Category Archives: Costa Rica

Before and After

D70_3353Have you ever asked yourself  “What have I done in the last year? two years? three years?” It is a tough question. One that floats through my mind quite regularly. How about you?

I am adding a short time  lapse video on the physical changes happening in Guizaros with the community centre.  Seeing the Before and comparing it with the After gives a great feeling.

I am walking (and learning) through the concept of “how I measure up”.  It seems that as I walk through life, living through my relationship with Jesus, I continually have to re-learn that it is not the result or end goal that matters. It is the fact and miracle that God loves me for who I am and who I am growing to be. My focus is not on the goal but what happens “in process” as I invest my heart and soul in an on-going, living relationship with a living God that already loves me for who I am. To often what happens (it’s human nature)  is that we  measure our relationships with goals and measuring sticks.  We compare. God wants us to just be …… getting to know Him more, relying on Him more, believing in Him more through what He has done and loving Him more because of it all. All the important things of having a growing, intimate relationship.

God has, is doing, and will be doing some amazing things in the community of Guizaros. Take a look at some of the physical changes that many of you have been part of. God is using you too.

Guizaros Time Lapse

Floods, Greenhouses and 550 Bolsitos

At the bottom of this Canyon is the C&MA National Women’s Ministry 2014 project. It will be a medical clinic and women’s shelter serving the Tarahumara people. This is where 50% of children do not reach the age of 10 due to medical and nutritional issues. This is where almost 100% of girls are abused in one form or another by the men in their life (fathers, brothers, neighbors). This is where a woman gives birth by clutching a tree limb and pushing. Recently, we partnered with eMi Latin America to design a culturally-relevant building to address these needs. Your giving to the Tarahumara Project will partner your attitude of serving with this project.Flooding..15 minutes earlier, this road was passable. We were traveling through northern Mexico to the CopperCanyon and the road to Rio Chico, our bed for the night, was flooded. After waiting an hour for the water to recede, we put our truck in 4×4 and went for it. Thankfully, the truck had a higher clearance and so we had a bed for the night, not a truck seat.

Flooding seems to be a theme lately.

In this last month, a trip to Calgary and High River was part of the 25k kilometres of travel I did. The Western Canadian District invited me up to come alongside the High River Alliance Church leadership. It was a privilege to spend time with Pastor Chris and Owen and share their journey with them. What a path of frustration and grieving the people of High River walking. Many are working towards a semblance of normality as they are able to get back into their house but for many, this is an ongoing struggle. Psalms 29 says “The voice of the Lord twists the oaks and strips the forests bare. And all in his temple all cry “Glory”. The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord is enthroned as King forever. The Lord gives strength to this people; the Lord blesses his people with peace.

Did you know that for every 2 stacked tires, 5 kilos of potatoes can be harvested! Not only does this work in small growing spaces, it is used towards recycling. This is only one of many “green” approaches to agriculture that Gerson, our agricultural cooperative leader is learning about. Recently, our two communities of ministry, La Lidia and Guizaros, went through a tough time of putting food on the table for the children’s feeding programs. As a result, our prayers have been answered as our leaders are now thinking “sustainably” in their problem-solving. This has evolved into a project of building a greenhouse for each community that will work towards nutrition and the food supply situation. Each greenhouse will also provide life skills training. This cooperative will establish strong community ties and involve the sharing of God’s blessings and Biblical truths in every-day activities. One lady from Edmonton came with family and friends to Costa Rica for a wedding and used this opportunity to encourage the group to give towards supplying seed and greenhouse construction supplies. This turned out to be a substantial amount. What a blessing knowing we can move forward with this project!

Later on this fall, every Alliance church in Canada will receive a packet of information in a red, white and blue cloth bag (bolsito). I don’t know what information will be sent but I do know it will be sent in a bag with the colors of the Costa Rican flag and made by the ladies in our sewing cooperative in Guizaros. 550 bags…Can you imagine? It’s exciting knowing the ladies are gaining new skills and receiving financial renumeration for their work that will help put food on their tables and clothes on their families. These ladies are part of a women’s Bible Study that through the efforts of a Canadian Alliance church, we bought sewing machines and started a cooperative that joins these ladies together in many ways. It is a light in their community.

