Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I'll Be Home for Christmas

I spent the entire day at the beach yesterday. Being in the ocean or just sitting on the shore watching the waves is one of the most comforting places for me. Whenever I look at the ocean, I am instantly in awe of God and His majesty. Just looking at Creation all around us simply shouts of God's fame and His personality. Different things in nature show so many aspects and sides to God. The ocean, I believe, is His beautiful way of reminding us that He is in control and a tangible example of how vast His love and faithfulness is for you and me. I love how there is so much of the ocean that has yet to be discovered even though men have tried. In the same way, there is still so much of knowing God for me to discover and I will never reach the end of Him.

In a few days, I will be home in Kentucky for Christmas. I am excited to be able to spend the next month and a half with my family, friends and church! After the holidays, I will spend a good portion of time raising funds for the work God has now paved a way to with the children and young girls in the Sex Trade. As I look ahead to next year, my heart beats a little faster with excitement and anticipation as to what God has in store. I am still amazed and awed by what He has done thus far. I know I have said that several times already but I can't help saying it again!

On October 2, 2009 I wrote the following journal entry:
" God, the statistics say that in San Jose alone are 3,000 (or over) little girls in the Sex Trade out at night prostituting themselves. I look out my window and ask where are you precious and possibly scared little girl? Susannah is going to team up with me and travel to Guanacaste. Lord, I pray right now you pave the way. Go before us but also go with us. Give us favor and answers."
When I wrote that, I had no idea what was going to transpire and I definitely never dreamed the progress we would make would be so fast. This entry came before we ever met one government official, community leader and child. I thought that after working and serving the community we would eventually stumble on the area of girls working. God did above and beyond all I could have imagined just like Ephesians 3:20 says. Leaving home and losing what was life to me was the best decision I ever made. For when you lose yourself you find it is only really then that you find yourself. I am grateful for the beautiful privilege of ministering to these girls here the power of what a life lived in Jesus does.

There is a comment box at the end of every entry. I would love to know who is reading and your thoughts. I would also love to know your prayer requests. I always post mine but I would like to know those requests of all who take the time to pray and read about our life here in Costa Rica. God Bless!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Making History(part two)

There is nothing like watching the slow, shy smile on a child's face begin as the tiny corners of that smile broaden from being loved on and accepted.  That to me is the best way to describe the scene this past Friday night as our team went into Zapoa, Nicaragua to pass out Christmas presents.  We had been traveling all day to get to La Cruz on Costa Rica's border.  We checked into the hotel and then quickly set out to make it across the border and into Nicaragua.  Already late, tired and sweaty we arrived to the extremely long line at immigration in Costa Rica.  My heart sank as I looked at the discouraging line and thinking about how all those children were waiting on us and now we were an hour and a half late in getting to them.  Susannah and I decided to see if our good friend, who happens to be the head of immigration for Costa Rica, was in her office.  It just so happened, that she was! (This was unusual for her to be there that late in the day).  I handed her the sugar cookies we made for her and she sweetly stamped our passports.  I watched as the line of North Americans and Europeans glared us down for being those able to bypass the line!  At once we set out quickly to cross the country line and enter Nicaragua.  We headed to the next office where our buddy, who is also head of immigration, was waiting for us to personally stamp our passports.  Once again, we bypassed the long line!  He was so excited to see us and know we were going all the way into the country past the border to have a smaller fiesta for the younger children (and it might have been because we made him cookies too!)  After he stamped us in, he ordered a patrol car to take us to the church in Zapoa from the border!  Although this was not my first time in Nicaragua, it was my first time to enter in a government vehicle with flashing lights and a siren!  We pulled up just in time to organize the gifts and pass them out to the anxiously awaiting children.  It was by far one of the best nights of my life and truly a moment I will never forget.  Pastor Rudy asked Susannah and I to sing for the church and Brian to preach.  It was awesome!

The next day (also morning of the BIG fiesta) I woke up with my head pounding and the feeling of a fever coming on.  I rolled over to see Susannah feeling about the same.  Here was one of the biggest days of our lives and we felt awful and missing home in a big way.  I called my Mom and in her sweet and encouraging way she said, "Sweetheart, get up because you have a job to do and then you get to come home!"  My mom was right and I mustered the strength to get up, get ready and face the task ahead.  We finished up the last minute errands and headed to the church to meet the youth and women who helped prepare the food.  We gathered in a giant circle, all of us sporting our fabulous T shirts, to pray one last time.  Then time to load up and head to border!  My heart did a little leap of excitement as I glanced back to see the caravan of cars, all the while marveling that this day had finally come.

Since the Costa Rican police have come to know Susannah and I, they allowed us to park at the patrol office inside the border where our cars would be safe.  Of course I took the Captain cookies too ;)!  Next stop customs check, where Susannah and I flashed our sweetest smiles, showed our badges and they waved our entire group through and did not need to check one single person.  Brian, however told them he would bring them a T shirt, which they were very excited to own.  The Kentucky gang and the Costa Rican gang joined forces to clean things up around the area the fiesta was to be held.  Soon to join in the cleaning and setting up would be the Nicaraguan gang.  While all the preparations were going down inside the border on the side of Nicaragua, Susannah and I set out to speak with immigration for Nicaragua.  The government welcomed us again with open arms and now we have become familiar faces to them!  They stationed armed guards around the entire perimeter of the fiesta and ensured the border guards let the young girls into our party.

