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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Advent: God With Us


Advent: God With Us from The Village Church on Vimeo.

O Holy Night

In a lowly manger lay
A child small and helpless
Surrounded by the stink of barn
And old and dampened hay.

Wrapped in clothes to keep him warm
The infant rarely stirred
The silent night on David's town
Enveloped Bethlehem.

Yet one cannot imagine 
The energy that night
The static in the air; the stink of demon's fright 
The Deliverer has come!

If you've seen Jesus, you've seen the Father
And even as he lay
A newborn helpless in the dark
The Light had come that day

To be rejected and despised 
Smitten and rejected
Pierced and beaten near to death
And still they'd call Him Lord

Did He hold back the angels then,
As the baby cried?
Keeping them from rushing in
An army to defend Him

God transcends the thoughts of man;
Surpasses understanding
And as the baby cried that night
Did He know I would find Him?


And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. And whoever sees me sees him who sent me.
(John 12:44-45 ESV)



Monday, December 12, 2011

Our Christmas Letter

Friends and Family,

We're looking forward to Patrick's first Christmas! We'll remain in Oxford to spend time with Jonathan's family, but this also enables us to create our own Christmas traditions. We're up to any suggestions!

With it being Patrick's first Christmas, it makes me look at the many first of 2011 and all the wonderful God has led us this year.

We ushered in 2011 with a trip to Hawaii with my family. It was so much fun and a "babymoon" for us right before the baby. Jonathan enjoyed the snorkeling, and I enjoyed my time as a "beached whale." We were also able to visit the Mighty Mo- a highlight for the both of us.

February brought us the greatest joy as we welcomed Patrick David into our  lives on the 18th. We also celebrated the start of our 2nd year of marriage. Patrick is almost 10 months old! I just know he'll be one too soon. He's crawling almost faster then we can get things out of his reach. He likes to live life on the edge by trying to eat cords and play in toilets. He's also showing us his social side by talking to us (or really Dadadada) all the time. He also enjoys singing to anything on the radio. Patrick loves big boy food and  says "ummmmmmmm" whenever he eats something new or yummy. He pulls himself up on anything within his reach, and he's wanting to walk. We've been so blessed to have this constant reminder of God's love and the joy He must have in watching us, His children.

The majority of the spring was spent applying to be missionaries with ReachGlobal. We were accepted by them in October. We're headed to San Jose, Costa Rica to work with an International Youth Group. The group has about 45 students who are Missionary Kids, Third Culture Kids, and Costa Ricans. We're so excited about helping these students mature in Christ!

We had a wonderful summer visiting friends from all over. We went to Georgia numerous times and were able to go to Chicago, Indiana, and Michigan. We enjoyed Lake Burton as much as possible! Jonathan and I also took Patrick to the Red River George in Kentucky and learned how to lead climb. Patrick loved hanging out in the hammock.

In August we went down to Costa Rica to meet the youth group. We had a wonderful time visiting with the families of the youth, eating beans and rice, engaging in Spanish (or me attempting to communicate), seeing the beautiful La Cumbre camp, and Jonathan having the opportunity to speak at 2 youth groups.
 Patrick was quite the hit with his fair skin and large size. "Muy Gordito!" We fell in love with the students and hope to be able to return to Costa Rica soon to be the youth directors. 


In addition to the youth climbing team, Jonathan and I started teaching undergrad students beginner rock climbing. We've really enjoyed teaching a new age of students and can now say we teach rock climbing to Kindergartners to Seniors in college. Sadly teaching has provided more opportunities for instructing than for climbing.
The rest of the fall has been dedicated to getting to Costa Rica. We've been calling, emailing, and mailing everyone we know. If you haven't heard from us yet, please give us your address so we can send you our updates. We've had several open houses, Maggie's spoke at a church, and Jonathan attended a conference.  We know that God will get us to Costa Rica in His timing, and we hope to be in Costa Rica next fall.

