Friday, November 27, 2009

Youth night puppet making

Here's some pictures from last Friday's youth night.

We had a blast, these kids are so talented! Tonight we are off to the mission to practice our puppet show that we're doing for the children's Christmas concert we're hosting.

Youth night puppet making (Nov 20/09)

Click on photo to see more pictures.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

On a more serious note

Before we left Canada, I anticipated being able to keep those who are interested in our happenings here in Costa Rica up to date on the latest. However, I've found myself posting on more surface-type happenings. But finding the ability to gather thoughts into words, and ordering those words in a logical and meaningful sense in order to capture happenings around us here, in a concise manner, and devoting minimal time to it, to be more than challenging. But what I wrestle with, is that so many people put us on the ground here, and they have the 'right' to know what's all happening, and not just about sunshine and roses.

But I still struggle, erroneously concerned that leaving readers with thoughts of challenges and hurdles negates our work, or it renders readers regretful they'd sponsored this mission. But I'm also concerned about the latter when I post about sunshine and roses.

Not exactly win-win.

However, it's been laid on my heart to share more than I have been. I do ask that you look past the poor grammar, spelling mistakes, and potentially scrambled thoughts; for these are the types of things that stop me from writing more meaningful posts.

Also, let me precede this post with this: There is a lot of sunshine and roses here, honestly.


The bible tells us that we are surrounded by spiritual warfare. Considering the topic is scary, and to discuss it publicly often requires great knowledge and a strong viewpoint, it's something I always sort of avoided thinking about back in Canada. It's scary. Honestly. But probably putting it on the back burner, saying to myself "My Lord is greater than Satan, therefore Satan will be crushed... So, I'm good. back to my distractions.." May be scarier.
"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." (Ephesians 6:12)
But now I find myself seeing battles, that just don't make sense to be coming from the flesh. But why are these types of things not so obvious to me in the Canadian culture? Is that it? Is it just culture? And, because I am from the Canadian culture I'm used to customs, desires, unwritten rules, happenings, and distractions of that 'culture' and I don't see them as possibly being from a much worse source?

We are told to be in the world, but not of the world ... But am I not of Canada if I fail to be alerted by the garbage that transpires there, too? Even in my own life? Why am I not overwhelmed with concern when similar things (comparatively speeking) are happening in the lives of others in Canada? Oh sure, we all have problems, and we are human (of the 'flesh'), but are not some of these problems rooted in spiritual warfare? To be sure, I'm not trying to pass the buck, for my Lord is greater and more powerful than satan, but while sitting idle dancing in distractions and continuing to continue on, am I not acting as a mere spectator of warfare? Can you pass the popcorn?

Is it because I have been dropped and submerged into a different culture, that the hairs on the back of my neck are quick to raise when something seems (horribly) off? Or is something more powerful and deeper being revealed to me?

And how am I to respond to this, in either case?

The bible tells me:
"Put on all the armor that God gives you, so that you will be able to stand up against the Devil's evil tricks." (Ephesians 6:11)
Easier said than done, though. Especially because the devil's evil tricks may be involved.

Then there comes a point to which satan may be given too much credit. Maybe this is not due to spiritual warfare. Maybe challenges and obstacles are a direct result of 'flesh'? But is that actually different? Are these not manifested as the same act of un-God-centered-ness? (Because we always have a choice.)

But there are some things that just don't sense to be of the flesh. Let's take a few personal examples over the past week:

After a few days of moral gut checks and prayerful decisions, which manifested in beautiful results, we finally reach Friday, youth night at our house (which we just moved back into). Things were going great, I went to the neighbors to borrow something and proceeded to wipe out on their steps. It wasn't too bad, but, seriously, my Spanish spilled out of my head. I had to rely on a translator for the rest of the night (which doesn't boost the confidence)..
Saturday, a day we reserved and used for a spiritual retreat to focus on our upcoming challenging hike to Chirripo, our house started to fall apart. The sink; literally, I caught it as it started to fall to the ground. The hot water in the shower stopped, half way through my shower. The stove wouldn't work, the lights started to go out, the microwave conked. Yes, yes, after much investigation is was a overworked fuse down the line... So that explains everything, right? Coincidence to have such a distraction on that day? Oh, sure.
Sunday, while taking some friends to a show as a gift, I slipped on the steps of the bus, and proceeded to smash my body on the stairs.
Monday, while training for Chirripo my bowels began to act up... which evolved into feverish chills, gastrointestinal distress and a sleepless night. Why? I had to lay down due to nausiousness, but laying was painful due to a bruised body.
Tuesday... Do I need to continue?

String of bad luck?
Coincidence that our ministry here is becoming well planted, and that we've seen some amazing things come together over prayer, just prior to this all?

