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Cecilia’s Story

SK_89Cecilia is an amazing woman. She is a Tica (Costa Rican) who lives in a very poor community in San Jose, CR where many Nicaraguan immigrants have settled. There is a pattern of among men of adultery, alcoholism, drug abuse and family neglect. When they can find work, most of the salary is spent on what the men desire, while the needs of the family are secondary. As is common in many third world countries, the wives, often with no work skills, are left alone with the children and have to make do.

Both angered and frustrated by the pattern she saw, Cecilia began feeding the neighborhood kids out of her own kitchen with whatever beans and rice she could scrape up.  The Lord’s hand has been upon her ministry in some crazy ways.  People who heard about what she was doing would stop by and donate food.  A woman decided to buy a piece of property in the community and give it to Cecilia to build a new community center.  More recently, a radio show decided to have a radio-thon to raise funds for Cecilia.  Some money was raised and Cecilia and her husband were able to salvage some materials for a basic shelter that has served as the community center for the past few years.
Recently, more and more kids have come to have lunch at the center.  Out of the lunches, a vacation bible school program has developed to teach the kids about Jesus.  The women of the community also gather weekly for a women’s bible study.  From the women’s study, a sewing coop started as a means for the women to earn an income apart from their husbands. The sewing coop has now grown from one day/week to 2-3 days/week.  For many, it is a safe place in a dangerous community. Cecilia and her leadership team want to reach out into the community in even bigger ways using the “community center” as the central point.
_6However, the shelter that currently functions as the community center is in desperate need of improvement.  It was literally constructed out of found materials, branches, and bamboo.  Since no kitchen is available, all the cooking is done at Cecilia’s daughter’s house two doors down and carted to the center.  They run an electrical cord from her daughter’s house to the center for power.  The site drops off steeply to the river below right above where the kids play football, run, and play.  For a while now, they have been in real need of a new building.
Recently, eMi (Engineering Ministry International) provided a design team (for free) fromPlan View_Diagram the US and completed a simple design for a new community center made out of prefabricated panels that would be very affordable to construct.  In addition, a new site design was completed that added retaining walls, play areas, and a small futbol field.  The necessary building permits have been given and the actual building process of the main room (salon) is to start. Actual cost of building the ‘Salón Communal’ is less than $10,000. That funding has been given. Further funding is required to complete the bathrooms (Baños – beside the aulas or classrooms), 3 small classrooms, a small community soccer field (at the bottom) and to complete basic property security. All of this provides greater opportunities to transform the surrounding communities for Jesus.
This is an amazing story of hope out of darkness.  One couldn’t imagine that such a tiny lady as Cecilia would be capable of bringing about such profound changes in the community.  Yet Cecilia doesn’t talk to anyone about anything without talking about Jesus.  Her deep love for the Father is what compels her in all that she does.  Currently her daughter, Carmen, is taking over the ministry in this community and Cecilia has moved to La Lidia, an even poorer community about 3 hours east where she has started a similar community ministry.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIf you would like to help out financially with the completion of this community center in Guizaros, you can donate your giving to either 1. any Christian & Missionary church and mark your cheque SunCompassion – Costa Rica or 2. go on-line at this page, fill out the page and choose Costa Rica.

Guatemala to Columbia

Linda and Cecilia with the police

It’s been a busy fall and God has been very faithful (no surprise there). We took Cecilia (from Costa Rica) up to El Salvador to meet with other like-minded leaders who work very hard in their communities with their own ministries. She fit right in and it was great for her to know that she is part of a larger network of Christ-followers who want to change their own community for the better.  One of the six police officers guarding us during the meetings was baptized! Nicaragua was a great time meeting with C&MA pastors from all over Central America. This meeting was extra-special as 5 Alliance churches from Peru partnered with 5 churches in Central America to help with leadership development and training of pastors. It is so encouraging to see strong national churches coming along side their weaker brothers.

Bird feathers from a Mayan witch doctor stuck to the cross

In Guatemala, I joined a mission team from Stony Plain Alliance for 5 days up in TacTic. This was a great time for me getting to know some of the people from Stony Plain. I got to see missions through their eyes and it made me see things in a brand new way. I also got to see this ministry that several Alliance churches support. I spent time with the leadership and made an evaluation for future possibilities. This area had a weird mix of Catholicism and Mayan god worship.  Afterwards I took a bus in Guatemala City where I spent time with Pastor Merari of Iglesia Galilea. I also sat in a workshop for pastors that presented some ministry perspectives from the book When Helping Hurts. I really enjoyed sitting down with Merari and dreaming of future opportunities. We talked about some leadership development of pastors in the area of community development and how we could come along side the community initiatives they have started.

The barrio I visited filled with the poor and disenfranchised.