The favor God has given us has been tremendous.  I am so in awe and humbled that He would choose me to be apart of something so amazing.  Our ministry Fuerza de Luz, is living up to it's name on the border!  I cannot wait to see all that God has in store for 2010.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Making History

My heart is so full right now that I don't even know where to start in describing the fiesta and the events that transpired. I woke up this morning reliving every single moment of last night and reeling at how this is my life now. Jesus said He came that we would know life and have it in abundance. If ever there was a time I felt in my life that I truly related to abundant life that time is now.

For months my heart was burdened for the children and youth I had yet to meet involved in the sex trade. I would dream about that moment when I would finally see them. I have never known such joy as I did in meeting the faces of young girls and guys in the sex trade and giving them food and Christmas presents. A sea of faces before me with timid, vulnerable expressions causing my heart to melt. I thought for sure they would arrive cynical or hardened but instead what greeted me were eyes that were teary and thankful.

During one part of the night, a friend of mine who had come out to help, called me over to a group of kids I had not met yet. She introduced me to them as the director of the ministry and it felt so surreal because I looked and sounded important but if they only knew just how I am another daughter of the King. One of the youth smiled shyly up at me and said, “you are my friend”.

The head of immigration for Nicaragua thanked Susannah and I over and over. He said nothing like this had ever happened inside the border and we could count on his continual help and protection. The young girls hugged us, thanked us and asked when we were coming back!

God is so awesome. There was nothing special about us except when God asked us to go, we did. He made things so easy as if it was the most normal thing for two Kentucky girls to march into government offices and say, “Hi we are interested in these kids and we would like to have a party for them!”

Often Susannah and I marvel at out easy and simple God made things for us and the supernatural favor that encompassed it all.

I could not have survived this weekend without the prayers of everyone and the awesome team of North Americans, Costa Ricans and Nicaraguans God put together.

The Costa Rican church put together a powerful drama of God's redemptive power and I saw several of the girls watching wipe tears from their eyes. How powerful and mighty God's power was displayed on December 5th, 2009 on the border. Light was brought into a dark place. I know the young girls and guys will never be the same, the government officials were struck by all they witnessed and I know I will never be the same.

I always wanted to know what it would be like to mark history and last night we did just that! My story and Susannah's story is one where we turned the pen over to God and said, “Lord, you write whatever you desire in and with our lives.” We know this is just the beginning and now the real work with all the youth and children begin.

I pray for all those reading that you will desire to be a history maker and stand up for what is right in your generation. Be a voice for those who cannot speak as Proverbs declares.

Friday, December 4, 2009

"You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out."

Deut. 28:6

Truly, my cup runs over.  I am so blessed and if I had a thousand tongues I would shout thanksgivings at the top of my lungs to God with every one of them!!!!  Yesterday was a powerful and successful day at the border.  Susannah, Nina and I arrived safely to La Cruz with just enough time to unload our backpacks, check-in to the hotel and hit the road again to meet everyone at the church. 

A total of seventeen of us went to the border and divided into two teams.  One team would pass out invitations and talk with the girls while the other team stayed at the park in the middle to pray.  The group that was to pass out invitations was split into three groups with Susannah, Nina and I in each little team.  We started with Nicaragua's border and covered as much territory as possible.  In prayer, Susannah felt that all seventeen of us should wear white shirts to stand out and be able to find each other. 

At one point as I was walking around with my little team, I looked over my shoulder and saw such a powerful image that is still etched into my mind even now.  I saw the image of white floating around the dirt paths in the absolute dark and at such a distance it looked as if little lights were floating everywhere.  I turned around and looked out into the distance ahead of me and saw a white circle encompassing the entire outer ring of the park.  Those tiny floating lights were young women of God setting out on a journey to tell of their Redeeming God.  The white circle at the park was a beautiful circle of older women in the faith who were interceding warriors fighting for those who cannot fight.

We repeated the very same thing on the Costa Rican border and then when all was said and done; hands and hearts joined in a prayer of thanking and praising God for His might and protection.

Our return journey to San Jose was full of laughter and light heart-ed calamities as we drove the winding road down the mountain.  At one point we almost ran out of gas but even that did not stress or discourage us because we knew God was with us, instead we laughed at our foolishness!

Today, Brian and Jake arrived with the Tshirts that were designed, made and donated to our team and project the day of the fiesta.  Also with them were toys purchased for 28 Nicaraguan children whose ages range from one year to ten years old and who come from very poor or broken homes.  Some of the children (but not all) are believed to be exploited at the border but the only way to reach the littler children is to go into the community and meet them.  On Friday our team of five North American's will cross the border and pass out presents to these kids.  My heart is bursting with excitement for this moment.

I have finally finished baking all the Christmas sugar cookies for the different government officials!  There is much joy and anticipation for the weekend ahead.  We will load up all the food, candy and gifts and hit the road at 9 a.m.  Special thank yous go out to: Cornerstone Church for the children's gifts, The Monday night group for the T shirts, Rachel Profitt for finalizing the ID Badges, Drew Van Camp for his awesome design of the T shirt, Susan Trout for coordinating the T shirt order and adding special touches for the team and finally to all of you who pray!

I apologize for the lack of eloquence but it is 2am and I am tired. I promise to be better about updating this weekend!!

To read a much more entertaining version of the past few days with pictures go to

Monday, November 30, 2009

All Will See Our God

I am humbled and blessed to the point of tears by all the notes pouring in of people praying for me, Susannah and the team this week.  There are even people I do not know praying for us.

