Saturday, November 28, 2009

Our plans, His steps

A man's mind plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps and makes them sure. - Proverbs 16:9 (Amplified Bible)

Throughout our 19 month stay in Costa Rica we have prayed for God's will and direction for Rancho Oasis for Youth. (See Proverbs 16:9).

After waiting and waiting for some property to begin the groundwork for RO4Y, we have a breakthrough!

We have been offered a piece of property that consists of the following:

  • 6 acres with 4 water wells & electricity; 4 acres immediately next door for sale

  • Two houses (one with a complete house water filter)

  • Church building is under construction (10 m x 30m or 32’ x 98’)

  • Another building that is planned to be reconstructed as a rancho/shelter and kitchen

  • About an hour from the capital city (five minutes from local town)

  • Large outdoor fire pit with seating

  • The community is very rural and the church reaches out primarily to the children and a few mothers. 40 kids come regularly, twice as many attend for special events.

  • We would NOT need to pay rent, only utilities.

  • The cost of living is half of what we are paying now!

  • If the Lord would lead us to buy the property, they would sell it to us for the original price $18,500.

Sounds ideal for RO4Y, right?

Here’s the catch – the property is in Honduras.

A missionary couple, Jason and Patricia Mulla, befriended us several months ago. They have served in Honduras for 7 years. They have been ministering in the area of the property (called Ojojona) for 3 years only once a week because they have two other church plants in the capital of Honduras, Tegucigalpa.

Marillyn's parents, Wayne and Brooke Goranson, were in Tegucigalpa doing an IBS seminar in September. They visited the property twice, heard Jason and Patricia’s vision and saw an abundant amount of opportunity with the kids and community. Their vision is very similar to our vision for RO4Y. The Mullas have also been receiving our RO4Y updates and have been hearing our heart for the Ranch.

Before we make a decision we felt it important to see the property for ourselves and spend some time with Jason and Patricia. Therefore, we will be flying to Honduras early December to participate in a youth retreat in Ojojona, the 10th - 13th. I have been asked to teach two small group studies and one large group session; the theme of the retreat comes from 1 John 2:15

Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you.

It feels strange to consider leaving Costa Rica, but this could be an open door and we want to follow the Lord’s direction.

We are so excited about this opportunity. Please keep us in prayer!

Marillyn, Tabitha and I depart Costa Rica on December 8th and return on the 15th. (Naomi will stay with the grandparents).

Love you all!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Schools Out for the Summer!!!

8th Graders at Colegio Bilingue San Ramon

I know most of you reading this post are thinking SUMMER??? (It is currently 38 degrees in Des Moines, Iowa as I type this).

Yep, school is officially out for the summer here in Costa Rica!!! Though the public schools will continue for a few more weeks, I'm done.

Thursday, November 26 is our last day of class and appropriately it is titled "Fiesta de la Alegria" (translated: Party of Happiness).

No, it definitely isn't coincidence that our last day of school falls on the North American holiday of Thanksgiving. I'm so thankful for the Lord's provision of this job... and its conclusion.

I've learned so much during the last nine months of school, but one of the most important ones is that I know I'm not supposed to be a teacher. (At least in the traditional sense of the word).

Let me explain:

While Marillyn and I served in Mexico at Rancho Sordo Mudo as missionaries/teachers, I fell in love with the classroom. Sometimes athletes use the phrase "in the zone" when they are performing at their highest level - this is how I felt about teaching in the classroom. God has blessed me with a special gift to direct a group of young people and teach them. (Not many of you out there can honestly say you love to hang out with junior high kids, right!?!?)

Teaching has been a strong part of my background and family. My parents were both educators and while growing up when we sat down at the dinner - we all talked about school. (In fact, it wasn't until late elementary school that I understood that ONLY MY parents had the summer off! Kinda' like the white edge around all stop signs.)

A few years after graduating the university with a degree in English, I pursued a teaching certification. However, I stopped this process and entered into ministry as a youth pastor, then husband, then missionary in Mexico. After returning to the US for the birth of Naomi, I entered the classroom again as a substitute teacher, but had to move on because of the inconsistent hours.

