Thursday, June 28, 2007

SK8 Church says goodbye

Although this post is a little late, it was too good of a photo op to pass on. Here is a photo of the SK8 Church team on their next to last night in town. The youth have continued to ask about them since they left and are already hoping for a return visit. This team really made an impact on personal levels...


The term "chaos theory" describes systems that appear to be random and disordered, but in reality posses an underlying order. Chaos theory also describes a lot of what takes place here in Puerto Viejo. On the surface, things can appear to be quite disordered, especially to someone that is not familiar with the culture and the people. However, whether it’s a session at the skate park or a day in the classroom at the collegio (high school), there is usually an underlying order to things that might not be readily recognizable at first glance.

The past few days, the visiting mission team from Calvary Chapel Jupiter (Jupiter, Florida) has been hosting ESL classes at the local high school. The high school is a one room building with acoustics that seem to magnify even the slightest sound into a roar equivalent to a jet taking off. It can be really difficult for someone that is not used to it to maintain focus, but it’s not as much of a problem for someone that is used to the underlying order.

The first day was got pretty crazy as kids were coming and going throughout the lessons and a few scuffles even broke out. It was quite an experience and I think was a little overwhelming for the team but things worked out and despite the craziness, the kids really enjoyed the interactions. They are used to learning this way as it is often the way things are. Anyway, the second day was much smoother and things really seemed to take on a good flow. The interactions were good and the kids and the team really enjoyed their time together.

At the end of the week, will the high school kids be fluent in English? No, but that’s not really the point. The purpose of these classes is to build relationships in order to gain an opportunity to really pour into the lives of the students over the long run. Visiting teams are only here for a week or two at most, which isn’t really a lot of time, but they add so much to the long-term work we’re doing. Through their sacrifice of time and effort, they help us to build and establish relationships with people and institutions that would be next to impossible for us to do on our own. Missions work truly is a partnership as the different parts of the body come together and work as one to share the hope of Christ to people that are searching. While it might seem like madness at times, there is an underlying order to things… it’s all a matter of perspective.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Cal Jup 2

This is my first day back online since Calvary Jupiter arrived. So far, we have had a great time with a great team. It was also great having Dan, our pastor and friend, down for a few days to see what the church has been supporting and praying for the past few years. We had a chance to go rafting together and yesterday, went looking for howler monkeys which we finally found at the last possible place we could check.

This week is a good but full week. Each morning, the team is hosting ESL classes at the local high school. It is a chaotic but good time and the students really enjoy the interaction. Through outreaches like this, we are able to build more relationships with youth and the visiting mission team really gets a chance to plug into the community in a meaningful way. In the afternoons, the team is doing light construction here at the skatepark. We are working to finish as much of the structural work in the cafe so that in the future, when someone joins our team to open and operate the cafe, all that will remain will be the layout and decorating of the restaurant. It's great having friends in town and I'm really looking forward to seeing what the rest of the week holds.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Cal Jup

I'm in San Jose tonight getting ready to meet Calvary Chapel Jupiter at the airport tomorrow morning. This is exciting because this is our home church and we have been waiting and hoping that they would be able to come down for a long time. We have some friends on the trip and some others that will become friends. I'm really excited for the opportunity we will have to show them around our new hometown and to introduce them to our friends. During the week, we will be working at the local public high school, hosting ESL classes in the morning and some light construction at our property in the afternoon.

I have really enjoyed seeing how each team that comes down adds more brush strokes to this painting we have been working on. Each team brings their own touch and reaches out to the Puerto Viejo community in different ways. Please pray for this upcoming week as we continue to pour into the lives of those that live here and those that give of themselves to serve a God that is greater than anything we can ask, hope or imagine. Please pray for the safety of Amy and the girls while I am gone.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

SK8 Church

The team from SK8 Church (Steamboat Springs, CO) has been a great help this week and they have really connected with the local youth. One of the most interesting things has been getting to know many of the kids that are involved in that ministry. I would say that about half of the kids are not Christians, because this ministry is very much oriented toward reaching those that are not part of a traditional church. The ministry is led by Buck Chavarria and his wife Tara. The other leaders that are helping out are also Christians but many of the kids are not. Buck and Tara really feel called to reach out to these kids that come from such difficult backgrounds. They have even become the legal guardians of one of the girls that is on the trip.

