Feb 09 2009

full circle

Published by under Post-Trip

This past week was Global Impact Celebration (GIC) week at UUMC. This is a showcase and promotion of all UUMC-sponsored missionaries from all over the globe. They have invited many guest speakers for several occasions throughout the week. Ray Zierkel and his family are the official representatives from Costa Rica, but our mission team felt called on our own to bring El Centro Evangelical Methodist Church’s own Pastor Edgar and his wife Norma to San Antonio to be a part of the celebration.

We set up several opportunities for members of the team to introduce Pastor Edgar to other communities at UUMC. The first (that I know of) was a dinner at the church where 4 missionaries talked about their call to mission work and the plan that God has laid out in front of them. We organized ourselves to sit at, or around a table with Pastor Edgar and his wife so that we could re-introduce ourselves to him.

I was actually kind of nervous to meet him… almost like meeting a celebrity or pubic figure. I just couldn’t believe he was here in the States and actually here at UUMC! That experience in my life felt so far removed from my actual life that it now feels like a story… a great story. And I had never thought of it like that until one of the main characters of that story was making an appearance in my reality. The story was coming full circle.

On Sunday, Kandy and Carrie setup their Sunday school classes for Pastor Edgar to come and visit. (I would love for those that were there for either of these to comment below to let us know how those went.) For the entire team, along with Pastor Edgar and Norma, we arranged lunch on Sunday as an informal reunion and a chance to share our pictures and stories (and try to remember our Spanish). I was excited to introduce them to my wife and our first-born on the way. We got some group pictures and had a good time.

I was very impressed with the members of our team and the support of the church to coordinate Pastor Edgar and his wife to come visit. It solidified our connection to Pastor Edgar and the community of Los Guidos, and I do not doubt that we will be back to Costa Rica in some capacity as missionaries, but no longer as a bunch of first-timers.

-RB

One response so far

Aug 11 2008

clarity

Published by under Post-Trip

This is the first blog I’ve ever done. The idea has always intrigued me, but I’ve never had a consistent topic that I felt I could write about over an extended period of time. I read professional blogs every day and most of them center around the technology industry, but none of them are personal or creative.

My intent for this blog was to map my personal journey from the initiation to the follow-through of my first mission trip. I wanted to be as honest as detailed as possible and I hope that you, as the readers, were able to grasp the situations as I experienced them.

The popularity of this blog and the response we received was truly mind-boggling. Once I sent the link to Adam on the day of our last pre-trip meeting, he took it an ran with it. He publicized it to the group as a noteworthy item and I obliged by sending it to them. I figured they were going through the same kind of stuff I was going through, or not at all, and they would get to know me a little better as well. What ensued from there was nothing less than wildfire. The team members each sent it out to their family members as a way for them to keep up with the group and what we were doing during the week. Almost immediately I started getting comments from family members with prayers and well-wishes directed towards the entire team! The blog was starting to develop a community!

Once we got to Costa Rica, the blog has already become a hot topic. The buzz was starting. It was then that I knew this was quickly going to become bigger than me or any of us. This blog had brought all of us together to communicate our experiences, and in the midst of our outreach in Costa Rica, we were creating another form of outreach for the readers at home.

The climax of the week for me was learning that Pastor Ryan had sent an email out to the entire UUMC email list!! That’s a potential of several thousand more readers to learn about our mission and what we were doing in Costa Rica — amazing. Not long after this, we were getting comments from total strangers that believed in what we were doing and had even made the decision to go on their OWN first mission trip after reading our story. That sent chills down my back. I truly felt that God was working through my writing. The team was invigorated at the news and you could feel the excitement rejuvenate everyone.

What I will take away from this mission trip has nothing to do with the mission itself. As we learned in our preliminary classes, in our first mission trip we would be learning so much more than we would be teaching. What I learned was that my love for writing has laid dormant for way too long. I am a programmer by trade, so the only writing I’ve had to do is boring technical documentation along with detailed emails — not exactly what you would call “creative writing”.

I’ve never had more clarity in my life that writing is my spiritual gift. It brings me joy to communicate exactly they way I experience the world, and God can use my joy and my gift to reach out to His kingdom. That kind of clarity can bring a man to tears.

