Wednesday, June 30, 2010

From Costa Rica to Ecuadaor

Hi all!

Now that we're done our time in Costa Rica, and that the Lord has led our path all the way to Ecuador, we have a new blog www.candiceandtom.com that's a little more generic. It encompasses our overall life as missionaries, as appose to specific locations of each mission.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

more videos to come!

once we get back to Montreal!

The videos we meant to publish over the past few days were accidentally left on our computer back in Canada.

Sorry for the wait!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Video 1 of 4- Intro to Life in Tuis

The following video was the first shown on Sunday night to kick off the evening and provide an introduction to what life was like for us while in Costa Rica.

Before jumping into talking about or showing the work we did, we needed to first lay the scene as to where we were, the house we lived in, the community we worked in, some of the people we worked with, etc.

If a picture really is worth a thousand words, then the following should save us millions of them!

Enjoy!


video

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Invite Video

video

Costa Rica night!

Come join us at Lakeshore church tomorrow, Sunday May 16th, at 6:00pm to hear all about what LEC-CR has been up to over the past few months.

Hope to see you there!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Back in Canada!

On Thursday, April 14th in the weeee hours of the morning, we touched down in Winnipeg.


Yes, we're back.


We will continue to post on this blog about our time in Costa Rica (as a method of processing our own thoughts) but more than likely posts will be fewer and further between than before.

We'll also be sure to let you know when our LEC Costa Rica night will be at Lakeshore; we're heading to Montreal in May.


Thank you all for your support.

God bless.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Alta Pacuare (aka Ronald's house)

Last week we went to Ronald's house.



Ronald is a friend that we made way back at the wedding (remember it?). His sister was married that day and he, Ronald, didn't have anywhere to stay.




So he stayed with us... Which was the start of a very touching friendship. That day he learned we were offering English conversation classes. He was very interested.

Ronald is from an indigenous reserve. Not in the same Chirripo reserves that we've visited in the past, but from another. Ever since the wedding, Ronald would walk to our house from his house, up to twice a week, for English lessons. The walk between the houses is about 6 hours.



Over the past few months we've grown a friendship with this 27 year old man. His mother tongue is Cabecar, but he learned Spanish in school and on the streets of Turrialba when we went to town. Now he really wants to learn English, and has this incredible ability to reproduce syllables to replicate words without an accent. It amazes me all the time. All he needs is to hear, then he can say it.

Over the past few months he has learned a lot about Canadian culture from staying with us. He graciously ate my crazy Canadian cooking (vegetarian?? Lasagna?? Let's remember there is only fire cooking out there...), he even laughed at our jokes. We learned an immense amount from him. About his culture, his language (remember our 'English' classes where we learned Cabecar?)




and his aspirations. Ronald is a very forward thinker, and not only is he bi-lingual, but also bi-cultural. He lives on the reserve, but he owns a cell phone. That kind of thing.

Tom and Ronald would often talk into the night, long past my bedtime, about the way of life on the indigenous reserves. Tom learned that having a cell phone is a huge blessing. And I think anyone can appreciate that. A cell phone means communication in emergencies, not having to walk 6 hours to make a doctor's appointment, etc. However, powering a cell phone in a land of no electricity is a little bit trickier.


But not too tricky for my husband.


Last week we had the amazing opportunity to travel to Ronald's house. We took a cab from our house to the trail head (end of the road) and began on an incredible 3.5 hour hike to his home.



We past over mountains, crossed over streams, and waded through a waist-deep rushing river to climb the last hill that lead to his house. During the hike Ronald carried a tape-recorded to tape words he wanted to learn knowing we were going home soon.




The length of the cab ride (which he usually walks), the intensity of the hike, the views, the time, the energy, the heat of the sun, the effort, the soaked clothes after the river, the soaked clothes after the whole hike.... All if it struck me like a brick: He does this every week. Sometimes twice a week. For. Our. English. Classes.


Did you get that?!


A few times a week. 6 hours a direction. And he has figured out some way to stay clean, dry, and show up on our doorstep smiling, and ready to learn.

The commitment to learning was incredible.


