We don't even know where to start except to say THANK YOU so very much for your prayers and finances to make it possible for these 17 youth to go to Youth Camp for the first time! To say it was life changing for these youth is an understatement and God far exceeded our expectations as to all that He did this last week in and through them. The theme of the camp was "Seeing clearly through the eyes of Jesus" and the analogy of sunglasses vs transparent glasses. Each of them received their own glasses and I really believe the theme hit home as we saw many pray to receive Christ as their personal Lord and Savior, some for the first time. We literally saw the "blinders" falling off as these precious kids understood the Word of God and their need for Him. The youth participated in hiking to waterfalls, repelling, climbing rock walls, completing ropes courses, etc. They worshiped with 100 other youth from San Jose each night and were fed God's Word daily through small groups, personal devotional time and corporate teaching. In our small groups, we taught them how to look up Bible Verses on their own and what it means to have a personal devotional/quiet time with the Lord. More than this, we were able to pour into them the love of Christ, the importance of serving one another and seeing themselves through the eyes of Jesus. We could not have been more proud of our precious group! They were the first ones to take plates to the kitchen after meals; they volunteered extra time to wash dishes; they cleaned the bathrooms on the last day; they served one another with joyful hearts! We saw God working in MIRACULOUS ways before our very eyes! YOUR PRAYERS were so vital during this entire week and we so appreciate you praying fervently!
One of our youth is 17 years old and has been in and out of orphanages all his life. His mom is a drug addict/prostitute here on the streets of Jaco. This youth now lives in a home in INVU and has been coming to Youth Group since the beginning. He can't read because he has never really been in school on a regular basis. He has 5 older brothers that live in other parts of Costa Rica so he never sees them. On Tuesday night, before dinner he came and sat down with us and began to weep uncontrollably. Because he is one of our "tough on the outside" students we were surprised to see him fall apart literally in our arms. As we began to talk to him, the other kids began to surround him, embrace him and love on him. Even another small group leader from San Jose that he had connected with came over and embraced him. Through this he shared that he missed having a family. We really believe this is the first time he has ever felt the love of Christ in such a strong way and it touched him in a way that maybe the love of family was something he always desired though never had. We encouraged him as his family in Christ and have seen such a change in him since that night. Walls came crashing down and he has a new found confidence in the love that Christ has for him. It is more than amazing to see God working in such major ways!! What is more, before leaving camp he asked me if he could borrow my camera and he went around and took a picture with each person that he had connected with. He then wanted to look at the pictures over and over again. Such a victory for the Lord here!!!
We could go on and on with story after story of all that the Lord did this week! It was one of the most special times of ministry we have ever had---like a mom experiencing so many "firsts" with a new baby. What a special time to be able to share in so many "spiritual firsts" with these kids!!
I assure you that your finances and prayers were not in vain! God did exceedingly more than we could have ever hoped or imagined! Saying that, please continue to pray for these kids as you are led. Sixteen of them live in INVU and are really uniting to grow in Christ together, but the enemy will be working overtime to steal, kill and destroy whatever he can with these youth. Please continue to intercede on their behalf as we are all in this battle together!
In closing, on the last night the girls got together and wrote us a long note thanking us for everything. They left it on our bed and were so excited for us to read it. Of course we cried and cried with them! Well, today we got home from church and 4 of the boys were at our gate with a letter that they had written thanking us as well. Of course we cried again, but I cannot tell you how touched to the core we were by how thankful these kids were for investing in them. We are truly just following the Lord's leading in ministering to them, but to see the response of thanksgiving just overwhelms us to a point of utter humility and unworthiness. The following is a translated excerpt from one of the letters:
"On behalf of all the youth we thank you so much for giving us the opportunity to go to camp. It was an amazing experience and we learned so much about how to unite not only as a team but as a family. For real, with all of our hearts we thank you for being so special to us and loving us in an incredible way. We don't just thank you for taking us to camp but also for how you treat us, help us and teach us in youth group. You both have taught us the value of honesty, sincerity, mutual respect and most importantly the love of God. Thank you for leading us down the correct path and for being an example of loving God to us. We love you so much..."
We share this with you because you are part of this team---making this ministry happen---letting the Lord work through you in whatever role you play and we are more than blessed by all of you!
Thanks again for everything and God bless you all!
We are taking 17 of our youth to a Christian Camp in the mountains next week. We are super excited as are they and we have been busy raising funds to go. On Tuesday, we gathered at our house to bake brownies, cupcakes and wash cars and we had a blast! The kids were so excited to go out and sell and they raised $300!!! We were so proud of them for working so hard and we look forward to camp next week with them. Please pray for us--for them--for their hearts--that the Lord would touch each one of these precious youth and change their lives!
This is Bethany, our precious intern, that has been serving with us these past few weeks. She was in our youth group in Lexington before the Lord called us here to Jaco. She has been such a joy and we have been so blessed by her being here with us! We love you Bethany!!!
We have accepted God's call on our lives to serve the people of Jaco, Costa Rica. We are ministering to the locals here through kids clubs, youth group, Bible Studies, mission teams, etc. We are excited about all that God is doing in and through us as we "do life" with those the Lord brings into our lives. We love serving here and are so humbled that the Lord chose to place us here to share the Gospel with those who are lost.
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