Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Moving on then going back to San Pablo de la Cruz, Costa Rica

back to Our Walk of Faith

Thursday, October 25th
We dropped a couple of cards and a package off at the post office, and headed out. As we turned the corner in at a small crossroads, we saw Paola waving at us from across the street! She was at the English class that we spoke to on Tuesday night! We chatted with her for a few minutes and kept walking.

We’d been walking for a while when a man called out to us in English. He asked where we were from, and we told him North Carolina. He explained that he was from Alabama and quickly invited us in for coffee or some fruit juice. We decided that we should talk for a bit with this family because we had been praying for a bit. It looked like it was going to rain (again)…we knew it was God’s provision. Max introduced us to his son, Steve, and we all sat down to chat for a bit. Max moved to Costa Rica full-time about 9 years ago after he retired. Steve is down to have some minor surgery on his ear and to have some dental work done. We had a really good conversation with them. Max is a recovering alcoholic (25 years) who’s done a little of everything in his life. He told story after story of how he has seen God at work in his life. Steve is a great artist…the style of pottery that he did for the past 15 years Raku…we’d never seen it before, but it’s beautiful. A few pictures of his pottery are at the end of the post. He’s a thinker (needless to say, I could relate), and he’s traveled the world!! (We hated to leave because we really felt like there was an open door there, but we also wanted to be true to our word to Karen who invited us to stay at her house, and we didn't have any way to get in touch with them.) We also met Diandra (Max’s adopted daughter) and Katherine (the neighbor’s daughter) who were playing in Max’s VW van...it doubles as their playhouse. By the time we thought we should head on, it was dark and still raining. Max offered to take us up to the International Teams house, but he wanted to meet for breakfast the next day. We weren’t sure if that would work, but we knew it was an open door…so we wrote down Max’s phone number just in case.

We arrived a little later than Mark and Karen were expecting, but he invited us to set our packs down at his house. The students up at the big house invited us to participate in the Lord’s Supper with them, so Mark told us that it would be fine for us to go on up. Rick was leading the service that night…the Formation teachers take turns each week, so it’s a little different each time. Wow…we were touched…just thinking about what Christ did for us. It impacts me a lot every time. Just another way that God refreshed us as He was sending us back out.

After our time of sharing the Lord’s Supper, David shared a testimony of faith with us. He was scheduled to go on a mission trip, and he had paid for the hotel, food, etc. for while he was in country, but he didn’t have money for the airfare. The team had their final meeting on Friday, so he went to tell them that he couldn’t go. (They were scheduled to leave on Monday morning.) He prayed for them and went home. Yet he still believed that he was supposed to go. He tried everything he could think of all weekend, but nothing worked out. Sunday night, he packed his bags. His mom asked what he was doing, but he told her not to ask questions because he didn’t know how to answer her except that he believed that God wanted him to go on the trip, so he was preparing. Monday morning, he got up to go to the airport to see the team off and to pray for them again. When he was two blocks from the airport, he got a phone call asking where he was. He explained that he was on his way to the airport. The brother on the other end said…”Good, I hope you are packed and ready to go because I paid for your plane ticket!” Isn’t God amazing?!!

Karen came to get us at the big house, and we went back to have a little supper and talk a few minutes. They are early risers, so we headed to bed with plans to talk in the morning.

Friday, October 26th
We met Mark and Karen’s daughter, MaryJo, at breakfast. Mark read the devotion…they pray for a different country each morning. So this morning, we prayed for open doors for the Gospel in Zambia. Then MaryJo had to head to school. Mark and Karen are super busy…they disciple about 70 men and women over the course of the week. We were extremely blessed to have a couple of hours of Mark’s time this morning especially considering that they were having company at lunch. On top of that, Mark leaves tomorrow morning for a huge meeting in the US. We were so thankful for their sacrifice and have been praying that God would multiply their time…especially their rest!

