Friday, August 26, 2011

A Princess Fairwell

Can you believe it's been nine weeks since the start of the Princess Club?!? How long and far we've come! Incredible. To celebrate our time together, we threw a Princess Ball. We decorated the back yard of the Casa Nueva with girlie balloons and streamers. We had princess cookies and punch. We talked about what we learned and sang our song. The girls brain stormed about who we should invite to the next club. We also gave each girl a gift. Ana Laura and I had tank tops made up that said "Princesa. Soy la hija del Rey de Reyes." Which means: Princess. I am a daughter of the King of Kings.

These four girls came every week. They were so faithful in coming. Tutis, the oldest in the club, was such a great helper. She would help the younger girls with their crafts and with the writing in their books. She would also help plan.

Here we are!! Our princess club!! 
Congratulations to all the princesses for all their hard work 
and all the learning that they did in nine weeks!!!

 Fabiana and Nahomy made a princess piñata for the girls to break open. They had so much fun making it...and Ana Laura and I surprised them by filling it!! 

Thursday, August 25, 2011


The rumors can be confirmed!!!! I AM coming home on Saturday!
Here is a basic run-down of where I'll be. 

Saturday, August 27th...Happy Birthday, Mom, I AM your birthday present!! I fly into Detroit. It really is my mom's birthday. I think that's a pretty good gift ;) I'll be in Ohio for a few days.

Thursday, September 1: The nasty Natty...Cincinnati to visit my BFF, Liz!!!!!!!! 

Friday, September 2-6: Indianapolis. The traditional Labor Day weekend with the fam. I'll be kissing my nephew and rockin' it would in Indy.

Tuesday, September 6-14: Grand Rapids!!! Woot woot!! I'll be at Vineyard North church on that Sunday. Would love to see EVERYONE!!!!

Wednesday, September 14-17: Back to Findlay. Spending the last few days with my parents.

Can't wait!! Counting down the days. Bags packed. Extra batteries ready for LOTS of pictures!!!!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The healing power of Jesus!!!

Went in to San Jose central to pray today. We take most groups into the city. Orange bags are filled with juice and cookies and we go seeking the lost, the outcast, and the homeless. They're easy to find. They tend to congregate in the parks and in certain zones of downtown. They are dirty, in old clothing, and have a look on their faces like life has been hard. We also go to pray for the sick, or those with canes, in wheelchairs, or visible physical needs. Today we saw some thing amazing. My group, which included Max and Sarah from the Denver team and Kevin and Randall from the community, decided to walk along the side of the hospital and make our way up to the national park. As we were cutting through the park, Max and I noticed a woman with an eye patch heading toward the hospital. We both agreed we felt a tug from the Holy Spirit. It felt kind of awkward at first. I mean, Max is taller than me....and we were doing what would appear like stalking in most countries....walking after someone and trying to catch up with them while obviously looking a bit out of place. When we caught her attention, we told her we were missionaries out sharing the love of God and praying for healing. We asked her if we could pray for her eye. She said of course. We asked what happened. A stroke. A few days ago. Her facial nerve was damaged and she couldn't close or blink her eye, it was fixed in the open position. That was why she had the patch on, to protect it from the sun and wind. It was burning and her eyes were watery.  Kevin, Randall, Sarah, Max, and I all laid hands on her and asked for the Holy Spirit to come. There were no lighting bolts from heaven. No burning bushes. No voices that sounded like Morgan Freeman coming from the mysterious beyond. Just an overwhelming sense of love and compassion for this woman. We didn't use any special words. We just asked God to come and touch this woman. We asked Him to show her His extravagant love and touch her as only He can. And then it happened. Max asked her if she would remove the patch. And she did. The pain was gone. She could move her eye lid!!! PRAISE GOD!!!!!! She had been on her way to therapy for her muscle weakness. She said she felt totally better! I encouraged her to still go and give testimony to what God had done for her.

