Archive | January, 2011

A color only the grateful could love

31 Jan

"Aqui vienen las camisas verdes!" (Here come the Green Shirts!) That's something we hear frequently and in many languages as TouchGlobal staff and church teams come to work with people in crisis. Earthquakes, floods, hurricanes and other disasters are open doors for us to share God's love in very practical ways. Though not wearing the well-know shirt, Mark is standing in front of one of the homes TouchGlobal built in partnership with a family of six. The new homeowners get to choose what color the paint should be. In a drab and colorless environment, it's no surprise what this joyful homeowner chose. TG green…maybe Sherwin Williams ought to expand its selection.

A child again

31 Jan

Brenda and Stephanie….of course, the way they pronounce their names is a bit different from what you and I would expect. But even so, these two young girls are no different than any other young friends who enjoy each other, enjoy posing for a camera, and find adults, particularly middle-aged gringos, completely hilarious. Giggling is the same in any language. These two live in conditions we would consider pretty desperate…no running water, no bathroom, no grass in which to play, poor nutrition, no accessible healthcare and certainly no access to good education. Yet they love life because they recognize as do children the world over, that life is an incredible gift. Joy exudes from children if they even have half a chance to let it out. They don't know what life would be like with the resources found in many other places, but to them it really doesn't matter. Jesus blew his disciples' minds when he stopped them from shushing the children who were loving life while he was teaching. He said, "And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." Really Jesus? Silly, fun loving, not taking life too seriously? Playing and making noise? Friendships just because?

I have the privilege to travel to many cultures and see many ways of living, but one constant crosses all cultures, and all cultures can easily understand what Jesus was saying. This kingdom of God is going to be a blast for those who come with a simple faith and trust like kids, and be a real difficult transition for those of us who can't.

Earthquake forgotten?

30 Jan

On August 15, 2007 two earthquakes over 8 magnitude separated by two minutes struck a large area south of Lima Peru. Three and a half years later there is still evidence that life can never be the same. It is a sad fact that headlines drive not only the public's attention, but also the focus for relief agencies who respond to crises. Three years ago there were many NGOs and crisis response groups focused on the earthquake impacted areas of Peru. Today in Chincha, one of worst hit areas, there are none to be seen. Yet God still has people doing his work, bringing hope not only for physical recovery, but also for renewed spiritual hope. Slowly homes are being built. Slowly people begin to trust those who bring both physical and spiritual help. We have eight teams coming to Chincha this year but more are needed. Teams bring hope, friendship, and a clear message that these people are not forgotten. Interested?

From The Birds and the Bees to A-B-C…

30 Jan

My family and friends know that the more I have crammed into my schedule, the more effective and happy I become, in all spheres of influence–family, ministry, relationships, work…you name it. There was a time, just after language school when I wondered how my being here mattered. Sure, I had a hubby to encourage, and he and the kids needed food and love, and those under the age of 18, legally needed educating as they were not attending school outside our home.

I had friendships, but little ministry or outreach in the community, and although I encouraged the Reachglobal women living here in Costa Rica and elsewhere, I felt strangely useless. As I often do, I poured out my sentiments to God, explaining that I was perfectly content to be homebound and involved with the most pressing of needs, my household, but that my giftings and passion for women and children were withering away. Unbeknownst to me, God did have plans but simply desired my willingness to do what He desired, no matter what that entailed. In those moments my cries were heard and now I cherish those days I am actually home.
Clinic days filled with caring for and educating Carpio’s women, womens’ groups in Spanish and English, family and ministry responsibilities, and most recently teaching English content for the Bachillerato (equivalent of the U.S. GED), homeschooling and training for a second half marathon vie for my attention. I am happy, healthier than when we arrived, and thriving. I wonder how we’ll fare while on home assignment and ask God to provide financial and prayer partners even now, so that our time in the States will be “just enough”, and we’ll be refreshed and ready to return to our neighborhood, community and church home here in Costa Rica willing and equipped to do what He desires.

Ben’s homework: write a poem using twenty of your assigned vocab words:

22 Jan

A Blade Of Grass

The dissonant sounds came from afar
not dissimilar to the sound of bees in a jar
A noise of dissent rose up in the air
disquiet and distraught cries of “Beware!”

A duet of distorted disputation dwindled
as a distention of sound distilled into fear kindled
our efflorescent varieties dissipate into edible form
as the dreaded mower approached with effrontery as its norm

its domination slicing through every blade
the remaining donees have now paid
the dissolution of our duteous growth
causes an effusion of diurnal oaths

Careful of what I say

17 Jan

A partner church here in Costa Rica asked me to preach on missions yesterday….in Spanish. In my role I work with people in four languages: English, Spanish, Portuguese and Creole. So fluency in Spanish is not a requirement but it is a personal goal since I do live in a Spanish-speaking country. In the end I decided to use a translator because I didn’t want my limited language ability to detract from the message. Yet as I was preaching I found myself slipping into Spanish, much to the chagrin of my patient translator. Eventually he just stepped back and I charged ahead, getting smiles and very few looks of confusion as I spoke.

God is moving on the hearts of Latin American Christians and they are waking up to a new sense of the need for missionaries to come from ALL the world to ALL the world. We defined a missionary as simply as possible: a person who crosses cultural lines to build God’s kingdom. I used an example of a silly cultural difference between our home country and Costa Rica. Here it is very important to keep your car clean. I mean, REALLY important. Someone may have a twenty year-old car but they wash it regularly. Parts may be falling off, but doggone it, those parts will be CLEAN. In the USA however, this is not such a big deal. Sure we like our cars clean, but not enough to wash them every other day. This got a big laugh, and some joker left us a message on our car when we left church: Lavelo, meaning “wash it”.

Maybe I’ll get around to that this week sometime. Meanwhile, I think I’d better be more careful about the illustrations I use.

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Haiti one year later

7 Jan

Read about what God has done in Haiti this year.