Sunday, February 22, 2009

Crusade in Jacó

This past weekend we went to Jacó for the first time since we have been in country.  It was an amazing visit and made us even more excited to get there in the next few months.  We went to be a part of a city-wide crusade that the church was a part of hosting.  The Conquerors, a Christian strength team from Michigan, came to do their strength demonstrations in 4 schools and then the big crusade on Friday night.  It was incredible!  The show was great and their testimonies were powerful as they told of their lives before Christ (drugs, stealing, prison, etc).  They could really relate to many of the locals in Jacó.  This is the first crusade of this kind in the city and there were about 1,000 people in attendance at the local park.  Hundreds prayed to receive Christ as their personal Lord and was AMAZING!  There were prostitutes and homosexuals and those who are just living in the dark who declared that they wanted to turn from these sinful lifestyles and begin a relationship with Jesus.  After a time of corporate prayer, volunteers swarmed through the crowd of people who came forward to receive Christ and each person was prayed for individually and many were set free for the first time.  It was a beautiful time in the Lord.  "The Book of Hope" and salvation bracelets were handed out to each person at the end of the night.  God's presence was so strong during the night.  As soon as the strength show began, a rainbow appeared over the park....what a beautiful promise the Lord gave us as we began.  Then, as one of the team members began sharing the Gospel, a dove flew over the park!  It was so incredible!  God showed Himself in so many tangible ways Friday night and we were more than blessed!  What is so great about all of this is that now there is a church that can follow up with those who gave their lives to Christ and can begin discipling those who really are serious about growing in their faith.  When were here in 2004 on a short term missions trip, there was no church to plug people into so this is exciting!  We are excited about getting to be a part of helping with the follow up for many of the people who are beginning a new life in Christ!!!  

We attended church this morning at Calvary Christian Fellowship Jacó, the church we are going to be serving with after language school.  Mike, the Pastor there, introduced us and we were so blessed to be able to worship with those we will soon be serving!
Here are a few pictures from Friday night!!

Thanks for all of your continued prayers.  Please pray specifically for the following:

1.  Our language study--for clarity and that it would "stick" 
2. Our family's health--many have been sick and have been missing school
3. Our family's safety--many have been robbed at gunpoint so we are constantly on guard
4. For the people of Jacó and all those who gave their hearts to Jesus this past weekend

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Giving your Best

As we have written before, God is giving us opportunities daily to minister to others in need.  We have been so blessed to do His work and look forward to serving "the least of these."  Friday afternoon was no exception, though I (Daniel) learned a huge lesson in humility, sacrifice and service to others.  We were home late Friday afternoon when a young girl (around 20 yrs old) came to our front gate and called for us to come out.  She began asking us for things in Spanish so Sarah came out to see what she needed.  She had 2 kids with her and told us that she had 2 more at home.  She then began asking us for food or anything else we could give because they had no food.  She even asked us for a baby bottle.  Sarah and I went to the kitchen and agreed immediately without hesitation that we needed to give her food and diapers.  The Lord put James 2:15-17 on our hearts immediately.  It says "If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and be filled," and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?  Even so, faith if it has no works, is dead, being by itself."

In the mean time, Thomas was asking us who was at the gate and what they wanted.  We explained to him that this family did not have any food and Mommy and Daddy were going to give them some food and diapers for the baby.  We packed a bag of food for her, gave her the rest of the diapers we had and went down to the gate to talk to her more.  We found out her name is Elena and her 2 children were Aaron and Ariel.  As we were talking, Thomas came and got me and said he wanted to give the little boy some of his toys.  I went with him to get them and he immediately picked out his favorite toy-- a Spiderman figure.  His Aunt Anne gave it to him for Christmas this past year and he plays with it all the time.  I tried to talk him into giving another toy just thinking that I would be preventing possible issues later when he truly realized it was gone.  He picked out 2 other toys and took them to the boy.  The boy was so excited to get toys and thanked us over and over.  As Sarah talked to Elena, little Ariel devoured 2 of the bananas that we had given them--he was so hungry.  After talking with Elena for a while, Sarah asked if she could pray for them and she agreed.  About that time Thomas came down with the Spiderman in hand and walked right over to the boy and gave it to him.  I was immediately convicted like never before as my son desired to give his favorite toy ("his best") to this little boy and I had tried to convince him otherwise.  As the family walked away blessed, the thought hit me--am I not willing to give my best?  With tears in my eyes I escaped to the bathroom to cry tears of repentance.  "Lord, I haven't given my best, I've held back and I'm sorry."  Then the thought came to me, what if God didn't give His best?  In the Old Testament, not just any sacrifice would do--it had to be a perfect, spotless sacrifice--"the best."  And this is what God gave to us in sending His Son, Jesus, to die for us...HIS BEST... 

