Category "Updates"

UPDATE – Feb 4, 2019

February 5, 2019

Well, January has come and gone and we are still in Tulsa.  Cheryl had shoulder surgery on January 7, and is now in rehab.  Our return date is now set for February 13.  It is a tremendous blessing that we have Nicolas and Nelson and the other 18 employees at the Mission Center to keep things running.  We, and especially Cheryl, normally communicate with them several times a day.   Cheryl had made arrangements with her physician to be dismissed early from PT to leave for Honduras on February 13.  However we have received word from her sister that her Mom has been put under hospice care.  Therefore we will be making a trip to Michigan before returning to Honduras.  We are just now collecting information regarding how soon to make the trip.  Today (2/4) was the first day of classes at the mission center.  Cheryl and Ellen LeGrone have spent a lot of time introducing a new curriculum, lesson plans, a new student handbook with new rules, etc.  We’re depending on our Honduras staff to implement all of the changes.

UPDATE- Dec. 12, 2018

December 13, 2018
  • We got back to Tulsa last Tuesday (12/4); the trip was pretty much uneventful.  A day earlier we said good-bye to Denny Boersema.  He spent ten days with us working on the education program.  He and Cheryl worked on new applications of curricula, as well as procedural handbooks for students and teachers.  On the same day that Denny arrived, a group from Beacon Hill Baptist in OK was just leaving.  Candy Matheny and her parents have been running the 1000 Christmas gifts project since 2007.  This time Candy and her mom, Collene Jennings, along with Linda Thornhill, Avery Johnson, and Phillip Deckard came along.  It was a great experience for all.  First of all, the container came in much faster this year.  The boxes were in our warehouse by the time Jim Redyke and the group from First Methodist had arrived.  This year we went further back into the “jungle like area” to hand out the gifts.  Over past couple of weeks we have had several meetings regarding the future of our Honduras church.  Since Nelson Batista has been held in Venezuela so much of the time, the decision was made to ordain Nelson Osorto, so he can do baptisms, communion, marriages, etc.  He is working on a seminary degree.  For now the two Nelsons will be co-pastors…..Just before we left on Tuesday we had Saturday graduation at Gathering Hearts.  A real highlight was when the 94 graduates sang songs and hymns in English.  We served sit-down lunch to about 200 students and family. Later in the day we attended junior high graduation at the private school where we and other Gathering Hearts participants scholarship students. That was a very special time also…. Before leaving Honduras we also had several meetings about the land for our soccer field.   The deal was sealed just before we left.
    • . . . . . . . .

   Sometimes I think we may be fuel for the unbeliever when the things we preach are not the things we do.

Graduation

UPDATE – Nov. 14, 2018

November 14, 2018

We are currently getting the container with 1000 children’s Christmas gifts every other year—and this is the year!

 

Furthermore, this year we got the container in record time.  In years past it has arrived as late as the end of December, and at a much greater cost.  This week Nicolas, Joel, and I have gone into the villages of Tronconera and El Sauce registering the kids and giving them a ticket for a gift.  We began this program in early 2000 and we met many adults in those villages who remembered receiving one of our gifts when they were a child.  We have yet to hand out tickets in Seis de Mayo; and then next week we plan to distribute the gifts.  Candy Matheny and Celline, who have headed this project since 2007. will be arriving this week to help with the distribution.  Avery Johnson will also be coming, as well as Linda Thornhill, and Mr. Deckard.

Things are going well in the other parts of the ministry.  Last week 20 dump truck loads of fill dirt leveled the lots where the new classroom building will be built.  Classes are lively as we come to the end of another year.  Graduation will be in two weeks; Denny Boersema from Michigan will be here for that.

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It’s hot as we pray for the soccer field.

August 3, 2018

It’s hot in August! On Saturday I took a long walk through Seis de Mayo; I need to do that more often as I always see people I haven’t seen in a long time—sometimes young adults I knew as toddlers. This reminded me of our Christmas box gifts. Many of these young adults in Seis de Mayo received Gathering Hearts Christmas gifts years ago and we will be receiving another container of 1000 gifts this year, thanks to Candy Matheney and her team. We hope to receive the container in November.

Many of you have prayed for and asked about the concrete lot next to the mission center where we do soccer outreach. We had a very good meeting with Alba and Pedro Paz on Tuesday to discuss purchasing the field. There are still some things to be worked out, but we are all moving in the same direction. We have already received more than half of the money for the purchase. Luis Paz is currently in New York receiving treatment for bone cancer. Please pray for him. Cheryl and I will be leaving for the US on Sunday, 8/12. The main purposes are health evaluations for both of us; visits to interested churches; and time with family. Mom Longstaff has had some health issues at age 95, and we need to spend some time with her. We plan to return to Honduras on September 25 and we have two teams coming in October.

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Lord, make me willing to be made willing.

Gary

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Baptism and Communion

July 30, 2018

Our third team since May left just left almost two weeks ago. This one was from our own church, Beacon Hill Baptist in Oklahoma. They participated in nearly every one of our ministries and it was a joy as always to see friends that we have known for many years. Avery Johnson is with us for a few more weeks before returning to University Of Tulsa for the Fall semester. She is doing a great job teaching classes, hosting events, and developing new programs.

