Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Running From Otto

We never dreamed that our first real trip up river would be because we were running from a hurricane. For days we watched the weather reports showing Bluefields right in the cone of the hurricane track prediction.

Our Thanksgiving tradition in Nicaragua has been to spend the holiday in Managua with the Buzbees. Donna went over on Sunday leaving Dan to oversee work being done on the boat. By Monday morning there was talk of closing the airport and he had to jump on a plane in a hurry if he was going to get his turkey in Managua. He also had a very important steering cable that needed to be extended. He took it in Tuesday morning and left it with the experts. By Tuesday night, he felt strongly to go back to Bluefields and take Caribbean Grace to safety. But it was useless unless he could take the cable which wasn't ready Tuesday afternoon. Wednesday morning he headed out from the Buzbees...the cable was miraculously ready, there was a seat on the plane and he was off.

By Wednesday afternoon Dan and his crew were headed up river. Here are some pictures of the trip...

 Heading for the light beyond the clouds.

 Pesca Nica...where many old fishing boats end up.

 It wasn't very rough...mostly lots of rain...


 Arriving at Kukra Hill with many boats already there.

 Caribbean Grace finding her place at the dock.

 From the largest to the smallest...all looking for a safe haven.

 Lunch onboard.

 Sunrise Friday morning...time to head home. 
Greatfully, Hurricane Otto had veered south and spared Nicaragua.

Dan getting some coaching from the expert, Aliside, the best mechanic in Bluefields.

 Everyone was heading home...

 The blue sky was such a welcome sight.

 Some boats lined up like baby ducks, getting a tow.

Safely home with the crew...Aliside, Alejandro, Roberto and Dan

The Coast Guard gave us permission to make this trip, even though we are still not licensed or registered, because it was an emergency. We are now working on getting this done. Please pray that this will be done with as little hassle and cost as possible. 

We are grateful for so many things...this will certainly be a Thanksgiving to remember. 

Happy Holidays, Dan and Donna Letton

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

A side ministry that has become my heart!

Pancake Saturday...we love to do this when we can...these kids can put them away! We made six batches and they ate every one!

What began as a few hours here and there spent at the children's home Verbo church started almost two years ago, has now totally captured my heart. Of course developing the mobile clinic is still our main purpose here, but it is mostly Dan's focus.

I now go out four days a week to teach the kids English and Wednesday has become Art day. You wouldn't think that one hour with only six kids (half of the 11 each time) would take much toil on your energy. Think again! But what a blessed sacrifice that little bit of energy is.

A short time ago, the house parents, Kevin and Julisa, had to go to a training that took them away for a week. We said that we could oversee the house during the daytime while they were gone. As soon as they left almost half the kids came down with a virus. So an occasional checking in turned into most of every day out there. But again, what a blessing those kids were. They just wanted to be near us...cuddle up on the couch or play cards...anything to be near. We got them all well, and even added another little girl before Kevin and Julisa got back.

This desire of ours to be nearer to the kids and have more input into their lives has led us to a decision to build a small house on the property. Right now we live a fair distance away...far enough that we don't make quick drop-in calls. If we lived there, we could be involved a lot more and in a more natural way. But having our own space will help to keep us sane. :)

 A friend of mine sent "Jesus Storybook Bibles" for the children...Tania is reading to Leiyanni...

...and Assadi is reading to Ingrid.

Dan and Tygy are deep in discussion about something ... 
Probably boats!

Here are a few things to pray about:

- Kevin and Julisa. They are a very young couple with a huge responsibility. Please pray for protection over their relationship and the wisdom and grace to put into these lives.

- The children: Anthony (12), Cesar (11), Luis (10), Dared (10), Richard (11), Tygy (8), Tania (11), Ashley (10), Leiyanni (10), Assadi (7), Ingrid (6)...Pray that they will be open to all the Lord has for them at this home.

- Our new house. It will be a tiny one, built much like the local houses. Please pray for the building and the relocating...that it will all go smoothly.

Thanks so much for your interest in our lives and your support in so many ways. We are so very grateful!

Blessings, Donna and Dan Letton

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Launch, Dedication and First Run

What a couple of weeks we have had!! And what should be such a simple story has so many twists and turns...hope we can make it clear for you all. 
The timeline for the "end of the beginning" is:
August 24th, the Launch, September 21st, the Dedication, and September 27th, the First Run.

Inbetween these dates are so many ups and can't imagine.

But let's get into the pictures...that's the best part!