 I woke up today with the weight of the world on my shoulders.  So much dancing around in my head and heart and so many details needing my attention.  Instead of spending time with God, I got right to work and the weight and emotion became heavier and heavier.  I found myself sad and scared at all that lay ahead and feeling completely inadequate.  Something my sister Rachel told me this summer before I left came to mind; "Anna times of discouragement will come but if you will lift up your head, God will lift up your heart."  How thankful I am for that reminder.  I dropped all I was doing and just began to worship out loud here in my apartment.  Over and over I sang,
"How great is our God
Sing with Me
How great is our God
All will see how great, how great is our God."
and then I sang
"Then sings my soul, my Savior, God to Thee
How great Thou art
How great Thou art"
I promise no matter where you are at this moment if you are reading this, take one minute and sing these words softly to yourself or out loud.  The feeling of His peace that surpasses all understanding will flow through your heart and you will know exactly how I felt at that moment.

God has not brought Susannah and I this far to leave us or fail us.  He never will and I know my God is bigger than darkness.  My God is bigger than government officials.  My God is bigger than time restraints.  My God is bigger than financial obstacles and this week all will see How Great is Our God!

On Tuesday December 1st we are going into the darkness for the first time, literally and spiritually.   We will go out around Tuesday evening at 7pm to meet and witness to the kids and invite them to the event on Saturday.  We are told that many of them come out at night dressed in black to sneak into the border and prostitute themselves.  The government at the border has chosen to not arrest one child so that we can talk with them and that they will trust us!  How awesome is God!  However they will be close by for our safety and protection.
Please pray for myself, Susannah and Nina as we go out into the dark.  We are going to be stepping on many toes of people who profit from these kids.  However, I will not back down in fear because the love of God has compelled Susannah and I to reach these kids.  He will protect us and guide us.  Thank you to all of you that pray and partner with us.  This is the only note I will post of facebook the rest will all be on the blog!

Love and Hugs to all of you!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Susannah and I would like to thank everyone for their prayers and support!

This past Tuesday morning we woke up at 3:00am to catch the 4:00am bus to La Cruz, Guanacaste.  We needed to finalize plans for the Fiesta being held December 5th.  For those that do not know, this project/fiesta is for the children and young girls in prostitution at the border of Costa Rica and Nicaragua.

The fiesta will be held on Nicaraguan ground technically inside the border because the spot of land we want to hold it at is on their turf.  Their cooperation was just as crucial if not more than Costa Rica's.  I had this gut feeling that we did not have Nicaragua's permission for the fiesta. We had been told by Nicaragua originally that it was no problem, however I could not shake the thought.   Everyone kept telling me that was not true but still in my heart I knew we needed to go talk with them again.  Turns out, God had been leading my heart because when we got there, they denied having any knowledge of talking with us. At first the border police would not even let us through into Nicaragua because of a lack of proper documentation.  Pastor Rudy, a friend and Nicaraguan swooped in and saved the day right as they were giving Susannah and I a hard time.   All I could do was pray as Susannah and the pastor reasoned with them.  God moved and the next thing I knew, we somehow managed to bypass several hoops and twenty minutes later, we were sitting in the office with the man with all the power. We had tried several times before to meet with him and always got the second in command, who was the one denying he knew of the fiesta!  However, the head of all of Immigration was so accepting of our project!  He was a sweet man and so easy to talk to.  We shared our heart and our project and it took him all of five minutes to agree.  When he did the second guy in command looked shocked! ha ha!  (He must have felt bad for giving us the run around because later he acted like our best friend.)  The head of Immigration  told Susannah and I that on behalf of the government he welcomed us with open arms and we were free to work with the young girls and he would do everything in his power to assure us security and help.  In front of us, he ordered the men under him to see to it that every time we were on their side, we were taken care of!  I could have jumped across the desk and hugged that man!  How easy he made it and how easy it seemed that Susannah and I marched into his office as if it was the most normal thing to do. 

By the end of the day, we managed to have security clearance for the fiesta from both countries and special passes by the head of Immigration for both nations.  Despite the heat and exhaustion, Susannah and I could not stop smiling.  Through God, we obtained victory. 

Later that night we met with a group of people from surrouding local churches on both sides of the border to finalize our plans.  The youth has prepared a drama, in which they are so excited about and the women are all chipping in to help us cook all the food for that day to feed the kids.  I am blessed by all the different churches helping and the unity we all feel.  As Susannah and I walked back to our hotel, we reflected on the power of God's goodness in all we had witnessed that day.
On this coming Tuesday, we will once again head to the border to go and personally invite as many kids as we can.  A group of women from the church will come with us to speak with the young girls, who only really come out at night to solicit their bodies, while a second group of women will remain at the church to pray and intercede while we are at the border.  Then later that week we will return again with our small North American team consisting of Susannah, myself, Nina, Brian and Jake.  Those three are flying in to help us and Susannah and I could not be more grateful!
Next week, will no doubt be awesome.  However, please keep us in your prayers for safety, provision, wisdom and that every heart would be moved by the love of God.  I am believing for God's glory to manifest in mighty ways all next week at the border.

Friday, November 20, 2009

My beautiful family :)

 My time in the US was bittersweet.  I was loved on, pampered and spoiled by my friends and family.  It was wonderful to drive my car (as simple as that little pleasure seems), eat at all my favorite places and curl up on the couch with my parents watching movies.  For the first few days I pretended that I lived there again.  I went running in my favorite park and it was so nice to not worry or look over my shoulder every five minutes!  However, reality would come crashing in when I would talk about my life here in Costa Rica and the children Susannah and I will be working with at the border.  As memories of my life here in sunny Costa Rica would come back, I would begin to miss being here and with my friends here.  After all, life was in Costa Rica now right?  I was not a Kentucky girl anymore, however I was not truly a Tica either.  I had never felt so torn between two worlds.