Mark shared from God’s Word and his experiences about the discipleship process that he uses. It’s modeled on what Jesus did! The best model to use if you ask me! He described it to us using 4 chairs…each chair has 4 steps. The first 3 chairs are based out of John 14:6 where Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” The first chair represents the unbeliever (could look like and act like a Christian if they’ve been hanging around Christians). Here people learn that Jesus is the Way. The 2nd chair represents followers of Jesus (babies in Christ). People in this stage learn that Jesus is the truth. Chair 3 represents the disciple…people in this chair began making disciples, and they are surrendered to Jesus! Jesus is the Life!! He’s their Lord…their Boss. People generally move back and forth between chair 2 and 3 because it’s a moment by moment decision. Chair 4 is those who are sent out to help the church be effective in evangelizing, edifying the body, and equipping disciples. It’s much more in-depth than what I’m explaining right now, but I want to give you an idea. It was amazing…Chris and I have so much to think about, to study, and to pray about over the next 8-10 months as we continue walking. We’ve been saying for quite sometime that God has us in school right now…He continually sends teachers into our path…this is another example of that! Maybe we’ll be ready to disciple some teens or early twenty-somethings when we get home?!

We knew how limited Mark and Karen’s time was, so we knew that we needed to leave. We also remembered a lesson that Pastor Humberto (from La Tinaja, Mexico) taught us…finish the work God brought us into the city for before moving on. Well, there was still an open door with Max, so we decided to call him even though it was closer to lunch than to breakfast. We weren’t sure…but we were going to check. When we called, he told us that Hanny (Diandra’s mom) wanted to meet us too! So we walked down to San Isidro and Max picked us up in front of the church.

We had a wonderful day hanging out with Max, Hanny, Steve, and Diandra! We even were able to play with Diandra for a bit! Max has some great stories and Steve thinks a lot, so between the two of them we had some really interesting conversations. We continue praying for discernment and direction.

Saturday, October 27th
We hung out most of the day with the family again…still lots of great conversations and good fun with Diandra.

Katherine came over again today with her mom, Jaquelin and her baby brother, Aaron. Chris wanted me to show them the salvation bracelets while they were all together. As I explained to the ladies, they listened intently. All four of them told me that they had made decisions to make Jesus their Savior. Pretty exciting…

Don Marco (one of Max’s friends) also stopped by…he wanted to take us to see his coffee fields…here are some pictures from there. Remember that the berry goes from green, to yellow, and finally to red when they are ready to be picked. We also met a guy who works for him who was spraying herbicide to kill the weeds near the coffee plants.

Hanny is training to be a beautician right now…she was willing to practice if we were interested in having our hair cut! So Chris got a buzz and she gave me a much needed trim!

Sunday, October 28th
Today, we went to church at the International Baptist Church this morning. Max goes there because they have services in English…they also have English or Spanish Sunday school classes. Hanny and I went to the Spanish class, Max and Chris went to the English class for men, and Diandra and Katherine went to the children’s class. Then we all went to church together. The message was about repentance from Hosea 6…requirements of repentance: recognize our sin and return to God…and results of repentance: restoration and renewed (or new) relationship with God through Jesus.

From church, Max and Hanny took us into San Jose so that we could see the country’s capital. We ate lunch and then Max and Hanny showed us around a little bit. This is in front of the National Theater which was built by the coffee growers in Costa Rica in the early 1800s.

The rest of the day, we rested and had some good conversations and of course, played with Diandra!!

Monday, October 29th
Today, we thought we were leaving, but Max wanted to talk to one of his friends who is going to Panama pretty soon. He wanted to know if he was going today or tomorrow so that we could ride with him. We don’t think it’s going to work out, but another of Max’s friends dropped by about mid-morning. Ismael (black shirt) is a missionary from Guatemala who is working in Costa Rica and with the Kuna people in Panama. He worked on a Logos ship evangelizing in ports up and down the coast of South America. We are praying about getting together with him tomorrow or Wednesday. (His friend Odir was with him today…they own a business together that donates 35% of their profits to mission efforts and 10% to helping churches who don’t have the resources to build a church.)

We also hung out for a bit with the family again today…we are hoping to teach Diandra how to play spoons if we can get the adults to play with us!! Ha, ha, ha!

