Blog Archive

Friday, January 27, 2017

How have YOU seen God today?

we are steadily making progress on our work projects, putting up fiber board in the bathroom addition, installing ceiling tiles, and finishing the corn hole boards we've been working on.  And our latest project, painting the Sunday school rooms for vacation bible school (we learned of this latest project yesterday afternoon, and finished painting three classrooms before lunch today).

We were able to take a rest day yesterday to enjoy some time together as a team, experiencing some of God's nature.  We took a river tour and saw white faced monkeys by the dozens, iguanas, crocodiles, lots and lots of birds, and a pretty rare siting of the red macaw.  We had lunch and got in a little shopping before heading back to the church.  We'll work on Saturday to make up for the break, but wanted some of our team, who will be leaving tomorrow, to get a rest day.

Today, about 50 children showed up at the church for VBS.  There was laughter, instruction, games, and joy on the premises, and the VBS kids had some fun too.  We are blessed to be here among all of our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Tonight we attended church service.  We ask for prayers for pastor carlos, as he has had a terrible tooth ache and is currently on antibiotics.  We also need prayers for Dennis as he had a little mishap with a power tool.  He's been looked after (we do have a paramedic with us) so we think he'll be okay.  

Devotions this part of the week have spoken to us about worry, Love, being used for God's purposes, and how God fills in the gaps in our lives.  Our scripture list for the devotions is:
Phillipeans 4:4-20, 2Timothy 4:18, Phillipeans 4:6-7, Matthew 5, Isaiah 64:8, John 13:34, 1 Corinthians 13:7, and Jeremiah 29:11-15.  I encourage you to read and hear what God has to say to you through these passages.

We ask for traveling mercies for those returning home on Saturday, and for those of us returning on Monday.  We have been in constant prayer for our families at home, and for the people here in Costa Rica.

tomorrow, we will continue our work and do our best to leave here with finished projects.  We intended to do one thing when we got here, were diverted to another, with a sprinkling of yet something more.  No matter what our physical work is, we continue to build relationships with our Costa Rica family.  The men and ladies that we have been working with give us so much more than we can imagine, and it will be sad to leave here.  But we will remain in touch through so many of the media options that we have today, as well as through continued prayer.

When I get home to my computer, I will post a few pictures so you can see our work.

Until next time, I pray blessings, good health, and love for you all.  Dios te bendiga !!

Monday, January 23, 2017

Buenos Dias de Costa Rica!!!

God is good....all the time.   All the time....God is good.  Amen!!

First, I'll just start by saying that I'm having a hard time posting photos again this year, but will try to get it worked out soon.  We will also be launching a Facebook page, where you will be able to view photos and comments from the team members.  I'll share that as soon as possible. 

We've been here for three full days now, and we have been blessed beyond words, in so many ways.  We were able to start work here at the church almost immediately.  Usually we have to wait a day for all of our supplies to arrive, but this year, we had paint and cement board available right away.  We spent Friday laying the cement board to provide storage space in the attic of the new addition.  We were also able to paint one of the new rooms and prep it to install the ceiling tiles and maybe some windows.  

We attended church service on Friday night, and although we had no interpreter, we were able to worship through the scripture, the music, and some snippets of English here and there.  (Pastor carlos does speak some English, however, when he is in the Word, he has to slow himself down to translate....😉).
On Saturday, we were up at 4:30am to board the bus.  We joined about 50 other members of the church to attend the 100 year celebration of the Methodist church, in Alajuela.  The town is just outside of San Jose, a three hour drive.  The celebration lasted from 8:00am until 3:00pm.  There were dancers from many churches, many preachers spoke and delivered messages of love and praise, the president of the country and the bishop both spoke and were honored, and the several district superintendents were also recognized.  It was a very special day on the life of the Methodist church.  The celebration also included special music and entertainment for the children, and no birthday party is complete without a huge birthday cake!!

Yesterday, The Assembly of God used the church facilities here to hold a huge conference celebration, so our Sunday service was postponed until 5:30pm.  So, of course we took the opportunity to do a little exploring.  We found a very nice beach which we had never been to.  We took our lunch and spent a couple of hours resting and rejuvenating.

