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I'm baaaaaaaack!!

I've decided to try and give the blog the attention it deserves.  I'm a creature of habit, so hopefully I can develop the habit of doing this on a regular basis and get to the point where it is a natural part of my routine.  Things are a little slow(er) right now and after a couple of months of traveling in and out Costa Rica, I'm home.  Seems like as good a time as any to this going, before we get cranked up with teams again in 2018.

- The Missions and Ministry that we started building in 2014 is finished and fully operational!  We have about 20 children in our day care center.  They come from Monday thru Friday, 7am - 4pm.  Ages 3 -6.  From my office I can hear them running around and laughing on the playground.  We see the  day care center as a way to not only care for these children and give them the love that they need and deserve, but to also be a support for their families.  Most of them come from difficult single parent households adn as we get to know their families better, we are seeing more ways that we can be vehicles of Chirst's love for them.  

*** Two weeks ago a single mother of one our day care kids came to worship for the first time with her two children at the church Yolanda and Isabella and I go to, about a mile away from the MMC.  Because we work with the government we have to tread lightly regarding "evangelizing" the families of our kids.  Our hope is that they will see us living differently and be drawn to that.  I was not in church that morning because I was out of the country, but I was thrilled when Yolanda shared the news with me. ***

One of the new things we're looking at now is adding a "night shift" to the day care schedule.  It would open the doors for mothers who are in night school to have access to child care while they are in class.  Please pray with us that if it the right thing to door, we will be able to see the way forward with clarity.

- The home we built for female University students has been open since January of 2016.  We have two students currently living in the home and have room for more.  We hope to have some new residents when Classes start back after Winter break this year.

- For the first 13 years of the life of this ministry my "office" was wherever I was sitting at any given moment with my computer in my lap.  With the additional family member that came into our lives in March of 2014, it wasn't long before we realized that my productivity level was being "challenged" directly by the energy level of said new family member!  So, I now have a real office at the Missions and Ministry Center.  That's right!  I real desk and a real filing cabinet and real bookshelf and even a big white board.  (Well, I thought it was a "big" white board until last when I visited Rev. Derek Joyce's office at FUMC Shreveport.  Dude has a an ENTIRE WALL in his office that is one giant white board...!!)  Anyway, it's nice to have everything were I kind fo know at least the general vacinity of where to look for things when I need them, and to be able to tell be, "sure, stop by "my office" tomorrow, or I'll be in "my office" next week.  Does that make me a grown up?

As soon as the Missions and Ministry Center was complete we started taking teams back out into the communities in southern Costa Rica to work on local church projects.  We spent most of 2016 getting 7 different churches up to "code" with the Health Department so that didn't have to worry about whether or not the government was going to show up at any moment and shut their doors.  This year we spent time working on church buildings that were either old, deteriorated and dangerous, or incomplete.  

*** One of our building projects this year was the construction of a new sanctuary at the Methodist Church in Sierpe.  Long overdue as the original structure had been built "piece meal" of the years and was not really even safe for the church to be using.  We (and the congregation there) finished construction this Summer.  As happy as we (and they) were with the finished sanctuary we never could have imagined that a couple of months later Hurricane Nate would form on top of Costa Rica, wash bridges away and leave massive swaths of the country under water that reaches roof level in many homes.  Thank God that sanctuary was built on a high enough stop that it stayed dry (despite being less than 100 yards from an estuary) and was able to be used as shelter of a number of families from that area who had to flee their homes during the storm.  Praise God!

After our 2 and a half month long trip to the states last Fall to visit churches (with a 2 and half year old who was old enough to be aware of the fact that "this is not my home, these are not my things, language, routine, etc...) we decided that this year (2017) we would forego our annual Fall church visit routine for the first time since we started Costa Rica Mission Projects in 2003.  As difficult as it was for the toddler to be away from home for so long last year, it was just as difficult to get her back into her routine once we got back to Costa Rica afterwards, which meant we basically spent from late August until late December in disarray.  That's not good for anybody.  However, the fact that we have not gone back to the states for church visits, does not mean that we've been any less busy!  I was blessed to be a part of a mission team from FUMC Baton Rouge to Cambodia (click on "Cambodia" to watch video) in September.  It was overwhelming and so important for me personally to be reminded of and feel again why I fell in love with "missions" in the first place so many years ago.  This may come as a surprise to some of you, but my life here is not a perpetual mountain top mission trip experience.  Don't get me wrong... I love what we do, I love this ministry and I love every one of you who are a part of it (well, most of you anyway...).  But to have the chance to just "go" on a mission trip, not be THE missionary, or the leader, not have to make any decisions... and to just serve and learn and feel!  I really needed that.  

Four days after I got back Yolanda left for a 5 day trip to the US for some much needed time with dear friends there.  Isabella and I survived her absence (with lots of help from Gramma).  A week after Yolanda got back from the US, I left with a mission team to Louisiana (click on "Louisiana" to watch video) to work with our FUMC Shreveport, one of our partner churches here.  We also got to spend a weekend with FUMC Baton Rouge. It's always great to get to see and participate in the local mission that our partners are a part of in their communities, and to get to reconnect, fellowship and worship with so many people who are committed to CRMP.

SO, now we're back in Costa Rica.  There's always things to be done at the MMC and we're trying to discern how we can best be used next year.  Right now we really feel like we'll be dedicating a lot of our time to disaster relief.  So many families in the part of the country lost everything.  We're heading South on Monday with two local pastors to make contact with with folks from the hardest hit areas and see what we can do. Stay tuned....

Thanks for reading!  God Bless!

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