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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Patrick pics and a funny video

Patrick with Aunt Cristina

Patrick trying out his new tunnel

Patrick isn't going to have any issues opening his first b-day presents

"No wonder mommy and daddy take so many road trips. Driving is fun!"

Patrick with his Great Gemo (Maggie's grandmother)

Patrick isn't in this one-- we went climbing for a date!

Patrick really liked ribs
Patrick cracks up at such random things

Sunday, January 22, 2012

In The Mind of Third Culture Kids...

One of the youth groupers wrote a blog post that gives a snapshot into some of the inner turmoil of a TCK (Third Culture Kid):

Costa Ricans !!! yeah, lately i've been thinking if i'm really a Costa Rican, how do i look my culture ??? do i love it ???or  i just say..." well, what you gonna do ??" lately i've wonder if i really love my culture or my country ??.... i don't really know, i haven't been in a posicion where i have had to leave my country, and i really don't know how will i react when the moment happens, am i gonna cry ?? while i was abscent, i thought about all of this, and i started to compare the american culture, do i love it ?? and suddenly a big smile on my face !!!!!!!! when i just think about it.... i smile... its something i don't do with Costa Rica... but while i was gone i could marvel with God's creation, seing all the beautiful mountains in the morning, seeing a beautiful waterful, and just looking at all the flowers, the ones i've took pictures... and just looking at the beauty of nature makes me love my country.... But i know that somebody tells me right now, if i want to live in the USA... i would definetly answer YES !!! without thinking about it.... is this a person that appreciates her country ???

One of the things that characterizes a Third Culture Kid is the sense of not belonging. I grew up in Ecuador from 1st to 12th grade, a significantly crucial part of development as a human being. What does this mean to be from Chicago, but also from Ecuador? Confusion. Uncertainty. Where do I belong? What can I think of as 'home'? Is anybody like me? Can anyone relate?

Recently I was contacted by a former Youth Grouper, who was born as an MK in Costa Rica the late 60s. She shares,

 Probably the essence of [the youth group's] impact could be boiled down to me, a TCK (third culture kid), having a place where I belonged, a place where there were others like me. As a teenager to be among Americans in a Latin country is naturally bonding. Take it a step further and put God at the center of it, and you have ministry to a target group that often can struggle with identity (and feel like misfits). I’ve since discovered that while I neither have both feet fully in North American culture, nor totally in Costa Rican culture, I do have one foot planted in each, consequently making a great bridge between the two.

We're pumped at the opportunity to be the Youth Group Directors. What a golden opportunity we get to take advantage of--it's in our weakness that God shows Himself strong. It's in our insecurity that we can trust in Him, and not our friends, jobs, money, or neatly mapped schedules. Would you take a moment right now to pray for the students in the youth group? Just as there is such a great potential for students to turn to God, it's a volatile alternative if they shun Him at this point in life. Pray that He would draw their hearts and work powerfully in their lives. 

Blogpost taken from here.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

A Job Well Done

Think of a time in your life when you worked hard at something and were recognized for it. Maybe your employer noticed your work and said something like, "Jim is our best worker", or, "Sally is very dependable". Maybe you even got that incomprehensible idea known as a raise! Or maybe you walked away from the semester with a 4.0 GPA. (although, I would have been elated with a 3.anything!)

You know that feeling you get where you take pride in your work. It feels good to look back on hard work and see results. Even if the work itself was miserable at the time, somehow, it was worth it.

Today I taught both of my Beginner's Rock Climbing classes. I have 19 undergrad students in each class for eight weeks. Today we continued to learn about knots, setting up a belay system, and practicing their belay techniques, etc. Both classes went really well--unexpectedly well. After the classes I was checking the Climbing Team email (another part of my job) while I was waiting to talk with Mark, (my boss). I glanced at the roster of this after school program we run and was amazed myself at how many people were signed up. Just then, Mark walked in. We exchanged greetings and agreed to meet for coffee early next week to catch up on eachother's trips during break. Mark is quite happy and impressed with how the Climbing Team is doing, and that gives me that feeling described above. Working hard, being dependable, shouldering on responsibility: this whole being an adult thing is going pretty well.

