Summer Update

Posted: September 12, 2011 in Uncategorized

Wow! What an amazing summer! We just got through the busiest part of the year for teams. Within 12 weeks we have hosted 26 teams! Needless to say, we have been incredibly busy this year!
Just this summer alone, God has provided 12 new homes for 12 families who were hurting and in desperate need of a better home. As a result, the local, spanish-speaking church is growing with people who are starting realize just how wonderful and merciful God is!


Despite the emphasis on construction for these past 3 months, the feeding stations have not slowed down a bit! On average, we give out about 1,000 plates of food every month to the hungry and homeless. One new thing that we have recently added is mobile feeding stations. We will make up pots of food and bring them down into the poor neighborhoods where we minister and feed the people therein! It has had such an awesome impact on the people here!
Now that the “summer rush” is officially over, we have a little extra time to focus on some of the other things God has called us to do. Amanda is working on some graphic design projects for 6:8 Ministries as well as the tattoo ministry. We also get to spend more time in the tattoo studio and develop deeper relationships with some of the locals here. Because of Waking Dead Tattoo, we have developed an awesome relationship with a Goth/Heavy Metal couple named Stanley and Gabriella. We met them in the market one morning, invited them to the shop and shortly after, found out that they have been searching for a church that wouldn’t judge them based on their appearance. This has been such a God relationship! They have been coming to church and have been finding ways to get plugged in to help!
We are so blown back to see how God uses the simplest, most practical things to reach people! And here we are thinking that we cannot be effective unless we are doing some complicated, planned out endeavor. Sometimes, giving someone a plate of food can speak louder than any evangelistic revival could. When people realize that they are truly loved, that is when God starts speaking into their lives.
Please continue to pray for Amanda and I. Pray that God will continue to provide for all of our needs and that He would protect us here in Costa Rica. Please pray for Amanda, she has been battling with a severe anxiety and panic attack disorder. We are believing for her freedom from this.  Thank you to everyone who continually supports us out here! Without your offerings to us, we couldn’t be here doing the will of God for our lives!  THANK YOU!!!

We put together a short video for our family, friends, and supporters!

God Rocks the Blalocks! 2011 from Brian Blalock on Vimeo.

Changing of the Seasonal Winds

Posted: June 9, 2011 in Uncategorized

Time flies and before you know it, 2 months have past since you’ve last wrote a blog! Amanda and I are doing great! We have officially started our busy season now that summer break is in the States. There are several teams coming down from various churches on a weekly basis now with no down-time separating them. It will be like this until August.
It really is amazing to watch how God orchestrates things. It seems that He works in seasons. Some months it seems that every group that comes down is focused on social outreaches that minister to the community with arts, crafts, games, and playing with the kids. Other months we see an abundance of medical teams come down to provide clinics of all sorts to the community. I really feel that this particular season we’re in is focused around rebuilding people’s homes.

Since our last update, we have had five separate teams all build or rebuild 5 new homes for 5 different families. We are now planning for 8 more teams to come down and build 8 more homes throughout this summer!! I think it is safe to say that we are in the season of “life remodeling!”

This will, no doubt, be a very busy summer for us! But we are so pumped to be working alongside so many teams to reach out to our hurting and broken community and we pray that God uses these times to edify and draw more people closer to Him!

God has closed and opened some doors with Amanda and I within the past few months. As some of you know, the men center that Amanda and I were running had to shut down. We finished out the program with the last of the men and saw much fruit from them, but we feel that God brought it to an end. We were losing our on-site director and, despite our best efforts, we could not seem to find a replacement or the necessary funding to keep the center going. After praying about this, we all felt that God was closing this door. It is encouraging to us to look back and see how God used that time to impact some of the men that lived at The Refuge. If nothing else, the center was solely for those few guys who genuinely got a hold of God.
I also made mention of God opening doors. As most of you know, Amanda and I are…. lets say, “different.” As a result, God uses the way we are to reach those who are all weird like us! One of the things that God has been showing us is how He can use our giftings, talents, and passions for His glory. One of the passions that God has given us is art and tattoos. God has systematically opened doors for us to open a small tattoo studio here in Alajuelita as a side ministry to leading short-term mission teams. The studio’s name is “Waking Dead Tattoo.” We believe that through the doors of this tattoo ministry, we will be able to minister to many people that would never step foot in a church.