Anyway, it has been awesome to see God working in the lives of these kids as they are completely surrounded by the love of God in action. Not only are they getting a chance to serve others, they are getting the straight truth about God's love and the good news of Jesus and his desire to have a relationship with them. Back home, these kids are surrounded by drugs and a variety of relgious options but here on this trip they are being surrounded by truth. I have also been really proud to see some of our local youth reaching out to build relationships with the kids from this team. It was a really big step yesterday for two of the local guys to take six or seven members of the team surfing. The local guys are often extremely shy when it comes to one on one interactions where they are the focus of attention so to see them step up to the plate and serve the members of this team was awesome.

It is a priveledge to be here seeing lives being changed...both locals and visitors alike. God is really doing some incredible things

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Love All, Worship One

Here is a quick look at a bumper sticker that was printed for us by SK8 Church, a visiting mission team that is with us this week.

Makena's special day

Makena turned four yesterday. She was only one and a half when we moved here so she has been living in Costa Rica for well over half of her life. We had a fun day and she was so excited with her presents. She is crazy for Strawberry Shortcake right now and was not disappointed to find two dolls and lots of accessories hidden underneath layers of wrapping paper. Amy did an awesome job with the cake(strawberry cake with strawberry icing), Maili helped bust open the pinata and we had lots of fun celebrating the arrival of our littlest one four years ago. Here are a couple of photos from the day.

Night Monkeys and Showers

One thing I’ve learned after two years here in Puerto… you never know quite what to expect. This past Sunday evening, our house church started out well. We had three new visitors and one other teenager that had only been once before. One thing you should know…preparing for and teaching at house church each week stresses me out. I love it and hate it at the same time. I love it because I totally believe that it’s what God has called me to do and I love to share biblical truth with everyone that has come. I hate it because I have never liked public speaking and I always feel totally inadequate and under-prepared…no matter how prepared I am. On top of that, distractions really throw off my thought processes and tend to get me really flustered.

Anyway, the evening started out fine. We hung out for a while, shared food together, goofed around with the musical instruments and generally enjoyed each others company. TJ played a few worship songs and then we got into our bible study. Again we are working our way through Matthew. We are going through it chapter by chapter so that we don’t miss anything and so that we are able to talk about and study the events as they occurred. From the very beginning, I knew that this night was going to be a little different because when you are dealing with a small group setting, any changes in the people that are present changes the dynamics of the group. That being said, I started out by bringing everyone up to speed and setting the context for our study. The specific passage was the first 14 verses of the 22nd Chapter of Matthew, where Jesus tells the story of a king that invited specific people to the wedding of his son. When the people that were invited rejected the invitation, he sent his servants out to invite anyone that they came across. In some ways, this bible study was more technical than others we have done because there were so many things to explain and define to a group that was not familiar with many of the terms. Then, there’s the application of what we have learned.

Well, about ¾ of the way through the study, at one of the more critical parts, someone yells out, “I think I see a night monkey (which is an animal that looks like a giant bush baby, comes out at night and climbs from tree to tree)!” Everyone jumps out of their seats to see the night monkey which was right outside our living room, and there was totally chaos for the next ten minutes. I finally got everything back under control and we get back into the bible. Right as everyone is re-engaged, liquid starts pouring from the second floor through a crack in the floorboards right onto Jordan’s head. Turns out, one of our new puppies had snuck upstairs, hid in the corner and relieved herself. Jordan jumped up as the pee continued to flow.
Everyone started laughing and there was chaos for the second time in 15 minutes. We finally made it through but it was one of the roughest evenings (in some ways) that we have had in a while. The good thing is that God is working, people are learning and we are doing in less than ideal conditions (which has stretched me a lot more than them).

I am so self-critical. It’s amazing to me that they keep coming back, but they do and they are inviting their friends. We see changes in their lives as they are engaged in church by their own choosing and they love it. It is so cool to see God working in so many different ways, often in spite of our own feeble attempts. It has really shown me that what God wants is people that are willing to say yes… not people that have everything figured out or have the program perfected. In the end, we stand on the saving grace of Jesus Christ and his word. In these are the true power for salvation and change.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Root Canal

Skyway is gone and we are in San Jose for a couple of days. We were able to finish installing the playground on Wednesday, which was great news to the kids at the school. Unfortunately, it feels a little like keeping candy away from a baby because they have to wait a few more days until they can actually use it. We had so much rain that the water table was within a couple of inches of the surface of the soil, so it will take the cement some extra time to dry. Here is a photo of the Skyway team, a few of the kids from the school and the playground set. This has been a great way to simply bless the community in a way that gives something to the little children who can’t do it for themselves.

