Monday, September 26, 2011

NIKO: We will Overcome

       “I survived!” As our team returned from the mountainous jungle of Cartago this weekend, we felt victorious. This past week we had our final week of lecture phase there – NIKO survival camp! It was the practical application of everything we had learned so far in the form of hiking, camping, discipline and respect, and working as a team. It was quite an intensive experience because we were forced to work together to accomplish certain tasks in a limited amount of time. Of course there was frustration and impatience at first, but very quickly we learned that it is to our advantage to listen to everyone’s opinion and examine what would be the best strategy. Throughout the four days I did some self-examination and realized that I am very stubborn, proud, and impatient. And consequently, these were the three things that tested me most during NIKO.
      Leading my team on an uphill hike one day, I felt that my patience was shattered. But somehow instead of snapping I just waited, and listened. And pressed on. Then I began to see that it was my attitude, not that of my teammates, that needed changing. And if I was to help my team have a positive outlook on our situation, it had to start with me. This week was such a challenge to me mentally and spiritually, learning to depend on God for strength. I had to relinquish my pride for the good of the team, something I should have done more of before this experience. Now being back I need to continue working on my character, allowing the Lord to guide me in love and humility.
      This weekend returning to base was a joyous moment of appreciation for civilization: having a hot shower for the first time in a week, enjoying a soft, warm, fluffy bed with a mattress, clean clothes, toilets that flush, coffee, music, and time to be ALONE. Despite the twenty bug-bites on each of my arms and legs, I am thankful for this time that taught me so much. I am now prepared to be flexible, willing to serve, and patient with others on my outreach, which begins this week. For our first week we are staying in the San Jose / Cartago area, and most nights we’ll be here at the base doing local ministries. Then next weekend we’re loading up the vans to travel all around Costa Rica – and we won’t be back for 7 weeks! Our next stop is Puerto Viejo, a town on the Caribbean coast, and then Jaco on the Pacific. I’m excited to see what opportunities we’ll have to serve the ticos there. 

Please pray for myself and my team of 12 students and 4 leaders as we shine the light of Christ to Costa Rica.

**John 3:21 “But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


   This weekend we traveled north to Nicaragua to renew our visas and stayed in a cute little beach town called San Juan del Sur. The culture and feel of this country is very different than Costa Rica, but so vibrant! Here are some pictures from our adventure:

The beach literally a block away from our hostel.

Hostel Pacha Mama, our home for the weekend

View of San Juan del Sur from the top of the Jesus mountain

Standing under the Jesus statue: Jesus in you I trust

Enjoying the waves in the rocky bay
Our secret cave adventure

Sunset on the beach = heaven

The Perfect Day:

      The focus of last week was prayer and worship. It started off with several great heart-to-heart conversations and prayer with different people Sunday night. Then on Monday began an amazing few days of learning how to pray and developing a deep desire in my heart to know God more. Let me just say: it has been INCREDIBLE. I never knew how much fun praying for 2 hours could be. My heart is so full of joy because of what God has done in my life. So I want to share with you my perfect day – September 7, 2011, a day I will always remember.
      My alarm went off at 5:30 and as usual, my first instinct was to turn it off and go back to bed. But this time I decided to brave the early morning and start my day the right way – with a jog. So I snuck down the stairs in my running shoes and took off, running past familiar shops and the local university. I felt the freedom that always comes with running. What a great way to start the day! After breakfast I had some great quiet time with God reading my Bible. Then we had base intercession, which involves worship and praying for a specific theme, which today was human trafficking. We prayed specifically for victims in San Jose and for the demand for trafficking to end. Afterward we all got a small bracelet to wear on our wrist for the day to remind us of the bondage many people live in.
      Stepping out into the sunny morning, I was ready and energized for class today. Vanessa talked to us about how we are part of the God’s royal priesthood here on this earth. We are the stones of a spiritual house whose foundation is Jesus. It all has to do with relationship! Following the lecture we had a time of praying scripture. When we lack the words to say to God, we can go to the Bible and use the prayers of others to express our feelings. After class I stayed in the prayer room and soaked up God’s presence. I have never prayed that long in my life and it was SO GOOD!
      Today I spent hours in the prayer room, and though I didn’t eat all day, God sustained me. Physical food is not everything…our need to be spiritually fed is even greater. I discovered my need to spend time with God on a daily basis. And I have so much to tell Him! When I start talking to Him and enjoying his presence, I don’t know where the time goes. A few hours felt like only half an hour. Something I am learning along with this prayer time is to listen to God. It shouldn’t just be me blabbing the whole time, but I should seek to hear his voice too, whether through his Word, other people, or directly.
      In the afternoon I took a nice long nap before work duties – sweeping and mopping the dining area. Then I had a wonderful talk with my Mom on Skype and an awesome 1-on-1 reflecting on my week with Rossela. J Tonight we had a time of worship with the DTS in the prayer room. We all gathered in the room decorated with candles and colorful curtains to set the mood. As Chove played the guitar and sang we reflected on God’s goodness in our lives. It’s so freeing to give everything over to the Lord – to be completely dependent on Christ! I went to bed shortly after this wonderful close to a day. Satisfaction comes from God alone.

