Sunday, February 27, 2011

February 2011

 We pray everyone has had a great February!! We would like to share with you some videos that were taken the day of our evangelistic outreach at the end of January. Not as many visitors as we wanted came...but we know that those that were there heard an amazing word shared by our deacon Ruperto. The Lord gave him a wonderful word from 2 Samuel 9 where Mephibosheth was invited to eat at the king's table. It was such a blessing to hear the Word delivered by a fellow servant of the Lord!

The young girls in church, ages 7-12, along with Jeremiah, gave a great dance presentation of the song En Los Montes, En Los Valles (In the Mountains, In the Valleys).  The song says...
In the mountains, in the valleys
We exalt who is worthy of praise
In the coasts of the seas
We raise a sound of hope
We proclaim, We proclaim
We make known the voice of praise
With hands up high
We exalt the One who reigns forever.

We rise to worship in Mount Zion
This is the joy of every nation
Where sadness is joy, weeping for happiness
We rise to worship the great King.

Our family presented our version of the skit The Sin Chair. Jeremiah and Rachel did an awesome job with their acting abilities!!

The last presentation was a song that God had on my heart for a few weeks before the outreach. The song is "Surrender" from the Hungry CD. In Spanish the song is called "Yo Rindo Todo a Ti". It is time, as we reach out to the harvest, that WE surrender all we have to Him and allow us to minister to those that NEED to surrender to the Lord.

We know that the Word of God went forth in many different forms. We now wait upon the Holy Spirit, as He hovers over the community, to do His work! Unless the LORD builds the house...we labor in VAIN! He is the builder! We are now in the process of making plans for another outreach service that will be by invitation only for our Easter service. We ask that you be in prayer with us as we make our plans and ask the Lord to direct our steps!

Monday, January 24, 2011

January 2011

   We pray that everyone entered the year 2011 walking in the blessings of the Lord! We have had a very busy January so far! We just recently returned from a trip to Nicaragua. As of October of 2010, we have been back to having to leave the country every 90 days again. Dave and I were granted our residency when we applied, but we have yet to apply for the children. Costa Rica changed its residency laws where minors are no longer covered under their parent's residency status. So in order for us to keep the children legal with an up to date visa, we are required to leave the country every 90 days. However, we are very thankful that Nicaragua is very close to us (the border is only about an hour and a half from us). This makes it so much easier for us to be able to make our trips. This time we decided to make it a week long vacation and enjoy some things of Nicaragua we have never been to before. Rivas is the closest town to the border, so we enjoy spending time there and in a town called San Jorge which is situated on Lake Nicaragua. It is the largest lake of Central America. In the center of the lake is Ometepe Island which consists of two volcanoes, Concepcion and Maderas. We took a ferry ride across the lake that lasted about an hour. It was a fun adventure. While we were on the island we decided to take a bus ride to another town that is on the island, Altagracia. We spent about an hour in town and headed back on the bus again. We are quite accustomed to riding buses...but it has been a while since we have had to ride one. Jeremiah and Levi stood in the back of the bus to allow extra seats for anyone that needed it, unfortunately for Levi..he got pretty squashed! (see photo in slide show) He did manage to make it up to where we were sitting and find a spot to sit! LOL!

While we were in Nicaragua, we were able to go to Jinotepe and visit a friend of ours, Rene Amador. Rene was part of Pastor Serafin's church when we first went to Nicaragua in 2006 and was a part of the youth group then. Rene had recently given up a life of drugs and turned his life over to God. He was beginning his discipleship program then and in 2007 he went to YWAM of Nicaragua and began his training program for missions. This is where he met and married his wife, Migdalia, the director of YWAM. (see photo in slide show) It was great to visit with him and meet his wife and see what a great man of God he has become in the last few years. They are in the process of planning a trip to Africa and I know they would appreciate any prayers on their behalf!

