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Hear all about it on Tuesday!

Want to see some of the fair-trade products we picked up in Nicaragua? Or hear about a few of our adventures?

This Tuesday, March 23 at 7:30pm we will be set-up at Don’s shop. The address is 2620 Parmenter St. Middleton, 53562.

We will feature a few other products and stories in the next few weeks. We need your help to support and encourage artisans working in Nicaragua…and it is isn’t hard when they make beautiful work!

 
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Posted by on March 21, 2021 in Uncategorized

 

We made it!

Our adventure out of Nicaragua was successful!

Flying out of Nicaragua was an option…but a very expensive option. It was going to be our last resort since we had 7 of us traveling (our family and a friend of Isaiah’s along doing photography). The Covid test alone was $150p/p and there is only one airline flying in /out of Nicaragua so their tickets are more than $500p/p one way to Miami. You start to multiply all that by 7 and you search for other options!

The boat to Costa Rica was cancelled due to high winds. The boat guy’s response “it’s an incredible adventure, but we want to offer that, not a very uncomfortable and dangerous trip. The ocean is no joke.” I have a healthy respect for the ocean so we kept looking for options. (Costa Rica has their borders open if you fly or arrive by boat. You cannot walk or drive across from Nicaragua.)

Honduras has their borders open! We hired a driver from Nicaragua that took us to the border and we entered Honduras. We got 2 Covid tests (one antibody-the finger prick and one antigen test-the rapid nasal swab) at the border and continued on our adventure into Honduras. After a rental car, a few transport vans, a border crossing and a few Covid tests…we made it to a hotel and flew out to Miami on Tuesday. Unfortunately, we missed our last flight to Madison so enjoyed another warm evening in Miami and arrived home to a cold, rainy day in Madison on Wednesday.

Although a LONG journey home, we made a memory. We struggle to remember the easy journeys but the hard, painful or long journeys implant further in your mind.

Zeke was a traveling champ. When asked which Covid test he liked the best, he responded “I like the one where they just take my temperature (with the thermometer on your wrist)”. Yeah buddy, that is the best one! 😂

We made friends in Nicaragua. Not just traveling buddies, but actual friends that we will miss seeing. And there were more friends that we wanted to get to know better and spend more time with.

But for now, home is a good place to be. Finding joy and contentment on the beach in Nicaragua, at border crossings in Honduras or in the cold rain in Wisconsin is a choice. So joy in the journey and contentment it is…

The first Covid test at the border!
 
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Posted by on March 19, 2021 in Uncategorized

 

Exploring…

Nicaragua is beautiful. We have had a chance to venture up a volcano, onto an island and into tide pools and waves. In the midst of exploring we are making connections. Zeke has been to a new friends birthday party, we have hosted dinner with new friends, Lille and Eva are helping out at a local restaurant, and Isaiah has tagged along on a few surf boats with some new friends.

Don’s Spanish skills are being put to good use and our Spanglish is improving a bit…but honestly my game of charades is fully bilingual at this point.

The commonality we have experienced is that it is rarely the place that draws us in but the people. Our time exploring and building relationships gets ideas flowing. We have spent time planning some future steps for connections in Nicaragua for The Yada Project. Bringing groups down, setting up ongoing partnerships for products and investing in those already working here. We have pages of notes on various ideas and those are just a few.
We have been here almost a month. We have found what we have been praying for…ways to get involved, encouragement for those already working here and plans for the future.
And now a funny thing…it is a little tricky getting out of Nicaragua. There are flights, but they are really expensive. So we are checking getting to Costa Rica by boat, to El Salvador by bus or by walking in to Honduras. We still have no set flight back to the US on Sunday…so if you are led to pray that would be great.

 
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Posted by on March 12, 2021 in Uncategorized

 

A baker, a surfer and a breakdance…

Sounds like a riddle, right? But it is the happy trio of lives intersecting to create a community. Our newest friends live/work/play in Nicaragua. This isn’t an “assignment” this is their life. They are not building a church or ministry, they are building Kingdom relationships. Their heart is with the youth in small Nicaraguan communities. 150 youth come each week to a Bible study, theatre class (that incorporates breakdancing from a pro), early surf sessions, work at a bakery, lessons in running a restaurant, classes making macrame, and the list goes on.

Just past their concrete church building, they are building a youth center. Youth (ages 2-20) are welcome to come to activities throughout the week and the place is PACKED on Sunday mornings.

