Saturday, February 19, 2011
This year, the Good News of Jesus Christ was shared with over four hundred children and adults, and more than 75 responded to the gospel! We rejoice in all that God has done and will continue to do through the believers at Iglesia Nueva Vida (New Life Church). Their leadership has been tremendously encouraged. Hearts have been made new. Lives have been forever changed!
THANK YOU to all who encouraged, prayed, got their car washed, ate out at Chick-Fil-A, and gave generously so that we could GO!
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
By Conway Robinson
"Who will go to the least of these?" What an incredible testimony for the glory of God…that He has considered Community Bible Church worthy of having a "partnership in the Gospel", leading us to the places where "the least of these" wholeheartedly wait. It is with great anticipation and hope that God receives the glory for every accomplishment, success, and satisfaction on account of the joy and compassion that was engraved in every action during our time in Costa Rica. Our being rich on Christ’s behalf is made extremely clear as He continues to use ordinary people to share an extraordinary story of love, peace, and comfort…the "Good News" that Jesus saves. The answer is simple! We have been "made rich in every way" (2 Cor. 9:11), so that we would replicate the joy Paul commands in the book of Philippians…that we might believe, that we might suffer, and that we might give; that we might serve and that we might GO with an extraordinary joy.
Join us on January 23, 2011 at 9:15a.m. and 11:00a.m. as we share a video and some of the team members share what took place, as well as some of their most memorable experiences. Below is only a glimpse of some of the personal experiences of various individuals that went on the trip.
"I'm learning a way of life. This young leadership team lives a life that's loving, caring, and rich in faith. I have so much back at home. But as I'm here, I realize that they have what matters."
"God’s presence is made evident...it is the look on a child’s face after being shown the immense love our heavenly Father has for them through the simple act of being hugged. It is the depth of gratitude seen in a mother’s eyes when she has been provided meals for her family when just moments before she wasn’t certain where her next meal would come from. It is working in sewage trenches and manually mixing cement while hearing the singing voices of young children working right there alongside you. That is God revealing Himself at His finest.
It is the continual plowing of the fields through all seasons...showing compassion to His people…it is work that does not and will not end here."
-Jordan Perl and Michelle Preddy-
"It is impossible to fully describe that how we have come thousands of miles to help these people; and yet be taught so many lessons about faith, about hope, and about love. It's evident by the imprints left on our hearts by these young children and we find ourselves wanting what they have…these kids selflessly work alongside us, singing and joking the entire time, showing their compassion."
"I got to truly experience the most important thing in life…JOY! This has been the biggest privilege and most rewarding experience I have ever had."
"I wish that I could show you the faces of those receiving the gift [food bag], not only were they surprised that we dared to enter their neighborhood, but their smiles glowed with gratitude and hope. The entire experience was incredibly moving and eye-opening; as the families listened their eyes were filled with hope. In an area where fear is prevalent every day and a hungry stomach is familiar, a message of comfort and unending peace overcame the reality of the area. One household that we came to really stuck out to me; the leadership team uses a worksheet to help share The Gospel and when we approached one home a man said that he was vision impaired and therefore could not use the worksheet. Though his vision proposed an obstacle, it was immediately overcome. He listened with interest as the leaders clearly shared the Truth; nothing can come between Christ’s love and His people."
Ariel McClellan and Summer Beasley-
"It's very eye-opening to see people who struggle to survive each day have such a deep faith and commitment to God."
"The language barrier makes absolutely no difference...as long as they get someone to hold them. The experiences here and the ability to be used as a part of God's work being done in the world is incredibly rewarding and this is why we GO."
"I saw us complete bag after bag, and I was overwhelmed with God's goodness and providence. I was overwhelmed with the diligence of many of YOU, who supported these food bags with your donations. I was overwhelmed with the thoughts of all the many ways God is going to use these food bags in the lives of the people of Sector 7."
"The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me."
Friday, January 7, 2011
By Elsa Bermudez
The team left bright and early to spend our day of rest in the city of Manuel Antonio. Upon arrival, the team quickly changed and made their way down to the sandy beach. Some of us immediately immersed ourselves in the warm salt water, while others stayed on shore bathing in the afternoon sun. This was the perfect environment to soothe our sore muscles from the recent days of manual labor. Dinner was enjoyed at El Avion restaurant as God provided us with one of His most beautiful sunsets.