One day I went for a run in the park near my parent's house.  This park has been there for twenty years and I had been going there since I was a little girl to swing and play.  That day, I wanted to be a little girl again who could swing and play without a care in the world.  The park was empty and the weather was beautiful.  I sat on the swing, closed my eyes and began to just simply swing.  I began to sing softly and just worship.  In that moment such peace flooded my heart and I was home.  Then it hit me, I am not supposed to belong anywhere in this world.  In John 15 Jesus said, " ....you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world."  I realized the only thing that was comforting to me was Kingdom culture.  I don't belong to Costa Rica or Kentucky or Cornerstone Church.  I belong to Jesus and in His culture. This was the first time I truly understood and related to that verse.
After this revelation, visiting my old life in Kentucky was so much easier.  My sister Erica's wedding was beautiful.  Being apart of her and John's special day was a privilege.  I was so blessed that God worked it out for me to be there for everything!
The morning of my flight back to Costa Rica, I kissed each one of my little sisters' cheeks goodbye as they were all still sound asleep.  (Three of them still live at home.)  I hugged Mom and Dad goodbye at the airport and waited for my flight.   I felt tears begin to build up in my eyes and the ever familiar question ring in my heart, "Why?"
Why leave again? Why go alone? Why have to say goodbye? Why me?  The reassuring answer always replies with Luke 12:48, "From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked."  I have been given so much and God has entrusted me with much.  That is Why I must go.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

If my heart has grown cold
There Your love will unfold
As You open my eyes to the work of Your hand
When I’m blind to my way
There Your Spirit will pray
As You open my eyes to the work of Your hand

Oceans will part nations come
At the whisper of Your call
Hope will rise glory shine
In my life Your will be done

Present suffering may pass
Lord Your mercy will last
As You open my eyes to the work of Your hand
And my heart will find praise
I’ll delight in Your way
As You open my eyes to the work of Your hand 

Many years ago I prayed that God would truly open my eyes and allow me to see the world through His eyes.  I never dreamed that my life would take on the wildest adventure of touching His heart through various places and faces.  I am now able to say, I have seen the hand of God at work daily in mighty ways.

I am so blessed by everyone who has prayed, served and sowed into my life and the lives of the children here.  The song above describes my heart.  God can call a nation by a mere whisper.  I am so in awe of God and His majesty.  Today, nothing special necessarily happened.  Today, there were no mountains moved, no miracles to tell.  Today was just a simple day I spent with Jesus and I love Him so much that my heart could burst.  Those are the moments with God I enjoy the most, when He and I can just BE.  The fact that He loves me, that He never leaves me and that He died so that I might have life in abundance is enough to stand up and shout His fame.  Today, I needed no other reasons than those to be so awestruck.

Four months ago, a scared and nervous girl boarded a plane to a country and life that was unknown.  In two days, that same and yet now very different girl will board a plane for a country and a life she used to know and live.  How that contrast of living has changed my life in just four months.  God has done so much and I know many will want to talk with me and want to know all I have learned.  I often think, how would I ever begin to explain?!  

One thing I know, I have learned and seen over and over here: God is Good. 

I will be in Kentucky for two weeks and I look forward to seeing as many faces as I possibly can and hugging as many of you as I can.   I also want to say a special thanks to Brea Kaiser who does all of the work and picture posting on this blog/website for the ministry!! 


Sunday, October 18, 2009

The past few days have been a quiet time with the Lord. A time to reflect on all I have seen and experienced thus far. A time to be so deeply thankful for having lived a blessed life in Kentucky. A time to ask myself and challenge myself to count the cost of what lies ahead. Am I truly ready? Am I willing to do the hard things God asks of me? I find that while in my heart I may never feel truly ready; I feel more than willing. I find myself in Peter's shoes, so curious and willing to get out of the boat and then finding I have and becoming scared. I don't know what was going through Peter's head that famous moment that drove him to climb out but I know in my mind I was and am driven by a vision. A vision that desires to be Jesus with skin on, a holy anger to fight for those that cannot fight. In the past few weeks, I have met strangers and heard their powerful stories of redemption. With each face and each story, I see the love of Jesus and I am compelled to keep running after the vision.

Here is one account of how I came across a few strangers with powerful stories.

"I was in prison and you visited me" Matt 25:36

The most powerful lesson of God's redemption I have ever personally witnessed was when I had the privilege to attend a woman's bible study in the prison of Costa Rica last week. My friend leads an English bible study every week, where five different nations are represented. All of these women have been saved and with smiles on their faces are serving out the rest of their sentences with deep joy. My heart was so moved by the testimony I saw that day to the point it is hard for me to even explain. Central American prisons are rough places and it was a wild experience for me to go that day. However, in the midst of the chaos of visitors everywhere, shouting and some of the scariest women I have personally ever come in to contact with, there was light. I smiled to myself at just how mighty God displays His Kingdom!

I came home the next day to my apartment so deeply challenged in my faith. I had been battling fear and doubt since returning from the border. Fear that I would fail the children there, fear that it was all so overwhelming and difficult. So many "what ifs" floating around in my head. Yet God, rich in patience and mercy displayed before me, the power of salvation. Women who were once hardened criminals became soft, virtuous and God-fearing. Then I am once again reminded that nothing it too hard for the Lord. Nothing.

In my renewed passion, I prayed and wept for the hurting children who haunt my dreams and yet most I have still to meet. I prayed so passionately for the project of the fiesta at the border and continued favor. I will go again at the end of this month to solidify plans. Please, if you are reading this, pray with me.

It is my prayer also that after you read the following passage I came across, you too will lay your heart before God and challenge yourself to say, "Am I willing to do the hard things God asks of me"? Are you someone God will find as He looks on the earth for the fully committed? Will you live a life that dares to be different? Will you too get out of the boat?