God still heals!! He still hears us!! A bit later we were on a street corner when a man came up to me. He got right up in my face and said (in Spanish, but for the sake of the blog I'll put it in English) "Do you remember me?" I did, so I said yes. I remembered praying for him a few months ago. He said he wanted prayer for his brother. I asked why. He told me that when we prayed for him a few months ago, he was living on the streets and we prayed that God would help him get off the streets. He told me today he lives in a house and has a job. He wanted the same for his brother. PRAISE GOD!!!

Only God can do that. Only God can make that kind of change in some one's life. Only God can bring healing and change and freedom. All we do is give God opportunity to do His work. We act as the natural, physical catalyst so God can do His supernatural, spiritual AND physical AND mental works. By taking steps of faith and praying for people, we invite the presence of the Holy Spirit to come and have His will. And we know from the Bible that His will is always to make people whole. 

We did have two completely different experiences. We saw a older woman with her daughter. The woman was walking with a significant limp and had a cane. We also approached her and offered to pray for healing. She completely refused. A bit later we saw a woman in a wheelchair. She had partial paralysis in her legs and could only walk when assisted. We offered to pray for her, too, and she willingly accepted. However when we finished praying and asked her if she felt any different, her response was a bit unusual. She said she felt no different and this obviously wasn't the time that God was going to heal her because she felt nothing. We asked if she wanted to try standing. She said no. She told us she knew God would heal her, but in His own time. Well, what about now? we asked. She said no, she couldn't and wouldn't attempt to stand because she was certain God did not want to heal her at that moment. That maybe He would some day, but she was certain today was not the day. Ok. You cannot force someone to want to be healed. So we moved on. Kevin pondered a bit out loud about what he thought happened. The Bible says whatever we ask in Jesus' name, when we have faith, God will answer. So maybe God did answer our prayers. But maybe the woman had too much fear of failing. Maybe she was afraid to stand for fear that it "didn't work" and she would be disappointed or she would fall and make a fool of herself. Kevin thought that maybe this happens quite more than we think. That God answers our prayers for healing, but there is a step that needs to be of faith...that some times the person doesn't want to take. I think he makes a pretty good point. The experience certainly didn't make us want to stop praying and asking.

The point is to keep praying. To keep going out into the streets and asking God for His healing touch. Keep giving God the opportunity to demonstrate His power in real, practical, loving, kind ways.

Julie´s Long-Awaited Recipe Box

So just a few blogs ago I discussed my favorite way to make almond milk. At the end of it, I promised some of my favorite recipes for using up the almond pulp (the left-over almond pieces that are strained out of the milk). So without further ado, here they are. PS The nut pulp in each recipe is what is left from making one batch of almond milk following my original blogged recipe. It's from 1 cup of dry almonds. PPSS I almost never use eggs any more while baking...I substitute ground flax seed mixed with soy milk. If you don't have 1 Tbsp ground flax seed + 2 Tbsp soy milk, just use 1 egg. I like this substituting because now I can eat as much cookie dough and batter as I want and not worry about salmonella. Muahahaha. PPPSSS Remember you can always replace the oil with applesauce, we just can't get that here. Sheesh...I think I'm going to have to blog about all the little substitutions I like to use now........

Nut Pulp Fiction Bread
Left-over almond pulp from one batch of almond milk
1 cup +2 Tbsp whole wheat flour
1 cup +2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp olive oil
1 Tbsp ground flax seed + 2 Tbsp soy milk
1 cup soy milk (or regular milk or almond milk or yak milk...maybe not the yak milk...too grassy.)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Combine flours, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl cream together sugar and oil until crumbly, then add in the flax seed and the milk. Mix the wet and dry ingredients together. Pour into a greased 9x5 loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean from the center of the loaf. It makes 1 loaf of deliciously dense, richly textured bread. Yummmmmmm,

Gluten Free Death by Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/2 cup rice flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup Hershey's cocoa powder
 Left-over almond pulp from one batch of almond milk
1 Tbsp flax seed soaked in 2 Tbsp of soy milk

1/4 cup agave nectar (you can use honey if you don't have agave)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup shredded coconut
Chocolate chips....liberally...1 cup plus however many extra you need to satisfy your chocolate addiction.

