Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Iglesia Bautista Reformada

So the other day I found and contacted one of the elders at the only Reformed Baptist Church in Costa Rica.  We talked for a while and then tonight he came all the way out to where we live on the other side of San José to pick up Tim, Joe and I and take us to their church prayer meeting.  It was so outstanding.  The elders and those that gathered for the prayer meeting were the most kind, humble and gracious people.  They went out of their way to welcome us and they prayed for us.  They have a love for biblical theology and the application of it is reflected in their love for Christ and their diligent pursuit after Him.  Their lives and actions actually reflect their beliefs.  It was so refreshing to find this body of believers.  They are helping us find transportation to their each Sunday, which is difficult because we have large families and live far away, but if we can find the transportation we will make the 45 minute trip each Sunday to get involved in an outstanding biblical church. 

The rather shocking news is that in a country of almost 5 million people there is only 1 Reformed Baptist Church in the entire country and this is it.  They have a goal to plant a Reformed Baptist church in each province in Costa Rica, which there are 7 but they do not have the laborers to even begin to move forward.  Where are the missionaries?  Huge opportunities for those who are willing to uproot themselves from the American Dream and live for Christ.  Check them out. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

December 2011 newsletter

My 1st Trimester class
To check out what has been going on with our family lately, read our December Newsletter.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

A few pictures of our barrio

I thought I would share some pictures of the places that we visit on a regular basis to give you a visual on our daily life in Costa Rica.

This is a typical route that we take from our house.  The sidewalks are always broken and torn up and there are usually many gringo traps to avoid.

Gringo trap
This is a typical gringo trap, which is an open sewer hole that ranges from 3 to 7 feet in depth.  Not a good thing to fall into one when running from a car.

Killillay at the Feria
This the big market (Feria) by the bull fighting arena that we buy all of our fruit and vegetables from.  Lately we have been buying everything at a smaller Feria closer to our house but they are basically offer the same thing but the big one is more competitive.  Although food at the Feria is pretty cheap.  I bought a pineapple today for 80 cents.

Lavacar good
So this is the chicken place by our house that we buy chickens from frequently.  It is funny because the place is called "Lava car chiken."  This is a car wash/chicken roaster.  The place is a little hole in the wall but they try to attract gringo's like us by putting their sign in English but they spelled chicken wrong and the fact that it is a car wash as well doesn't help business.  We, however, love the place and they make a great fire roasted chicken.

Our mini "whitehorse inn"
This is the little soda, which is a little neighborhood restaurant that sells casados, that we meet in daily during our break to write our doctrinal statement and other church documents for our future Peruvian church plants.  We have spent many hours drinking coffee and discussing the finer points of doctrine, and we have thoroughly enjoyed every minute.


This is a typical casado, which is the staple food for Costa Ricans.  It is sold at all the sodas and typically consists of rice, beans, fried plantains, bread and a meat.  They are filling and pretty cheap.  (about $3-4)

Our bread store
This is the bread store that is a few hundred feet from our house.  We buy great bread here all the time.  It is open 24 hours a day for some reason so we always get bread right out of the oven.  They also make the best cinnamon rolls which come out of the oven at exactly 4pm.  Raegan seems to like the giant doughnuts that they make which are the size of her face.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The glory in being crushed by God

I´m learning what God does with everyone, in one way or another, in their first year on the mission field.  Simply what He does is expose everything that is easily hidden in your life in America and then deal with it.  We, like so many of the families down here, have been going through a continued string of various trials.  It seems that God is exposing a great majority of our individual weaknesses, which are crushing, and then teaching us much about us and His character and grace. 

I had one of those milestone moments of being crushed by God today, but in a glorious way.  To start off, God is teaching me of my inability to do anything.  Back in the States I had no problems sharing the gospel with anyone.  Having shared the gospel with enough people on the street that I almost never heard a new argument, I simply knew how to answer almost every question I got on the street with Scripture.  But it is different down here.  The language and cultural barrier are much more enormous than I even imagined.  As my friend Joe and I were sharing the gospel with a man on the street yesterday and the man had some very messed up beliefs that I could easily straighten out in English but not in Spanish.  It is very humbling that I can´t explain simple truths to a man standing in front of me and I then have to leave him on the street with a tract.  Taking comfort in the fact that God is Sovereign is a load off my shoulders but none the less, it is still frustrating that I can´t get all the information in my brain out of my mouth.

