Wednesday, December 05, 2007

The Moves

We had a great time in Tucson and we wanted to show you all a few moves we learned while we were visiting the Southwest. Check it out (click here). Enjoy!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

We made it!

We made it to Arizona (did I mention that Maili had her hair braided before we left?).

This had to have been the most uneventful trip to the States that we've taken yet. Everything went smoothly from beginning to end. I'm now finished with the Alternative Missions leadership conference in Flagstaff, Arizona and we (Amy, the girls and I) have returned to Tucson from the Grand Canyon. We travelled up through Sedona (red rock country) and then stayed for three nights in a little town called Williams. What a cool place. The town was founded at the turn of the century and is right on the historic Route 66, which used to be the country's main east-west travel route. We had two full days in town. On the first one, we checked out the mountains surrounding the town (with a little lake high up above).


















Later that day, we traveled to a wonderful little tourist trap where Maili was mauled by ravenous, angry deer.
The next day was the most fun... We rode the Grand Canyon Railway from Williams to the south rim of the Grand Canyon.


Finally, we got to see the Grand Canyon (Makena remains unimpressed). It is definitely one of God's most incredible creations. I can never get over how deep and wide it is (I'll skip the cheesy, spiritual analogy at this time). Truly breath-taking.










Last but not least, we were robbed by armed bandits on the train ride back to Williams. They galloped up on horseback, boarded the train and took us for all we were worth. Fun stuff!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Takeoff

Off we go. Tomorrow morning at 7:45 (hopefully) we'll be heading off to Tucson, AZ. After a week of preparation, packing, theft-proofing the house and a million other things our departure date is finally here. It is definitely exciting and we are looking forward to seeing everyone. Immediately after I land, I have five days of meetings with the leadership of Alternative Missions. Then, Amy and the girls will join me and we'll take a trip to see the Grand Canyon (or as Makena says, "the really deep hole in the ground". We'll be there for two days and will then head off to Atlanta to visit some family members we haven't seen in 3-4 years after which we'll go to Tallahassee, FL for about two weeks. Then back to Puerto Viejo.

If you read this in the next few days, please be praying for our safety (and sanity) as we travel. We also ask you to please pray for our house church. For the next five weeks, several of the older guys will be leading the study as they work their way through the book of James. Please pray that God will guide and lead them and that they will continue to look to him for that leading. This is a huge step and I would love nothing more than to come back, find out that they have done an excellent job and then move into a role of teaching and oversight. This is the end goal anyway. I have no idea what will happen. We have been teaching them and modeling church for them for over a year and now it is in God's hands. Please pray for them (Sebas, Peace, Dexter, Jose, Mike, Johanna, Jetsi, Jordan, Anastassia, Pablo, Downer, Kenneth, Kenneth, Dorothy, Eric, and a few others that show up irregularly) daily. This is huge!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Retreat










We were really blessed last week to get a couple of days away as a team to regroup and say "thanks" for all of the hard work over the past year. We spent two days at a farm up in the mountains about two hours away from Puerto Viejo. If you are ever thinking about taking a trip to Costa Rica, I would highly recommend Finca Maquenge Falls(http://www.fincamaquenguefalls.com/). The owners are really nice people and they treated us like royalty. The property was awesome with waterfalls, horseback riding lots of cool things for the kids and great food. If you come to visit, take a couple of days on your way in or out and check this place out.

Happenings

One thing is for sure... no matter where you are in the world, funny is funny. This is certainly true for me. Anyone that has known me for very long knows that I have a lot of trouble trying to keep from laughing in serious situations. For some reason, the more pressure and the more serious the situation (church, funerals, etc...), the more likely I am to start laughing. Even at 39 years old, if it's funny, I'm going to start laughing.

This short video is from an outreach we did with our youth group this past summer in a part of San Jose called "Little Hell". If there's one lesson we can all learn from this, it is to make sure the song you are singing is within the range of your voice... and if you're watching something like this happen, sit in the back.

video

My mom would have been pinching the daylights out of me if she had been with us at this outreach.

Friday, November 02, 2007

More Progress


Here we are...we are getting close to having a roof. Take a look at the steel construction. This baby ain't going nowhere.

