Monday, July 30, 2012

One Year Anniversary

One year ago today we sold and moved everything we own to Costa Rica to begin our lives as missionaries. What a year it's been! Gracias a Dios por todo en nuestra vida.

Sunday, July 29, 2012


Will spoke in chapel a few weeks ago and I want to share his sermon here on my blog. Many students commented on it and I want to remember how relevant his message was for life in language school. Will sent me his message and I want to post it exactly has he wrote it. Now you can see what his notes look like in its rough form! I hope it speaks to you as well.

Chapel June 2012

INTRO: I think all the guys who were with me during the first tri language class are already gone, so they won't have to hear this story again.*And to the others who have heard it, bear with me. It's a story of one of my first language assignments, given by Lisette. We had to go to a meat market, a pharmacy, or wherever we drew from the hat and simply ask the question, "cuanto cuesta?" *That's it. That's was the extent of it. *"How much?...for whatever" My task was a bakery. I had not been introduced to Maurie's bakery yet, so I headed up to Mus Mani. Being the little overachiever that I thought I could be, which lasted a couple of weeks, I took off to Mus Mani with the thought that I wouldn't only ask "cuanto cuesta" but I was
also going to explain to the people working there what I was doing. *It was all in my head. "Hi, I'm a language school student and I need to practice. Can I ask you how much these things are? *Remember, I'm a couple of weeks into this thing. I can't say those sentences, but I'm confident that day that I can. So my confidence is up and I walk beside the security guard, giving him the head not and "buenas." And as I walk into Mus Mani and see those girls behind the counter, I freeze. *They say something to me, probably something to see if they could help me.

I ignore them and quickly turn to the pastries. *Seeing that they have the names and the prices... *Knowing that all I have to say is "cuanto cuesta"... Well in my thickest Southern accent, all that comes out is something like "contar quister." I see the utter confusion on their face, and I break out into a horrible sweat. *And I don't know what to do. So I panic. I grab a tray and some tongs and begin to throw all sorts of things on it. *I go to the counter and start pointing and trying to merely say my two words. They seem more and more confused. Finally, I get out of my mouth something that's terribly wrong in many ways...again, two weeks into school. "Yo necesito pegar Ud." *A horrible look comes to this girls face. Again, with more power - because now there's a line behind me. "Yo necesito pegar Ud." At that time, I didn't know there was a difference between pegar and pagar. As the girl backs away and the line grows, I take a 10 mil out of my pocket, throw it on the counter, pick up my bread and take off...never to return to that Mus Mani again.

As I slinked home, I remember wondering how this, whatever this was, was going to be a sustainable endeavor for me and my family. I had that thought again one night after ESL class at AMCA. *It was during rainy season - in October, and the rain let up. *So after class I ran up to the Chinese restaurant and got some food to go. *And as I walked back to my house, the heavens opened like never before. *And everything about me and my food was soaked. And I'll never forget thinking what some of you might have thought too... "What am I doing here?" "How is this going to last." I think about what must have gone on through the minds of our good friends the Martens, at least once, while they've had to take 100 trips to the hospital for various things. *Surely they've wondered how life in foreign waters can be sustained. Or how about when we can see on our children's faces the struggles that they are dealing with, all because we chose to leave the familiar and move to the foreign. I know that just crushes the mothers, especially. Or just dealing with this new language learning. I was talking to one of you the other day and you were about to pop. You identified how you just needed a break. *And man have I felt that. *And along with that thought, I have gotten to the place where I've thought, "If I can't handle the stress of a new language, how in the world am I going to make it after this little bubble is popped." Maybe some of you have felt a little bit of this. And the question goes...