Our church service last night was a continuation of the message that was preached on Friday night.  Pastor Carlos spoke from the books of John, Mark and Genesis (specifically John 15:1-15, Mark 5:18-20 and Genesis 1:28).  God created us with a purpose.  He created us with the ability to do something.  He expects us to bear much fruit.... constant and permanent fruit.  Our purpose is to live for Him, and to share the miracles He performs in our lives (no matter how large, small or seemingly insignificant) so that others will see the blessings He has bestowed on us.  By doing so, we are sharing His love for us and spreading His word and love.  We are being fruitful in our discipleship.  And , we are answering His call.
Carlos used a situation from our trip two years ago.  While we were preparing to build a storage building, there was a grouping of banana trees in the way.  Those trees were destined for the trash pile.  However, a few of the ladies could not bear to see that happen, so we took the 'doomed' trees and relocated them to the opposite side of the church and planted them along the fence/wall line.  This year, those very same trees have grown from small saplings to grande trees, bearing at least 8-10 huge bunches of fruit (which are quite delicious I might add).  The transplants were recognized as having great potential.  They were watered and nurtured, and are now providing fruit for others to enjoy!  Hallelujah!!  Carlos drew an analogy between the banana trees and us as Christians.  Like those doomed and unloved banana trees, We too can bear much fruit, through our experiences and the nurturing word of Christ.

Every situation provides opportunities.  In last night's service, we again had no interpreter lined up.  It is the practice of this church and this pastor to openly recognize visitors to the church.  The congregation is introduced to the visitors and they are welcomed by way of shouts and applause (and quite often slaps on the back and lots of hugs).  During those introductions, one visitor offered to assist in interpreting.  It was a true blessing for those of us who have limited to no Spanish to have the pastors message spoken in English.  After the service, some approached the guy who translated to thank him.  We discovered that he attends a different church, but felt moved to attend here instead.  As I said in the beginning....God is good!! Hallelujah!  He send Gerald to us because we had a need.  He filled that need through His diciple.  Gerald had no idea that he would be used in that way when he woke up yesterday.....and I imagine he had no idea how big his service was to us.  I don't know how many of you reading this right now have ever found yourself in a church service, and felt like you were missing the message due to a language barrier, but let me tell's hard.  But, God knew what we needed, and He provided.  Simple, right?

Devotions so far have also been a blessing.  On Friday, Reid shared from Ephesians 2:17-22.  He shared how Christ preached peace for all who are near and far.  How we are all welcome to Hos kingdom by the same Spirit.  We are all family.
Dennis shared from Mark 9:38-41and encouraging genuine faith and Bryan read from Phillipeans 4:4-20 as well as 2 Timothy 4:18.  Bryan reminded us that not only do we receive blessings from others, but we too can be a blessing to someone.  We meet each other in times of need, whether we know it or not.
Eve's devotion came from Romans 1:1-15.  Consistent and confident faith.  We must always put our faith in God.  Often when we try to place our faith in things or people , our true faith can waiver through doubt.  But rejoice, if we place our faith in God, always, we will reap our true rewards!!  Remember, as pastor Carlos preached.....speaking of our experiences with God is as important as speaking scripture.  

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Quick note and more photos

Our internet is still very sketchy so I'm trying to type a note before it goes down again.

I think our Cuban friends will be leaving us on Saturday.  I am told that 42 of the individuals here will be leaving for El Salvador, but we are not sure if that is everyone that is here or if some will be left behind,  we are praying that they all are able to leave and that their travels are safe. 

We continue to do more painting but may be able to start bending some rebar to prepare for the frame for the columns for the ramp.  I suppose we need to settle down and just be in God's will, although it is very difficult to do at times.  We all want to really get to some hard labor, but it just isn't happening the way we planned...... and maybe, quite possibly, there is a lesson in that.

I tell you though.... we pray that the image of Christians, and Americans that the folks here is an image that they also encounter when they reach their final destinations.  Some are going to Florida, some California, and I'm sure other places... but we pray that if nothing else, they look and find the love that they so deserve.  Wherever God carries them. 

Being here, in this place, at this time, has certainly impacted me an my team in more ways than I can explain right now.

We hope you are all enjoying the snow, we are enjoying the hot sun.....

God bless and carry you, through good and bad times.  Love and peace from our team to all of you. 


So today we are doing more painting than anything else.  The architect is here and we have the plans for the ramp we are going to start on, but we still need some oversight and more logistical planning..  The footings need to be dug about 6 feet by 4 feet by 4 feet, so we may need a backhoe, which in the states would be simple enough to arrange, but here... it's a little different.  Tracking one down is not as easy as calling up the rental place and getting one.  So, we're filling our time with relationships and painting.  We have had more and more help from the Cubans who are staying with us, so it's really nice to do these things together.  There is a lot of skill in this place, so we make great teams. 

I learned today that a skilled worker in Cuba makes about $19 per month.  A doctor in Cuba makes about $60 per month.  SO, I can say... that I count my blessings.  Not only for the wealth I enjoy in the United States (remember, if you have a car and a h0me you are wealthy by he world's standard), but also for my freedom, which I think we take so much for granted.  I am abundantly blessed in so many ways. 

Love to you all at home .

Monday, January 18, 2016

Dios te Bendiga

First let me say how sorry I am for taking so long in getting this first post done, but as you know, God has a plan and His timing is perfect.  Our internet server has been down since Friday night, so most of our texts, emails, and other communication has been extremely limited, which is why it has taken so long to get this first post up.   So, I apologize for those of you who have been looking and not finding anything yet.  Anyway...A little about what has been happening......

