Wednesday
Oct012014

Missions and Ministry Center UPDATE

The first week of January, 2014 we broke ground on the Costa Rica MIssion Projects MIssions and Ministry Center.  This project, when completed, will consist of cabins for our volunteers to stay in while they are in Costa Rica, a dinning hall and kitchen building, a day care center, a home for young women who come to San Isidro to pursue higher education and finally, a guest house.  The 1.5 acre coffee field that CRMP purchased on the outskirts of San Isidro has ample space for all of these structures.  We plan to leave the coffee that is planted on about 50% of the property with the hope that those who come to stay there will feel like they are staying on a real Costa Rican coffee farm (they are!).  Our first harvest will take place over the next month and we're excited to see how much coffee actually have on the property.
Our first order of business was to begin construction of the cabins for the teams.  There will be three cabins in all.  Each cabin will have 10 bunk beds, so when complete, we'll have beds for 60 volunteers at a time.  In addition to the sleeping space, bathrooms and showers in the cabins, we will also have overflow space in the kitchen/dinning hall building which ultimately give us a capacity of 75.  Currently (9/19/14), the first two cabins are complete and were used by volunteers during this past Summer.  Cabin number three is 70% finished.  The walls, slab and roof are done and the electrical is being installed.  We are confident that this cabin will be finished by the end of this year.  There are no more volunteer teams coming this year, so it's up to Don Hugo and the guys to get it done.
Mid way through this year we started working on the kitchen/dining hall building.  With around 600 volunteers each year, 3 meals a day, 6 days a week... we prepare a LOT of food.  Add to that the snacks and meals for the children that will be coming to the day care and its pretty clear that we needed a "real" kitchen.  The dining hall will have room for up to 100 without feeling crowded.  It will also be the primary worship/devotional space for the work teams.  Underneath the dining hall will be a storage area for our tools and equipment.  Structurally, this building is finished.  The kitchen countertops are being tiled this week and with one more coat of paint it will be ready for use.  There are few more details to be taken care of with the dining hall and storage are, but as with cabin number 3, we anticipate this building being finished by the end of 2014.
In January of 2015 we break ground on the day care center and either the home for young women or the guests house.  Regardless of the order, we expect to have all three of those buildings completed during 2015. As of 1/10/14 we have 34 teams signed up for next year and we anticipate another full calendar. 
We have been so blessed by everyone who has been a art of this major undertaking so far.  From the generous gifts that were given to enable us to purchase the property, to the teams that worked SO HARD this year under extreme heat and torrential downpours, and sometimes both at the same time!  We could not be more grateful for the confidence that you have placed in us and your encouragement for the direction that we are leading this ministry.   
Thursday
Apr172014

Pt.1 - "Confession". Pt.2 - "The angel's in the details"

Pt.1 - I have a confession to make.  Facebook is so easy to update on the go, that I have a really hard time remembering to update this web site and remembering that some of the people who love following what's going on with CRMP are among the 10 or 12 people in the world who don't use facebook.  It's been almost 2 years since the last time I wrote a blog post!  A lot has happened since then.  I'm going to skip over 2013 (Sunday school classrooms in Pavones, the great wall of Cocori, Multi purpose building in Peje) and get right to where we are now.  In November of last year we (CRMP) purchased about 1.5 acres of land next to Pavones and Cocori in San Isidro.  We are now in the process of building the CRMP Missions and Ministry Center.  It will be the new home base for everything we do.  The MMC will include housing for the more than 600 volunteers that come to work with us every year.  It will include a kitchen/dining hall/storage facility so we can feed everyone and finally have all of our tools and equipment stored in one place.  It will include a day care center for children of low/no income single mothers in the area and last but not least, we will build a home for young women from Costa Rica's rural south who would like to come to San Isidro to pursue their education.  We can't wait to see what new doors for ministering to the people of Costa Rica will begin to open to us once we get the MMC up and running.  We are thrilled to finally be able to make a long term commitment to a particular place, after years of moving from one community to another every 4 months.  Of course, we will continue to send teams out into the local churches to help with building projects.  I will do a better job of updating the pictures on this web site, but you can also check out the facebook page (Costa Rica Mission Projects) for almost daily updates from the site.

 

Pt.2 - It's always surprising how quickly these building projects progress in the initial stages.  Sometimes in just a matter of days we already have walls up and after a couple of weeks the roof is on.  We can't believe how fast things are moving and it seems like we'll be wrapping it up in no time at all.  Then, inevitably its like someone yanks up the emergency break.  It's maddening because we're all still working as hard as we were those first few weeks but its like we're suddenly trudging through mud.  We aren't things getting done faaaaasteeerrrrrrr!!!!!?????  