In His Name,

-RB

Leave a comment

Aug 10 2008

the cut list

Published by under Post-Trip

As I mentioned, it became a game to name the next blog post from a funny saying or memorablt even from that day. Among the popular ones that stuck throughout the week, “Queso de Puff” was by and far the greatest. You may even see these show up as a sidedish at the BBQ we have at Adam’s house someday!!

There were a few that never materialized on the blog for one reason or another. I’m posting them more or less for our team’s benefit so they can enjoy the great memories that go along with them.

Here they are:
– “Things are a little different here.”
– “I have REALLY LARGE colones!”

Team,
Do you remember any more? Please post them in the comments below.

————

Now for something totally unrelated…

I was awarded the title of “Manly-est Facial Hair“. (Adam started with a goatee, so that part didn’t count.) It really didn’t bother me until we got back to the Houston heat and humidity… man, did it itch!! Matt was in the running with Adam and I, but he opted to shave before the trip home. Adam and I wanted to kiss our wives with our manly-ness when we got home… they didn’t like it that much.

Leave a comment

Aug 09 2008

they tried to keep me

Published by under In Costa Rica

Yesterday was a LONG day. I haven’t had the opportunity too often to start the day in one country and end it in another. I guess that is part of the intrigue of travel.

We had a late breakfast for once. The cooks, Sonia and Rosa, had been getting up extra early to accommodate our schedule and have breakfast around 7am every morning… I know they appreciated the extra hour of sleep as well.

As for me, I was feeling much better after all the rest I got and the care that Sonia had offered me. I had missed out on all the fun stuff that the team did, but I tried not to think about it. It killed me to make the decision to stay behind for the beach and zip line tour, but there was no reason to put my self in a position to make my condition even worse. I biggest worry was being bored and getting cabin fever while everyone was gone, but I got plenty of rest and the day seemed to go by fast enough.

After breakfast, the team ventured out into the town to do some last minute shopping. There was a mercado setup in the park near the church. The spotlight was on the chainsaw carving artist and their work. They had been set up for a few days and most were almost done. There was a band under the pavilion and several booths with jewelry and various handmade crafts. (I bought Julie a necklace and bracelet to score brownie points back home.)

We left for the airport about 10am to catch a 12:45pm flight. Part of Charlie’s service as a host to his groups is to escort the teams to the airport, get them squared away with the proper documentation for customs, and to pay the exit tariff that is required for anyone leaving the country. Charlie pays the tariff (US $26) directly to the agent at the counter for each of us and sends us on our way. He really is an excellent host to any group coming to Costa Rica, right down to these very details.

The lines were not long at all. We had a good hour to kill after we got through to our gate. I did some more shopping and we hung out at the gat until the plane started to board. That’s when the fun started…

I got into line and I was called on the intercom to come to the boarding counter. They wanted to see my receipt for the exit tariff… remember Charlie paid this for us… we never GOT receipts!! What ensued was a bit of confusion on my part and the employee insisting to see my receipt or pay $26. Most of the team had already boarded, so I felt a bit of panic set in. Carrie, however, was just ahead of me and she came back to help validate my story. Still, there was no getting around it… the plane was boarding and they wanted to see a receipt. I emptied my wallet of the last $20 I had and Carrie bailed me out with the remainder. I had to wait for them to take my passport and money to the immigration office to process the exit tariff, so I waited there at the counter. Meanwhile, they had made the final boarding call for the plane and I opted to wait there to get my passport instead of trusting them to bring it to me on the plane like they offered. Adam and I had a few conspiracy theories about the whole thing, like the fact that we could not have gotten as far as we did through the airport had we not paid that exit tariff. Nonetheless, I was the very last person to board the plane and made my way back to my window seat next to Dane and Kandy.

When we got to the States, the lines were very short. All-in-all, this has been the easiest trip through customs each way. But then… the customs lady I went to asked to see the wood gifts I had claimed on my customs form, and then questioned the bulap sack I recieved from the gift shop… Do I Have A Sign On My Forehead???

Adam says there is always ONE person on mission tirp that gets all the drama… I was THAT guy. Getting sick, missing the fun day, exit tariffs, customs drama… some of them are certainly miniscule, but the collection of them certainly make for a good story. ūüôā

We said goodbye to Matt and Marlene as well as Dane and Kandy. They were each going their separate ways in Houston to visit with family before heading home. That left 8 of us for the mini-bus ride back to SA.

