Nathan In El Salvador

Dear Supporters,

It has been a long time since I have given an update, but this time the news I have to give is the reason that it has taken me so long. I have been doing a lot of thinking and praying over the last few months about where my life is headed and what I should do, and this is the conclusion I believe God has led me to.

Back in September I was touring with Richard (the director of Envision Wired in El Salvador), in Montana. We started talking about my girlfriend, Meghan (now my fiancée). I told him that I wanted to marry her. It was a decision I had already made, but I was still thinking through the timing of it. We talked about it a bit and about what Meghan and I wanted to do with our lives. Then he told me that, if I felt the need to leave before my two years were up in May 2014, he would release me from my commitment and that he felt like giving me that option was the right thing to do.

I just want to say that I, personally, hold commitment and sticking to your word very highly. I think it is important as Christians to pay our debts and do what we said we would do. So when he gave me that option I thought I would never take it in a million years. I hardly even considered it.

For those of you who are friends with me on facebook or have been reading my blog posts, you know that I recently got engaged. This kind of came out of the blue. I figured I would have to wait much longer to propose, but when I was home in October for a week, everything worked out perfectly for me to talk to her dad and get a ring. So I asked Meghan to marry me when she came to visit in November.

Although, when I returned to El Salvador in October, the culture shock really began to weigh on me. There were no more groups coming, and our jobs consisted of preparing for next year through language training and group prep. I began to realize how difficult it is to make true friends in another language and culture. It sent me into a sort of depression. However, I hold commitment very highly and I wasn’t about to let a little culture shock scare me away, so I looked for ways to improve my situation.

After I proposed in November, Meghan and I planned our wedding so it wouldn’t interfere with any groups here at Wired and the idea was to move Meghan down here after the wedding. Once the date had been set, Richard and I talked some more about living down here as newlyweds, and we decided it wasn’t a good idea. There are already a lot of changes brought on by marriage and adding culture shock to the mix can be very unhealthy. In fact, the Christian Missionary Alliance won’t send couples overseas until they have been married for at least a year. Also, it would mean that Meghan and I would spend our whole engagement apart, as if long-distance dating wasn’t hard enough. On top of all that, I was already having a hard time finding my place and adjusting to the culture. So, we made the decision that I should be headed home by August of this year, at the latest.

So now I, again, had to start considering how to prepare for marriage. I need to have a job and a place to live when I get married. Doing that in the one month before our wedding didn’t seem very practical, especially considering the wedding prep that will be needed during the month of August. So, I started considering earlier dates to head home. I began to pray about where God wanted me, and I started talking to some of our staff to help clarify the situation. I fasted in search of God’s plan for me. And after four months of asking, I feel that God has led me to the decision to return home this month.

Now again, it really kills me to say that I am backing out on this commitment, even though I was given permission. The fact is though, that I wasn’t given permission from all of you, my supporters. I hope that this doesn’t break your trust in me. All of you made it possible for me to come here in the first place. You supported me because you believed in me and this ministry. And although I did the work I committed to doing, I will be leaving earlier than I had told all of you. I am sorry for that and I ask that you forgive me for it. I do believe, however, that returning to the states is the healthiest decision for me.

I was trying to decide what I should do with the remaining contributions that I have received from all of you. If it is okay with you, I would like to give the remaining money in my account to the ministry that I came to work for, Envision Wired. The organization can’t legally give money back to supporters due to tax reasons, but they will be continuing the work of ministering to the people of El Salvador. If you have any issues with this or have any other questions, I hope you will get a hold of me. I would really like to talk it through.

Please understand that this is not a choice made on a whim. It has taken me 4 months to decide on what to do because I wanted to make sure it was the right decision, and I do believe this is the right decision. Thank you again for all of the ways that you have supported me! It has meant so much.

Thank you!

What’s been going on…

Well, again, I’m sorry that it has been so long since my last update. In the past couple months I have done a lot of moving around and a lot of thinking as the new year approached. So I’ll try to give you an overview of everything that’s been going on and get you up to speed. But first off, I just want to say that I hope everyone had a great time during the holidays!