On my drive home I started thinking, isn't it funny that we're wired this way? I mean, God made us to take enjoyment in our hard work. It's how we were designed. But God didn't save us this way. This seems to stand in contradiction with the fact of how we are wired: God made us to be satisfied in hard work and productivity (America is high on being productive--another post, another time), but nothing we can do makes us right with God. I've been studying in 1 Corinthians. And this passage in chapter 1 came to light in a brand new way:

 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men....
 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.

It sounds foolish to this world; to save people when they're not trying to earn it, to give life to those who can't work hard enough for it. But He did this "that no human being might boast in the presence of God" God's just God like that. It doesn't make sense in natural terms, I can't explain it. And while our natural, built in desire is to take pride in our hard work (especially in ministry), we would do well to heed the Word: “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

All Scripture taken from 1 Corinthians 1, ESV. Read it to find it!
Pictures from here, here, and here.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Let us pray

Patrick's first time playing in the snow
I was able to go to Vietnam in 2008 for two weeks with a group from Moody. One of my favorite parts of the trip was the role prayer played. Considering most southern Vietnamese didn't speak English, we would take the opportunity to pray out loud as we walked the streets, ran into challenging situations, and praise God for the work of our Vietnamese brothers and sisters. That trip really conditioned me to take everything and turn it to prayer.

Recently God is growing me again in the area of prayer, and it's been awesome! I started reading a book on Spiritual Disciplines and it used the analogy of a gym: "You can't expect to go to the gym and expect to come out a body builder unless it is something you are constantly working towards." So with God's help, I've been "exercising" myself in prayer. 

It's been really neat to see how prayer is one of God's way on enabling us to join His work. I've found that when I'm praying God will bring specific people or situations to mind for me to pray about-- the list keeps growing. In fact, I find that going from thinking about someone to praying for them is an instantaneous occurrence. It's sweet how God is growing me to this point. Prayer builds faith knowing that I've done all I can when I've prayed about a situation, and God always proves His sovereignty. Pray makes it that much more exciting to hear good news when I've been praying for a situation. It is a privilege and a blessing to get to pray about so many things.

Ephesians 6:18, right after Paul talks about the Armor of God, says "and pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people." Paul then asks them to pray for him. Pray is not listed apart from the Armor, but it is really woven into the theme. While we're engaging the Armor, we're in prayer. 

So "Let is pray, let us pray every moment of the day" as Steven Curtis Chapman sang. And if prayer is challenging, then this is the right time to start.

If you'd like me to pray for you, please email me at It would be a privilege

Thursday, January 12, 2012

"I don't know where I would be without AMCA International Youth Group..."

Today's blog post was not written by us, but by a student leader in the AMCA youth group.

Where would I be without the AMCA International Youth Group?  

I don't quite know the answer to that question, but it wouldn't be here and now.  Granted, I would probably still be on the mission field with my parents, I would still be at the same school, but would I be the same person inside?  Would I have the same understanding of my faith and what it means to have a relationship with God if it hadn't been for AMCA Youth Group?  Perhaps.  God does great things and goes to great lengths to reach out to us.  I feel strongly, however, and always tell people that I would not be where I am today in my Christian walk without AMCA IYG.  That is because AMCA is different from any other Youth Group I have ever been a part of.  Allow me to explain. 