When I was informed about the opportunity to have my own classroom here in Costa Rica, I jumped on it because I felt that the Lord brought it to my lap, it would help make ends meet, and provide an important tent-making opportunity before starting Rancho Oasis for Youth.

However, I was not prepared for the overwhelming amount of work and preparation that is involved with teaching. In the beginning, every hour in the classroom, was an hour of preparation at home. I trimmed my schedule from 8 to 5 classes after mid-terms, but it was just manageable.

The job was fun, but English isn't the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Yes, of course, I had opportunities to share my faith and even use verses in the classroom, but it just isn't the same.

I'm grateful for the last nine months because it has shown me that teaching youth the Word of God and engaging in their lives (not correcting their punctuation and spelling mistakes) is where I will truly be in the zone!!!

You know, Rancho Oasis for Youth is like an experimental classroom. We won't have textbooks, pencils and papers, but the Bible, horses and the day-to-day life experience.

Now that school has come to a conclusion, I'm excited to give my energy (mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually) towards our goal to complete God's vision of RO4Y.

Thank you for your prayers and encouragement over the last nine months and beyond.

Please continue to pray for my former students at Colegio Bilingue San Ramon. Most are groomed for the university with parents as professionals, much like myself growing up in suburban Chicago. These rich kids need Jesus just as much as the down 'n out ones.

Quitting this job is also a big step of faith financially because it has covered roughly a third of our living expenses. Pray that God moves on the hearts of our supporters to become monthly givers and that we wouldn't doubt His provision.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and stay tuned for some exciting new developments with Rancho Oasis for Youth!!!

6th Graders reading to Naomi on the last day of classes

Parting Shots: "Fiesta de Alegria"

7th Graders: Left to Right, Top Row Tryve, Andrea, Paula, Susi, Sophia, Johan, Fio, Marisol, Pamela, Raquel, Nazaret, Elizabeth Left to Right, Bottom Row Joseph, Jonathan, Me, Andres

8th Graders: August, Alexis, Me and Samantha / 6th Graders watching their homemade in-class movie

10th Graders: Left to Right Cristian, Diego, Zenen, Zou, Me, Edgar (kneeling), Glori, Karina, Marcos, Paulina, Fermin, Natalia (Spanish-native Science teacher)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Weekend Warriors

We've had three weekends of successful Club de Niños.
We've felt the presence and power of your prayers.

Mare, Tabi, Marjori, Brooke, Dayana, Tabi & Rebeca

Victor & Jon / Naomi Erica & Katarin

Today's Club was rained-out,
but we are still grateful because it was a first in three months.
(Pretty good, especially because we are in the rainy season).

Prayer Needs:
  • California or Bust!!! The Lord has provided the finances for us to participate in the 2010 Calvary Chapel Missions Conference. We are excited to participate, grow and share with some of our supporters on the West Coast.

    "At the moment I have all I need—and more! I am generously supplied with the gifts you sent me with Epaphroditus. They are a sweet-smelling sacrifice that is acceptable and pleasing to God. 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 4:18-19

    Pray for the Lord's provision for plane tickets to LA (~$1,200)

  • No news about involvement with a youth outreach with our friend Shirley. Continue to pray for the Lord's direction with our involvement in the community.

  • Continue to pray for our homes Bible studies in English: Wednesdays we are studying through Ephesians and Sundays through Hebrews.

  • Thank you for your prayers for Naomi and Tabi. Mare and I are growing as parents and the girls are maturing poco a poco (little by little)! Continue to pray for their salvation.

  • Continue to pray for the missions team from Wisconsin; wisdom with timing of the trip and spiritual preparation.

  • 9 days and counting of English Classes at Colegio Bilingue San Ramon! Jon is thankful for the run at the school and asks for prayers for writing his final exam (4/5 written), grading all five, reviewing student's projects and putting together final grades. Pray for final opportunities to share the gospel!

    8th Grade Students with The Giver Projects
    Henry & Luis Carlos / Maria Fernanda & Paula

  • Unity is strong in the home; continue to pray for oneness in marriage and relationships with the in-laws and the kids.

  • One of my 8th grade students is looking at spending a month with one of our supporting families in Southern California. Pray that Alexis would receive a visa from the US - they are tough to get as a Tico.

Elbow Tag @ Club de Niños