Although Nicaragua is quite developed in many areas (restaurants, stores, beautiful ocean-front homes, etc) the smaller outlying areas are like most 3rd world countries…warm, welcoming and trying to survive. There are very few cars, no running water, and education is a luxury that most do not afford. It is common to see motorcycles with a family of 5 riding, old-school cowboys on a horse rounding up their cattle on the road and the chicken bus going past with market goods. The opportunities for youth in the outlying areas are scarce. Learning a trade and skills requires someone to teach you. That is the vision of the Youth Center. Not just to teach , but to equip youth with hope and a future. And in the midst of it all, show the love of JESUS for them. Giving spiritual eyes to the daily life of living with a purpose. JJ repeats that faith is not a religion, it is seeking Jesus and following Him.

We are settling in and enjoying meeting people and the slower pace of life. We also are living in a small surf town that has everything we need and we are riding in a car (sometimes a motorcycle or scooter) and have running water in our house. But as we drive up the dusty road, we see a different perspective. Although life is hard, there is hope. We can see that God is working in this place and we are thankful for the time to get involved, get to know the locals and the culture.

 
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Posted by on February 28, 2021 in Uncategorized

 

Taste and See…

“Taste and see that the Lord is good!” Psalm 34:8

My love of food has led us to some delicious cafes, restaurants and hidden gems. Thursday afternoon led us to a bakery that had freshly baked cinnamon rolls, sourdough bread, homemade goat cheese…none of these are native to Nicaragua! It smelled (and tasted) divine!
We ordered a few goodies and began chatting with the owner, Eileen. She was a wealth of knowledge on the area and the more we talked the more we had in common. And then I glanced around the cafe…1 Corinthians 13 was on a poster on the wall; they work with local communities making some local products; and the name of the cafe “Todo Con Amor” “Do Everything with Love”.
Suddenly our conversation was more about her life story and her work here in Nicaragua. Eileen had a radical “come to Jesus moment” a few years ago. Her sincere love of people is evident! She and her husband, JJ have started a church here that brings together 13 communities. But they do so much more than just a church. We will share all that they are involved in over the next few days. We have hung out with them daily and are amazed at how their love of people, and the gifts God has given them, is impacting these communities.

Our family joined them at church yesterday. It was a great morning seeing God at work in this area of Nicaragua…the Spirit is moving!

The church bus!

 
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Posted by on February 22, 2021 in Uncategorized

 

Traveling in 2021…

The world is complicated right now…the feelings, the logistics, the needs, and the fear are tangible. Donnie and I have placed a high value for our family to see the world, see how God is at work in the world and how we can contribute to that work. Friendships have been made throughout the world and our contact with locals, and those working with locals, continue to develop long after we leave a country.

We have stayed up to date with many around the globe dealing with hardships due to the pandemic. Lockdowns wreaked havoc for work, lack of food, and an inability to get clean water. Not only are there issues with having work, but the long term ramifications on the emotional, spiritual and physical separation from others is difficult for many (including the USA!).

After much prayer and searching for opportunities, we made the decision to travel this year. Seeing the needs of on-the-ground support compelled us to take up the task of logistics and work with a few organizations in Nicaragua. So here we are…

Nicaragua is a 3rd world country in Central America. There has been political turmoil for many years and that has affected the social, safety and economic situation. The people are at the hands of bad leadership and the pandemic has only exasperated the issues. On top of those issues, there have been 3 major hurricanes to hit the southern coasts of Nicaragua in the past 6 months.

We talked with a sweet restaurant owner that had her restaurant boarded up due to hurricane damage. She explained the hardship due to lack of tourism and how she is just trying to survive. It is those casual conversations that have led us to opportunities to come along side. (And a bonus that Don knows a bit about construction!).

This week we are meeting with leaders that have built wells in the area and provide clean water. Their approach involves the locals in constructing wells and caring for the land around the wells to keep it sanitary. Our kids saw the local well in the village and the women filling with containers to carry back to their homes. Oh what we take for granted!

We are excited to see what we can get involved with and will keep you updated…

 
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Posted by on February 17, 2021 in Uncategorized

 

A quick trip to Belgium

We packed up a suitcase of High Tea supplies and hopped on the train to Antwerp, Belgium.  Our visit last year led us to a great organization that is totally hands on with reaching out to women. They  not only visit the women working the windows, but offer a support system.  For some, it is simply having a weekly meal together to provide community, for others it is “rescuing” them out of their circumstance (providing a safe place to live, education, job training, a plan for the future).

Prostitution in Belgium is legal, but less regulated than Netherlands.  Amsterdam is one of the most well known Red Light Districts, so is highly regulated and overseen by the government (the government has recently been buying brothels so they can “oversee”…it is actually a ploy to be part of the multi-million dollar industry).

