Tuesday, November 18, 2014

November update (Residency, parental visit, Children's Ranch)

Hello friends. 
Here is my November summary.  It has been a busy and productive month.  We have been blessed by so many people and my prayer is that we would pay that blessing forward in huge ways.

Application for Residency:
Back in September I met with a local immigration lawyer to determine what it would take for our family to get temporary residency status in Costa Rica.  Getting this status would allow us to stay in the country and not have to leave every 90 days to reset our tourist visas.  It will also allow us to open a local bank account, which will give us more flexibility with paying bills as we will not have to do everything in cash.
After talking with the lawyer I discovered why no other missionaries from 6:8 had ever followed through and applied for residency.  The cost is prohibitive and gathering the necessary paperwork is difficult, if not impossible, to do from here.  I am blessed to have the mother that I do.  Ginny/Nana/Mom offered to do all the leg work and get new copies of most of our birth certificates and a new copy of our marriage license.  She then had to bring all of these to the CT secretary of state’s office to have them ‘Apostilled’.  This certification is required by Costa Rica in order for them to accept our documentation.  We also had to get our fingerprints taken and sent to the FBI for a background check.  Assuming that comes back clean ;-) then my mom will have to get those papers Apostilled and sent down here.
The lawyer’s usual fee + the Costa Rican application fee is usually close to $2000 per person for this process.  The lawyer is familiar with what our ministry does in Costa Rica, so he cut his fee almost in half.  That still left us with $1,050 per person to come up with.  We prayed about it and decided that should God want us to stay here long term then it was something that we needed to do.  I had never heard specifically of GoFundMe.com until about 1 week before we made the decision to go for residency.  I wrote up the details describing why we needed help with this funding and created a campaign.  I really thought that we might get a small portion of the money in which would help as we tried to come up with the rest.  Did I mention how blessed we are by family and friends who are supporting us in many ways?  In exactly 1 week we surpassed the goal of $6,300!!  Thank you to everyone who donated, wrote an encouraging word, prayed for or shared our cause.  I met with the lawyer last week and gave him the bulk of the paperwork and he is confident that we will not have to leave in January to once again reset our visa.  Praise God!!

Visit from my mom and dad:
My folks came down on November 1st for a week-long visit.  It was great to have them here and to have them experience a little of what we have been called to do down here.  They also brought 6 suit cases full of great stuff.  2 of the cases were for other missionary friends from Hartland and Simsbury CT, who are also serving in Costa Rica.  The other 4 contained treasures for us.  Some Christmas presents, some personal items that we did not have room for back in July, and 4 puzzles!  I have really missed my puzzle collection so it was great to have a chance to work on several of them during the week with my dad.  We got to bring my parents out to Campamento Roblealto in Heredia, where Yvonne and I first heard God’s calling back in 2011.  We also got to travel out to the Children’s Ranch and stay overnight in one of the ‘almost finished’ team houses.  It was really cool to show them the property and let them see first-hand what I have been focusing on for the last 4 months and where my family will move in 2015.  Their visit ended all too quickly, but we know there will be more in the future and we hope to visit the Estados Unidos in spring or summer of 2015.

Children's Ranch:
We are making steady progress on this project every week.  I have been coming out with 3 or 4 Ticos every week for a day or two at a time to work.  I am actually sitting on the front porch of the first team house writing this blog.  Victor and I spent the day crawling under the 2 houses installing all the drain pipes to complete the plumbing in the 7 bathrooms.  Tomorrow we will install the water line and the drain to the new kitchen sink.  There are 3 other guys with us this week working on the drywall.  We have our first team of the new year coming to stay and work at the ranch in January.  This group is from Copiague Christian Church in Long Island.  We are super excited about this team because it contains Yvonne’s Uncle and Aunt and 2 of her cousins.  This will be the first missionary group that will fully use the new team houses.
I have also met with a professor of architecture and 22 of his students and they are in the process of creating a master plan for the ranch.  This process has been going slower than I would have liked, but that is normal for down here. 

