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.