Monday, November 28, 2011

Have I ever told you all how much I love Costa Rica?!? This past weekend FundaVida, another ministry in town, threw a double surprise party at our house. Two volunteers, Jeff and Yvonne, have both given over 2 years of their lives to serving here in Costa Rica for the ministry. The ministry team wanted to throw them a surprise going away party. Well it was also the ministry director's (Eladio's) 50th birthday, so his wife decided to surprise him as well. Each of the three thought the party was for the other person!! To top off the festivities, Eladio's wife, Blanca, hired a mariachi band to serenade us! Such fun!! Here's the birthday song...

Rodney and I went to the market that morning for fresh flowers. They are SO cheap here...I bought 15 Gerbera daisies, 3 bunches of mixed flowers with lilies and daisies, and 2 huge bunches of plain daisies...I made 5 table arrangements like this and one other huge vase with the lilies...and spent only $17 for them. I ♥ Costa Rica!!

Cindy cooked up a storm!! That's one big salad!! Plus she was so proud of her Nicaraguan pans.

 We spent the day decorating the house and preparing for 30 guests.

 Yvonne and Jeff give speeches after short video montages in their honor. Thank you both for all your service and hard work here in Costa Rica. You have made an indelible impression on the hearts and lives of all you came into contact with.

Happy birthday, Eladio!!!

Out of the Mouths of Babes!!

I HAVE to share this video with you. I already shared it on facebook, but it just makes my heart happy. Our church is predominantly children. On any given Sunday there are more little bodies than adult ones. And what a joy it is to have such beautiful children worshiping with us!! Over the last few weeks, the children have been picking up the banner of worship. This clip was take a few weeks ago... yesterday the same group of children started raising their hands (modelling David and I leading from the front)...and then something amazing happend, they actually all go down on their hands and knees and prostrated themselves before the Lord. Hallelujah!! The future generation of Jesus lovers are GROWING in the LORD!!!

Sunday, November 27, 2011


When all systems are normal, we take for granted even the most complicated things in life. Hearing, for example, is extremely complex...Trust me, years of higher education have given me an in depth look into the audiological system!!! But God has also given us a complex mind to reason and solve even extremely difficult problems. Take this video. It is an incredible testimony to how far we have come in the world of science...while still giving glory to God for how we were designed to interact with the world. This made my day. Enjoy!

The Belt of Truth

"Without your belt of truth firmly fastened around you waist, your spiritual pants fall down. 
And that's just embarrassing..." ~Julie Herrmann

"13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people." ~Ephesians 6:13-18

Currently in youth group and in my small groups we are talking about the weapons of our warfare. As Christians we believe we are "fighting the good fight" and that our earthly "struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms" (Eph. 6). As such, I thought I would share with you my most current thoughts on the first piece of warfare equipment: the belt of truth.

What exactly is the belt of truth? Isn't it the Bible? The ultimate truth? Yes, it absolutely is...but then why also do we need to take up the sword of the Spirit, which is also the word of God? I think the belt of truth goes so much deeper than just the written word. In the two books of Timothy,  Paul is writing to the young dude for whom the books are named. In 1 Timothy 1:18 Paul instructs: Timothy, my son, I am giving you this command in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by recalling them you may fight the battle well. (Emphasis mine)

I believe the Lord wants us to use our tongues as a weapon of warfare and one of the ways we can do that is by using the prophecies that have been spoken over us. Just like Paul instructed Timothy to do, we also need to use this weapon from our arsenal to fight the good fight. The answer to our deliverance is in the belt of truth where we have stuck those prophetic words.

How do we do this? It's called self-talk. It's been talked about in the psychological world for years. We use our tongues to remind ourselves of the promises of God. Basically we need to be talking the talk so we can walk what we're talking about and our obstacles can be removed. Too often we talk our molehills into mountains and then wonder why the valleys are so deep. When we externally process the negative in our lives, we actually dig our molehills deeper and we create our own trials and temptations. For example, if someone says you are stupid, and you repeat it to yourself, and you start believing you are stupid, you in turn will be forced to act stupid. In essence we recreate self-fulfilling prophecies that God never initiated and then believe He is putting us through trials that we actually invent.

Why? The tongue directs the whole body. "The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit."Proverbs 18:21. We will eat our words in life. These words will either nourish our souls or poison our hearts. What comes out of our mouths every day is what our souls eat. (See James 3 for more info).