Tuesday, October 30th
Well, today we called Ismael and left a message...we'll see what happens. It's interesting...now we spend our time waiting on God to reveal our next step and learning more from and about Him. We're catching up on journaling and a few other odds and ends that I didn't finish while we were at the hotel working/resting. We have enjoyed our time here so much. Neither Chris nor I have any grandfathers who are still alive, so being with Max has been wonderful!! Max loves to grill out, so he grills meat everyday! It's been like tasting home all week!! In the same way that being with the Wahl's in Lousiana made me want a bread maker (one day), Chris is now hoping that we will have a grill if God ever has us living in one place again! Hanny and Diandra are great to to talk with and play with! Steve has challenged us to think a little more...something we both like to do! He's also given up his bed for us to sleep in while we were here.

(A small aside…Chris and I have been in Romans 12 for quite some time now, and verse 13 says "Share with God's people in need. Practice hospitality." We have seen this so much. It's really overwhelming at times. Our continued prayer is that we are internalizing these lessons that we are learning right now...that we will show this kind of hospitality if we ever have a house again. I remember how busy we were when we were both teaching...and how I worried about everything being perfect before someone came over. We’ve seen that hospitality is different than this…it’s making someone authentically feel welcomed in your home regardless of the circumstances. Whether I was prepared for them or not…I have much to learn!! Part of my personality is planning ahead and taking care of details…this isn’t necessarily the most important thing!)

We'll have to see what the rest of the day holds...It appears we are heading up the mountain. Ismael is coming to get us tomorrow. We are excited to spend a little more time with him to hear his testimony! He's recently widowed...he was married to Nalu for 1 1/2, but she passed away in May from cancer, but he's got a certain joy about him. God is so amazing!

We were able to spend quite a bit of time with Max, Hanny, Diandra, and Steve again today. We're going to miss being here.

This afternoon, Marco came over again. We've seen him several times this week. Yesterday, he told us that he was collecting parts of the newspaper because every so often they were putting in parts of the Bible. When Chris heard that, he wanted to give him the Bible that we had. It was English/Spanish, so it was perfect for Marco. So we were praying that he would drop back by...when he came by today, we knew it was for him! We wrote him a note and pray that he will read it!!

We'll be in touch again soon! God is moving us again! Hope that you are all doing really well! God bless you and keep you! We love you tons! Keep seeking God first!! He'll take care of the rest!!

a) Steve whipped up a few things to eat as well...this day was omelettes...more delicious recipes!! b) Max and Chris did a little work around the house...

This is a Peruvian restaurant where they cook the chicken over coffee wood...it was really tasty!

Raku Pottery by Steve Johnson...hope you enjoy!!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Resting and Catching up in Heredia, Costa Rica

back to Our Walk of Faith

Sunday, October 14th
We woke up to praise music from a nearby church!! Chris and I decided that if we could work out a deal with Omar to stay the week we would. They have a kitchen where we can cook, washer/dryer to take care of our clothes, a table in the room that we can work at, and two computers with internet. It's the ideal set-up, so we prayed and went to talk to Omar. He was more than happy to work out a really good deal for us! (Half of what it would normally cost! Praise God!!) We were so excited! He also knew where the church was that we heard the music coming from. So we went to find out if they had an 11 am service. They did!!

We got there a little early, so we could get a seat near the front (it helps us understand a little better...especially if I can translate for Chris). The first song we sang was "Trading My Sorrows." Praise God...it talks about laying down our shame, sickness, etc. for the JOY OF THE LORD! Another line is tears in the night, but joy comes in the morning light! The message came from Psalm 84:5-7 "Blessed are those whose strength is in You, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baca (weeping), they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools (blessings). They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion." Wahoo...and so the Spirit of the Risen God has begun to minister to us!

After church, we bought groceries to cook for the week...it's been well over a year since we've done that. I can't tell you how exciting it was!! We came back, and I started COOKING! Wow...how fun to do something "normal."

We spent the afternoon washing clothes and doing other "normal" things.

It was a nice day! I'm looking forward to getting lots done this week and most especially spending a little more time with the Lord!

Monday, October 15th
Chris met a couple from England yesterday afternoon, so we decided to have breakfast with them this morning. Tony and Marilyn were both teachers and later principals in London. About 5-7 years ago, they bought a sailboat and started looking for "a little shack in the sun." They found it in Panama on an island near Bocas del Toro. We got our map out, and they showed us where their place is. They also suggested a different route for us to take instead of the one we were thinking about. They knew of a new road that wasn't on our map! They also invited us to come by their place to visit and to possibly work with some missionaries who are doing water projects in nearby mountain villages.

