Next month we will have a first at Ruby Ranch. We will be hosting our first ever mountain bike race!

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It is a bit surreal to think about the fact that there is a mountain biking community here in Nicaragua. I think for both of us, mountain biking was definitely one of those things we laid down when we moved overseas, and really did not expect to have an avenue to do it again. Though the terrain at RR is perfect for riding, we didn’t even know if you could find bikes here, let alone an entire group of people who love the sport. But there is, and we are so excited about it!

[Small rabbit trail here: we are finding that like most developing countries, Nicaragua is a place of extremes. The insanely wealthy live a mere twenty minute drive away from the city dump, where people sift through trash to try to find something of worth they can recycle for an income. We regularly pass a horse-drawn cart and a Mercedes Benz on the same highway. So while we initially felt ‘called’, if you will, to the poor here in Nicaragua, we are learning the balance of being called to the country as a whole, instead. So we don’t get hung up using a thing like a mountain bike race to promote the vision and heart of Ruby Ranch, demonstrate Jesus’ love to people who can afford a nice mountain bike as well as a vehicle to transport it in, and have some fun doing it. Not that anyone was thinking that, but I think it is worth explaining our ‘why’. ๐Ÿ˜‰ ]

So on the weekend of November 18th there will be a two day event at Ruby Ranch. We’re so glad to be partnering with our friends at Ruedas Leon, as well as Prorider, a Specialized dealer here in Managua. The event will include food vendors, an outdoor movie and of course, the race.

The guys have been working tirelessly on the actual trail, trying to cut trail where there previously was only steep hillside, and planning out the best way to ride the single track. Luckily, because RR was used previously to raise cattle, some of the trails were already established by the cows a long time ago.

Long story short, we are so excited to see Ruby Ranch enjoyed by more people and be able to share the heart and vision of the ranch with another group of people we may not have had the ability to share with otherwise.

Please be praying for not only the event but for all of us involved as we try to get the Ranch ready and prepare for the best event possible.

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It is October and that means two things: we’re one month closer to Christmas (I am definitely more excited about this than Landon is) and this is the month when we will, theoretically, get to meet the newest addition to our family! Homeslice, as we have lovingly nicknamed our baby, is ‘due’ to arrive on October 25th. But since statistically most first babies go late, we aren’t holding our breath for the 25th, or even really October. This could be a November baby for all we know. ๐Ÿ™‚ But everything is going great. We know so many of you are praying for us and thinking of us, and we feel it and appreciate it! We will have another doctor appointment next week (about two weeks out from our due date) but as of the last one, everything was going perfectly. We are so grateful for not only an awesome doctor who is genuinely excited for us, but also for our ‘tribe’ here. Made up of friends who are like family, they are huge supporters of us and this baby, and we couldn’t be more grateful to be walking through this exciting season with them by our sides. We deeply miss our friends and family back in Oregon in times like these, but the Lord is so gracious to bring others around us just when we need them.

In other news, it is almost the ‘end’ of the rainy season, which means LOTS of rain. In fact, as I write this there is massive flooding in the southern part of Nicaragua due to Tropical Storm Nate. We haven’t been affected (except by our water being out) but many here have. Please pray for them as you can imagine how flooding would affect those who are already living in very vulnerable situations.

With the rain, comes beautiful growth. And some not so beautiful. Aka: mold. Whether it is that ‘nesting’ thing that happens at the end of a pregnancy, or just my OCD, but I have found myself smelling and inspecting everything! From sheets and towels to the rims of our ball caps and rain coats, the mold is growing something fierce. Luckily, most of the things we have found it on can be cleaned in some way, so we haven’t had to throw out much. But man. Oregon humidity does not even come close to being the same as this!