**Psalm 37:4 "Delight in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart."

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Manda el Fuego

      It’s really hitting me now that I only have 3 more weeks in this city. I am becoming familiar with the streets and feel at home here. However, as much as I love having heart-to-hearts on the hammocks, random dance parties in the classroom, and watching a movie with my family on the weekends, I know I’m ready for outreach. Sometimes I think I’m too comfortable just hanging out on base all weekend. It’s good to relax and spend time with friends, but I feel a tugging on my heart to go outside. God has bigger things planned for me than just sitting around all day. Doing ministry during outreach is going to give me a taste of this. What it’s like to be a missionary. Not every single day is going to be extraordinary, but following the path God has for you will change your life.
      A couple mornings this week we had the opportunity to go into communities and pass out Bibles. What an incredible experience we had. We went door-to-door and talked to people about God’s Word. Instead of just giving them a Bible and leaving, we shared scriptures with them and talked to them about their relationship with God. I was surprised at how many people opened up to us. Whenever people had a concern, we prayed for them. It is amazing how you can bless people just by listening to a stranger’s problems and showing that you care. The power of prayer is real. This Sunday our team went to a church event in Alajuela, about 30 minutes from the base. The church that hosted it was a small community fellowship and everyone there was super friendly and welcoming. And when the worship started, WOW, this church was on fire! Their hearts were pouring out for Jesus.
      Last week was an opportunity for growth in many areas. It was a hard week because I was a bit out of it, not in the brightest mood. There were so many little things putting me in a down sort of mood. When you’ve lived with the same six girls for over two months, the little habits get annoying. It has been a test in patience and love for me. I have learned that in spite of the occasional dispute over when to turn off the light, how to mop the floor, or planning last-minute events, I love my 12 classmates and share a bond with them that will last forever. We all need to be considerate of each other. That being said, this week there was an amazing transformation in my heart! I have never felt more alive and content. More about this in my next post.     
      One thing our team definitely needs prayers for is fundraising. Many people on our team do not have the funds they need for outreach. We have had a couple of small fundraisers as a team, but there is still a long way to go. Please pray that God would provide for us in this area, so that we would all be able to travel throughout Costa Rica ministering to the people in this nation.

Isaiah 61: 1-2
“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has annointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives, and to release from darkness the prisoners. To proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God. And to comfort all who mourn.”

Thursday, September 1, 2011


      Wow, it’s been way too long since I’ve written. And in only 3 weeks we leave to go on outreach! Last week the April DTS came back from outreach, so I had the chance to talk to some of them about their experience. They also did a presentation for the base sharing about some of the ministries they did during the 2 months. It was amazing to see how they served people in different communities and nations. Seeing the pictures and hearing the stories made me so excited for our outreach! Also this week in class we really started preparing for outreach. We made an outline for each type of ministry we might be doing, like kids ministry, church services, prayer ministry, and evangelism. Now we just have to work on the details for each program. We’ve also been practicing dramas and dances like crazy. Our team has really come together during this time. Sometimes it’s frustrating because not everyone can participate in everything, but I believe each of the members of our team has a vital part in serving the people of Costa Rica and making the Lord known to them.
      Last week in class we talked about Biblical worldview, specifically about seeing the world through God’s eyes. It can be difficult, but when we begin to view people as God does, it allows us to reach out in a deeper way to these people. The speaker said something that really struck me this week: reality is a description of the truth, and our perception of reality is our worldview. For me the truth is God, and he is absolute. For some people who don’t know Christ, their reality is different than mine. Therefore their worldview is different because they see the world in a different light. An interesting way of looking at this is that everything is spiritual. Although the world is physical, it’s firstly spiritual because God created it. And all humans are spiritual beings because we are created in God’s image. We were born to love and praise the Lord.
      On Thursday we went to the University of Costa Rica to do short surveys about people’s beliefs and worldview. In small groups we walked around and asked people questions like “What is truth?” “Where do we go after we die?” and “Do you believe there is a God?”. The responses we got were interesting. One guy who talked to us said he thought truth was relative but God was absolute. I’m not sure how that works if God is truth. Another man said he thought all truth was relative, and he didn’t think God could exist because of all the bad things that happen. The third person we talked to was a strong Christian who said he had faith in God and God gives him purpose. I wasn’t sure what to think of this activity at first, because we were just asking to get an idea of what people think (not a real survey). It was hard for me sometimes to keep the conversation going in Spanish, but it stretched me to go beyond my comfort zone and it expanded my understanding of people. 
      God is challenging me to think about my own worldview in the context of my life. When I don’t know my purpose or have doubts about what I can contribute, I need to realize that He is in control. What is going to maintain my life is revelation from God. I should never doubt but instead surrender my worries and fears to God. We’re reading a book now about giving up our rights to Jesus. This basically means allowing Jesus to guide us and being obedient to him when he asks us to do something, whether it be giving away a material thing, sacrificing our time, or simply reaching out to a friend with kind words. One thing I’ve learned is that when God wants you to give something, he will confirm it. I had an incredible experience a couple weeks ago where I felt God telling me to give some money to a fellow student who had a need. I wasn’t sure when to give it to the person, so I put the amount in an envelope and waited for the right time. A few days later, the person shared with our small group the amount that she needed by a certain date – and it was the exact amount I had put in the envelope. This was the confirmation I needed. By trusting in God, he used me! 

 Thanks everyone for your prayers and support. I would appreciate prayer for energy and a good attitude for me - I've been tired and a bit stressed lately. Living in community is tough and stretches me daily, but the lessons and joys are worth it. And God has given my strength and patience. :) Hopefully I'll be writing more this weekend. But for now, nos vemos! 

Spanish word of the day: misericordia = mercy

Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”