Tag Archives: Costa Rica

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.

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

The Horizon is Huge!

Coming back from Canada, the focus has been about “getting focused”. The title of the blog says it all – “The Horizon is Huge”. When we look at where our Relief and Development ministry can go, it is overwhelming when you know the depth of the physical and spiritual needs that are all around us. God has been working in us too. Over the last 2 years, one of my prayers is that God will show us our niche, a ministry direction that we can have direct impact for Him by not doubling up on what others are doing (especially in terms of dollars and time), but being able to increase out effectiveness through relationships and partnerships. We want the local churches in our region to be the “hero”. We want to equip the local church to be more effective in being the hands and feet of Jesus in their community.

For those that are interested, here are our Ministry Objectives for 2012. I welcome any thoughts or questions.

My next 2 weeks is filled with travel. I am in El Salvador for the Alianza Congresso. This is a gathering of Alliance pastors from Central America. I am looking forward to this opportunity to network and hear what God is doing in the various churches. Also, this is a great opportunity to help to me know what and where there are areas that we can look at assisting with. It should be easier this year as my Spanish speaking has improved abit. I have a one day break at home and then I am part of a CFGB delegation (Canadian Food Grains Bank) to Honduras. I am joining 4 others from Canada to visit Honduran farmers and learn about how they are adapting their agriculture practices to farming on mountain-sides and steep slopes. We will also be evaluating how to improve farming practices and how to improve market access.  What we learn from here can now be transferred to other parts of the world. This is especially important to our ministry as Central America has the mountain chain running down the middle and we want to focus on improving food security issues for the poor. Honduras has similar statistics to other nearby countries. From a recent report, 49% of Hondurans living in the rural areas live in extreme poverty.

Linda has been working hard at developing a prayer network of individuals and Canadian churches. She has lofty goals of how to make this interactive. We desperately need you to be praying for us but vice versa, you need prayer too. Drop Linda an email with any questions or requests.

With our family, there has been a change. No, Linda is not pregnant! Briana has chosen not to go back to college this year. She is pursuing her dreams of being an EMT/Paramedic. Jordan is back for his 3rd year at Ambrose University College. He has changed programs to International Ministry.  We were wondering how we could have a family Christmas together. With using some airmiles, we have Jordan coming down during his Christmas break. We are still unsure of if and how Briana will make it down. That’s something to pray about.

Last but not least, I will close with a huge concern for us. Many of you have been following our vehicle saga. Our ministry vehicle was in the shop for 4 months due to transmission issues. We have it back now but it is not 100%. There are still computer codes errors showing. As one person put it, Linda and I have experienced “longsuffering” through this months-long ordeal. We pray for completion with this. The major concern for us on-top of this is our ministry vehicle funding. We are at just over 50% of raising support to purchase this. We have $6000 left to repay an account (for other international workers to get their vehicle). If you feel led to assist us with this, we would be grateful. Direct your giving to the Doell Vehicle Fund, through any Alliance church or through the C&MA office in Toronto. Until next time…..bendiciones.

“Mini” Cultural Adjustments

It’s been just over 3 weeks since we arrived back in Costa Rica. It felt like we went through a series of “mini” cultural adjustments as we were back in Canada for 3 months and then again when returning back to the spanish culture that we want to integrate as fully as we can in to. I lost some vocab but as we speak it daily, it is coming back slowly.

Our time back has been full of fun and excitement as we welcomed in a new member to our family. Maxima or Max is a Great Dane pup that we are getting to know. She is about 6 months old and like all Great Danes, seems to grow every day. She is about 50 lbs and should be double that when full-grown. She loves to cuddle and she tries to take up the whole couch when she relaxes with Linda.

As we look back on our 3 months in Canada, we think of all the blessings we received through the building of new friendships and strengthening of old ones. We didn’t plan on being part of the Alliance response to the Slave Lake (SP video reportwildfires but it was a highlight as we met amazing people and say God’s hand at work amongst the strife and heartache. We touch based with 12 churches and we walked away encouraged by what we saw God doing with His people. I was invited to observe the Canadian Food Grain Bank (CFGB) board meetings as an Alliance attendee. I am excited as I envision the food programming needs we can look towards within our community development focus. I will be joining a CFGB group as we tour food programs in Honduras this fall. As I write, I’m distracted as I think about all that we saw and did and the people we met. It was a rich time for us.

Our kids and our extended family were a highlight too. For the summer, Jordan and Briana are working out at Lake of the Trees Camp in BC. We were able to spend a day with them and see why they thrive out there as they invest in the lives of others. Pray for this fall as they look for guidance in their decision making. Jordan is returning to Ambrose for his 3rd year. Briana has very recently shifted directions and will be pursuing her EMT/Medic qualifications.

