Crazy-fast!

Posted: September 7, 2012 in Uncategorized

Local church praying over us

It is INSANE how fast time has gone by! It feels like just a couple of weeks ago we made the announcement we were being guided back to the states. Now, we are just days from living out of suitcases!

God is blessing us with His provision.  We are VERY, very close to reaching our financial goal. We have been able to sell almost everything that we owned here in Costa Rica. We have a $6000 car waiting for us that we got for 1/2 price! We had some last minute tattoo clients come in that has also brought in some money for our trip as well! We only lack $900 to meet our goal (please pray for that)!

It never ceases to amaze me how God provides. 9 times out of 10, He doesn’t provide in the ways that we expect Him to. It is almost like He purposefully finds other ways of provision just to show you that He really is in control. We have learned to trust Him regardless of what situations look like and regardless if help is or isn’t coming from where we think it should be coming from.

Amanda and I are down to the wire on time and preparing to leave and are in serious need of prayers. We have invested $2000 into our tattoo studio here in Costa Rica (all big items we can’t take with us). About a month and a half ago, a local shop owner expressed interest in buying our studio from us (he even paid a $500 deposit for us to hold it). This $2000 is a big chunk of what we were counting on to return. Now we are days from leaving and he isn’t sure he will have any money to buy it. Please pray that this guy will come up with the money. We don’t have the time to find another buyer and we could use this money for our return expenses.

We want to thank everyone for all the help they have offered us throughout the years. Your faithfulness in prayer and financial support has been such an integral part of what God has accomplished through us!

 

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3 Week Countdown!

Posted: August 15, 2012 in Uncategorized

Amanda and I are finishing up with our last group of the summer rush and are preparing to head back to the states. This really has been the most amazing 3 1/2 years of our lives! It is crazy to think that we will be leaving Costa Rica in 3 weeks to begin the next chapter!
We put a budget of $5300 together to cover all of our expenses to get back to the states and to get settled. Unfortunantly, we have only raised $500 of our goal. That is less than 10% and we are scheduled to head out in less than a month. Please pray for us. At this rate, we will need a financial miracle to get to the next destination God has for us.
When Amanda and I moved down here, we sold everything we had and relied on the help and support of a small handful of faithful supporters a month. We will be starting from scratch yet one more time and we need help from our supporters, friends, and family. Please prayfully consider donating to help us meet our $5300 goal. Any help offered would be GREATLY appreciated! Thank you again for all of your prayers, support, and encouraging words!

One of the crappiest situations I have ever seen.

Posted: August 12, 2012 in Uncategorized

Today was Amanda and I’s day off from working with teams. Since the beginning of summer, we have been swamped with team after team after team (note: this is a GREAT thing)!
When we have time off, we like to relax and make sure we get some of the rest that we need to avoid burning out. However, today threw us an unexpected curve ball. Around 3pm we received a call from one of our closer relationships in the neighborhood “Nuevo Milenio.” This is an incredibly poor neighborhood made up of squatters and busted-up, makeshift homes. The call was from our friend Maria.

Nuevo Milenio

 

Maria has dealt with bad situation after bad situation. She is constantly struggling against issues with hateful abusive family members, violent crack-head neighbors, and a home that is shared by 9 people but that is no bigger than a child’s room and small hallway. Even though her situation and story are incredibly heart-breaking, this woman will find a reason to smile.

Today we found out that the neighboring block’s septic pipe broke right into Maria’s home. Her house was LITERALLY flooded with crap 3 feet high. As the pipe unloaded all of it’s contents into her home, her and her family scattered in order to salvage some of the few possessions they own. The force of the raw sewage tore apart the walls in her home causing it to collapse. They lost most of their clothes. The little bit of food they had was ruined (Maria told us that the only food her household had to eat today was a single egg and a tomato that was shared among them all). The only part of the house that was unaffected was a small room that was built on an incline off to the side of the house. This small room (just inches from an entire neighborhood’s ruptured septic line) will be where the 9 members of the family will sleep until they can figure out what to do.
Amanda and I were blessed to be able to bring them some food this evening so they can at least eat something tonight and in the morning. We will be returning tomorrow with some of the 6:8 Ministry staff to see if there is anything we can offer to help.
This is a very difficult situation for Maria and her family. I can’t help but to evaluate my own life and wonder how I can complain when I see people living in conditions like this. We really are SO blessed. Please pray for Maria and her family. Pray also for the other neighbors living in this small squatter community. Maria’s family received the brunt of it all, but everyone in the neighborhood is getting sick as well. Pray that God provides them health and healing, a clean place to live, some clean clothes, some food, and His peace to get through this heartache.

