Thursday, January 22, 2009

In Her Own Words, Part 2

Anastasia this past Sunday night after her baptism. This is really cool.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

In Her Own Words, Part 1

Anastasia in her own words one year ago, just after she decided to follow Jesus. January 2008


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Saturday, January 17, 2009

The opposite of discouragement

I've never experienced highs and lows in life like I have here in the field. Life is anything but even-keeled. I never know quite how we're doing...are we being effective? Is there more we can do? Does anyone even care? How much harder can daily life get? Where are the thank-you's? Some days it is enough to make me wonder what the heck I was thinking when we picked up and moved down here four years ago.

No sooner does that thought enter my mind than God begins to provide encouragement...

We recently went to a New Year's Day pig roast, which is really a gathering of missionaries throughout Costa Rica at the house of our friend Bob Wilmarth, owner of the infamous Goat Farm (one smell and you know why it's "infamous"). We often feel somewhat isolated down here in Puerto because we don't have much contact with other missionaries and their families...people that understand what it's like. It was great to spend a day hanging out and talking with people that can identify with the different issues we face on a daily basis. To hear a seasoned missionary say..."Don't worry about things...it takes at least four years for most missionaries to even begin being effective where they are because there is so much to learn and so many hurdles to overcome" is so encouraging. To have someone else that has been working in country for many years tell us, "Wow, you guys picked the hardest place in the entire country to start a ministry" speaks volumes. To watch our kids play for hours with all of the other missionary kids was priceless. All in all, it was very encouraging.

Other encouragements...we were invited by a friend we met at the pig roast, to speak to a group of college students from Messiah College this past Tuesday. I hope they were blessed, but I know that we certainly were as we not only had an opportunity to meet some neat people and to share with them what God had done in our lives, we also had the opportunity to listen to a man that grew up in the jungle here in Costa Rica as the son of missionaries to the Cabecar Indians, an indigenous group that lives in the mountains behind Puerto. His story was very inspiring. He has gone through a lot in his life and has put up with things we can't even imagine in order to share the love of Christ with others. We felt priveledged to be a part of the evening.

Reality quickly destroys the romantic idea of "missions"...whatever that is. There is only one thing that matters in the end...the call of God. Were you called? You had better go. If you weren't called...if you're not sure beyond a shadow of a doubt that God has put a calling on your life you better stay home because without the surety of a calling, there are better, simpler and easier ways to pass time. Don't do it because it sounds cool...like a good thing to do. It will destroy you. Living here has helped me in some small way to identify with the subjects of Hebrews Chapter 11. I don't know if we will ever see the results we hope to see in our lifetime, but I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God has placed us here. Case in point? Barring something unforseen, after having to wait a full year since she accepted Christ, we'll baptize Anastasia tomorrow night before house church. One small drop in a very deep bucket but another huge source of encouragement.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

life

Well, it seems to get harder and harder to put together an update. In trying to get the house finished, we're falling way behind on our communications. Please forgive us. We don't have a phone line out where we live and it can sometimes be pretty difficult to get online at all.

It is now Tuesday and I am trying to get caught up on administrative duties, communication with potential staff members, etc... We are also working like crazy to finish the house. Our goal at this point is to make it livable so that we can move in. Our contractor is doing good work but I have decided that he is terrible at math. We are now so over our contract amount that we are close to having to shut down. Third world calculating finally catches up with us. Anyway, I am spending as much time as possible working on-site myself both to make sure that workers continue going strong and so that I can get as much done myself as possible. The roof is 98% complete, the flooring is 80% complete and hopefully we'll have a functioning water system and bathroom in the next week or so. We could definitely use prayer in this. We want to finish and move so that our living situation is stable and we can put all of our energies into our work rather than being so distracted. I keep reminding myself that this is a short time which will increase our long-term effectiveness.

As for church, things really seemed to go well this past Sunday night. We had a pretty large crowd...the largest in quite some time, and everyone really seemed to connect and enjoy the night. I took a slight detour from our ongoing study through Romans to talk about faith. We have just finished Chapter 4 where Paul spoke about Abraham being made righteous because of his faith. There's a lot of talk in our culture about faith, but all too often, faith is an end unto itself. We spent a couple of hours Sunday night looking at faith from a biblical perspective before we head through the rest of the letter to the Romans. I really enjoyed teaching and everyone seemed to enjoy listening and discussing as we went through the study. My hope is that we will continue to grow closer as a body and that we will also begin to grow. Please pray for us and for our effectiveness. Please pray for the new Christians as God molds them into new creations.

Finally, we'll also be celebrating a baptism this next Sunday afternoon. If all goes according to plan, Sebas (who has been part of our church since the beginning) will baptize Anastasia whom he shared Christ with early last year. It will be an exciting time.