"What is, therefore, our task today? Shall I answer: “Faith, hope, and love”? that sounds beautiful. But I would say – courage. No, even that is not challenging enough to be the whole truth. Our task today is recklessness. For what we Christians lack is not psychology or literature… we lack a holy rage – the recklessness which comes from the knowledge of God and humanity. The ability to rage when justice lies prostrate on the streets, and when the lie rages across the face of the earth … a holy anger about the things that are wrong in the world. To rage against the ravaging of God’s earth, and the destruction of God’s world. To rage when little children must die of hunger, when the tables of the rich are sagging with food. To rage at the senseless killing of so many, and against the madness of militaries. To rage at the lie that calls the treat of death and the strategy of destruction peace. To rage against complacency. To restlessly seek that recklessness that will challenge and seek to change human history until it conforms to the norms of the Kingdom of God. And remember the signs of the Christian Church have been the Lion, the Lamb, the Dove, and the Fish … but never the chameleon." Pastor Kaj Munk (martyr)

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Mountains Melt Like Wax When the Lord is Near....

I woke up this past Thursday morning still reeling at the last two days in La Cruz and thought, "This is my life." I felt somewhat overwhelmed and intimidated at all that lay in front of me now. The Lord reminded me of Psalms 97 and how mountains melt like wax before Him. I smiled to myself, that's right after all, I saw government officials hearts melt like wax. Susannah and I headed out Tuesday morning on the 4am bus to La Cruz, Guanacaste. It was the roughest bus ride, packed out to standing room only, thankfully we had seats together. There was very little space for our legs, let alone our backpacks. The bus was not direct, so we knew we were in for a long, rough ride. However, our hearts were so full of God and anticipation as to what possibilities were in store for us, we just laughed.

We spent the ride praying and sharing what each of us had felt the day before in prayer. We read scripture to encourage us and keep us focused. We arrived into the humble and friendly little town of La Cruz and my friend Jackie was there to pick us up. We then hit the ground at what felt like lighting speed to meet with the pastor and help where needed. The pastor didn't need us yet so we decided to go with Jackie to the border and she would show us around and we could see where the kids are and what a typical day at the border is like. The Costa Rica/Nicaraguan border was not a new experience for me but it was for Susannah. I enjoyed watching her eyes widen in shock/surprise at the chaos because I know I had that exact same expression in July when I traveled across!

Jackie had many connections and we followed her around trying our best to keep up. First stop was a friend of hers who happens to be the head of all of immigration for Costa Rica. She introduced us to this kind lady and explained why she was showing us around. The lady raised her eyebrows, told us we were very brave girls. She then proceeded to give us information and tips. We thanked her and as we were turning to leave, she stopped us and gave her phone number. She said that no one ever cared to work with the children at the border in the way we did and that if we ever needed anything or ran into trouble to call her; we had her full support. We were surprised and very grateful. This was just the tip of favor that was ahead of us that day.

It just so happen that on this particular morning, everyone who was anyone was there at the border. By the end of the day we had met the Chief of Police, the House Minister, the head of Customs and the head of the community who was also a doctor. Each one had the same reaction and response as the lady over immigration. All saying thank you for wanting to help, no one ever wants to work with these kids, it is dangerous but they would give us police protection and full rights to roam the border and work with the children. Jackie looked at us at one point and said, "Girls, this is amazing, these people are never available to talk!" she also said it was amazing we had such support from them and favor.

Next stop, walk across the border and talk with Nicaragua. We marched right across and were waved on because we had been with such important people, they did not need to see our passports. I was barely able to take this all in and all Susannah and I could do was laugh in amazement at our day thus far! We were able to get the same responses from them and their advice and information.

We were asked by the House Minister and also by the head of Customs to attend a meeting the following morning where all the important country officials would be gathering to discuss issues on the borders of Costa Rica. Susannah and I agreed but were a little freaked out and overwhelmed. However neither of us were backing down. We returned to the church in La Cruz where fourteen pastors in the surrounding regions of Nicaragua and Costa Rica were meeting. We told them all we had learned and the permission granted us. You can imagine their excitement and amazement.

We gathered that evening with members from the the church in La Cruz and planned a Fiesta for the children at the border. We would feed them and just befriend them and have the church youth do a drama. To join us in helping to feed would be the church in Rivas, Nicaragua. We will have games and my personal favorite, a pinata!

The next morning Susannah and I were asked to speak at the meeting to share our hearts. We told them we honestly had no experience and did not feel we knew more then they did but we had a heart and burden for these children who are exploited and who sell their services at such young ages. The hearts of the officials were moved and we were granted permission from both countries to hold the fiesta inside the borders between both nations!

So on December 5, our project "Amor en Acción" ( Love in Action) will outreach to the children at the border. Everyone we have told has been shocked we were granted such favor and opportunities. I am not anymore because God says, "The LORD reigns, let the earth be glad; let the distant shores rejoice. Clouds and thick darkness surround him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne. Fire goes before him and consumes his foes on every side. His lightning lights up the world; the earth sees and trembles. The mountains melt like wax before the LORD, before the Lord of all the earth. The heavens proclaim his righteousness,and all the peoples see his glory."

Monday, October 5, 2009

"The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much." James 5:16

I was going to wait to post anything until after I returned from Guanacaste.  However, so many of you have been praying over these past few days that I wanted you to know that after three days of mini hurdles and obstacles in the path, today breakthrough finally came.  We were succcesful in reaching the pastor in La Cruz to let him know we were coming.  He was excited and asked us to help tomorrow morning to feed the local community he is outreaching to.  A friend graciously opened her home to us so we don't have to stay in a hotel!  Where God leads, He always provides.