Engagement photos by Meghan's sister LizAs I said before, my mom really wanted me home for Christmas, so she offered to buy me a ticket home kind of as a Christmas present. So I flew back and stayed for 2 weeks in the states. I spent about one week with Meghan’s family at the start of the trip. During that time we went to one of her (extended) family parties which happened to be at the house where we will be having our wedding. Meghan’s aunt has a big backyard full of gardens and pretty scenery. It has a pond and is right up against a good-sized patch of woods. It was really cool to see it all and start to plan how we’ll set everything up. We took engagement pictures while I was visiting Meghan’s family as well. Her sister, Liz, is a photographer and did a great job. You can see her website and some more of our pictures here: http://elizabethannephotos.com/ . We spent Christmas Eve with Meghan’s family and then drove 5 hours to my house that night. So we spent Christmas with my family and I got to go hiking in the snow later on that week. I was really hoping it would snow! So, needless to say, I had a great time visiting home. It was hard to say goodbye, especially to Meghan, because it meant that the next time I will see her is in September when we get married. But I guess the time apart can only make the time together that much more valuable.

So I got back to El Salvador right after New Years. Most of the many fireworks that they set off for the holidays had already been used. Elijah and Sharla said its seriously like a war zone around Christmas time, and that its not reasonable at all to think that you will get to sleep before  3 AM on the 24th. So I’m kind of sad I missed it, but I’m also kind of really glad that I did.

Hanging out with David, his family, and the OkurutsShortly after I got back I had to say goodbye to David who headed back home on the 8th of January. We had a goodbye lunch for him with Samuel and his wife Charity and their kids. We had some good times together so it was sad to say goodbye. 

Lately I have been preparing for my group that will be arriving on the first of February. They are from Faith Alliance Church in Kalispell, MT which is one of the churches that Richard and I spoke at back in September. They’ll be coming to work on the Wired Ministry Center and are considering partnering with us in the future as well. So a quick prayer request would be prayer that I stay focused on Christ and represent him well through working with this group.

In other news, I don’t think I told you the outcome of the incubation of the quail eggs yet, but it didn’t end up being a success. On the other hand, my hens have started laying on eggs, so I went in and replaced the chicken eggs with quail eggs. So if everything goes as planned I should have some quail chicks in about 5 days. 

Prayer Requests: Please pray for the group from Montana that I am planning for. Pray that God uses them and teaches them and me while they are here. Pray for me, as it is especially hard leaving my fiance in the states. And one last thing that I didn’t yet mention is the Broken Campaign. We miscalculated some of the money we raised and it looks like we are actually still around $7,000 away from our goal due at the end of this month. Pray that we can raise that money in time for our first payment on the building. More information on that can be found here: http://www.facebook.com/BrokenCampaign

Family Visit - I’m engaged!!!

As I told all of you, my girlfriend and my sister (Meghan and Kelsey respectively) came to visit over the past 2 weeks. I made sure that they got to see some of the cool stuff we are doing down here as well as a lot of really amazing places in El Salvador. 

We worked with Samuel a couple times while they were here. I had fun touring them through the different sites and explaining how everything works. They helped out by picking a ton of lettuce seeds and taking some pictures and videos of a training session we did in Santo Tomas.

A very fat iguanaLooking out from Puerta del Diablo

As part of my language training we have something called Culture Connections. Basically anything having to do with the culture that I haven’t yet experienced can count for as a Culture Connection. So I took Meghan, Kelsey, and my friend David on a lot of them. That way I get to hang out with them and work at the same time. While they were here we managed to go to the National Zoo, an awesome park and lookout called Puerta del Diablo, Parque Balboa, and even a Ska/Reggae concert. We had a lot of fun.

Kelsey trying out the waterFrom the bottom of the craterAnd of course, we went to a couple more places that didn’t count toward my language studies. During our holiday break we did the 4 hour hike into and back out of the crater of San Salvador volcano. We got lost a couple times but still made it out before dark. We also drove to Juayua to swim in the waterfalls and explore the town a little bit. Most of you may already know this, but while we were at the waterfalls Meghan and I broke away from the group. We hiked around in the jungle and got attacked by a colony of fire ants. Haha. And then we sat down on a bridge overlooking a waterfall and I asked her to marry me. And I have even better news: she said “Yes”!!!!