Columbia was another 9 day trip. The first 5 days was South American C&MA Leaders/Mission conference. After talking with many pastors from Columbia, I was convinced that Columbia’s need for church training in initiatives of community development is vital. This was strengthened when I spent the next 4 days in Bogotá with the jefe of one of the largest community and development banks in the country. It grew out of the need in Alliance churches and now serves1300 people in small business loans and small business training. I visited a couple of the projects up in a barrio overlooking the city. It was the highlight of my trip as I met another “person of peace”. Someone who has a love of Christ for their community and is doing unbelievable things with being the “hands and feet of Jesus” to the poor. And through this, the Gospel is being shared. Her name is Lucy and she has the same heart as Cecilia. Wow!

Have you ever heard of the Leadership Matter Course? Hands down, it is THE best leadership development course I have been part of and its coming to Canada (Alberta) in the spring of 2014. It is filled with extremely practical and hands on learning that cements your leadership abilities into practice. Linda and I spent 12 straight days with 25 other learners here in CR. The trainers come from all over the world. An Amazing time.

Visited a maternity ward where 2 babies less than 2 hours old
were abandoned

December is fast approaching and for most, that means busyness too. We will be part of sharing Christmas with needy children from several communities. Jordan is able to come for a month and he will be a big part of this. Pray for these opportunities to share Christ with the kids and their parents. This weekend, we will be going to a baptism of a couple jail inmates. Very exciting to see them choose to express their relationship in Jesus this way. Also pray as we continue to work with the pastors from Sarapiqui in the use of resources and how to add a component of sustainability to their community outreach. Briana and her boy (Paul) will be coming down Boxing day so we will have the whole family together. We welcome Brem and Donna Frentz as the new VP of Global ministry (our bosses). Thank you for your continued support. We rely on you for partnering with us prayerfully and financially. If any of you want Linda’s weekly prayer letter, drop her a line at L7doell@gmail.com.
PS There will be a new website coming out where we will have a blog. Coming soon!

Plans CAN Change!

Food store just across the central valley from us

My plan was to write an update this morning but my lead-in has now changed. A 7.6 earthquake happened about 1 hour ago about 120 km. west of us and at a depth of 20km (very shallow). I have heard reports of cars bouncing (on their tires), buildings creaking and groaning and trees down. Communication lines are down due to the excessive use of the phone lines so there are no reports from Sámara (western Costa Rica) where the epicentre was. Pray for the people in the area. I was driving down our valley at the time and did not feel it though I saw many people out on the street. One person motioned for me to slow down and I was trying to figure out why. Now I know. Linda heard the whoosh of the sound that a earthquake makes as it came down our valley. She said the ground was rolling for about 30 seconds. I am waiting to hear from some partner organizations about the need for a direct response.

Cecilia

There is always an adventure. We have several more on the immediate horizon. One of our corner stones in our community development philosophy is called CHE (Community Health Evangelism). Our focus over the next year is with the continued development of a leadership network. Linda and I leave for a regional meeting of CHE leaders in El Salavador on Friday for 5 days. We are taking Cecilia, a local who has tremendous potential with us to introduce her to like-minded people. It will be her first time in a plane. You may have remembered me talking about her previously. She has a huge love for God and a huge desire to impact communities around her through feeding programs/VBS programs for kids and starting women groups that study the Bible. Pray for Linda and I as this is totally in Spanish with no opportunity for English. I have been asked for a 20 min presentation. Wow! Pray for a deepening relationship and future ministry focus with Cecilia.

We are back a few days and then I am off to Nicaragua for the annual Alliance pastor’s retreat for Central America. Linda is staying home to man the fort. We are traveling by bus up to Managua. Another adventure but I am looking forward to spending some time with the guys and getting to know them better. There are 22  of us. Thankfully it’s not a “chicken” bus.

Playing with the kids in Guatemala

Days later, the adventure continues as I travel to Guatemala. Linda will be staying behind to be a “Mom” for the Derksen girls as the parent are in another country.  There are several Canadian Alliance churches who have partnered with Impact Ministries in Tactic, Guatemala. Impact focuses on working with the Mayan population and having an impact on the poor and uneducated. I will join Stony Plain Alliance for several days before taking a bus down to Guatemala City to meet with local Alliance pastors that I am praying that doors will open where we can partner with them and empower them in some of their local community development initiatives.

Columbia is next as I travel to meet with Latino Alliance leaders for several days. Afterwards, I have been invited to travel north of Bogota through the mountains to visit churches where the national Alliance church has been part of an organization that provides micro-loans to the poor. I am looking forward to learning from their experience and seeing how God has used this valuable community development tool in so many ways.

Drug Rehab homes for a 1 year stay

Thank you for your continued support through prayer and giving.  If you want to be part of Linda’s prayer letter, contact her at L7doell@gmail.com. There is always a need for financial help. One Alliance church donated a sum that is directed to helping a local CR church with their community development focus in working with a drug rehab program. We have many ways that you can help. Ask!