I mentioned earlier about “mini’ culture shocks. We are experiencing one right now. As many of you know, while we were in Canada, other Alliance personnel had borrowed our vehicle and the transmission gave out on them. Well, after approx. 2 months, it is still in the shop. My plan this week is to sit at the shop every day until it’s done and done well. (Another one) As I write, I’m munching on a cookie that some ants had got to. You can’t waste a good chocolate chip oatmeal cookie so you throw them in the freezer, kill the ants and voila, just brush the dead ants off. In the last weeks, our time has been filled with more ministry development as I am starting to put together the package for our disaster response teams as well as doing some translation work for a community development program. Linda is exploring how we can initiate an intentional daily prayer program that will provide the basis for a sharing of our prayer needs with you and you sharing your prayer needs with us. Before I forget, Linda and I need to return to Canada (Calgary) for a few days in August to meet with Alliance medical personnel as part of our insurance fulfillment responsibilities. Maybe we might run into each other.

Linda and I are very excited to be back though there are always little apprehensions that occur as you ask yourself if God has the right person here for the job. Pray for us for these little spiritual battles. Pray for other international workers as these spiritual battles are very real for them too. We pray for the churches we met with and the needs that were shared. Pray for our continued stepping forward in faith as the Spirit leads. We have not had a financial update lately but also pray for the financial needs of our vehicle, and the general giving to the GAF fund that supports the work of C&MA international workers world-wide.

Keep updated with our Tweet address  @SunJustice

On the Road

As of lately, it has felt we have not been home much. But as busy as it has been, we have been extremely blessed to be part of what God is doing in the Caribbean area with the C&MA. We are still feeling the excitement of seeing what was happening in C*ba. That carried over into our two week stay in Nicaragua. We were translators for the C&MA Men’s work team led by Art Wiens. As a team, we replaced a rickety set of wooden stairs with a metal structure to service their second floor as well as welding railings on the second floor to prevent children and others from falling 12 feet to the ground. My language abilities took big strides forward. Though it was not without it’s mishaps. I had to buy all of the supplies (structural metal, welding supplies, rent tools….). That was a process all in itself as I do not have a construction background in English either. There are lots of stories to tell. Linda chose to work with the team and was in charge of the painting. 

One couple from the church brought us juice one day and ended up staying and working with our team for a week. The wife, Diara worked with Linda while Maurico turned out to be an incredible help with the welding and his general construction knowledge. Even with the language differences, we enjoyed each other alot. It was unbelievable to see ministry opportunities open up. I was able to start a pilot project micro-business with Maurico. The possibilities of this type of ministry in the second poorest country in the western hemisphere (after Haiti) is mind-boggling. I wait with great expectations to see how God will direct us through this open door of using community development to transform communities through local churches. It was encouraging after spending much time talking with Rosario, the national church president and see her example of being a servant. Ramón, the pastor asked me to speak one morning in church. With less than 24 hrs notice, I began preparing for an hour of Spanish. In English, that would take me a week! After 20 mins of speaking, I finished and walked away from the pulpit. As I passed the pastor, he whispered “that’s all you have?” All I could do was nod my head! He did a great job of scrambling to fill in the time! By the end of each day I was mentally and physically drained.
 
With our schedule, it has been hard to plan for our time in Canada at the end of this month. I am happy to say that as of today, God has provided a suite for us to stay in. And it is in the south part of Calgary, closer to the churches we need to visit. Also, opportunities are opening up for us to present what we are doing in churches, men’s groups, and prayer groups. We would love to sit down for a coffee with you. Let us know.

We were reminded how powerful prayer is by our time in C*ba. There are several things we would appreciate you to remember to pray for.
– finalizing the plans for the 3 months in Canada
– opportunities to share our ministry vision and the building of partners from Canada in working together to accomplish this vision.
– the raising of funds for our vehicle in Costa Rica.
– making great memories with family, friends and churches.
– continued giving to the Global Mission fund that supports international workers