And it may be sharing too much, but Landon also had some fungus growing in his EAR!! You read that right! His ear. Two weeks ago we went swimming and he got some water from the river stuck in his ear like happens when you go swimming. Two days later he still had the feeling of the water in there, and began to have ear ache like pain, as well. We went to a local clinic and the ‘doctor’ assessed it as a bacterial infection, prescribing antibiotics to be taken orally and in ear drops. As the days passed, the pain subsided, but then his hearing was gone. And in a country where you don’t completely speak the language, you need all the hearing you can get! So we asked for a referral from my doctor to an ENT specialist at the hospital and visited Dr. Fuentes this morning. He took one look in Landon’s ear (after hearing our description of the events) and simply stated, “Sรญ. Hongos. Su oreja estรก llena con hongos.” I did a quick translation in my phone and laughed. “Landon. Your ear is full of fungus.” Long story short, the doctor was able to remove the guilty spores, prescribe some medicine and a way to clean the ear, and we were on our way. Who would have thought?! (Also, luckily for you, the reader, I forgot to take photos.) ๐Ÿ˜‰

Thank you for reading and check back soon to read about our first ever Ruby Ranch hosted mountain bike race!

Our home church was recently here in Nicaragua to serve with us and it was AWESOME!

Having people come to Nicaragua who we have such sweet memories with (one girl on the team I’ve known since she was entering 6th grade, and she just started her senior year) makes the work seem so much less like work.

The desire of the team this year was to bless the rescue homes, Casa Havilah and Casa Robles. Our church has worked throughout the ministry on different things throughout the years, and I love that about them. They are so willing to help. So we began the week at Casa Robles, beautifying the front entrance where the sun had severely bleached the paint, and we also constructed a giant shelving unit so that the ‘bodega’ area at the house could be more organized and better used.

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From there we went to Casa Havilah for a giant undertaking: paint the entire inside of the house! And not only that, we had to prime the entire thing first, as the base paint was oil based and we wanted to change it to water based from here on out. It was daunting, to say the least, BUT the team was able to finish it! So now the inside of the house is a fresh white color, instead of the numerous other colors it had been.

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The team was also able to sponsor a day out at Ruby Ranch with all the kids, which was so good for everyone. Something about getting to play in open space just changes everything.

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Another part of the team’s trip this year, which sort of brought the entire church into the trip, was they were able to give away Bibles to every preschooler (and many of the older students) at Club Esperanza! Inside each Bible was a handwritten note from someone at our home church, Westside Faith Center. It was so fun to watch these little 3, 4 and 5 year olds receive their Bibles and hear that it was just theirs. That they could write their name inside, because it belonged to them. Such a special thing to be able to witness.

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And of course, we went to Miss Ruby’s house for a beautiful time of prayer together. It was so sweet to be able to love on our friends in that way, as the Lord reminded them that they are known and seen.

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We are so grateful to call Westside Faith Center our home church and that they come and serve with us here in Nicaragua. It is such a joy for us, truly.

When we moved to Nicaragua I think we both sort of expected to have to give up all the things we enjoyed about our lives in the states. Everything from food and hobbies, to the demographic of people we enjoy to work with and be around. And there are some things that have changed, for sure. And things we haven’t rediscovered here, but also have found that to be ok, as well. But one thing we have been so glad to get to continue in is working alongside high school and college aged people. We absolutely love it. And the team who just left from Tallahassee, Florida, is no different.

The youth pastor from Wildwood has been bringing teams down to Nicaragua for the last 14 years. He has literally seen Ruby Ranch since day one, and has watched as the kids out in Las Parcelas (the community near the ranch) have grown from young primary-aged students to thriving secondary school students, and even those who have gotten married and now have kiddos. There is a rich history of Wildwood serving here in Nicaragua, and despite all our joking with them about breaking water pipes, we love having them here serving with us.

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Part of the team’s project was to build a new deer pen.

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The camp photo after a super sweet chapel time.

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The final goodbye at the gate.

The nearly two weeks was packed full of work projects, VBS for local kids, and a little bit of fun. Way too many PB&J sandwiches were eaten, and some pretty hilarious pranks were pulled. But all in all, we had an awesome time with this team, and we are so glad to know each and every one of them.

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The 2017 Wildwood team. We love these people!

 

We are at the beginning of another week of our busy season down here in Nica, and it has been so good lately.

