|Living Water Children's Ranch, Honduras|
Teresa Devlin, the missionary who helped find and secure the property and get the building built passed away in the fall of 2012. She had suffered from scleroderma for years and became very sick in June of that year and had to be flown back to San Antonio. She never fully recovered and went to be with God in October of 2012.
Teresa had been concerned for years about who would succeed her and be the one to oversee the orphanage. Two weeks before Teresa became ill, a young woman from Arkanas, Jennifer Zilly who had been referred to Teresa by a friend, flew down to Honduras to spend some time with Teresa in order to get a feel of the ministry and to see if working along side of her was a possibility.
|Jennifer, Darwin and 5 of the children at the ranch|
That plan quickly changed while she was there, as Teresa became sick. With the timing of her visit, and Teresa having to leave Honduras, Jennifer was suddenly faced with a decision. Do I return to the states and forget about this opportunity or do I stay? She felt as if her timing was God's and that she was left to further Teresa's ministry. So instead of flying back home like most would have done, Jennifer stayed in Honduras and began to adjust and learn the Honduran ways. This young American, right out of college, found a job coaching girls basketball in La Ceiba, Honduras and made herself part of the community (that there was even a coaching position open is a miracle and another story). Fairly quickly Jennifer adapted and over the year she began to pick up Teresa's ministry.
Today Jennifer is married to a wonderful Honduran young man, Darwin who was Teresa's main instructor at her music conservatory. They now live at and oversee the Living Water Children's Ranch, the orphanage we had been working to establish for several years.
It hasn't been easy but they have 7 children living at the home now. The process of securing children for the orphanage is difficult and sometimes drawn out because they have to work with and through the Honduran government. So they take the children that God provides and wait for the next one.
What has been incredible is all of the ministry that they have started for the children and the neighbors around them. Not only are they raising the orphans, but they have also started a school on the property for children in the neighborhood. Darwin continues to teach music to children and oversee the music conservatory. And they have recently started a weekly Bible study for the families in the neighborhood with a surprising number attending.
|Doing their schoolwork|
Jennifer is a prolific writer and she chronicles in a real and personal way their struggles with these very difficult children in this third world country. She doesn't gloss over the ministry and you'll get a great up close and personal view of life as a missionary by reading her blog.
The interesting thing about the transition from Teresa Devlin to Jennifer Zilly was that I along with a mission team from San Antonio, met Jennifer that spring in Honduras during Jennifer's initial visit to meet Teresa. We didn't know how serious Jennifer was about moving to Honduras and working with Teresa, but most all of the team members did not think that Jennifer would be the permanent replacement for Teresa.
However we were not in a position to make that decision, thank God, and a few weeks later we suddenly needed a person to fill in for Teresa and Jennifer was there. We realized that she was God's choice!
|Darwin directing his choir|
Jennifer is completely different from Teresa, in age, personality, life experience, etc., but what each have in common is a heart for God. Jennifer has turned out to be an incredible self starter, who has stayed as close to the word of God in her words and actions as most anyone I have ever met. She needs our prayers every day to continue the incredibly difficult and demanding work in Honduras. She has fought illness, difficult living conditions, an apathetic, uneducated and Godless people in which to minister. In spite of all of this, Jennifer and Darwin are committed to reaching this community for Christ, and raising children with the knowledge of Christ so that they may choose an eternal home in His kingdom and may live productive, fulfilling and Godly lives as an adult.
It is beyond my comprehension how God has provided every time we hit a wall with this project. And not only did He provide, but God gave us more than we even imagined every single time. So yes, I'm learning to accept God's will, wait on His timing and not try to control the process. He is infinitely wiser than his children. Go here to read about the first children at the orphanage.