So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. I Cor. 10:31

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Coming To A Close!!

Well another month has come and gone!! The time sure does move fast when you are staying busy and having a good time!! The last month has been filled with many exciting, fun, and sad times. The last month has been filled with festivities beginning with our host family appreciation time, followed by the intern farewell party, saying goodbye to a fellow intern, and a birthday!! It is hard to believe that I will be leaving this wonderful place in just 2 and a half short weeks. It is bittersweet for sure!!

Here are a few pictures from the last several weeks in Atenas!!

Last week I celebrated my birthday for the first time in a foreign country. It was an awesome experience. My family and the staff went out of their way to make it a really special time beginning with dinner at Applebee's with my mentor and his wife, followed by waffles, eggs, and bacon for breakfast the next day, and capped off with Arroz con Pollo, or chicken and rice with birthday cake and homemade ice cream for dinner on my birthday. 

Tomorrow I leave for the weekend with my family for a missions trip with our church. I am looking forward to spending one last big weekend with my wonderful host family before I return to see all of my missed family and friends in the states. God has truly taken great care of me and eased the burden of being so far from home. 

As I think about all of the wonderful experiences that I have been able to enjoy the past six months, I am very thankful for each of the people who have helped to make this experience possible. This would not have been possible without each one of your prayers and support. I wanted to take another opportunity to tell each one of you thank you!!

Please keep each of the interns and staff in your prayers as we finish up our time here in Costa Rica and begin preparing to return to the states. Atenas has become home for each of us and we have each made many great memories here. I for one cannot wait to come back. However, I am excited to return home and see how the next great chapter that God has for me will unfold!! I know this is short, but its all I can think to write down right now. I look forward to seeing each of you and sharing about my experiences in the coming weeks and months!!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

A Week in the Jungle

Greetings again from Costa Rica!! The rainy season is upon us! The last couple of weeks have been really exciting. Work continues to progress on our projects and I continue to make and build relationships daily. I continue to learn valuable lessons daily that promise to benefit me greatly in the future. For the past two weeks, Stephen, another intern, and myself have been working to complete a report for an investigation that we performed for water projects in two indigenous villages in the jungle here in Costa Rica. This was a tremendous adventure where the Lord continually reminded me of why I am here in Costa Rica. It was truly amazing to experience God's beautiful creation and to meet the people who live in these difficult places. 

Our team was challenged many times with frustration, injury, exhaustion, and encountered more snakes in one day than have been seen on all previous trips combined. We hiked for over 18 hours in four days to visit two different indigenous communities. Our challenges included crossing the river several times, crossing a makeshift suspension bridge, and climbing up and down waterfalls just to name a few. I was given the opportunity and challenge to lead the group in gathering the relevant information necessary to design an improved water system for the two communities. God used this time to teach me that with His help, I did have the ability to lead this type of project in the future. Many lessons were learned on this 4 day trip that I will never forget! I will cut this short for now and leave you with a short video from our time in the Jungle. I hope you enjoy!!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Earthquakes Strange Fruit and Other Crazy Adventures

Well it has only been a month since I last posted! I am starting to have a pattern. Even in Costa Rica it is easy to become trapped by the rigors of everyday life and time just seems to disappear. This month has been an exciting month of travel and adventures for sure. Today our weekend was kicked off with a bang. Well almost a 6.0 magnitude earthquake struck just north of San Jose and definitely rocked our office. We heard the building rattle and a few seconds later the ground shook under our feet!!!!

Guaba (Kinda Like a Cotton Ball in a Bean Pod) 
The Ticos Call it Fruit!!

Most of you experienced a great Easter holiday in the states surrounded by family and lots of good food. Ours was a little bit different here in Atenas. My family and I along with a group from our church (my dad is the pastor) went door to door in one of the local neighborhoods talking to people about the significance of Good Friday. It was great to be able to spend some time with them as they traveled around talking to people. I even got to talk with an American couple that had recently moved into town and were upset because all of the stores and gas stations were closed! The catholic churches influence and emphasis of Semana Santa (Holy Week) has lead the evangelical churches in Costa Rica to downplay Easter somewhat. They believe that Easter should be celebrated everyday!! We did manage singing Up From the Grave in Spanish, but lunch was only as exciting as rice and beans can be!

My Dad and Jeff After our Afternoon of Walking Door to Door

He Can Play Football Cinco Too
(My Dad is the Goalie)

This month we also went on another intern adventure. The interns were required to leave Costa Rica for 3 days to renew our tourist visas. Unfortunately, that meant traveling down to Bocas Del Toro, Panama. A small group of islands just across the Costa Rica - Panama border. This was a beautiful but poor group of islands that have largely boosted their income in the past 10 years through the exploit of the beautiful surrounding beaches and reefs to tourist. We spent 3 days exploring the islands beaches, swimming, snorkeling, building a raft, sailing around the islands, and filming for our intern music video to document our experience!! It was a great time of fun and bonding for our group. Our tourist van was even stopped by the police on the way home and had its license tags removed, though our driver was allowed to continue on to our destination.