Mix all dry ingredients together (flour, soda, powder, salt, powder). Add in wet ingredients. Taste dough. This is an important step. You need to make sure it tastes good otherwise your cookies won't taste good either....Scoop into cookie shaped balls onto greased cookie sheets. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes. You should be able to smell them at about minute 12, but resist the urge to take them out.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Yes, Lord, Yes!!!

“So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn't hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn't gladly and freely do for us? 

And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God's chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? 

The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God 
at this very moment sticking up for us
Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ's love for us?  
There is no way
Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, 
not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture
 They kill us in cold blood because they hate you. 

We're sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one. None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. 
I'm absolutely convinced that nothingnothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God's love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.”

Friday, August 19, 2011

Place Your Life Before God

So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

I'm speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you. Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it's important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him.

In this way we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we're talking about is Christ's body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn't amount to much, would we? So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ's body, let's just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren't.

If you preach, just preach God's Message, nothing else; if you help, just help, don't take over; if you teach, stick to your teaching; if you give encouraging guidance, be careful that you don't get bossy; if you're put in charge, don't manipulate; if you're called to give aid to people in distress, keep your eyes open and be quick to respond; if you work with the disadvantaged, don't let yourself get irritated with them or depressed by them. Keep a smile on your face.

Love from the center of who you are; don't fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.

Don't burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don't quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality.

Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. Laugh with your happy friends when they're happy; share tears when they're down. Get along with each other; don't be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don't be the great somebody.

Don't hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you've got it in you, get along with everybody. Don't insist on getting even; that's not for you to do. "I'll do the judging," says God. "I'll take care of it."

Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he's thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. Don't let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good. 

Romans 12. 
The Message.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Little Taste of Latin Flair!!!

I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE the Latin flair...especially in music. Again, I cannot say enough how much I enjoyed the music and culture the Nicaragua team brought to the community. I wanted to share some snipits of video of the guys doing what they do best: Worship: Latin Style!!!

 The group consisted primarily of musicians.
Every morning the house was full of praise during their devotional time.

Mildred and Rebecca did a traditional dance for the church on Sunday morning.
Their worship team played in the back ground.

More videos to come...

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Costa Rica, From Ashley´s Eyes

Many people who come for trips are also bloggers. For me, I love reading other people´s blogs. Especially when I´m mentioned in them. Just kidding. I repent of my vanity. Anyway, Ashley holds a special place in my heart. She came with the Nicaragua team...only she´s not from Nicaragua...she´s from Texas. And she spoke very little Spanish. She just graduated high school and decided to come down to Nicaragua for a few months. She got connected with the Vineyard church in Managua (I think she goes to a Vineyard in the States) and heard about this trip literally right before they had to buy the tickets. She had no idea what she was in for. Ashley definitely has boldness. I mean, to go on a missions trip with people you don´t know and who barely speak English to another country is exceptionally brave. It was awesome seeing her grow during the trip and see her learn more about what God has for her life. I stole this excerpt from her blog:  Best Advice? ¨Don´t be an idiot." Changed my life. (Isn't that a great blog title?!?) Enjoy!!

Costa Rica, baby... Pt. 2

Things looked up for me that Thursday when we left the city. I'd been on the verge of tears from not knowing Spanish, but finally the only person I knew from the youth--his name is Abiud, we'd met a few days before on Monday and he could understand English pretty well--stepped back, looked at me, and asked if I was alright. I explained to him that I was frustrated because I wanted to help out but couldn't because I didn't know any freakin' Spanish, and that it was hard to not know what the heck was going on.

"You don't need to know Spanish to help out," he said, mystified at why I would think such a thing. I gave him a dirty look.

"Look--having you here is a great honor to us. We get to practice our English now, and we never get to because we're always together. We're very glad to have you here."