For those who are giving to GAF, the national C&MA fund that supports the living expenses of international workers… Thank you.

 

 

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.

We are Live!

This is the first official blog on our new site. You may ask of all the names out there to choose from, why livepassion.ca? Because we want to live our passion, what God has instilled in us because of the personal relationship we have in Him through Jesus. Because we want to live our passion, that God has prepared for us, everyday. Have you ever wondered why God has you in this or that job, living through this or that circumstance, and experiencing life in this or that way? I remember over the last 25 years, as I worked in a seemingly non-linear pathway, I asked myself those questions often. I am continuing to learn that I need to live my passion, and trusting in God that He is directing my steps. Now I can look back and say… AHA! that is why I experienced this or that. Daily, it allows me to live my passion deeper and fuller. I just wonder what will tomorrow be like!

The pictures on the website header are of a few of the people that cross our path in the various countries we have been in. We get to learn passion from people like them.

A brief update of what is happening with us. The project of building a women’s shelter/medical clinic in the Copper Canyon of northern Mexico is advancing. This project was chosen by the National Women’s ministry of the Christian & Missionary Alliance for its 2013/14 fund raising project. I was with the video team recently deep in the Canyon as the video was put together to share the story to the churches in Canada. An engineering ministry (eMi) is donating an architect and design team to design the building. This will occur this August.

In Costa Rica, in the barrio of Guizaros, we work with Cecilia and her family. We are able to move ahead with plans to revamp their community ministry centre and how they use their land. Again, eMi donated a architect and a earth engineer to make a plan. We hope to start building the first phase in May of this year with money that has been donated.

As many of you know, we had the privilege of teaming up with some donors from Canada to get 50+ kids into elementary school that otherwise would not be able to attend. We were able purchase uniforms, shoes and school supplies. This resulted in a problem, but a good problem. There were not enough text books for all the students so we were able to help supply these books for 20 kids.

Linda continues to send out weekly prayer needs and she is grateful for those who have chosen to join the team in this way. It is gratifying to see the prayer requests go both ways and be part of seeing God respond. If you would like to be part of this let us know. It’s not hard, you talk everyday. Now you’re just adding God to the equation and watching Him work.

What do you think of the website? Let us know. Add a comment with your thoughts to the “What is J & C?”

We Have Proof…

We have proof…that God is at work! Our last two days of work needs it’s own blog to describe how we have seen God at work, literally!
We left for the Limón prison to be with a team from the Alliance “jungle” church for their weekly visit to a men’s high-security jail. They expected to have 2 baptisms. When we got there, 6 men wanted to be baptized. Here is Linda’s description of what happened. (Sorry, no pictures as I couldn’t take my camera in).
What made me come alive yesterday was walking into the Limon Prison & stepping into what could’ve been the New Testament! What an experience to witness a Christ-movement. Wow!
We were invited by our Alliance Sarapaqui Pastors to attend a baptism of 2 men from their prison ministry & God began moving in their hearts before we even came. Two men were to give their testimony & be baptized but God had other plans. Yesterday not only 2 were dunked in a  40 gallon barrel but 20!
My mind was thinkin’ “this must be what happened when Christ would come into a town, preach & started baptizing”. Well, the same movement happened yesterday with Pastor Rodrigo preaching & inviting men to radically change their lives, & proclaim that they are Christ’s. What started out as 2 became 6, & as the men heard the Pastor & Curtis praying for them, saw these prisoners make a proclamation of faith, it had men passing the small bucket outside to get more water so that MORE men could be baptized as well.
I had so many thoughts racing through my mind & heart this afternoon. Yesterday I experienced what salvation, in a very dark place, looked like. I saw GRACE in action, I saw tenderness on hardened men as they sang or stood in adoration after the ceremony, I could almost hear the angels rejoicing over not just 2 but 20! Tears flowed down my face as I thought of what Christ would do for one lost sheep but He brought 20 home!!
This was a day that my heart resonated loudly & saw the power of the Spirit move in these men’s hearts. I didn’t understand all that was said (it was all in Spanish) but I could see the impact of the presence among these men today.
My last farewell to these men as we left the prison was seeing them clasped together in cuffs to be taken back to the barracks. What were freed men in Christ today are still chained men to their consequence of their sin.