Highlights

We returned last night from our annual team retreat. It was a nice, relaxing way to thank everyone on our team for all of the hard work they have put in over the past year. The first evening, we took some time to share some of the highlights from the past year. Ronnie (a long-time member of our team) shared what had impacted him the most over the past year and it is definitely worth passing on. It's also a great example of how interconnected our lives are as Christians.

Over two years ago, the first area of ministry that was established was the children's program. Ronnie had started a bible study in Spanish with a few of the parents whose children were attending. One Sunday, my parents happened to be visiting from Florida. During the bible study, which only included two local ladies, my dad (who only speaks English) asked Ronnie, "Do these ladies (who only speak Spanish) know the Lord?" Ronnie stopped the study and asked them. One said yes and the other (Adriana) said no. Ronnie asked her if she'd like to follow Christ; she said yes and we stopped and prayed right there.


Over the course of the next year, Adriana continued to grow and slowly got more and more involved. She is now one of the leaders of the OANSA (AWANA's) program and she and her husband also host the Spanish house church at their house. Last year, after living together for over 11 years, she and her husband, Ronolfo (on the left next to Ronnie and Tammy), got married out of a desire to honor God and set an example for thier three children.



Because of her participation and the changes that were taking place in her life, Adrianna's husband began getting more and more involved and soon involved his brother (William) who is now a leader at the Children's program. William became a Christian over 20 years ago but had basically gone no further in his relationship with God and had not even attended church during that time. He has been faithfully attending the Spanish house church now for over a year.




The highpoint of all of this is that Ronnie was recently invited to a Men's bible study way back in the jungle behind Puerto. When he arrived, he was pleasantly surprised to see William leading 20 men in a bible study modeled after the housechurch that Ronnie has been leading. There were 20 men in attendance. That was definitely a highpoint for Ronnie and for the rest of us on the team. It shows that God works in so many different ways and that each of us can impact so many others...many times never knowing the outcome. Ronnie was faithful to teach, my dad was faithful to see the gospel shared with two women with whom he couldn't even communicate and as a team we have been faithful to model Christ in our lives and our ministries. In turn, God has been faithful to work, bless and change lives for His glory and as a result the bible is being taught in the jungle where previously nothing was happening. Cool stuff.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

More Progress








Just wanted to leave you all with a couple of photos of the deck as it stands right now. The Lifechurch team was awesome. They worked hard all week, had great attitudes and were also a lot of fun. We got quite a bit of work accomplished and by the end of the week, we had all of the main portion of the deck in place. It really came in handy last night at the youth event as we finally had a place for people to sit, stand and hang out.

Man of Peace

There's a great book called Church Planting Movements that was given to me by Steve Vaughn, missions pastor for Thomasville Road Baptist Church. It's an awesome book that has really encouraged us (and taught us a lot) as we put together our house church planting program. One of the things that the book encouraged church planters to do was to look for a "man of peace" when they entered a town (Luke 10:6). Finding and building a relationship with this "man of peace" was a good first step in planting and establishing a church. Little did I suspect that we would actually meet a man named Peace.

Last night was the final night of the Lifechurch outreach. We hosted a special youth night with some crazy games, hotdogs and hamburgers and a really great time teaching. We had between 30 and 40 youth show up and let me tell you, it was total chaos...and a lot of fun. After the food and fun, everyone gathered in the skate park to hear Peace's story. Peace (below right) shared about his life growing up in one of Limon's toughest neighborhoods and how he almost died several years ago from an overdose of crack. He explained how caught up he had been in himself and how it had almost cost him his life. He then told about his journey in coming to know Christ. Peace had an interest in spiritual things for many years but it was a mix of rastafarianism, Christianity and new age beliefs...along with a lot of confusion.

Five months ago, Peace accepted Christ as we prayed together one night on the steps of the cafe after a night of skating. Since that night I can honestly say that I have never witnessed the renewal that God can bring to someone's life and mind as clearly as I have seen it take place with Peace. Last night was the culmination of that journey as Peace, a new Christian, stepped in front of 40 of his friends and neighbors and shared about the impact Jesus had made on his life. he didn't hold back as he challenged everyone within listening distance to open their hearts and make the same decision to follow Jesus that he had made. He was clear that there are still struggles and anyone that knows him would understand that following Christ doesn't automatically bring health and wealth. Peace was clear that following Jesus brings forgiveness for sin and a sense of purpose that he had looked for all of his life.