An Eye-Opening Experience

I am not sure how to start. Having visited a communist country (south of Florida), it is important to guard what is said to protect those we visited, especially writing on the internet. So if you have not

 figured out where we were, drop me an email. As our Crisis, Compassion and Community Development ministry moves forward, we have been given another opportunity to see God at work. We went and viewed a micro-enterprise outreach that is working in the local churches in this country. We went and saw things that no tourist will ever see. I fell in love with the believersthere. Living in a restricted system and yet flourishing. Since the C&MA is not a recognized denomination in this country, all of the churches are house churches with pastors and their families living in 1 or 2 rooms sacrificing a bigger room for a permanent place for people to meet and worship together. I saw unrestricted joy as these micro-enterprises were allowing them to honor the Lord through tithing and supporting their families. There is amazing cooperation between denominations as this program is sweeping through communities. Some levels of government are recognizing how much of a positive change has been happening in communities with this program. Average salaries/person, whether you are a doctor or a farmer is $10-$20/month in a country where the local necessities of life ie basic food often is just not available. We heard testimony after testimony of God working in and through people. A common story was of person after person experiencing a new life in Christ. One community has 12 people in this program and 11 made a decision and as the pastor told us, the last one “will be!” There are many opportunities for this type of community development in Latin America. Pray with us as we explore the possibilities.

On Feb 17, Linda and I leave for Nicaragua for 2 weeks to act as translators for a Alliance Men’s work team. It will be a real test of our language skills. Pray for the impact the team will have on the local community. Pray for us as 2 weeks in a strange place in the heat away from the comforts of home will have its own unique stress builders. Linda is currently enrolled in the “Perspectives” course that is being offered at a local church. Not only is the course opening up her heart and mind, it is opening up community contacts and language acquisition (in a non-threatening manner). Some of the course is in Spanish!

Other prayer requests include
1. A clear direction for further ministry development. We are exploring 2 opportunities for small community development projects right here in Costa Rica.
2. Our home assignment in Calgary starting in April for 3 months. We are looking for a place to stay, a vehicle to use and opportunities to share our vision in churches and small groups.
3. The raising of our vehicle funds.
4. The completion of a database for disaster response volunteers.

How was your Christmas?

Christmas 2010 has come and gone but we look back at it with many memories. What are your memories? We celebrated Jesus’s birth and the reason for our faith with friends and families. We were able to go to my sister’s (Kim) home in Kansas and and spend time with Jordan and Briana, my parents and the Enn’s. Being able to do things with our kids was a highlight – shopping, playing games, having communion together on Christmas Eve and just relaxing with family. We had to fly into Dallas so we spent a few days with friends; Dan was our best man in our wedding. By the way, Linda and I just celebrated 23 years of being together! Not only was Dan’s family amazing, they made us feel totally at home. Dan (a MK from Venezuela) and Leann have a generosity that knows no boundaries. His family made us feel special as we re-entered back into the North American culture. Linda and I were introduced to a new hobby that is pretty normal for many Texans. We got to shoot guns, lots of guns and I loved it. Linda had her own style when it came to handling a pistol.

With being back in the Alberta area for this April, May and June, our next 3 months in Costa Rica are jam-packed. All of our activities of Jan-Mar are prayer requests for you to uphold us with. Our next three months of ministry development are the most important to-date as we begin to paint in most of the details of the picture that we have been drawing for the last 15 months. We begin with a new home. We get to move from our 3 room house to a 3 bedroom house later on in Jan. That’s an answer to prayer. Also sometime this month, we will be spending some time, either in Mexico, Nicaragua or Guatemala (depending on some details) visiting some communities that are in process of being changed and transformed through the efforts of using CHE principles. This will be a major aspect of our ministry as we use disaster reduction and the local Alliance churches to see whole communities experiencing the love of God and changing physically and spiritually. Also in January, we have Joanne Beach, the Director of Alliance, Justice and Compassion (C&MA) coming to visit for meetings. For 3 weeks in Feb and Mar, Linda and I will be in Nicaragua with an Alliance Men’s work team serving as translators. In March, not only will we have to close up our house to be gone for 3 months, we will also have Jim Foster visiting Costa Rica. We will also meeting up with an Alliance missionary couple from Cuba  to compare notes.
If you hear of any houses that need to be house-sat in the Calgary/High River area  during Apr – June let us know. We are also looking for the use of a car for those three months. Let us know if you hear of anything. The last prayer request is for the planning of the 3 months in Alberta as we look for opportunities to share in churches and the building of our database for disaster responders.

Throw in continued language training and growing with a Spanish culture, these next 3 months will fly by. Heavy on our hearts is the fund raising for our ministry vehicle. We need to raise almost $12,000 by June. If you feel led, you can direct giving to the Doell Vehicle Fund through any Alliance church (and receive a charitable tax receipt). General giving to the Global Advance Fund which covers the needs of overseas Alliance ministries all over the world was up in December for which all of us missionaries are very thankful for as this covers our basic requirements.

Thank you for your continued encouragement. The many Christmas cards we received were a huge blessing. Just knowing and hearing of those who encourage us prayerfully is amazing for us.