It's because of the details.  Once the structure is done and we start getting into the detail work, we have to slow down.  If we want it done right we have to work with care and diligence.  Not that we aren't careful from the get go, but hoisting concrete slabs and columns or pouring a concrete flour just moves faster.  If we want the end result to be excellence, then we have to slow down and pay careful attention to the details.  I'm struck by how closely this resembles our spiritual lives.  So often things seem to be "moving" along quickly, whether its after a mountain top experience, a renewed commitment to Christ, a baptism or confirmation.  It's all we think about, all we focus on and it feels great!  It feels like we're so in tune with "who" we are and "whose" we are that we're going to conquer the world.  And then comes the time to pull up on that emergency break.  If we are striving for excellence in our spiritual lives, then we must take time to focus on the details.  Not growth in large swaths, but the ever so slight movement forward that comes from slow, quiet, diligent introspection.  It may seem, at times like these, that we are moving forward at a snails pace, or maybe even not at all.  

When the last thin skim coat of concrete gets put down for the floor and its been treated and polished and is so smooth and shiny that you can slide across it in your socks... Or when the last coat of paint goes on the walls and the cabin you just built really does look like a classic old "hacienda" style cabin from years ago... Or when you realize that you are in tune with the Holy Spirit in a way you've never been before, you'll know that it's worth the time and the effort that it took to get there.

Peace on Earth

Saturday
Aug182012

WHEW!!!!!

I get asked about numbers often by people who come down here to work with us. I'm reluctant to answer. They want to know how many years I've lived here, how many different communities we've worked in, how many different buildings we've built, how many children come to VBS each week, etc. I'm not against helping people understand the bigger picture that they are a part of for the week that they are here. That's important too. But I don't ever want it to sound like we're motivated by numbers. I'm far more concerned with the depth of the experience that the missioners are having while they are here and how that affects their lives when they go home. Quality over quantity. Please keep that in mind as you read the rest of this post....

I'm so pleased with the work that our teams have done this year that I just want to brag a little! Here's what we've done since January:

Parsonage in La Bonita de Changuena
Parsonage in Piedras Blancas
Sunday school classrooms in Piedras Blancas (3)
Church kitchen in Piedras Blancas
Sunday school classrooms in La Palma de Jimenez (2)
English classroom at the elementary school in San Isidro

Our CRMP team has worked tirelessly alongside the volunteers from over 30 different churches to help make all of this happen. We are truly blessed to have so many wonderful partners. God bless each one of you who was in some way involved in Costa Rica Mission Projects.

The parsonage project in Changuena was particularly special. After supporting Pastor Humberto's work in Changuena for so many years, seeing the church facilities in La Bonita complete was awesome. Humberto is a wonderful example of commitment and perseverance and he is an inspiration to everyone who has met him. To be invited to support and play a part in the growth of his ministry there has blessed our team beyond words. It will be awfully strange not planning another project in Changuena next year, but knowing Humberto, don't be surprised if he's reached out into another community and started another Methodist church in another corner of Changuena before too long!

Between finishing in Changuena and starting our Summer projects, we built a designated English classroom at the elementary school in Quebradas de San Isidro. Because of some very generous donations by members of the Costa Rica Mission Projects family we were able to address this need and be a witness in that community in a different way. We will continue to look for these kinds of opportunities to be present beyond the church walls.

I have to admit that there were a few times when I looked at the Summer calendar and thought to myself, “what have I done?!” Thankfully everything went off without a hitch, but after 3 months of 2 or 3 teams every week working on different worksites and driving between 300 and 400 miles per week to and from the different sites, we are all exhausted. Often, towards the end of the week I find myself thanking God for sore bones and muscles that result from hard work. Creaky knees and sore backs and necks are a very real reminder that this work comes with a cost, but it is totally worth it. So, three months later, our ambitious Summer projects are almost finished. The CRMP crew will work for a few more weeks taking care of details in Piedras Blancas and La Palma. I could not be more grateful to the teams who came to work with us, the churches that sent them to us, the ladies who prepared fantastic meals all year long (Yolanda, Fanny, Tania, Katherine, Kembly and others) and of course “the crew” (Hugo, Huguito, Pedro and Harold). You all make my life/work so much easier (most of the time!). I also want to thank the three long term volunteers who worked side by side with the teams this year. Carrie, Perrin and Sean. Each one of you brought different gifts to Costa Rica Mission Projects and I appreciate how much of your time and your selves you invested in us.