This was Peace's first time speaking in front of a crowd and he was incredible. God spoke through him. While he spoke, there was no joking or talking. Everyone gave him their attention and when he finished, there was an immediate eruption of applause. Peace isn't a bible scholar but he knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus is real and that He changes lives. He shares his new faith with everyone he meets and has a new story for us each week at house church. I would not be surprised (especially after last night) to see Peace leading a house church in the near future. Such is the grace and power of God. Funny thing...we came looking for "the man of peace" and God blessed us with a man called Peace.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Update



For all of you that have been waiting breathlessly, here's another construction update. We've almost completed the decking, although we are still a long way from being finished. As you can see, we still need to add the bleachers along the front of the deck and the roof (to keep out the tropical rains). We have also come close to finishing the roof over our entry gate. Here's a photo of that project.


Tomorrow night, we'll be hosting a big cookout and outreach for the local youth. We took some flyers by the high school today so we're hoping for a big turnout. Anyone that has ever worked with youth knows that food is a big selling point. Should be fun.

Just for kicks, I have no idea how many people check this thing. I think it's one of the best ways of keeping everyone up to date but I wonder how often it's getting used. If you are reading these updates from time to time, please take a minute and hit the comment link at the bottom of the update, then send me a short note to let me know you are reading. We'd really appreciate it. Thanks.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Beat


Right now, I'm feeling like I'm about to burst into flames. We worked all day in the hot (and I mean hot) tropical sun. We've had a lot of rain lately so it's really nice to have good, clear weather for the work that we're doing, but let me tell you, it gets hot working next to a metal trailer with the sun reflecting up from the decking. I just want to get in the water and soak for a while. Here are a couple of additional photos that show what was done today. In addition to the deck, we are putting a roof over our front gate to protect the wood from the sun and rain (and to protect us when we're unlocking it during our torrential downpours). Enjoy!!!







Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Progress




This week we are fortunate enough to have a group from Lifechurch (Oklahoma) here to work with us. We are in the process of putting the wood on the deck which will give us a great meeting and viewing space next to the skatepark. It is really exciting to see this work progress. I can't wait until it's done. Here are a few photos that show what's taking place.






Here you can see the progress that we made by mid-day. Later this afternoon we will begin laying the decking over the beams. No job is without it's trouble and we've run into a few problems but things are coming along. I'm hopeful we'll be finished by the end of the week.




One cool thing that happened to day is that several of the guys from house church stopped by to help. Here, Jose, Peace and I are hand-planing the sharp edges off of the two by fives for the deck.
















Thursday, October 18, 2007

Dirty

I'm feeling a little "third world" today. It's hard to imagine drought in the rain forest. Especially since it has rained two out of the last three days. But, that's where we are...drought.
What that means is that our water is regularly getting cut off every afternoon at 5:00pm (just when you get home from work and want a shower) and isn't turned on again until around 6:00am the next morning. That means every afternoon we have to fill up buckets and pots so that we have enough water to flush toilets, bath and cook.

Fortunately, it's not as bad as it was a few months ago. Back in May the water was cut off by 1:00pm every day and wasn't turned on again until 5:00am. To top it off, we went through about a month of electricity rationing with rolling, unannounced blackouts. Talk about frustrating...try having no water and no electricity at the same time. Oh well, we're not in Kansas anymore (Florida either for that matter). It's just a part of life here on the edge of civilization.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Getting Closer


Construction is ongoing at the skatepark. We are almost ready for the mission team that will be joining us next Monday. They will be installing the wood decking on the new covered deck that will adjoin the skatepark. Right now, most of the steel beams are in place and the deck frame is being welded into place. I can't wait for the construction to be completed for a couple of reasons. First, it has been quite a process to oversee construction in a timely and efficient way in a developing country. Second, it is going to be an awesome place for people to gather and enjoy the skating. Here is a photo that shows where we are in the process as of today.

Forced Re-entry

It is amazing how quickly time passes when we're busy. It's almost been a month since I last posted, but it sure doesn't seem like it's been that long. Last week, we had to leave for Panama again. Every three months, we are required to leave for a minimum of three days to renew our tourist visas. Several months before we moved down, we applied for residency and were told in no uncertain terms that we would be approved within just a few months. Three years later,

our residency application along with all the paperwork, have been "lost" by the immigration office for the second time. We can't even find out the status of our application at the moment.