Maria receiving her first Bible from a team a few months ago

Bitter-Sweet News- Heading State-Side

Posted: July 22, 2012 in Uncategorized

When God called us to Costa Rica He never told us for how long, He simply told us to “go.” Out of obedience we followed His guiding.  People would ask how long we were planning on being on the field and our response was always the same, “until God tells us otherwise.”

    Amanda and I have praying seriously over the past 3 months regarding God’s call on our life.  We began to feel that God was leading us in a new direction. This was completely unexpected for both of us. There is so much that we have fallen in love with in Costa Rica; the people, the culture, the scenery, the 6:8 Ministry staff, and the mission teams that have come down.  Over the past four and a half years we have been so incredibly blessed as God has done some amazing things in and through us. We have witnessed lives changed, relationships mended, bodies healed, families provided for, and growth in the local Costa Rican church! God has used our time here to shape and mold us into what He wants from us.  He has brought out gifts and passions in us that we had no idea were there, and has shown us how we could use these gifts for His glory. God has taught us the importance of faith and trusting in Him and has shown us favor in so many situations that it has been unreal!

   With all of that being said, we believe God is calling us stateside once again. This decision has been both very difficult and extremely easy all at once. On one hand, it is easy because we know that this is the next step God has for us. We believe that following God’s call in our life is always be a “no-brainer.”  However, this decision was extremely difficult because of the all the relationships we have made during our time here. There will be many people we will greatly miss; 6:8 staff, local church members, all of the relationships we have made in the neighborhoods and slums, and not mention all of the friends from the various mission groups that have come down to serve alongside us throughout the years.

  Therefore, Amanda and I are planning on returning to the United States in mid September. We believe God has called us to North Carolina to pursue the tattoo ministry He birthed in us only a few years ago. The reason we chose September is that the summer months are among the busiest for 6:8 Ministries, so we wanted to finish strong, and not to place the 6:8 staff in a tough position of being short-staffed.
  Asking for money has always been very difficult for both of us. Since the beginning of our missionary journey we have struggled with the best way to raise our personal support and communicate our needs. Actually, for us, living and serving in a crime-infested, impoverished inner-city came much easier than having to ask others for money. In spite of our struggle God has provided in some miraculous ways. We have been so blessed with many faithful supporters, and we love and appreciate each of you.

   Once again we are in need of help from our supporters, friends, and family. When Amanda and I moved down here, we sold everything in order to come. We believe God is calling us to sell everything and move again. Therefore, from a worldly point of view we will be returning with nothing, basically will be starting over again from scratch. Our current monthly support of about $900, barely enough to cover our living expenses, which will still need to be covered until we leave. Given our current financial situation it would be impossible that we would ever be able to afford plane tickets, or the funds for initial living expenses once we arrive. (security deposit, rent, furnishings, cell phones, vehicles, etc…)

  Therefore, we are praying once again for God to provide in miraculous ways. We are asking you to prayerfully consider helping us transition from the mission field back to the United States. We have set a goal of $5,300.00 which will allow us to purchase plane tickets and set-up life and a home. Any support given is GREATLY appreciated! Once we return, we will no longer be asking for personal support, however your prayers are greatly appreciated.

  Please, please, PLEASE, continue to pray for us. This transition will be a tough one for both of us. We are also leaving behind our babies (our dog and miniature pig) which will be hard. Pray that God will meet our needs and that the transition would go smoother than expected.

  Again, thank you for everyone who has been faithfully supporting us and thank you in advance to everyone who will help support us in getting back stateside! We love you!!

  We have always purposed to be as transparent as possible. If you have any questions at all, please email us or shoot us a message on facebook.  “BlalockMissionaries@gmail.com

Powerful and Effective

Posted: April 10, 2012 in Uncategorized

About 3 blocks away from our main team house in Alajuelita is a place called “the cafetal” (means coffee plantation).  About 60-70 years ago it used to be a field lined with coffee plants with the purpose of making a living and supporting Costa Rica’s prime export. Since then, the plants have long died and the field was abandoned.

Now the field is overflowing with garbage and it is common knowledge that the cafetal is a place of evil. Within the rows of dead coffee plants and garbage, people are living in here. Some have constructed makeshift living areas, while others unfold old cardboard boxes so they don’t have to sleep on the dirt. Drugs and alcohol run rampant through here and this is a very common place to use.