We've had a great 2011, and we're excited about 2012-- a toddler, going to Costa Rica, meeting new people, and growing stronger in our relationship with Christ!



Friday, December 9, 2011

A Thanksgiving-To-Now Update

On Tuesday, November 21, we made the long trek down to Duluth, GA to visit Maggie's family for Thanksgiving. It took ten hours driving through Cincinnati rush hour and some rain in the dark, but we made it in three pieces (Maggie, Patrick, and me, respectively). On Wednesday night we enjoyed an amazing Thanksgiving meal put on by Maggie's great aunt Kathryn. I enjoyed meeting new family I didn't know she even had, and catching up with some good friends, Tara and Joel Beauchamp. They are heavily involved with a halfway house for men struggling with addictions. Find out more about their faith based support ministry at http://waypoint-wingslikeeagles.blogspot.com/. It's really neat stuff.
Speaking of stuff, we stuffed ourselves that night, and then had to work it off playing some four square. My Culby 4 experience came in handy, and I dare say that a couple times I was singled out and every move (sometimes wrongly) scrutinized. But I showed them what C4 can nurture in a person, and had some great volleys.

Thursday was Thanksgiving Day and we enjoyed some family coming over to Maggie's folks (the Finchers) house for dinner. We missed Kelley and Jean-Marc, but still had  good time. Patrick is a huge fan of anything served on Thanksgiving. Huge fan.

On Monday we had an open house at the Finchers where we talked about the International Youth Group in  Costa Rica and how the Spirit is leading us to work with them. We had great feed back from the group, and though prior to that we had been fairly discouraged, God used that to lift our spirits. It's great when He does little things that He doesn't have to do for us.

After working on developing ministry partners on Tuesday, we decided to hit up the Georgia Aquarium on Wednesday.


These are actually the first fish Patrick saw in the aquarium.



Maggie and Patrick at the Grand finale
video
 Lots of cool memories.

On Thursday I flew to Minneapolis for some training. It snowed four inches while I was there, and got to take advantage of it: my fellow trainees and I made a bunch of snow men looking into the window of our training room. Between that and the Mall of America, our evenings were covered. Fun Fact: If you visited every store in the Mall of America, it would take you 85 hours! Noooo thanks. 

Back in Georgia Patrick was making a run for it in his super-cool Jeep walker. Check this video out!

video

Maggie got to speak at Clayton First United Methodist Church on Sunday, while I finished up training and flew back to Atlanta. We left Monday morning and had to dive straight in to all of the work and emails awaiting us. What a great trip!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Thankful

It's a dastardly scheme of the enemy's. A devastating blow against the Christian walk when a believer does not have the Christ as the Lord over his life. So easily do the attractions of the world creep in and arrest our attention. We turn from the reason for  our existence and allow our minds to grow dusty in regards to how we think of Christ.

When materialism, or social help, or Christian ministry, or community service, or hedonism, or any other entity or idea other than Christ becomes our aim, we are trapped in a temporal state of mind.

I drove down from Ohio to Georgia last Tuesday. I was concerned about money and the maintenance I had to perform on my car. I had just gotten my oil changed and was forcefully warned about all of the different ways my car could spontaneously combust at any moment if I didn't immediately drop $1,000 on it. Driving to Georgia, I began to worry and fret about finances. Need I elaborate? I think everybody's been here before. Sometimes worry just grips you and numbs your mind with fear. It's eerily consuming.


But at the same time I was thinking and pondering how to maintain an eternal perspective on life. 


I'm tired of falling in the trap of losing perspective and I want out. I don't want my thoughts to be consumed with what to get who for Christmas, or where am I going to get money for ______ , how long will it take us to raise support? I want to live with the big picture, the eternal picture in mind. This earth will fade away. Its pleasures, its politics, its popularity, and its positions. That is why Jesus said that the first shall be last. Everything will be flipped upside down and shaken up. 


My mind flicked back from one to the other. Money, Christ, money, Christ.

