Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Tico Tuesday, July 31st

I did it! I finally remembered to take a picture with my small group!! This isn't all of us--I don't think all of us have ever been in the same place at the same time. If so, we wouldn't be a very small group. But, we have a good core, and we're managing. But soon, we'll have to figure out what to do. I finally feel like we've really started to jell and feel more comfortable with each other. Thanks be to God! It has been HARD work. But, slowly, God has been bringing us together.
So, I am grateful, and I am excited. We've started playing a few rounds of the game The Great Dalmuti after our official meeting is over. I think that has definitely helped. It's a game that helps bring out...authenticity... in people. I think it's also helped to have a "not so secret friend" as I've termed it. You draw a name from a hat and have to text that person at least once over the course of the week to send them a message of blessing or encouragement. It's been great seeing some people in the group taking initiative with each other. Last Wednesday was a holiday and one woman invited us over for homemade tortillas con queso (cheese tortillas). YUM! We often sit together in church and Sunday a few of us went out for lunch after service. I already had one member tell me we're her family. This week I was ended up doing some coaching/counseling via texting with someone that just came for the first time on Friday. It is beautiful to see what God is doing in us! This Friday we're going to plan a little baby shower for a family that adopted a little boy a few months ago. After the prayer vigil at church a couple weeks ago, I feel like God is going to do great things in and through us! It's amazing what God can do with a small group!
If you don't have something like this, I encourage you to do what you can to find or create it. Life is better in circles!
Thanks for keeping me in your prayers--our new series starts this coming weekend and, as I'm wont to be when a series is about to start: I'm swamped with work! Thank God for the new groups that are starting and for what He's going to do in this series of 40 Days of Prayer!

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Tico Tuesday, July 24th

Today I'm going to brag on a couple that is facilitating a small group. These people and their creativity blow me away. Their love language must be gift giving because every week they have something adorable, and special for their small group that ties in with the topic of discussion for the night. Cookies, candles, picture frames, special cards, badges, you name it. Their group members never know what awaits them! Sometimes it's wrapped, sometimes it comes with a verse, sometimes it relates to something mentioned in the sermon over the weekend.
This week, as he was preaching about service, Rudy mentioned that everyone wears the jersey number 10. (Soccer fact: the player that wears the number 10 jersey is the best on the team.) So, Rudy was saying that we are all important and no one's service is better than another's. While you may not be able to see it, each card in the picture has the team "lineup" (names of the small group members) and the number 10 next to each one. The facilitators texted me yesterday morning and told me they'd been wracking their brains since they heard the sermon on Saturday night. Thankfully, it didn't take them long to execute their idea, since their group met last night. I love it when facilitators take extra time to pour into their group members. It brings me such joy and just makes all my hard work feel worth it. I thank and praise God for what he's doing in the small groups at my church!
Please pray especially as we are launching a new series "40 Days of Prayer" and so things are crazy again with promotion and selling materials and opening new groups, etc. It's nice that I have more experience under my belt with this now, but there's still a LOT of work to be done! Pray for the groups, for more new ones to open, and for God to do great things in each one!
Your service to God is valuable too! Thank you!

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Tico Tuesday, July 17th

The most exciting world event in the past week was the World Cup final. Ok, maybe that's a slight exaggeration for a number of people, but in this part of the world, it certainly was. The World Cup is quite the life interruption here. So much that the final at 9am Costa Rica time led us to cancel our 8am service and move our 10:30 service to 11. Although most of us were rooting for Croatia, France won 4-2 in one of the highest scoring World Cup finals ever. The only good part was that the score was decisive and didn't require overtime. So, the game ended and we were able to have our service without any further ado.
Gotta love 3 big smiles!
I enjoyed watching the game with this couple (pictured). They are fellow UWMers, currently here in Costa Rica, but headed to the Dominican Republic. Danna is studying Spanish at the Language Institute and Gil is mexicano. I met this sweet, fun couple at our regional conference in May and ended up spending a fair bit of free time with them. Now they're heading to the DR in about 6 weeks and I selfishly wish God would call them to stay here. I visited them in San José last Sunday afternoon and this Sunday they came to visit my church (and watch the game) and hang out. The hours go by all too quickly when we're together. My consolation is that I'll see them every couple years at our regional conferences and that I can text Danna when I watch an old movie or musical (a delightful interest she and I have in common!).
May God bless you with sweet, fun people in your life (or lead you to be that sweet, fun person somebody else needs)!

