Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Ramblings - Vision

I had a cool experience last week I wanted to share with you. I was walking through Juan Pablo, a very poor barrio here in Alajuelita, when I was approached by a young lady named Maria. Maria is 25 years old, a single mother, and has two sons. She lives in Juan Pablo with her mother who is helping raise her boys. Maria does not have steady work, but finds odd jobs cleaning houses, mending clothes, and such. They are a very sweet family that I have come to love. (Actually, earlier this month God provided a sponsor to provide school uniforms and supplies for the boys.) Now she was asking if I could possibly help her get eyeglasses for her eight year old son named Ericson. The eyeglasses cost $50, which might as well been $50,000 to Maria. She is working hard to clothe and feed the family and there is no money for luxuries such as eyeglasses. So off we went to the local optometrist to get glasses. We found out that Ericson indeed needed eyeglasses! Actually, I think the correct medical term is "Blind as a bat". No wonder he was struggling in school and didn't like playing soccer. Which I've learned if a Costa Rican boy doesn't like playing soccer there is probably something wrong! Anyway, Ericson put on his new glass and opened his eyes to a whole new world. He was seeing clearly for the first time since he could remember. He couldn't stop smiling as his he took in the joy of seeing everything he had been missing. Actually, he looked strangely at me for a long time, as if he didn't know how strange I looked until now?

Watching Ericson got me thinking...I wonder if I need glasses. Not to correct my physical vision, but to enhance my spiritual vision. What if I had a pair of glasses that allowed me see the world as Jesus does? Eyeglasses that helped me to have more compassion for the lost and dying world. A compassion that welcomed a leper's touch or a prostitute's kiss. Or maybe they could help me see the true value of things so I could stop chasing riches, security, and comfort. Perhaps these glasses could help have the perfect joy and peace found in seeing God clearly. The truth is I don't need glasses, because I have Christ Himself inside of me. Not just His eyes, but His heart, and voice. The thing is, I tend to forget this and see the world though the eyes of self. However, since I've been here, I'm slowly learning to see with His eyes, feel with His heart, and listen to His voice. It's a growing process and a journey. Thanks to Ericson, I've been reminded how far I've come, and how much further I still need to go. In closing I just want to challenge you with this thought...what is your vision like?

Ramblings - Missioncation

Last week we had a really cool experience. We were blessed to have an incredible family here on a Costa Rica a missioncation. That word is not misspelled, it's a word I made up to describe the combination of a mission trip and a family vacation.

This particular family consisted of a wonderful couple, and their three children ages 11, 9, and 4. The first part of the trip was spent conducting various ministry projects here in Alajuelita. To watch this family serve in ministry together was an amazing experience. They served at the Children's Feeding Center, went on a ministry walk in Aurora and passed out personal hygiene products and prayed with poor families. They ministered to children in the Juan Pablo community center, they bought and passed out food to three poor families, and they taught English in one of the local school. All this was great but for me the coolest part to watch was when they were able to meet the children they sponsored for school uniforms. The whole family was able to love on the same children they had already blessed thought there generosity. To watch these two families interact and pray together was a real blessing.

The second part of the trip was spent on the southern Pacific coast. They visited waterfalls, went horseback riding, went to the beach, and other fun stuff.
I have included a link to a short video they made of the trip. I recommend you take the few minutes to watch it. ( ) click on missioncation sample.

The lessons learned and memories made will last a life time. Most vacations are good, but I think they would agree this one was great. If you would like to plan a trip for your family simply email me and we will start putting it together.

Ramblings - Reflections

I was trying to decide what to update you about, and that caused me to start reflecting upon all that God has done here in the past six months. When I step out of the day to day and look at the big picture I'm amazed at what He is doing. So allow me to give a quick review of the past six months...

August brought the creation of the Children's Feeding Center in Aurora. This center is feeds roughly 125 children twice a week. I oversee the project, Rita more or less directs the day to day operation, and all of the coordination is done by two sweet Tico women, one recruits all the ladies to do the cooking and cleaning, and the other recruits people to teach Bible lessons before the meal. The operation almost completely run by local people, in a local church. However, the ministry is mostly funded by contributors at Cross Creek Church and a few other supporters in United States. This ministry has provided both physical food and spiritual food to many children. It has also strengthened the local church and has increased it's presence in the community.

August also brought the start of my language training and God has surprised me how much I've learned thus far. I know it's hard to believe...but I am capable of learning!

September brought our first short-term mission team...and we've had groups every month since. Watching God work through these groups has been very encouraging for me. In the past six months three families have received a new home or a complete remodeling. Many people have been prayed for and blessed with a loaf of bread and a Bible. One group worked on a school, and another worked on the Christian school my children will be attending.

September also brought out first child sponsor. Since then God has provided 20 different children with new school uniforms and school supplies. Some of these children are returning to school for the first time in three years. Here in Costa Rica every school requires children to wear uniforms, so many times if the family can't afford the uniforms the children simply don't go to school.

October brought the beginning of the ESL ministry. I continue to teach English in the town library twice a week. I currently have about 40 students...all learning English from me! Scary thought...

November brought a local tragedy as a family in the community had their house burn down. They lost everything in the fire. Outreach Ministries provided some immediate support and one family back home sent a love gift and we were able to provide some much needed food and clothing.

December and January were full of ministry opportunities as well but this email is already too long. I would love to tell you everything, but there simply isn't time. This has been a good exercise to reflect on the past, but now my focus is the present as we charge hard into the future. My prayer is that God will allow you to continue to be part of this ministry. I encourage you to "come take a walk" and taste and see for yourself.

In closing thank you for supporting the ministries here in Alajuelita through your prayers and giving. The past six months has been amazing, and we are looking forward to what God has on the horizon! Maybe starting a worship service in Juan Pablo? Maybe another feeding center, maybe an orphanage? Not sure yet...but one thing is for sure...God is at work here in Alajuelita and has much more to do!