The next day, we visited Cecilia and her family. If you have been following our adventures, you know who she is. If you don’t, you need to look at past blogs. She moved to a community called La Lidia. 
La Lidia is a community far from nowhere. We drove a really bad road to get there, past fields of yuca, pineapple and banana. If you can find work, you find it as a laborer in one of these fields. It’s common to get up at 3am, cycle to work by 4am and work till 4pm. Lunch is very short as you would rather keep moving in the heat that just sitting there. All for $10/day. Houses are made of plastic over a wooden branch frame or if you have the skills to make a house from tree, you make a makeshift building. 
Cecilia knows that these people need Christ. She has become a mother to many. Yesterday for the weekly kid’s program, there were 70 kids. She told me she gets as many as 130. It’s a day filled with music, games and Sunday School. (Then there is the women’s ministry…another time)
Many come everyday just to hang out and get food. I do not know how she does this as the family makes about $400/month. The kids are loved and and taught Biblical values and morals. I had a blast. For hours, I played foose ball on this old table that we would normally use for firewood! The kids kept repeating my name so they could get the pronunciation correct. Living conditions are so poor. A 13 year old girl has basically lived on green plantains (cooking bananas) for the last 6 months. I talked with two boys who have absolutely nothing, even food and they rely on Cecilia and her family. Most of these kids cannot read. Those that can afford to go to school (about $150/yr), still can’t read and they certainly don’t get the 3 “R’s”. Most of the kids are barefoot. At the mininum, 70 pairs of shoes are needed for the kids that are at the local school.
Cecilia, her husband Marcos, and their son and wife, Gerson and Rocio, have the biggest hearts. Wow! They hope to add 6 computers + English + more reading + more math…. to their program to give the kids a future and hope.  Please pray for them as they will be hosting 4 different Christmas parties for about 650 kids this month. She says “God will provide” and He does. 
Can you help? You are part of the answer! If you can help financially, support for food or schooling or shoes or a Christmas fiesta, email me at suncompassionla@gmail.com and we can work together to help out.

A quick note…then the Copper Canyon

Just a quick note as we want to keep you updated and we treasure
your praying. We are continuing to get together every Tuesday afternoon with our group of Tica and Nica (Costa Rican and Nicaraguan) ladies for their time of fellowship and worship. Praying Latina-women-style is quite something. The faith shown  is amazing. The noise is mind-blowing. It’s also our time to do some training in basic community transformation issues like the value of woman, understanding money, leadership and working within a cooperative. As Cecilia, a local leader, said yesterday, “It’s all about salvation!”. With the sewing cooperative that has developed, the last 1.5  hours are spent sewing. A leadership group has been chosen. Please pray as we are part of the development of this amazing opportunity of creating self-worth, skills and livelihood opportunities. We are now up to 8 sewing machines for 18 ladies. AND another group wants to get started in a nearby community! Pray for direction.

Next week, Linda and I are off to Mexico, specifically the Copper Canyon area to meet with Pastor Tomás and his team. They work with the Turahumara group of people. After 17 years of ministry, this team is making inroads into this indigenous group. There are are 50,000 people living in and around a canyon that is bigger than the Grand Canyon. The problem is that in many ways, these are a forgotten people so many C&MA churches have sent short-term missions teams into this area. Lot’s has been accomplished.

Yet….I watched a short video this morning about When a NGO Admits Failure. Take a look.  We are going in with an emergency food aid for the people in the region. Drought, lack of food and medical problems are problematic. It has been reported that less than 50% of kids in this people group reach the age of 10. In one community of 300 families where this Mexican mission team works, 98 people of have died in the last 3 years. Our plan is to bring in emergency funding from the Global Emergency Response Fund of the C&MA Canada to address immediate food supply problems. We will be exploring how we can come along side the local ministry goals and work together to create a sustainable answer to the physical problems. Pray as we meet, as we travel and see. We need open eyes and open hearts to see the needs and how we can be part of a long-term solution. As I write this, I am hearing that timing will be very tight with the transferring of funds to purchase the food. Please pray for the details to work out.