While we were walking to his house, I was drafting a blog post in my head for all of you. The post would grip the reader and have them understand this overwhelming feelings I had, but I can't even come to write what I experienced. What I realized.

When we arrived the men got to work. LEC-CR sponsored a low-cost electricity source... Hydro-energy! If there is one thing this country has, it's water.

Tom designed a water wheel that used a used bicycle tire and a few random parts. We've always joked that he can turn a coconut into a radio; this came close. The idea is similar to those bicycle powered lights that you stick onto the front of your bike. But instead, the energy is shunted towards a 'plug in', and instead of peddling, the wheel is turned via water (like a water-wheel).

Cool, eh?




And this is the moment when the phone was plugged in, the wheel was turned by hand, and the phone made a beepity-beep-beep signifying a charging phone. The joy in the air!!! The wheel was also able to power a an LED lantern that lite the house at night! What a blessing!



We also did a few hours of English. Knowing it was going to be our last time together, we filled tapes of English words, common phrases, and conversations from his books.




When we parted ways the next morning at the trail head, I cried. This man has been a huge blessing in our lives here.


The experience of going to his home?

Incredible.



The joy of providing electricity to light a home or charge a phone without having to walk hours?


Priceless.


Speechless.


Unexplainable.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Brief distruption in regular programming...

We interrupt this 'day-of-the-week in the life of' series to bring you the following announcement:

Tomorrow, April 1st, we are heading back to Chirripo!!!

No, this isn't an April fools joke.

Can't wait to tell you all about when we return!!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Mondays

Disclaimer: Here, just like everywhere else in the world, average days don't really exist. Plus a million little things are happening all the time. So, maybe these posts are under reporting what we do in a day, but they do provide a framework for what our days 'look like'.

Back to post:


Ah, Mondays.


Sandwiched between my favoritests Sundays and Tuesdays, are Mondays.

But they're not to shabby either.

Mondays we rise to clean up what's left from the night before and get ready for a day out of the house. You see, if you leave even a crumb laying around the house, the-march-of-the-ants will be sure to follow. And ants are the best thing you could hope for to help you clean up crumby messes...

On Mondays we are usually on the early bus heading to Turrialba, the closest thing we've got to a city. Turrialba has all the amenities we need; a gringo food store, a bank that will actually accept our debit cards, locations to pay cell bills, and restaurants that have menus, not just rice and beans and whatever else they have on hand. Mind you, the restaurants in Turrialba pretty much only serve rice and beans with something else, but at least the option of 'something else' is written down.

The bus to Turrialba takes about 45 minutes. The views of the land and lives around you are just amazing. You pass through nicer areas and poorer areas, fields of sugar cane, coffee plantations, and men carrying machetes. You can often see the Volcan Turrialba too, smoking from it's new crater!

We go to the gym in Turrialba on Monday mornings (we used to go twice a week, Mondays and Thursdays, to train for Chirripo, but now that our major trips are done we've moved it down to once a week.) Going to the gym, as silly as it sounds to do in such a beautiful country, is such a stress reliever and health inducer! A friend of ours(originally from Canada)'s husband owns the gym and is a trainer. Over the past few months he's worked with us to get our knees, ankles, and minds in shape for Chirripo. (He's also the gentlemen that donated many of the chickens we brought to Chirripo!) We're continuing to go for the health aspects, and knowing we may actually be heading back to Chirripo yet. (More on that in a later post.) We're usually at the gym for an hour and a half.

Monday afternoons we have Spanish class... Usually focusing on areas we found we were lacking-in over the weekend. For example, the past participle and conditional tenses were lacking in my sentence structures when discussing "if" situations with the female youth. "If you had a significant other that was abusive, who would you talk to?" (Because this is not the same question as "If you have a significant other that is abusive, who do you talk to?") We either meet our Spanish teacher in Turrialba and host the class in town or her house, or we take the bus to Tuis (1 hour) to have class at the Christian Immersion Spanish Academy (CISA). Classes are 3 hours long.

I have to say, learning another language isn't always easy.