The most amazing thing that happened to us while we were in Nicaragua was the day after we arrived. We took our family adventure to the Island and spent the day. That evening we took the ferry ride back to Rivas and we were able to enjoy a beautiful sunset on the way back. While we were riding, a gentleman on the boat struck up a conversation with Jeremiah. They talked about various things, then he asked Jeremiah why we were in Central America. He explained to the man what we did and why we were there and the man just out of the blue asks Jeremiah to have his dad pray for him please. Jeremiah went to get Dave and Dave was able to talk with him for a good amount of time. The gentleman (Cedrit Gomez) began sharing with Dave some health problems his 10 yr old daughter was facing. The doctors believed that she had lung cancer and this man was just distraught over the situation. Dave began sharing the Gospel with him and he just up and asked Dave....what do I need to do to get my life right with God RIGHT NOW? Dave explained it to him and he accepted the Lord right then and there sailing across Lake Nicaragua! The man lives in Rivas and was just so upset about news of his daughter that he needed to get out for a while, so he decided to go to the island. But her never even got off the boat! He stayed on...and that is where we met him. When we reached the shore...we were able to give him a Bible and encourage him on the importance of finding a good Bible believing church so he and his family can grow in the Lord. We exchanged email information and told him that we would have our church and others praying for him and his daughter. We told him we looked forward to the outcome of his daughter's next visit with the doctor, which was coming up within the next couple days. After returning home, we did not hear anything for a few days, so Dave emailed him to see how he was doing.  We received a response from him just the other day giving glory to God for the results that he got from the doctor. His daughter tested NEGATIVE for cancer and the doctors were amazed at the change in her! Cedrit said that he is not the man we met on the ferry, he has turned his life over to God and is trusting in Him!! We give God praise and thanks for allowing us to be in the right place at just the right time! He told us that evening that this was the FIRST time he had spoken to anyone about his daughter!! And LOOK WHAT GOD DID!! We serve an amazing God!!

God has been speaking to us about more evangelism in this year. We know that the harvest is great and that the workers are few. When we see the harvest COMING to us...we know God is moving. We are planning an evangelistic service for this coming Sunday, January 30th. We have letters printed up for the congregation to invite friends, family, and neighbors to a special service. One of the special things about this service is it will be the first time for our deacon, Ruperto Hernandez, to preach. We are looking forward to what God will do and we ask for your prayers concerning this service. One of the reasons we are having a service by invitation only is because here in our area it is very popular for churches to have large church meetings or revivials. The only problem we see with this is almost all of the people that come are church goers from other local churches. Our desire is to reach the LOST or the ones that do not have a church home! Please pray with us this week as we prepare for Sunday. We also ask that you include Ruperto (Peto) in your prayers. We look forward to sharing pictures and news with you in our next update!! Thank you for praying with us!!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Merry Christmas!!!!!!!

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December 2010

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I cannot believe it has been a year since I last blogged and I do apologize for that. This year was a difficult year for blogging since we did not have access to internet in our home. As of just a couple months ago...that has changed and we now have internet access for the first time in about 3 years!! It is such a blessing! So we will now try to stay up to date with blogging!

This year we purchased a new sign for the church!

We are VERY excited to report that just a couple months ago we set in our FIRST deacon!! We have had a wonderful family that has been a part of our church for awhile. Ruperto (Peto) and Karla have two children, Danghelo (11) and Franciny (10). They are a very faithful family and we feel blessed to have them as a part of our body.

I have the pleasure every Sunday of being able to teach the children. This year they learned alot about worship and how much it is pleasing to the Lord when we worship Him. One of our crafts this year was letting each child design their own worship flag. The children enjoy using their flags during praise and worship time to bring glory and honor to our Father!!

We have two special parties a year for the children to enjoy and have a great time! In September, Costa Rica has a national Children's Day, and we always use this time to bless the kids with a party. Also, every Christmas we give them a party to enjoy celebrating the birth of our Saviour. It may have been the best party we have had yet, thanks to the new game show Minute to Win it!! The children (and some of us adults!!) had a great time playing games, then eating hamburgers and fries for lunch, opening their gift, and busting open the piƱata!!! In the past the parties have been at the church, this year Karla opened up her home for us to have our Christmas party!