We are also very close to actually getting 2 shipping containers delivered out to the ranch.  These were purchased back in April but they could not get over the river until the dry season.  We are in that season now, so we will try again.  If/when we get these containers delivered we will turn them into 2 secure storage rooms with a large covered area between them.  This space will be used to park our tractor and any other equipment we acquire.  We have held off on purchasing a much needed tractor due to the fact that we currently do not have a secure place to park it.  Please keep this project in prayer as we are relying on God for everything.  (funding, construction, house families and ultimately the children).

We love and appreciate you all.

Humbly His, 

Friday, October 24, 2014

October update

I would like to thank you all for your prayers over the last few weeks.  After my last blog post we could feel your prayers which were very encouraging.  Three weeks ago we went on our 90 day border run to reset our visas.  We left at 4am for Nicaragua and the stars were out.  That was an answer to prayer for me.  Now I know when the stars are out.  Just before sunrise.  Unfortunately, I am not terribly motivated to get up that early to look for stars.  I think that just knowing that they are there will have to be enough for me.  We know that many of you were praying for us as we crossed the border.  We have heard horror stories of it taking 8 hours to get across the border so we were very nervous.  God heard your prayers and He went before us and prepared a smooth ride North to the border.  We met a man at the border who spoke English and guided us (for a tip) through the 4-6 different stations for baggage check, passport stamps, and border fees.  The most amazing part was that there were no lines at any of these stations when we arrived.  Upon leaving each line there, was at least a dozen people waiting behind us and quite often the lines would be out the door.  We would have never made it without our guide, as the various stations where spread out by a muddy 100 yard path.  We would have had no idea where to go next.  Yay God!!!  Nicaragua was very beautiful and it was a wonderful 3 days of much needed family time.  We have included some of our pictures from the Nicaraguan beach on the Pacific Ocean.

We have begun the process of establishing temporary residency here in Costa Rica.  Residency would enable us to stay in this country indefinitely without having to leave every 90 days on the expensive visa reset trips.   Rob’s mother has graciously located our marriage and birth certificates in our storage in CT and brought them to get an apostille (a verification required by Costa rica) stamp at the CT secretary of state’s office.  They will be bringing these documents to Costa Rica with them when they come to visit on November 1st.  We got finger printed for the FBI to do a background check and left a copy of our prints at the police station in San Jose.  We believe that now all we have to do is wait for approval.  We have learned that the initial fees for residency is very expensive, costing about $1000.00 per person.  (We have a family of 6)  We have started this process on faith that God will provide as he has done all along.  Please stay tuned for a notification of a fundraiser to help us raise these funds.  If any of you have ideas of a fundraiser that we can do from a remote location, please let us know.  We are open to all ideas.
Last Sunday, we had our first 6:8 Ministries staff worship service.  Elise and I had the opportunity to lead the worship music and it went very well.  It felt good to use some of the talents that God has prepared us with.  It was very special to worship together as an intimate group of 13 and we know that this will be a wonderful unity building time for us.  Please pray that staff unity continues to build and our relationships grow so that we will become even more effective as we serve the people in this community.

We are currently hosting a church group from Atlanta, Georgia.  This is the last church group that we have scheduled until after Christmas.  The church groups that come down to serve tend to be very encouraging to us as a staff so we will need a lot of prayer over the next couple of months, especially as we will be missing family during Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Please consider putting together a mission group from your area to come down and serve.  We hope to begin construction soon on our house out at the ranch and would love to have several groups come down this winter to help get it done.  The two team houses at the ranch are finally up and functional so we are ready to have teams come and have a dry, comfortable place to stay with indoor plumbing;-)  We are so excited!  We are coming into the dry season which is an absolutely beautiful time of year to schedule your mission trip.

We love you all.  God is good!!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Clouds - they can't keep out the Son.