On the way home we usually take advantage of the fact we are near a bus stop and near a store, so we grab groceries to resupply the items the weekend ran us out of. These are usually big trips if we're in Turrialba. After getting home and making/having dinner, we settle in to do some much needed admin work: plan for the week ahead, return e-mails and write new ones, update time sheets and budgets, write reports, draft blog, etc. You would not believe the quantity of time this stuff takes!!! Especially so when large projects are approaching (STMs, Chirripo trips, ladies retreat, etc.) Admin work needs to be done nearly everyday of the week, but Mondays are the days we try to block off a few hours to ensure we keep up on it.

We often also use our Monday nights to reconnect with those in the community we couldn't do so with over the weekend. Because in a relationship based country, if you don't maintain relationships the entire system breaks down.

A little more on that note...
Often people will just come over (this is not restricted to Mondays, or evenings, or really have any restrictions at all). CR is much different than Canada in the fact that you don't really need to give people notice when you're coming over... Nor do they give you notice! And visits are usually long; be sure to be ready to make coffee or a meal at all times. Just ask Laura and Liz how long and 'schedule disrupting' these drop-in visits can be, but I'm sure they'll tell you that the hours spent talking to the people lead to deepened relatinoships and a greater understanding of the culture and community than could be gathered any other way. So around these parts, plans are alway subject to change depending on someone showing up on your doorstep. We've all but dropped the Northerner American way of operation, and yielded to the culture here. This process hasn't been the smoothest, but it has been an amazing lesson.



The nearest bus stop to our house.

Da bus... Usually with funky music playing.

The communities on the way to Turrialba.

Smokin' Turrialba Volcano

Maxi Bodge = Walmart in disguise. It's were we get our goods.


Admin mode!

Keeping up with those back home.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Tuesdays

Tuesday.

My other 'favoritest' day of the week.

On Tuesday mornings I have Ana, our Spanish teacher, all to myself. I get three hours of instruction to learn, review, and ask any questions I want. Tom's much better at Spanish than I am, so 3 blissful hours of one-on-one is so amazing to have. Ana and I have become pretty good friends over these last few months.

There's usually a woman's meet Tuesday afternoons. Through these meets I've met a lot of women in the community, many mothers of the youth we work with too. We do a bible study, followed by an hour or two of coffee and chatting.

Tuesday evenings we run English classes from our home. I love these nights. We have students that range from neighborhood kids to one that comes all the way from the Chirripo mountains.
You can only imagine my delight when this past Tuesday the class morphed into English/Spanish/Cabecar lessons!! After an hour and a half or so of English, we get to relax a little more, play games, and eat some snacks.

Enjoy some Tuesday pics!

Ana and I!

The women's Christmas get together. Full house!

Tuesday night English class.

English, Spanish, Cabecar!


English class with Laura and Liz!
MOOSE!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Sundays

Sundays are of my favorite days here.

Sundays we get to sleep in (although we do have a house guest every Saturday night - who started coming for English classes, but has since began attending the mission services on Saturday nights too - but he rises way earlier, at 4:00am, to walk home, which takes 6 hours, before the heat of day. I leave some snacks out for him to take.)

Sundays we also get to have a bible study with the youth. Often, these studies are led by the youth, and it's very interesting to see the passages they pick to pick-over, and how they apply these to their lives. They have definitely been ministering to us, too.

Sundays we also get to just hang out with the youth after the bible study. When the studies are held at our house, the kids usually hang out until their parents start calling (although we try to have them home before this point). When we host them elsewhere, we're usually there all day.

Here are a few pictures from a Sunday a few weeks ago (when Ben was here).


They spent the morning making hockey sticks...



then hosted the study on a community member's porch





then it was hockey afternoon in Costa Rica!


This was the first time any of the kids have played hockey. They were quite concerned about playing 'soccer with sticks,' as it sounded dangerous.


But once they got into it, it didn't seem to matter any more!



And, because we are in Latin America, hockey was followed by a game of soccer!
It was great, many members of the community joined in.



Tom and Ben did a great job keeping up. I, on the other hand, stuck to photographing the event.... Someone had to do it! ;)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

More on Chirripo - Candice

3Note: If you're more of a video than a words person, scroll down to the bottom of this novel post and enjoy!