That's why God gave Joshua so many prophetic words before he took the promised land. Be strong and courageous. Anywhere your foot steps will be your land. No man can stand against you all the days of your life. Do not turn from these words. The Book of the Law shouldn't depart from your mouth. Why? God knew Joshua needed to say these things over himself as he was going into literal battle so the enemy wouldn't defeat him in the spiritual battle that was waging against him.

So how do we do it?
1. The law (the Bible) and TRUTH will be in our mouths.
2. We need to meditate on it day and night.
3. We need to be careful to do what it says.

How do we meditate on it? Sing it. Say it. Muse over it. Ponder it. Process it. Talk to yourself about what God has talked to you about. Sing that over yourself. Use your tongue (out loud) to remind yourself what God has promised over you. Songs are just people's individual meditations. When we sing the Psalms we are singing David's meditations the prophetic words of David.

Has some one given you a word of encouragement? Speak that over your self. What does your name mean? That is a prophetic message about your identity!!! Speak that truth over yourself to fight against the enemy who wants to kill and steal and destroy your identity and who you were created to be.

OK, practical example. I will give you examples from my own life. My name, Julie, means "youthful one". HA! True, right? Ever youthful. Yup. That's me! 

Someone else once told me that my height in the physical is a representation of my height in the spiritual. God made me tall for a reason, to be tall. If I feel awkward because of my height, or when I'm around a lot of people who are significantly shorter than me and they are staring at me (like in San Jose central), I remind myself that God made me tall for a reason, to be an example and ambassador for HIM!!

About a year and a half ago, someone also spoke over me, from the Lord, that I will live an adventurous life. HAHA!! I cling to this word and take absolute delight in it! I love speaking this one over myself :)

Of course I also love speaking scripture over my life:

When I feel depressed or under attack, like everything in the world is going against me, like the world is out to get me and destroy me, I quote Luke 10:19: "I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you."

In those moments of temptation, be it big or small, like wanting to eat 6 pieces of chocolate cake or say a nasty word about some one, I remember 1 Corinthians 10:13: "No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it."

 Some times I think too much about what other people think of me. Am I doing things right in their eyes? What will they think of me if I offer to pray for them in the street? Do they think I'm too tall? Isaiah 2:22 is right there to remind me: "Stop trusting in mere humans, who have but a breath in their nostrils. Why hold them in esteem?" I then remind myself that my value and worth comes from God, and not from man. I don't need to worry about what they think of me because I know how God sees me.

How about when I feel like I'm no good. Like what I've done is too ugly for God and he's mad at me. Here come the lightning bolts!! No. Jeremiah 31:3 declares over ME: "I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness."

 Other truths that you, too, can pull out of your belt: We are loved. We are co-heirs with Christ!! Perfect love drives out fear, we have nothing to be afraid of. There is a plan and hope for our future. God will provide all of our needs. We have peace because Jesus literally IS peace and He is our peace!!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

November Harvest Hands Newsletter

 I originally wrote this for the November Harvest Hands newsletter. If you get the newsletter, this is a double. It is basically a recap of the last few months. Enjoy! 

The past few months have flown by in a blur. There is not enough time or room on the page to share everything that has happened lately. So this will be a short synopsis. August ended team season for the time being. We have three very unique teams in August. A new team from Manchester, New Hampshire. They helped build skate ramps for the skateboard ministry, painted the outside of the Casa Nueva, did crafts and art projects with the kids in the community, and established relationships and friendships with the people of Los Anonos. The team also partnered with Children Without Borders, the non-profit clinic in the community, for a trash pick-up day. The next team was also a first-time-team from the Roots Vineyard in Denver, Colorado. They were also joined by John Patrick from Grand Rapids, Michigan. The mostly medically based team taught CPR and first aide to members of Viña Anonos. Other projects included painting inside Adriana´s house, building another trash receptacle in the street, and healing ministry in downtown San Jose. We saw several people receive instant healing miracles, praise the Lord!! The final team came from our sister church in Managua, Nicaragua. What an amazing opportunity for a team to minister and bless our community in it´s native language! This team repaved the steps up to Doña Francisca´s house. They also lead worship with a distinctive Latin flair!

September brought many changes and transitions. The most significant came as Steve left his 2-year post as intern with Rodney and Cindy. The community will never be the same and his absence is deeply felt here. Thank you, Steve, for all your dedication and diligent work here in Los Anonos! Julie returned to the states for 3 weeks to visit family and raise support for the start of her second year as intern. The community was also visited by Lenny Hernandez and several others from the Mechanic Falls Vineyard. This trip focused on evangelism and connections in the community.
Rodney and Cindy were able to take advantage of some much needed rest with a month-long sabbatical to Maine in October.