The rest of the day we spent working on odds and ends. Soon some of you will finally get a response to your e-mail!! Thanks for your patience.

Tuesday, October 16th
I think we've shared with you before that God has begun to reveal a vision for what we will be doing in the future as we have been walking. We've learned that we are in school right now, and God is marking out a region where we will continue working for years. We don't have all the pieces of the puzzle yet, but He continues to show us bit by bit. On Sunday, God revealed another piece to Chris. We've decided that sometime this week we are going to write down what we know so far. Our prayer is that by the time we get to Peru, God will have shown us the entire picture and our next step will be clear.

This morning, we went back to church. Can you guess what the pastor spoke on? Walking in the vision that God has called you to...offering yourself to willingly do what He reveals--His plan for your life. He also talked about us being cut from the Rock which means that we should have the same characteristics of Christ! (Isaiah 51:1-3)

We've been talking to Judith and Omar a lot this week. It seems that God is opening doors at least once per day for us to share with them. They are such a sweet family. We've met Judith's son, Jose Alfredo, also. They've been so helpful! Jose (tallest) is the other brother who works at the hotel. Praise God for His favor!

Wednesday, October 17th
Today we've just worked all day and run a few errands. Chris did get to watch the Live Stats of Eusebio's soccer game (one of his former players who now plays at St. Leo University in Florida). Eusebio scored the goal that sent them to overtime and the golden goal to win the game in overtime. Otherwise, nothing really big has happened today...just "normal" stuff! ha, ha, ha

Thursday, October 18th
Well...today has been pretty normal too! Chris wrote a newspaper article and worked on some e-mail. I journalled, posted to the blog, worked on some e-mail, and entered in some contacts.

While I was working at the computer, our friends, Tony and Marilyn, got back from their quick supply run to Fort Lauderdale, FL. We chatted with them a bit...interesting that God allowed our paths to cross again!

Tuesday I worked on writing out the meaning of the salvation bracelets in Spanish. Ginny brought them to use with the children, and we had a ton of beads left over. She offered to let me keep them to use along the journey. I was so excited!! Today I got Judith to proofread it for me. She teaches Catechism at her church, so she was interested in sharing it with her students!!

Then a little later, Alberto (a guy staying at the hotel) came down to check his e-mail. He's a Jehovah's Witness. He spent the good part of an hour trying to convince me of something....I'm still not really sure what. I was frustrated because I had work that I wanted to get done. God really spoke to me later about showing love though. Alberto wants to talk to Chris and I both tomorrow. We'll have to see if the door opens or not. If it does, we are praying for wisdom in what we share and for the Holy Spirit to remove the blinders from Alberto's eyes.

This evening we worked on writing out all that God has revealed about the school and retreat center. (There's a small clue about the vision!!) Pretty exciting!!!

Friday, October 19th
Well...today, Chris wrote and typed an article for The Herald (the newspaper in Smithfield, NC) and part of another one. The last article he wrote was about Patricia visiting us in Guatemala...so he has a few countries to catch up on!!

I worked on entering contacts, recipes, notes, etc that we have accumulated since we were in Louisiana. I didn't finish...yikes. We are beginning to see the need for a work day for writing, corresponding, posting, etc. every 2 weeks or so. We'll have to see if God thinks that's a good idea...if so, He'll provide for it.

In addition to working, we had a chance to talk with Omar, and I was able to talk with Judith. It's really like staying with family here! They've really taken us in and gone out of their way to accommodate us! We continue to pray for open doors to talk with them.

The door didn't open to talk with Alberto...quite the opposite every time we saw him, he was hurrying in the other direction. He left today too. We'll just continue to pray for God to reveal Himself to Him.

Saturday, October 20th
This morning, I worked with Jose Alfredo on his math. He took a test on Tuesday, but he didn't do very well at all. His teacher is giving him the opportunity to take it again on Monday, so Judith asked if I could help him. I was excited to help!! I've been interested in seeing how math is taught in different countries...there really are a ton of ways to work a problem and arrive at the right answer. Jose Alfredo worked for an hour or so...he seems to understand, so I'll be praying for recall for him!!