FCF: How is life sustainable as a missionary when everything seems so out of control? *How do I get through it? I don't know about you, but I have implemented of few things to help me and my family out. *Every Tuesday night we go to Denny's for some familiar food. *We listen to a lot music - in English. *I bought a VPN so that I could watch HULU. I don't know. From a shared bottle of wine with your wife to VIP movies...maybe an occasional trip to the beach...all the way to posting our favorite missionary quotes on our FB page or convincing ourselves that our perspective country is the most impoverished and most needy, we've probably all have employed ways to sustain our lives here. *But as one of my friends said, these aren't means of sustaining life - whether on the mission field or even back in the States. *These are nothing more than coping mechanism. We are typically pretty good at finding ways to cope with the realities around us. *But as we consider life - and in our cases - life in Costa Rica, Honduras, Bolivia, Peru, Spain, or wherever... How is it sustained - for the long haul? BI: The answer is always found in Christ and His gospel. *But the gospel extends further than our justification, although that's certainly part of it - as we'll see.

TEXT: This morning I want us to look at John 15:1-5 and consider the idea of our position in Christ. *As you're getting there, know that I was thinking through this when I saw another missionary the other day in his car up by the gate. *On the dashboard he had a book about Hudson Taylor. *Being missionaries, I'll assume you know of Hudson Taylor. But what some don't know of Hudson Taylor is the horrible life that he had during the first part of mission life in China. *To summarize...a lot of his children died, he got sick, he was almost killed in a riot, and his wife died. *In perspective, he didn't have a VIP theater to visit. This man...this great missionary became depressed to the point of considering suicide. *He wrote to his sister, "I hated myself, I hated my sin, and yet gain no strength against it." That's a bad place to be...a serious place to be in life. But that is when the Holy Spirit illuminated John 15 to him. *And he began to understand his position. *It was his newfound Spiritual Secret, as he called it. *Our text for this morning became alive in his life. *And my hope is that it becomes alive in ours because I'm convinced that coping mechanisms will last only so long. *But who we are and where we stand in Christ is the eternal sustaining power of the Gospel.

John 15:1-5
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing."

 The sustaining power of our position of abiding in Christ is the focus today. *And there are several things to consider before we leave and head back to class. Taylor also wrote after dwelling on his spiritual secret... "The branch of the vine does not worry, and toil, and rush here to seek for sunshine, and there to find rain. No; it rests in union and communion with the vine; and at the right time, and in the right way, is the right fruit found on it. Let us so abide in the Lord Jesus." I believe that the sort of rest that he is speaking of can only be found in our position. And considering position - one where we have union and communion... MP1: There must be a consideration of our union with Christ from it's beginnings. *We certainly can go to Ephesians 1:3 and contemplate to glorious truth that we were chosen in Christ even before the foundations of the world. But for the purposes of what we're talking about this morning, let's consider the point when we were made part of the vine.

Paul writes in Romans 6 a lot about death...death to sin. *Romans 6 is the foundational passage about our justification...our death to sin. ILL: Since we're all language students...learners of different conjugations and tenses, etc., you might appreciate this. *When Paul used the word "died" - referring to our death to sin... *He used a certain tense called the aorist tense. This tense is kind of like the past perfect in Spanish. *It's a one-time past action. *It's something that happened - period. So when writing about death to sin, he wasn't suggesting that this is a process over a period of time. It is something that happened...period. APP: And because of our newfound and certain position of death to sin, we are found by the grace of God to not be in the position of slavery - which we once were. *We no longer have the position of slaves to sin... *But as Paul continues, we are slaves to righteousness. We can abide in the position of being righteous before God. I think one of my favorite doctrines was one of John Owen's favorites - he called it the Great Exchange. *Some know it as double-imputation. It's simply this.

Whereas a lot of times we view God's grace...our justification...when we gave our sins to Christ. *Too many times we leave it at that. *Have we not all been to the youth camps where the culmination is the nailing our sins to a cross. As beautiful as that is, the work of grace doesn't stop there. *The great exhange says yes, our sins were given to Christ. *But also that he exchanged His righteousness for our sins. It's written in II Corinthians 5 - the famous versus about being a new creation. *Well Paul can actually call us new creations because of verse 21. "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." In that one time past action of death, our position changed from that of slaves to sin...death... *To the righteousness of God. *Son and daughters...heirs...a royal priesthood who can confidently go before the very throne of God. And abide. MP2: When we consider that positioning that God's grace provided, our entire walk will be changed. *So our position was changed so that our walk could be changed.