Click Here For More Info

I would venture to say that this tattoo ministry will no doubt be controversial. But I would also say that many times God will use radical means to reach some of the lost! When we look at Jesus’ ministry, most of what He did was considered very radical and controversial! Jesus only seemed interested in one thing; their heart.
We have had the shop open for only a couple of weeks now and we are already seeing the tattoo community turn their heads at the idea of God-loving, bible-believing christians doing clean and inexpensive tattoos! In this culture, tattoos automatically tag someone as “dangerous,” or a “criminal.” Unfortunately, most churches and religious people will condemn those with tats, thus pushing them even further from God. Of course, that doesn’t stop people from getting a tattoo because they like the artwork. We firmly believe that as people see Godly role-models who share the same passion for God as they do for tattoos, they will realize that they won’t have to conform to the mold of everyone else’s assumptions and go down that path. You really can love God with your whole being and have tats!

“The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”(1 Samuel 16:7)

Amanda and I want to thank each of you who continually pray for us and support us financially! God is doing some amazing things down here and thanks to you, we are able to continue where He wants us to be!
Please continue to pray for our safety, our finances, the teams coming down to serve alongside us, as well as the new, radical tattoo ministry!

A family standing in their new home

Practicality

Posted: April 10, 2011 in Uncategorized

Sometimes doing the most practical things can speak the loudest to the people we are around.  Within the past 3 weeks, we have helped host 3 separate mission teams, all with separate focuses, giftings and talents. We did a small group of veterinarians who hosted a free pet clinic, a larger group of high schoolers whose focus was on social outreach, and another large group of high school/college kids who built a house for a less fortunate family.

Sometimes, we as christians can feel like we aren’t doing anything worthwhile if we aren’t on street corners preaching or doing some direct form of “traditional ministry.”  When a group comes down and builds a house, it is easy to feel like you just did something big for God.  This past month, we watched God reform our outlook on what “effective ministry” looks like.

It started with the vet clinic.  Truth be told, at first I thought doing an outreach where the focus is on people’s PETS and not the people themselves was stupid and a waste of ministry resources. I questioned why we were doing this and wondered if there wasn’t something more worthwhile we could do instead.  God quickly challenged me on this in the staff meeting before the group’s first day. As we were praying over the day, I heard God quietly whisper a single word. “Practicality,” He said.  Within that one simple word, God showed me how sometimes the most practical form of ministry can be the most impactful.  People’s pets are considered part of the family in most households. I have even heard of certain family’s dogs getting expensive operations just to keep the furry member of the family around longer

Translating for the vets

We watched the first day as 83 animals with their owners made their way through the building we held the clinic (there were close to 60 animals the second and final day). To my surprise, we only recognized 15-20 of the pet owners who came. God was using the clinic to reach people of the community that we have NEVER had relationships with! This is practicality in action. Use something simple to bless people. When they wonder why veterinarian doctors come down from the States to spay, neuter, and vaccinate foreign animals for free, then they start to understand the love of God. As a result of this group using a gifting and passion they already possessed, God developed new and meaningful relationships with people and the local church! People got to see Jesus in a practical way!

 

We were leading the 2nd mission group (the social outreach high school kids) and we decided to do something we never did before, pick up garbage.  About 3 blocks away from the mission team house there is an old coffee field that has been abandoned by farmers and reclaimed by garbage, crack heads, and drug addicts. The field is FILLED to the brim with garbage, random car parts, and old furniture.  We asked the mayor of Alajuelita if there was a certain area he would like us to hit and he suggested this coffee field.

We spent only a short time cleaning the area (goes a lot faster with 19 people all working together).  We bagged all of the loose trash, piled the old furniture and car parts in one area. As we were working, I watched as several cars slowed down to drive by the site.