Then, through various trials, God revealed yet another weakness in me.  With everything going on, I always am the one in the family that is stable in trials and thinks clearly.  This became expected and as I trusted in my ability to lead my family biblically, raise my kids biblically, handle trials biblically, pray biblically and on and on, I found that I was utterly failing.  Not that I was doing these outward things contrary to the bible but I was depending on my ability to do these things and not God´s ability to change the hearts of others and myself.  The burden that I placed on myself to hold everything together (even though I had an intellectual understanding that God was holding everything together) grew greater and greater until I couldn´t bear it anymore.  This was the point of God crushing me yesterday.  I experienced that I couldn´t hold anything together. 

God opened my eyes to see what I had been doing, I talked with Kim for a long time, which God used Kim in this to bring me comfort.  I repented and gave the heavy burden to my Savior who´s burden is light.  I had such a weight lifted off me and so much joy.  I expeirenced so much through this trial (which I left out a lot of detail) about myself and God, grew spiritually in a giant leap and learned how important, valuable, and indispensible that my wife is to me.  I learned and experienced that Kim and I are both so dependent on God for absolutely sustaining all things and that God made us one flesh to continually bear each others burdens, encourage each other, hold each other accountable and to point each other to Christ and the gospel.

The trials in the last 3 months have been hard but so glorious.  I have never been more dependent on or satisfied with my glorious Savior. 

Christ has regarded my helpless estate and He has shed His own blood for my soul!

Monday, December 5, 2011

At the post office in Costa Rica

I spent over an hour at the post office in Zapote, Costa Rica simply trying to get two care packages that were mailed.  Here is a fine example of how things are done in Costa Rica.  It went like this:

1.  Walk to the post office with my friend Joe who is fluent in Spanish.
2.  Show passport to the guard who stamped my papers that said I had a package waiting.
3.  Wait in line #3 until it was my turn.  Give the slip to the guy; show passport again; sit down and wait for line #1
4.  Wait for 20 minutes for my name to be called, talked with a German who spoke broken English.
5.  Name is called, go to line #1, sign two papers and write down my passport number.
6.  The boxes were then opened and looked through.  Food was found and a glorious bag of Starbucks French roast coffee (2.5 lbs)
7.  This was not acceptable because of the new rule that food is not allowed in the country without special paperwork.  They have been nabbing people for smuggling chocolate into the country lately, you know, because it is so dangerous.
8.  Man tells us that we are to go to downtown San Jose and explain our situation and get a permission slip.
9.  This isn't going to happen with us so Joe elegantly talks with the guys and tells them our story, not quite sobbing but it got the point across.
10.  Guy at line #1 calls his boss over.  Joe gives the same story.  They fell bad and decide that the rules can slide this time.  After all, we are not smuggling bombs into the country, only candy and coffee.
11.  Our boxes are taken away and we fill out more paper work.
12.  Go to the bank in the post office with a slip of paper we were given and pay 7 cents for something.
13.  Bring it back to line #1.  Guy gives us more paper work for line #2.
14.  Go to line #2 and pay 3 dollars.
15.  Wait for my name to be called again for line #1.
16.  Name is called.  Go to line #1 and fill out more paper work and show passport.
17.  Finally given our 2 boxes after 1 1/2 hours. 

Now that is efficiency.  So for all our friends in the States, think about this the next time you complain about waiting in line at the post office. 

I have no idea why these packages got stopped and others did not but for future care packages, we were told that when filling out the customs slip, don't put specific foods.  Just put something more vague.  This whole process, however, was so worth the great care packages.  Thank you so much.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Day 105 - Milestone

Well, we have reached another milestone in our life as we finish our first trimester of language school in Costa Rica.  Spanish is progressing, the school is outstanding, I have learned a lot and above all I have used the Spanish that I know a lot more than I ever could have back home.  In our day to day life, I use Spanish for 4 hours a day at school and with homework and just living and functioning here, I am forced to stretch myself all the time.  I finished the trimester with good grades and am much more comfortable using and listening to the language which is encouraging because I think Spanish is starting to sink in.

We have learned a lot more than Spanish in our 3 1/2 months in Costa Rica.  So much has happened and we have grown so much spiritually through trials, adaptations, culture, language, and new friends.  Life is going by fast and foreign has become familiar.  I have to say that I have never had more joy.  It seems that this is what I was made for and I can't imagine ever doing anything but being a foreign missionary.  I thank God for this enormous privilege.  I was chosen to be one of the chaplains for the language school next trimester, while Killillay will by the vice president of the student council.  Killillay and I as well as a few others were chosen to develop a doctrinal statement that students that participate in chapel will have to agree to.  The second trimester promises more Spanish and more ministry and more of our favorite days in Joel's office discussing theology over a cup of the best coffee Costa Rica has to offer.

We had a great time with Kim's sister Kristin and her husband Tobin.  We are so thankful that they got us out of the city to hang out at the beach with them for several days.  We had good adventures and many memorable experiences.