Sunday, March 22, 2009

It's A Girl!

We’ve adopted our first Costa Rican child… of the canine persuasion. About two weeks ago, we stumbled upon “Meet Your Dog!” – a dog rescue facility that is a few miles outside of San Ramón. We’ve been praying about getting a dog, but struggled with the idea of spending money on one. God answered our prayers through Helene Wirt and the FREE adoption of her dogs. We met Helene and all 80+ dogs, but a 30 pound black and brown mutt chose us. Lina, formally Carolina, joined our family and has been a great playmate for the girls and an extra “ear” for Marillyn while Jon is away. We are especially blessed by our adoption of Lina because she is in a sense our first animal rescue! She embodies our desire to rescue horses and youth here in Costa Rica.

“And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19 (NLT)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Salsa de Tomate

After a five month hiatus from the blog, it’s time to play catch-up (click on pictures to enlarge):

Jon, Marillyn, Naomi and Tabitha have been without Marillyn’s parents since the middle of January. Wayne and Brooke returned to the United States to raise support for Wayne’s work with Intensive Care ministries. (They return to Costa Rica March 17th). Marillyn completed 24 years in December and Jon finished 32 in March. Naomi is two-and-a-half and Tabi hit 6 months.

The Beards are one-step closer to citizenship; they were awarded Costa Rican residency in February. They await their final appointment for official approval in a few months! Praise the Lord.

We moved from the hot and humid beaches of Jacó to the cool and fresh mountains of San Ramón. San Ramón can be found about an hour north-west of San Jose, CR’s capital city. San Ramón is a picture perfect Costa Rican city with a central park, a humungous Catholic church, the University of Costa Rica’s western extension campus, a professional soccer team (who happens to be in first place), multiple one way streets (where pedestrians take their lives into their own hands) and hillsides covered with coffee plantations. View our house on Google Earth: 10° 4'55.02"N & 84°28'8.46"W

Our goal is to create the horse / youth rescue facility. In the meantime, Jon has taken an English teaching position in a private high school: Colegio Bilingüe San Ramon. He teaches sixth grade through eleventh grade, Monday through Friday and has eight different classes to prepare throughout the week. (The weekly schedule is similar to that of a college; for example, Jon teaches 8th grade Reading and Writing Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday for 80 minutes each day).

Why teach? God opened the door for a tent-making opportunity. Tent-making is simply using one’s vocational skills to work while also serving in the mission field. Our prayer is that during this time God will grant us favor with the community and begin to open doors for the foundation of Rancho Oasis for Youth.

We have also been involved with a local Christian church in San Ramón called Olivo Verde Comunidad Cristiana. A few weeks after our arrival in Costa Rica, we begin a friendship with the pastor of Olivo Verde.
Pastor Federico has been a great resource for us and a good friend. This also helped with our decision to move to San Ramón.

Here's our prayer needs! [NOTE: Please click on it]

March 15th Prayer Needs

1. Re-adjusting to living with Marillyn’s parents. We’ve been alone since mid-January. We look forward to Wayne and Brooke’s return, but life will be different. No doubt that Naomi will be glad to have “Nina” and “Papi” back!

2. Strength for our marriage: Between Jon’s new job and the girls, we have very little time for each other.

3. Strength for our spiritual growth: We left our English speaking Christian community in Jacó and it hasn’t been the same in San Ramón. There are many wonderful brothers and sisters in Christ here, but Spanish is not our first language and it affects the depth of our fellowship and understanding of church services.

4. Perseverance for Jon with teaching: The first month has come and gone and the “honeymoon” is over. Jon loves his class time and has plenty of opportunities to instruct in the areas of self-control and responsibility, as well as English. However, the workload of preparing outside of class is a lot. Pray that Jon finds a balance.