Anyway, until we have residency status, we are living and working here under a tourist visa which must be renewed every three months.

The closest place for us to stay are the islands of Bocas del Toro in Panama. This time we stayed on the island of Basitmentos which at the moment, has no roads and only one small town of rickety houses built on the water and up the side of a hill. The place we stayed was owned by a self-described former East-German anarchist. Breakfast and dinner are cooked and eaten family style with the owners, their helpers and anyone else that may be staying at the "hotel" which is really a small house with four rooms and one private bath. The owner was quite a character and refers to himself as Tio Tom (Uncle Tom). We had an interesting discussion about our choice of careers (read "calling") and he was quite proud to tell us that he beat up the last missionary he ran in to. I guess the guy got really pushy and was also extremely defensive about his way of thinking to the point of being insulting. Rather than walking away and difusing the situation, this missionary escalated it to the point of a fist-fight on a bridge linking Costa Rica and Panama, all in front of the border guards and a crowd of spectators. Anyway, we had an good conversation and he was interested in what we do. He especially liked our work with the youth.

My point is this...you never know who you will meet and what their experiences with Christians have been. One thing I know... in every conversation and every "chance" meeting, we're either building bridges or building walls. This is true even during a required visit to Panama to renew visas. Let's make sure we're sharing Christ, not defending ourselves. Let's build bridges instead of fighting on them.


Here's a picture of Maili getting a little R&R on the dock in front of Tio Tom's.


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Walking




A couple of years ago, my good friend Bryon Mondok gave me a book to read. The book was entitled “The Master Plan of Evangelism” and the focus was on Jesus and the way he raised up the 12 men that answered his call of “Follow me”. It didn’t go overboard with formulas and strategies. Most of the focus was on relationships. It encouraged the reader to focus on the few for the good of the many. The reality is that Jesus spent the majority of his time with twelve men. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, they went on to change the world. We are here in large part because Jesus focused his efforts on twelve men that said “yes”. Whenever my mind begins to turn to numbers as a measure of success, I remind myself that it’s depth that counts and that much of that depth comes from just being willing to spend time with someone…letting them know that they are important. Here are a couple of short stories that demonstrate this truth.

Recently, I was running some errands and had invited my friend D. along. As we were talking, D. mentioned something that made me realize just how much takes place without words ever being spoken. D. told me that he had never really wanted to get married. He never saw the need for it and truthfully, had never even considered having a family and committing to one person for the rest of his life. That is until he began spending time with Amy and me and one of the other couples on our team. Here in this culture, men are trained to have as many women as possible, almost from the day they are born, and the results are heartbreaking. D. hadn’t been exposed to anything outside of this way of life. As have gotten to know him and spend time with him, he has seen that there is a different way to live. As he has grown in his walk with God, the things he wants out of life have begun to change and one of the key elements in this is that he finally has someone to walk this road with him…to model the Christian life for him. It’s having an impact.

This past Monday morning S. dropped by the house as we were eating breakfast. We invited him in to join us and the first thing he said with a huge smile on his face was how much he had enjoyed house church the night before. He said that it was awesome and that he had such a good time (this was after a hardcore message about the final judgment and heaven and hell – see Matt. 25). His face just lit up as he talked about the evening and the impact it had on him. Shortly after that, as we were talking, he paused for a moment and then told me, “Barrett, you’re like my dad. You feed me, you surf with me and you spend time with me.” He wasn’t telling me that I was similar to his dad. He was telling me that I take the place of his dad who left him and his mother several years ago and now lives on the Pacific. Over the past year, I have spent a lot of time with Sebas and he has grown immensely as a Christian. He is one of the older youth that is the most excited about sharing his faith with others. He sees it as a privilege. But this wasn’t true before he had someone to walk alongside him and encourage him.

If God blesses me enough here in Puerto Viejo to have a significant impact on a few then that’s what I want to do. In the end, they are the ones that will eventually reach their community and their culture with much more of an impact than we ever could. God is using us to get something started. To come alongside people and show them that there is a different way to live. A way created by a God that loves them and wants to change them in more ways than they could ever imagine.