I'm not sure about you, but I think not.

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. (Ephesians 6:13-18)

Prayer Requests

For those of you not on Laura's e-mail list for our prayer requests*, lend me your ears!

  1. Heath issues have decided to plague me again. I have a (mildly) serious gastrointestinal problem going on for the past few days. I've been restricted to the couch (which is situated near the bathroom ;) and fighting dehydration and sometimes chills. It looks like things are not on a fast-track recovery line, but I need that to fully recover for Chirripo next week. Tom is doing well, but is quite concerned.
  2. The Lehmann's arrive tomorrow! Our good friends from Montreal are joining us for over a week of service. This includes the major hike next week! Please pray for a smooth transition for them, and for my heath issues to not be communicable!!!
Thank you, mi amigos!

*If you wish to be on Laura's e-mail list, please send me an e-mail


Saturday, November 21, 2009

Week in Review

Yes, yet another week has come and gone!

This past week was a bit different than average though!

Last Saturday we were blessed with the opportunity to learn about the history and culture of the ancestors of the indigenous group we are visiting next week. We were offered to join a group of Americans touring Guayabo Monument, a historic site that, according to the guide, was inhabited by indigenous people some 14,000 years ago. Very interesting. Very rainy!

We also got to learn a great deal about the religious history of the country when we send a day out and around the country side with Hector and a few others on Tuesday. We visited super old churches and grounds that are/were considered to be holy and/or haunted.

The importance of an appreciation of the background of a people group you are working with is essential. Much of the history really surprised me... Too much to even try and capture in a blog post though, sorry.

But do enjoy some of the pics.

Then, to add to our non-average week, we whisked in to San Jose Wednesday evening. We had a meeting with two people from San Jose who are interested in joining us on the Chirripo hike next week. We spent the night at the pastor's apartment and Thursday morn we ran some errands and took the bus back to Turrialba.

San Jose from the bus window

We got back in time to get a few groceries, move back in to our house, and eat dinner before crashing for the night and preparing for Youth Night! at our house on Friday. But that night deserves a post of it's own!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

4 Ingredients of Happiness

Life is a little different here. I'm not sure if it's the people, or the pace, or the attitude... I really don't know.

We are told that "Ticos" (a.k.a. Costa Ricans) consider happiness to consist of four ingredients:
1) A spouse
2) A little house
3) A job
4) God

It's refreshing, from a North American point-of-view, that there are places in the world where God still makes the list.

I'm leading the next men's breakfast here, and one of the things I want to talk about at the breakfast is: In my own, personal, "pursuit of happiness", how often have I measured my success by my marital status, possessions, or occupation? And have I understood the necessity of God, or have I concentrated more on expecting God to provide me the other items?

In fact, there is only one ingredient to happiness. I'll let you guess which one.

Candice and I really want to take this opportunity as foreigners in a far-away land to break our old molds, our old habits, our old mindsets, and let God reinvent us. To be sure, this is an on going process. Life is very difficult, and adapting to our new home, new lives, and new roles is very straining, so please keep those prayers coming. We do feel, though, absolutely, that there is nowhere else we'd rather be, and that in serving here for the next few months, we may be transformed into a slightly more accurate image of Him.

I've got a long way to go!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Youth night #2

It's youth night again (already!)

Ephesians 6:7
Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men

I'm anticipating a number of new comers tonight. Word has spread that a few Canadians have come and are riling up the local youth to getting on board with serving their community.

I'll let you know how it goes!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Week 3

Although it's cliche, I'm still going to say

"Wow, I can't believe it's been X weeks already!"

Time has indeed flown by.

We are now residing in our house, leading youth, paricipating in many weekly activities, have stated a prayer group for the church service, and are indeed building realtionships with many people throughout the community. And beyond, actually. Like yesterday, when we were waiting for the bus a gentlemand noticed that I was studying Spanish. We started to talk with him and, within 20 minutes, Tom and I arranged to help him learn English and he offered us a tour of his coffee farm! The people here are so proud of their land... They really do know Costa Rica is beautiful.

Other updates:
  • The youth did get excited about ServantHood. We've already done a (mini) project and I'm (and they, actually) are excited about the next ones.
  • Spanish is coming along. Thank you for your prayers for language acquisition. Our language skills are growing, seriously, only by God's grace. Although sometimes it is frustrating that we don't know more, it is a great venue for relationship building (and theatrics!)
  • We are training for the December outreach project into the remote indigenous reserves. Please watch the video below for a snidbit of what it will be like... This venture will be 4 days long and health-clinic focused. A doctor, two nurses, and myself (plus anyone else with a background in health care) will be undertaking health clinics at three communities in the Chirripo mountains. More details to come!