August 24th...the Launch

Launching a boat with a Caterpillar was new to us...

What a happy moment...and what a beautiful boat!!
The men in the water then walked/swam her over to her new berth at a dock almost nextdoor.

Next comes the Dedication on September 21st. It was a beautiful morning until about a half hour before we were to begin...then it started raining...and raining...and raining. In fact, the more we prayed and thanked God, the more it rained. Was He raining down his blessings? We like to think so...

Friends came from as far away as Arkansas and Florida as well as Managua. All of the boat builders were there, and many friends from Bluefields.

The rain stopped completely when it was time to cut the ribbon and have people come onboard and tour the boat.

Pastor Ed and Dan cutting the ribbon...

 It was a great day!

And last but not least, the First Run on September 27th. Santiago, the boat builder and the mechanic said they wanted to take Caribbean Grace out for a run to see how the engines were working. We don't have the registration or license yet, but they said it would be fine. Everyone was excited!

Captain Dan at the helm...

on the river...

 The "Tres Amigos"... Dan, Roberto and Santiago

So this is where we are now... a few more things to be completed inside the cabin and a few more changes to be made outside and we're off!

We do have a few prayer requests:

A number of items are being held in Customs in Managua (since the middle of July)...the radio, a generator, depthfinder...and more. 
Please pray that they will be released soon and that we won't have to pay huge fines/taxes.

We need our registration and license. The Navy needs to inspect, and the fees/taxes could be very high...we don't know yet. 
Please pray for a favorable inspection and low or no fees and taxes. (We were told at one time that there would be none...?)

We have hired a wonderful and Godly man to be Dan's assistant as well as captain the boat, Roberto Cash. 
Please pray for the money to pay his monthly salary.

Please pray for monthly operational expenses...which help support the local economy.

Thank you so so much for your interest, your prayers, and your is a blessing to have such a great team behind us. 

"Fair winds and following seas"...
Dan and Donna Letton

Please pass this on...

Friday, June 17, 2016

Nearing the Launch Date embarrassing that we haven't posted for almost a year! It's not because things haven't been happening...they have. We've had a number of technical difficulties that have discouraged us in our blogging. 

One huge encouragement and a major piece of the puzzle was put in when Dan found his "right-hand man", Roberto Cash. What a gem of a man. He has proven himself on many occasions to be indispensible. He not only is a brother who loves the Lord with all his heart, he is a sea captain, a great translator, takes initiative, keeps Dan on track, and knows or is related to just about everyone in Bluefields. He and his wife, Carla, have 7 children who are also wonderful. (One of his daughters has become our Spanish teacher.)
        Roberto and Carla            

The boat is really almost finished. We are looking at weeks instead of months to the launch. Dan has set several launch dates that he likes to say, "God has ignored." Like any new project, there are so many unknowns. And once the outside of the boat was finished, it was hard to see the progress that was being made on the inside. Here are some recent photos of the work...

The hand rails have been put in and a cockpit roof has been added. This will make it so much more pleasant when going up river in the hot sun. It will also make the cockpit useable as a clinic station, eating and meeting area and there are 6 hooks for hammocks.

The view from the cockpit...

Part of the galley and the galley gas stove. There were only two of these beauties in Bluefields.

Inside shot of the main cabin and the new windows. They still have the protective film on them so you can't see out yet, but the view will be great! As you can see, there is a lot going on.

And the view of the windows from the front. The boat looks rough because they have sanded it down for its final coat of paint...which they are painting now between the rain storms.

So much has been done that can't be seen just yet...mattresses were made to fit each sleeping bunk and Donna has been busy making the sheets. So many things that you don't think about until you picture a night on the boat: pillows, towels, dishes, silverware, pots and pans, dish towels, tables, and chairs. And then all the nautical devices that are needed: GPS, VHS radio, depth finder, compass, safety equipment like life jackets and rescue rings. And ropes...all the ropes that are needed. And fenders and flares and fire extinguishers.

One last thing...some of you may have heard that one of our 85 HP engines was stolen. On a stormy night (when most robberies occur in Bluefields), several guys broke into the boat cabin and stole the engine. Our precious boat builder, Santiago, took it personally and was determined to get it back. He hired a whole group of guys to canvas the city and he found it! The thieves haven't been aprehanded as yet, but we are just so thankful that we don't have to buy a third engine.

Thank you so much for your prayers, your giving, and your encouragement. By the end of the summer you are more than welcome to come to Bluefields and take a ride on "Caribbean Grace".