Have you ever seen a snowball fight in Costa Rica? The kids had a great time tossing snowballs back and forth to see which team would have the least amount of snow, they had one minute to complete the task! The GIRLS won!!!

Every year we also celebrate Christmas as a church family and have a wonderful meal together! This year Miriam made caneloni!! It was delicious! I made good 'ole Southern cornbread dressing! It was a great night of worship, food and fellowship. We had about 6 visitors at our dinner too and that is always a blessing!!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Back in Action!

After some time off from the blog due to technical difficulties (our camera died! LOL!) we are back up and running again! We pray everyone had a wonderful Christmas and you have entered 2010 in the blessings of the Lord! We would like to share with you some of our activities from Christmas. We had a blessed time celebrating with a children's Christmas party and had a church Christmas dinner too! Our children's party has been an annual event for the kids of the church and this year we had 13 children in attendance. It is always a fun time for them as well as for us!!
Musical chairs is always a favorite among the kids! We also play several other games...but this is their fave!

One of the ladies of the church blessed them by making a chicken and rice dish to serve. It was yummy!! Just ask the girls...LOL!

Or the boys!!We always end the party with the breaking of the pinata and the kids also get to open presents from the church. We take up offerings all year so that we can bless the kids with at least one gift at the party and lots of candy!!!

Right before Christmas we celebrated as a church family with a special dinner. It was a great night to reflect on the gift of Jesus for us as we shared in Communion and then broke bread together.

Jeremiah (our only youth in the church for now) and a few of the other children helped serve the adults.The women served up the plates and Jeremiah and Danghelo served everyone!It was a wonderful night of delicious food and good fellowship! One of the things we have really been trying to teach all of our members is the importance of fellowship and family time together!The Christmas tradition for Costa Rica, that many people still participate in, is making homemade tamales every year. They make them for their families as well as to share with neighbors. One family that lives next door to the church has blessed us with tamales for the last two years and they are so delicious. The mother and her daughters take about two days to make them. They cook on an open fire outside until they are done and tasty!! This is one tradition we have really enjoyed since being in Costa Rica...although I have not yet ventured to try to make them...having them given to us is much easier! LOL!

We would like to share a huge praise report with you too that took place during this last year! Dave and I are official Costa Rican residents now!! We received our residency status in June and in August. This means that we NO longer HAVE to leave the country every 90 days!! Praise God!! It was a miracle the way our residency came through too. Our immigrations lawyer that was working with us during the whole process told us it would be easy for us to get since we have a baby that was born here. He did not even realize how easy it would be once it came through! Both of our status' were approved within days of our paperwork being received!! He said that this was a miracle and he had NEVER seen it come through so quickly for anyone else! He said he knew that God was on our side! What a wonderful testimony! We had spent time sharing and witnessing with our lawyer and his wife and he immediately realized that it was the hand of God that brought everything through so quickly! At the end of the month we will be picking up our residency cards. Sometime during the year we will begin to work on the children's residency. Since they are minors it is not necessary for them to have theirs until they are 18 years of age.

We want to thank you for your continued prayers and support for us and our church. We are believing that we will see more miracles this year as we pursue the calling to Costa Rica!!! God bless you all....we love you!!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Meet the children of Artolita

We would like to introduce you to some of the members of the church, beginning with some of the most faithful...our children!

Karen is one of the only children that attends church with one of her parents. She and her father, Ricardo, have been faithful to the church for over a year now. Karen is a very sweet child and always willing to help her dad when it is their turn to serve in cleaning the church each month. She is the youngest of four sisters and is believing with her dad that each of her sisters will become faithful in the church as well.