Unfortunately, crack is one of the most used drugs within Alajuelita. It is dirt cheap, easy to come by, highly addictive, and runs about $1 a rock here. Prostitution is another common evil practiced in the cafetal. Starting as early as age 11, it is not uncommon to see girls enter and leave the cafetal at all times of the day with random partners.

 

It is heartbreaking to hear of stuff like this. It is even more devastating when it happens just minutes from your house. You can’t help but to feel helpless because there isn’t much that we can do. What do you do with a situation like this? What can you do? Pray.

Close to 98% of the short-term mission groups that come down here go on prayer walks. We walk, we pray, and God always brings somebody or some family across our path that needs a miracle. One stop that we almost always make on our prayer walks is the cafetal. We explain the evil and the injustice that happens on a daily basis and then saturate the place with prayer for change of hearts and revelations. As long as Amanda and I have been on staff at 6:8 (about 2 ½ years now) we have been bringing teams to pray over this area.

 

Local pastor, Pastor Miguel, was talking of an experience yesterday. He said that a big, angry man came into one of the feeding centers wanting food. Before food is served, we will have a short time of worship and a brief message. When we started sharing the message before the meal, this guy stood up angrily and said, “I don’t care! I don’t believe in God! Just give me my food!” Pastor Miguel said, “That’s okay, you’ll see and meet God, then you’ll believe.” The message continued, the food was served, and once the angry guy finished his meal, he left as quickly as he could without thanking anybody.

About 3 weeks past and the same guy came back into the feeding center for a meal. Pastor Miguel was already preparing for another confrontation with this man. During the worship, the angy guy was raising his hands in praise. Tears were trickling down his cheeks. After the message was given, they were about to pray over the meal when the man stood up again and demanded, “I’ll pray over it!” Confused, Pastor Miguel consented. The meal was served, everybody ate, and right before the man left Pastor Miguel asked him for a quick conversation. “What happened to you?” was the opening to this conversation. The angry guy smiled and said told how he was in the middle of the cafetal getting high and God came to him. He realized that God was in fact real and that something in his life needed to change!

Hearing this touched us so powerfully. Sometimes it feels like we just pray because “we’re supposed to.” It is awesome to hear stories like this to remind us that prayer is effective and that God still works! I can’t help but to wonder how many other lives may have been changed but we have never heard the testimony….

 

 

 

 

 

A Change of Perspective

Posted: January 1, 2012 in Uncategorized

3,2,1… HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!
Every year we witness the same thing. The ball drops, champagne is opened, we kiss our sweetie, and we make our New Year’s Resolutions. Normally, resolutions are centered around things that benefit us. Exercise, saving money, quitting smoking, eating better, promotions, etc.  I’m not saying that any of these things are bad or that we shouldn’t take care of ourselves, but I do think that we are missing a huge part of what God has called each of us to do: to serve and love others.

On the day of Christmas Eve, Amanda and I had the privilege of bringing a poor family of 5  some tamales (a traditional and anticipated Christmas meal) and some Christmas gifts for their 3 little boys to put under their Christmas tree. We knocked on their door and were invited in. After a brief scan around their home, we realized that they didn’t have a tree. They didn’t have pots of delicious Christmas food on their stove and we couldn’t find a single present anywhere in the house. We don’t think that this family was going to celebrate Christmas this year.  There was a look of surprise and relief in the parent’s eyes as we told them that we brought some presents for their kids. The kids, as was expected, were ecstatic that they had gifts!  When we arrived, the boys just finished their baths. All but one of the boys were stark naked with the exception of a towel that they wore as a cape! The mother tried to apologize that her boys were streaking around their presents, but we just smiled and told her it was okay because we’re like family. The mother smiled and agreed. Excited herself, mom gave the boys permission to open their gifts. Soon, the wrapped presents were as naked as they were and the boys were showing each other the new toys they got.  We hugged the family, wished them a Merry Christmas and left.

After we left the home of our friends, Amanda and I were blown away at what God had just did.  What we thought was a simple act of kindness actually became a provision for a family that wasn’t going to have anything. We were so humbled and thankful that God had laid that on our hearts.

I look at this situation and I wonder to myself how did I get so wrapped up in my wants and desires that I stopped seeing the people around me?  I assumed that everyone in all of Costa Rica would have their traditional meal. I assumed that everyone would have at least SOMETHING to open up for Christmas. I assumed that God would have sent someone else to provide for a family’s needs.
This year, my prayer for myself, Amanda, and you, is that God would open our eyes to those around us (not just here in Costa Rica, but in the United States as well). That He would use each of us for His purpose in practical and impactful ways. And most importantly, that we would be obedient to Him when He leads us to love and serve others.