It is only when we have Christ as the center and definition of our very being (Gal 2:20) that we live in light of the way things really are. If everything in life is going fine, I think it's easy to lose sight of this. The happy, stable person is in danger of losing touch with reality. The person who is concerned about finances for the good of his own family is at risk of losing the most valuable thing he has. As I asked God how to maintain my grasp on reality, I was lead again to think about my financial situation. 


Finally I realized that only when we choose to believe what Jesus tells us, and live like we believe it, will we be able to keep our priorities in order. 

I must choose to trust Christ with my finances and actively rebel against the thoughts of worries and tight-fisted temptations that come my way. This is one way to keep Christ at the center. Thank you, God, this Thanksgiving, for a difficult financial situation to keep me trusting in you.



Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

(Matthew 6:25b-33 ESV)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Piggy Bank

Jonathan and I had an open house this past weekend. Maybe the timing was wrong or the location was too far--- regardless, we had very poor attendance. Being a very positive person, this was what threw me into the ocean of reality. However,  God is very intentional, so we started thinking about a different direction God would have us take in getting to Costa Rica.

Considering we live in a college town... 
God has put us in this location, home of Miami University, for a specific reason. I believe one of the reasons is to help students understand stewardship. Maybe God is wanting us to ask for support not from established individuals but from the poor, college student who can only give up a coffee a week.

I just finished Andy Stanley's Fields of Gold. The book does a wonderful job of addressing stewardship and what prevents us from giving. Fear is the reason Andy suggests why we don't give back to God. We're afraid that when it comes down to it we won't have enough. Or when it comes time to give, we have nothing left. We ask what will we eat? What will we wear? Doesn't Jesus address this concern in the Beatitudes? See Matthew 5 to address those fears. I could say a lot more about what I learned, and maybe I should later in its own post.

Anyways, I believe God wants us to take the opportunity to challenge students to cast off their fear of giving and trust God to provide. It's His money anyways. He doesn't need our money to get what He wants done, but He allows us the chance to join His work-- to be a part of His plan. It will be a much longer process if we're talking about $10 a month from students. However, if God is able to use us to direct them to be good stewards, then the gain is so much more!

P.S. The picture of Patrick was to make people view the post

Sunday, November 13, 2011

God is in Control

I am more than eager to go to Costa Rica. This picture of the youth group is the background for our computer. Every time I see it, which is often, I pray for the students that they would seek God and find Him. I pray for the young women that they would find fulfillment, satisfaction, love, and encouragement from God in His Word. I pray that the youth will desire to know God and know His Word. I pray for Jonathan and I that we will be leaders worthy of this ministry He has called us to. We pray that He will use this time in preparing for Costa Rica to teach us how we can better minister to these students.

There are so many different ways God has made it clear that He desire for us to go to Costa Rica. I'll have to write a post about all the different ways at another point. We trust that God will provide the necessary funds for us to actually go and be the youth directors. However, it is challenging to trust Him when things aren't going at the rapid pace we desire. We're supposed to be at 50% support by January to be able to attend a conference that is necessary for us to be in Costa Rica by August. Right now we are at 5% support. Reaching our goal seems impossible, but it provides a great opportunity for God to show Himself and to show us that He desires us to be in CR and to show all finances are ultimately His. Lord, we have great faith that You are capable!

I am an extremely positive/optimistic person. I've really enjoyed this process of telling people about Costa Rica and watching them respond. I've been blown away by people's generosity and praise people for their stewardship  However, today was the first day that the 45% remaining has seemed too big, too hard, and too impossible. Please pray that Jonathan and I will continue to know that if God wants us there that He will provide. In our hearts we know it's true, but mathematically it seems really crazy.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Ready to Climb

Last Thursday, two of my Youth Climbing Team students made me very proud. They led up our indoor wall.

There are two type of rock climbing with a rope: the first is top-roping, where you have an anchor at the top. The rope goes from the climber, up to the anchor, and down to the belayer, who takes up the slack as the climber moves up the wall. 

