Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Costa Rica Mission Update #6

Vortex: a mass of whirling fluid or air, esp. a whirlpool or whirlwind.

            I start with this definition, because I believe we have one of these frightening phenomena in our room. Now, I know what you’re thinking – “Steve, this is another of your goofy little things that you include because the rest of your updates are fairly snooze-worthy.” First of all, let me say that I resent your implication. Second, I truly believe there is a vortex that is sucking things in and transporting them to some alternate dimension. Karen and Zac claimed that I’m actually speaking of a wormhole or a black hole filled with anti-matter. But they’re geeks, and it’s my room.

Let this serve as evidence that we are starting the day
with three towels. We'll see what the morning brings.
            Let me give you the evidences: 1) Nancy’s gum and mints have disappeared (now you may think that’s just simply her misplacing them, but you don’t know how much she loves her gum) – conclusion: vortex. 2) Last night we had three towels sitting on our beds; this morning, by the time I was able to take my shower there were only two. Now, I know there were initially three, because that was the first time in two days that we had a towel for each of us. One cold shower followed by a towelling off with thin piece of fabric covered with someone else’s moistness later, and I have no doubt of my rationale – conclusion: vortex.

            Still not convinced, I see. Okay, here’s the clincher. 3) Cleaning ladies are being swallowed up and transported as they work in our room. How do I know? For the last four days, the sheet for my bed has been left folded just under the comforter. This proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the vortex exists, and that it has a wicked sense of humor. I’m very concerned that I’ll wake up one morning and Madeline will be gone – shot through time and space to a place where they greatly value nearly transparent towels and Central American cleaning women – verdict beyond a shadow of a doubt: vortex.

            Vortex Update: We just got back to our room. This time it got the cleaning woman before she even had a chance to lay out a sheet for my bed. I’m nervous – the thing is obiously getting more aggressive.

            Our day began with a wonderful testimony from Arlovia, one of the VBS workers. She grew up in the church, but wandered away from God for a time. After getting mixed up in some not great things the Lord called her back – literally. While at a party, she heard a voice behind her telling her that she was not where she should be. When she turned around, there was no one there. She ignored it the first time. Then, it happened again. That’s when she knew that she had to change things before she slid down the slope too far.
Arlovia sharing her testimony

            Now, I’ve never audibly heard the voice of God, nor do I ever expect to. However, I’m also not one to discredit other’s experiences with the Lord. I wasn’t there. She was. It changed her life. It’s hard to argue with that.

            Arlovia’s smile lights up a room. Her passion for God and her desire to serve Him is contagious. What a privilege it is to be around men and women sold-out committed to the Lord. Arlovia asked us to pray for her father, who still needs to meet Jesus. Also, she asked for prayer for strength for herself, so she can carry on with the calling God’s given to her. We saw she’s still using a children’s Bible, all taped up. We’re going to work on getting her a new Bible – possibly a study Bible, if we can find it – before we go.

A couple kids arriving for VBS
            Another great VBS day yesterday. We had 89 kids – a little bit of a drop from the day before (which is against the typical trend), but still a wonderful turnout. What a blessing it is to hear all those kids yelling out their Bible verse from the day before! A holy mayhem! Even now as I’m typing this, I can hear the happy cheers and screams coming from under the mango trees (which isn’t really a good locator here – to say something is under the mango trees is akin to being outside of Breckinridge and telling someone to go look under the aspen).

            One of the highlights of each VBS is the singing. I’ve uploaded a video to youtube, so you can get a feel of what it’s like. The link is:

Zac praying at soccer camp
            Zac gave a talk at the soccer camp yesterday. It was a truncated version of his “pura vida” talk from Saturday that the youth are still talking about. He has been amazing here – jumping in wherever he’s needed, working like a dog. Yesterday, he took on the role of Water Monitor. Since the heat and humidity have been so high, there’s a real danger of us gringos getting dehydrated. So, Zac would make his regular rounds during VBS giving “the look” until the recipient of that evil glare drank some water.

            Very soon this morning, Mike and I will go with Jose and Tim to visit Pastor Elias, the pastor of Fuente de Vida. The day we arrived, Pastor Elias went in for surgery and has been recovering ever since. The timing couldn’t have been worse, and he feels so badly. But his son, Pastor Elias, Jr., has been doing a wonderful job hosting us this past week. (Quick update: the visit never happened. Please keep praying for the pastor.)

            Things to be praying about:

1)    Pray for Mike and me at the pastor training tonight in Ortega. Because of ridiculously typical inter-church squabbling (similar to way too many communities in the U.S.), INCRESE has had a difficult time getting a foothold in that poverty-stricken area. Pray that God uses our time there to break down some denominational walls. The Lord made us all part of the same big family, then we go and start acting all dysfunctional by holding a grudge against our daughter-in-law for stealing our son away on Christmas to be with her family and avoiding Uncle Jeb because he smells like cheese. God must be slapping His head with a holy “Oy vey!”

Another of the sweet girls from VBS
2)    Pray for Joyce and Pam. They’ll be having a special time with the ladies this afternoon (Karen, Nancy, and Madeline will be coming to Ortega). Joyce has some very important things to say to a number of the ladies. Ask the Lord to give her boldness to say what needs to be said, and for the ladies to be receptive to her exhortations and encouragements.

3)    Pray for Zac and the INCRESE guys at the soccer camp. They’re building relationships and sharing the Gospel. Ask the Lord to continue to use them to touch the lives of these boys and girls who are at such pivotal ages.

4)    Tomorrow will be the big wrap-up for both the VBS and soccer camp. Pray that God moves powerfully amongst those kiddos.

I better go. I’m back at the hotel and I feel something trying to tug my computer out of my hands. Gotta figure out what it…
Working hard

A couple buddies 

The INCRESE team (in red) played much more like
the U.S. than Costa Rica
Learning the Gospel story
Zac giving special attention to one of the troublemakers

Who said classrooms need to be inside?

Simon Sez
Karen playing El Diablo in a skit

One of the creepier off-time activities

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