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Tico Tuesday, July 10th

Hello and Happy Tuesday once again!
It is said, (not in the Bible), "Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be broken." Sunday at church we got a lot of practice being flexible, since we were without electricity! Our worship band quickly chose 5 different songs so we could sing more easily without electric instruments. I was the service host for the weekend, and I ended up writing down and personally giving all the announcements (instead of having them being given via video). Everyone was sitting up front as close to the stage as possible, and it was a neat time together. There was a sense of that romantic, cozy feeling when the power goes out and it's not obnoxiously inconvenient yet. We had a battery powered microphone with a little amplifier and a megaphone, but thankfully, the power came back in the middle of me giving the announcements during the 8am service, so Rudy was able to give his sermon with his powerpoint and no technical inconveniences, and the 10:30 service was as normal. The 8am service was a good reminder of how important it is to be flexible and prepared for emergencies, and what a blessing it is to have electricity and technology!
After finishing my service host role during the 10:30, I ended up interpreting the sermon (for the fourth week in a row!) for another short term missions team. The team had practice flexibility as well, since the local school they were supposed to do Vacation Bible School for didn't tell the kids about it before they went on vacation. We ended up gathering children from church and inviting any other ones we could that were available. While the results weren't quite as expected, the VBS was still definitely a success.
Can you tell the picture was taken on July 4th? Some of the team had on some pretty great red, white, and blue outfits!
May God bless us all with flexibility that we might not be broken by unsuspected inconveniences in life!

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Tico Tuesday, June 26th

Happy Tuesday to you once again!
"The Best Cluster Ever"
Last week I had the great blessing and privilege of attending my second "Come before Winter" renewal. My first experience was life changing, and my second was as well. In 2015, I was an absolute emotional disaster as I waited, waited, and waited for another ministry placement. This time, I am in a much better place, but was still in need of a renewal. To have 12 women stop their lives and come serve 31 women, be able to disconnect from my phone and work, be with other women that are a lot like me, and be able to sing in English (and have some nice harmony in our a capella singing!) all made the week a real treat. We spent the week studying and reflecting on the book of Exodus. It was rich!
God spoke to me through many passages, but my biggest takeaway was about God's presence. I knew in my head before about God's omnipresence and Emmanuel is one of my favorite names of Jesus, but I now have a fuller, deeper, heart-level understanding of what it means for God to be present: with me. It means He's near, He's here. That He cares, that all I do, think, feel, and am matters to Him, that He wants to know me and be known by me, that he loves me. His presence brings peace, comfort, and joy (hmm... tidings of comfort and joy? Christmas is less than 6 months away now!). Indeed, in his presence is fullness of joy, as it says in Psalm 16. This past week, I felt more joy than I'd felt in a long time, and it was wonderful. Now to abide in it, and not let long to-do lists, ministry responsibilities, and stress rob it from me. I have a breath prayer I'm using, and I'm working on making up breath prayers for lots of different things I do throughout the day. It's a sweet time in my relationship with God and I am so grateful.
More on Come before Winter and other recent events in my Chronicle next week!
May you be aware of God's presence with you this week and may it also fill you with joy!

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Tico Tuesday, June 12th

Happy Tuesday!
Another family fun weekend at church has come and gone. We baptized over 30 people over the course of the three services, and the activities we had Sunday afternoon were such a hit, people stuck around until the sports ministry was ready to pack and clean everything up! We had bingo, foursquare, dominoes, Jenga, Cranium, Uno, ping pong, pool, and more! Since it's rainy season, we couldn't count as much on outdoor activities; though some still happened before the rain came. It was a really fun time, and as always, a great time for people to hang out, get to know each other, and make memories together.
A couple ladies in my small group and I hung out and joined in a couple different games together. I think one of the things that's exciting me so much about my small group right now is that I'm seeing the people in the group build relationships with each other: people making plans to go to a class at church together, sit together, etc. That really encourages me! And I think this was the family weekend in which I've felt the most comfortable. I often end up kind of wandering around trying to figure out what to do and who to hang out with. So, it was nice to have the chicas from my small group there. It was also nice that there were more game options than ever before too.
May we remember to make time to play and invest in relationships!
Blessings on the rest of your week!

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Tico Tuesday, May 22nd

Tuesday greetings to you!
At a station of the concert of prayer
Thanks be to God, I am feeling much better after being sick last week and the small group facilitator retreat went really well! At this time last week, we had 8 people signed up and there was a chance we might have to cancel the retreat. But, thankfully, we were able to get more people to sign up and ended up with about 35 participants. It was still a smaller crowd than I hoped for, but I believe there was also some spiritual resistance. We planned a really good retreat that touched a lot of things the enemy would much rather us let alone. I am grateful for those who came though, and they are really glad they came too!
The retreat's theme passage was Jeremiah 17:5-8 and was called "Your Roots." We had individual time to meditate on the Word, two times of worship through music, a concert of prayer with one station for each of the five purposes (which we managed to draw out of the passage), a special speaker from our big sister church, and some brief time to share testimonies. I introduced a new tool of resources for our leaders, and told them about some other new resources we have in the pipeline as well. It was a wonderful day and I could sense God's presence and hand in motion.
Please continue to pray for the Small Groups at my church, as well as my team and me. We have several things we need to start doing and many others we need to improve upon. Thankfully, the next couple weeks aren't supposed to be quite as busy as the last couple, so I look forward to having some time for extra praying and strategizing.
Thank you so much for your prayers and for just reading and caring, and of course, for your financial partnership with UWM!
God bless you and grow your roots as you trust in him!