This afternoon, Chris was able to watch the stats for another of Sabs soccer games. (They won again!!) Then he watched the stats for the ECU vs NC State football game! State won! Go Pack!! (Sorry Chris!) Then he worked on e-mail. I worked on e-mail, the blog, and journalling. I'm still not close to being done on the e-mail or the blog. There are a couple of new pages though...check them out if you get a chance. Our bodies have rested from walking this week, but we haven't rested very much!! Chris thinks that we should stay a few more days. (Probably because it's really important to me to get "caught up" before we get started again.) I have mixed feelings...I wanted to move if that's what God wants, but I also want to finish up here too. I really have enjoyed being able to study my Bible a little more...especially Romans 12...this week. I believe that God wants to transform our lives, and it starts with by renewing our minds. I want you to read a study I re-read this week on Romans 12:2. Sharon Thomas of Established Footsteps wrote this Devotion on Romans 12:2. Click the link to read it. You can also access other devotions and more information about Established Footsteps by clicking the link or going to the links page.

Pretty powerful, huh? I encourage you to start living this life that Paul is talking about. It's what I'm striving for!!

Sunday, October 21st
We went to church again this morning. The pastor spoke on being an authentic worshipper of God…what that looked like. His last point was that we can never forget the price the Jesus paid for us. He showed a clip from The Passion. Wow! It just impacted more of Romans 12…we are called to offer out bodies as living sacrifices—it’s our spiritual act of worship. Well, what ever we sacrifice will never be as much as Jesus endured for us! That really puts things into perspective!

Sunday afternoon we relaxed a bit. I reflected for a while longer on Romans 12. We had a good day together with the Lord! I feel so ready to serve again! Praise God!!!

Monday, October 22nd
Pretty low key day…Chris and I both worked on e-mail and the blog. We also finally got to call our parents…it’s been almost a month! I worked on the pack covers a bit too!

Tuesday, October 23rd
Well, it wasn’t time to move, but it was time to start serving again! It’s amazing to me how God knows these things. When we were fixing lunch, Rachel (a young woman from South Carolina who’s been living in Costa Rica for quite some time and is a friend of the family who owns the hotel) stopped by for a visit. I met her last Saturday night, but we didn’t get to talk very long. She teaches English at InterCultura a center for culture and language here in Heredia. When she learned that we were teachers, she asked us to come to speak to her class! We were pumped!!

In the afternoon, we prepared, and then I went to the internet cafĂ© just to do a little work that was taking too long on the computers at the hotel. I intended to use one hour and get out quickly. Well, I was halfway through and the power went out! I was soooo frustrated. It came back on within a few seconds, but I lost what I was working on. (At a point like this, it’s the perfect time to look around…there’s usually a divine appointment nearby…that is if you can get over your frustration.) As God would have it, He did have an appointment for me. Norman, the guy next to me, asked me, “Do you speak Spanish?” I said that I did, and we started chatting. In ends up that he just got back from Zambia, Africa…he was a missionary there for 2 years with International Teams. I was so excited. The more he told me the more, I wanted to know. This particular program works a lot with teens and is heavily based on discipleship! I couldn’t believe it…that’s our heart!! Before he left, Chris had arrived, so he invited us to visit the Latin America headquarters of International Teams and Sonlife. He was going to San Isidro (less than 7 miles away) to visit on Wednesday! We were sooooo excited!

From there, we went to InterCultura to share our testimony with the class. It was awesome…not only was Rachel’s class there, but about 5 other classes came! They were really interested in what God has been doing and the possibilities of what God can do for them!

After the class, Rachel (pink shirt) invited us to eat supper with the teachers. Then she invited us to share a little with her first year class. They were really sweet and tried really hard to ask questions in English!! We were impressed. Then we had the opportunity to talk with the Assistant Director of the English program, Barbara Miller (white shirt with black flowers). She shared about living and teaching in Costa Rica…she’s been here about 9 years now. They have an amazing program! She gave us information about teaching English (if anyone’s interested) and about getting certified to teach English at a foreign language (TEFL) (if anyone’s interested in that). We enjoyed being at the school and talking with the students and teachers!! It was wonderful!!