Huh. I hadn't thought of it quite that way. We had walked several blocks to a bus and were now sitting inside, waiting for the rest of our group to emerge so we could go back to the house. Abiud continued to speak like this to me, and my heart began to feel lighter. We began to talk (in English) about music we liked and sports and different kinds of things on the way home. I didn't feel so left out anymore.

The guys were pretty easy to talk to since most of them could speak decent English. I got along with them very well. The girls were harder to communicate with because only one girl spoke alright English and there were many times when I wondered if they were making fun of me. It didn't help that four other girls and I were sharing a room and bathroom. I mentally rolled my eyes a lot because they took so long to get ready for the day/night, while it took mere minutes for me to be ready. So it took a little while for the girls and I to get to know each other better, but in the end it did happen.

We did a lot around the community. We painted a church member's house, and I went with the guys to put in concrete steps for the same lady. I was all fired up to work, but wound up standing around a lot and taking pictures. Every time I'd offer to do something, one of the guys who was loitering around would jump up and shout "NO! Let me do it." I'm pretty sure it would've been a great blow to their pride if a girl tried to do their work. The lady we were working for provided a pitcher of water and a cup for us to drink from. The guys thought it was absolutely hilarious to yell "WATER! WATER!" at me, thereby dubbing me the watergirl. Soon they took up a cry of "Ashley! Ashley!" and oftentimes would mix it up by shouting "SONIA!" It was our inside joke that I was "Sonia" because when we first came to the house, we had our own individual cups to drink from with a piece of tape that had our name on it. I'd looked in vain for my name but couldn't find it. Apparently a girl named Sonia was expected to come on the trip but didn't... while I wasn't expected to come and did. As a result, I wound up using the cup that said "Sonia". The entire five day trip, whenever someone yelled "ASHLEY" or "WATER" for fun, I'd reply by saying "SONIA" in an unnaturally high-pitched voice. It was hilarious.

I thrive off of making people laugh, which was a bit more difficult to do since not many people could understand my sarcasm and jokes. Thank God that Julie was there, since I could freely joke around with her. One time we were sitting at the table for dinner when Julie leaned back in her chair and announced to me that her Spanish brain was officially fried for the day.

"Yeah, mine too," I said sarcastically. "So you've got a brain fart?"

"More like brain constipation," she replied.

"That sounds like it's really clogging up the brain toilet," I said, grinning.

We both laughed and she got up to put her dishes away. I suddenly realized that Omar, one of the youth, had been sitting between us during this entire conversation and now had the strangest expression on his face of amusement and incredulity.

"Sorry," I told him. "American potty humor." He nodded.

I started to say something about brain toilet plungers, but changed my mind. "I was about to take that joke even further, but I don't think I will."

"Thank you," he said seriously.

I could get away with being sarcastic as long as it was obvious from the tone of my voice and as long as I was speaking to the right people. But words could only go so far. I wound up resorting a lot more than usual to physical comedy. I'm happy to say that everyone laughed more with me than at me and my suckish Spanish ways.

The experiences of the trip will be continued again later today. Pt. 1 was pretty serious so I decided to go with something more lighthearted in this one. This blog post is getting mighty long so I'm stopping for a while. Keep checking back!

Latin Missions

This last week we had the privilege and honor of having a totally different kind of missions team. A group of 11 people came from our sister Vineyard church in Managua, Nicaragua to minister in the community. What a blessing it was to have them!! Of course there are the obvious little things that make a team from Latin America easy to have: they already know not to flush toilet paper down the toilet and they don't need my translation services (I have to admit, I loved visiting in the community with them. I really enjoyed just sitting back and listening in on the conversations)!!! But they also bring their own unique Latin flair that we gringos just can't duplicate. For example, the majority of the team plays on worship teams in Nicaragua...and it was AWESOME listening to them play worship with a totally different beat and sound. Another nice advantage was that we had been to their church in December, so there was already a heart connection there. Several of the young guys here in the community had been to their church, too, which helped break down those awkward walls we all know exist when meeting new people or going some where new.

