Monday, February 29, 2016

San Jose, Impressing by Impressions

Ministerios de Gracia Mayor, Third Anniversary
I promised to name names.  Not based on our starting picture.  That's from the San Jose church's third anniversary.  No, I haven't met all of them, yet.  But I will.  I threatened to name some names. Let's get to that.  And my impressions.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

What About God?

image used under Public Domain license,
photo obtained from
It's been awhile since we've heard from Todd Parsons.  Our San Jose series took on a life of its own.  Indeed, Monday will have some final thoughts for the San Jose series.

In that last of the series, I need to talk about some of the people I met and spent time with.  My reactions to them and to the city are important, too.  It was a special visit that deserves at least one more post.  Especially in terms of how God got me there and how He spoke to me while I was there.  

Todd's thoughts, today, address that, in a way.  So, let's use this as kind of an introduction to our closing thoughts in the San Jose series.  I think we've all been in a place where run out of earthly resources and discover we've left God out of our equation.  And then we find ourselves being reeled back in by God.  And, suddenly, there's provision in the midst of the battle.  Because we're in the place God intended us to be, with full access to all He can give us.

Monday, February 22, 2016

San Jose, Headed Home

That's the church logo starting this post.  Each year the church has existed, something new has been added.  That was one of the first.

Day 12 (continued): There was one other event, in between everything else.  One of the families in our church needed help moving out of one apartment, into another more secure place.  I couldn't help much physically.  But the prayers and presence go a long way.  Especially since I could honestly tell them I'd still be praying for them when I returned to Baltimore.  And I could tell them without a translator.  Real life John 13:34, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another."

Day 13: Saturday.  We did the walking street outreach. Brent has developed some skills with magic tricks. He uses that to share the Gospel.  The rest of the group that goes with him then talks, one on one, with people in the crowd that gathers.  I missed that one, both Saturdays I was there.  My ankles were swollen and sore.  But it's an outreach I intend to be part of, on my return.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

San Jose, Ripe for the Gospel

Teija Kortelainen, Sue Stevens, Pastor Mike Stevens, Brent Hillenga, Lucy Hillenga --
Not in picture: Jose Rios, Dominick Principe, Tracey Principe
As I write the posts for this series, I'm kind of doubleminded about whether or not to do longer posts, with more sweeping generalizations.  But each post seems to cover a whole area of thought and in more detail than generalities would give us. And, if I'm honest about the whole process, I'm still sorting out my experiences and thoughts.  Putting it all into words helps give me more insight, as well.  The one thing I'm certain of is that, when I'm done with this series, there will still be more thoughts rumbling around in my head, waiting to get sorted out.

Monday, February 15, 2016

San Jose, Stepping Out In Faith

Day 8:  Here we are on my first full Monday in Costa Rica.  It's either Monday or Tuesday that we visit The Farm.  The name fits on several levels.  It's a Christian drug and alcohol rehab.  It's growing spiritually whole men.  But they also have ducks that lay eggs, a vegetable garden, and their own chef.  That's part of the property, to the left. I thought I had a better angle at that table with the red tablecloth.  You can see the back end of one of the ducks.  He was one of the more interesting ones, with a bright red patch between his top bill and his head.

Keith started The Farm on a shoestring. And it's still run that way.  He takes donations, but he basically communicates the needs, then prays and trusts God for the results.  In that, Keith reminds me of George Mueller. There's a bakery that supplies them with day old bread, another shop that gives vegetables, and a fish shop that donates fish.  The men eat reasonably well.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

San Jose, Safe or Not?

Day 7 (continued): There was, as usual, more fellowship after the service.  And, after the service, the rest of the day was free...kind of.  But I was with two pastors who hadn't cut their ties to American sports and, particularly, New England Football.  So, there I was, eating Latino style food and watching the Patriots game at Pastor Mike's home.  Surrounded by some of the church team. It was definitely a fun time.  But this seems like as good a time as any to talk a bit about the realities of Costa Rica.

Monday, February 8, 2016

San Jose Sunday Morning

We start today's post with my first Sunday in San Jose.  The first day of my second real week there, but that last day of my first full travel week.  It was a day of joy and a day of contrasts.  And it was a day that led into a busy week ahead.  Ministerios de Gracia Mayor does not lack for activity.  And I'd get to experience plenty.

Day 7:

For most of us, Sunday is the beginning of the week. It is for me, too.  But, on my trip, it was the last day of my travel week.  And our spiritual day of rest is just as good a way to end a "week" as it is to start one. Sunday has one service, at 10am.  The picture to the left is one side of the chapel.  I took that a little into the worship part of service.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

San Jose, Growing on Me

Yeah.  We used the title from the old Dionne Warwick tune for the title of our first post in this series.  I couldn't resist.  

That's the church entrance in our illustration.  The gate is typical of San Jose houses.  We'll talk about that more, in a future post.

San Jose is built in a valley, surrounded by mountains. So, while I'm checking out the effects of the city's altitude on my COPD, there's terrain that's even higher. As well, there are a lot of hills within the city.  

San Jose was founded in 1738.  The condition of some of the sidewalks show it's an old city.  And a poor one. That goes along with the gates, as we'll see, later in the series.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Do You Know the Way to San Jose?

We're back in Baltimore.  I still have a "summer cold" because I didn't include enough long sleeve shirts.  It was cooler than I expected.  And I probably didn't ask enough of the right questions beforehand.  And, two days later, my neck and back are bothering me some. The flight back seemed to take more of a toll than the trip down.

I took some pictures, but not as many as I'd originally planned.  I was unsure of Costa Rican legalities, in some places.  Other times, it was suggested that I might be mugged for my phone if I took it out in some areas.  And there were times when I felt privacy was more important than me getting pictures.

That's a selfie of this guy, to the left.  It was taken in the church patio area and I already shared it on Facebook.  I don't usually do selfies.  In fact not many pictures.  The trip was for me to gain some firsthand insights.  But, in a larger sense, the trip wasn't about me.  It was an opportunity to watch God at work, both around me and in me.

The earlier posts in this series were written while in Costa Rica, Later posts came after my return to Baltimore.  As I write this introduction, some are yet to be written.  We're starting out with a day by day format.  I'm not sure we'll stick with that or not.  But there's a lot to say.