5. Land for RO4Y: Today we looked at a 17 acre property that would be perfect for the ranch. In a terrain that is extremely mountainous, this was flat and had a beautiful view of the ocean. The property has several areas that would be great for working with horses and turning them out. There are two partially built homes and two relatively good gravel roads that lead to and onto the property. The property was in an area called Quebradillas about 12 miles (30 minutes) outside of San Ramón. The owner, a lawyer living in San José, is asking $500,000. Though ideal land, this seems a little pricey. However, like we always say, “Where God guides, He provides.” There are many more properties in the area that we plan on looking at in the next several weeks.
[NOTE: click on pictures to enlarge]

6. Jon has three weeks off in July. We would like to plan a trip back to the United States to visit friends and family. Pray that God provides!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Testimonies & Experiences at RO4Y

EMI Team, October 2010

Micah reviewing RO4Y plans
"Rancho Oasis is truly a place of refuge where you can experience a refreshing return to the basics: abiding in God’s creation while focusing on your relationship with Christ and enjoying fellowship with God’s people.  Although our week was packed with great memories, the highlight for me was observing Jon and Marillyn live out what God has placed on their hearts.  Jon’s love and passion for children was evident in his Biblical teaching and guitar lessons to the neighborhood kids.  Marillyn prepared us amazing meals using natural ingredients, and her desire to see God bless His people through natural foods and remedies that He gives us was an encouraging relief from the synthetic world that we find ourselves in.  Jon and Marillyn are very genuine and mature in their faith, and I am excited to see what God does through them and others at RO4Y in the coming years."
          – Micah, Engineering Ministries International, Costa Rica

Birthday Pinata Bethany
     "I loved being able to come visit your beautiful oasis in the middle of rural Honduras! You live in a gorgeous part of the world. The pine trees and fresh air were a nice change. I also thoroughly enjoyed your hospitality. I felt very at home at Rancho Oasis for Youth; it was inviting and relaxing. 
     I enjoyed seeing your love and outreach to the community. Participating in the church service was a lot of fun, and allowed me to experience a part of what you do in your day to day ministry. Hearing your vision and getting to know you was encouraging, and I hope that in a small way we are able to help you accomplish the work that God has put on your heart!"
          –Bethany, EMI Intern, Arizona

Freedom Fellowship Team w/ freshly painted RO4Y sign, January 2011

Samara & new Honduran friends
"[After our trip to Rancho Oasis, my five-year-old daughter], Samara, today looked at me and said, "Mom, you guys have too much stuff." And she proceeded to go to the cupboard and get out three paper-bags and began filling them with stuff she thought was unnecessary. She said she was going to take it to our neighbor to see if they needed any of it. Then she was going to take it to the nursing home. Then she said, and this is what caught my attention, "mom I want to help people, not spend the rest of my life going to school. I want to serve, not go to school." She continued to brainstorm ways that she could help people and serve.
Rebecca assisting Escuela Dominical
So I came back at her with a suggestion of, "well, what if you did homeschooling one day and served the next, then did school one day and served the next.." She paused for a second and looked up at me and said, "that's a great idea!"
I know that the Lord used RO4Y, to speak to my child's heart and teach her what this life is for and what is really important as we spend our days waiting for the arrival of our King! 
          – Rebecca, Wisconsin 

Calvary Chapel Morgantown Team at retreat center in Ojojona, February 2011

     "[The missions team] spent time on the ranch – getting to know the Beard family (Jon, Marillyn (Mare), Naomi, Tabitha (Tabi), and Tobias (Tobi).)  Jon led the team on a tour of the acreage.  As he described his vision for the ranch – I could almost see the finished projects come to life.  I can see myself as a part of their ministry, through short-term missions.  There is so much more to accomplish…"

Nancy & the Mountaineers vs. Los Fipenses F.C. Estrellas
     "If I had to sum our mission up in a couple words, it would have to be “life-changing”.  For the 16 people who made their “first” mission trip, I see in them what I experienced 2 years ago.  It’s something most people can’t explain, and if they tried putting it into words, probably wouldn’t do it justice.  It is a life-changer! For the three of us who have done a prior mission trip – it was an equal experience.  Once you experience the camaraderie, fellowship, service, and the lasting impression the people leave on your heart, you’re hooked.  Come without expectation, serve in whatever way you are called, and leave with a part of those you served, in your heart.  It’s that simple."
          – Nancy, West Virginia (read the full story at Nancy’s blog)

     "After New Year’s, I headed off on my second trip.  I expected Honduras to be like Peru, but it was a totally different world.  The Spanish was different.  The culture was different.  And the “city” I stayed in was beyond different.  Ojojona redefined my definition of “rural.”  We got homemade tortillas from the neighbor across the street.  We bought eggs from Karla whose chickens laid their eggs all over her house.  Oscar cut the knee-high grass with a machete, and deadly poisonous snakes lived in the backyard.   I even found myself out in the field with big rubber galoshes feeding the goats like a good ‘ole farm girl. 

