We are excited about the endless possibilities that become available when you step out in faith. The mystery of what lays ahead is an exciting adventure with endless opportunities to grow in your faith.
February 8th is our departure date for the Hurricane Dorian Mission Trip to Marsh Harbor Abaco, Bahamas. We will sail from Islamorada, Florida and we are looking to spend a total of three weeks in the Bahamas but have broken the trip up to best accommodate people and various schedules. Some people will sail over and fly back, fly in and sail back, or fly in and fly out. We are flexible and would love for you to join us whether it’s three days or three weeks!
Ted and I have spent four years in the Abaco Islands serving the Boy Scouts of America's High Adventure program based in Marsh Harbor. We believe it is time to encourage and lend our hands to the rebuilding efforts. Experiencing Hurricane Irma in the Florida Keys, we know first-hand the struggles post hurricane. The media has stopped coverage and many organizations have pulled their relief efforts out of the Marsh Harbor area. The work has hardly begun and the spirit of the people is in need of rejuvenation.
The needs and avenues of relief work is great, we are excited to connect with passionate people like you to bring hope back to the Abaco Islands. The many needs are constantly changing so we are flexible in our mission vision.
We feel very moved to be spiritually present for the people. Their community is in shambles and many families are separated. The Spirit of God, expressed in love, is needed to strengthen and encourage the wonderful people.
Cleaning up hurricane debris and lending our hands to some construction projects will help bring hope that others care and those suffering from Hurricane Dorian are not forgotten.
On Dec 7, 2019 Ted and I flew in to Marsh Harbor Abaco three months after Hurricane Dorian ravished the community causing people to be displaced and separating families. Many homes are destroyed and those remaining are in a state of great disrepair. Businesses have been demolished as the storm decimated many areas of the community. The many challenges ahead are not without hope. There is an attitude of gratitude amongst the people knowing it could have been worse.
The Haitian population that remains is living in hiding or taking refuge in tent dwellings at the local church where they are protected from being deported. More people of the Haitian community have been found dead from Hurricane Dorian. They were recently found in underground dwelling places, just now being discovered by the authorities.
Despite the challenges ahead, business is starting to come to life. Taxi cabs with broken windshields, taped up windows, and windows of roofing paper are grateful to give you a ride. One truck passing by us had no windshield but was still operational!
Gas pumps are being rebuilt and Maxwells, the food store, is fully stocked. One Common Wealth bank has relocated inside Maxwells and is now open. The need for commerce and business to return is integral to the community’s well-being and rebuilding process. In Dundas Town just outside of Marsh Harbor, a barber shop has re-opened in a tent. The spirit and ingenuity of the Bahamas is coming forth. The government has contracted trucks and equipment for clean-up and employs many of the residents.
I asked a question while driving with Brenda our taxi driver who we have known through our time working in the Abaco Islands with the Boy Scouts of America. I asked, “If someone would walk up to you, what at this time would be the greatest gift you could receive?" Her answer was Ice & Water Shield, a quality peel-and-stick, waterproof roofing paper! She commented, "We don't need clothes. We need roofing material, shingles, plywood and beams because the plastic tarps are blowing off when the wind picks up. Families are separated but with the houses dried we would be able to camp in our homes as we put our lives back together."
Clean up is in process and progressing. At the airport the storage building has been organized and many containers are housing other goods. The roads are mainly clear while debris is being piled up on the side of the street. The schools are still closed but the government is at work repairing the structures so the children will be able to come home. I believe the greatest heartache is the separation of families. Michael the first person I met in September, when we were delivering Luci lights and other supplies after the storm, works at the airport. He escaped the storm during the eye of the hurricane and his home was completely destroyed. He was the first person I saw when landing in Marsh Harbor this time. Michael has been separated from his family the entire time. You can see in his eyes the pain he is feeling, yet his faith in God is strong. He takes life one day at a time.
The port is receiving containers but many containers are being help up in Freeport and Nassau making materials sparse for those who are able to rebuild. One hardware store is open but others remain as a pile of rubble stagnated. The marina district where the Mooring Charters fleet, the Boy Scouts of America operate, and home to the many seasonal cruisers is left untouched. It is a scattered lumber yard with boat parts, the remains of Keith’s dive shop, a dinghy or two, and a few green trees coming forth.
