes, he has chosen not to have the procedure done. There are some changes in his care that we are making to do what we can to help prevent future infections but his battle is still very much uphill in regards to this part of his health.
We took him to get an MRI a little over a week ago to confirm the level of damage and recovery potential as the images of his neck taken at the time of the injury were very poor quality. The results confirmed that Rubén faces some great challenges and limitations. But the neurologist who is reviewing his case also told us that in his time he has seen many cases where God and physical therapy combined brought about improvements that were beyond what could be explained medically or scientifically. While he and we have very realistic expectations we are also not limiting what God can do through hard work and faith so we press on and with his physical therapy and exercise program as we have already seen significant improvements.
Marlen, his younger sister, is just as much a part of this story as her brother. She got to participate in her first ever class parade to celebrate Dia de Lempira last month. Lempira is a national hero who fought the Spanish conquistadors with quite a bit of success until he was tricked into a meeting where he was killed. There are big celebrations all over western Honduras on July 20 every year.
Marlen continues to adjust to being a middle school student and that has its own ups and downs, especially in a different house in a bigger city and school than she had ever seen before. Please pray for her and for all of us as we figure out how to best help her overcome the challenges she has faced and is facing in her short life so far. Please pray for her to grow in her understanding of and relationship with Jesus. Please pray for her to begin believing in herself. She has much more potential than she realizes and we need wisdom to help her find her way.
While it hasn’t been very easy, especially in just the last few weeks, it has been confirmed to us several times that we are right where we are supposed to be doing what we are supposed to be doing. Please pray for Jean and me as we continue to develop this ministry for the benefit of many others, but more importantly for the glory of God.