Working with the team to clean the coffee field

After they realized what was happening, they honked, gave a thumbs up, and went on their way.  A man and a woman approached me at separate times flabbergasted that people would come to a foreign country to pick up other people’s trash.  They asked why we would do such a thing and I got to explain how we are missionaries and wanted to show the love of God in a practical way. They explained how they grew up next door to this area and watched as everyone used it as a personal trash heap.  Never once in 53 years had someone tried to clean it up.  They said that it was a huge blessing and that it meant the world to them.

God has equipped His body with different body parts. Each body part has a different function. Some are great functions, some seem less significant, but all parts and roles are equally important.  This month, we watched average christians do things that were within their abilities to do. They did what God had given them the ability to do and, as a result, people were touched.  Too many times we look at ourselves and think, “I’m not qualified enough to pastor a mega church,” or “I don’t think I can move to a foreign country to be a missionary.”  We need to get out of this mindset and start looking at what God has given us the ability to do!  We can serve God with our mechanic abilities, our art talents, our computer know-how, heck, even our clothes ironing abilities!!  We should start asking God how He can use us the way He made us. He made us the way we are for a reason. We should trust that He knows what He is doing! I truly believe that when we start using our talents in practical ways, we will see God in ways we may not have ever expected!

Before

After

 

Belief vs Trust

Posted: March 3, 2011 in Uncategorized

God has been showing Amanda and I the difference between believing and trusting. When asked, “What is faith?” There are a ton of answers that we could hear. Faith is believing in the unseen. Faith is the next level of just believing. Faith is blindly walking. You can add your own ideas of faith here as well.

As of recently, a wonderful story of The Great Gordini touched Amanda and I’s hearts. Back in the turn of the 1900’s, a man by the title “The Great Gordini” came to the United States. He was one of the most famous tight-rope walkers of his time and decided to make his claim in the States.
To prove his ability, he ordered a steel cable stretched across the American and Canadian border at the Niagara Falls. Once in place, he made an announcement stating he was going to tight-rope walk across this wire. As you can imagine, hundreds of people and the media gathered to watch a foolish man fall to his death.
At the top of the Falls, the winds are very powerful. At the bottom of the Falls, the water is shallow and littered with sharp rocks. This endeavor was not likely to go in Gordini’s favor.
The Great Gordini began his walk across the wire. One foot in front of the other, ignoring the wind and the roaring sound of the falling water. Finally, he accomplished his final step. He stepped on solid ground. The crowd was amazed (and slightly dissappointed he didn’t fall). He then made an announcement that he would walk the cable again, but this time carrying a weighed down wheel-barrow.
The following week, The Great Gordini was at the high wire yet again, this time with a wheel barrow filled with sand and rocks. This time, even greater crowds were there with even more media coverage. The Great Gordini was foolish, this was the time everyone was going to witness the death of a stupid person pushing a wheel barrow across a windy high-wire with no safety precautions.
Much like the first time, Gordini stepped out onto the wire and placed one foot in front of the other. The only difference was that now he was balancing a heavy wheel barrow in front of him. If the wheel barrow would slip off the cable or fall, the cable spring in random directions due to the lack of the extra weight. Gordini would lose his footing, and if he were lucky, might be able grab the cable with his hands as he fell.
Gordini continued his walk with one foot in front of the other cautiously pushing the heavy wheel barrow in front of him until he made it to the other side. The crowds erupted in cheer and praise at the exceptional feat just demonstrated by The Great Gordini! The media swarmed Gordini with an onslaught of questions. They just witnessed the impossible, this man really is capable of doing what he says he can do!
In the midst of all of the madness, the Great Gordini silenced the crowd and asked them, “How many of you believe I can do it again?!” The crowds exploded in applause and affirmation! They were all believers now. At that moment, Gordini took his wheel barrow and dumped out all of the sand and rocks and asked the cheering crowd, “Who will go with me?!”  …the crowd fell silent.
There was not a single person in the crowd that doubted Gordini’s ability to walk the cable again. They all believed he could do it. But, when asked to  go with him, no one trusted The Great Gordini for their well-being.