So, we have been living in Costa Rica for 12 weeks and I haven't seen a single star.  (If you haven't been following our blog since June, I recommend you scrolling down to my blog post titled Hot Tub Time dated June 20th.  It will give you some background as to why seeing the stars is so important to me.)  I have really been struggling with the lack of stars here in the city.  It is usually cloudy and rainy in the evenings since it is the rainy season.  Even if it isn't raining, the lights from the city make it difficult to see any stars.  I am praying that we will be able to see stars out at the ranch where there aren't any street lights.  You see, sitting out under the stars in the evening is where I would go to talk to God.  I usually talk to him any time all day long but there are certain times that we need to set aside to just be quiet and listen to him.  Sitting out under the stars was my place in nature where I could be quiet with God.  I need to find a new place.  I sadly admit that I'm having trouble finding that place.  I'm having a hard time finding a quiet place in nature here in the city, or a quiet uninterrupted place inside my home.  I used to be able to either get up early before the family or stay up late after the kids go to bed but now it seems that I still have kids young enough to like getting up before 6am and some kids old enough that stay up later than I can keep my eyes open.  I am home schooling now so I can no longer get that time after putting the kids on the bus for school.  Don't get me wrong, I am still in the Word, reading the Bible on a daily basis and I am participating in a great weekly Bible Study but I haven't been finding those uninterrupted quiet moments when I can hear God speaking.

For the first time, I can see a direct correlation of being able to hear God speak to me and my mood.  I became irritable and sad.  I was having doubts about God's purpose for my life and doubts about the gifts and talents that He has given me.  Even though 4 months ago I was certain about all of those things.  A book that I am reading has helped me to see that this is Satan's handy work.  Satan is very sneaky and sly, slowly working his way into our lives and waiting for the slightest crack in the armor to slither in and start spreading a dark cloud over our soul.  Satan will put doubts in our mind and tell us lies that distort and twist God's truths.  We usually don't even realize that it's him.  And eventually, once his darkness has steeped long enough to blind us completely, he makes his move turning these thoughts of doubts and sorrow into prideful entitlement.  This is when those deep regrettable sins begin to take root.  It reminds me of the Steven King Novel "Under the Dome" where the alien children are treating all the people trapped under the dome as puppets.  Getting inside their heads and manipulating their circumstances to see how much it will take to make them finally crack and succumb to the temptation.  That is where I felt like I was, making my self vulnerable to satan himself.  The good news is, Jesus has already conquered satan and through the power of Jesus Christ, who lives in me, I too can overcome satan.  I just need to call upon the name of the Lord, Jehovah-Nissi.  "The Lord is my Banner" and victor over our enemy.  In my Bible Study, I am learning the different names of the Lord and how to use them when praying.  It is very powerful.  This has given me power over the sadness and doubts that I was having but I know that satan won't give up easily.  He does not want us here in Costa Rica.  He does not want us to build an orphanage that will raise godly men.  Satan has a stronghold here in Alajuelita and he will not give that up without a fight.  We must be on our guard even more than ever before and we need your prayers to help us with that.  Please call upon the name of the Lord, Jehovah-Nissi, and ask for the Holy Spirit to move in this city and to overcome satan.  Please pray for all of the missionaries and staff members involved with 6:8 ministries to remain faithful to studying the Word, spending time in prayer, and seeking God daily.  (You can find their names at www.68ministries.org and click on the 6:8 staff tab)  And please pray that I will again find that quiet place before the Lord, Adonai. (My Lord and Master.  The unconditional lover of my soul.)

We are so thankful for all of your prayers and support.

In Christ,

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Busy Busy Busy

I cannot believe how fast time is going and that it has been 6 weeks since my last blog post.  Let me try to catch you up on what is going on with us down in Costa Rica.

