Tuesday, July 31, 2012

August prayer requests:

I can´t believe July is almost over!! Where has the time gone?? Oh, yeah, to children's ministry, eye glass clinics, hauling rocks and building retention walls, to painting murals and holding babies, to Princess Club and Bible studies, to worship nights and sweet ministry times, to prayer and seeing Jesus heal people. July was a month of victory for the Kingdom!!!!! Now it's time for a new chapter!!!

Team season is coming to an end. August is the last month of our heaviest team season with two more teams coming to partner with us in Anonos. This next team, from Virginia, is hosting an eye glass clinic in the highly unreached, jungle area of Costa Rica called Talamanca. They are partnering with Viña Anonos and another local missions group. There are still people in that area who have never heard the gospel. Join us in prayer for not only giving the people in that area the ability to see physically, but spiritually as well. At the end of their trip they will also be hosting a church youth camp. Approximately 20 of our teens will be going with the team to a camp. Pray for this camp that the youth would experience God in a new and fresh way and that they would come home with a new passion for things of the kingdom!!  Our last team in August is from the New Life Church in Columbus. We will be working on construction projects around Anonos as well as several other projects as yet to be determined :) 

August also marks the last month of my time in Anonos. I will be coming home on September 1. Pray for this transition!!!! It is going to be hard for me to leave, and yet I am excited to come home. Pray for endurance through the last of the work here as well as lots of peace in my move. Pray for the two new interns, Jessie and Shannon, as they begin working in the community and learning how God will use their individual gifts and talents to bless the people here. Also continue to pray for the new discipleship house that Les and Diana are leading. We have worship nights there every other Saturday and have had up to 30 people from the community gathering in one voice. It is amazing to see people singing in both English and Spanish and pressing in to the presence of the Lord. 

Thank you for all of your prayers and support over the last 2 years. It has been a blessing to me, Rodney and Cindy, and the community of Anonos. I look forward to tell you about it person next month!!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Typical Sunday in Costa Rica

For those of you who are not on facebook, and have not seen my most recent posts, I thought I would give you a little taste of what Sundays are like in Costa Rica. This Sunday was...extraordinary. It was rainy and cold when we got up...so much so that I changed out of the cute dress I had on into a pair of pants with three layers of shirts and a pair of gloves. Brrrrr. No time for fashion when it's chilly here!!! I went down to the church early, like usual, to set up. Of course what greeted me in the back yard was no early morning solitude. It was, in fact, a very large chicken that could not get out. I spent the next 25 minutes chasing the thing around the backyard (it mostly hung out by the stove....yes, I noted the irony...). She ended up in the house (again, mostly in the kitchen) and then ended up under a stack of kiddie chairs. Tito fortunately came it at that moment and was able to capture the chicken and release her over the back wall. Quite the adventures in Costa Rica!! I just so happened to have my camera and documented the spontaneous moment:

And in case you wanted to see it live....here's the video........

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Born To Be_____.

I was born to be a missionary. When I asked my mom if she was sitting down so I could tell her I was moving to Costa Rica to be a missionary she retorted, "Julie, I bore you and I raised you. Did you think that would surprise me?" She then reminded me that when I was 18 I told her if I was in my late 20's and still single I was going to move overseas to do missions. Ok. I get it.

I have loved every minute of my time here in Costa Rica. I have learned so much about myself, the world at large, and the Kingdom of God. I have learned new skills (like cutting hair and crocheting) and learned that I am not so good at other things (like using a machete or chucking coconuts over very tall fences). I have kissed more dirty, snotty nosed faces (both children and adult....) than I can count. My eyes have seen people healed of physical pain and my heart has rejoiced over emotional wounds on the mend. Countless faces have passed through the doors of our house with innumerable stories still left to be told. New friends were made (and added to facebook, hahaha) and life-long friendships have been established.

But now I am moving home. I am in transition. And the next generation of women born to be missionaries are filling in the places yet untouched in this community. They are joining in the work that God started long before I got here, where the foundation was laid by Rodney and Cindy and all the other interns who came before me who were also born to be missionaries.
Once upon a time there were men born to be kings. Two that come to mind are David and Hezekiah. David because he was THE man after God's own heart. He was chosen as a boy and I think more is written about him than any one else. He fills up so much of the old testament and is referred to frequently in the new. Hezekiah because the Bible says there was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him. He basically had what we refer to as the Midas touch. Everything he touched turned to gold.

What has been most striking to me these days is the legacy these kings left to the next generation of kings.

