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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 

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