  • Home schooling - Yvonne and the kids have settled into a nice rhythm and most days work pretty well.  There are some occasional rough spots, but overall things are progressing nicely.  I am very impressed with Abby's progress in reading and math and Mara and Jonathan have figured out that taking their time the first time through a lesson will yield a good result and they will not have to retake lessons.  Elise is plowing along at a great pace and it excelling as usual.  She is also helping with Abby as needed!!  All of the kids are missing the social aspect of school and we want to have them make friends.  Please continue to pray for the whole schooling situation and for discernment on whether we should enroll the kids in public school for February 2015.  If we were to enroll the kids we would probably do that in the rural school out near the Children's ranch.
  • Children's ranch - It has been a fun couple of months as I have had the privilege of bringing missionary teams out to the ranch site to continue construction of the 2 team houses.  Besides 4 or 5 single day trips, I have led 2 week long work teams at the ranch.  A crew of 4 guys came down in early August and we laid almost 3,500 square feet of ceramic tile in just 4 days.  I just got back this past Friday from a full week with another team of 8 where we installed the ceilings in both houses as well as 7 ceiling fans.  We have made several 'staff' only day trips to continue the work as we have entered the slow season for mission teams.  All the bathroom fixtures are installed and the electricity is installed and fully functional.  The last step is to bring in the gravel for the septic tanks and turn on the water.  This will complete the early phase of the ranch and will allow us to host missionary teams of up to 30 people in the two houses.
    • I have been researching and working with several architects to come up with the overall layout and function of the ranch.  The architecture work is typically a huge expense here in Costa Rica as an architect needs to be involved in most stages of the design and build process.  I have discovered that you need to use an architect to pull a permit or even order an inspection.  I have also been reminded that we serve a huge and awesome God!  Through an uncomfortable situation I was forced to deal with, I was introduced to a gentleman who happens to be on the national board of architects for Costa Rica and he is a professor at a college for architects near San Jose.  After I told him about the ranch and he counseled me on how the architectural process typically works, he asked if he could pitch our ranch project to his class at the University.  The class is very excited and I will be bringing them out to see the site in the next week or two.  I also gave them a write up on what the vision and purpose is for the ranch.  From this class we should be getting several full blown options to choose from.  This will include site plans, blueprints for the various buildings and full renderings of what the final project could look like.  This work would normally cost between $30,000 - $50,000 and we may get it for no charge, as this project would benefit the students who need a project for their graduation.  We may also be able to leverage some of these 'new' architects for our future needs (permits, construction over-site, etc.)  Or course, I would love to have your prayers for wisdom and direction as I try to keep this project moving along in a quick, affordable, God-honoring way.  Please feel free to get creative in asking God to show himself in various ways as all the pieces fall together.
      River on East side of ranch.

      One of the team houses at the ranch.

      The future main road leading to the family houses at the ranch.

      Ceramic tiles in the team house.
  • Local Ministry - Our family continues to serve at a feeding in Verbena every Saturday morning.  We are starting to develop relationships with some of the kids and the ladies that run the center.  Elise, Mara, Yvonne and I have also gone to the special needs orphanage several times.  The pure joy that comes out of these kids is great.  We also got to go to a neighborhood called Juan Pablo about 10 days ago and hand out shoes to the children.  It was a really cool afternoon because we read them the story of Jesus washing the feet of the disciples and made sure that they understood the story.  Then the team brought out a big wash basin and washed the feet of each of the children before they got to pick out their 'new' shoes.  It was a special day.
    Yvonne holding McKenzie in Verbena
  • Good Friends - God has blessed us with a great family that lives in our condo complex.  They have a boy Jonathan's age and a girl Abby's age.  The kids are best friends and are always playing together either at our house or their's.  Yvonne and I also get along well with the parents.  Two weekends ago we brought the kids rock climbing with them and this past weekend they invited us to join them at the beach in Guanacaste for the long Independence day weekend.  I am looking forward to soon being able to return the favor and invite them to spend a day or two out at the ranch.
  • Prayer and Praises
    • Prayer that we would not let 'life' occupy all of our life and that we would be available and willing to get uncomfortable to share the love of Christ with the people here.
    • Praise for success in home schooling and prayers for wisdom for the future.
    • Praise for such great progress on the ranch and prayer for wisdom and resources to keep moving forward.
    • Prayer for more teams to come down between now and early summer.
    • Prayer that our ministry puts Christ in everything that we strive to do.
We are so appreciative and thankful for the prayers and the financial support from our friends and family.  May God bless you all as you work on your own mission field each day.