I have so many thoughts and things to say about Chirripo, our time there, and the impact of LEC-CR on the region I just don't know where to start!So I'll start with THANK YOU! Lakeshore, I'm not sure you will ever know the impact you, as a small community in Canada, have made on a small community in the Chirripo mountains. My word! When Laura and Liz arrived in Costa Rica on March 1st they brought the first load of supplies donated from our church to the indigenous community in Chirripo. Prior to Liz and Laura's visit, a congregation member asked us if there were any material goods that could be sent along with them as tangible blessings to the Chirripo people. We asked for shoes, boots, undergarments, and calculators... And, boy howdy, did they deliver!! Along with the actual solar panels, there was a huge suitcase full of the cutest rubber boots I've ever seen! Plus a mound of shoes, socks, etc. And when Ben came, he brought more!

Oh Lakeshore, there is just no way to express to you the joy from the shining faces of those that received them!! We were able to provide shoes to those who didn't have any, replace broken boots, provide changes of undergarments... Amazing. Just amazing. Images that won't leave my mind for a long time to come.


Oh, and the Solar Panel Project! My word, what a touching experience. When we arrived at Sinoli village, Tom went straight to work. The men joined him nd before you knew it, they strung up all the lights and tested the system and... We were able to experience the FIRST EVER WELL LIT CHURCH SERVICE that night!! The word of the lite-church had already spread to outreaching communities too, so we had a full house that night for the inauguration service.




The 'before' and 'after'
the lighting of the church!












Both the Latin and the Cabecar pastors preached on being the responsibility of Christians to be shining lights in the world. The situation was so tangible, the difference the system made to those that lived in this community so obvious, the experience so moving. Again, an experience that I won't forget. When we were asked to introduce ourselves Tom gave an moving impromptu speech to the congregation about their brothers and sisters in Christ that don't know them, and will probably never meet them, but love them and wanted to bless them.

The men spent the next day hooking in the solar part of the system (the first night was running off of pre-charged power) and had the battery charging and lights running of captured solar energy for the church service on the second night.


As for the chickens... Although the plan was far from perfect (and everyone knew it) the potential benefit to the families was huge and the excitement it instilled in those back home was priceless!! To make a long story short, in the end we took 11 chickens to the Sinoli community. The chickens, along with cages specifically designed and constructed for this project, were all donated from Tuis community members! People really believed in this project, and what a blessing and encouragement these donations were! Plus, because Ben Baldwin was so valiant and willing to take one for the team (literally), we didn't have to carry them to Sinoli ourselves. Instead, Ben carried his own (huge and heavy!) bag in order to free up a porter to carry the cage of chickens. How cool is he? Honestly! Thank you Ben, again, for saving us all from (additional) blisters and backaches!

Because 10 of the 11 donated chickens were slightly smaller than anticipated, we were not able to take the project to completion during our visit, but instead were able to provide one of the families with undernourished children with a full-grown-egg-laying nutrition machine, and the other 10 chicks will be cared for my the chief's family and distributed once fully grown.


Three nurses and myself (a nutritionist) undertook an anti-parasitic campaign, providing education sessions on infections and methods of prevention, as well as offered free anti-parasitic (de-worming) medication (donated by another church). At the clinic we also provided clinical nutrition assessments, and medical assessments. The anti-parasitic campaign was a huge success (thanks to the amazing education board Liz put together for me and 2 patient and interested community-leaders to translate from Spanish to Cabecar). We held education/de-wroming sessions at the health clinic and at the school (classroom to classroom), and then at church! This campaign was an amazing experience. It was just so obvious that some of these beautiful, little, under-nourished children had big-time infections (that are robbing them of the few nutrients they actually get in a day!) and I knew that this medication will help rid them and the education portion reached a considerable portion of the community.Thank each and every one of you for your support in prayers, encouraging words, and donations. The work that was done was amazing and we feel so blessed to have been the hands and feet of this Lakeshore project. Check out this video (3 mins and 45 seconds!) summarizing the trip. I hope it gives you a glimpse into the adventure we had.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Thoughts from our short-term missionaries - Laura's Experience