I don’t say any of this to blow my own horn. I say it to encourage you. It’s hard to imagine the impact you can have on someone’s life just by living your life for Christ alongside them. Years ago it happened to me through a friend in Arizona named Paul Almquist. I had gotten away from the church and had a distant relationship with God. Amy and I had just started attending Calvary Chapel in Tucson. We met Paul and his wife through some friends. Paul was the guitarist for the worship team but he never acted like this made him special or put him on a higher spiritual plane. One day he invited me to go mountain-biking with him and it soon became a regular weekend event. Paul never preached at me, he did life with me. One of the only things he would do is ask if he could pray before we went riding each week. I hadn’t prayed regularly in years, so this . Spending time with Paul made being a Christian real for me. He showed me what it was like to live in the world but not be of the world...life as a Christian outside of the Christian bubble. That made an impact on me. Paul, you are one of the main reasons that we are doing what we’re doing. God used you in my life and in many ways He is continuing to use you to reach this community here in Puerto Viejo. There have been other Paul’s in my life… my dad, my friends Norm Jaeger and Todd Harper. It’s because of friends like these that D. and S. are following Jesus.




Be someone else’s Paul or Todd or Norm or Billy (my dad). Come alongside them and walk with them. You never know what might happen in the future. After all, the world as we know it is a different place because Jesus spent time with 12 men.


Balancing Act


Ever feel like this? This picture is a pretty good description of how I feel at the moment. I think it’s a pretty good description of how we all feel right now. There are so many different things going on right now that it’s hard to keep up. This week our team is preparing for some pretty important meetings with Jeremy from our home office in Phoenix. We are going to be reviewing the past year (goals and accomplishments), looking ahead to next year and at the same time we will be trying to figure out how we are going to stay on top of everything as we lose some of our critical team members. We are trying to decide what we do for the coming year so that we can remain focused on the most critical aspects of our work and lives. One thing is for sure, people have to be the priority. Please pray for us.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Blown Away

Sometimes I am just blown away by the things that go on behind the scenes. There are always two sides to life...the life that is seen and the life that is unseen. Here, the differences between those two sides of life can be extreme. I found out the other day that one of the older youth I'm friends with recently made a life changing decision...for the good. He had been playing around with the badboy/gangster lifestyle, to the extent that he was actually considering joining up with a heavy duty gang from up the road. It got to the point that he actually suited up one night for his initiation. They were planning to make an assault on a group of Columbians with assault rifles, bullet-proof vests, etc... As he was getting ready to go out, he backed out at the last minute and decided that this wasn't for him. It was about that same time that he was invited to our house church and began coming regularly. Now he's there every week, bible in hand and taking notes. He is learning to follow Jesus and his life is changing. What is incredible is that I would never have guessed it from this particular guy. He is soft-spoken, kind and gentle. We love having him in our home and have really enjoyed seeing his life change. That doesn't mean that he's safe. The temptations here are strong and the pull from friends and family alike is intense but thank God, he's made the decision to put those things aside and travel the way of Jesus. This is only one story among many that I am constantly finding out about.

As I learn more and more about this place and the struggles people face, I am amazed. I guess it backs up what Paul wrote when he said that where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more. We've had youth in our home that have robbed tourists and locals alike at gunpoint, but when they are with us they are polite and genuinely thankful that someone cares about them enough to spend time with them. To see them really interested in the things of God shows me that hope never dies.

Please pray for our team as we work and live here. We are going through some major changes as some long-term team members are returning to the States to continue their educations. This leaves us very dependent on God as we pray for Him to raise up locals and send down more likeminded people to join us in serving Puerto Viejo. Specifically, we need a person to take over all of the duties associated with bringing in Short Term Mission teams and our location administration. We are also looking for someone to take on the youth and skate ministries on a full time basis and finally, we are praying for a couple to come down and open the music cafe/coffee shop. Never in my life has it been more evident that the fields are white for the harvest but th workers are few. Please pray for the community and our team.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


We've completed the foundation and are hoping to begin construction of the steel supports for the new deck we're building around our storage container. We use the container for a variety of things including the storage of tools and construction materials, short term mission team supplies and most importantly, all of our skate equipment. In the future, this entire area will be a covered wooden deck that will wrap around three sides of the trailer. It will include stadium seating adjacent to the skatepark, a safety railing and full wrap around bar which will provide parents with a great place to work on their computers, talk and watch their kids skate. Everything were doing is centered around relationships, both building them and deepening them. This is one more way that we can encourage the involvement of families both with us and with each other. If you'd like to get involved financially with this project, please contact me through the "comment" section below and I'll tell you how you can specifically get involved. I'll continue to post photos as the work moves forward. We're planning to host a team from Lifechurch in Oklahoma in mid-October and will be trying to complete the installation of the deck with them. Please pray that everything will go according to plan and that the work will be completed within the next couple of months.