Gaining Traction….

It’s so gratifying after months of planning and preparation as you start to move ahead. But before we get into that, how was your Christmas? Did you have lot’s of great times with friends and family?  Our kids came down and we had a lot of fun together. Everyone except Linda learned to surf, we played lots of games and generally enjoyed spending time together. We had so much fun that Briana is still here! Actually she is down for 3 months spending time with us and getting recharged for going back to university in the fall. Jordan is back at Ambrose in his 3rd year.
Lately in the news here, tragedy struck in Honduras with a jail fire. 272 died and many injured. Please remember to uphold these families in prayer. I am currently putting together an emergency food security program for many families in the Copper Canyon area in Mexico. Due to food availability and medical issues, the statistics are heart wrenching. Less than half of all children live to 10 years of age. In one community of 300 families, 98 people have died in the last 3 years. Pray as we look to build a sustainable, long-term nutritional food response through the work of the local Mexican missionaries. We are planning an initial food response for the last week in March. Giving for this can be directed to the Global Emergency Response Fund through a local C&MA church or the national office in Toronto. 
Linda and I so much to be thankful for as God continues to provide through you and Canadian Alliance churches. Last month we were notified that our fund to pay for our work vehicle here is full. FULL!!! Amazing! A huge “gracias” to each of you for following God’s prompting in helping us. WOW.
With donated school supplies
Serving the children
Last week, 3 couples from Brooks Alliance came down for 6 days of interacting in our ministries and learning what sustainable ministry looks like with the idea of the church family extending their community outreach internationally to projects here in Costa Rica. We spent 2 days with Cecilia in Patarra with her love of the local, poor children and her daily feeding program. There was an emergency food suppply issue for the  children and this group brought down $$ that was donated from the High River Alliance and Brooks Alliance to supply food for this last week. Then a day was spent in Horquetas, Sarapiqui with Pastor Rodrigo and Aydeé  and being excited by their drug addiction program and their huge dreams of reaching out into their community for Christ. 
One of the highlights of the week, was enabling Cecilia and her leadership with her outreach to a group of Nicaraguan women who meet weekly for a Bible Study. After time in the Bible and praying, they break out the sewing machines where they have been learning to sew and trying to sell a couple of products locally. They have 3 old machines for 18-25 women. This Albertan group saw a need and we spent a day buying five new sewing machines and lots of material. Instead of just giving these machines to them and walking away like many “missionary-minded” teams have done in the past (read When Helping Hurts), we set up a sustainable, ministry approach by establishing a  sewing cooperative where this group gain self-respect and gain personal control of a 
 hopeless destiny. This will lead into a building a local savings and loans initiative that will enable them to take out emergency loans for food and medical issues. Also, this will build into a “livelihood” ministry where they make quality clothing and crafts, sell them in Canada and earn an income that goes back into the cooperative and can assist each member.  I can’t explain the joy in the faces of the women as this week, I presented the sewing cooperative to them and we unpacked the sewing machines together. We spent 2 hours with them practising and learning! Classes and training in areas such as women in leadership, budgets, working in groups… will occur over the next 4 months. If you have a desire to help out financially with these community development  initiatives in Patarra, you can give to “The Patarra Project” at your local C&MA church or here
If you are interested in partnering with prayer concerns, you can contact Linda to exchange prayer needs.

God is Sooo Good.

This is just a brief update for some great things that have happened recently. We had to cancel our Mexico trip to the Copper Canyon last week. I was having a knee joint issue that would have been impossible in the mountainous area in Copper Canyon. So after medical tests were done, other medical issues were discovered (one was a severe kidney infection). So this is now be looked after. After testing is done next week, we hope to discover if any long-term kidney damage has occurred due to the severity of the infection. Funny thing is I really haven’t felt a thing!

We just completed a 3 very full days of a retreat with the Regional Leadership team. The team consists of leaders representing Mexico, Cuba, Guatemala, Ecuador and Costa Rica. What a rich time with relationships, inter-changing of ideas and leadership concepts and praying.