Day one - Travel day......
We are a team of 13 this year, from 4 churches, from three cities..... Lexington, Nashville, and Swansboro.  Some of our team are here for the very first time, some have been to this church two or three times, some 6 - 20 times.   But, we are all here to answer a call.  To do God's work.  (as I sit here on the 'porch' in front of the sanctuary writing this, I am teary eyed thinking of what we have experienced and learned so far, and of course, which I will explain).  Okay, travel day.  We took the church bus to the airport at 3:30am Thursday morning.  Our flights were all leaving around 7:00am and we all flew different routes to reach Costa Rica.  A few arrived and were picked up right away, a few waited in the hot sun for 2 1/2 hours before being picked up, and a few arrived late and did not reach the church until almost 10:00pm.  But praise God we all arrived safe and unharmed. 

Day two - working it all out
Friday morning, our first devotion of the trip reminds us that maybe instead of asking "What's God's will for me?", maybe we should simply ask "What's Gods will?".  When we remove the "ME" from the question, we are able to see a very different picture.  It's quite possible that God's will is simply that 'we' are a part of someone else's story.  Maybe?  Could His will for us be that we are meant to just be part of someone else's story?  Doesn't quite seem glamorous does it?  It's not the big plan we have for ourselves is it?  But maybe, just maybe, by being part of someone's else's story, we are actually in God's will  Hmmm....... think about that.  Don't let Satan pull you from His will.  Don't spend so much time looking for the big parade and bright lights of His plan that you miss just being in His will.  Remember, "this is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it".

A group of us walked to the farmer's market to buy fresh fruit (and of course to stop along the way for a huge fresh doughnut).  While some did that, others began removing the old front gate to the property in preparation for our first line of business...... closing in the opening and painting the walls.  There is a new color scheme here this year, and for those who have followed our work, you know we have done some extensive paining before.  Of course closing in the opening in the gate/fence requires concrete, which we have also done many times in the past.  In addition to the new change to the exterior fence, the color is being changed from pale yellow/terra cotta to tan/brown/off white.  It is always a work in progress.....  Friday was extremely hot here, about 98 degrees in the baking sun, but we did get some work done.

Church tonight was lively.  The message was about being obedient to God.  I pray we can obey what He sends us to do this week. 

Day three - work or play?
Well, we tossed around the idea of working on the fence or taking the whole day to show the new members of the team around some, and after thinking it through, a half day of work wasn't going to really be feasible (because when working with oil based paint and laying concrete block to close in the fence for security reasons, half of a day would ultimately turn into a full day).  So, we packed up the church van and set off for the beach.  It is a 1.5 hour ride so we though we would start early.  Early turned into about noon because we had to go by the service station and get a massive oil leak fixed first.  The Holy Spirit was certainly in charge that day, and we were forced to take our time and be patient...... (you know, it gets dark about 5:30 here, just like at home, so we were very anxious to get the day going....).  We had a wonderful time relaxing on the beach.  We swam in very warm water, did some shelling, dickered with craftsmen on the beach (okay, call it shopping) and ate cheeseburgers overlooking the beach at dusk.  All in all, a wonderful time to get to know each other and relax.

Day four - the Lord's day
Today's devotion reminded us of what others see on the outside is not always a reflection of what is inside, and that what others see on the outside may influence whether or not they choose to find out what is on the outside.  How we act, how we carry ourselves, may determine whether or not others are willing to take a chance on us and find out what we have to offer.  As Christians, we want to be able to share our story, but if others aren't willing to listen, our story may never get told.  Is how you carry or present yourself an invitation to others to find out what's inside? 

Church on Sunday was very emotional in many ways.  The sermon was translated (praise God!) by the daughter of one of the ladies who takes care of our meals here.  Her name is Gretel and she is a professor at one of the universities here in Costa Rica.  Her English is excellent and she is a very beautiful soul and a precious gift to us all.
The sermon message was from Luke 19.  Jesus sent two of his disciples ahead to a village where they would find a donkey tied there.  One who had never been ridden.  The disciple was instructed to untie the donkey and bring it to Jesus. The donkey was chosen to participate in Jesus's grand entrance into Jerusalem.  God, in the same way chooses each of us, though we don't deserve it, to do great work for Him.  When the disciples threw the blankets on it's back, the donkey did not buck Jesus off.  It would be the typical, natural reaction of a horse or a similar animal that had never been ridden/broken, to throw a person trying to ride for the first time.  But the donkey did not do that.  Instead it bore it's burden and carried the weight with it's head held high.... proud even.  What chains do you struggle with that keep you from doing what God has called you to do?   is it your tendency to try to 'buck' Him off when He calls you?  Whether it's greed, pride, adultery, shame, guilt, money, work, addiction, or any other barrier you have.... God wants you to let go so He can use you.  He has a mighty plan for each of us, if we will allow the Holy Spirit to untie us... if we will allow ourselves to bear our burdens and follow God.  Along the way... you will realize that the weight of your burden gets lighter and lighter...because you are not carrying the weight alone. 

