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I know…you thought I was finished with my thoughts on Nicaragua. Wrong.

In addition to the many opportunities for ministry with Robbie and Murray Lathrop at Pineapples of Peace, there are moments and blessings that should not go unmentioned. As I think about Jan Bilthouse, who works tirelessly for the Dogwood Shop in our church community, I also now know her now as someone who has experienced a real love and commitment for missions.

Jan tells the story of doodling during church one Sunday morning and found herself circling an advertisement for a mission trip. That circle materialized into a life long passion. For the last ten years, she has been traveling to Nicaragua, encouraging others to come alongside, and has committed to raising funds in a creative way to support missions through our church. Using her creative marketing skills and savvy eye for saleable items, Jan uses her gifts and talents to pursue a passion for missions.  And she brings others alongside and goes into the mission field to serve.

On this particular mission trip,  we gathered in a lovely area on the farm for an afternoon devotional. It is a small garden with lovely benches, trees, and blooms abounding. After Nancy Bell gave a lovely devotional, Jan was called up and in her honor, the little prayer garden was dedicated to her. Big surprise!

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Jan cried. We all cried as Robbie and Murray presented Jan with the unveiling of the sign with “Jan’s Place” welcoming all who enter this little sacred place. And then Anne French came forward and read a beautiful tribute to her friend and co-worker, expressing her love and appreciation and respect for Jan, our friend and sister in Christ who gives tirelessly toward improving the lives of the Nicaraguan people.

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It was a beautiful tribute – one that I am so thankful that I was there at that moment to relish in the emotion and love and celebration that culminated in those few moments. Sometimes we just get lucky and get to take  part in something sacred – a moment where you know so much is being said in just a few words. Time, labor, planning, long hours, sleepless nights, travel delays, funny moments, disappointments, surprises, tears and celebrations all culminating in a moment in time. Celebrating Jan’s Place.

Jan’s Place. Where people go early in the morning to pray. Where deaf children sit and listen to a story being told to them. Jan’s Place. Where singing takes place and stars shine through the night. Jan’s Place. Where parakeets fly over early in the morning and roosters shriek through the night. A place of quiet. A place of joy. A place of remembrance. A place of hope. A place of returning.  Soon.

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