We were able to host a team of college-aged students from Ft Myers, Florida, two weeks ago and we loved it! Many of the team had been to Nicaragua before, as well as other overseas missions to places like Haiti. It was incredibly fun to work alongside each of them as they helped us finish the chapel upgrade at Ruby Ranch, paint the water pipe and dig holes to be able to plant more trees up at the chapel.

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And then we had the great honor of joining them out in Cristo Rey, the new dump community where many of them are able to sponsor kids as a part of a scholarship program. As we arrived at the church that they work out of we even recognized a few kiddos from last summer at RR. It was a really special afternoon for us as we reconnected with these kids (in the photo below) who are so sweet and so excited about life.

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And then, as if the entire week with them wasn’t enough, we were invited to join into their last team time together, a time of encouragement and love. Each bracelet in the photo below represents a sweet word from a new friend, and we are so grateful for each of them.

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In other news, our kiddo is growing like a champ and kicking up a storm! Most evenings I get some not so subtle reminders that there is in fact a little human growing inside me, but we have grown to look forward to those little interactions and can’t wait until we get to meet him or her for the first time.

I do have a big ultrasound appointment coming up next week, in which we will check on the progress of Home-slice (which is the most current nickname). Everything so far has been good, with the exception of my iron being a little low, but that is easily remedied. We feel so lucky to be this little person’s parents and we are genuinely looking forward to all that is coming.


On that note, with a new addition to our family, we are realizing that we need more monthly support. Not only will our bills inevitably increase, but we have had some random things come up in regards to the kiddo that we weren’t really expecting, and I am sure that will only continue. So if you would like to join our support team, please e-mail us at landjbaron@gmail.com. We need to raise $500 more per month.

And thank you for your continued prayers!

It has been two weeks since we returned from Oregon and it has been FULL, but in the best way possible.

We returned to Nicaragua a day after a team from Denver, Colorado, arrived. Valor is a Christian high school who has been coming down here to Nicaragua for the past ten years or so, and we love working alongside them. A truly special aspect of this year’s team was that there were quite a few ‘returners’ so as soon as we arrived at the Buzbee’s Quinta (where the teams stay) we were greeted by a line of high school (and a few college) aged students we had met last year, and I got to hug each one of them! It was like a reunion of sweet friends.

During their trip they worked on some work projects at RR and put on a VBS for the kids out near the Ranch, but the most memorable moments for me happened later in their trip.

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Morning worship time.

For most teams who come to work with us in Managua, their trip isn’t complete without a morning spent in prayer at Miss Ruby’s house. Located near the old Managua city dump, and in a pretty rough neighborhood, Miss Ruby’s house was dedicated long ago as a house of prayer, with the upstairs being completely set apart for it. The leaders of the Valor team had been ‘preparing’ their students all week-long during their team times in the evening. Having conversations about faith, God, the Holy Spirit, and other aspects of our Christian walk. We were even told that the evening the team had discussed the gifts of the Spirit there were many students who stuck around after to ask more questions and talk through different things they were curious about.

As we began our prayer time I shared a picture the Lord had given me on the ride to the prayer house about a cemetery, and how there were people in that room who felt just like that. That they were dead, despite the way their lives looked on the outside, it was like each day they had to return to this place of emptiness. I shared with them from Ezekiel 37 where Ezekiel was led out to a valley filled with dry bones and the Lord prompted him to prophesy to the bones that they would live. I prayed that over the room and we began to individually pray for students. As I prayed for one of the girls I felt tears falling on my shoulder, and heard the sobs of a young man from the team. When we were finished praying for the girl, I turned to the young man and told him we would like to pray for him. And then I did something I hardly ever do. I asked him this simple question: “Do you know Jesus?”

He about tackled me with the giant hug he gave me! I began to speak the truth of how the Lord sees him and the love of Jesus over him, and prayed over him. As we stepped back I asked him if he wanted Jesus in his life. He nodded emphatically and I just said, “Awesome! Let’s pray.” And then I led him in probably the most ‘unofficial’ faith prayer of all time, but as he repeated the words with tears streaming down his cheeks, it didn’t matter. This young man met his savior in that moment, and no fumbling attempt on my part was going to change it. We cheered. We cried. We clapped and rejoiced and high-fived each other. Because he met Jesus. The thing his heart had been longing for, had been prepared for, had come. And that is worth rejoicing. Every. Single. Time.