Love in Christ,

Monday, August 4, 2014

Prayer Warriors

We have a fantastic team of prayer warriors with 6:8 this week.  Today we went to the neighborhood of Tiribi.  At the bus stop they noticed a young woman in distress and asked her if they could pray for her.  It turns out that this 20 year old had just found out today that she has cancer.  Another man who saw us praying for her came over and asked if we would pray for him to overcome his addictions.  We continued on our way to Tiribi and went on a prayer walk in the neighborhood.  We met a young man who just found out that he is going to be a father and needs a job.  Another woman revealed that her mother just passed away this morning and would like some prayer for the whole family.  What started out as a day to go play with kids turned into a prayer walk where this small team of 8 had a huge impact on several individual’s lives… and it is only Monday!  God sent this team out today to pray for these individuals who needed to know that God cares for them enough that he sent these Gringos from Denver, CO. to pray for them and encourage them in their desperation.  I can’t wait to see how God uses them the rest of this week. 
This team has also blessed the 6:8 staff, and our family specifically. They did this through brushing out tangled hair (for hours), teaching them how to make beautiful bracelets out of cross stitching thread, holding their hands to cross a street, and just  spending time with them and making them feel special.  I thank God for each and every team that comes down with its own unique skills that God needs to serve the population of Alajuelita as well as encourage the Staff of 6:8 ministries.  The busy season of teams available in the summer months is coming to a close and we will be looking for teams to come on down during September through Spring. (What a great way to break up the winterJ)  The experience will change your world view forever.  Please consider getting a group together to come and serve and support our ministry.  God can use people of all kinds because he has gifted each of you with a unique ability to help others.   Feel free to contact us and we will get you plugged in.
 “…God loves a cheerful giver.”  II Corinthians 9:7.


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

God is moving in Costa Rica

Hello friends.
I am sorry that we have not posted in almost 2 weeks.  Time is moving really fast down here as we are quickly adjusting to our new lives and the changes to the ministry.  The director of operations that was in place when we arrived is moving back to the States with his family on Friday.  After a lot of prayer and discussion, it has been decided that the overwhelming responsibilities of the director role will now be spread over several individuals.  I have been tasked with being the director of finances for the operations based here in Alajuelita Costa Rica.  It is an exciting time for the ministry as I believe we have the right people in the right roles and everyone has the singular desire to glorify God in everything that we do.

Our biggest personal prayer request right now is for the home schooling.  This is a new thing for all of us and we are trying to accelerate the program to give ourselves the most flexibility down the road in case the children have the opportunity to enroll in the local school system which begins the year in February.

Now onto the really exciting news!!  The children's ranch project is moving along better than I would have imagined.  Through some generous donations, several mission teams bringing project money and their labor, and an awesome group of Ticos (Costa Rican people), the project is really starting to take shape.  There are two team houses that are completely framed and under roof.  Each of these houses are 24' x 48'.  One will have a full kitchen and living space for the cooks, as well as a bunk room with a capacity of 10 people. The other house will have 2 bunk rooms that can each accommodate 10 people.


We have another team of 30+ young people going to the ranch property tomorrow to continue work on these two buildings and some paths around the property.  It is the rainy season right now and it can pour for hours at a time, so needless to say, the ground can get pretty soggy and muddy.

Within the next three weeks, there will be at least 2 other teams going to work at the ranch.  Our hope and prayer is that by the end of August, the two buildings will be complete enough to comfortably house the next group of teams that are coming down to start construction on the houses that the children will eventually live in.  Please pray for safety for the teams as they work and for God's protection of the supplies and tools while people are not there.  Another big prayer request is that the money continues to flow in so that we can continue to make progress on this great extension of serving the Costa Rican people.

