Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Hermanos in Christo

Another weekend has passed with all that a weekend brings. Friday night was a lot of fun as we cooked some awesome hotdogs and hamburgers. Kenneth and Downer played the roles of both chef and bouncer as they flipped the meat and kept the vultures at bay. We had about 20 youth show up for the cookout along with a few more stragglers that came by to watch the skating and the videos we are showing on the screen as people skate. Speaking of videos, that was one of the great ideas that Sebas and Jetsi had when we talked a couple of weeks ago about how we could improve Fridays and reach more kids. It has really given those that don't skate more of a reason to stick around and have fun. We also bought some games (dominoes, badmiton and a few others) so that there are more activities each week that will hopefully draw others that aren't necessarily into skating.

After the cookout, we played some games...M&M races (which ended in a chocolate brawl...fortunately the chocolate melted in mouths and not on hands, true to the decades old marketing campaign that we all know and love) and a water balloon shooting contest which was a blast. We recently found two giant water balloon slingshots (which could be quite dangerous in the wrong hands) that we put to good use. Next time we need to put in some food dye so that we can more easily identify who gets hit by whom. Overall, it was a great night and hopefully served it's intended purpose of generating interest and getting more of the youth involved.

Sunday night at house church was different and good. We had about eight visitors from a surf camp in Nicaragua. JJ Yemma, owner of the Popoyo Surf Lodge in southwestern Nicaragua (and also a Christian), had come to town for a visit with several of the local surfers he works with and disciples there. JJ played some music for us (which we've missed since TJ, our former worship leader, left a few months back) and we started the next book of the bible, Ephesians. It was a great opportunity for the Puerto crew to meet and spend some time with their Christian brothers from north of the border. Everyone enjoyed themselves and we had some good discussion to top it off. God is blessing, people are growing and the Word is being spread. I love the fact that God uses a bunch of surfers to spread his truth throughout the world.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

That's what I get for thinkin'

Well, I thought I had posted a couple of photos of the finished deck and bleachers at the skatepark but apparently, I didn't. Here it is in all of it's glory. We finally got it finished (with the exception of adding much needed lighting):

In other news, we're getting ready for tomorrow night's cookout at the skatepark. Food always brings teenagers and we're hoping tomorrow night is no exception. Next week, we'll begin our series of bible studies answering last weeks questions from a biblical point of view. Please pray for us.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Well Done

Last night went very well. Sebas and Jetsi took the lead at the youth night and did a great job. They stepped up to the plate, took aim at the ball and knocked it out of the park. I was really impressed with how they handled themselves and the material. Last night was "question night". They passed out index cards to everyone that was present and asked them to write down questions that they had about life, God, the bible, relationships, etc... We are going to use these questions to plan our bi-monthly bible studies, using scripture to provide quidance and direction. I am planning to meet with them at least once a week to plan each week's events. My hope is that each week this will be a time of deepening friendships and training and mentoring as they learn how to prepare bible studies and lead their peers into a deeper walk with Christ. Please pray that God will encourage and strengthen as they have really developed a desire to see their friends and families come to know God. This is a new thing for both of them. God has put this in them but as Jetsi told me the other day, "I want to but I just don't know how". I told her that we would figure it out together. Pray that God will strengthen them through the challenge and the frustration so that they can experience the incredible feeling of seeing others come to know Jesus.

Friday, January 11, 2008

The Haps

God never stops amazing me... I have been a little discouraged lately looking toward the future and knowing that we don't have anyone that is definitely planning to join us here in Puerto. I see so much potential, we have so many needs for staffing and although there are several people that have expressed an interest, nothing is certain at this point. This gets to me because I know what is possible and yet I know that I can't do it all on my own and do it well. The one thing that I have held on to is that God can provide whatever he wants, whenever he chooses. I have specifically reminded myself that at any moment, the right person with the right heart and the right qualifications could show up and be an immediate answer to prayer.

That being said, a couple of nights ago, we went to dinner at a local restaurant that I didn’t really want to go to but went because Amy and the girls wanted. Long story short, we ended up sitting next to a couple that was traveling with their son. They found out that we lived here and asked if we were home-schooling the girls. Turns out, during the course of conversation, we found out that they had lived in Kenya years ago as missionaries and their children had been home-schooled as well. They had lived in Nairobi, Limuru (where we had lived when I was young) and another town on the south coast. They were also good friends with several people that have been long-term friends of our family.