For the group project, the guys fixed the steps going up to Doña Francisca's house. For those of you who have been there, you know how much that was needed!! For those of you who haven't been there, the steps were built into the side of the hill and were very narrow and starting to crumble. In the rain, they were basically just a slippery, muddy mess. The guys poured cement and leveled them out. Several of the girls also painted Francisca's tortilla store. It is now a cheery red. The best part is that Francisca and her family are all from Nicaragua...not only that, but they are immigrants from the community where the Vineyard in Managua has recently planted a the poor, rural community of Tipitapa. What an amazingly unique opportunity for the group from Managua to minister to people from the community where they are also working back at home!
Another new advancement in Los Anonos is the addition of a recycling center where the old kinder/school was. Once a week the members of the community can now bring glass, tin, metal, plastic, paper and cardboard to be recycled. The community made a connection with the recycling center who will pay the community for their recyclables. Now the community can benefit not only from a cleaner community, but they will also use the money they make to make it safer. Several of us went out to distribute flyers to notify the community.
More to come....

Princess Club: A Tale of 4 Kingdoms

What a special treat! We had princesses from FOUR countries represented at our club! Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Brazil, and the United States!! The Princesses from the Kingdom of Nicaragua had come on a far-away journey to share about the princesses in their kingdom. With them came an ambassador princess from Brazil.  The princesses from Nicaragua taught the girls how to dance to our Princess Club theme song, Yo Soy Tu Amada. The girls had a wonderful time following the steps and every one got involved. The best part, though, was the pretty dresses the princesses brought. The girls loved trying them on and had fun whirling and twirling. Ever princess needs a great dress!! 

 Princesses Mildred and Rebecca also shared a traditional dance with the girls. 
Princess Rafaelee, from Brazil, taught the girls how to say "Hello, my name is_____" in Portuguese. She also taught the girls what it means to be a princess in another country. 

The girls in turn shared about what they have been learning about during the last few weeks. They were able to tell the visiting princesses about the power of our words, our authority in the kingdom, and the inheritance our Father King has promised us. In talking about different kingdoms, we helped the girls make pictures of their own kingdoms to remind them about what we were learning. 

I can't believe we've already completed 8 weeks of Princess Club!!! I seems like just yesterday we were making and sending out invitations. What an amazing journey it's been! Next week will be our graduation and fiesta!!! It has been wonderful seeing the girls learn about identity. What's next?!? Princess Club 2?!? We're not sure yet. Ana Laura and I are going to take several weeks off (I'll be in the States for 3 weeks) and we're going to pray about what God wants next for the princess club. We are trying to decide if we should start the club over with a new set of girls, keep the same girls and go deeper, or both. Pray for wisdom!! The video below is the dance Mildred taught the girls to our theme song. ENJOY!!!


Princess Club: Stations of Activity.

Princess Club update!!! The week that I missed blogging on Princess Club (#6) was a little different. Ana Laura and I set up 4 tables and each table had something different for the girls to do.
One table had our theme Bible verses (Colossians 1:12&13) as a puzzle that the girls could put together and another table had actual princess puzzles.

One table had pictures of princesses to color or the girls could draw their own. We had special guests from the Kingdom of New Hampshire.
The teens came and braided the girls' hair and painted their nails. We also had a place for the girls to write out prayers in a Princess book that we used during prayer at the end of the club.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Eye Doc in a Box

This blog post is a bit out of order, but I had to share it...Two teams ago when the Summit team came from Virginia, they hosted an eyeglass clinic. They brought down and "Eye Doc In a Box" kit that allows non-medically trained missionaries to do a quick screen for vision. You can get a rough estimate of what a person's prescription is and then try to find appropriate eye glasses for them. The team brought down something like 600 pairs of eye glasses, all in individual baggies with the prescription written on the baggie. We did two afternoons of testing at a church in northern Costa Rica in a beach town called Nosara. We also did a morning here in San Jose at Fundavida, another Christian foundation connected to the Vineyard church, and an afternoon here in Los Anonos. I wanted to share a couple of highlights from that time.