Today team members were able to enjoy various activities from an ATV tour, hiking through the national forest, to simply relaxing on the beach and soaking up some more of the sun’s rays. I personally chose, along with seven other team members, the ATV tour. At the beginning of the tour, our guide asked us the nature of our visit to Costa Rica. We told him that we were only in Manuel Antonio for the day and that we had been doing work in the cities of Los Guidos and La Carpio for the past week. He responded “Wow, those places are terrible, how could you go there?” We explained we were doing mission work, to which he responded with a half smile while shaking his head before continuing on with the tour. In the middle of the tour, we were treated to a little piece of heaven as were able to take a refreshing dip in an amazing waterfall nestled in the middle of the forest. As I was taking in the beauty of God’s creation from every direction, I simply asked out loud “how could anyone possibly question the existence of God?” His presence is made evident to us on a daily basis. It is not just in the beauty of His creation surrounding us that we all too often take for granted. More importantly, it is the look on a child’s face after being shown the immense love our heavenly Father has for them through the simple act of being hugged. It is the depth of gratitude seen in a mother’s eyes when she has been provided meals for her family when just moments before she wasn’t certain where her next meal would come from. It is working in sewage trenches and manually mixing cement while hearing the singing voices of young children working right there alongside you. That is God revealing Himself at His finest. “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” -Matthew 25:40
This time of Sabbath not only provided us with the rest many of us needed, but a time to reflect on the true work God is doing in each and everyone of us. Work that does not and will not end here. We are all being called to have faith and commitment in the work of Christ. The work is not generally glorious and it is almost never easy. It is the continual plowing of the fields through all seasons and that is exactly what is being done here in Costa Rica. Showing compassion to His people and providing a place for Christians to ripen to be able to bear more fruit for His Kingdom. So my answer to the tour guide is quite frankly “How could you possibly not?”
-Please continue to have us in prayer as we will spend our last day on the Finca tomorrow with the leadership team and saying goodbye is never easy.
-Also pray for traveling mercies as we are flying home tomorrow evening.
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
Photo #2: This is Memo and Rafa, a couple of the young men on the Leadership Team. They run the sound on Sunday mornings and for special events.
Photo #3: Our team had the chance to participate in Iglesia Nueva Vida's Kids Club. On this particular day we played with a giant slip 'n slide. So much fun!!!
Photo #4: This is a close-up photo of the "Bridge Illustration" that was is used to present the Gospel.
Photo #5: We held three days of street Vacation Bible Schools. It was amazing to see how many kids came every day.
Photo #6: We walked the streets of La Carpio handing out bags of hygiene items. La Carpio is known as "The Trash Dump" of Costa Rica.
Today, our main focus was finishing the work projects that we started yesterday. We needed to finish digging the trench, lay foundation inside of it for a wall, and finish the sidewalk on the side of the feeding and tutoring center.
Overnight, the trench that we had begun digging the day before had filled up with water from the rain, and from sewage drainage. This proved to be a major setback. Since we had not finished the trench the day before, it wasn't draining, which meant that we had an extra two feet of water to deal with, literally on top of the now completely saturated soil.
We had a long, arduous day ahead of us, but we jumped right into the action and got to work. Back in the trench, as we tried to start draining the water, things didn't go so smoothly at first. We all had different ideas on how to handle the situation, and we weren't making much progress. However, after a few minutes, and talking to one of the team leaders to clarify what we should be doing, we all got on the same page, and started making real headway.
In the mean time, the other team set out mixing cement, and continued working efficiently on the area where we would be putting the sidewalk in.
After taking a break for lunch, the trench still needed more draining, and the sidewalk was ready to be laid down. Most of the team fired up their cement mixing skills. These skills continued to be used for the rest of the day, as we finished the sidewalk. And as far as the trench goes, we may not have been able to lay the cement foundation that we were hoping to, but we were able to get it draining properly, and also able to fill the trench with the large rocks that will serve as a foundation for the wall. This was in no small part due to the help of the Costa Rican kids who worked alongside us tirelessly, singing, laughing, and having good time making fun of us Gringos.
One of the phenomenal things about both the team, and the kids from Costa Rica, was that there was not a frown to be found on anyone's face. You could go absolutely anywhere, and you would hear someone cracking jokes, or the team singing, which was absolutely crazy. God must have been fueling us today, because there is simply no other explanation we can give for our team to be working as incredibly hard as we were despite people being dead tired, various kinds of sick, or having cuts, scrapes, bruises, and blisters.
After this exhausting day of work, we came home to the mission house to a piping hot meal ready and waiting for us. After dinner and showers we sat down with Mark, the main missionary we work with here in Costa Rica, for devotions and debrief.
