Friday, December 17, 2010

Connecting Communities

I have always loved seeing cross-cultural connections happen between youth group teens, mission work teams, and nationals and missionaries. I guess that is the midwife in me…relationship between a health care professional and their client isn’t immediate, it takes time, trust and openness. I thoroughly enjoy meeting a slim pregnant woman during the early weeks of pregnancy, and seeing the relationship develop as pregnancy progresses and the fetus becomes more than an “idea”.

We are privileged to work with nationals and missionaries and have seen this very thing develop between our home church in North America, sister organizations here in Costa Rica and the members and pastor of a local church body. I couldn’t help introducing myself to a bubbly Tica who spoke her passion for women’s ministry at a vision meeting hosted for our visiting Gringo missions committee in November. This congregation has the entire congregation involved in cell groups which foster community.

In Costa Rica(as in much of Latin America), physical walls and metal gates deter neighborhood interaction. Those fortunate enough to have a few hours of free time, spend it with family be they near or far. Although I have established community with missionary friends, Nicaraguan clinic workers, and Bible study groups I have had limited success in cultivating community in my own backyard. Desiring ongoing interaction with women interested in studying God's Word in the 2 mile radius surrounding our home in Tres Rios, I was intrigued and wondered if such a small group would “feel” like that experienced in Charlotte in years gone by.

Although the only gringa in the small group, Facebook messages, texts and emails from members connected me mid-week after my initial attendance. Warmly embraced by this local body of believers with cultural and physical differences, I see that the health of this cell group is core to the DNA of the church community our home church in the US seeks to partner. May relationships be planted that stand the test of time, distance and cultural differences. May God be glorified and exalted in connecting communities across an expanse of land and sea, and a vision for partnership become a lasting connection between two communities who love well.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Forty-two Months....

Three years and six months. 42 months. Amazing. When I look into the faces of those whom I have relationship with or at photos of those whose paths crossed mine during those 42 months I am so thankful that God placed our family here. I can’t begin to imagine not having met my dearest friends here, for experiencing God’s tender touch and soft-spoken whisper at just the right moment and learning about faith by living alongside those whose very lives depict it. You see, living life one thousand miles from familiarity is impossible without the intricate details woven into each moment by our Creator.

A handwritten note. Prayer prompted by a whisper. Crystal Light in every flavor imaginable. A song. Pecans. A tender touch. Chocolate( some very luscious, organic chocolate). A listening ear. Rain, and more rain. Brownie mix. Flawed Spanish. Magazines from the USA. Another prayer. Thanksgiving napkins. A phone call. Sunshine. Broken English. A tear . Laughter.

Thank you to those who were the hands , feet ,and heart of God to me and my family during these 42 months. Those who taught me more about faith than you will ever know. For allowing us to touch the lives of total strangers, and for the time to become friends to others along the way. Your investment breathes life and is necessary for us to serve others . Stay with us for the journey.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Passion, Pursuit, and Encouragement for the Journey

I tend to be energized by spending time doing what I love- listening to women, reaching out to others, feeding the multitudes, and opening my home to strangers I've never met. The early part of my week was a little disappointing
( OK, more than a little) as my car broke down, and then I was unable to spend time in La Carpio. Apparently four days without water in that barrio had provoked a protest of sorts, and the road was being blocked. For many of my friends twitter followers, and family, that would signal relief at 5:30 AM, and a quick return to bed... I put on running clothes, grabbed the dog's leash and ran and while running, prayed for a peaceful resolution (and abundant water to flow into that community soon) to this problem. The kids were happy that I chose to pick up their favorite doughnuts on my way back, and we spent a cozy morning together!

Does our Heavenly Father feel the same when he pursues the the thing He is passionate about--US--and we have something that impedes our time with Him? I believe so. Creating a space or place to meet Him(whether it is indoors or well, on during a long morning run), being intentional, and seeking His face demands commitment...but the benefits are beyond compare!

