Hola, all!! I am currently with my team in rainy and overcast Jaco, Puntarenas, Costa Rica. We arrived on Monday and will be staying here, doing ministry in Jaco and area, until Sunday when we will be taking a ferry over to Cobano, Puntarenas, Costa Rica and remaining for three days. After that, our destination is unknown but that's okay as the first thing they tell you in outreach is, "Be flexible, the schedule IS going to change!" So, with the grace and help of God, I'm being as flexible as possible! I'm just thankful that it's not the flexibility required of NIKO. LOL
Since our arrival Sunday, we've been battling almost non stop rain that, apparently, has been the result of a hurricane off the coast of Mexico. I've been told that we're receiving the tail end of the hurricane's affect and should be seeing some sunny skies soon. To this day, Thursday, we still haven't had a full day of sunshine without clouds. We've had a couple sparse moments of sun but then the clouds come and, inevitably, the rain. So, you just get a good umbrella and luckily for me, a lot of quick dry clothes, and carry on in our times of ministry!
Yesterday was a day that really affected me in a deep way for we went to do river ministry where about 500 people live along a river that leads to the ocean. These people are mostly made up of Nicaraguans who had no other place to go when they came to Costa Rica, most likely illegally. So their only refuge was to live along the river. A river that, yearly, floods many times a year with a destructive force that either completely destroys the house someone lives in or just floods the home repeatedly. The owner then does the best he can do in order to keep their home clean and repaired.
Most homes are no more than a cement block as a crooked foundation and the rest of the house is made out of scraps of metal that are found in the area. Perhaps the one thing that affected me the most was seeing a beautiful little girl who could not have been more than 2 years old, with big innocent eyes, standing next to her equally beautiful mother in a tin shack along this dirty river. The little girl's name was Cris and her smile seemed to light up the city. Her hair was done in pigtails and she was dressed in a cute outfit. Her appearance wasn't at all indicative of living in destitution, yet I found myself standing right in front of her smiling at her and having her smile at me in return.
The words, "It's just not fair, Lord" kept coming to my mind while I tried to keep my eyes dry. It was while walking back to the hostel we're staying in that my eyes began to fill with tears and I started to question God again. But then I realized who I was talking to. I was talking and pleading with my God, a God who is big enough to not only see what I just saw but to redeem that situation and to fix it. My part to play in all of that was to spend time with them and be the love of Jesus in flesh to them, while giving them hope in the form of a booklet that contained the Gospel of John in Spanish.
The life of a missionary would not be much different from what I participated in yesterday with my team. The only difference is that if you are called to be a missionary and you know God is calling you to do that for the rest of your life, you will see things like that and so much worse, perhaps day after day without any reprieve in an air conditioned hostel room with a team of other people to console you or to rescue you from that heart wrenching situation. What I saw yesterday is only a mere taste of what God sees and grieves over every single day throughout this world.
No, I'm not God nor would I want to be God because I don't think my heart could take it, day after day, year after year. Seeing His children being oppressed, abused, neglected, shamed....no, I couldn't be God. I don't have the stomach for it or the heart for it. But what I do have is an image of that little girl, Cris, burned into my memory banks, standing beside her beautiful mother and living alongside a river that does not discriminate against who it rushes over and wipes away. I just have to keep focusing on God and looking to Him in trust because, one day, His son will return to redeem all of this and to take Cris and others into His arms, pull them close and whisper to them sweetly, "You are mine."
Saturday, October 8, 2011
As my week comes to a close and I begin to prepare for the remainder of outreach with my team, I can’t help but reflect, fondly, on this week and proclaim the goodness and faithfulness and awesome nature of God! As I recall my injury and diagnosis of over a week ago, God speaking to me while waiting for x-rays to be taken of my foot and the announcement to the team that I would not be joining them in Puerto Viejo, I never thought I would be blessed as much as I was this past week.
It was only hours after my team had left Sunday for Puerto Viejo, in the province of Limon, that God’s purposes for me began with a question from God. He asked me, “Do you believe that I can heal you, Melissa?” Without hesitation I replied, “YES, Lord, I know you can heal me and I believe you will heal me!” Amen! His other purpose came almost immediately as my team pulled away from the base when I dove into intercessory prayer for my team then and for the rest of the week! God was faithful in guiding me in what or who to pray for and I wrote all of my promptings in my outreach notebook, careful to pass on the same to my team.
Now as I come to the end of the week, I must sing God’s glory and praise Him with all of my heart for this week has been one of wisdom, revelation, confirmation and power in prayer that blew my mind! God blessed me in so many ways and through other people that it still causes me to become teary eyed at thinking back on these days. One of the greatest blessings was when it was arranged for me to stay in the hospitality house so that I would not have to navigate any stairs while outfitted with my ‘boot’. Bathroom and bedroom were on the same level in my room and being isolated from the main building was something I know God orchestrated as He had been calling me into isolation with Him for the week which I was completely prepared and excited for.