We met with Sandi the coordinator of World Central Kitchen while we were there. They are serving over 7,000 meals a day and delivering to strategic areas. They are partnering with many other organizations present. We have been welcomed to send volunteers to work with food preparation. Next we met Ki at All Hands and Hearts, an organization on the ground working to stabilize the community through clean-up. Their main mission is to rebuild the schools. With other organizations pulling out of Marsh Harbor, All Hands and Heart will continue in the community for another two years partaking in construction on homes in the community. We have also been welcomed to send a couple of day workers to join with them. Paperwork is required but can be filed onsite. For a large group to join there is a process of paperwork online that would need to be submitted. Water purification stations are set up around the island providing reverse osmosis drinking water. People are able to come with jugs and have them filled. Once a week there is a meeting with the government and the volunteer organizations to coordinate and plan the rebuilding efforts of the communities. The relief efforts of the large organizations are very impressive as they continue to work unified stabilizing the community.
The local church is very active. New Vision Church has been a rock to the community as a distribution station immediately after the storm and is still the headquarters and meeting center, ministering to the many needs. The effort is led by Lydia, a church member who weathered out the storm. The leadership is returning to the church and services are being held. They are also in the process of restarting Bible studies. The needs are constantly changing as rebuilding progresses and families slowly return. Lydia has been short-staffed and would love help restocking supplies at this time. The church facility has volunteered to be a school starting in January and the distribution center may no longer be in operation.
Flying into Marsh Harbor we were able to see the brown area caused by the hurricane slowly turn to green. To see the green of surviving plants is uplifting. Flying over the reef the water is now clear instead of the stirred up milky white post-storm. There is hope for the survival of the reef; some areas look alive while other areas look hurt and brown. Many of the boats that went aground during the storm are being salvaged and rebuilt while others remain on land and in the sea.
I would like to close with the words of a local. “God allowed this, so surely it will be for good.” The faith in a loving God who is good all the time continues to live in the Bahamas. Faith is what remains and faith is what is rebuilding.
You are invited to join us by faith to come along side our neighbors who are suffering from Hurricane Dorian. Our mission is one that will need to be flexible due to needs that are constantly changing so our faith will be our anchor.
Dear Supporters, Prayer Warriors, Friends and Family,
Ted and I have been in Guatemala for a month now. Many changes are taking place at the house and we are working hard to complete the many tasks before us. Currently, we are expecting Josh and Jamie Stoneman any day now with a crew of 11 to serve at Casa Agua Azul. I would like to share with you some of the inner stories of the house and we ask for your continued prayers for our children, our staff and the inner workings that come with caring for abused children.
This October started out in a whirlwind of challenges, has been filled with many joys, and ends in more challenges.
Casa Agua Azul as with any house or family it is not without challenge. Perseverance, patience and keeping our hearts dedicated to our mission to provide a safe house for abandoned and abused children is foremost in our mind. Casa Agua Azul's purpose is to provide a stable long term home where the children are loved, cared for and educated to become well adjusted and productive members of society. Creativity and faith in a loving God whose love never fails keeps us going.
Three of our boys lost their grandmother, she was the only one in the family that showed them any form of love. After Jerry our house father shared the loss with the children, we gathered the other children for a time of prayer. All the precious hearts gathered at the table, the bonding and love for each other was beautiful as we prayed to the Spirit of God which came in great peace, quietness and stillness. The moment was one to cherish. Then we all went down to the water front. Ludwin our carpenter had made a small wooden cayuco to place beautiful flowers in, to release their loved one to God. The three boys along with one other paddled out in the big cayuco and set the small, flower-filled boat into the current and returned. We served cookies and lemonade ending the day together.
