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


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


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


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


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 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.