 Here are the girls modelling some of the donated glasses. Me thinks we pretty sexy...

There was a woman who hadn't been able to read her Bible in 5 years. She was so excited to finally be able to read that she had a hard time giving me the Bible back. We saw several stories like that...where people hadn't been able to read for years. It was amazing to "give sight back to the blind".

The woman pictured on the right had a prescription that we just couldn't fill. One eye was drastically different than the other and it would have taken a special pair of glasses. Tovah and I ended up praying for her, knowing that while we couldn't give her better vision, our Lord and Savior can. While we didn't see a miracle and her sight instantly restored, she was immensely touched by the Holy Spirit and began weeping. Her name is Maria. Please remember her in your prayers that she would receive her miracle and restored sight!!

I love children. I especially have a heart for children who wear glasses. I got my first pair of big, bright pink, thick plastic framed glasses when I was 7 years old. I thought I was pretty hot stuff in those glasses...until I look back at the pictures and think "WHY?!?!?!?" Yet, those were the 90's...they were made that way...So we were doing a clinic day at Fundavida and we had a pretty good system down. Two girls would screen for vision, the people would come to a center area to hear the gospel message from Tito, and then they would come 3 at a time to get fit for glasses. While one group was hearing the gospel, I couldn't help but see a little girl, about 8-years-old, trying to choke back tears. Most of the kids that day were screened as not needing glasses, and were a bit upset at not getting any. So I thought this girl was the same. She and her mother came through my line to be fit for glasses. The mother handed me the slip of paper with the prescription and it was a pretty high number, so I assumed it was for the mother. I went and selected a few pairs in the prescription and brought them back. I handed the first pair to the mother and she immediately stuck them on the little girl's face, who then preceeded to burst in to tears. Oh, NOOO! I thought. These weren't for the mom!! They were for the girl!! I scooped her up into a big hug and told her it was okay, I hadn't realized they were for her! I told her I was going to find the prettiest pair of glasses we had! Not to worry. As I turned back to where the glasses were, my heart SCREAMED at Jesus... "PLEASE, Lord, if you have ANY mercy on me, let me find the right prescription for this girl...IN THE CUTEST FRAMES POSSIBLE!!! PLEASE LORD, PLEASE LORD, PRETTY PRETTY PLEASE!!! AMEN!!!!!" I went back and found 2 really cute pairs...and the one that fit her and was the right prescription.........WERE PINK!! With glitter on the ear pieces!! With little hearts by the lenses!!! HALLELUJAH, Praise Jesus, He really does care about little girls!!!! (Not that I doubted, but this was a big deal!!). As soon as I put them on her, she said simply, "I can see!!" And then broke out into the hugest ear-to-ear grin. Praise you, Jesus! I gave her another big hug and told her that she was a princess. I told her the same things I tell my girls in the princess club. That Jesus knows her heart and He thinks she's a princess. And every time she wears these glasses, they are to remind her of that. She then proceeded to show EVERYONE in the room her new princess glasses....and then she brought me her friend who also needed glasses and wanted me to find a pair of princess glasses for her too...Help me, Lord!! AND HE DID!! I found ANOTHER pair of pink, little girl glasses in the right prescription. God is SO good!! This is a picture of her after Jesus helped me find her glasses:

For more information on how you can be trained in the Eye Doc in a Box kit, click on the link below.

When Jesus shows up...

Rodney and Cindy found this video from a recommendation from a friend on facebook. 
This is what happens when Jesus is glorified...
even the world has to recognize Him as Lord!!!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

End of a year, beginning of another...