We arrived just before 11pm at the UUMC parking lot. Our respective family and friends were there to meet us and the group quickly dispersed.  Of course we all hugged and said goodbye, but home was even closer so there was no time to mingle.

Home Sweet Home.

-RB

p.s. – there is still more to come on this blog. I intend to update it later with my reflection on the trip and then minor updates as the group comes together again soon to share photos and recount our experiences. Stay tuned…

Leave a comment

Aug 08 2008

to all of our faithful readers

Published by under In Costa Rica

I just wanted all of you to know that we are safe and back in the USA. There’s certainly enough material from the trip back to warrant its own post, but I’ll be honest… I’m only a few feet from my own bed and it’s looking better than ever.

I’ll make a point to let all of you know how the remainder of our trip went (as well as the post-trip reflection), so please stay tuned. Until then know that your readership and responses to this blog was a constant source of motivation to the group, so we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

-RB

One response so far

Aug 08 2008

the valley of the shadow

Published by under In Costa Rica

We have not yet posted about the second activity we did on Wednesday.¬† This is in large part because it has taken a while to process and be ready to post about it.¬† On Thursday afternoon, after lunch we did not return to CAI for more “efficiency in motion”.¬† Rather, we went over to an orphanage that has been around in Costa Rica for over 100 years, Vista Del Mar.¬† When it was founded it was an orphanage in the traditional sense, a place for children with no families for whatever reason.¬† Now, it is mainly a place for abused and neglected children that the Costa Rican government has removed from families.

When we arrived we toured around the facility with Charlie and he told us about the ministry of the orphanage and what his work teams have done out there.¬† He only shared a couple of the stories of how the children ended up there.¬† He told us that he has learned to stop asking why children end up there, he says that if he knew them all he would not be able to sleep at night.¬† After hearing the one story¬†that he did share I’m glad he stopped there.¬† After seeing the whole facility we split up and went into two of the houses to meet some of the younger kids and play for a little while.¬† This was a joyous experience and a heart breaking experience all at once.

I was playing with an 11 month old boy named Darien.¬† He was fascinated with my hat and loved to walk around (actually waddle around) while holding my hand for balance.¬† As someone who is preparing for his first son to be born this December I just kept looking at this precious little boy asking myself, “How could anyone ever treat you poorly?¬† How could anyone not love you with their whole heart or actually want to hurt you?”¬† These were questions that had no answer, and yet I found them constantly in my head.¬† Even now it is hard to even think about.¬† This was the experience for all of our people as we played with these children and tried to love them the best way we knew how for the time we had with them.¬† Jesus said, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them.”¬† I hope and pray that they found some measure of Jesus-like-joy while we were there.

Just before we left the grounds of the orphanage we turned back toward it, each stretched a hand and prayed a blessing over that place.¬† That though it is a place of sadness and despair, truly a place in the valley of the shadow, that God would rain down his redemption on the lives of each and every child in that place.¬† At the end of Genesis after Joseph has endured so many trials and evils at the hands of others, God has redeemed it all and used Joseph in a mighty way.¬† The way Joseph describes it is, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”¬† May it be for these children as well.

Adam

One response so far

Aug 07 2008

that’s who university is

Published by under In Costa Rica

I have found the jobs we have done this week to be interesting given who we are.¬† Though I was very specific in requesting and planning the TYPES of experiences I wanted this group to have (construction, evangelism, and missions/cultural education) I did not specify the places or populations of people that we would minister to.¬† So, we ended up working and learning from a church that emphasizes ministry to children and families, and a school specifically for children with special needs (cerebral palsey) I thought, “Well of course, because that’s who University Church is, that’s what we do.”¬† It has been an incredible blessing for us to work in the places that we have worked because it truly fits hand in glove with who we are at University Church.

I know there are lots of folks out there reading this blog while we are gone and we are all very excited about that.  We hope that you are able to catch a glimpse of some of what God is doing through some amazing people here in Costa Rica; and when we return home we will make it a priority to give witness to all that God has done through us and perhaps more importantly in us.  On a personal note, to all of you reading this who are not a part of the University family I would like to say thank you as well.  If you have any questions about why we are doing this, or you want to know more about this community of faith called University United Methodist Church I would love for you to contact me (adam@uchurch.tv).  This trip exemplifies who we are at The U, a group of people under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, seeking to know Him more and make Him known.  If you want to know more about that kind of life with Jesus I hope you will get a hold of me, and if you are trying to walk this road of faith on your own, I hope you will consider joining with our faith community on this journey with Jesus.