Again, we thank everyone for their prayers, support and encouragement.  If anyone is interested in coming down to serve, please let me know asap so we can look at availability.  The prime spots for 2015 are almost booked.  A great time to come is between September and April, as that is usually our slower months with the most capacity.

Serving Him,

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Time to get to work!

We arrived in Alajuelita, Costa Rica on July 6, 2014.  For the last 10 days we have been setting up house and adjusting to our new home.  We were blessed by friends and fellow missionaries who greeted us at the airport and brought us to our unfurnished condominium after having already bought us mattresses to sleep on for our first night.  We have spent the last 10 days getting the landlord to put in the appliances he promised, getting our cell phones up and running with Costa Rica cell service, purchasing minimal necessary furniture, and getting the internet installed for the children’s on line schooling.  It has been an adventure grocery shopping and learning the new Spanish names for various products.  God blessed me with meeting a neighbor on our second day in the condo who offered to drive me around town to show me all the best places to find vegetables, meats, gluten free foods (I have to eat gluten free), paper goods and kitchen wares as well as places to pay different bills and where the banks are.  Of course all these things are found in different parts of town.  She gave me an overview of the city and after our day together, I felt that I had a bird’s eye view of the city and would be confident in finding my way around. 
There have been some challenges with communication causing us to become frustrated with ourselves for not learning more Spanish before the move.  We've had to remind ourselves that the purpose of the first 6 months in the city was to learn the language while building relationships so the expectation wasn't for us to be fluent right off the bat.    A funny example of one communication issue was getting our internet installed.  The internet guys were supposed to come out on Monday morning the 14th to install the cable/internet.  We got a phone call stating that they were at the gate so Rob went out to the gate but there were no cable guys.  Turns out that because there really are no addresses in this area, they were at the wrong condo complex.  Not a big surprise.  The only problem is that they needed directions.  We didn't know where they were and we didn't know enough Spanish to be able to communicate with them directions to where to find us.  Sadly, another day went with no internet to begin schooling or to be able to post on our blog.  Miracle of miracles, they showed up first thing on Tuesday morning without us ever having to give directions.   I guess God decided to give us a break.

We have done a lot of waiting around the condo because we were having appliances delivered, internet hookup, etc.  The kids and I were getting stir crazy so today we decided that we were done with this adjustment period of setting up house and wanted to get out and serve.  We joined the team from Atlanta, GA currently here at 6:8 ministries and helped them run a VBS this morning in the very poor and rough neighborhood of Verbena.  Our kids did great.  Almost immediately they adjusted to the surroundings and had fun and local kids.  Jonathan was part of the skit where we told the story of Joseph and his brothers.  Mara, Elise and Abby had a constant stream of little kids (mostly girls) surrounding them for most of the time.  Rob and I were proud of each of them as they stepped out their normal and opened up to the kids of the neighborhood.  The big guy in red in Neil, he is one of the missionaries on staff here.  He brought us through the neighborhood knocking on doors to let the kids know that we were here to play with them.  At the end of the morning, the team handed out about 70 Spanish/English bibles.  They wrote the children's name in each one and told them to bring their bibles back tomorrow when they have another bible lesson.
We are exhausted from the 30 minute walk in each direction and the energy spent playing with kids for  a couple hours.  We appreciate all the prayers and encouragement.
God is good!! 

Friday, July 11, 2014

We made it!!

Hola amigos.
We still do not have internet in our new place (should be set up in the next 2-30 days;-).
Yvonne's cell phone is good enough that we are using it as a mobile hot spot for now.

