Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Tico Tuesday, February 13th

Happy Tuesday!
The participants of the Huddle on Saturday
These are busy times with small groups: we are starting our first big series of the year in a couple weeks, we have a training for facilitators before the series starts, and we have the Small Groups with Purpose seminar the Monday after the weekend the series starts (which is also a family fun weekend). Whew! Thank God for the volunteers and coworkers I have helping me, though even still, there is a lot of work to be done. I am grateful though. And I am trusting God for things to all come together and be grrrrreat! (That was in honor of Tony the Tiger.) I always appreciate your prayers. It's tempting/all too easy to get stressed and overwhelmed, and as we've learned at my church, the buildup to a series often brings about a lot of challenges and spiritual attack. So, please continue to keep me/my church covered!
This past Saturday, we had our 2nd ever Huddle of Small Group point people in Costa Rica. This time, we had 6 Vida Abundante churches represented! Our host church took advantage and brought several of its facilitators and I ended up doing a training for everybody when I'd meant for us to sit around a table and discuss, but, next time! It went really well though, and I think we all still left having learned something. I still made the training as interactive as possible and really enjoyed turning questions back on people and offering different people opportunities to answer questions. People are such treasure troves!
Lest you worry I not be having fun or resting, I am watching as much of the Olympics as I can. Time to go catch some now!
Thank you for your prayers and support!
Carrie

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Tico Tuesday, January 30th

Have I ever told you how much I love my church?
If I haven't, let me tell you, I do. Very much. This past weekend we had our first annual summit for the leaders of all the Vida Abundante churches. Those who couldn't come personally from some sister churches (Uruguay, Chile, and a Certain island) sent greetings via video. It was amazing to have 1400 of us gathered together under one roof. It was a rich time of worship and teaching, and we all tried to make the most of the brief moments we had to share together.
Three of the expositors were from Vida Abundante churches, and we were also graced with the presence of Dr. Serafín Contreras. For me, he's one of those dear saints (like Dr. Bob Frederichs and Jack Voelkel) that just emanates the love of Jesus. (I pray I'll be like that when I get older!) Serafín commented that preachers are like table servers and God is the Chef. Well, I'll tell you, our servers did a fantastic job in delivering what the Chef had for us! We ingested rich teachings on biblical sexuality, focused ministry, understanding the Church, determinative leadership, and stages of life and ministry as compared with the various tunics Joseph wore throughout his life. It hit the spot over and over again!
Friday night we also had an ordination service, since many of the pastors of our sister churches has never been ordained. That was a brief, but moving time.
It is so encouraging  to know that we're all in this together and that God is at work in and through each of us as individuals, as members of a local church, as members of the Federation of Vida Abundantes, and, most importantly, as members of the Church universal. No wonder Jesus prayed for unity...
I'm so grateful to be on this journey with you. Thank you for walking with me.
May the love of Jesus fill us and become more a part of us each day,
Carrie

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Tico Tuesday, January 23rd

Greetings from windy Costa Rica!
Most of my growing team
I write to you tonight with a grateful heart. The first week of January, God gave me a fresh perspective on my role as Small Group Coordinator and told me he was going to do great things in Small Groups this year, and he is! I'm currently working on coordinating a one day Small Groups with Purpose seminar in early March to be led by Steve Gladen, Saddleback's small groups pastor I got to meet at the strategic planning conference I went to last July. And, John Maxwell has decided to invest in Costa Rica, so several of my small group facilitators and other church leaders are going to receive some training through his ministry too. Exciting things are happening!
And, thanks be to God, things with my team are improving dramatically. Last year, my team was often a source of frustration for me. Through a lot of prayer, reflection, preparation, and support from my parents and coworkers, my first team meeting on Saturday was a rousing success! Instead of not being able to sleep from the stress, I had trouble falling asleep from my excitement! I have officially added another member, and I am talking with another woman as well about her joining. She came as an observer on Saturday (pictured above with her baby), and it was good to have her there. Pray for her (and me) as we continue to talk and come to a decision. And please pray for God to send some men too. I would love to have a male or two on board to help bring more balance and enrichment to the team. You can also pray as we prepare for our first series of the year: promotion for it starts in just a few weeks! There is so much to do, but thankfully I am starting to delegate more and not carry such an enormous work load. Thank God!
Thank you for your prayers and support, and please continue to pray for me as I adjust to life without the friends I mentioned last week. Thankfully, things are going pretty smoothly so far for them as they start settling into their new life. But, there is a void in my life now without them here and I miss them a lot. So, please do keep praying for me and for God to continue to provide me with good, close friends here.
With love and gratitude for you all,
Carrie

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Tico Tuesday, January 16th

Tuesday greetings to you once more!
We were feeling a lot of bittersweetness at church this weekend: we commissioned our first long term missionaries! It is exciting to send them out on assignment, and it is also very sad to see them go. It's especially sad for me, because I've grown very close to this family in the past year. I sat with them in church every Wednesday and Saturday and they welcomed me into their home over and over again, for meals, watching soccer games, movies, and just hanging out. They already have about 10 years of missionary experience, so the fact that we're all missionaries helped us bond quite easily. In the other countries they've served, they got very used to inviting the single women on their team into their home. They are one of those couples that is just really good at making a young single woman feel comfortable and part of the family. I tell you, especially in a foreign country, that is a huge gift! They have been both friends and mentors for me, and I will miss them dreadfully. S (the wife/mom) and I especially bonded and have been able to have a lot of good heart conversations. I am so grateful for her! And I am grateful for technology that will allow us to keep in touch. And I am grateful that their next assignment is in....Chicago! In the past they served in countries whose names I can't mention here, and now they will be working with people from those countries and their neighbors. They will also be working with a local church and help mobilize it to get more involved in reaching out to these people and in reaching out to latinos as well. I'm really excited for them, and I'm so glad that they will be in a place where I can visit them quite easily! In fact, our good bye last night wasn't quite so teary because it was a "see you soon" instead of "see you whenever you come back to visit." That's right! I plan to be in the Chicago area and Grove City, PA for about a week in mid-late March. If you'd like to get together, please reach out to me: I'd love to see you! I'll have more new prayer cards in hand too!
With love and gratitude for you, my wonderful holistic support team,
Carrie