Keep¬†checking in and keep praying,¬†we ain’t home yet!¬† And thanks again to all of you for your prayers and support.¬† Gloria a Dios!!!

Adam

P.S. Below is a new commercial about “The U” that will be airing in SA during the month of August on several cable stations.¬† Keep you eyes open for it.

Leave a comment

Aug 07 2008

in the zip zone

Published by under In Costa Rica

Today was our fun day.¬† After 4 1/2 days of tough physical, spiritual, mental, and emotional work we were ready to go have some fun that didn’t involve concrete.¬† Unfortunately the tropical depression that moved in over the country had other ideas.¬† So, instead of heading into the mountains for hiking, sightseeing (waterfalls and volcanoes) we raced the storm to the pacific side of the country to try and some time with the sun.¬† We did beat the storm and ended up having a great day on the beach and doing a zip line canopy tour through the trees.¬† The canopy tour was awesome and a great little adrenaline rush for most of us.¬† For others it was simply¬†a boost in their prayer life.¬† Either way, we all made it through safely and had a lot of fun cheering each other on as we zipped through the trees in the “zip zone” as we called it.

The drive to the other side of the Costa Rica took about 2 1/2 hours and it was up and down mountain roads with some of the most amazing views you can possible imagine.¬† It was a fantastic opportunity to marvel at some of God’s handiwork.¬† We had a lot of fun, and as I mentioned before it was a much needed day for rejuvenation.

Adam

P.S. I feel that I need to let you know that the hidden picture attached to the link on “the colors are all the same” was taken while I was asleep and thus, was not a sanctioned picture.¬† This was the handiwork of my dear friend Randy Baldwin, and I want my fellow Red Raiders out there to know the truth.

Leave a comment

Aug 07 2008

soy enfermo

Published by under In Costa Rica

Apparently it’s not uncommon to get sick on a mission trip. Julie and Pastor Ryan each got sick in Rwanda. In each case they were much more sick than they had ever been back home. As for me, I wouldn’t say that I am more sick than I have EVER been, but this IS the first time I’ve been sick in YEARS… it just doesn’t happen to me that often.

It hit me yesterday afternoon when we got back to the church for lunch after working at CAI. My whole body just feels like it has been stretched too the limit and it was telling me to slow down. I opted to stay in the dorms that afternoon while the team went shopping and to visit an orphanage that Charlie is heavily involved in. I haven’t been sleeping that well, so it was a great time to catch up on some sleep — and that I did.

The team and the staff here at the church have been overly supportive and helpful. Sonia, one of the cooks here, made me some soup and hot tea (she doesn’t speak any English, so communication with her has forced me to practice my Spanish). Deb and Ray went to the pharmacy around the corner and got me some cough drops, chloroseptic for my throat, and some pills that the pharmacist recommended.

I thank everyone for their care and support. I’m already doing better. Home is going to be so much sweeter now.

-RB

p.s. – I’m going to defer to Adam for the updates on the events and stories that I missed out on…. stayed tuned.

Leave a comment

Aug 07 2008

efficiency in motion

Published by under In Costa Rica

Visa¬ģ has a series of commercials that show a retail setting and people checking out by using their credit cards. When they pan out, the scene is much like clockwork… lots of moving parts in sequence and all dependent on one another. Any change in the sequence throws off the entire operation — such as using cash in the case of the commercials.

Our second service project was more concrete work at CAI, a school for children with cerebral palsy. They are adding some rooms to the school, and we were there to mix concrete and pour it into the forms they had created for the cinder block frame. We learned how to mix raw materials manually to create concrete when we were in Los Guidos. Here we were provided a mixer — that certainly would have been nice a day ago!

Once we learned the mixture proportions and the process, we were in business. Our foreman was Wilbur, a native Costa Rican that has worked for Charlie about 2 years. Wilbur knew about as much English as we knew Spanish, so Adam had a good conversation with him on the way to the work site.

In the midst of the work, I stepped back an looked at what reminded me of those Visa¬ģ commercials… efficiency in motion. Twelve people all doing something that the next person depended on. True teamwork.

-RB

Leave a comment

Next »