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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!