Wow...has a year gone by already? Several year anniversaries have already passed for me...It's been a year since I came on a 10-day missions trip with my church to serve in Los Anonos, Costa Rica. It's been a year since I applied to come stay as an intern in the community for a year. It's been a year since I gave my 4-weeks notice at the children's hospital and officially decided to make the move here. September marks 1 year over seas living and working as a missionary. In that year I feel like I have seen, experienced, and learned more about what it means to be a follower and lover of Jesus Christ than in all other years before.

Here's a brief run down of my year:
~Arrive on September 11, 2010...a quiet day to fly. No kidding.
~It started to rain. Every day. No kidding.
~I started English and exercise classes in the casita. Every child in Los Anonos learned my name. And uses it more than my own mother.
~Rodney heard the Lord tell him to make 2,000 sandwiches. The when and the where and the how were left out of the Lord's message. Rodney decided to make them the first week of November.
~We started renting the Casa Nueva!! Let the Extreme Make-over, Church Edition begin!!!
~Christina Potter, another intern, arrives in October. A week later the community has a minor flood. Several houses are damaged, but repairs are fairly quick and easy.
~Steve decides to dread his hair. Maybe not such a good idea...
~The Vida 220 discipleship school boys start to work in Los Anonos. Yay George, Dago, and David!!!
~We made our first 100 "sandwhiches" for the community. They were just hot dogs, but they were a hit.
~On the 3rd of November, the community was devastated by another flood and landslide. The families were moved into shelters, where they stayed for 3-6 weeks. Many families were relocated to other towns. Many have moved back in with relatives in the community.
~By the time we finished with emergency flood relief, we had made over 2,000 meals. God still speaks!!!
~The Harvest Hands house (AKA Rodney, Cindy, Steve, Christina, and I) make a quick escape to the beach after the drama in the Quebrada settles a bit. I meet some new wild life.
~Demolition by the municipality started and by the end of January, the majority of the Quebrada and the hillside was removed. Many people who had come on previous short term trips noticed the stark difference.
~The gringos celebrated Thanksgiving by inviting some Costa Ricans over. Turkey and pumpkin pie were enjoyed by all.
~Missions Trip to Nicaragua!!! Who would have thought that during my missions trip I would be doing a missions trip?!? Sooo cool!! We took a group of the young guys from the community and some other gringos who flew in and drove to Managua, Nicaragua. We helped build a roof for a new Vineyard church in Tipitapa, Nicaragua, in David's home town.
~Jules decides to get hair extensions. Maybe not such a good idea numero dos.
~Christmas came and 2010 went.
~Extreme Make-over Church Edition continues in the Casa Nueva. The backyard is leveled in preparation for a new cement floor. The walls are painted. Little by little the house starts to look more like a "church"
~TEAM SEASON!!! We kicked off team season with a team from my home church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, followed by a team from the New Life church in Columbus, Ohio. Columbus built a yellow house. A wedding dress was made for the first wedding in the new Vineyard Anonos.

~February brought about the renovation of the Casita into a thrift store. Adriana was given a job as store keeper. The women in the community were taught how to cut hair and crochet...not at the same time or by the same team, but they learned some pretty sweet new skills. I did, too!!

~Will and Jessie are married in the Vineyard Anonos church!! Jessie looked stunning in the dress that the Ohio team donated and one of the women altered for her. 

~Another yellow house is built in March. The teams really make connections with the people here in the community. As team members come back year after year, they are able to communicate even more and friendships form. March also brings our first official church service is held in the Casa Nueva!!!! God is soooo faithful!!!!!!!! Los Anonos has a totally bilingual church. We continue to pray for more workers. When we first started services, we would have worship nights in the front room. When we packed in almost 50 people into that room, we decided we needed to head outside.

