Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Our Last Days in Costa Rica

Even though we have been home for a couple of days now, I still want to share our last 2 days in Costa Rica with you.

Early Friday morning, we said goodbye to our Villa and headed to the beach.

This is one of the boys' rooms (in part)

This is the gate to the Villa
Here's the front of the Villa
No question about who let the dogs out here!  Two huge German Shepherds were let out each night at 10:30 p.m.
We said goodbye to Terry, one of our translators
She wasn't able to go to the beach with us.  Instead, she stayed behind and cleaned our rooms.  Talk about taking care of His sheep!  Humbling.
During our 2+ hour drive to the beach, nearly everyone was asleep until Johnny yelled, "Hey, there's Kevin on that bus!"  Kevin was the young man from the Christian orphanage with braces on his legs.  So, everyone wakes up and gets all excited.  We were waving at the kids on the other bus.  Several folks were looking for JoJo!  Then, the realization hit that it was NOT Kevin on that bus or anyone else we had met!  Our bus erupts in laughter!  But Johnny is still convinced it was Kevin :)
A little later, our bus stops and we walk across this bridge to see...
these enormous crocodiles!  They were huge!

After we left the crocodiles, we saw a parrot flying in the wild!  It was really neat. 
About 10 minutes past the crocodiles, we turned onto the road that led us to the beach. Kylie didn't think we had gone far enough away from the crocodiles to be getting in the ocean! When we arrived at the beach, here is what greeted us...
The beach was in the middle of the jungle!!!  I prayed real hard not to see a snake!

Here's David seeking shade. 
The temperature went up quite a bit at the beach compared to what we had been used to all week in San Jose.
Here are our young ladies hanging out on the beach
And jumping for JOY!

Now we older wiser ladies couldn't be out done!

There was a waterfall on the beach, along with lots of rocks. 
Danielle turned it into a water slide!

Check out Tyler's new pet crab or is that lunch?
And speaking of lunch, every meal here was a huge buffet!
The restaurant was open to the jungle.  It had no walls.  So lots of God's creatures joined us for our meals (pictures of that are below.)
Tanner and Buck are hanging out on the deck of their room.
Todd was looking a bit too dry so Jeff is helping his friend out!

But don't think for one minute that we stopped ministering or sharing the Gospel just because we were having fun at the beach.  Several folks heard about Jesus while we were there and at the airport too.  Only our setting changed because our mission remained the same. 

These pictures do not do this tree justice.  It is gorgeous and over 400 years old.  God's creation is amazing!

After dinner, we had some group time where we praised God for all He had done in Costa Rica and thanked Him for letting us be a part of it all.  Then, we wrote letters to ourselves regarding what we thought we would be doing in 3 years, how what God did in Costa Rica would be impacting our lives in 3 years, and who has had the most influence in our lives thus far.  Afterwards, we shared with our small groups.  It was very touching and powerful.  Matt & Johnny plan to send us our letters in 3 years.  It will be interesting to see what God is doing in our lives at that time.
Just before bedtime, a few brave folks decided to check out karaoke (in spanish of course!)

Sorry, I left before the real singing got started!  You will have to ask CG or Buck about it.  I was only there for the dancing.
Check out the monkey.  He was in a tree near our breakfast table at the restaurant.  The monkeys apparently come out every morning.
Here are the other creatures (a mix between a racoon & an ant eater) having breakfast with Johnny and Matt.  These little furry fellows traveled in packs. 
Here's CG the animal tamer!!!
There were lots and lots of monkeys - EVERYWHERE! 
This one is grabbing a banana.
This one was a little shy and couldn't decide if he could trust us or not.  He did eventually grab himself a banana too.
Ahhhh, how sweet! Three little friends sitting in a row....
You can take us out of York County, but you can't take York County out of us! Check out our camouflage and Harley bags!
Bonding time at the airport.

And nap time too!

God is so good!  He is so faithful!  He is so very real!  We are still praising Him for all that He did in Costa Rica.  He changed hearts.  He changed lives.  He drew us closer to Himself and to each other.  And we are so grateful that we will never be the same.