Mark asked us to define compassion. A few different people defined it as empathy or something along those lines. We wanted to ask you, what you think compassion is. Is it simply feeling the pain of those suffering around you? Is it feeling bad for those people? Is it wanting to help those people? Let us know what you think.
Mark's answer went back to Christ Himself. In Matthew 14:14 (NKJV), "when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick."
Mark began thanking us for our hard work, and pointed out that this was compassion. Seeing people's needs and sufferings and jumping in to help instead of standing afar, pitying them. The people here in Costa Rica don't want our pity, they want our presence to be spent loving them by bringing our work clothes. They see us picking up our shovels, digging in the sewage, and getting up to our ears in cement. In these things they find our true compassion. We are not here to feel empathy for them. We are not here to feel their pain. However, if you ask us if we have compassion for them, this will be our answer:
It is impossible to fully describe to you how amazing it is to come thousands of miles to help these people living in these cramped, meager conditions; and yet be taught so many lessons about faith, about hope, and about love.
Tomorrow, after two long days of work, we leave for our fun day at the beach....speaking of which, I think we need to wake up in a few hours for that. So we're done!
How late IS IT?
Que hora es?
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Today was a little bit of a change of pace here in Costa Rica. We took a break from the VBS activities and street ministries to do a our first full day of back-breaking manual labor. As I write this, I can feel the effects of the day in my upper arms and lower back. The body aches, however, only make me grateful for the fact that our team was able to be used as vessels of God’s love today. Upon arrival at “La Finca”, our team split into different groups and shifts in order to begin these different projects:
Photo #1 – In this picture, Elsa and our bus driver Corey (who worked beside us all day) are taking down a fence and some brush that we needed cleared in order to start digging a trench.
Photo #2 – On the left, Kati, Elsa, Lanaya and myself are all working together to measure and trim cinder blocks that would be correct measurements to be used for the drain and sidewalk that we were laying on the right side of the newest building of “La Finca”. On the right, Eric and Summer are putting the cinder blocks in place with the cement that our team and the leadership team of the church had been mixing all day long.
Photo #3 – Both of these pictures are of the left side of the building where groups dug a trench amongst mud and sewage. The trench was being dug for a wall that would be put in to go all the way to the back of “La Finca”.
Through our work projects at the church today, it is my hope that our team was able to provide encouragement to the leaders of the church. The amazing leadership team of adults and kids works tremendously hard for the Kingdom every day of their lives. They are often opposed and face trials in their ministries. I pray that in our efforts to work beside them today, that they felt loved and appreciated.
Monday, January 3, 2011
I'm so grateful for God choosing me to be here and serve in Costa Rica. I feel so privileged to see God's hand at work here in the community and in our team. Although today was our first break from outreach, the Lord still had plenty that He wanted to teach us.
Beginning with the morning devotion, we learned how we should glorify God in all that we do and what it means to have joy and not be embarrassed of ourselves in the midst of our suffering. It breaks my heart to see the extreme living conditions and circumstances that exist for most of our friends on the leadership team. But as I look deeper into their lives, I realize that they are not the least bit ashamed. In fact, they live their lives rich in faith and joy. I was sharing with the team today that I taught a few of them how to throw a football, play paddy cake, and say phrases in English. They love every bit of it! I now realize how much I’m learning from them. I'm learning a way of life. This young leadership team lives a life that's loving, caring, and rich in faith. I have so much back at home. But as I'm here, I realize that they have what matters. In the states there are so many things going on that often times I don't even realize my needs.
In the last few days I've seen God use our team to meet the needs of the people. Seeing this happen has increased my trust in God as well as my faith. My conviction is the strongest that it's ever been and I see a very strong conviction within the leadership team here. Their commitment and dedication inspires me. They spend so much of their time reaching their light out into the community and sharing the gospel. I feel that if I were to ask that kind of dedication from someone at home, they would make excuses and tell me they have too many things going on. The reason I feel that way is because that person is me. Josh said something powerful to me today. He said, "If something is stopping you from sharing the Word of God and keeping you from His will for your life, then you should reconsider the things you have going on."
I came to Costa Rica to serve. The Lord has used me to do so, but I also feel that the Lord had to bring me all of the way out here to free me from distractions so that He can speak more clearly into my life. This experience has already been life changing for me. I'm so grateful that God has used our team to be here and make an impact in the community. While doing so, the Lord is making a big impact in our lives.