Monday, June 18, 2012

Yo yo yo!

Today is sadly my last morning at University of Costa Rica!  This afternoon we leave for Manuel Antonio for debriefing, and then back to the States on Friday!  This has gone SO STINKING FAST!  I feel so at home here, and the people feel like old friends.  Inside my head I have just been planning on my next trip.  I have so many new brothers and sisters, I just don't know what to do with myself!

A quick recap of my last week:  We did an art outreach on Wednesday, and it was a learning experience, but also a great success!  We probably talked to over 100 students, and had Gospel conversations with many.  One, Esteban, came to Christ!  It was awesome seeing God use people's creativity to help them think about spiritual things and open doors to Jesus!  The next day, we did Soularium Thursday, which has become our routine.  We had a sister come to Christ that day too!  Her name is Kim, and she had been hanging out with us for around a week already.  The count is not precise, because some students said they wanted Jesus and were going to pray to accept Him when they were alone.  But including those students, we have seen 9 come to Christ.  We have also found many wandering Christians and helped them see the truth of the Gospel, and get them connected with fellowship.  These conversations are especially satisfying to me, because often the students really want to follow Christ, but have no idea what that means.  I cannot wait for this last day on campus, to see what final things God has in store for this trip.  At the marriage feast at Cana, Jesus saved the best wine for last, so I am hopeful of amazing things on campus today as well!  =)

Over the weekend, we took an overnight trip to Volcan Arenal.  Last time I was in CR, the mountain was completely shrouded in low clouds.  We were very fortunate to have beautiful views of Arenal this time, and we stayed in a gorgeous little cabina outside Fortuna in the more farmland side of the community.  We relaxed in the pool, and played basketball on an ancient basketball court with concrete hoops.  It felt very Mayan.  In the morning, I ambled around the farm roads and jungle, where I found a friendly Crested Guan. (google it)  They are big impressive birds, and this one took a liking to me for some reason.  It followed me around for about half an hour, and eventually just flew off into the jungle again!  I think it was my coolest bird experience ever.  I was smiling all morning haha.   Later, we hiked to Fortuna Waterfall, which is probably 120 feet or so into a pool in a jungle canyon.  Lower down there is a sweet little swimming hole, and we chilled around there for a while.  We spent the afternoon in gift shops (my least favorite part of CR) and on the bus.  A solid 35 hours, I would say!

I am sad to leave San Jose, but eager to see home again.  A few days at the beach will be a good send-off, but I have found the people to be BY FAR my favorite part of Costa Rica.  Oddly, as we hiked through the jungle in Arenal, it was full of birds and amazing plants, but I could not wait to get back to the city to see my friends.  It was a strange feeling for me!  Thankfully, we are having a going-away party with students and the Stinters the night before we fly out.  I will miss them all dearly!  Jesus said to shake off the dust of an unwelcoming city.  I can safely say that Costa Rica's dust will be on my feet as long as proper hygiene will allow.  =D

Cordially yours,

p.s. I always wanted to sign a letter that way

Luke 10:1-11

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


So, we have begun our last full week of campus ministry here!  It's kind of surreal thinking that we only have a few short days left!  This week on campus, then we visit Arenal for the weekend.  On Monday we have our last day of evangelism, and we will spend a few days at Manuel Antonio for debriefing.  On Friday we have a party with the Stint team and the students we have met.  Then back to the USA!

Please pray that we will be ultra-focused and full of energy for this last push on campus!  Jesus' first miracle was to turn the water to wine.  The best came at the end of the party!  We are going out in full confidence that the end of our time here will be the best days of the trip!  God has provided so many hungry hearts, and we are encouraged to see more each day!  I can only imagine what is going to happen this week!

Tomorrow we are doing an art outreach on campus in addition to our normal sharing schedule.  We are having large sheets of paper posted around campus with questions about life and spirituality written at the top.  We are not supposed to have signs about God or Jesus, so we will ask those questions ourselves.  =)  We are encouraging students to draw or write their ideas, share them with each other, and explore themselves, the world, and God through creativity.  We will have our team members hanging out at each station, engaging, answering questions, starting spiritual conversations, and sharing the Gospel.  I can't wait to see how God uses this idea!  Please pray for open hearts and our boldness in the Spirit!  God is the creator of all things, and He made us creative as well!  Pray that we can help direct that desire back towards Him!