Here is a quick summary of trip so far:
We got up at 3:30am on Sunday July 6th and left for the airport.  I had packed my brothers pickup and my parents van night before so all we had to do was jump in and head to the airport.  There was absolutely no one in the United line when we got there.  We found a porter to help move our 12 suitcases/crates, our portable keyboard, Yvonne's guitar, our 4 other smaller suitcases and our 6 backpacks.  God blessed us by having a friend from church (Matt M.) working the check in counter and then at the gate.  There were 4 workers at the check in that all jumped in to help process our luggage.
When we got to security screening, they had just opened a new line that we quickly overwhelmed.  We had no issues at all and to our knowledge did not leave anything behind;-)  The flight to Washington DC was uneventful, as was the transfer to the next flight to San Jose Costa Rica.  We landed and easily passed through Immigration.  We then found a porter standing next to our mountain of luggage at the baggage claim area.  He grabbed another porter, we rounded up a couple stray bags and then I looked around for our friend Dan, who was due to arrive 10 minutes after us.  We quickly found Dan, and the 9 of us (Wutka 6, Dan, 2 porters) went through the customs screening and found a place outside to unload all of our luggage.  Within minutes, the bus that I had lined up to transport us arrived, as did 6 of our friends from the ministry (Spencer, Alix, Chipper, Neil, Dan & Karen).  We piled all our stuff into the bus and headed to our new home.
Of course we were very hungry since we arrived at noon (2pm Eastern) so we stopped off at a local eatery on the way to our condo.  (It was a subway;-).
We got to the condo and it took no time for us to unload everything since we had so many helpers.  The condo was completely empty except for 6 mattresses that our friends had delivered a couple days before our arrival.
We have spent the last 5 days exploring the area and setting up house.  I will try to create another post later today or tomorrow with the excitement and adventures of the first week on the ground.

We love you all and appreciate all your prayers and support.

God is GOOD!!


Friday, June 20, 2014

Hot tub time

For the last 12 years I have been spoiled rotten with a therapeutic spa that sits on our deck 3 steps outside the sliding glass door.  We initially bought it as a place to relax and have found that it has been a blessing in so many more ways than that.  I quickly learned that it is a great place to thaw out during the cold Connecticut winter months.  When I’m feeling chilled to the bone I just sit in the hot tub until I’ve given myself a nice fever of 101°F.  Sometimes I’ve done that 2-3 times in one day.  
Occasionally, Rob will come in with me and we’ll have a little ‘mini-date’ as we talk about our day but mainly, I have gotten into the habit of putting the kids to bed and heading out to the Hot tub to get some alone time and relaxation.  As I sink into the warmth of the water and begin to feel the jets soothe the aches of the day, I look up at the sky and the plethora of stars.  I am always filled with awe at the vastness of the universe and the Greatness of God who created it all.  I easily pick out my favorite constellations and am amazed at how the stars always stay in their spots and more amazing yet, the North Star sits above the old oak tree in our back yard in the exact same spot every night.  The rest of the constellations rotate around the sky but the North Star never moves.   I very often find myself compelled to sing praise songs to the Creator of our Universe.  Over the years, my “Hot Tub Time” has become a time of prayer and worship.  I can’t help but feel so small in the scheme of things and yet God cares about me. He shows me this night after night.  After I’ve spilled my heart out to Him, I am quiet.  It is in these moments that He whispers to my soul.  He lets me know that while we are each very small in this universe, we are very significant to God.  He has created each one of us with a purpose and in these quiet moments, He reveals his purpose for ME.  Sometimes it is in big ways, like his desire for us to do foreign missions, but mostly it’s in small ways.  He will put a thought in my mind of someone who needs a phone call or to send a note the next day.  Sometimes an apology needs to be said or I get the feeling that I need to say yes to volunteering to help out at the school or church when earlier in the day I felt too overwhelmed to say, “Yes.”  Whatever the case, I have learned that whenever I listen to these promptings, I am always blessed with an opportunity to share Jesus’s love with someone which confirms for me that it was indeed God speaking those thoughts into my soul.
Last night was the last time I get to sit in the Hot Tub with God for a long while.   Today we are shutting it down as we will be moving out of the house tomorrow.  I was so sad at first since this has become a special time in my day for not only physical renewal but spiritual renewal as well.  God gently reminded me that there will be plenty of stars in Costa Rica.  I wondered if I’d be able to see the North Star from near the equator and if I would have to learn new constellations.  (OK.  So I admit that sometimes my conversations with Him are very basic and childlike)  He quickly steered my thoughts back to Him and how he will make sure that I’ll be able to see the magnificence of His creation every day that I seek Him no matter where I am.  We will be able to have our moments of Prayer and Worship and Silence, so that we can continue to have the little conversations that I have grown to crave. 