In the time of resolutions, consider adding one that doesn’t benefit you. Maybe God wants to do more through you than in you.

We love you!   Thank you for your continued prayers and support!
~Brian and Amanda

Relationship is the Key

Posted: October 22, 2011 in Uncategorized

The longer that we are down here, the more we realize just how important relationships are. Matthew 22: 35-40 is a very common scripture we hear preached. Within this scripture, we see a very simple truth expressed by Jesus.

  35 One of the Pharisees, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”  37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

So what is the most important thing we can do? Jesus says, “love God” with your everything. He even adds to that saying that the second-most important thing we can do as believers is to “love your neighbors as yourself.”

In simple and practical terms, Jesus is telling us to focus on relationship. First with God, then with people. A healthy relationship looks like love. It looks kind, patient, selfless, trusting, hoping, and never failing. As we start to develope these kind of relationships, God starts to move!

Joshua 5yrs

Bryan 6yrs

In our group ministry outings , Amanda and I have met an incredible family of 5 living in some extremely impoverished conditions. Jose, Joanna, and their 3 boys Bryan, Joshua, and Steven. Immediately, Amanda and I felt drawn to them. Mom and dad are in their early to mid twenties and the boys are 3-6 years old. The boys love playing with sidewalk chalk, coloring pictures and playing soccer. Steven especially loves blowing bubbles! Although this family is super sweet and incredibly humble, they were rather distant with us.

We have only seen Jose (dad) a total of 3 times due to his work schedule trying to support his family. Both he and Joanna (mom) are very shy people. Joanna would bring her boys up to play with us gringos, but would immediately walk to the sidelines to observe. Amanda would continue to talk to Joanna each time we were down, which gained her trust and confidence. At first, I think Joanna was a little weirded out by Amanda and I (common reaction to us, haha)!

Steven 3yrs

After a short time, Joanna began realizing that we genuinely loved her kids. As a result, she began opening up. She asked us why we come down and play in her neighborhood. After explaining briefly showing God in practical ways, she proceeded to tell us that she isn’t a believer. She told us that her siblings go to church but that its “just not for her.”

We didn’t go into “hyper-getting-her-saved-mode,” we just loved on her and her family. After4 months of visiting her neighborhood and talking with her, we offered her some help with one of the construction teams scheduled to serve for a week. The team that came down fixed up some of their living conditions, provided them with a washing machine, and a bunk bed for the boys. They were so blown back by this. We let them know that this was a gift from God, not us.

They didn’t really understand it, but they were grateful.

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Joanna with her new washer

New bunk bed for the three boys

A week later, a new group came down to Costa Rica to host a “God-first” marriage conference to the general public at the local church. We went into all of our neighborhoods handing out invitations. To our surprise, Joanna showed up to church for the conference and attended both days! You could tell that God was working in her! The following Sunday, she showed up for church service and brought her 3 boys. Since then, she has been attending normal church services on Sunday!

Just recently, Amanda has offered her time to watch Steven for a couple of hours (while the other brothers are in school) so that Joanna can work a small, part-time job cleaning apartments. The fact that Amanda watches Steven for free was something that Joanna could barely grasp. She has been so blown back by everything, she can’t help but to wonder that maybe God really does love her!

Joanna’s husband has walked over to the church a couple of times, but has yet to come in. We still love on him and don’t look down on him for his lack of enthusiasm for church (I used to be an atheist, so I can relate). We decided to hook him up with a tattoo for free as a practical way of reaching out to him. We had NEVER seen Jose smile until this moment! He said he always wanted one (specifically, a snake or dragon), but couldn’t afford it. So we invited him to the shop and let him pick out his design. To my surprise, he chose a cross! I  don’t fully understand what was going through his head when he strayed from the typical snake or dragon piece and chose the cross. But I’m thinking that he is beginning to see God at work in the most unexpected ways in his life! And the constant smile he now wears on his face is proof that maybe God is doing more in that guys’ heart than we know!

It is amazing to me to see how God uses the most practical things like relationship to draw people closer to Him! God rocks!

 

We are still praying for a few more people to come alongside us as monthly supporters. If you would like to get involved and help out financially, please visit our “Donate” page!
Thank you! We love you guys!!