I went to Costa Rica the week of March 1st. There is really so much to say! Here are just a few of my thoughts:

I had never been out of North America before. It was eye opening and challenging. I discovered very quickly that people there are very accepting and hospitable. One example of this is that Candice and Tom have a neighbour named Macha. She is like a mother to Tom and Candice there. She works very hard and is the one who often takes in students studying at the Spanish school. If you are lost somewhere in the nearby towns and tell a taxi to go to Macha’s house it will go. They know that’s where the foreigners go! She went out of her way to make us feel welcomed. She made us lunch one day and a native snack another day. She came over one night and shared some of her life story. I immediately liked her. I learned much from her is a short time. Another day Candice and I went to have coffee at Marta’s house, a local and a mother of some of Candice’s youth group girls. She went out of her way too to feed us and to show us her garden. She cut down sugar cane for me to try and I ate fruits right off her trees! You don’t do that in Montreal! I was able to meet her daughters for the first time that day and discovered that one of her daughters already owns her own business as a seamstress. It was a wonderful day and I enjoyed seeing how people live and work day to day.

I was given the task of planning the Bible studies for the young ladies retreat to the beach on the last day of our trip. I plan Bible studies all the time, but it is harder to do when you are trying to be culturally sensitive and say things that would be relevant to girls growing up in this very different culture. I have to admit it took me a while! It was very worth it in the end though being able to share with these girls and spend the day learning together. It was a 4.5 hour drive to the beach!  People don’t just go to the beach around there and many have never gone. It was helpful to discuss young women’s issues away from the men and be able to be very open and candid with each other. We had a great time too!!! It’s all about people.

We attended church on Saturday. Man do they ever know how to worship! The two man band sounded like a full 10 man team. Liz and I also helped with the Alpha course’s Holy Spirit week, we taught English as a second language and spent time with the youth group. I learned so much in just a week and know that I will not ever forget this experience. God protected us and taught me things about myself and other people that I could not have learned at home.

Thank-you.

God Bless, 
Laura 

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Chirripo - From Ben's eyes

Hello Lakeshore or whoever may read this.

On March 10th 2010, a group of 4 Canadians, 3 Americans, and 6 Costa Ricans hiked out into the mountain region of Chirripo to a town called Sinoli to stay all day on the 11th and hike back on the 12th. Many in the group had done the arduous hike before but for some, it was their first experience. I was one of the people blessed enough to be on this team. Before the trip, people back home in Canada gave fair warning that the hike would be long and hard, but I thought, “It’s just walking, how hard could it possibly be?” I was mistaken; the trail was up, down and around. The trails were caked with mud and falling was an inevitability. Shoes wet from the rivers, clothes heavy with sweat, purely exhausted - I was loving every moment. Probably my favorite part of this hike was crossing the main river. As soon as we started to cross, the water was almost to our waist, waiting to pull one of us down stream. But everybody came together and helped each other across the river.

On the 6-hour hike, there are two things that are always present on your mind:
  1. The scenery with God’s wonder.
  2. That the native people in Chirripo have to do this hike throughout the week if not twice in one day.

Most of us weren’t even carrying our backpacks but hired native people to carry them for us – plus the medical supplies and materials used in the solar panel project were sent up a few days before, not to mention piles upon piles of rubber boots and shoes. But finally, about 1 kilometer from the main river, we all set our bags outside of a wood cabin that would hold the 13 of us for the next two nights.

The mountainside was beautiful, so beautiful in fact that every once in a while you could catch a native man or woman caught in awe of their homeland, looking out of the village into the valley. As soon as the team arrived in Sinoli, Tom went straight to work on setting up the lights in the church and working out the calculations for the solar panels to charge the battery. We managed on the first night to provide light for the evening service, which was being held because of our arrival. It was very interesting to view the service. I was tired from the hike and couldn’t understand any of it due to my inability in the Spanish and Cabecar language but it was an experience that will always remain in my heart. These people are praising God in their own tongue while God responds back in the same tongue and we are blessed enough to witness it.