In our last blog, we mentioned the great need of raising the last 1/2 of the money required to pay the mission back for our ministry vehicle. We have received new news over the last 2 weeks including today’s report. God is amazing! People gave! And gave in extremely large amounts and smaller amounts. Unbelievable. We are so blessed! Thank you. The side issue to this is the trickle down effect as  international workers in Venezuela are now able to go ahead in full confidence with the purchase of their ministry vehicle.

As we move into the Christmas season, life gets busier. If we are unable to blog before then, we wish each of you the best during this season of Celebration. We are so thankful for the life that we have in Christ and we pray that for each one of you. Merry Christmas!

Development is Developing!

As the seasons change in Canada, Linda and I realize we don’t miss the snow! We have had to live with our own winter down here of having alot of rain. It’s quite amazing how down here they predict the week of the month that it will change from wet (winter) season to dry (summer) season. Nov 19 is supposed to be the date. Already we are seeing more sunshine as the transition happens.

Life continues to be busy as I am sure it is with you too. This last month has been full of translating and working through the details of creating a community needs assessment evaluation. I have had to adapt this to our situations. My short form is only 10 pages which will take a couple of weeks to work through with each community.  I am very excited when in 10 days I will be receiving much of the information or building blocks of working towards community transformation in Spanish.  This includes hundreds of lessons and all of the orientation information needed to get “a huge machine” moving forward. This is a huge springboard for our work!!!! In the meantime, I have been using a local pastor to help me with correcting my translations.

Last week, I took our puppy (a Great Dane) up to the Patarra community where we are building the personal relationships to complete a community needs assessments. It’s a community filled with Nicaraguans that moved to Costa Rica to seek a better life. This is where we work with Cecilia and her soup kitchen for the local children who don’t have enough food at home to eat.  In minutes, I had 20 children grouping around us. They are not used to seeing a friendly dog. Usually, dogs are either used for security and kept behind a fence or they are unfriendly strays on the streets that you don’t want to get near. Max (our big puppy) bridged alot of gaps that day. Please continue to pray as we step into this community and encourage the local church to reach out to this needy people group.

Last weekend, the Alliance people here in Costa Rica had an orientation retreat. It was focused on the International Workers who are studying Spanish as we did here.  As a small group, we were able to work through several sessions of the Global Leadership Summit sponsored by the Willow Creek Association. Amazing speakers! I was strongly convicted in the area of humility. Here is a definition that will give you food for thought and maybe the desire for more research. “More simply, you could say the humble person is marked by a willingness to hold power in service of others”.  Dickson

From Nov 20-27, Linda and I are traveling to Mexico to the Copper Canyon area working with Pastor Tomás Bencomo as we visit the Tarahumara Indians living there. The canyon area is abut 5 times larger than the Grand Canyon and there are an estimated 70,000 – 100,000 Indians living there who have never heard the Gospel. It is a 12-16  hour drive on a road that was recently built. We are thankful for the road otherwise it would be by burro or donkey. We are desiring to capture the heart of ministry of Pastor Tomás as we work alongside him. This is also as opportunity to do a quick food security assessment to the end of assisting them in their basic food needs.

I have thrown much information into this blog but I want to close with some answers to prayer and other needs.
1. Linda and I are so thankful for an Alberta church that stepped in to fill the gap and paid for Briana to join us for Christmas.
2. This need is great. We are still needing to raise the remaining funds for our ministry vehicle down here.  This is a huge prayer request as it effects another missionary couple in nearby country and their ability to purchase a vehicle for their ministry.  We are needing almost $6000. We are so grateful for what has been given in the last couple of months. You can specify “Doell Vehicle Fund” to your local Alliance church or designate your gift to the C&MA.
3. A huge answer to prayer to find much of the material that we need already translated!!!
4. As we work in the community of Patarra, doors will be opened to build relationships, ability to clearly communicate in Spanish will happen and the needed details will fall into place. We do have an account open to provide for this ministry where you can donate to the Patarra Project.
5. Pray for the San Francisco church and opportunities for Linda and I to be part of their community vision goals.
6. Over the course of the last year, we have been looking for a ministry name that would encompass all the areas of ministry we are involved in plus identify us to others. Our ministry name is “SunCompassion” and the email address is suncompassionla@gmail.com