A couple days prior we received a child at 2 a.m. in the morning. Jerry heard commotion outside the gate but put it off thinking it was noise from up the way. Finally he recognized someone was outside the gate. He went out to find a crowd. We live in a small indigenous village. Many villagers circled around the police officers outside our gate and in the hand of one villager was a gallon of gasoline not meant for good. The police came in an unmarked car to drop off a new child and our neighbors were concerned seeing them as strangers . The mayor then alerted the village with the conch horn and many of the village men gathered believing someone was taking one of our children. They came out to protect us saying, ”no one will steal our children.” How is this for feeling loved!
Unfortunately, after a a couple of days and observing the new child's behavior, we had to return him to the officials so they could place him in a home that could care for his specific needs. Often a child can be dangerous to the rest of the house and that was the case. The child has altered personalities. He is a very smart 12 years old. His demeanor is also cool as a cucumber and goes with the flow. His manners are excellent, very personable, and he is a hard worker. At first we thought he was a good story teller but it turned into delusion with defiance and aggression towards others. Your heart goes out for the one that has been so hurt and damaged but at the same time you have a precious group who is healing and coming in to the light. To allow a child with this type of special need to continue going from house to house becomes a severe danger to others. It took three trips to the officials to alert them of the danger this child presents to others and the security required to keep him from harming others along with receiving the help he needs.
Experiencing first hand the situation opens your eyes to the global situation and the evil which has plagued the earth, taking captive the minds of once innocent people and children. I believe the only understanding of the damage done to a child to this degree that exists is to see though the eyes of God. Evil exists to a great measure and to understand evil one must believe God and accept evil as evil, apart from God.
The authorities refused to release us from caring for the child despite the danger to the rest of the group. For two days Ted and I housed him on our mission vessel until we are able to come into an agreement with the law and be released from legal responsibilities. What a catch 22!
Another event happened with good intentions. We purchased baby chicks for the children and they have been so excited to care for and love them. One of our children had placed them in a bucket in the evening trying to protect them from the bigger chickens. Then he decided they would need water and he placed water in the bucket with the baby chicks. In the morning Jerry goes out and finds the chicks in the bucket . It was the concrete bucket and had concrete dust in it. When the water was added the concrete became mortar then started to harden and the chic were covered . Jerry quickly washed them and their feathers were all crusty. The chicks did not look to good, we lost one and Jerry washed them again. Thank God the next morning they are fluffy yellow again and running around the yard as happy chicks again!
To end the month we took all the children and staff aboard Vientos Azul, the catamaran, down to Livingston which is the port town at the mouth of the Rio Dulce River. There was 29 of us in total! It was a fun day; many have never been to Livingston, the beach, or on a sailboat! The day was greater than we could imagine. We are so grateful for such a lovely trip, as the next day is court for 4 of our children. The judge ruled for them to live with their grandmother and our car came home empty, along with our hearts. We may not agree with the decisions of the judge and we do present our case before the judge. During the time the children stay with us, we learn about the family and situations they have come from. Romans 13:1 gives us our instructions, "Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.”
The children are precious and it is important to remember our job is to love and care for them. Casa Agua Azul is a safe refuge standing in the gap. The children ultimately belong to Jesus and our trust is in Him. It is hard to let them go as we all have fallen in love with each one of them. As we see them grow, heal and come to life, we can know when they leave that Jesus has come into their hearts and will care for them.
The system in Guatemala has changed since we started. It appears through our current experiences that the courts are pushing the children too quickly to rehabilitate the family unit. When they are unable to reconcile them, the courts place them up for adoption. In the beginning of this year, there has been talk in the NCFA (National Council for Adoption) of opening up international adoption. At this time we have not heard of anything officially.
In closing, we experienced a car mishap after having the oil changed at the garage. While driving into Guatemala City the oil plug came out draining all the oil at a very inopportune time and place. Needless to say motors without oil are not good. We are faced with a giant garage bill or buying a new car. The good news is that no one was hurt. We have also have found a great mechanic and the option of another car. Pray for wisdom! Jesus promises to provide for his children.
Psalms 82:3 " Defend the cause of the weak and the fatherless: Uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.”
Thank you for your love and support!