I was informed during the service that on previous trips, the services were pitch black where you could not even see your own hand. It was then that I realized what a blessing these lights were to them so I would just like to thank everybody for helping make this a possibility for these people.

This experience of the Chirripo valley and its native inhabitants has shown me the worth of coming out to places like Costa Rica and serving the lord through the service of his people.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Back!

God gave us a great trip. All back safe and sound, all in one piece!

More soon.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Here comes Chirripo!

We're off early tomorrow morning to Chirripo! Ben, Tom, and I are part of a 13 person team that is going to install solar panels, provide medical care, implement a nutritional program, and undertake a construction project.

We appreciate your prayers for safety for the team and for the logistics of all projects we are planning to implement.


May God's will be done!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Ben's Chicken

Liz and Laura are down here giving us all a hand... So great! And, they have a message to pass along for Ben and the rest of the Lakeshore community.


Sunday, February 28, 2010

Holy Matrimonies, Batman!

A community wedding was held on February 14th to wed couples who have been living together and want their relationship to be bonded in Holy Matrimony.

The whole community chipped in to make the wedding possible... (Most people here don't get married simply because they can't afford it.) Wedding clothes were rented, borrowed, or sewn... All guests brought food to share, chipped in for the cake, helped decorate, etc.

It was amazing. A real community effort to help THREE couples become husbands and wives!

Tom and I were the 'official' photographers for the big wedding. I can hardly wait to share the printed photos with the couples!

Check out this video we presented to the couples in church today. I hope you like it!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Update: Please STOP praying for more chickens... lol!

Wow, the Lord has provided!!


It looks like we are up to a possible 27 chickens to bring to Chirripo! At this point, I wish they could fly... Cuz our arms are going to be tired!


But in all seriousness, please keep praying for his trip, because prayer works ;) and we need a lot of help with this venture!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Praying for Chickens

We are in full tilt preparing for our upcoming trip to Chirripo.

And it's amazing.


Last time we were in Chirripo, back in December (read about it here or here, or see a short video of it here) we met many of the beautiful Cabecar indigenous people that live there... We also heard (and witnessed) some of their many needs. After returning to the Latino community, and after the Chief of the indigenous community stopped by our house for coffee (like that happens everyday) and we were able to discuss the needs of his community further, Tom and I were left with one thought ringing through our minds: As LEC-CR servants here in the field, What are we going to do about it?

We knew half of the answer was "return" and the other half was "help", but HOW was still the issue.

The following is what's been approved and is what we're going forward with... With the best of intentions. And we are more than excited to share this experience with Ben, a short-term mission team member from Lakeshore Evangelical Church. Ben will be serving with us for a week in March and helping with:

1) The Solar Panel Project

A need greatly emphasized by the community’s chief is for solar power to light the church building. Sinoli has no access to electricity; providing solar energy to the community’s sole gathering place would benefit the entire village and result in a safer place for people to meet.

Tom and Ben, along with a Costa Rican gentleman who knows the area and an indigenous individual from the Sinoli community, will be installing a solar panel and lighting system. We may be there for their first ever lit church service!

2) Raisin' the Roof

The Sinoli church roof, in two sections, in supported by posts. These posts are currently sitting on floor planks, halfway between two joists. The floor planks are not designed to be load-bearing. In other words, the roof is prone to collapse and must be proactively repaired. Tom and a local Costa Rican will lead the project, Ben will assist, and volunteers will be recruited from the local community to provide any additional required manpower to alter the current design to create a stronger support.

3) Reducing the impact of childhood parasitic infections

Candice has teamed up with  a nurse who heads the medical outreach aspect of the Chirripo hikes, to undertake an intestinal de-worming clinic while in Chrripo. Albendazole, a broad spectrum anti-helmintic, will be distributed to all willing mothers to treat as many children as possible. In order to provide informed consent as well as educate the community on infection transmission, Candice will be providing an education session to all families emphasizing infection prevention methods. 