Day five  -  Work as usual.... or is it?
Well, today we will actually have a full day of work.  So far, the handicap ramp we expected to be doing has not started.  We are still waiting for the plans and for the architect to show us what we need to do, so in the meantime, we will continue with our painting and our work on the fence.  It is necessary and good work, and we will do what ever is needed. is our back story.......
Just before we were to take off from the US to come here, we learned that the space we thought we were going to have to ourselves (okay, sounds selfish, right?) was being occupied by a group of refugees from Cuba.  The church was housing about 40-50 people who have fled their country and are trying to reach the United States.  So, aside from the political opinions you may have, and aside from the vision you may have of  'refugee' or 'immigrant', let me paint a different picture.... one I would not have been able to paint without being here and seeing/hearing it for myself.

Refugee - A person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster. 
Immigrant - a person who migrates to another country, usually for permanent residence.

The stories that have been told are many, and not so pleasant.  The people here are refugees from Cuba.  Their story is a hard one.  They left Cuba several months ago, with their possessions (their country has allowed them to sell their homes where before that was not allowed by the government) and all they had to try to make their way to the US to make a better life for themselves and their families. (Regardless of your opinion so far, stay with me on this)  Some of the people here do not know God.  They are here because the people here in Costa Rica, at this church, know God.  Maybe He is using the Christians here to untie the Cubans from their 'chains' and lead them to God. Maybe God placed our team here to be the first American point of contact for the Cubans as well.  the people here are just waiting.  They want to work, they want a better life than the one the government allowed them to have in Cuba.  They want to be safe (and they are safe here).  They want an opportunity. There are pregnant women here, there are children that range in age from one or two to teenagers.  Men, women, children........ not surprisingly, no elderly people that I can tell. 

I spent some time with a young mother yesterday and in my limited Spanish, and her complete lack of English, learned a bit if her story.  She (Betsy) is 30 years old, married, and has a 9 year old son (Remmy).  The small family left Cuba with all they had.  They have traveled through 5 countries, and in Columbia, they had all of their possessions taken from them by 'bad men with guns".  Yet, she smiles.  Her husband smiles, her son smiles.  She tells me she hopes to find a job in he US.  She is, by trade, a massage therapist so it may not be too hard to find work once she arrives. I am sure it is a great relief for her and her family to feel free from the hold the Cuban government had on them.  Although, they face a very difficult road ahead, maybe some of their joy is from knowing that the burden they have carried all this time is now being shared.  Maybe they are feeling a sense of community here that they did not have at home.  I don't know.  All I know is that I have been touched by the story, I have been blessed to be a small part of that journey for them, I have gained a better understanding, as a Christian, of what it is to travel a road that is completely unknown and is being walked by pure faith.   The folks we are here with are completely living on faith right now. These people here are not alone in their journey.    And you know what?  Neither are we alone in our journey.  I consider our stories to be somewhat alike.

As a Christian, aren't we also an immigrant of sorts?  Haven't we embarqed on a journey to leave our sinful life to migrate to a bigger and better land (Christianity)?  We step out in faith, not knowing what the road along the way will hold for us.  We travel that road understanding that we will face challenges, we will encounter evil, we will be robbed and persecuted.  We will have all of our possessions taken from us.  We will stumble and we will fall.  We will have to depend on others to help us along the way, because we cannot make this journey alone.  We pray that people will cross our paths that will be kind to us, that will feed us, that will show us a better way.

You do not have to leave your country for another land to feel the plight of the Cubans.  We can find this same dilemma in our own town, in our own church, in our own families, our own personal lives.  We are refugees, immigrants, on the journey for God.  Forced from ourselves to God because of spiritual warfare.  (our battle against Satan)  Where are you on your journey?  Are you afraid to take a leap of faith and join the country of believers?  Have you already started your journey? As my daughter recently quoted Forrest Gump, are you "free floating, accidental like on a cloud"?
Well, seek Him now.  Allow him to untie you from what binds you.  Your journey will not be easy, but there is the promise of a better life ahead.  It does not mean you will not face challenges, but know that you will most definitely NOT be alone.  God is with you and fights for you every day.  Stay strong, stay faithful.

Photos will be added later today, but I just wanted you all to know that we are back online!!!

God bless each and every one of you.  Thank you for your prayers, and your patience.  And thank you for your support on our journey.  We most certainly could not do this alone.  We love you!!!