We're not done yet! On the 25th (of August) we're taking a mission team from our church in San Isidro to work with South Street Ministries in Orlando. We can't wait to serve alongside our friends from FUMC Winter Park. Yolanda and I will be in the US until mid October visiting some of the churches who work with us and spending a little time with my family. The last week of October we are hosting a mission team from Ahuachapan, El Salvador that is coming to work with us in San Isidro. On November 3rd another mission team from our church in San Isidro will fly back to El Salvador with the team from Ahuachapan for a week of mission work there with them and members of FUMC Rocky Mount, NC.

This is church. We worship together. We pray together. We serve one another and are served by one another. We build relationships with one another. We witness to those around us. We are church.

Sunday
Feb122012

Sunday, February 12th

So here's the problem with facebook (as though there were only one!)... It's so much easier to update a facebook page than a web site, due to being connected by phone, tablet, laptop, etc., that I've really neglected our web site for the past 6 months.  To the point that someone just emailed me and asked if we were still working in Costa Rica.  I'm not one of the "tell people what you just had for lunch" facebook users, but it is such an easy way to keep the zillions of users up to date with what we are doing.  Honestly, I just kind of forgot that there are still some holdouts out there who still don't use it.  My apologies to you all (and thumbs up for fighting the good fight.  Long live the resistance!!).  Anyway, we ARE still working (very hard) in Costa Rica!

Yolanda and I were in the states for about 2 months at the end of 2011, visiting churches and family for the holidays.  Now were back and have had our first three teams come to work with us on the parsonage project in Changuena.  Team 4 got in last night.  We'll be working there every week except one from now until the first week of April, when we hope to move Pastor Humberto into his new home.  The work is going well (I hope to have the videos I've made posted here soon.  They are on the Costa Rica Mission Projects facebook page already).  As always it is a blessing to work with the good people in Changuena.  This project is a little bitter sweet.  After 7 years of working in CHanguena, basically there is nothing left to build... unless Humberto decides to plant another church farther up the road?!  Come April it will be hard to leave there not knowing when we will see our friends again.  Working there has been a huge part of the growth of CRMP and we have been blessed to be included in the growth of Humberto's ministry there.

We have TONS of teams signed up for our Summer projects.  We will be building a parsonage and two educational buildings, so our team will be split up among the different work sites.  Its great to see our own team growing (read: maturing) to the point that that is an option for us.  It bodes well for planning future projects when we need to accomodate more than one team at a time (as is already the case in the Summers). 

We have a number of new teams signed up this year and are looking forward to turning these "new friends" into "old friends".  It is a blessing to see this family continuing to grow year after year.  Thanks to everyone who holds us up in prayer and supports the work that God is doing here in so many different ways.  

Peace on Earth,

Wil Bailey, CostaRicaMissionProjects

Tuesday
Aug302011

Tuesday, August 30th

WHEW!  33 teams, 21 weeks, 4 projects and for the most part 2011 is in the bag.  It has been another amazing year for the CRMP and our team.  A big thank you to everyone who was a part of supporting the work that God did through this ministry this year.  Without your faithful commitments to Yolanda and I and to the vision that the Lord has given us for missions in Costa Rica, none of this would be possible.  Thanks for "being church" with us.

We began the year in Cortes, about four and a half hours south of San Jose.  We've driven past Cortes for years on our way to other projects, and the need regarding the parsonage there had been brought to our attention quite some time ago.  Everything fell into place this year and over a 10 week period we were able to remove the old roof of the parsonage and build a second story.  Because Cortes is a low lying area with a large river that winds around town, they have always had a problem with severe flooding during the rainy seasons.  We began the project thinking we were building a space where the pastoral family could take refuge in such cases, but it became clear not too long after getting started that the new "apartment" would become their primary residence!  The small two bedroom, one bathroom apartment is MUCH cooler than the downstairs because what little breeze there is in Cortes can blow in through the windows unobstructed by the sanctuary or the Sunday school building.  No sooner had our last team left, Don Francisco and Dona Veleida had moved in upstairs.  We have spoken to them several times since they never fail to thank us and all of the hardworking volunteers who helped with this project.  

