Monday, January 25, 2010

Sunday Service and Birthday Culture

Yesterday we attended the Sunday morning service at our church in the capital and there were nine new people in attendance! I talked to a lady name Myra for a while after the service. She is probably in her late 30's or early 40's, and I felt like she is very sincerely interested becoming a part of our church family. She told me that she is tired of going to churches that don't preach against sin. A young man in his early twenties named Luis has been meeting with Pastor Walter for the last week or two and prayed to get saved on Saturday night. Yesterday he told me that he wants to start taking the baptismal study course so that he can get baptized. God is working in our church in the city, but the Devil is working too! I can't go into details, but we are facing a some very real spiritual battles there and desperately need God's help. Please help us pray for the Barrio Mexico congregation.

Rolando and Carmen invited us to Paraiso last Wednesday to celebrate my 27th birthday. Carmen and Missy made me a special birthday cake, but Costa Ricans have this little cultural custom that makes eating a simple birthday cake a good deal more complicated. The birthday person has to take a bite directly out of the cake before it is cut, and the goal is to smash the birthday person's face into the cake (hopefully the birthday person doesn't have a runny nose). We first learned about this cultural tidbit when they tried to do it to Missy with her birthday cake. So I was smart and quickly took my bite of the cake in the process of blowing out the candles, catching everyone by surprise and thus avoiding any smashage. At least they didn't try their other cultural birthday custom: smashing raw eggs on the birthday person's head.

Friday, January 22, 2010

I Couldn't Do This

OK, so maybe I'm a wimp, but this just gives me the heebee jeebees! For more pictures of my mom's group visit Pastor Alan Walter's blog.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

My Mom in Haiti

I have copied these pictures of the medical team that my mom helped put together from Pastor Alan Walter's blog. Please pray for this group as they minister in Haiti.
My mom, Pastor Alan Walter (God's Missionary pastor at Penns Creek, PA), and two ER doctors from Evangelical Community Hospital (the ER where my mom is a nurse) prepare to board one of their flights. Evan. Hospital donated lots of medical supplies for the trip.

A mission group has been making a couple of daily flights into Haiti. This is the plane in which my mom's group flew.

The group has been working at this God's Missionary compound.

I don't think that I even want to know the details about this picture.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Please Pray for Diego

Some of you may have read about Diego in one of our past newsletters. I met this young man toward the middle of last year when he wondered into a Sunday morning service at our church in the capital. Diego has had a very hard life; he watched his mother and sister drown when he was just a boy, and a little over a year ago his father was drunk and died when he fell down a set of cement stairs. For the past ten years Diego has been throwing his life away, indulging in alcohol, drugs and prostitutes. I have tried to help Diego and things were going well for a while. He spent the last four months of 2009 in a rehab center and regularly met with me and attended church. But Diego left the rehab center while we were in the States over Christmas time and once again fell into his old habits. A week and a half ago he was very nearly killed as he was lying out in the street drunk at 2:00 AM. Some young men robbed him, kicked him several times in the face, and tried to stab him.

This past Tuesday Diego came to our apartment once again seeking help. I have been working with him a lot this week, and our national pastor Rolando even let him stay in a room out at the mission house in Paraiso for a couple of days. Diego went to a clinic yesterday to follow up on some of the injuries that he received from the robbery and never returned to Paraiso like he said that he would. We haven’t heard from him since.

Please help us pray for Diego. The devil is doing a good job at ruining this young man's life, but God is more powerful than the devil. Diego is only thirty years old and there is just something about him that makes me believe that God has great things in store for Diego if he really gets his life straightened out.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Two Near Heart Attacks

We left our apartment in the early morning hours of December 15th to fly home to Pennsylvania for a three-week visit with family and friends. Everything went smoothly upon our arrival at the airport. After paying our exit taxes and checking in at the American Airlines counter we still had over an hour until our plane was scheduled to leave. All that was left for us to do was show our tickets and passports to the immigration officer and go through security, or so I thought. However, this was our first time to fly since getting our Costa Rican residencies.

Costa Rica has all these little requirements that must be fulfilled before a minor is allowed to leave the country. The only problem? No one had ever informed us of all those little requirements. So even though we all had American passports, the man at the immigration booth told us that since our son was now a Costa Rican resident, we needed to have a birth certificate and two passport-sized photos of Devin, as well as photocopies of all of our passports and residency cards before he would be permitted to fly. We had none of these. All of a sudden an hour didn't seem like very much time! Mr. Immigration Man (I'll call him Mr. IM for short) decided that the birth certificate wasn't necessary. I gently, sweetly, and politely asked Mr. IM where in the world were we supposed to get two passport-sized photos, and he told me that he might be able to work with us as long as we gave him copies of our passports and residency cards. Unfortunately he didn’t have a copier, so for close to half an hour we ran all over the airport like chickens with our heads cut off. None of the airport offices that actually had a copier were open. We found a bank with a copier, but the teller who both got out of the wrong side of bed and forgot her morning cup of coffee wouldn't budge to break the bank's "policy" in order to help us out in our time of crisis. My wallet wouldn't even convince her to use the machine that was sitting six feet from where I was standing. As a last ditch effort we returned to the AA ticket counter and thankfully a kind worker had access to a copier and was able to help us.

I finally returned to Mr. IM with the copies, only to find out that several pages of paperwork now needed to be filled out. He and I began scribbling furiously as I watched the security line continue to grow. A dear Mrs. AA Worker came to ask Mr. IM if she should go ahead and bump us from our flight (at least our luggage would have made it safely to Washington, DC) but he told her that the paperwork was about done. We finally made it through immigration but still had to clear security. I gently, sweetly, and politely asked Mr. Security Man to allow us to go to the front of the line. Evidently he had to go to one of his superiors in order to receive permission to grant me my request, so while he went to ask we just gently, sweetly, and politely worked our way to the front of the line on our own. Never before in my life had I taken off my shoes, belt, and watch so quickly. My carry-on backpack had all sorts of electronic gizmos and gadgets in it which must have raised the concern of the screeners. Mrs. Security Woman reached for my bag once it came out of the scanner, but I beat her to it. I just grabbed it, said "Thank you very much," and we took off as she stood there staring. Thankfully no one chased us as we ran through the airport to our gate.

We were among the last of the passengers to board the plane and had only been sitting in our seats for about five minutes when the aircraft door was shut. If I were a cat I do believe that three of my lives would have been wasted within that fateful hour. But they say that all is well that ends well, and the rest of our trip was uneventful.

Our time in the States was very enjoyable (see the pictures below). We had a nice break after a draining year of language school and were able to visit with many family members and friends. It even snowed two or three times which allowed me to have my first snowball fight with my little boy. And to cap it all off, my dear mother-in-law was kind enough to make me an apple pie or two.

We had another near heart attack when it was time for us to fly back to Costa Rica; this one was of my own making. I had booked us to fly into Reagan National Airport on our flight to the States, but because of schedule issues I had booked our return flight out of Dulles International Airport. It had been a number of months since I had purchased the tickets and I completely forgot that we would be leaving from Dulles instead of Reagan. Imagine my surprise when the ticket agent at Reagan told us that we were at the wrong airport. Our pastor had been kind enough to take us to the airport and I was just getting ready to frantically call his cell phone and ask him to come back and pick us up when the kind ticket agent said that for no charge he could transfer our tickets to a flight out of Reagan that would get us to Miami in time to make our connection. Once again, all as well that ends well...

Devin's First Snowball Fight

A Board Game with Missy's Family
Devin really enjoyed playing with his Great Grandma Kaufman.