Make a joyful noise!
Although I taught Sunday school, recorder, Bible study, art, and English in Honduras, I learned much more than I taught.  Lesson number 1: The world does not revolve around Josy Tarantini.  Of course, I’ve always known this to be true, but it didn’t carry real meaning until I spent three months living with two and four year old girls and a baby.  I saw that having a family is a lot harder than it looks and that it involves a great deal of self-sacrifice.  I learned so much about being a servant and putting others’ needs above my own.  And this led to lesson number 2: Life is better if the world DOESN’T revolve around Josy Tarantini.  In being a servant, I found that selflessness actually brought more satisfaction and happiness than doing things my own way.  For the first time, I began to understood Jesus’ whole “first will be last and last will be first” paradox.

     Throughout my three months in Honduras, I met a lot of people who live HARD lives.  I befriended a single mom who lived with her whole extended family and only got paid every 3 months.   I taught little boys that would work on a chicken farm (cutting their beaks off or something like that) to make extra money for their families.   I talked to a guy who believed he was possessed by demons.  I went to church with a family that spent their “free time” picking coffee (a job considered to be the lowest of lows) to support themselves.    Not to mention that I lived with a family who works harder every day than I work in a week at home.  This led to gratefulness for a million and one things I’d always taken for granted.

Crafts w/ Josy
Honduras being my first real mission trip, it was definitely an eye opening experience.  Spiritual warfare always seemed to be throwing a wrench in our plans and hopes.  Isolation led to a constant hunger for fellowship.   Finances were always high on our prayer list, and we had to explain the most important things in the world–salvation, faith, repentance – in another language!  I saw that starting a ministry is a long process that can be slow to yield fruit.  It’s tough.  But serving God with all you are and all you do is certainly worth that and more!"
          – Josy, RO4Y intern - winter 2011, West Virginia
          (Read the full story on Josy’s blog)

Heartland Christian Fellowship Team site-seeing in Ojojona, April 2011

Tracey & Mare on kitchen duty
"God is always faithful! I was so blessed to visit Rancho Oasis and finally see what God has been doing there for the last three years. My perspective had been limited to the financial side of things because I served as power of attorney for Jon and Mare, taking care of their finances state-side. I prayed that I could eventually visit to see what God has been doing with all the support that has been coming in. The Ranch is truly a bright spot in what I perceived as a rather challenged part of the world. The work there blesses so many and you can see that on the faces of all who step onto the property. I pray that this work continues for years to come and that many more will be reached for the Kingdom because of it!"
           – Tracey, Iowa
Frank the builder

     "This ministry is worth striving for.  The Beards are so blessed. Watching Jon interact with the kids and seeing their eyes light up with hope was really worth the trip.  They had joy, peace and that is the refuge the ranch is truly known for.  Not only does the ranch effect the kids, but touches the entire village and people surrounding it.  It’s not only a ministry to the kids on the ranch, but Jon gives rides to adults on his travels up and down the mountain, he ministers in the town where he buys tools and food, and the people just are amazed at this gringo who speaks their language and truly cares for them.  Talking with Jon he only said he wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.  Please find it any way possible to give to Rancho Oasis For Youth.  I was so blessed to be a part."
           – Frank, Iowa 

Shannon the sous-chef
"As for my experience in Honduras, I am so blessed to have been able to come alongside you and your ministry, albeit a short few days.  It was humbling, faith-building, awesome, sad...a myriad of emotions and feelings yet God helped increase my intimacy with Him by using my obedience to serve you.  Praise the Lord!  I now have a tiny glimpse of all you do, how much, how hard, and all with the joy of serving our great God.  Thank you for your vision and the privilege of serving with you.  I love you all…I do look forward to another opportunity to come and serve with you."
           – Shannon, Iowa

     "Life is very difficult for Hondurans especially those outside the city. They work all day to earn their daily bread, and still live in poverty. I wonder if these are the reasons why they have a lot of bitterness or anger in their lives. I’ve seen a very hard hearts (critical, judgmental and thinking less of others), but thanks to the Word of God a few of these hearts have been able to see more clearly the reasons that have kept them in this way of life. We trust in God they will get better understanding and know that He is our only Refuge, Savior and Fortress in our lives.