I look at this story and I see such parallels into our own spiritual walk.  Yeah, I believe God can provide. Of course I believe God can heal me. Sure, I believe God can set me free from my addiction and sin.  Almost everyone who believes in God also believes that God can do the impossible. However, very few people ever step out of just believing and step into trusting that God will get them to the other side unscathed.
It was once told that when Gordini asked the crowd, “Who will go with me?” A young boy stepped out of the crowd, raising his hand saying, “I’ll go!”  The mere believers stopped the boy and asked him, “Aren’t you affraid of dying?” The young boy smiled and replied, “No, I’m not scared. Thats my daddy!”  This young boy stepped out of believing it was possible and stepped into trusting.
Granted, it probably wasn’t wise to climb into The Great Gordini’s wheel barrow. But it is wise to climb into our heavenly Daddy’s wheel barrow.  There should come a time when we as believers step out of merely believing that God can do what He says in His word and step into trusting that He will do what He says in His word.  Just believing God is sitting on the side-lines hoping to catch a lucky foul ball. Trusting God is rolling up your sleeves, putting on a glove, and becoming active in the game of faith.

Please Pray for our Safety

Posted: December 15, 2010 in Uncategorized

We just had a problem at the skate shop that Amanda and I have here in Alajuelita.  There has been a small group of young guys who have been threatening to rob the place for the past 2 weeks and one of the guys said that he has a gun. Today Ariel (the employee and a resident of the Men Center) called us freaking out saying that one of the guys was in there saying that he was going to bring a gun and rob the place.  We called the cops and headed over to the shop. One of the punk kids was on his bike near the shop when the cops showed up and they put him in the car and brought him in for questioning.  Ariel and one of our tico friends said that they were scared now because we just made that kid mad by turning him in and they are afraid that they (or we) may get shot over it. The kid is young but his family is well known by the police in Alajuelita for drug/gang activity and the kid threatened getting his cousins involved in this matter.

This whole situation has our stomachs in knots. We don’t want to walk in the fear that we may get gunned down or that one of our friends might. We also don’t want to loose any footholds that would allow us to minister to these kids. Please pray for us.  Pray for our protection.  Pray that this kid will be guided down a different path and that bitterness from this situation will leave him.  Pray for our guidance regarding what we need to do with the skate shop.  And also pray that one day, we can have an open and effective friendship with this kid and his group of friends. These are exactly the kind of people who need God’s saving grace.

We are so thankful to have such a massive amount of praying friends who are willing to stand behind us and pray when we need it! Thank you so much!

Update, back from the States!!

Posted: December 4, 2010 in Uncategorized

Amanda and I have made it back to our home in Costa Rica. Actually, we have been back for close to a month now… wow, how time flies!  Our trip back to the States was very productive on so many levels. Our primary reason for returning to the States was to get our paperwork in order for our residency in Costa Rica. After a month and a half in Denver and a month and a half in Tulsa, we got them all together! Our secondary goal for returning was to fund-raise and to meet new friends/family. We were praying that God would open doors and that we would make connections in both Colorado and Oklahoma and God did just that!

A small update: We were finally able to raise enough funds for a new graphic computer for Amanda! We have been praying for one of these for the past year!  Now that we have settled back in, Amanda is getting swamped with graphic work for the new ministries that 6:8 has started. She is currently occupied with products for: the english-speaking church plant, the “Hand me up Store” (a goodwill type clothing store), material for the local Costa Rican church “Celebration,” she is also doing T-shirts, flyers, business cards, and logos as well. Seriously, the graphic computer could not have come at a better time! Thank you to everyone who donated specifically for this computer!!

The Refuge has grown into something powerful and awesome while we were in the states. Now, it is a 24 hour center and we are driven to make disciples of the men inside. Another massive change is the new on-site director Anton. God brought him down at a perfect time and has used him to carry the vision of The Refuge. We currently have 3 men in the center and God is doing amazing things with them! Jairo was a professing atheist when we first met him. He was also planning on ripping off the center when he was first introduced into the program. God has touched him in a powerful way. Just yesterday at the feeding center he was sharing his testimony to the drug-addicted street people of Alajuelita how God has set him free from drugs and alcohol! Amanda and I can’t help but to smile at this! Out of all of the men who have come into the center, Jairo was one of the ones we expected to fall back and leave.  That is just like God though, using the unexpected people as His vessels of Good news! All of the guys in the center are making such awesome progress!  They are halfway through their program and have been drug free for 6-9 months!! God is so awesome!!