Meghan and I after I proposed

Unfortunately, two of the cameras we had with us ran out of batteries so we didn’t get too many good pictures yet, but here is one of us in the town after I asked her. 

Of course, it was sad saying goodbye to both my sister and my new fiancee, but on the other hand my mom wants me home for Christmas so she offered to pay for the flight back. Now I’ll get to see everyone in just a month. I’m pretty excited to spend some time with both Meghan’s family and my own. 

Prayer Requests: This year is coming to a close and we are wrapping up a lot of things and trying a lot of new things. Pray for focus to do what needs to be done. Also please pray for the relationship I have with Meghan. Pray that we keep God at the center of it and that we daily commit it to him. Pray that God works out all of the timing and planning for our marriage too. Thanks.

We’ve Got Some Visitors

Tony and his uncle working on the guard shack.We have a group again! They got here late last week from Pennsylvania and they’ll be here until Friday. They have been doing construction on the Wired Ministry Center and things are really starting to come together. They have been building a guard shack, setting up bathrooms, welding various parts of the building, and working on a lot of other areas that badly needed attention. They have been doing some hard work but thev’ve been very willing to help.

The prayers that I asked for about Meghan were answered. God worked out the prior commitments for Meghan so that she can come down here without having to change her tickets all around. So she and my sister fly in early tomorrow morning. Kelsey, my sister, will be here for a week and Meghan, my girlfriend, will be here for about 12 days. I’m really excited for them to get here, and to show them around the ministry and the country. I’ll be bringing them on a lot of my language/culture training, so they’ll get a pretty good sampling. 

Quail eggs in their incubator trays!I recently put 20 eggs in the incubator! The incubator doesn’t regulate humidity so it will be tough to get everything right. But if everything works out correctly I might have some baby quail chicks around the 28th of November. I will definitely post pictures, don’t worry!

Prayer Requests: Please pray for safe travels for Kelsey, Meghan, and me as they come here and as we explore a few parts of the culture. Thanks!

Back to Work

Over the past week or so I have been doing a lot of reaching out. I really want to start embracing the culture now that I have a little more time to. For our language study we have to do a lot of things that help us experience the culture as well as practicing our Spanish on the locals. So over the past week I went out on what is called a Faro route. Basically you plan questions to ask so that you can have a 10 minute conversation with various different locals around the neighborhood. The subject I chose was politics. So I went around and asked what different people thought of the US election as well as how they feel about their own president. It was really cool to just start random conversations. Everyone is very willing to talk too.

I also have been trying out different events at our church to meet some new people and spend time with some friends from last summer. It has been a lot of fun and I already think my Spanish is improving from it.

The factory turned jungleDavid working helping Samuel put the roof on.I started working with Samuel regularly now. I missed working with him while I was gone so it was good to be back. We have been going back to some of the aquaponics systems that I helped set up in August and September and now the plants and fish are huge! Samuel also has a new person working with him now. His name is David and he’s from Ohio. He came at the end of September and will be here for 3 months. He helped with a lot of the things that got done while I was gone. It has been fun getting to know him as well. 

Quail cages!I built something this past week too. Haha. I built a couple new cages for my quail out of the scrap wood around Wired. Also, Samuel lent me an incubator so I can breed them. I’m hoping to get some more quail and possibly even find a way to sell some eggs as a fundraiser. We’ll see. I’ll keep you posted.

Prayer Requests: We have a group coming at the end of next week that Nestor has been planning for. Please pray for him and the group. Pray for safety and that we are quick to listen for God’s plan. Also please pray for my girlfriend Meghan. Her and my sister are supposed to be coming down to visit later on in November, but there is a chance that one of Meghan’s prior commitments can mess up that whole plan. So please pray that God works that out. I would like to see her. :)