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Friday, April 27, 2012

One Penny at a Time

Support raising seems to be a very slow process. You make calls, leave messages, and wait for people to call you back. You send out emails and facebook messages while planning trips, and then you have to wait. How long do you wait before you can call again? How many emails can you send a person asking to get together before you're a nag? It's a waiting game.

However, little by little our monthly pledged support keeps rising. It's really encouraging that we're now a quarter of the way there! Jonathan wrote in our last newsletter a way YOU can help us raise the funds to get to Costa Rica by simply searching the internet. Every time you look something up online, one penny gets contributed to our fund by It doesn't sound like a lot, but we've effortlessly generated 50 cents ourselves in a couple of days. If we had more people, that 50 cents could turn into $20 a month and get us one step closer. If you follow these 4 steps, you'll be contributing to our ministry fund without only 10 minutes of effort. 

Step 1: Create a user account.
Go to and click on the ‘register’ button in the upper right hand corner, or click here, to register. You can register with your google, facebook, yahoo, or twitter account, or just follow the simple instructions to register a new account!

Step 2: Search for our nonprofit account.
The name of our charity account is “EFCA Hunter 1546”. Indicate that this is the charity you wish to support. Note: if you do not indicate our nonprofit, the donations will not go to our ministry.

Step 3: Set Goodsearch as your default search engine.
Follow the instructions

Step 4: Search with Goodsearch, shop with Goodshop, and check into how you can have money donated from your dine-out experiences!

Here’s a sampling of different stores involved with Goodshop and the percentage of your purchase they’ll donate to the ministry:

Musician’s friend-3.5%
The North Face- 2.5-4.5%
HP- 1-2%
Kmart- 2%
Best Buy-0.5-3%
Expedia-up to 5%
Groupon-up to 5%,
Home Depot-1.5-2.5%
Apple Store-1.5%
iTunes/App Store/iBookstore-2.5%
J. Crew-3%
Lands End-3%
LL Bean-2%
Microsoft 1.5-5% 4.5%
Pottery Barn-1.5%
Williams Sonoma-2%

Please feel free to email Jonathan at with any questions!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

An end to a season (literally)

Jonathan belaying a climber on our outdoor trip
For the past 4 semesters, Jonathan and I have managed Miami University's Youth Climbing Team (YCT). This is basically an after-school program where climbers, ranging from kindergarten to seniors in high school, come once a week to rock climb and learn new techniques. We've worked with over 50 different climbers over the past 2 years and have been impressed with their climbing ability... many of the climbers are better than the university students we also taught!

Today was my last day of coaching, and I must say that I am quite sad to be finished. It's one of those bitter sweet things. I'm sad to stop something I enjoyed so much, but I'm glad for it to be over because it means we're one step closer to going to Costa Rica (or really having more time to work to get there).

It wasn't until I had this job at the university that I realized how much I love teaching. I love the moment when students are able to reach a hold that they didn't think possible because we worked through the problem together. I love watching a kid get to the top of the wall, having so much fun that he forgets that he's afraid of heights. I love helping these climbers fall in love with my favorite sport.

As much as I love teaching rock climbing, I'm more excited about this approaching transition of being able to teach God's Word to students. It will have an eternal impact! Good bye Youth Climbing Team, I'll miss you dearly!

Monday, April 23, 2012


This is Patrick's new favorite word. Hands down. Any time he sees a ball, he exclaims with fresh delight in a high-pitched voice--"Ball! Ball! Ball!" We'll hand him the ball, and he'll toss it, and proceed to point--"Ball! Ball!" If possible, he is even more excited than before. He continues to get more and more excited as he plays with whatever ball he's got. He'll walk around holding the ball, going up to everyone in the room letting them know what he's got--"Ball!!"

But it doesn't stop there. Anything round is deserving of the exclamation: Ball!!! Whether it be a wheel, or a Frisbee, they're all balls. He'll stop whatever he's doing just to point and tell you that he sees a ball. Even if he's screaming and crying, balls get first priority. He'll stop, briefly compose himself--"Ball!"

But it doesn't even stop there. He'll spot a ball 50 yards away. It gets the same level of attention any other ball gets. Often, he'll point out the window--"Ball! Ball!"
"No, Patrick, that's a bird--a bird!" I'll say, talking about the birds sitting out on the grass.
"Ball! Ball!"
Sure enough, twenty feet beyond the birds lies a red ball. I wouldn't have even noticed it if he didn't point it out to me.
"You're right! Great job, there is a ball!"
"Ball! Ball!"

I wonder if Patrick is constantly on the lookout for ball, searching every horizon for one (One time he even looked into the sun and let us know that it was a ball). But I kind of think that they just stick out to him. They're just that obvious.

I learned something from my son. I wonder how ready and often I point and say,"God!" He is so at work in my life, sustaining my every breath. I wonder how many times I've said something like, "isn't it nice that it all worked out," or, "what a coincidence". When life is comfortable, I more often have to be shown--no, that is really God.

If all I see is God--if He is my default setting--life gets sweeter. Even in uncertain and painful times, I can point and say--"God." Holding onto what I know about Him, putting it in the forefront of everything I see or hear, everything is better. Not easy, but good. Because God is good. And faithful. And He's in control. Even when life is uncertain, God is here. And I belong to Him.