4) Combating Malnutrition… With Chickens

Sadly, childhood malnutrition is visually evident in the village of Sinoli. Stunting (short stature for age, indicating long-term protein-energy malnutrition), bloated bellies (indicating protein malnutrition, and possible intestinal infection), and skin lesions (indicating inadequate intake of micronutrients, especially those found in animal based foods) are common in the childhood population. As a nutritionist Candice was able to undertake a nutritional-assessment interview with the chief of the community and some of the local women. From the information gathered, it is clear that not only malnutrition, but also food insecurity, is endemic in this community.

In Sinoli, the responsibility of food gathering is that of both the woman and man, however if the man were to leave or pass away, the responsibility is solely that of the woman.  Additionally, and very importantly, families do not share food supplies.

In order to address malnutrition in this community, we proposed to bring hen-laying chickens to Chirripo to distribute to families most in need. Hen eggs provide highly nutritional animal-based whole proteins and much needed micronutrients to the diet.  We wanted to purchase 20 egg-laying hens... Mature, scavenger fed, and culturally acceptable, to distribute based on the needs of the families and recommendations of the chief, to respect the community’s leadership order.

----

So, as you can imagine, we've been doing a lot of preparing. And at times we've been asking ourselves if we really know what we're doing... Especially when we'd receive raised-eye-brow looks when pleading for people's chickens.

For the first while there were just no chickens to be had... Oh, there were lots of chickens around, but no one wanted to give up their chicks! I prayed to God, and knew that if He indeed want us to bring them, He would provide them. But there were still no chickens to be had.

Then last Saturday, a man approached Tom after church and told him that his 12 year old son wanted to give his chicken away to a family that needed it. Yes, God provided a chicken... from a 12 year old boy, and in doing so I've been provided reassurance to go forth with the plan. (And it just so happens that today we got news that a friend found us many more that are available for purchase... Now we are up to 11!!)

There are many many things that can go wrong on this trip, from logistics to weather. I ask for you prayers in our preparation, for both of us and for Ben, and I ask that God's will be done on this trip, and we be nothing more than willing agents in His plan, no matter how crazy we may seem!

Monday, February 22, 2010

What is that?

There have been a many of times Tom's heard me say "Oh no, what is that?"

And it's never good news.

There are so many things that crawl, slither, or run on 8-legs that it's just never good news.

So, the other night when I saw this:




And asked Tom, "Oh no, what is that?"

Upon closer inspection as to the object sitting on the napkins in the napkin holder on the living room coffee table, we saw this:

 


Yes, that's a frog. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Obedience

I could make you a list of activities, events, conversations, and actions that Tom and I have responded to 'a call to do' over the past few months, without feeling actually capable of doing them.
In a different culture, land, and language, some of these calls have include:

  • Leading bible studies
  • Creating and leading a youth group
  • Running the Alpha course
  • Preaching (!)
  • Doing visitation ministries
  • Teaching English
  • Translating
  • etc.
But we've found that each time we responded, whether or not we felt ready to, everything worked out.  And, at times, worked out way better than expected.  Worked out perfectly? By no means. But, I truly believe that when we respond to a call, we will be given all that we need, in good timing.

However, as I eluded to in a previous post, you need to give thought to what defines 'success' in these situations?  One could say that if you didn't succeed to the fullest degree, then why didn't you give the task to someone else in the first place? If you weren't qualified for such a position, why would you take it on? I think we need to adjust our goals and objections from results-based North Americanism to an appreciation of what may be happening at a deeper level, for the Lord. A wise man once told us that if you feel a call, but unqualified to fulfill it and therefore first seek to obtain qualification and get all yours ducks in a row before answering the call, it will probably be too late.
God calls people where they are, how they are. And it's up to us to respond, no matter how unqualified we feel.

Because:  
(Click here for the site I stole this list from.)

• Noah was a drunk
• Abraham was too old
• Isaac was a daydreamer
• Jacob was a liar and a thief
• Leah was ugly
• Joseph was abused and sold by his own brothers
• Moses stuttered and was a murderer
• Gideon was afraid
• Samson was a womanizer
• Rahab was a prostitute
• Jeremiah and Timothy were too young
• David had an affair and was a murderer
• Elijah was suicidal
• Isaiah preached naked
• Jonah ran from God
• Naomi was a widow
• Peter denied Christ
• Paul killed Christians

I'm not comparing ourselves to these people, but there is something to be said about simply responding and doing it anyways. 