Marcela is a precious little girl that lives two lots down from the church. She was born with a problem with her legs and they just don't work the way that they should...but you couldn't tell her that! She walks (holding onto things) but mostly crawls wherever she goes. She is at church almost every Sunday so that she can be at her Bible class. Her big brother carries her to church each week and many times her mother comes to pick her up. There have been many times that she left church in tears because she just didn't want to leave! One of her brothers has come to church with her some, but Marcela is always faithful to come bearing her great big smile! Please keep her in your prayers...we are believing God for a miracle to heal her legs and that she will one day walk normally...and even dance!!

Valeria (top) and Jennifer (bottom) are sisters that live across the street from the church. You can almost always find them at church on Sundays as well as Wednesdays. They are very sweet little girls that just love loving on you and being loved on! They both come to church on their own, their parents do not come (as of yet!), but their grandparents do. Jennifer loves to sing and has a stuttering problem that we are asking God to heal for her. If you ever come to visit, you can be guaranteed you will receive a great big hug from these two!

Alejandra and Cristopher live next door to the church. They are also the only ones in their family that attend the church right now. Their parents have visited but have not become faithful as of yet...we are praying for their family to be in unity and come together for fellowship and the teaching of the Word. These two will be found at the church for any cleaning work day we may have. They are servants and always willing to help out!

Jocelyn is almost 12 years old and has been coming to the church for about a year now. She attends church with her aunt, who is a member as well. Many times Jocelyn can be found assisting her aunt with cleaning the church each month. She is a sweet, but shy, girl and loves the Lord. She enjoys being one of the first to quote her weekly memory verse and enjoys helping out the others when they need it.

After each lesson, the children learn a Bible verse to memorize. We post them on the wall along with their attendance chart. The kids love to get candy for memorizing their verses! It is so awesome to hear these kids quoting Bible verses when just about a year ago most of them could not even tell us the Christmas or Easter story!

STAY TUNED.....we will introduce you to our adults!