Jairo At The Feeding Center

Amanda and I decided not to get a Christmas tree this year and instead bought one for the men at the center. We set it up while they were at the night church service as a surprise. When they came in they saw the tree and grinned from ear to ear!  Both Jairo and Ariel told us that they had NEVER had a tree in their homes growing up! Shaggy said that it had been over 10 years since he had one!  A recent team came down and brought each of the guys a present to put under the tree!  The guys have been SO excited!  That night after dinner, the guys prayed over Amanda and I… they also prayed over their new Christmas tree!  After seeing their reactions to the tree, it became totally worth giving up having a tree ourselves for the sake of helping these guys know that they are in a HOME and not a center!

Jairo, Anton, Shaggy, and Ariel (clock-wise from left)

While in the states, we had the opportunity to speak with a fellow missionary about our financial position. He simply asked us how our fund raising was going.  I can not begin to express how difficult it is for Amanda and I to talk of financial needs with our supporters, and for us, this  casual conversation was no different.  After a long discussion he said something very profound. He told us, “You know, there are a lot of people who want to help fund something bigger than themselves. If you never come out and ask for help, everyone just assumes you’re okay financially even if you are not.”  I sat in silence for long moments contemplating this.  You know, I think he was right. Too often would we beat around the bush in the most round-about way about our needs to our supporters. I know why we did too. Our biggest fear with asking for support is that our supporters would view us in the same way as the typical tv evangelist (for the record, we DESPISE the greedy tv evangelist). We never want to be viewed in that way.

The truth is, Amanda and I need support in order to stay on the mission field. We also need to come up with $1000.00 to finish up the residency paperwork to finalize everything. We currently have 188 people on our email list that receive updates from us.  If every person on our list would pledge at least $10 a month, we would be able to pay our rent, bills, food, save for our residency, and be able to do extra ministry related activities (like the christmas tree for the men). Every amount donated, great or small, is appreciated and helps more than you’d know.

Amanda and I would like to ask you to prayerfully consider supporting the work out here in Alajuelita, Costa Rica.  Just know that this is an amazing opportunity to sow good seed into good soil!  All we ask is that you be obedient to whatever God lays on your heart.  If you can’t give monetarily, please give prayerfully.  Pray that our needs will be met and that even more opportunities will be given for us to overflow into the community surrounding us!

Thank you for helping us be the hands and feet of Jesus!  We love you and appreciate your prayers and support!

Paperwork, Benifit Shows, and missing Costa Rica

Posted: September 8, 2010 in Uncategorized

Amanda and I have returned to the states in order to get our paperwork together for our Costa Rican residency. At this point, we are ALMOST finished with all of Amanda’s stuff here in Denver, CO.  Once we are finished with that, we will return to Tulsa, OK to get mine together. After all of the paperwork is in order we will return to Costa Rica!

So far, our return to Denver has been very productive.  Amanda is now legally “Blalock” and we have all the legal documents to prove it!  We also had the opportunity to speak at City on the Hill church in Boulder, CO for their annual missions conference.  We got to see a lot of familiar faces and got to meet many new ones.  We are excited for all of our new friends who are praying for us!  We will be leaving Denver very shortly to Tulsa. We are excited to see all of our family and friends there too!

About 2 months ago, a team from Florida came down to Costa Rica to serve for a week.  We met an amazingly talented young lady named Chastaney.  She is an intern in Florida and she was required to put together a benefit show for the organization of her choice.  After seeing what God was doing in “El Refugio,” she wanted to do something to help.  She chose our homeless men center as her project and built a fund-raising project around that.  Amanda and I constructed a video for what is going on there and it was played at the benefit show.  We are excited about the video because it really allows our supporters, family, and friends know a little of what we are doing here in Costa Rica.  You can watch the video if you click on the link below:

To watch the video: ((The Refuge – Alajuelita, Costa Rica))

Although we are always super excited to be able to see all of our family and friends again in the states, we are truly missing Costa Rica and can’t wait to get back.  Thank you for all of your prayers, financial support, and encouraging words as we continue toward the goal that God has placed before us!!  We love you!