A few days ago our pastor, Doug Johnson, arrived from Tulsa and we had the blessing of sharing a communion service at the church as well as a Baptismal service on Sunday, July 29th. The baptism service was an amazing time. Those being baptized gave such wonderful testimonies of the work of Christ in their lives and afterword the entire church gathered on the beach while Brother Doug and our own Nelson Osorto baptized each person in the warm waters of the Gulf. The worship team from the church sang after each baptism as those baptized walked out of the ocean and back to the beach and together we all celebrated the newness of life we find in Christ.

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Thank God for Healing Hands!

June 8, 2018

On May 5 the medical team from Christ Presbyterian Church in Tulsa arrived for a wild and busy week.  We watched as these Doctor’s, nurses and support staff saw hundreds of patients, working tirelessly to provide healing, kind words, medical expertise and the love of Christ.  Each day one group would travel to a nearby village while the other group saw patients at the mission center, both groups working through lines of people one after the other.  In addition to medical care the gospel was hared with each person and additional ministry work was done with children and women.

Everyone on this team was such a blessing and I wish we could tell all the different ministries and acts of service.  Particular highlights were Lacinda’s (Keilbarth) wonderful organizational abilities handling the large amounts of medications; and Mary Jane Friend’s dispensing eye glasses to si many with such great needs.  The whole team are real pros and we are more grateful than we can express.

On a personal note, thank you for your prayers for me.  Since coming back I have been doing home visitation with Nelson Osorto.  I wasn’t quite sure how it would go with the heat and climbing and all, but I was able to go up a couple of long stretches up the mountain and felt pretty good.  We’ve had a couple meetings with Mauricio; one included his superior from Memphis, and they are still interested in subcontracting from Landau to us which would be great news!  Another reason to pray.

Gary

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May Update – Back to the Future!

June 8, 2018
May Update – Back to the Future!

As planned, we got back to Honduras Wednesday (4/25) at noon.  For me, it had been a year since I’ve been here.  At the mission center streams of little kids came from every direction wanting a hug .  That afternoon we visited all four of the young adult classes and rejoiced to see old friends and new students as well.  The next day the Gathering Hearts employees surprised us with lunch and Nicolas shared that each employee had contributed $15 to buy food and gifts.   We felt truly welcomed back home.  What a rich blessing!

Later that day Nicolas was able to tell us more about the terrible situation here in December during the election.  There were 15 straight days no one could use the roads.  Many businesses were burned and the threat of armed violence was constant.  We all truly appreciate those that prayed for the ministry and the people here in Honduras during that time and we ask that you continue to pray.  The immediate threat of violence has subsided but Honduras remains a troubled country, more in need of Jesus than ever before.

On Thursday we also spent some time in the children’s classes where they sang songs and recited Scriptures.  Truly God loves the little children!  We had lots of medications, school materials, and other supplies to bring back with us this time and as is often the case, we crammed everything into four suitcases of almost exactly 50 pounds each and made it without any problems.  Please pray for us as the ministry is bigger and busier than ever.  We need God’s provision, guidance and wisdom as we serve the calling he has placed on our lives.

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April 2018 Making connections – Soccer Field News

April 28, 2018

Wednesday, April 9th, we had a really nice meeting with Bob Mulloy and Mark and Debbie Plaster. All three have been to Honduras and know some of the people there. We had a good time discussing future plans for Gathering Hearts. Then yesterday we had another with Bob Mulloy at the headquarters of Literacy and Evangelism here in Tulsa.  These were all opportunities to make great connection for the ministry.

 

We have an additional prayer request for those of you who follow our ministry and partner with us.  We received a note from Nicolas saying that Luis Paz had come out to the mission center and asked if we are still interested in buying the soccer field. He was planning on dividing it and selling it as building lots. However, he said he wants to be fair to us.

 

Of course we want to purchase the property and will be praying for the funds to buy it. What we call the soccer field is really only about a third the size of an actual field but it adjoins the Gathering Hearts Ministry Center and is where we hold the  soccer tournaments we use for outreach.

 

We are communicating almost hourly with our lawyer in Honduras regarding renewal of our residency. It has turned out to be quite an ordeal sending things back and forth. We are mourning the loss of a very dear friend over the weekend. Doug Foster passed away while on a trip with his family.

Scolarships and Tacos

April 15, 2018
Lesbe, (left) came to Christ with Juliza Batista (2nd to left)

Partnerships and village initiatives are going strong.

In San Roque we now have an outreach from the Templo Evangelical Emanuel, our home church.  This includes small meetings in homes as well as a joint meeting in the community center.  Pastor Nelson Batista and his wife Juliza have been working tirelessly in the discipleship programs in the villages around the Mission center.

One great blessing of the discipleship program, is a young girl named Lesbe who accepted Christ.  Like many young girls in Honduras Lesbe  had been unable to attend school for years in order to stay home and take care of her mother’s younger children. In addition education in Honduras is expensive, often times costing well more than the average family is able to afford. In Lesbe’s case she was given a scholarship to the private school and has begun to thrive.  Her academic scores are rising, she attends church, and through the discipleship program she found Christ.

All this from one scholarship!

This last month, the village women made tacos to help support the church.  What a great exercise in giving of these women who  are so in need themselves, giving of what they have!