It's when I lose sight of God, and I stop thinking of who He really is that I get lazy, discouraged, and more vulnerable to sin. I pray that He becomes 'just that obvious' to me, as balls are to Patrick.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Further Tales and Photos from Costa Rica: Campout

I wanted to tell everyone more about out time in Costa Rica--specifically about our time at La Cumbre with the Youth Group Campout.

On Saturday 3/31 we woke up early: Campout was today!! Students started arriving, and chaos promptly ensued. We loaded all the luggage into an oversized pickup, secured with a tarp, and without much hassle we were off to the IYG's bi-annual campout at the beautiful camp/retreat center, La Cumbre. We had around 80 campers and 10 adults!

We loaded in small buses and took off for camp! After a couple hours, we stopped for snacks at a local restaurant called "Chespirito's", a favorite stopping place for many headed to La Cumbre. Fifteen minutes down the road from Chespirito's, most of the kids got out of the buses. The long standing tradition is for them to hike the 7 km (about 4.3 mi) down the steep road, into the valley. At the bottom of the valley, La Cumbre sat serenely inviting the now-sore pilgrim to a hot most desired lunch. 

The four days flew by. In the evening we ate dinner, I taught the lesson I had prepared, and we were lead in worship by the student worship band. After this time we would play a night game.

After breakfast every morning, we had time set aside for devos. That was followed with small groups. We had 9 small groups. Student leaders lead some, and Maggie and other adult volunteers also lead small groups. This was a time for students to discuss and work through the lesson from the night before. Before going down to Costa Rica, I had prepared small group discussion guides for the leaders to use. These served as tool for small group leaders as everyone interacted with the materiel that was presented the night before in my lesson--often studying a parallel passage relating to what we had talked about.

Maggie and I had such an incredible time. We just loved getting to know more students, and building relationships with them. For us working with these kids is an indescribable privilege. We had a blast playing games, amazing deep discussions about what it means to really follow Christ, and a sense of fulfillment of purpose in being there. As God has designed and shaped Maggie and I through the years, it is stunningly obvious that He has been preparing us for this ministry. I do not pretend that this is the end of the road for us and He'll have us here 'till we die (those poor students!). But it is the next, even the now. 

The Lord was undeniably at work in students' hearts this week. I know that I didn't see a lot of what was really going on--small group leaders were able to see a lot more than I through discussions throughout the weekend. This past Saturday they had a time of sharing and testimonies from camp. Today, the director of AMCA wrote and told me that there are a lot of people still processing what the Spirit's been doing since camp, and that they were truly impacted by those four days. Thank you for your prayers. God is powerfully at work in these students.


I shared three talks Saturday, Sunday, and Monday nights.

I had been so burdened by the Spirit in preparing them. A lot of prayer and hard work went into them. I think God really showed up.

On Saturday we looked at Exodus 19 and 20. We looked at the holiness of God--how no sinful being can stand in the presence of holiness without experiencing fear. We talked about how we so often put God in a box--and then we burned the box (metaphorically speaking, of course)

On Sunday we looked at John 11. What is love? Jesus so loved Mary, Martha, and Lazerous, that when Lazerous fell ill, Jesus did not go to him. What is love? We sometimes look for love to be comfortable, focused on us. Money, comfort, friends, safety--but what is love? What does the Bible say love is? Pretty neat stuff.

On Monday we looked at Phil chapter 3. Paul says that he considered everything to be loss compared to the surpassing worth, the supreme excellency of knowing Christ. We have to value knowing Christ above all else; whatever it takes.

When I was preparing these lessons I was wondering, 'Are these too in depth? Is there too much Bible for them?' So many times I'm told and I see how shallow teachings are in youth groups. Play some games, sprinkle in some truths. But sprinkled truth doesn't change lives. The living and active word of God, and the Spirit of God living in us change lives.

I was nervous, but after seeing how the students responded to the WORD, and how the SPIRIT worked, I am so excited to continue teaching the WORD, and teaching them how to study it. It is so freeing to know that as I pour everything into teaching, preaching, and discipling, I am not responsible to change the students. It is Christ who works in them. Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Meetings, Meetings, Meetings... but all so much fun

Being back in Costa Rica was such a privilege. It was an honor to meet so many families who love the Lord and so many teens who desire to mature in their relationship with Christ. Plus, they were all really cool! I'm sure we'll talk about camp-out in another post, but I wanted to share about all the meetings we had with the families.

Between our last visit and this one, we've been able to have a meal with at least 15 different families who are a part of the AMCA youth group. It really helped me to see the broad range of students that fit under the description of "Third Culture Kids" (TCK). Many of the students were born, grew up, or have parents from countries outside of Costa Rica. It was so neat to see how each student feels at home in the youth group with others with similar backgrounds.
    In addition to meeting these families, we also had a parent's meeting. It was absolutely wonderful to meet even more of the parents of our future students. It was a neat time for us to be introduced as the coming youth directors and for Jonathan to share about his messages for campout so they could be in prayer for their students. We ended the time in prayer with the parents circling Jonathan and I and praying for our ministry to their kids, raising support, our marriage, and our preparation for coming to Costa Rica. It was such an encouragement to know that the parents also are eagerly waiting for us to come down and work with their students. It was a blessing to feel entrusted to minister to their youth. God used this to assure me that He is working on getting us to Costa Rica and will do so in His timing. I just hope with great anticipation that it's soon.
    Activity at La Cumbre