What started out as a completely selfish and indulgent purchase, God has used to draw closer to me.  Thank you Jesus for loving me and caring enough to use a hot tub for your glory.  My prayer for all of you is that you will each find your “hot tub.”  The thing that is going to draw you in to an intimate relationship with God because there is nothing better than sitting in the presence of Jesus and feeling his love and warmth wrapped around you in a great big hug.


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Commissioning and Prayer from our home church!

Hello friends.
I wanted to share an opportunity with everyone.  On Sunday June 29th, 2014 our home church, Valley Brook Community Church in Granby, will be taking some time during the service to pray over my family and to 'Commission' us to go to Costa Rica as missionaries.

We would love to share this moment with anyone that is in the area and would like to attend.  Church starts at 9:30am and we meet in the Granby High School auditorium.  (see www.valleybrook.cc for more info and directions).

I would also like to say that if there is anyone that does not have a church home where they are being taught God's truth from the Bible, please give Valley Brook a try.  We are simply a group of folks that love God and love people and seek to impact our community in a positive way.

Gracias Amigos!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Being the hands and feet (and body) of Christ

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

Random stuff from Rob's setup trip

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.

God Bless!


Monday, May 5, 2014

2 Months until our July 6th move!

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).

There is also a space on the top right side of our blog that will allow you to enter your email address.  By doing so, you will be notified of every new blog entry.  Simply enter the email address, hit subscribe, and you should get a little popup page that ask you to verify the secret code.  This will then send an email to the address you just entered to confirm that it is really you.  Click on the link in the confirmation email and follow the instructions.  You will then be set up to receive an email notification every time we post.



Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Fund Raising Update - April 2014

We are so humbled and thankful for the generous sacrifice of our friends and family and several churches.

As of today we have raised 55% of our total initial expenses that we need to move down to Costa Rica.  These expenses include airfare for the 6 of us, the purchase of a reliable automobile, basic furniture and the supplies necessary to home school our 4 children.

We also have ongoing commitments/pledges for 30% of what we will need on a monthly basis to live near the capital city of San Jose.  These monthly expenses include rent, utilities, gasoline, insurance, food, communications, savings for medical and Visa reset trips.

While this is great progress, we still have a long way to go to be fully funded by July 6th, when we get on the plane for this next chapter in our service to God.  Again, we are humbling ourselves and asking for your help.  Most people are all familiar with the expression ‘Many hands make light work’.  It does indeed make a lot of sense.  We would like to take the liberty to modify that expression to say ‘Many small donors can support a missionary family in a big way’.  

We are asking you to consider making some small changes, which added together with others, will be enough to sustain us in Costa Rica.     

If you think you can commit to any amount (big or small) on a monthly bases, please click on the ‘Support us’ link on the right side of the page and boldly help us love and serve these children. 

Thank you friends!

Love in Christ,

Rob & Yvonne

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Looking for Comments and Feedback from everyone!

Hello friends.  We continue to be excited about our move down to Costa Rica in 115 DAYS!!!
I have put together some pictures from our recent trip.  We would really love to hear from all of you.  Leaving comments on the blog will help keep us connected to all of you while we are gone, so please start now.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Wutka Family trip to Costa Rica - Feb 14-17, 2014

Yvonne and I had a wonderful Valentine's day surprise for our 4 children.  While driving through the snow and sleet to get to Orlando to vacation with Bestemor & Bestefar (Yvonne's parents), we sprung it on them that we were also going to bring them to Costa Rica to see where we will be living in a few short months.
It has been fun to watch as God has been in control of the whole trip.  We were originally going to