Saturday, June 28, 2014

Costa Rica Missions Update #3

One of the wonderful ladies who
prepares our meal
            Okay, the current standings in the Costa Rica Juice Off: 5) Papaya (a distant last because of its funky mauve-ish color, nasty porridgey consistency, and aftertaste of sour death – not a fan), 4) Mango, 3) Piña (pineapple), 2) Tamarind, and 1) Starfruit (it was close, but the starfruit edged the tamarind in a five goal shootout).

            A wonderfully long, sweaty, and exhausting day. We started out with a strong devotional led by Zac, then some testimonies. Our devotional time was made extra special by the fact that the ladies who have been cooking all our meals agreed to join us. Such servant hearts – amazing women.

            Quick break – Current standings in the Costa Rica Food Sweepstakes: 2) Gallo Pinto (the beans and rice that’s served as part of every breakfast and many other meals – muy delicioso), and 1) Arroz con Pollo (chicken and rice – so good it makes me want to kiss a rooster on the lips, despite the various gender complications and the fact that chickens don’t have lips). Those are the only two in the running, because if you have them then any other food is just there to fill the rest of the plate.
Typical Breakfast - Gallo Pinto, tortilla, avocado,
tamarind juice, and café (ummm...empty cup?
Mas café por favor!) 

            Mike and I spent the day training pastors and church leaders. My topic was the pastor’s heart, and in it I covered what it means to be a true shepherd, a sacrificial giver (i.e., giving all of yourself to your family first and your church second), then I wrapped it up with two sessions on the fruit of the Spirit. So many of the pastors are caught up in issues surrounding church governmental structures and what is the latest fad of leadership and church growth. My goal was to get them to see that it doesn’t matter how your church is structured or what your leadership style is – if you are not sacrificially loving your people, then your church is rushing toward mediocrity. You may have the largest church in the city, but if it is full of spiritually unhealthy people, then you've done a disservice to your congregation and failed your calling. A pastor is first and foremost called to set an example of godliness to their people – loving them with all they’ve got, serving them with all the gifts God has given them.
BAM! - The Bible Answer Man

            Sorry, enough sermonizing. Suffice it to say, it was an awesomely groovy time.

            But then, sandwiched in between my sessions stepped Mike Young (who has now earned the nickname BAM! for Bible-Answer Man). It took him a little bit at first to get into a rhythm with the translator – a difficult feat for anyone let alone someone teaching a seminar for the very first time. Then once he hit his stride, he was off! Great stuff. The people were soaking it in. They were asking questions. They were taking notes. His first session talked about why we can trust that the Bible we have today is the complete and accurate Word of God. His second session focused on why we can believe that Jesus is truly God and why He is the one true way to heaven – all backed with solid evidence, all very logically laid out. Most of the pastors had never heard anything like this before, and Mike seriously learned them a thing or two.

Andres (one of Pastor Jose's sons) reacts to some
World Cup action before the crowd arrives
            One of the best parts of the training came right toward the end of lunch. The rest of the team had come to the church to join us for the meal (this was a different church from Fuente de Vida, where we are based out of). After the plates were cleared, Jose brought up the Brazil vs. Chile World Cup game on his phone. Soon enough people were crowded around that it was switched to a tablet. The timing was perfect – just as the shoot-out was about to begin. We whooped and groaned; cheered and hollered. It’s a memory I won’t soon forget. It also helped to break down any barriers that might have still been lingering between our team and the attending pastors and church leaders. God’s timing is perfect!

Some of the VBS team hard at work
            While the pastor training was going on, the rest of the team was getting everything prepared for Monday’s launch of VBS and the Soccer Camp. They worked very hard for most of the day (and somehow a Zumba workout was included in the preparations – they said it was to teach the kids, but I’m still trying to figure that out).

            Tonight, while I’m typing this, the ladies are still at the church in their first women’s study. Joyce is leading this, and I’m so excited about what she has to say. I’ll write you more about it tomorrow after I can get the skinny from her as to what happened.

            Also, in the sanctuary at the church, Zac is speaking at the youth service. I’m looking forward to hearing how God is using him there. I’ll give you that run-down, too, tomorrow.

            Sunday will be a half-day for us. We’ll have church in the morning, then we’re back at the hotel for the afternoon. It works out perfectly, because we’re all going to crowd into the small restaurant so we can watch Costa Rica annihilate Greece in the World Cup. Then Monday is when VBS and Soccer Camp begin.

            As always, thanks so much for your prayers. You are such a blessing to us all!

            Before I sign off – Current standings in the “Really? I mean, really?” Cup: 5) Roosters who wake up at 4:30am, when you have your alarm set for 5:00am, 4) Humidity – ‘nuff said, 3) Fathers who rub their incredibly nasty, sweaty forehead on their poor 13-year-old daughter’s bare arm and think it’s funny (I personally know nothing about this, but rumors abound), 2) Justin Bieber introducing new dance groups on So You Think You Can Dance? – I mean, what gives? Please, make him go away, and 1) Smush-Frog (seriously, it’s been there three days; all it takes is a shovel, a quick scoop, and a toss over the wall into the neighbor’s yard – easy as pie).
Prepping the VBS materials

Joyce honing her balloon animal skills

Arroz con Pollo - the perfect lunch

The VBS team getting their dance on! 
Joyce leading the women's Bible Study (more tomorrow)

Zac teaching at the youth service (again, more tomorrow)

Karen proudly sporting her Japanese tourist look

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