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Tico Tuesday, January 9th

Happy First Tico Tuesday of 2018 and boy do I have GREAT news today!!!
 I have my new residency card! And, please note, it's not just any residency card: But it is for PERMANENT residency! (This is basically the equivalent of a green card in the States). I can't vote or have a tico passport, but, renewing my residency in the future should be worlds easier. I should be able to just do it at a bank or post office and not have to even go to Migration! AND... (forgive all my shouting, this is really exciting stuff!) this residency card won't expire for THREE YEARS! Every other residency card I've had has only been good for 1 year or 2. And, when they gave me the approval in December (I didn't want to tell you it was approved until I actually had my card in hand; with this stuff you can't believe it till it happens), the papers said that they were only going to give me permanent residency for 2 years at a time. I was a little bummed at that. Permanent residency cards are usually good for 3-5 years. So, to see the 2021 expiration date made getting my card today even sweeter! Praise the Lord! After 9 years of migratory runaround: countless trips to migration, hours (if I added them all up they would equal multiple days) spent in lines, money spent on parking (and on other occasions, hours spent on buses to avoid paying for said parking), frustrating airport experiences trying to return to Costa Rica while in the midst of another residency card renewal saga, getting treated like cattle at migration, not to mention the actual money spent on documentation (yikes!), the chasing down people from different organizations, the photocopies, the letters, the official translations, all the stuff I had to do in the States before I ever left, etc., etc., etc. Whew, thank and praise the Lord it's over! I am celebrating today!!
Praise God for his goodness and faithfulness, and may he bless don Freddy in migration, the one person who actually went to bat for me and kindly helped keep the process from taking even longer. Thank you to you for all your prayers and encouragement along the way! Here's to a great start to 2018!
Love,
Carrie

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Tico Tuesday, December 19th

Greetings from snowy Portland, ME!
The guy next to me on my flight to Portland asked if I was going home and I told him, "Well, from home to home." Yes, home is Costa Rica, I've spent almost 9 years there now, and most of my post-college adult life. But home is also wherever my parents are, and especially Maine, since I did much of my growing up here. It's hard having my heart in two places, loving two cultures, loving so many people, missing the one deeply when I'm at the other. But, that's just part of my life and calling.
Anyway, I wanted to tell you today about the Christmas party I served at on Saturday. It was for 200+ children in Guararí, the poorest part of my province, Heredia. We had cupcakes, juice, hot dogs, goody bags, and a present for every child, along with face painting, several piñatas, clowns, music, games, and a well known Christian soccer player. We also had tons of donated clothes, so we were pulling aside moms throughout the morning to help them select clothes for their family. My church has been doing this for several years, but it was the first time I participated. It brought back a lot of reminders of fun times I had serving at the Bible Home. At risk children will always have a special place in my heart. I loved having a girl grab my hand and start a game of tag with me, getting to involve the children in the different songs and activities we did, having a boy put my arm around him, and just getting to be with them and love on them through playing together and serving them. It was so fun and life-giving. Indeed, it is far better to give than receive.
I won't be sending out a Tico Tuesday next week as I seek to make the most of my time here with my parents, so, Merry Christmas to you all! Christ has come and he is coming again! May we continue to hope in the Lord and grow in his love, joy, and peace! God so loved the world that he sent his son Jesus that we might have peace and eternal life with him! Glory to God!
With love and deep gratitude for you all,
Carrie

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Tico Tuesday, November 28th

The past week was as amazing as it was intense: 2 Thanksgiving celebrations (including one planned, led, and mostly cooked for by me), the annual volunteer party, teaching in the 201 CLASS again, a special activity with the counseling ministry, a little birthday party for me, church, all of Sunday afternoon at church for the family weekend, hanging out with a friend in San José, talking with my parents and one of my brothers, etc. It was exhausting and wonderful.
It was a joy to share Thanksgiving with most of my coworkers and the family who I've become very close friends with this year. Thanksgiving is right up there with Christmas and Easter for me, and it always means a lot for me to share with people here. At the first Thanksgiving, the Pilgrims thanked God for the Wampanoags and the kindness and support they provided to help the Pilgrims adjust to life in the New World. And every Thanksgiving here, I seize the opportunity to thank people who have shown kindness and support to me and helped me as I live in a different world and culture. I share the history of Thanksgiving and how it has grown to mean more to me as I live in a foreign land, and I can't make it through without getting choked up. God has been so good to me! We had a wonderful time of celebrating and giving thanks together. It was really special. And I think most amazing of all is that I've spent Thanksgiving with a different group of people every year! A couple people have repeated here and there, but I am blown away to think God has put so many special people in my life over the past 8 years! My heart overflows with thanks.
And of course, there are no words to express my thankfulness for you. Thank you for all you do to partner with me and support me as I serve here. I couldn't do it without you! Thank you!
May we live giving thanks each day,
Carrie