David obviously mentored his son well. He taught him everything he knew about being a king. He prepared his son to take over where he left off. He even made provisions for his son to build a bigger and better kingdom, as well as a temple for the Lord. David instilled in Solomon such a hunger and desire for wisdom and bettering the kingdom for the sake of the people, that when God appeared to Solomon to give him anything he desired, Solomon chose the very thing his father, David, had told him to ask for (see Proverbs 4:3).

David left a legacy for Solomon's generation to go deeper in the Lord and enter into areas of the Kingdom of God that David knew he would never be able to see.

Hezekiah, however, didn't leave such a hot legacy. Hezekiah was ill, deathly ill. But he asked God to spare his life. So God granted him 15 more years of life, and to prove it, God made the sun actually move backwards (2 Kings 20). After Hezekiah recovered, he apparently let it get to his head, and he showed off everything he owned to the neighboring king of Babylon, in a bragging, prideful kind of way. This was a major no-no. It basically showed his hand to the other kingdom, which the prophet Isaiah then prophesied that Babylon would take away everything from Hezekiah's kingdom, but not until after his death. Hezekiah was grateful for that little piece of knowledge and settled back to live the last of his days in peace, comfort, and prosperity. Only apparently he forgot to tell his son where all of that peace, comfort, and prosperity came from, because his son, Manasseh, was one of the worst, most sinful kings in history.

Hezekiah did not leave a legacy for Manasseh at all. Manasseh strayed far from the teaching of his father and I have to wonder how much of a relationship they even had.

So here I am, leaving the mission field here in Anonos for several new missionaries to come in behind. What kind of a legacy do I want to leave them? What kind of legacy have I paved the way for? I pray, and I ask you to join in prayer with me, that the legacy that is left behind is one that continues to further the Kingdom. I pray that the missionaries who come behind me see even more of the riches of the kingdom of God than I did during my time here.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Princess Club: The Teen Years

As anyone who has been down here knows, there are a whole ton of dudes that are a part of our fellowship. Pipo, Randall, Kevin, Nanis, Dago, David, Tito, Kliber, Jason, etc., etc. Teams get to know these guys and work alongside them for a variety of projects and ministries. Fewer, though, are the names of the dudettes. 

In the history of the ministry here, when Rodney and Cindy first came to work in Anonos, the teen girls were very much a part of the daily ministry here. They even had their own group that met with a woman, Rosa, once a week. However long before I came down, something happened and the girls were scattered.

Monica and her 2-month-old, Leidy
The teenage girl group here has been relatively untouched. They are a hard group to break into. They keep to themselves and, as with any community, have their pre-established cliques. The majority of them become pregnant between 14- and 16-years-old and become sequestered into the life of motherhood. 

We as a church are working hard to regain the territory that has been lost. Last year I started a teenage Princess Club during their school break. It worked very well and had about 20 girls that were involved. With the return of school, though, it was hard to find a time when everyone could meet. In spite of that, about 5 girls have braved the strange, often smelly frontier that is the male-dominated youth group at Viña Anonos.

In an effort to draw even more girls in, the Manchester team planned an ice cream social. A meet-and-greet with the sole purpose of inviting the girls in. Next week we are going to have a pizza party and have a panel discussion about relationships. The hope is to get these girls connected to one another, to form friendships and a support network, to help them meet Jesus in a new, fresh way, and to break down the barriers that keep them from connecting into the church community. Please join with us in prayer as we reach out and draw in these beautiful princesses. 

Jendry and her son, Neytan

Tutis and Rachel may have gotten a BIT carried away with the whipped cream....

Girls just wanna have fun!!!

Princess Club: Gentleness

"But the fruit of the Spirit is....gentleness."

In the Princess Club we've talked a lot about the words we use on a daily basis. The Bible says that our words have the power of life and death. With our mouths we can bless or curse and the Lord will bless or curse based off of what comes out of us. We can use our mouths to encourage or to make others feel really bad about themselves. 

Proverbs 15:1 says,
"A gentle answer turns away wrath,
    but a harsh word stirs up anger."

Part of the fruit of gentleness comes through with our words. Every time some one asks you to do something or tell you something, you can chose to respond in 1 of 2 ways: with a gentle answer or with a harsh response.