Crossing the Bridge to Panama
(Somehow You Have to Pass Through Baltimore to get to Panama from Costa Rica)

The days continue to go by quickly, too quickly at times. It is hard to believe that this amazing experience will be over in just 10 weeks! I hope that our project in Peru will be mostly complete by then. The ministry we are serving is ready to begin construction later this year as they have already secured funding and an equipment operator to begin in November. Today, I also started talking with my mentor and project leader about his vision for EMI and implementing a construction management program within the organization. In the coming weeks I will likely be working with him to create a database of resources to help get his dreams off the ground!

Our Sailboat Adventure

Our Homemade Raft!!
(It Floated All of Us)

The Lord has been teaching me a lot during my time here in Costa Rica and continued to allow me opportunities to use my talents for his glory. Next week, Steven (another intern) and myself will travel to one of the indigenous regions of Costa Rica to provide engineering input for a water system. Our destination is a meager 9 hour hike from the end of the road!! Should make for another great adventure!!

Thank you all for your generous support! Please keep me in your prayers. Over half way done but still a long ways to go!!

The View From Our Dinner Table
(It Was Hard To Say Good Bye)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Campamento La Cumbre, Football Americana, Soccer and a Fish Fry

Wow it has been a long time since I have posted anything. Even here in Costa Rica it is easy to become too busy and get trapped in the routine of daily life. Forty hours a week in the office, along with weekly Bible studies, mentor times, and the occasional american football game or practice keep, along with spending "Quality" family time ever fail to make me tired and make the time pass quickly.

The last few weeks have been pretty exciting. I have experienced my first professional Futbol Americana game in Costa Rica, gone to camp with around 40 Ticos, spent a Sunday afternoon eating and playing soccer with 3 families from the church, and eaten my first mangos of the season!!!

My mentor Josh is the offensive coordinator for one of the American Football teams here in Costa Rica. It was definitely an experience going to see my first game here in Costa Rica and attending practice one evening with Josh. I have really been wishing that I could have played football!! Thanks MOM! Going to practice was very interesting, this past week Josh and I heard the story of one of his players who was convicted in the state of shooting a police officer. This individual has since "found God" but it is very obvious that there was a great opportunity to be a witness, though it is challenging for Josh to coach as the commitment of his players is greatly lacking. 

Two weekends ago, I had the awesome opportunity to travel with my Tico dad to a church camp in the mountains here in Costa Rica. It was really cold!!! Down in the 50's!! Thats cold in Costa Rica! My favorite moment of the week was leaving chapel wondering where my dad had disappeared to, only to find him wrapped up on his bunk rolling back in forth saying "I am very cold, I am very cold!" It was a great weekend for the two of us. I didn't understand much during the chapel services, but I was able to make relationships with a few of the campers. The mountains were beautiful and I was able to participate in a couple of events that I have never before experienced ( jumping off a 30' high platform to a trapeze, jumping out of a tree on a giant swing, rappelling down a rock, and being pulled up in the air by my team of Costa Ricans hoping they wouldn't drop me back to the ground!) Sorry I don't have any good pictures to prove I actually did this stuff. It was great to have some time alone as well in the beautiful mountains with my Bible and a John Piper book to keep me company! God is challenging me everyday to fully trust Him with the plans that He has for my life!

Yesterday afternoon as we were leaving church my dad asked if i had plans for the afternoon. Of course I told him no because it was my day to be a part of the family secretly hoping we were going home so that I could take a much needed nap. I had been out til 11 PM (really late in Costa Rica) helping one of the staff members with a few jobs around the house. Instead, my dad decided that we would go eat lunch with one of the families from the church. We were treated to a delicious dinner of pan fried chicken breasts, rice, beans, salad, and vegetables. I had my first helping of chicken and was asked if I would like more. Since I hadn't eaten a lot of meat this past week at home, I asked for more. Our host prepared more chicken for myself and 
the other men and I was given another piece that had been put on the table after she left to fix more. Long story short i ended up having to eat like 3 chicken breast along with the side fixins and rice pudding for desert. A half hour later I was involved in a heated soccer match with 3 other grown men and several of the neighborhood children. It was a great match and I believe my team won even though I lost count of the score.

As if the last couple of weeks couldn't get much better. I just had a taste of home at dinner. Not sure exactly but it looked and tasted like a fresh fried whiting on my dinner plate along with some fresh fried plantain chips!! The only thing that would have been better would be some grits and sweet potato fries!! I hope thats not a first and last time we have a fish fry during my time here.