Buenas noches,

Psalm 29

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Buenos dias, EE.UU.  (Estados Unidos, aka home)

Life in Costa Rica is stellar!  Successfully fended off an aggressive stomach ailment this week, and things are looking up!  We took a break yesterday and went zip-lining in the Carpintera Forest Preserve.  That was quite an experience!  I would rather just hike under the trees, but flying over and through them is definitely a new perspective!  Sometimes you go over 30 mph, and two of the lines were almost 1 km each!  Plus there were two "rappels".  I am used to normal rappels where you let yourself down a rock, but this one, you just jump out of a tree into space, and the guides let you free fall like 50 feet and then stop you right before you hit the ground.  I don't know how it works, but it takes your breath away!

After zip-lining, we went to a contemporary dance performance by a dance team that our friend Juan Pablo is a on.  It was a very interesting experience, to say the least!  Lots of strange music, and crazy clothes, and skipping and rolling to and fro.  I can't say I would attend if I didn't have a friend dancing.  But it was intriguing, nonetheless!  I feel like I have added a big piece to my collective art experience.

Sharing on campus was interesting this week!  I think God is challenging me more and more each day!  At first, everyone I initiated with spoke English, but now, I can hardly find someone who speaks English!  But I have been getting more and more comfortable conversing in Spanish, and have had probably 10 Gospel conversations solely in Spanish!  Like Paul said, "I have determined to know nothing among you except Christ, and Him crucified".  Thus, I can talk about Jesus pretty well, but I am a little lost when the conversation strays from my Bible vocabulary haha.  I would still much rather talk in English though, and a normal conversation is quite refreshing.

People here have many many many ideas of who God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are.  I have talked with athiests who profess joy, and Catholics totally lacking hope.  I have talked with non-religious biologists, and anthropologists who believe that God is part of nature.  Some believe in Jesus as a teacher, some as a prophet, some as an impersonal savior, some as a fictional religious superhero.  I have talked to a future priest, taught papal dogma since age 9.  The differences in people's ideas of God are as tangled as the alleys of San Jose, as fleeting as the morning sun, and as shrouded as the top of Irazu.  I have gained a much greater urgency in sharing the Gospel as I see the lack of direction and hope among the students here.  It truly fills me with joy that there are students searching for something more, and that I can show them Jesus!  Only in Christ can all these doubts, uncertainties, and fears be removed!  He has proven faithful in the lives of many students we have met, and I trust that He will be revealed in the hearts of many more!

Praising God for all He is doing!

p.s. I also stumbled into a bunch of bugs somewhere, and my arms got snacked on pretty good.  So many little bumps.  Fun stuff!

Luke 9:18-20

Friday, June 1, 2012

Howdy friends!

I have been so so blessed to see God's hand in our time here the last few days!  I can't fit all of His awesomeness in one post, so I will tell a shortened version of one story from yesterday, to give you an idea of what is has been like!

Background:  We have been using a sharing tool called Soularium, which is a bunch of thought-provoking postcard-sized photos. (75 or so)  We had two stations on campus, with the photos either posted on a wall or layed out on benches.  Then we split up our team, and conducted surveys based on the photos.  (Which photos describe your life, which describe your wishes for the future, which describes what you know of God...etc)  They are a great bridge of the language gap, and lead into many solid spiritual conversations.  Anyways, what follows are excerpts of a conversation that Riley and I had with a Tico named Andres.

A&R: Which pictures describe what you think of God?
Andres: (chose tangled rope, and scenic forest path) I think God is complicated, so we don't know every part of him, but He is very peaceful and gives us a path.

A&R: Do you have any religious background?
Andres:  I don't believe in religion.  I think God wants a relationship with us.

A&R: So who do you believe Jesus was?
Andres: We must be careful what we say about Jesus, because even demons believe in Jesus!  I believe he was the Son of God, and he came to earth to die for our sins.  He rose from the dead so we can know God forever.

A&R: (stunned, and a little unprepared for this)  That's exactly what we believe!  How about the Holy Spirit?
Andres:  It is complicated.  Jesus had to go back to Heaven, but he left the Holy Spirit to guide us while he is gone.

A&R:  Uhhh that's a very good explanation!  How have you learned all this, growing up in a non-religious family?
Andres:  I hear some from people, but mostly I just ask God and He tells me.

This is truly why we are sharing out here!  Not only can new people hear the Gospel, but sometimes we uncover a GEM like this!  I pray we can meet up with Andres again and help him get connected with a strong Christian community that will foster his growth!

God is SO GOOD!

Luke 1:1-4

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


All is well in Costa Rica!  I'm getting used to the weather difference quite nicely!  It is probably 80 by the time I get outside in the morning, and gets up to 85 or so until after lunch.  The humidity is high, but I don't really notice anymore.  Like clockwork, the clouds build around 1:00, and by mid-afternoon it is pouring.  It rains like crazy for a few hours, then drizzles a little until the middle of the night.  Apparently so goes the rainy season, and it has been like this each day we've been here.  No such thing as a sunset!  Also, the it gets dark around 7:30 here.  Very odd.  The latitude/time zone thing is messing with me.