Although November is only half way over, it has definitely been an intense month. Three separate suicides occurred in the Mangoes (the top part of the community on the opposite side of the river from the Harvest Hands house) all in the first week of the month. One of them was the son of a woman who had become part of our fellowship only months before. Even amidst tragedy, God is still moving and working: two men, who were family members of one of the first to commit suicide, accepted Christ as their Savior! Please pray for these families as they continue in their grief processes.
This month has also included the annual pastor´s reunion and another team from New Hampshire. Several pastors from supporting churches who regularly send teams were able to travel to Costa Rica for the meeting. The plans for the future of Viña Anonos, including the need for a Latin pastor, the mentoring/discipling of the members in the church, and additional uses for the Casa Nueva, were key discussions. Manchester, New Hampshire also sent a work team down to help fix roofs, make Christmas crafts with the ladies and children, and continue building relationships in the community.

Currently we are looking forward to American Thanksgiving, which will be celebrated here at the house with Gringos and Ticos alike. We are also anticipating our upcoming missions trip to Nicaragua. Work projects there include building a bathroom for the new Viña in Tipitapa, planning and having a Christmas party for the children in Tipitapa, and hosting an eye glass clinic where people can receive a free eye exam and eye glasses.

Prayer Requests:
Safe travels to Nicaragua
Continued freedom for the community from drug and alcohol addictions
A keyboard that can be borrowed or donated to Viña Anonos

Monday, November 14, 2011

Tico Times Top Story

iPhone app helps users talk Tico

Posted: Friday, November 11, 2011 - By Karla Arias Alvarado
Is there an app for that? Two Tico entrepreneurs have created an iPhone application that explains Costa Rican slang.
iPhone App
Alberto Font Montserrat Trigueros and Alejandro Azuola show off their new iPhone application that helps foreigners understand what Ticos are talking about.

At 28, Alejandro Azuola decided that it was time to go big.
Having studied computer engineering, Azuola knew that smartphone technology is a rapidly growing industry. Why not create an iPhone application as a first career move?

But which one?

Azuola’s girlfriend, Montserrat Trigueros, had an idea. The 27 year-old graduate in hotel management was in the car with Azuola after a night at the movies when it came to her: Create an app that explains and translates Costa Rican slang.

For Azuola, designing and programming an iPhone app was a completely new domain. Trigueros had her work cut out too – she needed to compile and translate all the Costa Rican slang she could find.

“Once we had the idea, we started planning and working hard. We got organized and basically gave up our social lives to dedicate ourselves entirely to the new project,” Azuola said.

He bought a MacBook, boned up on computer programming, paid Apple for the rights to an app and hired a lawyer. His total investment was $7,000.

“In this field you need to take risks to go beyond what the university teaches you. I needed to learn how to program for the sake of my career, so I did it. I invested my time and money, but I was ready to take a chance,” Azuola said.

For three months, Azuola studied programming books while Trigueros read everything she could find about Costa Rican slang. On Sept. 28, they launched Costa Rica Idioms.

For a penny less than a $1, users get a simple yet attractive application that lists 314 words in the Costa Rican lexicon. Some 200 words will be added by the end of the month. The app explains entries in Spanish and English, and offers an example sentence in both languages.

Costa Rica Idioms is an easy-to-use guide that helps foreigners sound like Ticos. Why ask for a cerveza in a bar, when you can ask for a birra? A quick browse helps users understand conversations about Chepe (San José), or learn how to say “I bumped my head” in Tico-speak (“Me dí un guamazo en la jupa”).

“People used to tell us that if we were lucky enough to sell 500 apps, [the project] would already be a success. But selling was not our main goal. This was our first project and [we were] learning how to create an app,” Trigueros said.

For not focusing much on selling, Trigueros and Azuola seem to be doing fine. In its first month, Costa Rica Idioms sold 5,000 times. Most users live in the United States, Canada and Europe. But sales also happened in Japan, Russia and Oman.

“Few Costa Ricans would pay for this app, so from a strictly business point of view it is important to target our app to people who would actually buy it,” Azuola said.

So what’s next for the young engineer and his enterprising girlfriend? Designing applications for iPads and Android smartphones. Those will be ready by January. Meanwhile, the two are already brainstorming on their next app.