Monday, March 21, 2011

A Weekend Amongst Three Theives

This week was another exciting week in Costa Rica for several reasons. Jeff and I spent the majority of the week preparing new sketches and models for a new design of the church in Urubamba. Further talks with the ministry indicated that the church desired a plan which better reflected a traditional church appearance. Progress on the seminary master plan has been slow as we are trying to capture as much of the ministries vision as possible. Hopefully, next week will be more productive from a design standpoint.

This past weekend the other interns and myself traveled to Manuel Antonio National Park for a short weekend excursion. We had planned to have a nice relaxed weekend in a beautiful tropical setting, however we were unaware that this weekend would turn into a reminder of the fallen world we live in and ultimately how blessed we truly are.

The Gang's All Here

After arriving in Manuel Antonio of Friday evening we checked into our hostel for the weekend and spent the evening eating out and watching the NCAA Basketball Tournament at a local restaurant. The following morning we rose early and began our adventure at the National Park. It was here that we were introduced to the first two bandits looking for free handouts from the tourists. See pictures below. Our day at the park was great especially having the opportunity to experience more of God's beautiful creation in another part of Costa Rica.

Enjoying a Free Meal Taken from Park Guest

The Racoons Who Took Some of Our Food
While We Were Swimming They Were Popular With the Ticos!!

When we returned to our room on Saturday afternoon, we discovered that we had encountered a thief of a different kind. Grant noticed immediately that our locker had been destroyed and our things searched for any items of value. In total our group lost several items totaling over $1000 in value. Needless to say our weekend did not end as we had planned, however, we were all reminded of God's grace and his provision for us and also that He calls us to forgive those who commit wrong acts against us. 

Our Surprise

Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Col. 3:13

And the following passage I will borrow from my buddy Grant who was the worst affected by our misfortune. 

But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so thatwhen you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. For,Yet a little while, 
and the coming one will come and will not delay; 
but my righteous one shall live by faith,
and if he shrinks back, 
my soul has no pleasure in him. Hebrews 10:32-39

Thankfully each of us are safe and everything can eventually be replaced. I think we would all agree that we hope our future adventures will be a little less exciting!!
Here are Some More Pics from the Past Couple of Weeks!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Seminario Evangelico Bautista Independiente Del Cusco

Well I am only a couple weeks behind on updating my blog by now so I thought it would be a good time to update everyone on what is going on here in Atenas! I returned home to Atenas on Sunday February 27 after 10 great days in Urubamba, Peru working on the design of the new SEBIC seminary campus for Baptist Mid Missions. The ministry we are serving is excited about the plan we were able to create and is hoping to begin fundraising this week. Their excitement has led to a busy week this past week for myself as I have been working diligently to produce a master plan document for members of the ministry to carry to their supporters this week.

Master Plan of Future Seminary Site

Our project trip was a great success and a wonderful experience. Our project team demonstrated God's faithfulness in assembling a powerful team of volunteers eager to travel thousands of miles from home to accomplish His purposes for the people of Urubamba and the surrounding regions of Peru. The team consisted of 16 volunteers from places as far as Calgary, Canada to Houston, Texas and San Diego, California to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and was comprised of architects, city planners, structural, civil, and electrical engineers, a surveyor, a construction manager, a drafter, 3 of their wives, and our 6-month old mascot! It was incredible to have the chance to work with so many individuals from so many walks of life all for one unified purpose!

Our Project Team at Machu Picchu

The purpose of the new SEBIC seminary campus will be to continue to train indigenous Peruvians including the Quechua Indians to spread the Gospel throughout the jungle and mountain regions of Peru all around Urubamba. The Quechua people have many young Christian men excited about spreading God's word, but lack the training necessary to adequately lead new believers through difficult situations common to life in Peru.

On Top of Waynapicchu
(The Tall Rock Behind our Group Photo)

On the trip I was able to participate in several capacities as and instrument man for the surveyor, drafter for the master planner, and as a drafter and helper for two structural and two civil engineers. The project trip was an exciting adventure, but the project has only just begun. I will be working alongside and managing the efforts of four engineers over the next several months which should keep me very busy! I am looking forward to the opportunity to work alongside each of these four men the next several months and the valuable experience that I will gain in the process.

Part of our Project Site Including Partially Constructed Auditorium

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Next Stop Urubamba, Peru

Well it is that time. My 10-day project trip to Urubamba, Peru to design a campus Master Plan and prepare Construction Documents for the Church and Dormitory facilities for the Seminario Evangelico Bautista Independiente officially begins this Friday! This seminary project once completed will be used to train pastors to reach the Quechua people of the central Andes mountain region. Thank you all for the love and support that has made this great adventure possible.We will be working in Urubamba, Peru in the Urubamba Valley of the Andes Moutain Range. Please keep our team in your thoughts and prayers the next two weeks as we prepare and go to serve the people of Peru.

Urubamba, Peru