Girl's soccer practice Bible study
These girls [in my soccer class] are in love! When you see the girls with the huge smiles on their faces you would never guess they come from divorced parents, or even some already deceased! Thank God, I was able to gain their affection and become a confidant for them, creating a warm place to be full of joy. As I said in my previous letter about this place, there are many single mothers as well as alcoholic parents. In this group there are two girls - one, her mother died of alcoholism at a very young age and right now she only has her dad, who is also an alcoholic. The other girl never knew her dad and said she had always been a very shy girl of few words, but in the soccer class she has shown herself to be very talkative. Completely different, smiling and friendly with others, and has not failed to come on Sundays. What the Love of God can do! “In love there is no fear, but perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:17b-18)

Gaby & 16 month Victoria
[Personally] I can say that I finally found myself again, even better than before. Being away from everything that distracted me and prevented me from focusing on God and myself, has allowed me to complete the path of healing I’d been on. No doubt that when one is willing to change for their own sake and the sake of one’s children, anything is possible when you open your heart to God and let Him take care of EVERYTHING!"
           – Gaby, RO4Y intern – summer 2011, Mexico

"And I know that same faith continues strong in you. This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you.  For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. So never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord. And don’t be ashamed of me, either, even though I’m in prison for him. With the strength God gives you, be ready to suffer with me for the sake of the Good News. For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan from before the beginning of time—to show us his grace through Christ Jesus." 
           Paul, 2 Timothy 1:5-9 (NLT)

The Support Team Defined

For "Anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."
But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him?
And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him?
And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?
And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent?
That is what the Scriptures mean when they say,
"How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news"! 
- Romans 10:13-15 (NLT)

          "It is clearly established that those who serve as senders share an equal responsibility and privilege with those who go.  Each area of support has its unique responsibilities and is best served by specific giftings within the body of Christ" (pg. 184-85*

Please examine the following list
and pray about how you might serve as a sender:

1. Moral Support: Acts13:1-4 "giving an encouraging word"

          Expressions of appreciation, comfort, affirmation of calling, encouragement, enthusiastic farewell, show interest in specifics (emotions/spiritual issues/logistics), sensitivity to range of emotions as missionary prepares.  Committed church body, active listener, and supportive (duh!).

2. Logistics Support: IITimothy 4:13 "all the bits and pieces"

          Checking on stability of missions ministry, Confirming the spiritual growth of the missionaries (before, during and after); practicing and seeing solid business practices in the ministry; Storing of material goods, procedure with family matter (deaths, illnesses, etc), Determining ministry needs (supplies, tools for spiritual growth, classroom resources).

3. Financial Support: Philippians 4:10-12 "money, money, money"

          Additional fundraising for missionaries, Simply giving to the missionaries, Choosing to live simpler to support missionaries, smart stewardship with the missionaries support money, managing financial responsibilities back home (taxes, bills, etc.), allowing accountability.

 4. Prayer Support: Ephesians 6:18-19 "spiritual warfare at its best"

          Commitment to pray - long term, recognizing spiritual warfare, use the model of scripture to pray for missionary, commitment to fast, "Pray to the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers", cultural relevant Gospel presentation, the binding of Satan; involving all aspects of the Body of Christ to engage in the prayer needs of the missionaries (increase awareness at supporting churches), making prayer needs of missionaries known to the body; "PRAYER SUPPORT MOVES INTO THE REALM OF THE SPIRITUAL WHERE THERE IS NO ADJUSTMENT FOR LACK OF SUPPORT!!!"

5. Communication Support: Romans 16 "letters, cd's and more"

          Genuine/real communication, personal, short & long letters, focus on benefiting the missionary, remind oneself and others to write, "small talk" or inspired exhortation. Various modes of communication: phone, e-mail, photos, video, audio, CDs, Videos, DVDs, care packages, visits.  Reminding the Body of Christ (adults and children) to communicate to the missionaries - sermon CD's, latest worship songs, new Christian studies and books, etc.

6. Re-Entry Support: Acts 14:26-28
        "more than applauding the safe landing of his/her jumbo jet"

          Prep for reverse culture shock, dealing with stress caused by the opposing attitudes of two cultures, really ask them how they are doing, look & respond to bad behavioral patterns, integrate immediate living needs and long-range interaction, LISTEN, LISTEN, LISTEN, debrief.

*Most material summarized and quoted from Neal Pirolo's
Serving as Senders