Day 10 in Costa Rica
1 Thes. 1: 2-3 "We always thank God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers. We continually remember before our God, your work provided, by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ."

Costa Rica 2001 TeamThe MPPC Costa Rica 2001 Mission's team would like to give you a summary of what scripture verses God etched on our hearts, as well as some of the thoughts, insights and experiences He gave us during our recent short-term mission's experience. We want to thank all of you for your prayers and support! But most of all we want to thank God for His great love; Jesus Christ for His saving grace and the Holy Spirit for His all sufficient power.

Phil 4:6-7 "Be Anxious about nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

It was amazing to meet Sergio and see how a "road to Damascus" experienced had totally changed his live and therefore the lives of so many others - and that experience was pure evangelism from a local minister in a prison - who followed up with him as well! I thought of all the people who would have loved to have one of those little ones in their home, and instead over time they are out in the street and on drugs.

Psalms 23:1-6 "The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness, For His name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows. Surely goodness and loving-kindness will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever."

I had not realized before our visit to the small colony of people with aids that I had finished my previous 3 missions with a slightly smug feeling that my missionary activity was a kind of demonstration that I am generally a pretty good fellow who acts in a Christ-like manner. However, when the time came for the visit, I told myself that I could not go just for sightseeing curiosity because I have seen such situations in the course of my work. Instead I asked myself if I would be able to hug, talk and be in comfortable company of these people dying of aids in the manner that Christ or our local missionary Ronald would do. I could not do it. I learned that my smugness about my easy walk with Christ was a bit of a self-deception. I did not experience it as a necessarily discouraging or depressing realization but it was more like a welcome insight from the Holy Spirit that I am too ready to be satisfied with myself and my perceptions of my Christianity. Wasn't it curious that I thought to apply this rule of NO SIGHTSEEING as a test for myself?

John 15:17 "These things I command you, that you love one another. Esto os mando: Que os améis los unos á los otros."

Hopelessness, and torment Turmoil and hatred The dark side of humanity
Hope filled and nurturing Peaceful and loving The light of Christ in humanity
We nurture, they trust We love, they hope We cry, they know Christ's heart

John 15:1-8 "I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word, which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing…. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples."

Sometimes I wondered and others ask, "what good does it do if you just go to the kids in the street for a few days?" I came to learn that my only job was to "abide" in God and "show up" wherever He wanted me this day. Whether I feed some kids, give them a hug, listened to their stories or made them laugh; I came to understand that the rest was up to God. And I'm very sure that the great God who created the universe could handle the rest and bring the spiritual fruit He desires.

Philippians 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." 
Psalm 81:10 "... open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it."

God can use anything and anyone, EVEN me. That's the most exciting. He has a plan for everyone, even though we can't see or understand it. Part of that plan is making yourself available. It had to be the best experience to feel His presence 24 by 7. Before this trip My life would get so crazy I developed the habit of going off and leaving Him behind, not inviting Him along.

 

Psalms 51:10 "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me."

God showed me that my life is filled with blessings. I'm very thankful for my family, church, and friends. I am feeling lead to help with Community Service in our local communities. I have lost my job, and have been looking to God for direction. I feel strongly that during the trip to Costa Rica, God told me that I should stay in the Bay Area, refinance the house, and that I'd find a job. I found a Real peace and calm around this decision.

1 Thessalonians 1:2-3 "We give thanks to God always for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father."

It was not about what we did, it was about seeing what God is doing through others down there and knowing about it so we can support them (Sergio, Ronaldo, Sandra, Amanda and others at Renacer-CFCI)

 

Psalm 27:10 "When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up."

It would be easy to see the street children, the orphans, poverty, crime, drug abuse and dismiss the presence of God. But this week I saw the magnificent love of our Father in the darkest place I have ever visited. Through the work of the Renacer ministry, Ronald Villalobos, Sergio Acevedo, Amanda Van Deman, the Menlo Mission Team one could feel and see God reaching down his hand on the lives of individuals. I felt the touch of my Father in my own life and watched as others around me were impacted by His love. The LORD continues His work in Costa Rica and here in our lives...HE will take us all up!!

Sunset in Costa RicaPhilippians 2:4-8 "Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross."

In the midst of the darkness I saw in Costa Rica, I come home with a hopeful heart. Meeting Ronald V & Sergio A, hearing how God rescued them from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of His beloved Son, watching them work w/ the street kids showed me that God's light does shine in the darkness.

Please join us for our Trip Report on Sunday Sept 9 at 12:30 in Garden Court.