Catamaran: Viento Azul
Date: Sept. 25, 2019
Temperature: 82 Degrees
Starting the day with sunny and clear skies. Sailing Vessel Veintos Azul departs Islamorada through Snake Creek Bridge at 11a.m. Sorry to all who were held up in traffic, but it was for a good cause! The winds are light out of the east 10 -12 knots. Four souls on board: James, Steve, Ted and Gail.
We are successfully out of the channel on a five day tour to reach the mouth of the Rio Dulce which empties out into the Carribean Sea by the port town of Livingston, Guatemala. Ted and Steve dive in as we drift on the calm seas under sunny skies, a beautiful September day in the Florida Keys. The grass on the hulls mixed with a few tiny barnacles are in need of being removed. Clean hulls glide through the water at a greater speed. Every little bit counts and adds up. Durning this time, we noticed our cockpit cushions have been left in the warehouse. With so much going on from Hurricane Dorian hitting the Bahamas and everything else that in entails to prepare for a journey, you're going to forget something. In this case, we decided it is better to live with cushions than without. After a few phone calls, Carem comes to the rescue, meeting us at the docks at Post Card Inn, cushions in hand! Now we are ready for our journey.
The day was quiet and calm as we dodged many lobster pots which decorate the Florida Keys waters this time of year. Heading downwind, our preferred wind direction, it's a good time to fly the spinnaker and enjoy the ride. When sailing, a quiet day is a good day. Dinner closed the evening as we got ready for night watch. The sunset on the horizon mirrors that of a rainbow tonight, and all is well aboard Veintos Azul.
The new day dawns with surprises and mystery ahead. Sailing is an adventure and a dream of so many under the right conditions. Today we pray for the right conditions!
6:19 a.m. The ship on the horizon has finally met our path too close for comfort. Standing watch through the wee hours of the morning makes for tricky eyesight. The lights from the ship became very confusing -- this is where radar and ASI come in handy. The stars overhead are still in full brilliance and a sliver of the moon is resting in the east close to the horizon. Soon the sun will appear and take over the night sky and it will be day.
Five hours later, all crew are joined together after catching up on our sleep. The fishing lines go out in hopes of a great catch. A nice current from the Gulf Stream favored us last night, giving our speed over the ground increase. Today the 85 degree sea is still calm with light winds 7- 8, moving us at 5 knots, a slower ride than we are used to as we travel towards the Gulf of Mexico. We are looking at two more nights out before we are close to Canacun. Currently we are 50 miles from the Jordan Knoll.
NO fish today. Steak is on the grill. The current has changed against us, holding us back to the creeping speed of a walking pace towards Cuba before we will angle arcross closer to Mexico. No sign was out at Jordan Knoll which is somewhere in the ocean off of northern Cuba as we passed by. Way in the distance we are able to see some land of Cuba.
Sunset tonight is spectacular with a fireball of yellow bursting into orange on the horizon beneath cumulus grey clouds over the vast deep blue on the edge of the Florida Straits. We are close to entering the eastern edge of the Gulf of Mexico, Western Caribbean. All is calm, and then suddenly a moment of excitement, pow! Our red and white spinnaker blew out from a gust at 8:30 p.m. Ted, Steve, and James race to the forward decks, retrieving the sail out of the water and untangling the lines. Tangled lines or a sail in the prop on such a dark night as this would not be a good situation unless you like night diving. All is well -- the spinnaker sail and line are all on board and the jib sheet now is rolled out to keep us moving down our way. We divide the night in two hour shifts to keep watch for lights on the horizon of ships passing, watching the weather and staying on course. It is also a beautiful time under the stars and a time of personal reflection as the stars declare the glory of God. Veintos Azul spent some time surfing down peaking waves tonight and the sound was delightful, peaceful and serene, sailing us into a flat calm morning.