Happenings

Computer troubles are getting me down. Fortunately, when I bought my computer two years ago, I purchased the extended warranty which even applies here in Costa Rica. Today I am waiting for a technician to come over from San Jose to repair the monitor. Hopefully, by the end of the day I'll be back in business on my own computer.





In all, things are going well. Maili had her first ballet recital last week at one of the local elementary schools. She has been taking ballet (in the jungle of all places) for about 4 months now and is doing really well. It is a great way for her to get out of the house and make some new friends as well. Homeschooling down here can be very isolating as there are no homeschool groups or co-ops. We have to be very intentional about getting her involved with others. In this picture she is getting ready for the recital with her friends Paulina and Camila.




I am also including a really cool photo from a recent thunderstorm. I took this photo late at night from our porch. It was amazing to sit there and watch the lightning shoot through the air out over the water. This particular night was very dark and the sky just lit up ever time a bolt of lightning was released. It can be hot, sticky, buggy and sometimes downright frustrating living here but God seems to send these types of things along often enough to make us appreciate the opportunity we have been given.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Saying Goodbye and Getting Older

Last week we said goodbye to April Wood (right) who spent her entire summer helping us host short term mission teams, serving and discipling and building relationships with the youth. What an incredible helper she was. We enjoyed having her on our team and she certainly displayed an attitude of humility. Hopefully, she'll come back and work with us again one of these days. Thanks for everything April.


This past Saturday, we celebrated Maili's eighth birthday. We had her party out on the beach, underneath the coconut palms in front of our house. Lots of friends were there and we had a great time together. It's hard to believe she was only five when we first moved here. Man, how time flies. HAPPY BIRTHDAY MAILI!!!!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

We had an incredible night this past Sunday at our housechurch. For the first time I can remember, the evening was really in the hands of the people that are attending as they encouraged each other and shared and prayed about the things that are going on in their lives. All of this began as we studied Matthew 24 and looked ahead to the future. I left that night with the distinct feeling that "they really are getting it". Right before our eyes we are seeing lives being changed. We're seeing minds being renewed and we're seeing people becoming eager to have an impact for Christ in their own hometown. That is exciting to participate in. I'm including a photo of our friend Jose who is going through a very difficult time at home. The skatepark and our housechurch have become a major source of strength and comfort for Jose as he learns to give his troubles over to Jesus. Please pray for him when you get the chance. He's an awesome guy and God is really working in his life.



In other news, we (me and the family) are in San Jose again. We came in on Monday so that I could go to my last dentist appointment and then we were planning to pick up a new intern this morning and bring her back to Puerto with us. Unfortunately, she missed her plane and was delayed until this evening. I'm actually waiting at the hotel right now and will be leaving for the airport in about a half hour.

San Jose by nature is not a fun, family friendly city. We usually visit the mall when we're here but there aren't too many safe, fun places to hang out while we're waiting for appointments, etc... This time was the same as usual until mid-morning when our new helper called to let us know she was delayed. Once we found out, we had some time to kill so we decided to go and see one of the nearby volcanoes. It turned out to be a great afternoon filled with cool mountain air (including a slight smell of sulfur) and incredible views. We actually got to walk around in the upper portion of the volcano's crater and looked down into a large lake that fills the lower, main crater. The views on the drive up reminded me of scenes from The Lord of the Rings. We were actually up above several large thunderstorms that were soaking the valley below. We ended up having a great time together and got to see some things that we haven't been able to see since we've been here. Unfortunately, we didn't bring our camera on this trip because we had no idea we'd have any free time. I guess this goes to show me two things: first, you never know what to expect when you come to San Jose and second, always bring the camera.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Changes


Earlier this week we said goodbye to the last team of our summer season. It was a whopper of a team...37 people, and most of them were teenagers. We had a great time with them and got quite a bit of work done as well. Since the group was so large, we divided them up into three smaller groups of 12-13 people each. One group went into town each day and worked at the local high school...painting and maintenance. The other two groups worked at the property each day, sanding, varnishing and cleaning the grounds. They also spent quite a bit of time each day with several of the local youth who really enjoyed the interaction.