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

2008: Year in Review

It has been quite some time since we have been able to post an update, so we are going to post a review of 2008 so we can fill you in on what transpired throughout the year. As you may remember, and for those that are just "tuning in", in January we were placed in officially as Pastors over the church that was given to us in November 2007. This church is located in a very small community named Artolita. There are only about 70-80 families living in this area. As with any transition that takes place, there were some that were pleased with the change, and others that were not. We knew when we began that God was going to be the one that would have to "build the church". During the time that we started in Artolita we were living an hour and a half from the church, so we knew we had to make a change and move closer. So in February God opened up a small home near the church that we were able to live in for a couple months until we found something bigger. In April we were able to move into a bigger home that was much closer to the church. Also in April we began having monthly fellowships as a congregation. We started to have dinner together as a church family to help strengthen the bond between us. We continued with the dinners until the rains set in so hard that it made it more difficult for many of our members to be able to walk to church. The rains in our area of Costa Rica begin around mid-May and continue until about mid-November. By June it was already beginning to fill up the river that we have to cross in order to get to the church. So during the rainy season we would have to park our van near a footbridge, since there is NO bridge for vehicles in order to get to the other side! We would walk from the footbridge to the church, which is about half a mile. Since the road we walked was a dirt (MUD) road, you can only imagine what our feet would look like after walking!! During this season all I could think of was the Scripture that tells us..."how beautiful are the feet of those that bring good news"...covered in mud and all! In April we began teaching the church on a series of worship and how important it is in our lives as a believer. During this time the children learned choreography to "Shout to the Lord" and presented it for the first time in June for Father's Day at our dinner.
In July we were blessed by the church with a SURPRISE baby shower for Isabella. One of the ladies in the church, Lizbet, that has been faithful with us since we began in January planned and organized the shower for us. There were many women from the community, as well as the women in the church, that blessed us with many wonderful things for our coming baby! It was a wonderful time of fellowship and fun as we celebrated. One week after the baby shower, our Isabella Micaela arrived 3 weeks before her due date. She weighed 7 lbs. 5 oz. and was 18 in. long. Having a baby at a public hospital in a foreign country was an "experience". I would like to give you just a little idea of what it was like. In Costa Rica the doctors do not deliver the babies, the nurses do. So when you arrive at the hospital they assess you to see where you are in labor. If they feel you are progressing, you go straight to labor and delivery, if not, you go to an observation wing of the hospital. They sent me straight to labor and delivery after I was checked in through the emergency room. In the States, when they see that a woman is in labor, they usually send you on to the labor and delivery wing and take care of you there, from what I remember anyway...LOL! have to go into the hospital through the ER, sign in, and WAIT to be called back for your assessment! There really is no "priority" unless you arrive by ambulance. Once I arrived at the labor and delivery ward, Dave was told he was not allowed in until it was time for me to deliver. In the L&D ward it looked like I had stepped onto the scene of a filming of M*A*S*H 4077! There were beds lined up on each wall and they took me to the wall that was beginning to fill up. Each woman is to labor in a room with 5-10 other women! This was very interesting! There are NO epidurals offered for any of the women unless they need it for a C-section (not that I use an epideral...just giving you an idea of how different it is here)! Everyone is there laboring in their beds side by side until it is time for you to deliver the baby. That is when they let you WALK to a delivery room, but the nurses wait until the last minute to walk the women there so they can deliver quickly since there are only 2 delivery rooms! When I felt it was getting close to delivery time, I told the nurse to let Dave know so that he could get dressed in his scrubs and come in for the delivery. I also warned the nurse that I usually deliver quickly, so they should probably tell Dave ahead of time...they of course did not listen to me! LOL! I was walked to the delivery room...had two contractions and Isabella literally flew out and landed on the delivery table! Thank God she made it on the table! Dave walked in just seconds after she was born...he missed the whole thing! So in the delivery have about 10-15 minutes to be prepared to go to recovery. The recovery area was another wall of beds where the women are placed to recuperate for about an hour before being moved to a hospital room. After recovery, I was taken to a room that housed 6 women, including me, and their babies! The babies do not go to a nursery at all, except for the first few minutes after delivery. In the rooms, the babies stay with the mothers the entire time. The room was joined to another with 6 other women by a bathroom equipped with showers. This one bathroom was for the 12 women staying in the rooms! I noticed as I arrived that the women had their own towels and bars of soap to be able to shower with, as well as their own toilet paper! At this point....I was ready to go home! LOL! This was not my idea of a hospital stay!! I have to say it was rather difficult that one night in the hospital listening to other babies in my room crying most of the night and having to put up with the heat since there was no air! One funny thing that happened too was when Dave was talking to the nurse after my delivery. He asked the nurse,"Do you have very many Americans deliver here at the hospital?" The nurse replied, "Not EVER!" So we knew we were quite unique...LOL! Also, I met a woman at the hospital while I was in labor that came looking for the room I was put in after recovery. She walked around asking where the "gringa" was. Everyone she asked was able to point her down the hall to where I was...I guess it was pretty obvious! Two weeks after Isabella