Entries by Wil Bailey (48)

Monday
Nov202017

Looking forward. Looking backward.

We just had two days in a row of sunshine.  That means that maybe, just maybe we are almost at the end of the rainy season!  We usually experience about 4 months of "rainlessness".  Each year by late November we've had enough of the mud, the dirty cars, plans being cancelled do to downpours.  Of course by late March we're complaining about how dry and dusty everything is!  But it's undeniable that we are currently inching closer and closer to the end of the year.  I remember the first time after waking up to beautiful blue skies Yolanda said, "Yay, it feels like Christmas!".  I still have a hard time with that since "feeling like Christmas" in Eastern NC means its 33 degrees and raining!  (I used to wear out redial calling time and temperature to see if it was ever going to drop that last degree so we could see some snow!)  SO, Christmas in Costa Rica means dry, sunny and hot.  Most years Yolanda, Isabella and I have been back in the states visiting churches during this season.  It's been nice to be here for the transition this year.

This has been the busiest "off season" I can remember.  We've made several trips down south to see how we can help after the flooding from Hurricane Nate.  Last week we delivered beds to a family of 6 that had lost everything they owned and had had to dig a couple of feet of mud out of their "house".  We are most likely going back again this week to deliver beds to a family of 4 that is in a similar situation.  I'm pretty sure bed making will continue throughout the year next year and we may even expand to tables in chairs.  Folks lost everything!  

We've had several visits recently from church leaders from different parts of the US who wanted learn more about who we are and what we're doing and see first hand the Missions and Ministry Center.  It's always exciting to see how the CRMP family continues to grow and thinking about new and different ways for us to be in ministry together.  Please pray with us for wisdom and faithfulness as we make decisions about what growth should look like for CRMP.

Our project list for 2018 is finally coming together.  I don't ever remember being this close to the end of one year before knowing what we would be working on the next year.  As of right now it looks like we'll be:

- Replacing the roof and the entire electrical system on the parsonage in Volcan, where we essentially did the same thing on their sanctuary this year.

- Building an educational building and church kitchen in Sierpe.

- Repairing the floor in the sanctuary and installing ceilings in the sanctuary and kitchen in La Palma de Jimenez.

- Restoration of the church building in Golfito, where we finished the parsonage this year. 

We've lost a few teams due to the disasters that hit the US and the situation in Puerto Rico.  That's totally understandable and really didn't come as a surprise.  We will keep doing what we do and hope to have those teams come back again in the future.  

Our first "2018" team actually arrives on December 27th.  Hoping for a little time to rest between now and then!

God Bless.  Merry Christmas.  Happy New Year.

Friday
Oct202017

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!

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.