Anyway, they are now involved with Calvary Chapels and live part time in Vero Beach, FL. Their son Whit has been associate youth pastor at the Calvary there in Vero for several years and is now in a bible training school in San Diego run through Horizon Christian Fellowship (a Calvary affiliate). He has been praying for a long time about going into missions and told me that he really has a heart for youth ministry, specifically with skate and surf, and has been wanting to get involved somewhere in Central America. As part of his training, he is required to do a 4 week internship in the field. He is very interested in coming to work here with us to fulfill that internship and also told me that when his training is done in late May or early June, he will be probably be looking for somewhere to plug in permanently.
We surfed and talked together for two hours this morning and had some great conversation. He really seems like someone I could work well with and we share many of the same outlooks on ministry. It is really interesting to me that this happened right after I had a couple of conversations with people about my discouragement with
our staffing situation where I had specifically said that the only solution I could see right now is for God to just send someone to walk in off the street. I don’t know what will come of it but it definitely lifted my spirits. This was at the very least, a confirmation that God has things in control.

I am also in the process of planning a short surf trip with a purpose to a small island (Isla Uvita) off the coast of Limon.

I am planning it in conjunction with our neighbor who works with World Vision. We will also be working with a local Costa Rican group that will help us host the retreat by giving presentations and organizing activities. World Vision will most likely contribute half of the cost and we will pick up the remainder. We will be talking about relationships, dating, sex and other related topics from a Christian perspective which is something that is sorely needed.

Top that off with some great waves and a bunch of kids having the run of a "deserted" island and it should be a great and productive time. I am really looking forward to that.

Last but not least, a couple of the older youth have committed to helping out of Friday nights. Sebas and Jetsi will begin meeting with me each week to plan and prepare for each youth night. Sebas will hopefully being leading the bible studies and Jetsi will assist with games, activities and logistics. They are both good friends and really have a heart to see their town changed by the truth of Jesus. This is a huge thing and I am am looking forward to helping them serve God in their own community. Please pray for all of us.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Time Flies

Wow, a lot of time has passed since I last posted. It doesn't really seem like it to me because so much has been happening. We returned to Costa Rica on the 14th and got back in to Puerto Viejo on the 16th. It was a crazy transition because as we were returning, Phil and Shannon who had worked with us for almost a year and a half, were in the process of heading back to the States permanently. At the same time, Ronnie and Tammy who are still on our team, were heading back to Honduras for a visit with friends and family. Needless to say, there was quite a bit of information we needed to pass back and forth and it didn't even seem like there was time for proper "good-byes". We lost some good friends in Phil and Shannon and hated to see them go but are excited for their future as they head off to seminary in Dallas.

We also had some visitors right after we returned...friends from Thomasville Road Baptist Church in Tallahassee, FL and a family from Jacksonville that have been instrumental in helping us to construct the skatepark and bleachers. We were busy but the visits were great.

For the past three weeks, it has pretty much been Amy and I holding down the fort. Kid's Church doesn't resume until school starts in early February so that's one program that we don't have to worry about right now. I am teaching and leading the youth program on Friday nights, house church on Sundays (which Amy puts a great deal of effort into hosting), 4 skate sessions a week and all the administrative tasks that go along with those things. In addition, I am trying hard to maintain all of the relationships we have worked so hard to build, which requires getting out of the office and spending time with real, live people. It ain't easy, but it's good.

Christmas and New Year's went off well and we celebrated both at house church. While we were gone, Phil gave Sebas (one of the older youth) an opportunity to share the gospel and give an invitation to accept Christ at one of the youth nights. From what I understand, five youth gave their lives to Christ that night...including one specific girl that we have been praying for. We are going to have a baptism in a couple of weeks, which will be exciting. Pray for these kids as they begin their journey with Jesus. They are excited about their decisions but there is a lot in this town working to derail them...

I'll get on this blogging thing again now that we've settled back into things and I'll make sure to get some photos posted as well. Thanks for your patience.