ILL: It's the point of the book of Ephesians. *The first 3 chapters deal with our position...our union with Christ. *In him we were chosen... *In him we were forgiven... *In him we were adopted... *In him we have obtained an inheritance.. *We have been saved by grace and brought into a that we may be filled with the fullness of God. Within the first three chapters, Paul wants us to understand this truth. *He wants us to understand so that we may walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which we have been called. *So that we can imitate God and love others, be husbands and wives and parents that reflect the gospel... *So that we can equip others for works in the ministry, etc. We have been given a new position of abiding in Christ so that we can actually bear fruit for God - wherever we are... So as we are considering some of the realities of life in a fallen world - some of the realities that we are walking around in on a daily basis, there's a greater reality to recognize. *A reality that allows our actual walk to be changed. *A walk that is reflective of our position.

John, in our original text says that apart from abiding in Christ, that we can do nothing. Nothing would certainly imply a righteous walk. *It's so true, isn't it? *Apart from Him, we are laboring in vain. *We're going to class for nothing. *Our clothes are molding for naught. *We have left our home countries and we're crazy for doing so. Apart from Him...nothing is possible. But in Him...consider the possibilities for sustainable life. Our walk can be different. MP3: And because our position and walk are changed, our entire perspective can be changed. *From looking to the here and now which is so easy to do...we can look to glory. It's easy to leave the States really excited...ready to tackle the world for Christ. *And then have our focus shifted to the realities all around us - only to remain. The good news is that our positioning in Christ allows us to look forward to a day when mission work won't be needed. *A day when physical and spiritual poverty will no longer exist. A day when every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. CLOSE: Brothers and sisters, let's leave here this morning with a renewed perspective.

For those who are honest with themselves, life away from our normal can at times be difficult. At times, extremely difficult. *And whereas we all do a pretty good job at plastering our smiles on while we're within these walls, we also know the pain behind closed doors. It's the reality that no amount of chapel attendance can soothe. *A reality that no amount of old Office reruns can mask. *That no amount of trips to Denny's can make go away. But a deep understanding of who we are in Christ and the position that we have been given...a position to simply abide... *By that grace, and to His glory, we can have a sustainable life where our walk and perspective is pleasing to Him.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Class Baby Shower

At the beginning of June my friends from my trimester group here in Language School gave me a baby shower. It was a special time with the ladies who have meant so much to me this past year. There were about 8 of us there and we just ate, laughed, shared stories and opened presents. It was a perfect afternoon and a great time to share before everyone started moving away. It meant so much for my friends here to put in so much effort for me and this new little baby.

Decorations at Rosanne's house

Yummy baby cupcakes...we still didn't know yet if it was a boy or girl

Gifts! We'll just be using the pack n play for a crib this time around

And in this box is the matching stroller and car seat! Such a blessing

Jennie, Claudia & Rosanne busy cooking

Me and Cynthia

Some other little fun gifts

Jennie, me, and "ducky" (Emma has one too)

Ana Lorena and Me

Ana (Grammar teacher) and Cynthia

Our trimester group...Jennie, Rosanne, Me, Rhonda and Claudia

Thanks so much girls! Love y'all!
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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Work Begins

Will you commit us to your thoughts and prayers this week?

Taylor Stewart arrived today and his suitcase of filming equipment has been lost. Will you pray for this to be easily recovered very soon? He is ready to begin his work as our videographer for this next year. He hits the ground running with Will and two men from Grace Evan as we all begin the pastor and leader training department in the North area of Costa Rica. 

37 students (men and women leaders of churches) will begin a two year program that will provide them a solid, conservative theology. All for free.

