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 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,