The visit to Costa Rica that I just returned from on Wednesday was full of a lot of things.
I was able to find a safe, affordable place for my family to live when we move down on July 6th.
I was able to take possession of a used car that I bought and drive around to get familiar with the car and the crazy roads and rules.
I was able to meet and reconnect with some old friends and make a bunch of new ones.
But above all else, I was able to literally be the hands and feet and shoulders and head of Jesus to some of His most precious children. Some of the communities that we serve in can only be described as hellish. These precious kids are living in tiny shacks that are filthy, crowded, dangerous and spiritually very dark. There is just a sense of hopelessness and despair hanging in the air. Most of these communities have one way in and out. It might be a broken road or a rickety bridge that separates and isolates them from the rest of the society and the world.
Through a boldness and confidence that can only come from God, 6:8 ministries has been bringing teams of people into these places for years. Many of the locations are completely isolated and the police will not even go into them. However, if there are children there, we will go. When the kids see us coming, the bold ones will make their way out of the little structures that they live in. Once we start to play with them, then we are soon over run by many more kids. We are not there to give them tangible stuff. We give them an unconditional love that may very well be the only positive thing that some of them experience. It is hard to choose which child to pick up and spin around and put on your shoulders when there are 10 hands reaching up for you. We stay until they have had their fill of hugs and laughter. We sing songs with hand motions and they try to follow along even though we speak different languages. We break out paper and some old markers and they immediately sit patiently and wait to get a chance to color. We sit and color with them and tell that that we love them. We tell them that Jesus loves them even more. There are a few moms watching on the perimeter. Some even sheepishly join our gathering and sit and color with us. The kids love to smile for our cameras, and so do the moms that have joined us. There are almost never dads there.
It is likely that the kids that will end up at the Children's Ranch will come from this community. It is an awesome feeling to think that one of these kids might someday call me dad if I am blessed to raise them at the ranch. It is an awful feeling to know that most will be left behind to grow up in these hopeless places.
Please pray for these kids. Please pray for their parents. Please pray for 6:8 ministries and the weekly mission teams as they show the love of Christ to these people. Please pray for the staff of 6:8 (my family included) so that they can persevere and somehow shine bright in this darkness.
Through all this we are certain of one thing. God is good!
Sunday, May 18, 2014
Friday 5/16 - We are currently somewhere over the Western Caribbean as I approach Costa Rica for the 6th time in the last 32 months. It seems like just yesterday that Yvonne and I first set foot in this beautiful country. With every visit it feels more and more like home and I see the people less as strangers and more as the family that God wants me to serve. I am eager to land and get picked up by two guys that I consider brothers. Josh and Spencer will move their families out to the Ranch along with us Wutkas. I look forward to the community that we will form out there. It is an awesome feeling to know that we are in this together. I have recently been thinking about what issues and problems that the orphan and foster kids will bring with them to the Ranch. I imagine that there will be some very hard times and decisions that will have to be made. While this would normally be a cause for concern, I know that we serve an Awesome loving God who wants nothing but the best for His children. I do not question God when I see the hurt and pain that is everywhere in this world. This present world is sinful and fallen and there are consequences to that sin. I also recognize that God is gracious and wants us all to seek Him. My new job is to love these people (especially the kids) and to show and teach them about the love that God has for them. Talk about a promotion!
Saturday 5/17 - I looked at 6 or 7 rental places today. There were several good choices, but I finally found one that met all the 'requirements' that I had outlined to the realtor. It is very secure, with lots of grass outside for the kids to run around and less than a mile from another missionary family that we will work with.
I also got to meet a team of high school seniors from Georgia that were finishing up their week here in Alajuelita. It was great to talk to them and their leaders and hear how some of these 'kids' were changed by what they saw and experienced while they served here this week. It was a privelege to pray over this group just before they left for the airport at 9pm. To know that they are about to embark into adulthood after having just experienced God so powerfully during their week is a cool thing.
Sunday 5/18 - Had a lovely wakeup call around 3am by several dogs outside in the street. Looking forward to breakfast in a couple hours with another team that arrived yesterday and then we will attend church together. I am missing Yvonne and the kids and look forward to when we are down here together.
Monday, May 5, 2014
It has been one year since we made the decision to follow God’s leading to move our family to Costa Rica. I have been reflecting on the last year and the rollercoaster of emotions that I have gone through. Last summer was a time of great excitement and planning. Last fall began a period of loneliness for me. As we were preparing for our last year in Connecticut, I began feeling like I hadn’t made enough of an impact right here in the lives of others in my own town and state so how is God going to use me in a foreign country where I barely speak the language? Who is going to want to send us?
Over the last several months, God has shown me how good He is and how much He cares. He has done this through all of you. Rob and I have been humbled by all of the love that you have shown us through your donations and pledges to support us financially and with prayer. So many of you have sent us notes sharing with us how we have touched your lives personally. You don’t know how encouraging those notes have been and your prayers mean so much to us. We are so blessed to have the whole community rallying around us in support of what we are doing. We are sad to leave you, our friends and family, but look forward to how God is going to use us in Costa Rica. And thanks to modern technology, we know that we will be able to keep in close contact with all of you.
Rob will be traveling to Costa Rica on May 16th through 21st. He will be finalizing the purchase of a vehicle as well as looking for housing for us while we live and serve near the capital city of San Jose. He also plans to travel out to the Ranch property with the president of 6:8 Ministries to make some preparations for the initial construction project which will start at the end of May! We would appreciate your prayers for safe travel and wisdom in decision making. Please also pray for the teams that will soon be coming down to build the ranch.
We would also like to update you as to our progress of fund raising. God has used all of you to raise well over 100% of our initial costs for moving in July and we have commitments for about 50% of our monthly expenses. We plan to use the excess contributions from our launch fund to supplement whatever shortfall we have in our monthly expenses. We are still seeking more partners to prayerfully consider committing to a monthly donation. We know that God is able to take even the smallest amount and multiply it tenfold. Every little bit helps. (for details on how to donate, please see the ‘Support us’ link on the right side of our blog).
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