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The whole team at Miss Ruby’s.

The next evening, alongside another young man who gave his life to Jesus at the prayer house and eleven other young adults who wanted to publicly declare their commitment to the Lord, our friend was baptized. As his leader proclaimed that his old life was dead and he was a new creation, tears rolled down my cheeks. I hope I never tire of witnessing the miraculous. Of stepping into those thin spaces where Heaven feels tangible and it feels like all of creation is boldly proclaiming, “Your will be done, Your kingdom come.”

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The thirteen who chose to be baptized.ย 

Please continue in prayer for us as we host more teams this summer. Also, please pray for all of us who pray with our visitors. Often the prayer days come under significant attack and we have to fight to even arrive at the house.ย 

We are back in Nicaragua after two and a half weeks in the US and even though the past few weeks were a whirlwind, we are so full and grateful for the time we had in the states.

I had planned to return to Oregon in June for my little brother’s high school graduation, but when Landon’s Grandpa Dave passed away on May 9th, it changed our plans dramatically. Within 24 hours we were able to buy Landon a plane ticket (thanks to a friend’s generosity) and buy a one way flight for me to return to Oregon a week earlier than intended. It was a whirlwind, since we had already had other travel plans in May, which were established in back in January, but we made it to both places and we are so glad we were there.

The first few days we were able to just relax at the coast with Landon’s parents, helping to prepare and think through the memorial service. We hiked, I took long walks, and we shared plenty of good conversations. Being in the wilderness in Oregon is soul nourishing for both of us, so I was very glad we were able to have the time to rest, if even for a couple of days.

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The Oregon coast is incredible.

Between being at the coast and the memorial service, we were able to spend a few days in Portland with my sister and brother-in-law, catching up, running errands and having the most un-baby-shower baby shower that ever was. Really, we were able to eat good food with some dear friends and family, and the conversation flowed back and forth about the baby. It was beautiful, and such a sweet time for us to get to hug so many dear ones.

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Our friend Adrienne, and her four kids, whom we hadn’t seen in years. I lived with Adrienne and her husband Berchimas (as well as the two oldest in this photo) when I was in Rwanda.

The memorial service was beautiful. Personal and intimate, with Grandpa Dave’s four brother’s performing It Is Well at the graveside in an a capella quartet arrangement. And then the service at the church was perfect. Honoring to the man Grandpa Dave was, with humor, laughter, worship and Jesus being praised. For a man who lived 91 years fully, I would say he would have been glad for the way we remembered him that day.

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Landon and his Grandma at the graveside service.

Then on Saturday my mom, sisters and sister-in-law hosted another perfectly un-baby-shower baby shower, and our hearts were full by everyone who made such an effort to be there to congratulate, encourage and bless us. We got hugs from so many sweet friends and family members, and I left the gathering feeling an overwhelming sense of gratefulness knowing that our kiddo is already loved beyond my wildest dreams.

Saturday evening we celebrated Luke’s high school graduation, and Sunday we celebrated he and Grace’s birthday 18th and 16th birthdays. It is crazy for me to think about the fact that I was going into 8th grade and my sophomore year when each of them was born, and now they are headed to college and almost done with high school. Time has flown.

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The rest of the week we spent soaking up as much of the things we miss from Eugene as possible. We ate delicious food, hung out with amazing friends and family, and drank delicious coffee. Another baby shower was hosted by my dear friend Becca, and I spent an evening visiting with some of my closest friends from our church in Eugene. It was so thoughtfully done and so sweet. Again, I left with an overwhelming sense of gratefulness for the lover our kiddo is already receiving.

And now we are back in Managua, loving working with Valor Christian High School from Denver, Colorado, as well as hanging out with all the other teams who are here right now.

Thank you for continuing to pray for us. We look forward to sharing more of the awesome stuff God is doing down here as the weeks go on this summer.