Due to the lack of legal regulations, the Red Light districts throughout Belgium are one of the highest places for trafficked women and girls.  It is not uncommon to see girls age 13 working windows.  Those that are trafficked have no legal rights.

Cherut means “freedom” and that is the hope they offer. To be free from pimps, a desperate past, and for a life that offers a glimmer of light.  Their grassroots beginning has grown!  What started with one woman’s vision to see women in the Red Light District experience freedom, now has grown to a movement of more than 50 volunteers, trained social workers and case workers.  Their simple start in one apartment has expanded to 5 safe houses that will house up to 20 women.

Our team grabbed a delicious Belgian waffle and walked over to Cherut to set-up for the tea.  We hosted High Tea for women from more than 10 countries!  Each woman received a Yada Lovely Things gift box and a Bible.  One of our favorite moments was when a sweet girl from Czekoslovokia opened her box and had a squeal of delight seeing a Bible in English.  She has been in classes to learn English and now had her own English book.  Oh my…how the Word of God can bring such joy!

Our experiences at the High Tea were completely different from Amsterdam to Antwerp…and both were amazing.

We enjoyed dinner with our dear friends from Ecuador (who volunteer at Cherut) and heard their vision for continuing to expand the work of bringing hope to girls working in Belgium.  Belgium is one of most spiritually deprived countries in Europe.  Although dark, it makes the light of Jesus that much brighter and sought after.

More on this later, but we will be continuing to host High Tea to provide funding for  Cherut’s sponsorship program.  For $300/month for 6 months a girl getting out of prostitution will be provided with housing, education, counseling, and job training through Cherut.  We are excited to see how God will bring healing and hope for women in Belgium!

 

 

 
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Posted by on February 29, 2020 in Uncategorized

 

Exceeded expectations…

I have to be honest, my least favorite part of any trip is sitting down to write a summary of our trip.  How do you take a thousand interactions with people, a million “God-sightings”, a feeling of utter dependence on Jesus and an eager anticipation of how it is going to impact the future.  I would rather sit down with each of you and drink coffee and chat about it.  But here I am drinking coffee and trying to write it out…

Five years ago Heidi Wiley was living in Netherlands with her husband for work.  After her first visit to Amsterdam and seeing the Red Light District she wrote, ” I know, without a doubt, I want to do something. Something big for women trapped in the sex industry…” She started volunteering with YWAM Amsterdam each week while living in the Netherlands.  They then moved back to Madison and shared her experience.  The same thing that stirred Heidi stirred within me. I had never considered Europe as a Yada trip.  Heidi made some connections for us last year and this year 10 of us embarked on a faith filled journey to Europe.

We spent the week working together to show the love and grace of Jesus to all we encountered (even each other!).

As we prepared for the tea in Amsterdam, we met often with the team working there.  They shared stories of the relationships they have built with women working the windows; the complicated stories of women trying to get out of prostitution; the dynamics of their work with women; etc.  Their team of 7 spans age, countries, backgrounds…it is quite diverse.  We enjoyed the time we spent with them and quickly saw “our team” and “their team” as “the team”.  Daily we would pray together and the feeling that heaven was touching earth was tangible.  Our prayer for their team continued to be “unity”.

As we prayed for unity for their team, God allowed us to facilitate unity for their team as we served them “High Tea”.  Their casual conversations, laughter, and love for each other came easily as the night went on.  Delicious food, hot tea, foot scrubs, hand massages were on the agenda.

We went with the expectation that women working the Red Light District would drop in and we would host an event that the Amsterdam team could connect in a different setting with the women.  That night, 1 woman from the Red Light District came.  As she left, she was gifted with the box of Yada Lovely Things and a Bible in her own language.  She was thrilled…almost as much as we were!

As we stood there marveling at the night and how AMAZING it was (although totally different than we expected!) I was reminded by Jody that the first goal of The Yada Project is to minister to missionaries.  Bringing them on-the-ground support, showing interest in their work, and sharing their story with others.  BAM!  Sometimes God reveals the simplest plans in profound ways.

Unanimously, we said we would have gone to host High Tea for the Amsterdam team if they were the only ones.  Words cannot express the joy, friendship, and love felt in that room that night.  God certainly answered our prayers for unity and beyond!