~Team season is over for a bit. April showers brings May...wait a's the end of the rainy season! There are almost no rain showers in April!! It's the end of the rainy season!! Woot woot!! We focus on the community. My birthday is celebrated on a bus during a visa renewal trip to Nicaragua. Not exactly how I thought I would celebrate turning 28, but it was cool.
~Plans for a roof in the backyard of the Casa Nueva were started. We needed something to shade us during the morning Sunday sun as well as the afternoon, and some times unpredictable, rains.
~The other Vineyard church hosted a worship conference. Jeremy Riddle came to Costa Rica as a keynote speaker. AMAZING!!!!!!!!!
~Professional skateboarder, Jud Heald, visits. Most of the kids skateboard here. Steve and Tito started a skateboarding ministry for the kids. Ramps and rails were constructed.
~Baby Bruce is born! The first baby born into the new Viña Anonos!!!

~A new Bible Study for people wanting to go deeper into the Word is started. It's been awesome seeing the guys want to grow in their relationship with God. God is setting a fire in their souls!!!
~My parents visit me for 2 weeks!!!!!!!!!! I had a great time showing them the community, my classes, Bible studies, and friends here. We also spent some time touring the country.

 ~The Princess Club starts. What an amazing opportunity to teach the girls about their identity in Christ than with a princess themed club?!? A group of ten 8-12-year-old girls are invited to learn about their Father, the King of kings. 
~The Columbus, Ohio team comes back!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! They help with handyman work around the Casa Nueva and build a safer swing set for the kids. I no longer have to stand on the swing set pole and yell at the kids for being on the same party line. They can swing safely!! Some of the guys from the community climb the mountain to the cross with the team.
~The beginning of July was a hard time here. Dean Stoeklin, one of the guys on the Ohio team, died of an aneurysm while serving here in Costa Rica. The impression that his life had while working here will never be forgotten, either by the team that was serving alongside him or by the young guys of the community who he invested in while in Los Anonos.
~Taylor comes for a visit! She is the intern that lived here in the house with Rodney and Cindy the year before I did. She was serving here when my team came a year ago in June. She had a blast seeing the growth of all the kids. It was also a shock to see how much had changed in the community in only a year.
~Summit comes from Virginia to host an eye-glass clinic in the beach community of Nosara and here in Los Anonos. Several hundred pairs of eye glasses are fit. 
~August is a busy month with 3 teams. A team from New Hampshire come to work around the community. They participated in the trash clean-up and other projects at the Casa Nueva. A team from our sister Vineyard church in Managua, Nicaragua comes tomorrow! Thankfully I won't have to translate for that team ;) One more team comes from Denver, Colorado at the end of the month.

WOW!! I can't even believe all that has happened in a year! This is only a broad brush stroke of the things that has happened here. I can't even begin to write about all the stories of hanging out with the guys and hearing about their dreams for the future. The growing pains of teaching kids and teens who have never been disciplined how to live Godly lives. Seeing drug addicts go in and out of addiction. Learning how to lead and teach in a small group Bible Spanish. Being stretched into leading worship instead of just playing back-up. Leaving my friends and family and watching my nephew grow up via Skype. So many learning and growing opportunities!!

With all of that said, when I first left to come on this crazy adventure, I had asked for prayer. Thank you all for your prayer support. God has been so faithful in answering your prayers for me and the community! Is is amazing to see God working in the community and especially in the hearts and lives of the families and teens in the church. Thank you also for all of your financial support, without which this would not have been possible. Thank you for your sensitivity to the Holy Spirit when giving to this mission.

As most of you know, Costa Rica is now deeply embedded in my heart. Rodney and Cindy have asked me to stay another year to continue working here with the church. After prayer and consideration, I have decided to stay. I feel like there are still things the Lord wants me to do here in Costa Rica before I can come home.

I will be coming home to the states as originally planned on August 27th. I will be staying for 3 weeks and will be splitting my time between Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan. I would LOVE to see all of my family and friends while I'm home. Please feel free to shoot me an e-mail or facebook post to set up a time to visit. I don't want to miss seeing any of you!!!! 

During this time I will also be raising prayer and financial support again. If the Lord lays this on your heart, please let me know and I would love to tell you how to donate to my mission here in Costa Rica.

Again, thank you for ALL of your support, especially the prayer support. God is faithful, kind, and compassionate with all His children.