I've gotten to go on campus twice now to share the Gospel!  Our first day was just our team, and I went in a group with Abigail and Kerstyn.  We had quite a few conversations, and got to share Christ with 7 students.  The Ticos are very open to talking, and usually interested in learning about what we have to say.  Today we joined the Stint team for sharing.   I went with Jesse Schlender, who is ironically from Bozeman, and I had no idea until I got here!  He and I got to share with 6 students, some in Spanish, and some in English.  Later, Riley and I talked to an agnostic young man, and got to share the Gospel with him, and what it means to be loved and forgiven by God!  Agnosticism is very common here, from my short experience, as students leave their Catholic homes to go to college.  Please pray for our wisdom and words, as many students know OF Christ, but we must explain ABOUT Him, and pray for open hearts.  Many students express doubt because of hypocrisy in the church, so pray for our sincerity and loving actions.

I think the biggest blessing for me so far has been the new friends!  I have become friends with several Tico students, including Fede, David, Sergio, and Marisol.  They love learning about our culture and language, and vice versa.  We have a lot in common really, and the more I meet them, the more I see that.  It's so fun, and I can't wait to grow closer in friendship and the Lord!  The more I understand their culture, the better witness I can be, and the more effectively I can relate to their ideas, values, and struggles.  Pray for softness in my heart as I try to assimilate!

Much love!

I Corinthians 9:19-22

p.s.  For those who are interested, yes I am seeing lots of birds too

Sunday, May 27, 2012

¡Hola Americanos!
Life in Costa Rica is settling in, and I love it!  I am learning to navigate a little with traffic and unmarked streets, but the buses are still a huge mystery to me.  I just try to stay away from taxis.  Hopefully by the end of the week, I will be able to fend for myself a little bit outside of our block.  Unlikely.

Today was wonderful!  Our group joined the Stint team, a few college students, and some older Ticos as well for church this morning at the Cru House.  (The place where the men Stinters live)  That was an awesome experience, and quite a bit like the home church environment I grew up in.  All 30 (or so) of us sat in a circle, sang some bilingual worship songs, and shared stories of God´s work in our past week.  After an hour or so of sharing and translating, we split into groups of four and prayed for each other.  I was struck by the simple love of the Gospel within the group, and the genuine love for one another that each person had.  The congregation was a strong encouragement to our team, and me personally.

Tomorrow we head to UCR for our first day of sharing on campus!  I am a little nervous, but I know that I can speak the truth in love, and God´s hand will be on me, His Spirit guiding my steps and my words!  Please pray for open-hearted Ticos, and for boldness and love to pour from our team!  Pray that God leads us to the right conversations, and that we handle ourselves well!  The language barrier may hold us up personally a little, but the Gospel is not contained into one tongue!  We will proclaim Christ crucified and risen again, and entrust the rest to the able hands of the Father!  I can´t wait to tell you all how it goes!

¡Buenas noches!

I Corinthians 2:1-2

Friday, May 25, 2012

Hola a los Estados Unidos!

We are here in Hostel Bekuo in downtown San Jose.  Our first day was a whirlwind, starting with pancakes, and a meeting with the STINT (Short term International) team that is staying here in San Jose.  They gave us some basic info for our time on campus and around town, and welcomed us and encouraged us in our commission.  We got to meet Carlos, the director of Cruzada Estudiantil over all Central America.  The Stinters are wonderful people, and I can´t wait to get to know them better, and get some of their street sense!

Our team did a photo scavenger hunt around campus to get acquainted with the people and landmarks, and we could only ask students for directions.  It was challenging being immersed, but rewarding!  Speaking began to feel a teeeeeeny bit natural by the end of the day.  Plus I got to meet Sergio and David, two education majors from UCR.  David and I are about equal in our knowledge of the other´s language, and we hit it off well.  Nothing breeds friendship like sharing an umbrella with another guy for 2 hours!

For our evening entertainment, we joined the STINT team at the National Stadium for a futbol match between Costa Rica and Guatemala!  It was the first home game for the CR national team in several months, so the fans were excited, and I had no choice but to join them!  We had to leave a few minutes before the end of the game, but we were up 3-2 with 10 minutes to go.  I missed a goal because I was watching a cool moth in the stadium lights.  I have a long ways to go as a soccer fan.

The streets are interesting at night, and I don´t really like them haha.  I don´t reckon I´ll be out much after 8.30.  I think my first adjustment to the culture will be in this area.  I have taken the security of Montana for granted!

I love you all!  

Luke 10:19-20

p.s. When Paul says to greet the brethren with a holy kiss, they actually do that here.