To illustrate this, I took 2 inflated balloons. I had the girls ask me a question. The first time I answered, I answered harshly and violently popped the balloon. I had the girls ask me the same question again, but the second time I snipped the end of the balloon to let the air out gently. Same question, two different responses. I gave the girls each two balloons and let them do the experiment, too. Here's a sneak peak clip into what we did :)

When we were finished popping balloons, we made cards that had little girls on them with mouths that open and shut. In each mouth was the word "suave" or "gentle". The girls thought they looked like chickens, but they had fun decorating them any way!!!!!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Website Geniuses

Do you ever find a website that you absolutely fall in love with?? The other day my friend, Natalia, gave me the heads up for a website. The theme?? Single-serving microwave desserts. GENIUS!! I discovered 3-minute Microwave Chocolate Cakes a few months ago, and they have become the amusement of many late-night shenanigans with teams :) Now thanks to this website, my single-serving dessert creations are ENDLESS!!! You'll have to come on a team to partake...or check out the website for yourself.


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Grand Rapids

God is an infinitely creative God. There are no limits to what He can imagine or create. Why shouldn't we reflect this as individuals? One of my favorite parts of hosting teams is seeing the diversity of gifts and talents that God places in individuals and how He chooses to use them here on the mission field. It's amazing how different our passions and hobbies are. They are as unique as snowflakes and fingerprints.

As you know there are two new young ladies, Jessie and Shannon, who have committed to serving for a year here in Costa Rica. Jessie's mom decided to come on this trip. She brought along with her the extraordinary talent of floral design, which interestingly enough was actually first shared here in the community over two years ago by her same daughter, Jessie. 

Like mother like daughter, the women used this talent to invite women into creating beauty out of chaos. Gerrie taught the women how to look at some of God's most frivolous creations and turn them into magnificent centerpieces to brighten their homes. Each woman was taught how to make three different kinds of floral arrangements.

This class had the obvious purpose of teaching the women a skill that may help them get a job. It served a deeper purpose of allowing the women to enjoy fellowship and camaraderie with one another in a peaceful, stress-free environment (did I mention they had child care!!!! What a blessing for these moms to have a few hours to have adult time!!!!). It also provided a venue for Tammy, another woman on the team, to share her incredible testimony of the grace of God in her life and open the women's hearts to the heart of our Father God.  Her story resonated with every women who attended and left most in tears. Through something as simple as a flower class, God opened the doors into their hearts and engaged the women in some extremely powerful ministry time. Gerrie, Tammy, and the other women on the team were able to speak truth into the lives of the women here and show them that they are just like the flowers they were arranging. Our lives some times look like mass chaos, flowers strewn about; but God sees how each of the events in our lives can be arranged into a fragrant masterpiece. 

There is no gift, talent, or passion that cannot be used for the Kingdom of Heaven if we are willing to allow God to have His way in our lives.
PS I did kind of feel like Snow White and the dwarves in the picture :)  Just sayin'


Sometimes I just like quotes. Just because.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Princess Club: Fruit of the Spirit: Faithfulness

The fruits of the Spirit are well under way!! This week was the fruit of faithfulness (Ana Laura taught last week on goodness and kindness because I was with the teens at the church camp). 

Deuteronomy 7:9
New International Version (NIV)
Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.
Being faithful is like keeping a promise to do something. Have you ever promised to do something? What are some things you've promised to do? Like, "I promise I'll do my homework, just give me five more minutes to play...or, I'll clean my room, just let me watch five more minutes of TV..." We promise not to lie. Not to steal. We promise not to fight with our siblings. Adults make promises, too. Like when they get married, which is a promise to be faithful for their lives.

God also made a big promise to us. All throughout history He made promises to us. Like with Noah. Remember the story of the flood? Once the waters settled down, God promised never to flood the earth again. He sent a rainbow to seal that promise. We are reminded every time we see the rainbow of God's promise and He remembers, too. He promised Abraham and Sarah a baby. He promised Moses he would deliver the Israelites from slavery. 
He made a promise to us, too. He promised us eternal life through Jesus. He promises that when we believe and trust in Him, He is faithful to remember His promise to us. He is faithful to forgive and forget our sins when we ask him and he is faithful to call us his princesses!
How can we remember his promise to us? By faithfully reading his Word, praying to him, talking to him, loving others, and sharing about him to others.
We talked through the verse from Deuteronomy while the girls made bracelets that said "Faithful" on them to remind them of God's promise to them.

Gerrie Morgan, from the Grand Rapids team, taught three days of floral design to the women and teenage girls in the community. With some of the left over flowers, she taught the girls how to make beautiful bouquets. The girls were THRILLED!!!!