The week that we've been waiting for is here. Thank you for being part of this.
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Monday, July 16, 2012

Completely Incapable

I remember blogging when we first moved here about listening in church. Church is all in Spanish and I remember the title of my blog was less than 1% which referred to how much I understood of the sermon that day. We hadn't started Languge school yet at the time and I was ready to go. I wanted to get this journey started and start beginning to understand something around me!

It was about a month ago while sitting in church at Vida Abudante del Este that it dawned on me. I think I understand more than 80% of what the pastor said that Sunday. There will always be the moments of speed talking during illustrations or jokes that I don't think I'll ever get, but I pretty much followed the whole thing. I had to take a picture of that moment. What was even cooler was that Will commented on the way home from church about how much he understood as well. Remember, I took 2 years of French in high school which was 16 years ago and that's it. I knew "hola" when we moved here and I'm pretty sure I didn't even pronounce that right. This language learning process is an amazing thing. And it really does take right at a year to adjust to this whole process.


On August 1st we will have lived here in Costa Rica for one year. My how our life has changed. It is so difficult to describe to people back home and yet I want everyone to experience it (seriously...we love having visitors). There are so many cultural differences that I'm not sure I'll ever get used to them all, but I'm realizing that's okay. Spanish is so difficult that I'm not sure I will ever be able to use the "f" word ("fluent") about myself, but that's okay. Costa Rican families are such tight units here that I find it difficult to break in and make friends, but that's okay. I honestly feel completely incapable all the time, and that's okay.

A friend of mine blogged about this very topic recently about their year at language school and I couldn't agree more. I have really felt completely incapable in all aspects of my life here this past year. After a year of feeling that way, it can really drain you and get downright depressing. I got so tired of crying about it. Just to live life is so demanding you wonder where the days go and what exactly you have accomplished. I had to get out of that mindset big-time! I've been in class hearing Spanish for 5 hours a day, 5 days a week for a year and I still don't have a lot of confidence in speaking this language. How frustrating! Of course, I'm not super-talkative in English anyway so I guess the lack of confidence is pretty normal. Have I ever mentioned that I hate the feeling of embarrassment? Yeah...anyway. But the feeling of being completely incapable has turned me to the Lord like never before. It is absolutely a requirement to stay grounded in God's truth to give me identity, purpose, confidence and a feeling of worth. And just to pray for a correct mindset, peace and for His help daily.

He is the one that sustains me.

I want to remember this always in my life and I hope I matter where I live.
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Saturday, July 14, 2012

Language School Baby Shower

On May 19th, the ladies at our language school threw the three of us pregnant girls a baby shower. It was such a special time and it meant so much to each of us. When I found out I was pregnant this time around I remember feeling sad that I couldn't share this experience with family and friends. How wrong I was. The families here at language school have been our family this year and they are all rejoicing with us during this time. They put so much work into making this so nice and I was definitely overwhelmed.

Such pretty decorations on such a pretty day in Costa Rica

Flowers for each of us and a homemade banner to hang in our hospital room

Bible verses on each table

There were probably about 20 ladies there and most of them helped with something...good brunch food (I've missed that so much), decorations, games, gifts, on and on.

Baby Games

A special prayer card they made for each of us. All the ladies took one home to know how to pray for us specifically throughout our pregnancy.

Me (due with my 3rd in November), Timbrel Hall (due with her 4th in September), and Kelly Rozenboom (due with her 6th in August)

The gift table full of diapers and wipes!
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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Emma's Eye Surgery

On June 4th, Emma had to have surgery to remove an infectious bump off of her eyelid. We noticed it at the end of March around when rainy season was beginning and everyone's allergies were going haywire. I thought it was probably a clogged tear duct or a stye or something to do with allergies and it would eventually go away on its own. It was a flesh-colored bump and never got any bigger so I didn't think too much more about it. About two months later she started complaining about her eye hurting and her eye was red first thing each morning. So we decided to take her to the missionary doctor at our school.