was born we were blessed to have my mother, one of my aunts, and an uncle of mine come for a two week visit. This was their first trip to Costa Rica and it was such a wonderful time with them. Here in Costa Rica Mother's Day is always on August 15, so I was able to celebrate it with my mother! Dave, my uncle, and one of the men in the church cooked Arroz con Pollo (a chicken and rice dish) for all the mothers in the church. The youth served the mothers their meal. It was a great time of good food and fellowship. The following week we were blessed once again by a visit from our wonderful Pastors and two of their grandchildren, Kyle and Moriah! They were able to bring many baby gifts from the women of our home church, Spirit of Life. Thank you so much ladies for the wonderful clothes and items that you sent! They have been such a blessing to us. During their visit with us, Pastor Craig shared the Word on Sunday morning and we had Isabella dedicated to the Lord. Afterwards we had a meal full of typical foods from Costa Rica prepared by the women and men in the church. This was the first time our Pastors had been able to enjoy some of these typical foods. It was a great experience. During their visit with us our Pastors were able to see where we were living for the first time and they noticed how secluded we were from all forms of communication. The only way we were able to check emails or keep in touch with any contacts in the States was by driving at least 8 miles or so to do internet, and that was usually only once a week. So while they were here they suggested the possibility of us looking into being in another town equipped with more of what we were needing. They mentioned that we pray about it and see what God does. We had always been interested in a town that was nearby, Filadelfia, but we had never been able to find a house available there. Not long after our Pastors left, Dave was visiting a friend of ours in Filadelfia and mentioned to him that we were interested in a home there. He told Dave that a home had just opened up next door to him so we checked into and it was exactly what we were needing: grocery stores close by, internet available either in the home with a phone line or an internet cafe just around from the house, the medical clinic is just a few blocks away and the post office is close as well. Our new snail mail address is posted to the right of the blog. Also in September, not long after finding the house, the rainy season set in full force! We had 12 days of straight rain which brought some major flooding of the river near our home by the church. It so much and so hard that the road leading into our town of Artola, close to where the church is, was completely covered in water and there was no way in or out for several days! There were 3-4 days where all public buses were cancelled as well! After seeing this...we felt it was time for us to move to a town! By mid September we were in our new home and very thankful to be away from so much of the flooding! We are still close to the church and we are able to enjoy the conveniences of living in a town now for the first time since being in Costa Rica. Living in town has given us more opportunites to experience alot more of the cultural aspects of Costa Rica as well. This has been a great experience for our family to learn more about the country we are in. One of the things we learned about Filadelfia is every year on Christmas Eve all of the children go out into the streets and go from house to house looking for manger scenes (portales). All of the manger scenes are put out on this day and the homeowners usually have candy, chips, fruit, drinks, etc. to give to the children. We thought this was very interesting and we were talking to our neighbor about it. She told us it was similar to what the States does for Halloween. We explained to her how evil Halloween is and that the significance behind doing it on Christmas Eve makes so much more sense to us as believers! The children go out "seeking" manger scenes and they are given "gifts". What better way to celebrate the one true GIFT that was given to us at this time of year! The children really enjoyed this and look forward to it again next year! In December we had our annual children's Christmas party for the children of the church. We have about 12 children that come regularly, so this was a fun time to be able to celebrate with them. Our children have grown so much over the year, not only physically, but in their Spanish as well. They have become completely fluent and have no problems at all...well...I should say they have trouble deciding what language to speak in! Usually we hear alot of "Spanglish". There are many times that they try to explain something to us and cannot even remember their words in English! So I would say they have grown by leaps and bounds! Here is a fun example of how Levi has picked up on the language! Mariachi music is VERY popular here and it is not hard for them to pick up on some of the songs. One day Levi was playing around with one of the songs he heard and we were able to get him on video imitating the mariachi singer...he sounds just like one of them! EL GRINGO MARIACHI!!

So thoughout the last year we have had many things going on, but the best thing is we know that God is in control of everything. We have gained some people in the church...and we have lost some...but not one has come or gone without the eyes of God watching. We pray that God will complete his purpose in each one that he calls to be a part of our body.

We ask that you keep us in prayer as we are in the process of obtaining our permanent residency here in Costa Rica. Through the birth of Isabella, we are able to request to become residents and we are in the midst of that now. It is a process of mostly paperwork and TIME! Please pray that everything goes through smoothly and that we have no complications. Getting our residency here will free us up from having to leave the country every 90 days to get a new visa to allow us to stay in the country. This is costly and takes alot of our time. We prefer to plan a vacation to leave the country when the time is right for us...not when the visa runs out on paper! So please hold that up in prayer for us, we need all of our paperwork to come in that we have requested without any problems so that we can present it and receive our residency papers. Then we will only be required to renew that each year which will be so much better!!

We thank each of you for your prayers and we ask that you continue to hold us up in prayer as we seek Him for His will to be done! We appreciate you and your support for this ministry. We pray for you and ask God to pour out His richest blessings upon you!