Saturday, May 31, 2008

Luce's Funeral

A bright yellow sun is shining in a completely blue sky today. It's the first we've seen of either of them in several days due to Tropical Storm Alma.

Yesterday was a different day, because yesterday we attended the funeral service of a dear friend. It was the night before last that we learned of the death of Lucia. She is better known as "Luce" to many of you. She was almost ninety-five years old, and suffered terribly during her last days.

Her death was a blessing for all who had been praying for her suffering to end, but was even a greater blessing for Luce, who is now no longer in pain, but is now experiencing the peace, joy and love that comes from being fully in the presence of God.

The interaction between 6:8 Ministries, including all the "gringos" God sent to pray for Luce over the past few years, has been a blessing to Luce, and her family; and being with them on the day of Luce's funeral strengthened our relationship with them as well.

From ten in the morning to three in the afternoon we visited with about one hundred of Luce's friends and family in the Juan Pablo Community Center. Luce's body was there in the center of the room, but her spirit was in heaven. Pastor Miguel from Mt. Sinai Church in Aurora preached a message of hope found in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

At three we departed the community center and followed the hearse to a nearby cemetery for Luce's internment. We walked slowly through the city under the pounding rain of tropical storm Alma.

Interestingly, there is a superstition here in Costa Rica. They say they if it rains on the day of a persons funeral, that it means that person didn't want to go just yet. The local news reported that it was the most severe rainfall Costa Rica has experienced in almost a hundred years! This certainly seemed to be a true reflection of Luce tenaciously hanging on to life her last few years. Luce valued life, she loved her family, and wanted to experience it until the end...and so should we.

Our life is not our own, it's a gift given for us to do God's will. Our life should be about serving others, and living for Him. Often Luce made us wonder why she didn't just give up and die. However, sometimes I wonder if God is wondering why we don't live more for Him.

Living today!


Friday, May 2, 2008

Ramblings - Investing

It's always great to have friends come to visit, and this past week was no exception. We had the privilege of hosting Alex, Chad, and Josh (Chad's nine year old son). They came with no set plans, except to see how they might be able to serve those in need. Thankfully, here in Alajuelita, we are never short on opportunities to serve.

Chad and Alex are both successful businessmen, and like most businessmen they are always looking for a good investment. So it really didn't make much sense for them to travel a thousand miles, to spend their valuable time, and hard earned money on people they had never met. However, I guess it all depends on how you measure the return on your investment. If you measure the return by the amount of hope and love it generates; they had a greater return than any of us could have ever imagined!

We started our week by passing out food, medicine, and prayer to those in need. It was really cool to hear Josh pray for a ninety year old woman with gallstones. When we had finished praying we bought her the medicine she couldn't afford, $14 well spent. We also prayed with Luce, the old woman who is slowly dying a painful death. She has stopped eating, but complains of hunger, she needed some Ensure drink mix. So after we finished praying we bought her the needed Ensure, $22 well spent. Finally we walked though Aurora and visited Jose Antonio, the little boy with a severe heart condition. They needed food, Pedisure, and diapers, $40 well spent.

The next morning while in Juan Pablo we were introduced to Dora and Alehandro. Dora is handicapped and has trouble walking. Her husband, Alehandro, is an auto mechanic when he can find work. We were told that this is family was in greater need than most in Juan Pablo. They live in a small two room house where we saw two immediate needs. The first was the front supporting wall of the house was eaten away by termites, and what wood was left was rotting away. This was incredibly unsafe, as it looked as though the whole house might collapse in the next storm. The second was a need to build a ramp, because of Dora's handicap it was very difficult for her to navigate the climb to leave her house.

We decided to help this couple and it was an amazing experience. Chad and Alex bought all the materials, but it didn't end there. They could have just paid somebody to fix it, but they wanted to put their own time and sweat into the project. They cut and welded the new, stronger metal supports. Josh even got in on some of the welding action! They mixed and poured concrete, they painted and picked up trash. They even put in a window, which was way more than anyone expected. Soon it was one of the nicest looking, two-room houses in Juan Pablo; and Alehandro and Dora's pride and hope had been restored. It was neat to watch them hang curtains and set-up house. Construction project, $550 well spent.

Then there was Christian, the handicapped young man who didn't have a working wheelchair. He used his arms to pull himself around the house. Not only was he physically handicapped, but he was also struggling in his relationship with his father. It was cool to watch God go to work. Alex, who speaks fluent Spanish was able to talk with Christian in a way I never could. Not just the language barrier, but as it turns out Alex and Christian have a lot in common! They have shared some of the same difficulties in life. Alex had even spent some time in a wheelchair after a car wreck that almost killed him. Alex restored hope and encouraged forgiveness. He also bought Christian a new wheelchair, $200 well spent.

I could go on and on, but this "rambling" is already too long. I don't tell these stories to boast about Alex, Chad or Josh. Actually, I'm guessing they are probably a little embarrassed by the attention. However, the reason I wanted to share this is so that it could serve as an encouragement and reminder as well.

While serving others, even what the world would call the least of these, they brought comfort, hope, healing, and love. Their investment will have huge returns for a long time to come, and though they came focused on giving, they are the ones that left with everything. Empty hands, but full hearts! What a way to travel, what a way to live! When you follow Christ and invest in will always have guaranteed return, and that is good new for any investor!