Then when we got back to the hotel, we met Estela. She’s a French teacher from Panama! She has an awesome testimony of how God moved her from religion and tradition to a relationship with Him! She’s Catholic, and she learned to study the Bible at a Pentecostal church in Germany. Pretty amazing God, huh?! We will probably be passing right by her house when we go through Panama, so she gave us telephone numbers, address, directions, etc! She wants us to meet her family and to stay at her house if God works that out!

Finally, I worked a little more on the pack covers tonight…yikes…so hard for me! God is able to help me even with this!

Wednesday, October 24th
Norman (right of CE) and Jorge (another guy who’s part of the discipleship team in Costa Rica) met us at the park today to take us up to San Isidro. The more we talked to them, the more we were impressed by their passion for Jesus and their knowledge of the Word!

When we got there, Ana had a delicious lunch ready for us to eat. We talked with Ana and Checho for about an hour. Ana’s son is studying in the Formation program right now…a 4 month intensive training for people who want to be missionaries with International Teams. She was invited to come as the cook, but she’s been sitting in on every class and taking every exam. Now she wants to be a missionary!!! Checho is one of the students…God has radically transformed him from a drug addict to a man on fire for God! He shared his testimony and was so excited about ours that he wanted us to share with the rest of the team!

After lunch, we talked with Susan Roland (pictured with Celeste)…she and her husband, Woody, are the directors of the Latin America regional team for International Teams. Woody is out of town, but Susan took time from her busy schedule to show us around the property and tell us some of the history (remember—His Story). God basically gave the property to them (It was valued at over $750,000 and the owner sold it to them for $200,000. Can you say “gift from God”?) They are doing training (Formations), pastoral care for missionaries on the field, discipleship, and working with youth! It’s amazing! They also have a partnership with youth groups in the US (if anyone’s interested). It’s a 5 year commitment of exchange between the two churches. Both of us were moved to tears as Susan gave us the details of the program. We’ve been dreaming of something like it! What an awesome God! Praise God for power failures!!!

Then we met with Susie…she is from California, and she has also been working with International Teams. She’s part of the Latin America regional team, and she’s in charge of the Formations class. She took quite a bit of time to explain the program to us…going into detail with the classes that they are teaching and their schedule. I wrote down everything that I possibly could! It’s just exciting to think about!!!

Right before it was time to go, we talked to the Formations class. We shared about 10 minutes with them from our testimony and just encouraged them to keep seeking God!!

Then I finished the pack covers. FINALLY! That was definitely a stretch from me because I do not have one bit of artistic talent. I was praying the whole time. Just goes to show that nothing is impossible with God!!!

Thursday, October 25th
This morning, I gave Judith the bracelet that Shelia gave me in Honduras. She told me to pass it on. (In case you don’t remember here’s the exert from Sept. 1st from my journal…
In the afternoon, Chris and I worked on a little bit of e-mail…we hadn’t had time to even check e-mail in over a week. Ron, Susan, Lynn, Shelia, Chris and I had ice cream together and just relaxed that evening. Shelia shared with us a little more about her life and how we could pray for her. She also shared about a mission trip that she took to Iran. She had the opportunity to share Jesus with a mother who lost her son…she gave her a beautiful salvation bracelet to help her remember Jesus’ promises to her. When Shelia got home, a lady from her church gave her another salvation bracelet just before she came on this trip…in case Shelia met someone she could share it with. She gave it to me…she told me that I could keep it or give it to someone who I met along the journey who excepted Christ…I’m praying for the woman whoever she is right now! I can’t wait to meet her so that I can share the story with Shelia and with y’all.)
Judith has showed Christ’s love to us this week…so I wanted her to remember His love everytime that she looks at that bracelet!

Today we are washing clothes and making one last post on the blog. As soon as the clothes finish, we are heading out!!! Karen, one of the ladies that we met yesterday, invited us to stay at their house tonight. We didn’t get to talk to her very much or her husband, Mark, at all. Their specialty is teens and discipleship, so we are really excited about the possibility of talking with them today…we’ll be praying as we walk.

Thanks for your prayers this week! We have felt every one of them! We’re both ready to go again! We will be in touch soon! God bless you and keep you! We love you tons!! Keep seeking Him first…everything else is just minor details (and He even takes care of those)!!!