I have had quiet time and solitude with the Lord this week that, I would have to say, have been the best times so far in my walk with God! As He would pull me closer to Him, I would dive deeper into Him crying out for more! He would fill me with people from my team to pray for and give me words or Scripture to give them which would come back to me, via email, confirmed by the leaders that it was exactly what was needed! Each day served as a new adventure in faith with God and an opportunity to serve Him as the woman of prayer He is calling me to be for Him. If that’s the only thing that God wanted me to do for Him that would be my ministry for God, I would be the happiest woman on earth!!! So far it looks like that is God’s purpose for me at this point but you never know what God will have in store during outreach! :D
About outreach, yes I will be joining my team for the remainder of the DTS program, not returning to the YWAM San Jose base until graduation day, November 18 (might be a couple days sooner). My team will be returning from Limon City sometime tomorrow via public transit with one night to get ready to head out again Monday morning. From the base, we will be leaving in the YWAM van and travelling in that for the next month. Travelling in the van as opposed to travelling as past DTS teams have travelled (public transit or plane) has been a huge blessing within itself. I’ve heard stories of previous DTS teams who have travelled hundreds of hours in public transit buses and it was nothing short of a nightmare for them. I feel truly blessed and fortunate to be travelling this well.
Meanwhile, I am packing my backpack and getting ready for our Monday departure while staying in the close presence of God for these two days until then. As for my foot, I will take the boot with me and be a good steward of what has been given to me but I know, and God has told me, that He will be my rehab on the road for I have already received supernatural healing from God! In fact, as of today, God told me to jump up and down on both feet while in flip flops and so I did....and NO pain!!!!! Praise God! I have told numerous people that God is healing me and that I will NOT need rehabilitation! WOO HOO!
How incredible is God? More incredible than I can even begin to describe or explain to you but this week has strengthened me in ways that I am humbled by. I feel as though this week has been my honeymoon with God with His whispers of how to pray and who to pray for and His calling to me to come closer to Him every minute of every day. These days are ones that I will not forget and do loud boasting of how great God is!! Wisdom, strength, revelation, confirmation, power, and intimacy are just some of the words I would use to describe this week to all of you. I raise my voice to praise God as David did in 1 Chronicles 16: 8-13 and return to my sweet secret place with God until my team returns!
Sunday, October 2, 2011
My walking boot that I have to wear for 3 weeks only taking it off three times a day to ice and shower. I have to wear the sock part of the boot to bed every night as well.
Above is my appliance that I’ve been outfitted with for the next three weeks until I see the doctor at the hospital again. Until then, my outreach for the week will be YWAM San Jose. After much prayer and seeking God’s purpose for me after this injury and then praying for confirmation as to His purpose for me, God confirmed to myself and also to my leadership that I am to stay back from outreach this week. One of the leaders is staying back with me to assist with anything I need or errands that would have be run. God answered, big time, as to His plan for me this week and His further confirmation of that through leadership sealed it. God is so amazing, I ask and He answers. I seek confirmation and it comes in a flood! I guess that’s why I’ve had such incredible and overflowing peace since all of this happened. I’m excited to see what God will do this week!!! :D
So what will I be doing this week while my team is ministering to Puerto Viejo in the province of Limon? Well, because I know that this injury and the subsequent confirmation is ALL a God thing, I will be interceding along with my leader, Marianela, for the team as well as seeking God’s revelation and wisdom in what He wants to show me this week. I believe it will be something significant that God reveals to me. So far my week of standing still and just BEING with God has included several hours camped out in the prayer room and reading the Bible while praying, when prompted, for my team mates and others in my life.
I’ve also been invited to sit in on classes this week with the September DTS which consists of 18 girls and one guy, all but one under the age of 20 years old. I’ve met several of them and they are great folks always asking how I’m doing and if they can help me or get me anything. God just keeps blessing me over and over again. Marianela mentioned to me that God had been speaking to her about me. That during my life I had worked hard and had always done things on my own and was very independent, which is completely true, and so God was speaking to her to bless me in serving me and in doing things for me. Now those of you who know me really well, and my Mom can attest to this, it’s not always easy for me to accept help or assistance because I don’t want to be a burden to others but God is certainly showing me that He wants me to accept assistance and to accept blessings of service from others. Once again, I am humbled by God and will obey what He tells me to do and right now that is to accept His blessings to me through others. Wow!!!
So, that is where things stand for now. I’ll keep you all updated as to what happens this week and what God reveals to me. There are so many things it could be! I can’t help but be very excited! So until then, I’m including some pics from last week (the official start of our outreach) with a brief description under each pic. God is good, all the time, all the time, God is good!!!
Volcano Irazu where we did a prayer walk alongside the volcano cavern and prayed against the spirits that are believed to make their home at the top of this high volcano (Monday).
La Basilica (Catholic Basilica) located in the province of Cartago where we did a prayer march around the church praying against the strongholds of religion and legalism within the Roman Catholic church (Monday).
The Heredia base. It is almost completely self sustained with a beautiful and large garden, fire pit, livestock and a real country feel to it with an emphasis on family!! I didn't want to leave!! (Tuesday and Wednesday) :D
The place where the injury happened, a National Park just minutes away from the Heredia base in the province of Heredia (Wednesday morning).