 

 
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Posted by on February 25, 2020 in Uncategorized

 

Amsterdam and Belgium 2020

*This was supposed to be sent out before our trip, but it never posted. Read about our trip and read the follow-up coming out this weekend.  🙂
This year our Yada Project trip is looking a little different.  Instead of the Williams family serving together, Beth (and Lille and Eva) will be leading a group to Europe with connections we made last year.  (Isaiah is currently at an internship in Hawaii and Don and Zeke will be meeting Beth and the girls at the end of the week.)
Our group will be hosting events in Amsterdam and Belgium February 1-8.  The connections we made last year have proven to be a great opportunity to bless teams working there and women working the Red Light districts in Europe.
We are excited to see how God will work through our team and time there!  For most, this is the first time to Amsterdam and Belgium.  Within beautiful cities and canals, lie oppressive streets that strip women of dignity and respect.  We are aware of the many issues that surround prostitution, sex trafficking and drug abuse, but we cannot even begin to solve those issues.  We believe that bringing light to the dark can happen with a kind word, sincere smile, and the giving of our time.  Our simple efforts may not change issues but they will let a light shine in a dark place.
As part of our preparation, we are hosting a few events in Madison.  It has given us some good practice in what we will need, how to set-up, and spreading the word about our trip.
See below for the invitation we have sent out for High Tea in Madison…
 High Tea is known as an affair for royalty; taking the everyday of afternoon tea and elevating it. Our group of ladies will be crossing the ocean to offer this experience to ladies working in the Red Light districts in Amsterdam and Belgium. We have invited them to join us for an afternoon of High Tea and pampering. The day will provide an extravagant event for the ladies and will give us an opportunity to share the extravagant grace and love that Jesus shows each of us!
We are working closely with two organizations that have established relationships with ladies and reach out to them to offer childcare, job training, Bible studies, counseling, and life skills. We will be volunteering with them to help as much as we can and will also be hosting a “High Tea Pamper Day” at each location. Our special event will create a new avenue for these organizations to reach the ladies with the love of Jesus and the hope that He brings.
The color purple represents HOPE and royalty. For many ladies, the loss of family, dignity, and self-respect has given them a future without hope. Although sex trafficking and prostituition are an enormous problem, we pray that our actions will show LOVE, our words would offer HOPE, and our hearts would be filled with FAITH. With those three things, God can do something amazing!
Each lady that attends the “High Tea Pamper Day” will take home gifts created by us. Each bag will have the new “Yada Lovely Things” bath salts, body butter, and sugar scrub, along with a Bible and a devotional.
Our goal in hosting this event is to raise funds for our upcoming trip and gather prayer support! If you would like to be a part of this endeavor financially, you can make checks out to: “The Yada Project” or donate online at theyadaproject.com. We also have put together gift sets that you can purchase featuring the new bath line. Thank you again for coming!
“These three things remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is LOVE.”
– 1 Corinthians 13:14
 
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Posted by on February 21, 2020 in Uncategorized

 

We are home!

Yada:The Hebrew word rendered “know” is yada. When used in reference to a person, it denotes a personal, experiential knowledge, not mere recognition. Our knowledge of God should be personal and experiential, not merely theological.  
That is also how we feel about the people we have met. We cannot simply know that human trafficking exists and recognize faces affected by it. We need to jump in and “Yada”…know them through personal and experiential relationship. 
Belgium is currently known as being the most unreached in Europe with the gospel. Due to influx from other countries and a mindset that dismisses a need for God, Belgium has continued to have a dark spiritual feel. 
Amsterdam is known worldwide for legalizing sex and drugs. And not only legalizing it, but flaunting it. 
Germany has had an economic boom that has led people to believe there is no need for God. It is the youth that are feeling the effects and searching for meaning. 
Throughout our travels this past week, we got a glimpse into very dark places in Europe but even more, we met people who are bringing the Light. “The darkness cannot extinguish the light”. 
We have met new people, reconnected with others and had our eyes (and hearts!) opened to see God at work. 

We see how God has moved people to step into a role of living their faith in the face of spiritual darkness and what looks like insurmountable evils. And as they talk about what God is doing and how they see him working, our own faith is stirred. God works through them as they walk with him by faith day by day. And he is able to do the same in each one of us as we walk with him.
We cannot leave unchanged…when God stirs your heart for Justice I believe it requires action. 
Typically The Yada Project has partnered with organizations to buy their product and provide a means for work that brings dignity and freedom from poverty. This years partnerships are looking different. We will not have a product, but definitely ways to get involved. Stay tuned…
“You may choose to look the other way, but you can never again say that you did not know.” William Wilberforce 

 
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Posted by on March 26, 2019 in Uncategorized