God has been SO awesome to us these past few months! He has been leading both Amanda and I down some wonderful paths showing us the importance of “finding your first love” all over again! The more time we spend out here seeking Him, the more and more God is putting value on the “relationship” aspect of the ministry. Of course the relationships we make with the people we come in contact with are important, but I’m talking about the relationship we have with our heavenly Father!
Just last week, we had a “Spiritual Emphasis Week” at our language school. We had a quest speaker come in who taught over the subject of Grace and Love Mon-Fri twice a day. What a time of refreshing that was!! Without fail, every time Amanda or I need an encouraging word or confirmation regarding something, God is always faithful to provide exactly what we need and when we need it!!
Its easy to downplay God’s love for us. We hear it all the time, ”God loves you.” “God loves you so much that He gave Jesus.” And of course, “God IS love.” But every once and a while, our finite minds actually grasp a hold of the depth and sincerity of God’s love for us. For Amanda and I, God blew open this door for us this week. We received a completely fresh perspective of how much God is in love with us and what that means for this ministry He has given us! There are no words that I can type that would truly express how STOKED we are to be alive and in His will!!
Family zip-lining in the canopy
The week before Spiritual Emphasis Week, my family (Dad, Mom, sister, and brother) flew down to Costa Rica from Tulsa, OK to take the whole family on vacation (Amanda and I included).
It felt SO good to see my family again! It had been 9 months since I last seen them, so needless to say, it felt really good!
Being the mischievous sort that I am, I felt it would be an awesome experience for my family to see some of the “everyday, normal life” that a travel agency wouldn’t dare send someone to. So I took them to La Carpio where we do outreaches to the inner-city kids. When you go into La Carpio and see how these people live, it is really hard not to let your heart break for them. I even pointed out to my little brother how the children here have almost nothing, but they are still walking around happy and with smiles on their faces, yet in the states we tend to be dissatisfied with our excess of “stuff.” It really makes you think about what is important in life and where true happiness comes from. I will admit, I got some sort of twisted enjoyment from watching my family’s facial expressions as they processed this environment!! I think their hearts were doing the same thing Amanda and I’s were when we first went!
After our brief introduction to La Carpio, we went to Manuel Antonio (which is the first beach we’ve been to since we have been here in Costa Rica)! This place was GORGEOUS!! We were so blessed by our parents taking us with them and covering the costs of hotel, food and activities we did! We would have NEVER been able to do this otherwise!! What a blessing! But you know what the icing on the cake was? MONKEYS.
Yup, we finally got to see monkeys!! We really had a wonderful time with the family and it was a awesome time of fellowship as well!
Now, two weeks before Spiritual Emphasis Week, and one week before the Manuel Antonio trip, we were invited to lead small groups at a camp retreat for the English speaking youth group we serve with (did I mention we’ve been busy?). This camp out was AWESOME!!
Getting strapped in for the "Leap of Faith" challenge
Amanda making her way up the tree so she can dive off the platform
The camp had several “challenges” and ropes courses for us to conquer. All of which required us to climb some ridiculous-high obstacle with a harness just to heave ourselves off of them!
The highlight of course was the girly screams that came from the guys! (For the record, the sound that came from me on the Tarzan Swing was more of a shrill squeak than a girly scream! Just wanted to clear up the confusion!)
Every morning, we had bible studies within the small groups we were leading directly after our quiet times. These groups were SO amazing!!
Tons of the teens made decisions/rededications for Christ by the end of the camp! Nothing is more exciting than seeing someone have a genuine encounter with God! Until someone actually see’s for themselves how real God is, religion means nothing. Church is pointless. And Christianity is a waste of time. However, when God truly touches someone and they genuinely see Him, they are never the same! That is what happened to me when God got a hold of my life. I think that is why there is such a passion in our hearts to get people to skip past all the religious hoop-lah and just find Christ in a deep and personal way. Christ is the one that has life, not religion.
As most everyone knows, I was a very anti-God, anti-religion atheist before I came to Christ. So naturally, these are the people I am most passionate about. There was a guy at the camp who was a near spitting image of me pre-Christ. The entire duration of the camp, he seemed distant. Like he was contemplating an internal struggle. We started talking by the bonfire on the last night at the camp and I got to witness the softening of a heart of stone! God was demonstrating Himself to the guy and a lot of the doubts and questions he had about God were getting answered. God touched this guy so powerfully throughout the camp and now he has given his heart to God and is excited about the things of the Spirit!! PRAISE GOD!!
Getting this opportunity to sow into these teens lives was such an awesome experience for Amanda and I. God touched our hearts that weekend just as much (if not more) than He did the teens there!
Now, to end this short novel, we want to say thank you to all of you who faithfully pray for us and financially support us! We are so blessed to have you guys backing us while we are out here!
The entire youth group at the La Cumbre campout
*Please pray for guidance for the next stage in our lives. Language school is almost over and once it ends we want to make sure we will be where God needs us and not where we want to be. We feel we have a couple of different options for ministry after school, but we aren’t 100% sure which one God wants us in. So please pray for clarity for us in where we need to go but then also pray for where we are going. Pray that we will have favor with the people we will be serving and also that we would be effective in sharing His greatness and love.
*Please pray for our finances as well. God has been faithful in making sure that every need has been met thus far and we know He will continue in His faithfulness because He ROCKS. We are needing to save for plane tickets back to the states, as well as the Exit Fee and Taxes that we will be required to pay upon leaving the country. And we are also starting to save for the next place God leads us to (never hurts to be prepared!).
*Also, pray for our brains. Having 12 years of Spanish grammar condensed into a 1 year course can be painful for the brain! For me personally (Brian), I’m having a hard time not confusing the rules of the language. A lot of this stuff is kind of blurring together! We are at the 10 yard line now and we want to finish hard and strong! Continue to pray that not only will we finish strong, but that our brains will soak up the information like sponges!!
*We love you guys! Thank you! And we want you all to know that we pray for you guys regularly too!!
Rock climbing challenge
Rockin' out with the guys
Climbing the wall
When your stomach goes back to it's original possition, this is quite enjoyable!
Amanda's little lizard friend "Josué" that we caught