Lead climbing is the second type, where the rope is tied to the climber, and as he moves up the wall he clips the rope into anchor points in the wall along the way. The belayer feeds more slack to the climber as he moves up the wall. If a climber were to fall top-roping, he would fall maybe 2 feet. In lead climbing, you fall the slack to where you last clipped in to an anchor--and that much more (if you're 5 ft above you're anchor, you fall 10). 
Where as top-roping can require no previous experience, lead climbing requires hard work at skill and technique. I had these two students training on more and more difficult routes while still top roping. I pulled them aside and had them do special exercises. Finally, I had them practice their clipping again and again and again and again and again. I probably made one student practice clipping in the rope about 50 times each practice. Why? Because little minute stuff like that will make or break your climb. Clipping needs to be second nature. Lead climbing is about climbing, not about clipping. New lead climbers tend to focus their energies on making the next clip, and not on the climb itself.

A parallel comes to mind of my spiritual life. Walking with the Lord, it's the seemingly minute stuff that can make me stumble. Things that should be second nature: like prayer. If prayer is not second nature in a believer's life, you know he hasn't been praying much. How easily prayers come to my lips is directly connected with how often I've been praying. What happens when prayer does not come easily? My energies are spent trying to figure out how to pray. My attention to how I stumble over words. If my life is all about glorifying God, and I can't even pray a simple prayer, I need to get some things straightened out. 



The same goes for reading my Bible, worshiping, and being generous with what I'm entrusted with. We need to be able to get these things right, so that when practice is over we're ready to climb.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

First loved us

Patrick stealing his first cookie
Patrick loves to talk. He'll babble all day to anyone or anything. The other day I heard him saying his normal "Dadada  dat dat dat adadad," so I went to check on him. He was talking to the baby on the diaper box! With his constant attempt to communicate-- and my linguistics background-- I'm very interested in how he'll soon start to understand and even say more words. This got me thinking....

How is Patrick going to understand the word love? I say "Patrick, I love you" about 20+ times a day, but what will that mean to him? How will he learn to understand love? Then it dawned on me... Patrick will understand love because I demonstrate it's meaning to him. I comfort him when he cries. I feed him when he's hungry. I play with him and cuddle with him. I consistently show Patrick that I love him. He'll understand love because I love him and demonstrate it. 

1 John 4 came to life in this context. Verse 19 states: "We love because he first loved us."  Verse 9 and 10 shows how God loves: "This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins." 

What a great responsibility Jonathan and I have to demonstrate love to Patrick. What a blessing that God teaches us how to love and displayed His love in such a powerful way that enables us to love others!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Summed Up

Tonight I was reading in the book of John. This is what stuck out:


"The next day again John [the baptist] was standing with two of his disciples, and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus." (John 1:35-37)

This is what I want to be about.

This is the essence of youth ministry.



 "The next day again John [the baptist] was standing with two of his disciples, and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, “What are you seeking?” And they said to him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come and you will see.” So they came and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour. One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter).
(John 1:35-42 ESV)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Giving Thanks


video
Patrick brings great joy into our lives. His cute smile, constant babbling, and how he always squeals at dogs makes me bubble over with joy. It is crazy to think how much better our lives are since Patrick was born 8 months ago. As he discovers each new food, we get to be a part of the adventure. God uses Patrick to not only provide me with great joy, but He also uses Patrick to keep me thankful. I cannot see that cute smile without giving thanks to the Father. Ephesians 5:20 talks about giving thanks always and for everything. When you thank God for all He's done for you, it easily turns into a habit of prayer.

Speaking of prayer, Patrick was an answer to a prayer I had when we were in Ecuador right after getting married. The transition into a place where I didn't speak the language but wanted to still minister was really hard. Jonathan, who speaks Spanish fluently, was able to lead a Bible study and give devotions at youth services while in Salasaca. I on the other hand learned to minister with instant coffee, bread, and cheese. While there, I prayed that God would give us a kid when I would be in a similar language learning situation. When I became pregnant in June, we weren't expecting to have kids this early. We thought we would still be in Oxford for another 5 years before entering into foreign missions, but God had sooner plans!

