Wednesday, September 26, 2007


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 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.


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!!!!