As Christians, we should follow our Heavenly Father's example and give our best to those in need.  James 1 says as we are doers of God's Word, He will bless us in all we do (verse 25).   Verse 27 ends with "Pure and undefiled  religion in the sight of our God and Father is this:  to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world."  Please join us in praying for Elena and so many others like her here in Costa Rica who have physical and spiritual needs. 

Here is a picture of Sarah with Elena and her boys:

                                                                                Sarah telling Thomas how proud she is of him for                                                                                   giving his favorite toy away...

Thursday, February 5, 2009

A Special Gift For Our Family

During our first week here, we began praying that the Lord would give us opportunities to minister to people here while we are in language school.  He has blessed us already in this area by allowing Daniel to lead worship at chapel, to speak at chapel (very soon) and to teach this Saturday evening at the International Youth Group here in San Jose.  He has also given us a huge opportunity to minister to a lady named Concepcion.  Concepcion is a "Tica" in her late 50's who is our empleada--basically she helps us around the house a few times a week.  The school provides help for the students for a VERY minimal (too minimal) cost with things such as housework, cooking and helping with children at times so that we are really able to focus on studying the language in addition to caring for a family and all of the other responsibilities we have here.  This also provides work for extremely poor single women who are desperate to have a job to provide for their families.  Concepcion has been such a blessing to our family and in return we are able to bless her!  She has been helping us for 2 weeks so far and she is already a part of the family.  Thomas and Jacob love her and when she is here she teaches them Spanish.  She is also like a personal tutor for us as she helps us with homework and teaches us new words all the time.  She also constantly corrects everything we say which is a big help!  She is a Christian (which is rare for older "Ticas") and she truly is a treasure!  

As I said before we have been praying that the Lord would use us to minister to people while we are in school.  Well, last week Concepcion was at our home when we got home from school.  I asked her how she was and she began crying as she told me about her mother in Guatemala who is dying of mouth cancer.  She has not seen her in many years and she got a call the day before from a friend of the family that her mom is about to die.  She wanted so badly to be able to go and visit her mother one last time before she dies but she can't afford to go and she is worried that if she goes she won't have any work when she returns.  Immediately I felt like the Lord told me that we were to send her to Guatemala to visit her mom.  I can't imagine not being able to visit my mom as she is tore me up inside.  Daniel and I prayed about it and checked bus and air fares and flying was going to be a lot cheaper and quicker.  We told her that the Lord told us to send her to visit her mother (such a minimal expense for us and so worth the sacrifice!!) and she was overwhelmed to the point that she kept trying to get on her knees to thank us.  She didn't know what to say.  She didn't understand how people she had only known for 2 weeks would help her with something that, to her, was such a HUGE and IMPOSSIBLE endeavor.  I was able to share with her how we are all part of the body of Christ and we are called to provide for one another in need.  I think we were more blessed to be able to help her than she was.  She was just praising the Lord in our kitchen and we had the privilege of praying over her before she left.  She is now there with her mother and will be for 2 weeks.  Please join us in praying for Concepcion as she is with her mother during her last days. What a small part we were able to play yet it meant the world to her.  Jesus said, "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this:  to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." James 1:27  We are so thankful for the honor of being able to serve "the least of these" who are so special to our Lord! He loves us all just the same!!!   Below are a few pictures of Concepcion with the boys...

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Volcán Irazú

Yesterday we took advantage of the beautiful weather and clear skies and spent our family day at a volcano.  Volcano Irazu is about an hour from where we live and it was breathtaking!  At the bottom of the main crater there is a lime green lake so it was an amazing site!  Thomas and Jacob had a lot of fun collecting little lava rocks and climbing on the bigger ones.  The drive up the mountain was just as enjoyable as the actual volcano because of all the green farmland and beautiful flowers.  We really enjoyed spending time as a family outside of the walls of our home. We have so much schoolwork to do each day so by the end of the week we are exhausted and ready to spend some "fun" family time with the boys.  The following are a few pictures from our adventure:                                       This was a "slum" area that we passed on the way