Patrick was an answer to my prayer and in the perfect timing. I didn't know we'd be able to serve internationally as soon as we now are, and I'll have a small family to minister to while learning Spanish in Costa Rica. God's timing was right on schedule, even when we thought otherwise! I'm so thankful we're on His timetable and not our own!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

One step closer to Costa Rica


We’re proud to announce that we are now missionaries with ReachGlobal preparing to go to Costa Rica! This journey, which started back in March, climaxed as we attended an 8 day conference at the home office in Minneapolis. The conference’s goal was to determine “fit”—the mission with us and us with the mission. And we both agreed that the fit was perfect! As an extension of the Evangelical Free Church of America (EFCA), ReachGlobal exists to glorify God by multiplying healthy churches among all people. Jonathan and I are ecstatic to be a part of the organization committed to developing, empowering, and releasing healthy leaders!

What does this mean?

Now that we’re accepted, we’re one step closer to Costa Rica and serving the International Youth Group (IYG). We will be a part of a healthy ReachGlobal team that seeks to minister to those in San Jose. When we were in Costa Rica, we were greatly encouraged by members this team. We’re so blessed to enter a network of ministry and support! Personally, this marks the start of a journey into missions that I’ve desired since I was 6, and God couldn’t have better timing.

Our new journey…

Considering we started our journey with ReachGlobal in March, we feel very relieved to finally be a part of this great organization. However, the real journey is ahead. Talking to a missionary in Costa Rica, she compared this next step to the journey of baby sea turtles to the ocean. She wished that she could just put us on a plane, but she recognized that it takes the dangerous journey to the sea to prepare us for the rough waters ahead. Please pray for us that we would continue to be encouraged and reminded of God’s faithfulness in bring us this far.

If you’re interested in receiving periodic updates from us as we journey to Costa Rica, you can comment to this post or send me an email at Maggie.hunter@efca.org.

We look forward to the opportunity for God to reveal Himself and His desire for us to serve in Costa Rica!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Costa Rica Here We Come!

On August 25th we will fly to Costa Rica to visit the International Youth Group, meet with parents, check out cost of living, and all that good stuff. We will fly down on buddy passes, and the IYG is graciously paying the taxes and fees that come with those. This trip will allow Maggie and I to really make the decision of whether or not to commit to the IYG, and them to us. Sending agency details will fall into place however the Lord decides to lay them. 

During this time of discernment, we ask for your prayers. Please pray for wisdom and clear thinking on the part of Maggie and I. Pray that we would ask smart questions, be objective, and most of all be sensitive to the Spirit's leading. 

As I continue to contemplate leaving friends and family in the United States (and already have in Ecuador), I sometimes wonder just what it is that I really want to be doing. Will moving to Costa Rica and working with a youth group make me happy? It is sad to think of leaving the close proximity of good friends like everyone we have gotten to know in Oxford, Jonny and Jill in Indiana, Tim and Kelli in Michigan, family, extended family, and everyone else we don't see as much as we'd like to. 

But then, it's not really about what I want. It is, but it isn't. I really want to follow the Lord. This is what I want for me and my family more than anything else. To serve him and be used by him in a manner where I decrease and He increases. But sometimes my selfish desires kick in, and the enemy tries to cloud my thinking. It would be nice to be comfortably living in a hedonistic society where my pleasure is the most important thing. But life is bigger than that. God is bigger than that. I encourage you to remember this. 

What is important in your life? Are you forgetting the supremacy and urgency of the call to follow Christ? It always involves sacrifice. Always. 

Blessings and Grace. 

Jonathan for Maggie and Patrick

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A Quick Update

This past month feels like it has been jammed full with activities and deadlines. We went to Texas and I got to meet a lot of Maggie's great family, I stood up in Jonny Cake's awesome wedding (hair only slightly singed from the bachelor party firecrackers), we completed stage one of our Reach Global forms (Thank you everyone who filled out a reference for us!!), and moved out of our duplex. Last week and this week have been full of work and running those random errands that never seem to end. My dad has been in town for two weeks, and leaves tomorrow. We enjoyed having him around.