A double blessing was waiting for me today. A listserv sent a reminder for a call-in meeting and, although I rarely take time to look at non-personal or urgent emails in the morning -this particular email caught my attention. It was strange to open it, see our family's picture on the margin....and realize, this meeting was occurring in Charlotte, NC around lunchtime , and I could be a part of it via our stateside phone.

Although the connection failed midway through the call, this divine appointment encouraged me, and the other ladies who intentionally put aside time to be together, learn from God's Word and one another, and pray. I am not alone on this planet, my Heavenly Father has placed others along the hills and valleys of my life so I may be encouraged and, in turn encourage others. For some that means a slice of homemade pizza and a brownie, a cup of coffee and for others a listening ear, a hug or a smile. My friends and family know me too well--for me, any of those work....

" Christ died for us so that, whether we are dead or alive when he returns, we can live with him forever. So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing." I Thessalonians 5:10-11

Monday, November 8, 2010


This poem was written by a gringo student living and experiencing recent events here in San Jose.

You might see an avalanche being a threat
But here we are more worried about the rain
Seven inches in one day, though we mustn’t fret
Only believe that God will becalm the downfall

The very audible assonant bass sound of the rain
And its beau the thunder and lightning
The badgering wind throwing the droplets onto you is a pain
When writing a ballad on the azure sky that lays above

With the rain comes the atrocious cold
We have to bundle up to escape it
So baleful that it awakens the household
So we bask by the fire athirst for warmth

Drinking authentic Costa Rican coffee
We sit on the front porch
Nibbling on bits of tasty toffee
Beaming with beatitude for our benison of having a shelter

Bemoaning for those lost in the many mud slides
Grateful for the benevolence by the people helping
While we stay in our comfortable home and hide
Wondering when the horrendous storm will halt

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Soggy in Costa Rica

The last weeks in Costa Rica have been rainy, dreary, and unseasonably cool. For most North Americans, central heat and air conditioning are standard even in the most humble dwellings, but when outside temperatures are in the 50's and 60's and damp here in Latin America, things are pretty chilly inside as well !

Today is a national day of mourning, and flags are at half staff, for those killed and missing during landslides and other calamities brought on by the continued saturation of Costa Rica during this rainy season. Many are without clean water, phone coverage is spotty, and some are without electricity. Our family is grateful to have both water and electricity, and warm blankets to snuggle up in, while many have been displaced both here and in St. Lucia, Jamaica and Haiti.

Brian,our son Matthew and Kevin(Touchglobal staff) are safely in Haiti. Pray for open doors and open hearts as they seek to minister during this time, and for summit meetings that will take place beginning Monday.
Many Costa Rican neighbors have been shaken in recent days by increasing crime, economic variability and weather-related deaths and damage. Pray for sensitivity and opportunities to boldly share the love of Christ in word and deed.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Solitude Amidst Life

Earlier this month I completed my first half marathon. To attain this, I had chosen a definite training plan which coincided with the month in which the race would be run. To be completely honest, I had no idea whether my aging body was up for such a challenge, nor did I know if my mental or spiritual state would have any effect on the desired end result. Upon reflecting on this achievement, I reviewed the personal goals (KRA’s-key result areas) I had outlined in late 2009 to see how I was doing in other areas of my life. Only one had been sorely neglected, the practice of a monthly personal retreat day (PRD)—and in my life, well, one could easily rationalize that away.

In actuality, my daily life (at this life stage) could not accommodate such a practice, so I had written a clear, possibly achievable goal : “one four hour period of time away monthly from children, spouse, home or other distraction" to clearly evaluate my life in its varied aspects- spiritual life, ministry, family and relational life, fitness, well, you get the picture. I committed the desire to the Lord at my last personal retreat day and it didn’t happen again until this month-eleven months later.

So, all my hours of preparation for that half marathon could be considered personal retreat moments- but the desired result was unattained. This practice allows one to slow down, reflect, readjust priorities etc, before months disappear so that intentionality is woven throughout the tapestry of life and deliberate steps are taken in the everyday.

One month down, eleven to go. Intentionality has to be a “best practice” and a practice to be guarded amidst the busyness and noise of life.