I set out right after I heard the news to purchase our bus tickets.  Three hours, seven wrong bus stations, 100 wrong turns, in the rain(more like a monsoon!) later, I finally found the right station only to be turned away because they only sale the tickets thirty minutes prior to departure.  I was so wet and soggy and frustrated that I just stood in the pouring rain not even caring because at this point, what was a little more water!!  My umbrella could no longer offer protection.  To add to the chaos, my friend who was picking me up at the station, could not get to me because a car stopped in the middle of the road, which blocked a bus.  The bus driver began to blare his horn, the station office began to use a megaphone to shout at the driver to move, all this commotion set off all the nearby car alarms.  I stood there getting soaked by the minute just laughing and the more I pondered the past few hours the harder I laughed.  The bible says,"A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones."  Well all the calamities and frustrating situations were not going to crush my spirit.

In order to help the pastor feed people, we must get there very early.  So Susannah and I will head out on the first bus which departs at 4:00 am!  Thank you, thank you, thank you for all your prayers!!
God is so good.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Can it really be three months ago that I sold almost everything, quit my job and moved to Costa Rica simply because God moved on my heart to do so.  I wanted to be obedient but I was baffled that God chose here to launch me out into the mission field.  For the past two years all I had talked about was the middle east and I even trained this summer with an organization that goes into places like Pakistan.  I studied Islam and the persecuted church and areas where persecution was very prevalent.  I was determined to find and go to any and all areas where no one is allowed or wanted.  Strange I know but for those closest to me, they will tell you, that was and still is my heart. 

Like most girls, I grew up with stories such as Cinderella but I also grew up with stories like David and Goliath, Moses parting the Red Sea and missionaries such as Jim Eliott.  At a young age I was ruined for this world.  Many of us aspire to make a difference, our culture speaks of reaching for the stars, becoming anything you want as long as you believe in yourself.  We flock to the theaters to see good triump evil, rags rise to riches and success defy defeat.  Why?  Because the one who designed us, who spoke us into existence, in whose nature we were created; defined those heroic tales.  God triumphed evil with His son Jesus and everyday He triumphs when you step out and be His hands and feet.  Everyday success defies defeat when you allow Him to shine through your weaknesses so He can shame foolishness.  For every counterfeit there is a genuine.  The bible is not fiction or fantasy.  It is God telling stories through the lives of everyday men and women who allowed God to use them.  The day I made Jesus Lord of my life, that became my culture.  My heart began to beat with thoughts of how big God was, how all things are possible and hurt and broken the world really was.  I knew I too wanted to let God take the pen and write His story, His version, His way.

As I look back on my life the past three years and up to this point, I see that everything God did and every where He placed me was training for my life on the field.  I used to talk about how someday I would go and then one day, my "someday" came.   Every test, every trial, every mountain top and valley has taught me something and pushed me to grow in God.

While I don't believe I am to be in Costa Rica for twenty years, I do believe I am here for a time and for training.  In my childlike faith, I wanted (and honestly still do) to just pick a spot in the middle of the world, set up a home and then just house, feed and love every single orphaned, abandoned, hungry child on the globe.  God is big enough to do so and I refuse to limit Him otherwise, however that is not what He has in mind for me right now.  So, I told Him okay and when He sent me here, I told him I would just take all the little ones in Central America!  Do you think I am kidding?  If you know me, then you know I am not!  So it is not surprising that it did not take me long to discover an unreached, untouched area that was full of hungry, abandoned children.  I sat listening to a pastor share all he had discovered in this town and how desperate in need these children were, my heart broke.  I have heard stories similar and people asking for help.  Trust me when I say, there is need EVERYWHERE.  This time though was different, this time I felt God tug at my heart.  Although I told the pastor I would pray and would not commit to anything.  Deep down I knew I would be back.

I came home and prayed.  It was not long before I knew that I knew I was to go back and see how I could help and where.  I also knew then that I was not going home.  I called my mom one night on skype crying from what all I had learned of these children and crying because I knew I would not be moving home in December.  She cried with me but we were both smiling through our tears because we knew this was God.

Just a few weeks later my friend and now partner, Susannah, came to me and said after much prayer she wanted to join me and help.  Both our hearts are tugged and moved and both our hearts know this is God calling us.  This area is four hours away by bus.  Plans are in the works for us to travel there next week and see what answers we can find and where to start.  Please everyone pray for our saftey and for favor.  I promise to update everyone as soon as we come back.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The more I pray for the children in Cartago and the more I pray for the children in Guanacaste, the more I know I am to stay.  The children in Guanacaste are alone, no one works with them.  They are forgotten.  They are contaminated by diseases.  They are mentally unstable.  They are God's heart, He knows everyone of their names.  They are the ones I want.  They are the ones I think about and I have never met them.  They are why I won't throw in the the towel.  Why I refuse to give up.

  I had originally committed to stay on just to December.  God had other ideas.  I do not know how long I will be here, possibly just through next year.  I do know that my heart won't let me leave.

Last month was full of adventures and was extremely busy.  Many people to meet, many territories to travel to, many lessons to plan and many sleepless nights.  So, I am tired.  I took this week off.

It is just a season.  I often repeat this to myself.   Please pray that I would not grow weary. I love my life and I am so blessed.  However there are moments to myself of sitting there and of thinking and in times where there is a lot of sitting and thinking the enemy reminds me of what I miss. I miss my mom. If you know her, then you understand.  I miss my Dad and his constant encouragement.  I miss my sisters and the times my whole family gets together and it is loud and crazy! I miss Cornerstone Church, being spiritually fed every week and having constant community and fellowship.  I miss my friends.  I miss going to the gym.  I miss living in a busy but fun house with my amazing roomies despite its chaotic moments.   All of those thoughts and people I miss, can cause me to feel alone here.  