I was so impressed with the care we received from there! Dr. Longworth didn't know exactly what it was, but he knew it needed to be removed. So, send her to a plastic surgeon or an eye doctor? That was the question. He had me call his personal nurse right away to get her in with an eye specialist named Dr. Mena the next morning. She was young and sweet and spoke English which calmed Emma down a lot. She identified the bump right away as "mollusco contagioso" (sounds like a Harry Potter spell to me) and said it was actually the host infection and it could spread to the rest of her body. She checked Emma over and even checked her eyesight and said everything was fine. But the bump needed to be removed right away because it was very infectious and very contagious (nice to know after 2 months! Ooops). She told Emma that she has done this surgery tons of times on pretty little girls like her and there was nothing to worry about. So, Emma really never was concerned about it at all.

Okay, let me clarify something. Will actually took her to see Dr. Mena and when they returned home this is how our conversation went:

Me: "Well, how did it go?"
Will: "Fine"
Me: "What did the doctor say?"
Will: "She has an infectious bump on her eye and it needs to be removed"
Me (thinking..."duh"): "What's it called?"
Will: "I don't know"
Me: "When is her surgery"
Will: "They're supposed to call you and let you know"
Me: "Why?"
Will: "They have to talk to the children's anasthesiologist first and see when he'll be here" much information. I guess if I want more details I can take her myself next time. So I had to attempt several phone calls in Spanish to find out when her surgery was. They finally phoned back on Sunday afternoon (strange to me that they work then) and said her surgery was scheduled for Monday at 3:00. Poor girl couldn't eat all day.

We get to the hospital to check in and Jack said his tummy hurt. Great. I thought he could just as easily throw up in the bathrooms at the hospital as he could at home so oh well. We got him a Gatorade which made him feel better and Emma started to get nervous. Once we checked in (where you have to pay a hefty deposit...private medicine remember) Will received a phone call on his cell. It was Dr. Mena calling from the surgery room from her cell phone asking where we were. So funny to me. He told her we were on our way and we walked down the hall to the surgery area.

Cute Emma in her surgery scrubs

Check out the nurse uniforms...yes I'm serious. Hospital Clinica Biblica is quite the place. It has fountains and plants all in the lobby with a piano player in the corner. The food and coffee at the snack shop is really good too. Since it's private, it's not very crowded and you get a LOT of individual attention. For those of you who think I'm going to be having this baby in the jungle, no worries. I don't think I could choose a better place.

One parent had to be with her the whole time and only one parent. Emma is definitely daddy's girl after all, and he is so much better at keeping her calm than I am. So I waited with Jack right outside the door while Will dressed in scrubs and went in to hold her hand.

Her surgery took about 2 hours and then she had an hour of anasthesia recovery afterwards. She did amazing! Dr. Mena came out to tell Jack and me that everything was great and she'll see Emma again in a few days.

We then had to settle payment with the hospital for the remaining balance and make a plan to pay Dr. Mena her payment and the anasthesiologist his payment. And Dr. Mena only takes cash! I say all of this because it's so different than how we do it in the States. We do have health insurance through the States but most Costa Ricans have public health care and only the "rich" have private care. We pay our doctor bills ourselves and then get reimbursed from our health insurance company after we've reached our deductible. Even private medicine here is way cheaper than the States so it takes a while to reach the deductible. In fact, Costa Rica is known for medical and dental tourism. Meaning, really great doctors and really good prices for all kinds of services (mostly plastic surgery).

Anyway, on our drive home Jack said his tummy was hurting again. We barely made it in the door and he got sick. Will had a meeting that night with some pastors about his training program so it was quite the crazy day. Emma's recovery was great and she had the tiniest stitch in her eyelid that I've ever seen. Dr. Mena can even do stitches on the eye that you can only see with a microscope! Impressive. 

Emma saw our missionary doctor at school, saw the eye specialist, had eye surgery and her follow up appointment all in one week's time. Talk about quick! We were so happy with the care and attention Emma received at Clinica Biblica. We are so blessed to have this hospital nearby!
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