One of the other projects that Skyway completed was the metamorphosis of a large 55-gallon drum into a huge charcoal grill.

Wednesday afternoon and evening, we turned our regular skate session into a big cookout and invited all of the youth and their families. We ended up having between 50 and 60 people show up and it had a great time with food, music and lots of fun just hanging out. It was great to see some of the local youth helping to host the barbeque…serving the members of the visiting teams. I have a feeling that we will have even more interest in the house churches as we build more and more relationships through events like this.

We’ll be heading back to Puerto later today with Kathy, Amy’s best friend from nursing school, and her husband Mark. We came in to pick them up at the airport and also so that I could finish up phase I of my dental work. We have been to two dentists since we moved down but, just like in the States, not all dentists are created equal. The first two were not very thorough and missed a couple of potential problems that have now become real problems. I am heading in to the dentist in a couple of hours to get my first root canal. Doesn’t sound fun and I wish it could have been avoided but the tooth is cracked and causing a lot of pain. The downside is that I still have at least two more visits to the dentist to finish things out. At least we found a good one.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Playground

We were blessed with a great day of sun (and heat) and were able to complete much more of the playground. We also found some different ways to help us steady and straighten the posts of the two central portions of the set which really sped things up. The kids from the visiting team worked hard and we were able to get far enough so that we should be able to finish tomorrow.

One of the things I enjoy about these types of projects (and we'll do more as we get closer to finishing construction on the cafe and skate-park) is because people in town get so excited about them. It's really cool to visit with parents that come by to thank us for the work that is being done and it gives us opportunities to share the reason we do these types of things.

Tommorow night we are hosting a huge cookout for our local youth group in conjunction with the visiting team after the evening skate session. Food is always a great way to bring people together and we are expecting around 50 people total. What a great way to celebrate finishing the playground...

Monday, June 11, 2007


Almost as soon as we started working on the playground, the rain began to fall. It's been mostly dry for the past couple of days but the post holes are still full of water. The other thing that happened as we began to work was that I got sick again. This time, it is a simple chest cold, but it has left me feeling pretty weak and unable to really pitch in and work with the Skyway team. I feel like a wuss. It's really unfortunate because working with the members of the team is such a great way to get to know the people that have sacrificed to help us. The good news is that we have two more full days of construction and a couple of really cool evening outreaches planned. Hopefully, the rain will hold off enough for us to pour cement (which may never dry) into the post-holes to keep the play set steady.

In other news, our house church went well last night. We have been studying and working our way through the book of Matthew. The reason we have been studying Matthew is so that we could really examine the person of Jesus together, outside of what people may have heard or assumed from past experiences. If someone heard in the past and believed that Jesus was just a good teacher, we find out that he actually claimed to be the son of God. We have also been able to study and discuss his parables, the ways he treated and responded to people and what he had to say to those that mis-represented his Father in heaven. Every time we meet, we ask the question, "What should these words that were written 2000 years ago mean for our daily lives right now, here in Puerto Viejo?" We get into some great discussion as we talk about what God's truth means for us as individuals and as a body of believers. It is really cool to begin hearing some of the youth explaining the truths that they are beginning to grasp. Truths that show they are really understanding that living for Jesus is more than following a list of rules or being at a certain place at a specific time on a specific day. Having a relationship with Him is something that should change our lives from the inside out. This was true last night as we talked about the ability of Jesus to change our lives through His power and how much of a struggle it can be at times. Please pray that God will continue to work in all of our lives as we live for him. Please pray that God will continue to reveal his truth and that he will protect the growing faith of our freinds as we walk this road together.