I know I am right where I am supposed to be, where I was meant to be.  I know this is God's heart for me right now and I know I am never alone.  He holds me and takes care of me.  He is faithful.  I know it is just the season.  Thank you for all of you who pray.  Many ask how they can be specifically praying.  This is one area.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

"You will keep in perfect peace
the girl whose mind is steadfast,
because she trusts in you." Is. 26:3

The Holy Spirit comforted me with this verse today as I hugged my Dad goodbye at the airport and drove away.  I was blessed to have him visit me here in San Jose.  My good friend Jake, who is also from our church, accompanied Dad on this trip.  I had the refreshing privilege to hear them each speak at different churches a few times this week.  They brought me supplies from the States for the children I teach English to in Cartago.  My kids were thrilled to receive their very own pencil cases and notebooks. 
The encouragement and time with my Dad was like water in a desert.  Although God has taken amazing care of me here as well as the people, a hug from my Dad did wonders for my heart.

Goodbyes are never easy for me but I know so deep down I am here for a season by God's appointing.  His heart is home and I am content.  For that reason I was able to walk away from my Dad and be at peace.  God is always in control, He has never lost control and He never will; this my soul knows very well.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Isaiah 43

"But now, this is what the LORD says—
       he who created you, he who formed you:
       "Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
       I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
       I will be with you;
       and when you pass through the rivers,
       they will not sweep over you.
       When you walk through the fire,
       you will not be burned;
       the flames will not set you ablaze. 
Since you are precious and honored in my sight,
       and because I love you,
       I will give men in exchange for you,
       and people in exchange for your life.  5 Do not be afraid, for I am with you;
       I will bring your children from the east
       and gather you from the west.
  I will say to the north, 'Give them up!'
       and to the south, 'Do not hold them back.'
       Bring my sons from afar
       and my daughters from the ends of the earth-
  everyone who is called by my name,
       whom I created for my glory,
       whom I formed and made."
  Lead out those who have eyes but are blind,
       who have ears but are deaf."

This passage has been a comfort to me in the last week.  I have been asked to pray and consider starting a work from scratch that feeds and houses the children being exploited at the borders.  No one is working with these children.  Many of them are sick emotionally and physically.  As I sat hearing of the desperate need for someone to go and be willing to work with these children, my heart began to pound with that familiar beat, GO ANNA.    I am told it is hard.  I am told it can be dangerous.  In my mind I feel myself shrink back and a soft voice reminds me, "Is anything too hard for the Lord?"  Now I see it, many tiny, hungry, broken, hurting faces.  Tears roll down my cheeks.  No, nothing is ever too hard for God.  I look back into the past and remember all the times I have seen His faithfulness and His power to make what seems impossible, possible.

God has never failed me.  So once again, I pray," Lord, If you say Go, I will go."

Friday, September 11, 2009

This week feels like one big blur, full of challenges and yet so so fun!  We did a program for the children of St Augustins community.  The kids responded so enthusiastically that the director asked if we would be a regular part of their work next year.  We did puppets, worship, dramas, face painting and bubble games.  The team that I am pleased to be apart of is Manuel, Claudia, their kids and a friend German.  We are one big happy missionary family over here. 

I found a place on Thursday to run near Manuel and Claudia's home that is safe and that has been a great place to just release, pray and think.  Thursdays are the days I teach English in Cartago.  So it was nice to run and pray in preparation for teaching that day.  I find that I have to gear up spiritually everytime I go to minister in Cartago.  Cartago is one of the hardest cities in all of Costa Rica to work.  The spiritual environment is tough and very oppressive.  I have not met very many missionaries who even go there and even many Costa Ricans I meet do not like going to Cartago.    However, that is one of the places God has me going and I love it!  I have been bonding with the women and children there and the best sound in the world is when the kids shout "Anna!" or "Annita!" and practically knock me over with hugs and kisses. 

I am so blessed.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

I am sick today.  I am still running a fever, it is hot and I must teach the kids in Cartago.  I think, "Come on Anna, you can do this!" and then I hear that ever familiar, still, small voice whisper encouragement to my heart.  Yes, because of Jesus I can do this.

I arrive to find the kids and mothers have walked and are in a huge line outside the church waiting for me.  I am humbled.  Miraculously I am feeling great and able to teach for the next hour and not even think about how sick I have felt.  God is so good.

I hug everyone goodbye and sigh that by God's grace I was able to stand the whole time and no one but Manuel knew how sick I was.  

We drop off clothes to a young Mother and one of my students, Andrea.  Her baby was not due until November but he decided to arrive today.  She has nothing for the child.  She is apart of one family out of four that live in a small house.  I can't imagine.  Manuel, Claudia and I arrive with clothes, blankets and diapers.  The family is grateful, they literally had nothing for the baby.  My heart breaks.  I am near tears and I don't know if it is from exhaustion, the heat or the site I had just left; maybe it is all one combination to keep me humble and so thankful.  I begin to feel sick again and right before sleep claims me for the hour drive home, I think, I am blessed.

Monday, August 31, 2009

I was a nurse in the States who came to be a teacher in the projects of Costa Rica

I miss everyone very much and have been beyond blessed to continually receive packages, letters, emails and etc! It never ceases to humble and amaze me. I grew up reading about and studying the life of missionaries and missions. I have it so easy in comparison. What trials I face are nothing and especially compared to the heartbreaking things I encounter on a daily basis.