I grew up on the mission field. As you can imagine, I've always gone to church, always heard about Jesus, knew all my bible stories, always known that Jesus loves us and we're supposed to love Jesus.  However, too often, the Gospel is not fully explained, the good news not preached, and the message of Christ's redeeming grace not taken to the Missionary Kids.  It's easy, after all, to assume that, since this person grew up in the Church their whole lives, they must be "good".  There's no need to try and preach Christ to them.  They already have a good relationship with their Lord and Savior (and by extension must have an understanding of what that even means).  Unfortunately, that's all too often FALSE!  Just because we're missionary kids doesn't mean we quite understand what it is that our parents preach!  In fact, there's a very good chance that, having heard the message of Salvation preached all of our lives, we've grown entirely numb to its message; it's just a part of our lives, nothing more—we don't really know what it means.  Sadly, that means that while the Good News of Salvation is being preached all around us, we silently ride shotgun and never get to absorb the message that is being taught, because it isn't being taught to us

That's where AMCA International Youth Group comes in.  AMCA is unique, because it is the only place I have ever come across that teaches the Bible to MKs in an environment made up of only MKs.  For the first time, it wasn't assumed that I knew everything about the Bible, nor was I the odd one out anymore, because everyone was in the same boat as I was!  It was at AMCA IYG that I learned about the basic doctrines of the faith (the faith I thought I had all this time), based solely on God's Word and nothing more.  It's the only place where I was truly challenged in my walk with Christ.  In fact, it was the place where I realized that I needed to have a walk with Christ, not just watch my parents walk their own walk.  I had never had the book of Romans taught to me, never had concepts like Grace explained.  In fact, I now know looking back that, even after being baptized at age 12, I still had no grasp of the concept that I am a sinner by nature and God, in His perfect love and grace, sent his literal Son to die a horrid death so that I wouldn't have to.—A Missionary Kid, and I didn't understand the basic message of salvation!   It was at AMCA Youth Group that I was taught and nurtured until I could truly understand all these things—at least enough so that I now had my own relationship with Christ, not someone else's.  

Over the years I would become more and more involved in Youth Group, and I would eventually be asked to be a part of the Student Leadership team.  I would later go on to lead worship at Youth Group—something I never would have foreseen four or five years ago and a tool that God has used to change and shape me into something more useful and gratifying to Him. Since then I have had the opportunity to give back some of what I was given through the AMCA Youth Group, leading peers and younger Youth Groupers in the same way I was led and blessed by Student Leaders only a few years ago—by example and service. 

I can't tell you how much of a blessing AMCA IYG has been to me and countless other MKs that I know personally.  AMCA is where I have developed my relationship with Christ.  It is where God has taught me the most and shaped me the most.  I don't know where I would be without AMCA International Youth Group.

[name removed] 17, High School Senior

Monday, January 9, 2012

On the road again

After spending Christmas with Jonathan's family and New Years with mine, we headed to Birmingham, Alabama to make more contacts with potential ministry partners. On the two hour drive, we prayed that God would use the time to the fullest and fill our schedule with appointments. He did! We met with a friend from Samford's University Ministries greatly encouraged us and told us about Steer Inc. Steer Inc is a great organization that connects farmers to missionaries. This program, which I'm sure Jonathan will explain later,  enables our rancher and farmer fiends to take on an extra cow or to use an acre of land to support us. All they donate is their labor and feed, and Steer Inc covers the rest. Whatever profit is gained goes towards our ministry. We'll be contacting farmers and ranchers we know this week, so praise God for creative ways to enable them to join our ministry!

We were also able to visit some of my friends from Samford whom I haven't seen in over a year. It was so nice to reconnect with them and see their mature, adult lives. It's crazy that I'm friends with teachers and lawyers since back in the day! 

We were also able to visit our now dear friends, Michael and Elizabeth, who a parents of our good friend from Moody. Our time with them was extremely encouraging. It's great to be around a family that lives and knows that God is in control of everything!

Other visits included seeing another parent of our friends, a couple who did missions in San Jose, and staying at Wayne and Anita's house (they have always been my Birmingham family). 

God opened so many connections this trip, and we look forward to new connections when we return.

Thank you Lord for a great trip!