Dearest friends and family,
The ordeal started the first Saturday in December. Arriving at a board member’s house for a school meeting, I found the driveway deserted. Momentarily, the host walked outside with the news: “Something terrible has happened. John was in an accident.” It was John Friesen, our principal and head of Jireh Fundamental Education where Alicia and Caleb attend school and I (Denise) serve as part-time teacher and administrative advisor.
John was on his small motorcycle, beginning the 45-minute trip to Spanish Lookout from the University of Belize (UB) in Belmopan where he has been a student for two years and student-body president since October. Although he doesn’t remember the accident, others have surmised that a bus stopped suddenly in front of him, causing his cycle to bounce off the back corner and slam him down on the pavement. First impact must have broken the clasp on his helmet, for it slipped off his head; John’s head then made direct contact with the asphalt. With five skull fractures and bleeding in his brain, he barely made it alive to the hospital in Belize City.
Thankfully, the family decided to take him to the best hospital available in Belize. Thankfully, a neurosurgeon recently joined their staff. Thankfully, that surgeon, a Christian man, was able operate on John immediately. Thankfully, he could call on the name of Jesus when he was unable to find the source of the bleeding, then have his hand led to the broken vein. Thankfully, John came through a touchy time in intensive care and has left far behind the initial prognosis of paralysis and/or incapacitation.
The doctor, family, and many others acknowledge miracles in John’s survival and recovery. Before the New Year, John was barely able to communicate basic needs. Just a week later, he typed me an e-mail! His recovery has been amazing. He does lack some coordination in his left hand, but he jokes and converses, and many of his skills are returning to normal. When asked if John could possibly consider returning to UB this semester, his doctor replied, “Yes, in the name of Jesus, he can do it!” So John is presently enrolled in five classes with the hopes of finishing his degree this semester. To God be the glory!
Many thanks to all who have prayed for the Friesen family during this trying time. They are unique in this Mennonite community where any education higher than eighth grade is considered unnecessary, even detrimental! In this light, John’s family seriously breaks tradition – four of the eight children are presently enrolled at UB, and two more are planning to go in the near future! Furthermore, John and Tina founded Jireh primary school five years ago as an outreach to children of all backgrounds, giving the school a multi-cultural flair – another unique twist in this segregated community.
It is our intent to stand by the family not only prayerfully but also financially. John’s father is a dairy farmer of modest means; the hospital bills total US$37,000, plus several thousand for ambulance, medication, etc. OBI has set up a fund for John Friesen, so if you would like to help, please send your designated gift to the Ohio address above, and we will channel it directly to the Friesen family. Gifts given through OBI are tax-deductible. Thank you!
MORE EDUCATIONAL NEWS
Because of the generosity of sponsors who have given through the OBI Sponsorship Program, eighteen children at Jehova Jireh School, Honduras, currently enjoy the privilege of receiving a Christian education. Allow me to share comments from two students who recently graduated:
“I am grateful that you found a sponsor to help me study in Jehova Jireh Christian School. I hope you will continue helping other children who also need to study but who cannot count on finding their own economic resources.” (Fabricio)
“I have completed my primary studies and am very grateful to God, to you, and to my sponsor, because God has used you to find this sponsor. With all of my heart, I appreciate what you have done for me and for other poor children.” (Elam)
How these letters touched my heart! Of the four graduates, at least one will go on to high school. Others will find meaningful work. All of them will benefit from having had a Christian education.
Students have already been chosen to take the graduates’ place in the sponsorship program at Jehova Jireh. However, teachers are aware of at least ten more children in the community who would like to attend but are unable, due to finances. The children they have identified are these:
Maria (girl, 7)
Mariela (girl, 7)
Jose (boy, 7)
Maria Jose (girl, 8)
2nd & 3rd grade
Enelis (girl, 8)
Daniela (girl, 8)
Esmi (boy, 8)
Elis (girl, 8)
Cristian (boy, 9)
Katerin (girl, 9)
Would you or someone you know care to sponsor one or more of these children? A suggested $20/month covers the child’s tuition, books, uniform, and a small daily meal at school. For each child sponsored, you will receive a photograph and information, plus his/her letters as they arrive. If you have a preference for one of the children listed above, contact us right away! Students will be assigned on a first-come, first-serve basis. Please e-mail me (Denise) at firstname.lastname@example.org, or send your first monthly contribution to OBI’s Ohio address.
Julio Nolasco at Bethania in Guatemala, asks sponsors to please pray for the school at this time. Brian & Cathy Ladd, personal friends of ours, had been working side-by-side with Julio at Bethania; however, the Ladds recently returned to Canada when Cathy developed breast cancer. She is recovering well from surgery, and the family hopes to return to Guatemala soon. Julio, who continues in charge, says that teams are welcome and would be a great asset in finishing their school building and encouraging staff.
In the midst of a personally challenging year, John’s accident and the Ladd’s situation have given us good opportunities to gain perspective and pray intently for others in their trials. Nonetheless, a minor trial of our own has been having our “old faithful” Mitsubishi van sit idle for three months. In October, the motor suddenly went “BANG,” and that was the end of it. Bobby was finally able to buy a new (used) motor in Guatemala City this month. By God’s provision, Paul Fry was here from Ohio just when Bobby needed help putting the motor in. How happy we are to finally have transportation again!
Bobby needs the van for traveling to the Ag Project in the South, provided it stops raining! Downpours like the beginning of rainy season have pelted Belize the majority of this month – very unusual, because this is supposed to be the beginning of the dry season! Without dry weather, there can be no work on the Ag Project. Please pray with us for the weather to dry up. Thank you.
We appreciate all of your loving prayers and support. May the Lord richly bless you.