--
So, what happened at the conference, you ask? Not too much. I translated for some parts (with help from the audience), but there just so happened to be a bilingual someone show up on each day and were willing to take the meat of it, and let me fill in when needed.

And is worked out great. Way better than I ever expected. Worked out perfectly? By no means. But I do strongly believe that simply answering yes to a call, and going through with it is success. For in saying yes, you are being obedient to your Lord, your Father. And what's more important than that?



The fact that I didn't cry was just a bonus! ;)

Friday, February 12, 2010

Life-Sized Dutch Blitz

[We moved this one back to the top, just in case you missed it.]

This is just a little video/slideshow of the tournament we hosted here last Sunday... What a hoot!




Or, click here to watch it in a bigger window on YouTube, or in HD.


The kids here are awesome... We love them... So much fun!

Your thoughts, please.

Now, in your opinion, when asked to do something outside of your capabilities and, out of servant-hood for our Good Lord, you said yes, how would 'success' be defined?

Let's take a random example of the many we've situations like this that we've been challenges with over the past few months, k?  How about.... translating at a Christian Women's Conference.

Now, to set the stage, your translation abilities are not up to the level they would need to be to undertake this. Nevertheless, you've been asked, and for at least one of the days there are just no other options. So you understand that in service to God, you must say yes.  The speaker is an amazing Christian Psychotherapist from the states, speaks no Spanish, and likes to talk (those are her words). There are 30 women staring back at you (so, like, 60 eyes), plus her's.

Your abilities can (almost) handle: Casual conversations, serious conversation, leading youth bible studies, and that sort of stuff. Now, keep in mind that in all of these listed 'can-do' activities include charades and help and patience from your conversation partner.

Because it seems our readers are a little shy to comment (or it's too complicated) let's take a vote! How would you define 'success'? Here are the long answers, please see the right-hand side-bar near the top of this page for a shorter version and a place to click your vote.

A) The fact that you said yes, got up in the morning, and did, indeed, go to the location of the conference
B) The fact that you didn't cry, or run away at the conference (and nor did anyone else)
C) Some concepts were communicated, with much help from the audience
D) Most concepts were communicated, with a bit of help from the audience
E) Complete communication between English speaker and Spanish audience.

Which would define 'success' in your mind?

Click beside the one you think, and then click 'vote'!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Survived Day One...

Thank you for your prayers for today. Please keep praying for us for tomorrow, this conference has become a great light to some of the women in this community (and I am left as the only translator in the room). Please continue to pray for words, wisdom, and patience. May God's will be done!

---


{By the way, I can hardly wait to tell you about some of my learnings of servant-hood here over these past few months.}

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Urgent Prayer Request

Oh dear.

I have been asked to translate (from English to Spanish) at a 2-day ladies conference this week in Tuis.

GULP.

Being given only 2 days notice and being a total novice in the Spanish language, I am feeling very inadequate and incapable of doing this.

Um, could you lend me some words? Please?

Please pray for wisdom, for words, and for confidence that the Holy Spirit is the one who is speaking anyways... Please pray for patience for the Pastor who is leading the conference, and for all of the ladies attending the conference. Please pray that this time will be a time of growing closer to God and to each other.

Thank you.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Come one, come all!

This is a promotion for an event we're running at the mission today...

video

Monday, February 1, 2010

Happy Birthday!

What a blessing it was to celebrate my birthday with so many new friends and family!



We had fondue, which was a completely new concept to our friends here.
(Same with decent chocolate, but that's another story... :)

Tom even needed to give a tutorial before the feast began...

But once we began...


It seemed to be accepted by all!


We went through 3 pineapples, a carton of strawberries, a kilo of grapes, a package of Oreos, 6 bananas...It was amazing!

Yes, gorgeous imported fondue chocolate (loveingly imported from Canada by my parents), and fresh, ripe Costa Rican fruits.


And great friends.


What more could you ask for for your birthday?