"I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened
in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you..."
Ephesians 1:18

Loving HIM with all my heart & soul,

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Please pray for FAITH today...

Dear Lord,

Help us fight the good fight of faith, taking hold of the eternal life to which we are called.
"Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses." 1 Timothy 6:12

"Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life."  1 Timothy 6:17-19 

Loving HIM with all my heart & soul,

Friday, July 22, 2011

Now for Thursday

*We are currently at the beach where we will spend the night before returning home tomorrow.  I am praying that the internet will be much nicer to me here and allow me to upload my pictures this time without taking hours to do so.*


In my last post, I mentioned that Score International owned some property that they have big plans for in the future.  Well, one of the most exciting things God has done recently is to allow them to start a church on the property.

In an effort to help their church reach out to their local community and grow, we went door to door inviting their neighbors to church and telling them about Jesus.  We divided into 3 teams (because we had 3 translators) and hit the streets.

We would knock on the door & our translator would introduce us and tell the person we had a gift for them.  Then we would hand them a bag with hygiene items, tell them about the new church, and ask if they had time to talk a little more.  If they said yes, then we would share the Gospel with them.

If no one answered the door, we left the invitation to the church at their gate.

Three people accepted Jesus as their Savior!!! God is so faithful!!!

Costa Rica is primarily Catholic so they know about Jesus.  But they often believe that doing good works will get them into heaven.  So, we really focused on our sin separating us from God and Jesus providing a bridge for us through His death and resurrection - due to God's love & grace, not our good works.

The first house my team went to was that of a believer.  It was a lady with 3 daughters.  She told us that if we were Catholic, she did not want to talk with us.  She only wanted to talk about Jesus, and she only wanted her children to hear about Jesus!  She was the real deal!!!  She took a strong stand for her Savior.

The next house we went to was also that of a believer.  We shared some verses from the Bible with her and had the privilege of praying for her and her family - her mom needs a new job. 

At the next house, we met a lady who loves Jesus and has a prayer group of 20 people meeting in her house every week.  We gave her some Spanish Bibles to share with her group after we learned that not everyone had a Bible of their own.

The other people we visited all said they knew Jesus, but due to some of their responses to our questions, we were not so sure.  So we shared the Gospel with them anyway.  We were even invited inside at one nice lady's house.  Because of this, both she and her son heard the Gospel!

Each team had some different experiences, so if you have a family member or a friend here, be sure to ask them about sharing the love & hope of Jesus Christ door to door.

Also, please join us in praying for this new church to grow and be a beacon of light in it's neighborhood.

After lunch, a few of the youth FINALLY got in the pool.  Danielle had been waiting all week for this!

Check out Cody swimming in his "capris" :)

But not everyone who ended up swimming wanted to go swimming!  Stephen had a little help from his friends!

After drying off, we went souvenior shopping at some local shops......

and at WAL-MART Costa Rica!!!  Imagine Wal-Mart with lower level parking, security guards, and taxis lined up like at the airport!  It also had workers on almost every aisle waiting to help you!
 Here's me and Ms. Tonia with our skinny jeans, Costa Rican style!

Nearly all of us bought fresh bread and pastries at Wal-Mart too. Yummy!

After dinner (and I must add that the food this week has been DELICIOUS!!!), we went to a Bible study at the new Score International church I mentioned earlier.

Here is Todd with the pastor of the new Score International church.

Todd led Bible study.  He taught us about faith from Matthew 8:1-13 where Jesus was amazed by the centurion's faith.  He compared this passage to Matthew 8:23-27 where the disciples had little faith themselves and were amazed by Jesus.  Todd challenged us to be like the centurion and amaze Christ by our faith.  WOW!  POWERFUL!

 Here are some of our students with Terry, one of our interpreters from Score this week.

 Ahhhh! Sweet Sisters!

Loving on the children at church!

Matt held this baby almost the entire time we were at the church!  It looks like he's done this a time or two before!

One last plank before bedtime - this is the fountain outside of the villa where we stayed all week.

We have had a really good time this week being a part of God's work in Costa Rica and letting Him work on our hearts too.  To Him be the glory!

Loving HIM with all my heart & soul,