Friday September 27 is an uneventful flat calm day. Dolphin are sighted off starboard aft but they did not want to come visit us today. Usually they like to swim over and play as the bow of the boat breaks through the water. At 5 p.m. we are just rounding the curve of Cuba. 22'01 N : 85'.07 W The sky is darkening ahead with a threat of rain. Rain it did, causing a glassy sheen on the water. Not a wrinkle to be found in the waves, clear and smooth, yet rocking and rolling. James ran up to the trampolines to try out some catamaran surfing, with a smile from ear to ear! The rain showering down is bouncing off the water, causing a dance between the seas and the sky. A good 45 minutes later, the weather settles in as the dark of night comes upon us. Throughout the night, the the dark clouds burst, and we heard the sheet blocks banging back and forth, pounding on the coach top. Tonight becomes an active night, adjusting sails and course with the wind changing her directions as she pleases.
Saturday morning rolls in with increased speed of 9 plus! We are making headway off the coast of Cozumel with more rain is in sight. Midday, the Mexican current reduces our speed to 4.5. Writing, reading, storytelling, knot tying, celestial navigation and polishing the stainless becomes our entertainment, occupying our minds wave after wave. Still no fish, but fortunately the rain has dissipated and it's a beautiful sunny day with a few ships passing by here and there. A sweet bird comes to visit and rests on the life lines in the early evening. Looking out to a ball of fire setting. It is an array of light radiating out into a vortex, shooting rays towards heaven. In an hour, it continues to change from one beautiful display of color to the next while the water appears now as a deep steel blue color with an icy gloss, shining deep within itself. Ted and Steve are looking at the stars, holding up their phone star app, and a sea bird actually lands on Ted's outstretched hand!
We have set the ship's clock back two hours to meet the west, and it is now Sunday morning. Last night was an intense night. Waves were breaking, slamming the hulls and and shooting water into our hatches and the cockpit. Veintos Azul took the waves well. I felt like I was on a carnival ride from the steep, short 4-6 foot waves moving us in a rhythmic new dance. The wind peaked to 20, and thunderstorms were lighting up the sky off our starboard hull. The good thing is we are on a reach. Going directly into the sea is a totally different story.
18'17 N: 87' 13 W
Dolphins appear this morning, a blessing to our day! Our speed is up to 6 knots as we are near Banco Cinchorro (Mexico). 50 miles ahead is Turneffe Atoll (Belize). Fish are on today, 3 barracuda and 1 faithful bonita, still none for the grill. The seas have settled in, and the ride has mellowed out as the day increases along with our speed, now 8 knots. We are 20 miles off the coast of Belize. Land is in sight and refreshing to see after the constant deep blue. The water has gone from thousands of feet to 18, which is giving my joggled brain relief as we pass by Northern Cay and San Bore Cay where the light house stands in the distance. Tonight, 180 degrees on the horizon, is a strobe of thunderstorm activity sending light signals around the boat. It is mesmerizing to watch. The stars are crystal clear above and magnificent to ponder on the flat sea as we continue with 129 nautical miles to reach Livinston, Guatemala. As we approach South Water Cay at 1 a.m., we decided to tuck away behind the island to spend the night to rest, which was interrupted by an electrical storm, which we were happy not to be sailing in. God is good!
September 30, 2019, Monday morning. 16"31 N: 87' 58 W Our speed is 5.6 and the sea is flat calm. Our calculation is that we will make our destination of Livingston close to 8 p.m. The sea and her conditions are forever changing. At times you may be able to walk to Guatemala as fast as Veintos Azul and at other times you need to hold on tight or you'll find yourself tossed into the sea. The sky will be sunny clear, and the next moment threatening black, then starlit skies and sunsets of beautiful colors. The sea has remained flat calm today as we motor our way to Livinston, since the wind has died off. Seven miles out, the strip of lights ahead is crossing over Livinston with the moon directly ahead. Many ships are passing by from Puerto Barrios headed out to sea. Next are the shrimp boats trolling closer to shore, and our final hurdle will be crossing over the sandbar. For now, we will set our anchor down at 8:56 p.m., having arrived! Thanking God for a safe voyage! Our Guatemala amigos Jerry and Otto will join us tonight aboard and keep watch over Veintos Azul. The waves are building so we decide to relocate, pulling up the anchor we cross over the sand bar into the mouth of the river. Off the City Pier and Buga Momma's home to the finest coco chino in down town Livingston we drop the anchor again for the night. In the morning we will check in and head up the Rio Dulce inland 22 miles to town.