Thursday, May 28, 2009

Makena! Makena! Makena!

That was the chant yesterday as Makena was carried off of the soccer field at the end of a brutal match-up between the Rio Negro kindergarten (Makena's school) and the Manzanillo kindergarten. Two weeks ago, Makena's class was slaughtered by a combination of 4 and 5 year olds that had been practicing and a few parents that blurred the line between "helping" and cheating. Yesterday, after two weeks of practice in the blistering heat, Makena's class stood tall and took the battle to their tiny opponents.

When Makena first started practicing, she was easily distracted and had a hard time following the game. Then, her coach tried her out as the goalie. She found her calling in life and immediately began an ascent that ended with her being carried off the field on the shoulders of her teacher and several other parents, all to chants of, "Makena! Makena! Makena!." It was one of the funniest things I have seen since we have been down here and we laughed hysterically. She is now a local celebrity of sorts (having helped her team to win by blocking multiple goal attempts by the other team). Makena simply said, "I was embarassed." We were very proud of her and also very much enjoyed the opportunity it gave us to interact with other parents and students. Here's to hoping that God uses all of this for His purposes. What a day.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

One of the things I don't like

I don't like snakes. The other day, I heard a first person snake story that made my skin crawl. Andres, one of the first kids that became a Christian several years ago, told me what happened to him a few days before. He and his mom watch houses for people that are on vacation or are absentee landowners. Right now, they are watching a farm up in the mountains. Andres was out working the other day, gathering bamboo with a couple of other people that live at the farm. He was walking through grass that was about shin height. All of a sudden, he felt something hit his heel from behind...hard. He turned around and saw a terciopelo (fer-de-lance) thrashing around with it's teeth stuck in the heel of his rubber boot. Reflexively, he swung his machete and cut the head off about the same time he saw it. The body was flopping around behind him. He started freaking out at this point and tried to pull off his boot. One of the people that had been working with him yelled at him to stop. When he stopped and looked, he realized that the fangs had gone all the way through the boot and there was venom dripping off of them. If he had pulled his boot off, he would have been "bitten" by a dead snake and would have suffered the same reaction. They ended up having to cut the boot off around the head of the snake to get it off cleanly.

One thing you should know... The fer-de-lance has been called "the most feared snake in the western hemishere" both due to it's aggressive nature and the potency of it's venom. I would have passed out. Anyway, it gave us a good opportunity to talk about God's plans for our lives. I told Andres a long time ago that God had a plan for him. This reinforced it for me. Hopefully, it reinforces it for him.

In other news, it has been pretty crazy with just Amy and I trying to keep up. We are talking with a soon to be couple from Texas that are very interested in moving down to partner with us. We are excited about that. There are some other opportunities as well and we are praying (and ask you to pray as well) that God will provide.

I also just finished several days of meetings with our director from the States. Those meetings went well and I am excited about future possibilities within Alternative Missions. We have a long road ahead as we gear back up after the loss of Whit. There is no way we can do it all...especially in our own strength. Please pray that we'll get the temporary help we need while others are preparing for the long haul, through language school, etc... We will continue to look for God to provide opportunities to share Him with those around us.

I'll write about Makena's soccer game later. It was one of the funniest things I have witnessed since we moved here. Cool and funny.

"The crazy one" has us all laughing most of the time.

One last photo...we added palm leaves to the front of the house for about $100. It came out looking pretty cool and provides the protection we needed from the rain for our stairway.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

At last

Wow, it's been a long time since I posted. There are some good reasons for that but even so, I can hardly believe how long it has been. We are finally out of survival mode and are living in our new house. It is not finished...still quite a bit of work to do...but it is liveable and that is huge. We had no running water in our rental house for the last four weeks we were there. That meant bringing water in jugs to flush and do dishes and going elsewhere to shower. Just taking care of simple tasks like that took up so much time on a daily basis. Now that we are in the new house, things are starting to settle down. For the first time in nine months we have hot water and don't have to go to that bathroom in a bucket if we wake up at night. The bathroom in the previous house was only accessible from the outside and you definitely don't want to walk around outside at night in the jungle.

We also have ceiling fans and are dry...two incredible things that we still can't get over. Right now, we are reveling in the small things. Credit to our move goes out to the team from Calvary Chapel Jupiter who helped push us over the hump. They spent five days sanding, varnishing, painting and building in order to take the house to the point where we could move in. Thanks to everyone who has been praying for us as well. Life has taken a sudden turn for the better.

After two months, there is quite a bit of other news to tell as well. First, a few weeks back we had the privilege of baptizing Pablo. We got to know Pablo almost two years ago when he first visited from Spain looking for land to build a surf camp. Pablo ran into a lot of problems during the construction of his first cabin (imagine that). He also experienced quite a bit of loneliness being apart from his family. It was during this time that we became friends (through a shared love of the surf). Pablo spent quite a bit of time in our home eating and hanging out. As God began working in his life, he began coming to our house church...something he had never experienced before. Little by little, he was drawn to God. One night about a month ago, I had an opportunity to sit and talk with Pablo before church started. The conversation came to the point where I asked him if we wanted to give control of his life to Jesus. Without hesitating, he said "Yes. I need to do that". He explained that when he was younger, growing up in the Catholic church in Spain, he had felt God calling him into a relationship. At the time, he said no...he had other things on his mind. After years of running into dead ends and coming to the end of himself...God was still knocking. That night just over a month ago, Pablo prayed and told Jesus that he wanted to follow Him. We baptized Pablo two weeks ago...eight people on a beach in Puerto Viejo...but a whole lot of happy witnesses in Heaven.

I also had the privilege of speaking at some friends' wedding a couple of weeks ago. I'll post a couple of photos now but will save the story for a soon to be written update. The wedding was one of the most beautiful I have ever seen and God provided a way for us to make him known publicly.

Finally, we are sad to be losing Whit Hazelton who has been working with us for the past eight months. Whit came down last September to serve with us long term, but as things go, he is now returning to the States this coming week to get married and live with his future wife and son. It has been an incredible experience to work and serve with him and we are sad to see him go but wish and pray the best for him, his future wife Kristin and her son. We need your prayers as Amy and I are now solely responsible for everything, including weekly skate sessions, house church, youth nights and administrative duties. We believe that God has placed us here for a reason and are trusting that He will send the right people and give us the right ideas at the right time. Please pray for us as we need a minimum of one to two people, preferably a couple or a family, to join us in the near future as even our legal status as a mission is in jeopardy. I will focus much of my efforts over the next two months on recruiting new staff members, both from the states or locally, to join with us. Thanks for your prayers and your interest.