We are back in Canada (Calgary) and have experienced 3 or 4 snowstorms! Unbelievable! And very few days of temps above 10C. But the warmth of family and the people of several Alliance churches and 1 Baptist church we have met have more than made up for it. Well, truthfully, there was driving in one snowstorm where I just did not want to be here. Coming back to Canadian culture has been tougher than I thought it would be. We felt disembodied. Here but not really here. Feeling comfortable but not really…just having to wait for Canadian cultural norms to float to the top and feel more natural. It’s amazing how one can adjust to the Spanish culture in such a short time. There have been many times where I wanted to give a “beso and an abrazo” in welcome and saying good-bye but I think it would have thrown many for a loop. I thought for this blog update I would give a general ministry update via a note I sent out to a friend.
Our ministry focus continues to evolve. We have re-focused our name to Caribbean Justice and Compassion Team to better describe the direction of ministry. Over the last several months, we have been doing more program development than anything else. We were in C*b* to check out the micro-enterprise which was totally uplifting. Whata revival movement that is developing into! Nicaragua was a great experience. 2 weeks of working with a Alliance Men’s work team doing translation work. It was very cool how a small business loan opportunity was put in my lap. Got a guy started with a welder. I am working through the local church on this one hoping to start something bigger and develop with stronger CHEguidelines. It’s really a test for the Pastor’s leadership to see if he will buy into community leadership and development thinking. If it works well, I would like to start a business cooperative there. When we get back to Costa Rica, the plan is to start some development work in a Nicaraguan community (in CR). There is already a local feeding program and a couple of other small initiatives through a local Alliance church that I want to expand on. Maybe use aCFGB grant in the area. Lot’s of work to do. Lot’s of money to raise. I want to use this as a bit of a proving ground in basic community development as there are larger things on the horizon in other countries that we need to tackle. Start small. As our ministry is regional, this will build into enabling a system of national level leaders in the Caribbean area to work on local CHE style programs. I want to center on a combination of micro-business and disaster preparedness training at the local church level but use this to teach basic community-level problem solving working towards Kingdom transformation principles.
On the disaster response front, the National Ministry Centre is totally revamping their database structure. I managed to get a request in with our needs. Our plan is to create a interactive, national database of volunteers from Canadian churches that are able to respond to a disaster event.I want to work out the kinks with this response program in my region first. Then as other Alliance compassion track leaders come on line in other world ministry areas, they would be able to use this database for their response needs. Right now, I am working through ideas of how to involve the local Canadian Alliance church at the grassroots level making them feel part ofa ministry response even though they never leave the pew. We’ll see how that goes.
At times I am feeling intimidated and overwhelmed at the scope of ministry in which I have been placed though it is exciting to see how God moves, opens doors, puts people in our path. I think my biggest struggle at this point is finding that niche in disaster response that enables us to come along side other organizations and not duplicate problems and procedures. Though this morning (by chance), met with the SP Project manager for Latin America and we seem to be on the same page stressing the need for disaster preparedness/reduction programs in smaller communities using the local church as a mitagating force. A great contact for some future work. He enrolled me in the national DART (Disaster & Response Team) training happening in May.
I have written enough. I need to get some work done before watching some hockey. It’s really nice to sit and watch the playoffs. I didn’t realize that it was something I missed!
ps While we are here in the Calgary area and you feel like sitting down for a coffee… Give us a call 403-617-6377
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
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.
a ministry of the Christian & Missionary Alliance of Canada celebrating God working through Justice and Compassion