Speaking of local youth, I have heard a couple of comments recently that really made an impact on me. A couple of days ago, a friend of mine that is the missions pastor of a large church in Florida said that on his last visit, he really saw a huge difference in the spiritual maturity of the youth we have been working with... that he can really tell that they are growing in their faith This means a lot because this was his third visit. He has come to see us each year that we have been here and has witnessed our work grow from nothing to what is happening now with the house churches, skate-park and AWANA's program.



I also had a friend tell me some amazing things. He has lived in Costa Rica since he was 18 and has been visiting Puerto Viejo for over 15 years. He said that he can't remembers a time when he saw so many teenagers' lives being changed and so many of them hungry to learn about God. He went on and on about the changes he is seeing in specific individuals' lives and directly attributed it to the work we are doing. I don't share this to toot my own horn but to let anyone reading this know that God is doing amazing things through your prayers and support. Lives are being changed and God is working in incredible ways and it is happening one life at a time as we live life together with our brothers and sisters here in Puerto. Sometimes all it takes is someone that is willing to say yes to God, to come alongside others...giving them to strength and encouragement to live for Him.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Family Time



Every now and then we get some time to ourselves. This past Saturday was a lot of fun as we took a trip to a waterfall about a half hour drive away. We brought Sebastian, one of the older youth, with us along with a family that lives in the next town. It was beautiful. The waterfall is about 70 feet tall and you have to hike through the jungle to reach it. Here are a few photos from the trip.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

The Ripple Effect


Lots of things are happening...too much to keep up with. I wanted to post this note I recently received from our stateside director regarding several people that visited us last month with the mission team from SkateChurch in Steamboat Springs, CO. Good stuff and it goes to show that God is using this location to work in the lives of more than just the people here in Puerto. Vince was one of the oldest members of the team and a really cool guy. It's awesome to see how God used his time here in Puerto to draw him into relationship with Him.

Ok, so here’s the deal….sitting here in the office all the time, I’m rarely able to be witness to the awesome things that are happening in the lives of those you guys are ministering to on a day to day basis. However, being here in the states, I am able to follow up on the lives of those who have participated in a short term outreach and what God is doing in and through them. Well, this last weekend I drove 15 hours north to the BEAUTIFUL town of Steamboat Springs, CO and spent the weekend with Buck and Tara. While I was there I went and shared at Uzoa Church, (Buck and Tara’s church) and also heard the team share about their experiences. After service there was a baptism service and some of the team was getting baptized. Jessie and Ryan got baptized as did Bucks 10 year old son, Hunter, (he was the one who couldn’t make it down this summer because of his mom). It was a great service.

The awesome news was that Vince got baptized too. Vince was the big tall guy who cooked us all lunch that one day. It seems that since the trip, Vince’s life has been radically changed. His girlfriend Gretchen came and thanked me and you guys for the work that is happening in PV and how it has changed Vince’s life. Vince is a HARD CORE believer in prayer. You should hear the guy pray…it’s awesome! He’s charging for Jesus and he attributed his faith to the time he spent in PV. When he spoke at church, he spoke of each of you and the work you guys are doing. He was really blessed by everyone and God really got a hold of him in a major way!

You see, house churches, children’s church, skate ministry, cafĂ©’s and more are all incredible parts of what we do, but short term missions is another AMAZING way that we partner together in ministry. Yes, these teams are coming down and doing some amazing work, but God is also bringing them down and doing amazing work in them. You guys are doing a great job. Your lives and work are not only affecting change in Puerto Viejo, but lives are being transformed all across the US. Keep charging team…I’m proud of you guys!

Jeremy Dyck
Alternative Missions

Monday, July 30, 2007

Another Baptism




Last week I had the privilege of baptizing two of my friends from house church. Peace, who became a Christian about three months ago, and Dexter, who chose to follow Christ about a year ago, were baptized in the Caribbean Sea that they love so much. It was a really cool evening. After the baptism, we celebrated with a big dinner and then built a huge bonfire on the beach in front of our house and worshipped God together. I love seeing the changes that are taking place in their lives as they follow Jesus, step by step.