One of the things we always pray for before we start a new project is that our presence in the church/community where we are going to work will be a blessing to both the church and community.  One never knows how people will react to a seemingly endless stream of gringos coming in week after week.  As is usually the case, it didn't take long for us to feel like we were part of the church there.  The shyness of the first couple of weeks wore off and by the time we wrapped things up we were saying goodbye to good friends.  Of all the wonderful things we get to witness through our work, that may be what makes me the happiest.  Seeing how people from different places, different cultures, different backgrounds, who speak different languages can, through service and worship, feel and know how we are bound to one another through Christ who makes us family, who makes us church.

After Cortes we moved our entire operation to Alajuela.  We had promised Douglas, the DS there that we would send all of our Summer teams to work in his district.  This would mean making several changes to our normal modus operandi.  First of all, we've worked in Costa Rica's "zona sur" (southern zone) pretty much non stop since 2003.  Working in the central valley, where half of Costa Rica's 4.5 million inhabitants live would mean a serious change of venue.  Cows and dirt roads would be replaced by highways, traffic jams and lots and lots of people.  Also ( and what I was most looking forward too!), we would be leaving the hot muggy weather of the south for fresh cool(er) mountain air.  It must be at least 15 degrees cooler in Alajuela than K37, where we've spent the last 3 summers.

The other big change was a mental one.  We are accustomed to starting and finishing our construction projects usually in 3 months or less.  The exception to this being the camp that we worked on for several years.  But most of the time we can build a sanctuary, parsonage or sunday school building in about 12 weeks.  We knew going in to this summer that for various reasons, we would not be completing any of the buildings we were working on.  Our goal, instead was to give Douglas and his district what the Costa Ricans call an "empujon" or "a big push".  Our hope was to get each of the Alajuela projects to a point where the district can finish them themselves.  This was a pretty big adjustment for me personally, but our teams understood what we were trying to do and worked tirelessly to help us reach our goal.  As we left things the projects are in the following condition:

Parsonage in Palmares - Structurally complete. Pastor Rulberth is laying the tile and all that is left is to install the doors, windows and electrical, and then paint.

Multi purpose building in Alajuela - The three story building has a roof, two exterior walls (so it is closed in from outside the church property).  The second floor slab is poured and the third story floor panels are down.  The first floor walls have been repaired and plastered and are ready for paint.  

Home in Alajuela - The second floor of Douglas' family's home in Alajuela is 90 percent complete.  All that is left is paint, tile and doors and windows.

There are pictures of the projects on the facebook page and web site.  Please check them out to appreciate what an amazing job our summer teams did.  CRMP will continue, for as long as possible to send the needed materials to each of these projects so that they can be completed as soon as possible.

In addition to the change of venue this year, CRMP also had a change of personnel. Kike and Felipe, two of the young men who had worked with us for several years, decided it was time for something different, which made room on our team for Harold and Pedro.  A change to our team was one of the most stressful things I've had to deal with as the Director of this ministry, but thanks be to God, it couldn't have gone more smoothly.  I'm so proud of the whole team, but the new guys in particular, not only for how hard they work, but also for embracing the "relational" aspect of this ministry.  It is a joy to see them all interacting so effortlessly with the volunteers who come down each week.  Huguito, who has been working with us since day one in 2003, took more of a leadership role this summer as I left him "in charge" of the parsonage project in Palmares.  This was a big test for him, as I need to be able to count on him to run projects on his own if we are going to continue to accommodate the growing number of summer teams that are signing up to work with us.  I got nothing but positive feedback from the teams that worked with him and couldn't be more proud of him for stepping up to this challenge.  

As of today we have 29 teams already signed up for 2012!  It's awesome to have teams so enthusiastic about their experiences here that they are signing up a year in advance for their next mission trip.  In addition we are hosting a handful of new teams each year, so the CRMP family is continuing to grow.  We will start next year back in Changuena, building the parsonage in La Bonita, where the new church there continues to grow.  After that we will head south again and work on a Sunday school building and parsonage in Piedras Blancas (just down the road from the camp) and we'll be building Sunday school rooms at the church in La Palma de Jimenes.

In the mean time, we are planning our three international mission trips for our church here in San Isidro.  We have about 35 church members signed up for the mission trips to Alabama, Cuba and El Salvador.  We are still waiting to hear about visas for the Cuba and US trips, so please join us in praying that God opens those doors for our teams.  I'll keep you posted.

Yolanda and I will be in the states for most of December visiting churches in NC and SC and spending some time with my family.  Please continue to pray for the two of us as we do our best to guide this ministry in the direction that God would have it go.  We can not thank you enough for your faithful support of the work God has called us to in Costa Rica.

Peace on Earth,

Wil and Yolanda Bailey