I will do my best to describe all that I have been up to as many have been asking me on here..."What are you doing?" "How can I pray" Do you like it there?" and so on! Please keep in mind I am not taking great care in my grammar as I type this today!

I live in San Jose, as I have mentioned before and I am convinced it IS the city that never sleeps. The sun rises here usually between 5:30am-6:00 am and sets around 6pm. It took awhile to adjust to that and so sometimes at 8:30pm I would feel as if it was time to go to bed! I live in a five bedroom apartment that occasionally hosts teams from the States. However, most of the time I have the apartment to myself. The weather is overcast with occasional sunshine and we are in the rainy season right now. Even in the rainy season it is still so nice and warm. Today I sat in the court yard of the National Museum and read, it was sunny and hot the whole time!

I am learning the city and culture more and more. I have something in common with a majority of people living here that I never would have thought, they are foreigners too! If you come to Costa Rica you will encounter much of Central and South America too. I have learned customs and dishes from so many countries. God knows how much I love to travel and learn of other nations. He certainly placed me in a spot where I could live in one country and yet touch so many.

I have an amazing host family who are missionaries to Costa Rica from Guatemala. The Garcias; Manuel, Claudia, Michelle, Paul and Jonny have taken me in and made me apart of their family. They have been my Spanish teachers and the biggest blessing. I usually spend several days in a row at there house and love every moment. I think my favorite times with them are when we are sitting around the table laughing and joking! They eat every meal at the table together as a family. Claudia is an amazing cook and has taught me a lot.

We travel several times a week to a city called Cartago. For me the trip is only 30mintues but for them an hour. There in Cartago we started a program teaching Jesus, English and for the older women and mothers; how to read and write. We rent space in a church building, which has personality and will need some fixing up! However, I love the challenge. The church is not far from the Project area and the children are able and willing to walk to us there. Having this location so close allows us to have even more children the we have had preciously.

Right now, I teach English to multiple ages of children which is very challenging and entertaining. The kids have all learned my name quickly and I am hooked! I love it here. There are times I get discouraged or lonely or tired and even sometimes overwhelmed. I know that is part of it, but I am blessed that those feelings never last long. God takes such sweet care of me and I am closer to Him than I have ever been.

I am being stretched in many ways and always mainly in my weaknesses. God uses circumstances to remind me that I am not capable of things but in Him I become capable. He uses the foolish things to shame the wise and I learn that firsthand in my own life. I was walking back from a coffee shop I found and have fallen in love with and the thought came to me that God did not call me here because I am qualified.....i.e...... being fluent in Spanish, having a good sense of direction or knowing how to do exactly what I am doing at all times. No that would have made too much sense to us the common man! God doesn't makes sense though according to my thoughts, He does all things well according to His thoughts and ways. He chose me. It is not about what I can and can't do, it is about what He can do when one prays, "Here I am Lord, send me!"

That is the only qualification He was looking for from me.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Costa Rica-What I have learned after one month.

A few years ago, someone I respect and admire very much sent me the following verse and definition.

“You have not handed me over to the enemy but have set my feet in a spacious place.” Psalms 31:8
“I think God puts us in physical and spiritual spacious places. When I picture freedom I picture open spaces or spacious places. If through Jesus our heart can become a spacious place, who knows how much he will pour out on us.”

As I was walking home from the store the other day, this verse and description came to my mind again. It is a scary thing in some ways, to pack up your life as you know it, leave it behind and head off for the unknown. There is so much freedom in making that change that in can be overwhelming but it also forces me to be so dependent on God. I want to be wise with that freedom God has entrusted to me. I became aware of the fact that since being here, I have had grace to do things when the situation would normally have been uncomfortable or potentially dangerous. I have seen God's hand in all the little things in my life here that perhaps other people would not necessarily notice but I notice. In recalling all those instances after being here a month, it was then I realized, God placed my feet in a spacious place.

Everything that encompasses living in the city of San Jose stretches me. It is a challenge to live in a city that is bigger than what I am used to and wonder if I will ever get used to the sound of car alarms!! Spiritually I am pushed beyond anything I have ever experienced and I know this is just the beginning.

Webster's Dictionary defines the word home as; “one's place of residence ; a familiar or usual setting; in harmony with the surroundings; on familiar ground.”

While those are correct definitions/descriptions of the word, God defines it much sweeter to me. Being here I have come to understand this word to be defined as I worship God among other believers no matter the denomination, background, culture or language. Other times the reality and understanding of this word is brought to mind when I play or feed the children in Cartago. As I look at the faces across this nation, I see the heart of Jesus. In all of these instances, I am on familiar ground.

I remember praying on a plane last summer that God would show me His heart. I wanted more than anything else to know beyond the scope of what I had already known of His heart. I learn it every single day here in some form or fashion. The more I see and learn, the more I am so at home. It is not the country, even though they have done an amazing job of welcoming me! It is not having my things sitting around the apartment or the fact that I can purchase certain items at the store that are from the USA. Being on the path of God's will for my life and in the process touching His heart through the many faces of children brings me home. Only God could do that, only He could take a country you are not from, a language you barely know and a culture that is unfamiliar and make it somehow home. I don't think it gets more spacious than that :).

So to answer so many that have asked, no, I am not homesick. There are little things I miss and I miss my family in a big way!! I think the feeling of being homesick hits when I am not seeking the heart of God and His presence. David says in Psalms 27:4 “...this is what I seek; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life....” So like David, I too want the “One Thing” with all my heart and as long as I have that; God can drop me in whatever country and culture He chooses and I will be home.