Saturday, June 09, 2007


Here we are in the thick of it. The first of our summer mission teams from Skyway Church in Phoenix, AZ is here. Much of what we do with the teams for the past couple of years has focused on construction and outreach here at the skatepark. That being said, we always want to continue to be a blessing out in the community whenever we have an opportunity. That's where the team Skyway comes in. Several months ago we received a letter from a Children's Association here in town. They were aware that we had installed a couple of sets of playground equipment in the past and asked if we could do it again...this time at a building that is being used as a kindergarten.

Long story short, we said yes, Skyway raised the necessary funds and we are in process. By the middle of next week, this rather empty corner of a school yard will have a brand-new, rather large playground set for the kids to go crazy on. It's a great way to help the community and for us to continue maintaining a visible presence. We also end up meeting many new people and making new relationships during these times where we work "off-site". I'll put up more photos as we get closer to having a final product.

In other news, one of the coolest things so far happened at the youth activities. The visiting mission team brought down instruments and wanted to play a few worship songs. They went through a short set, and as they finished up, three of the youth that attend house church asked if they could get up front with TJ (who leads worship on our team) so that they could play for the Skyway group. Now this may seem like a small thing, but it was actually a huge step. They got up and sang and played their hearts out for a one-song set. It was so exciting to see them stepping out on their own to actually lead in worship. It was also a huge step for them as more and more, they begin to see themselves as a church and as a united body of believers. What a cool thing to be able to enjoy. God is really working in their lives and there are visible proofs.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007


We're back from San Jose where we were poked, prodded and generally appointmented to death visiting doctors and dentists for five days straight. Apparently I have an enlarged aorta. I was also fortunate enough to get a chemical peel on my face and head (basically for free) when we visited the dermatologist last week. I look years younger and have a new spring in my step.

I have also been reading a very interesting book called The Emerging Church by Dan Kimball It is a very interesting book about church and the emerging culture (which has really emerged already) and how we as Christians need to be engaging our culture rather than retreating from it. The author then goes on to describe how he is doing this in the ministry he is involved in. It's a really good read and I am enjoying thinking through the application of the various principles he talks about. One of the things I noticed last time we were in the states is how isolated and protected so many Christians have become. Much of the talk centered around subjects like pulling kids out of schools, how to avoid all of the terrible things around them, etc... It makes me afraid that too many Christians are engaged in a retreat. "Let's get into the refuge where we will be safe" rather than "Lets get out there and share the hope that is in us". During a conversation with one of my friends, after asking him some questions, he realized that he doesn't have even one friend that isn't a Christian. His entire social network is inside the Christian bubble. I don't want to get down on him or others because I've been there and I know how easy it is for that to happen without even realizing it. But, how are we ever going to spread the gospel if we have completely separated our selves and retreated from the ones who need it? This keeps me thinking about ways to avoid this in my own life.

Sunday, June 03, 2007


This past week was crazy. Due to the somewhat remote nature of Puerto Viejo and our busy schedule, we have put lots of things off for the past couple of years. Chief among these were doctor and dentist appointments. Last week, we paid the piper. We headed into San Jose early Monday morning with the first round of doctor's appoinments on Monday afternoon. For the next four days, we had appointments morning and afternoon. We visited cardiologists (Makena has a heart murmur and I have an enlarged aorta), dentists (three cavities and a crown for me), and dermatologists (chemical peels and liquid nitrogen due to sun damage). It was crazy, expensive and downright exhausting but we're done (at least for two weeks). There is a lot to be said for keeping up on things but it's not easy when you're four hours away from good medical care. Add to all of this, having to stay in a hotel for five days and eating out at all meals and it was quite a trip.

Otherwise, things are good. We have house church in a couple of hours and I am looking forward to that. tonight we'll be talking about one of Jesus' stories about a landowner that entrusted responsibity for his vineyard to people that abused the priviledge. I love the whole comparison of the vineyard to our own lives as Christians. Take a look at Matthew 21:33 for the parallels. When Jesus comes into our lives (the vineyard), he sets us apart and claims ownership (the wall), he comes in to produce fruit/grapes (good works) which are put through the wine press (trials/difficulties) and results in the production of wine (the gospel) for the benefit of others. This can only happen if he lives in us (like manager lives onsite in the watchtower) and continually works in the vineyard (our lives), turning the fruit of our lives (the grapes) into opportunities to share the gospel (the wine). I look forward to talking about this with everyone tonight...