Maggie's Birthday is today, and to celebrate we went to The Melting Pot, a fun fondue restaurant where you cook your own meat. Happy Birthday Maggie!!

As we look ahead to what June holds, we continue filling out RG forms, I am leading worship for the highschool week of our church camp, (and Maggie and Patrick will be there too!), and I continue to evaluate keeping my lifeguarding job.

A couple prayer requests:

1. For our Reach Global application, that we would be diligent in the long process
2. Thank you Lord for Maggie's life!
3. Consistent growth and leading of the Spirit in our lives

We really appreciate your prayers. Pictures to come later :)

Love to all

Jonathan for Maggie and Patrick

Saturday, May 14, 2011

More on Costa Rica

Dear Friends and Family,

I wanted to share what has been on my heart concerning our missions opportunity.


The possibility of living in Costa Rica thrills me. If you know me at all, then you would know I grew up in Ecuador and in a Latin American context, and that I absolutely love it. You also would know that I love mountain climbing and anything that can be remotely tied to it--rock climbing, rappelling, jungle trekking, backpacking, canyoning, spelunking, etc. You would also know that I have a heart for youth and enjoy and am energized working with them, especially in the context of discipleship. Being youth directors in Costa Rica pretty much just wraps all of this together with a nice ribbon and would just be waiting for us to open all in one mind-blowing package. Then why have I been unsure of this in the past couple months?

I want to quickly remind everyone that we have not been accepted yet by AMCA nor by Reach Global yet for this position. Everything is in the Lord's hands, and as we work to get our application in we trust that He will do with us as He pleases. Also, (little side note) there is a high percentile chance that both the AMCA Director and the RG Latin America Area Director will be reading this post. So here's a shout out to Chris and Cynthia, and Brian and Cathi!

Ok, back on track.

Concern #1
One big concern has been my uncertainty of the validity of raising support to do a job that I feel any other youth pastor in the States could do, and that has been done by other current missionaries already for several months, and, by the time we would arrive in Costa Rica, would have done for over a year. Is there really a need for Maggie and I to go through the long process of arriving there, and then on gifted money?

God's Work of Grace:
As I began to ponder this, Biblical passages that I was studying started to become more alive, and I longed to communicate truths that I was learning to others with a passion I had not felt before. I also had conversations with some MK friends of mine who are asking hard questions that were never answered in high school and are now questioning core beliefs. I began to realize that there wasn't as much a gaping hole to be filled as much as a sparkling opportunity to be had. Maggie also mentioned that many of these MKs would be going on to other countries. A vision began to grow in my mind of students, whose parents were already on the field, who had no application process to go through, discipling others wherever they end up. Why not!? That excites me.

Concern #2
To be brutally honest, we don't have a desire to be working here the rest of our careers. We don't know what God has in store for us in regards to timelines if we do, but our heart is in one of two places: Training national leaders, or little/unreached peoples. I get super excited about this passage:
I cannot wait for the end to come! How glorious the return of Christ and oh to be with him face to face! My heart truly yearns. But the end means judgement. How amazing the patience of God, and I really get excited to be a part of sharing with the unreached, or training those who could do it so much better than I. There are people who have never heard the Gospel. Never. And while I do believe in general revelation,--you theologians-you know who you are--Romans 10 burns in my heart. "How can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?" That is our passion and what we want to devote our lives to. Maggie and I are some of the few who can happily live in fairly uncomfortable living circumstances. So why Costa Rica when we're willing to give so much more? Why not get started on the other while before we get too old? (I know, I know,30 isn't that old for most of you but compared to 23 it seems far away.)

God's Work of Grace
The needs to be filled are so many that it would be impossible for Maggie and I to decide on our own. Which of the hundreds of tribes, so many still unreached, to go to in Papau New Guinea? Or which of the people groups in which of the 20 countries in Latin America to work with? It quickly becomes to overwhelming. It cannot be our choice. Ours is just one life to live. My friend Matt had good advice for me the other day when I was overwhelmed from trying to figure everything out: Have you considered meditating on the sovereignty of God? And when I did, He brought me back to Costa Rica. I don't understand it all, but I don't have to. That also gets me excited.

I hope as family and friends (who will inevitably getting a support letter from us :)  ) you would have asked these questions too. I hope that you are careful to discern the work of the Lord from the wave pool of emotions and desires of individuals, and are not too quick to assume that if they say it's from God, it must be. Please know that we are covering everything in prayer. We still don't see ourselves with the youth group or in Costa Rica forever. But then, it is God who directs our steps.

More later,

Grace,

Jonathan


Images from herehere, and here .

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Boy oh Boy

We have now been in Oxford for a full year, and boy oh boy do our lives look completely different!

For starters, we have now been parents for almost 11 weeks! Patrick is getting so big, or in Jonathan's words "fat." Patrick has been more than gracious with his new mommy and daddy. We thankfully don't have any crazy first child stories (at least not yet). Jonathan loves making Patrick fly and is making sure that Patrick is prepared for the rough world of being a boy. Thankfully our boy was born tough. Jonathan thinks Patrick takes after me in that he hates being bored. Anytime he is left alone, he gets upset. Thankfully, Patrick takes after both of us and loves the outdoors. Any amount of crying is quickly resolved by a walk around our yard. Yeah for a future hiker! Maybe we'll be able to hike the AT after all. Patrick started smiling at 6 weeks, and we have been greatly blessed by his new ability to connect. It definitely makes changing dirty diapers much better when you have a cute smile on the other end. We'll that's enough about Patrick for now.

In our year in Oxford, Ohio we've struggled with being content with serving the Lord here. He's thankfully helped us realize how to serve Him here, and we love helping Jonathan's grandmother whenever we get the chance. However, deep, deep, deep in our hearts we've been itching to serve God overseas. He's been telling us wait for so long, that when we finally heard a go it took us both off guard. There is an opportunity to be Youth Group Leaders in Costa Rica with Reach Global. We've only just begun the long process. Right now we are both working on our theological questionnaires. This is so much fun because it reminds us of our time at Bible School. Thank you Dr. Zuber and Dr. Weber for making us write our doctrinal position papers-- they've been the biggest help. The application process is really long, which is our biggest discouragement considering our eagerness. We won't find out if we're accepted into the mission until the first week in October. Once we're accepted we'll start the even longer process of support raising. Lord give us patience!

One of the many great things about this position in Costa Rica is that we would be ministering to MKs (missionary kids). The group is near the language school that most missionaries to Spanish speaking countries study, so we'll have youth getting ready to serve with their families all over Latin and South America. It's a bilingual youth group, so I'm excited to be able to minister to students as I'm learning the language. This position is exactly what Jonathan and I've been praying for. We both want some ministry experience before going to grad school, and we've been blown away with how this position perfectly fits all of our God-given talents. Right now it seems almost too good to be true, but we're trusting that God wants us to glorify Him by using all of our gifts.

Well my mommy time is almost over (I'm writing from a coffee shop and enjoying that Patrick is at home with Jonathan). I'll end with some ways you can be praying for our family:
  • our adjustment as parents
  • finding a place to rent for the fall
  • completing the application process with Reach Global
  • making connections with those in Costa Rica to see if we're a good fit
  • Jonathan's grandmother as she continues to recover from a mini-stroke
  • ministering to our co-workers and others here in Oxford
  • Maggie's new mom connection-- that it will open doors for presenting the Gospel
Also, Jonathan spends a lot of time sitting (he's a life guard), and I spend 5 hours a day nursing. All this to say we have the time and the desire to pray for you. Please let us know how we can pray for you!