Monday, November 14, 2011

November is the month of change.

Well after a very long and stressful few months we are finally in our little house up on the hill. While it sometimes feels like camping in a house it is now beginning to feel like our home. We moved everything up the hill after the rainiest week of the year. Two days before the move Jeremy slid right off the driveway and through a barbed wire fence. We ended up running over two trees and ruining about 60 ft. of the neighbors fence getting the car out :-/ At the same time we found out that due to the change in climate any pine wood molded within a week. This meant tearing out all of the kitchen cabinets again to re-seal them as well as painting all of the furniture. Needless to say it was a few days of craziness.
Now that we're in (even though it's not all finished) we are really enjoying the fresh air and space that we have. We wake up at 6:00am to the birds, parrots, and the sound of the river and around 7:00am the sun finally crests the mountain to our east. It's definitely cooler as we're no longer surrounded by concrete and are about 300ft higher up the mountain. The kids are loving the outdoors, playing in the new chicken coop, and just running around in the mud. November is also the month that it stops raining and gets colder. We're looking forward to a few more dry days and getting more done on the house so it's not quite as dirty.

video The next big event in life will be the birth of "baby J." We still don't have a name for him but I'm sure it will come in the next few weeks along with the baby:) Erin is always pushing to get more done on the house to be ready for him but as we've heard from many people, "you're never really ready."
Thanks to all of you who keep up with our story. It means a lot to have you all involved in some way. Remember that facebook it the best way to keep up wit daily life!! Blessings and thanks for reading.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Just Being Real, From a Mom and Wife's Perspective : )

Well as most of you all know our family has been in process of building our house here in Costa Rica. If any of you don't know the history of this wild ride, I'll fill you in on a few details.
Almost a year ago now Jeremy and I were in a place of unrest in our home that we'd been renting (still renting through the end of Oct.). Things were breaking, leaks were appearing overnight, and we wanted badly a place
where our kids could run and be kids. After a long time of searching, literally spending hours as a family driving down roads that led to who knows where, and trying to find a place that not only met our needs, but fell into our price range, we entered a season of fasting and praying. We just couldn't get past this "thing" in front of us that was making us feel unsettled. God had proven himself faithful time and again so why not now? After a series of phone calls and meeting a family that would later become our friends through this process, we began to see God's hand move in this request of ours. Things just began to fall together and after returning back to Costa Rica after Christmas in CA, we made the decision to purchase a property and begin building. Why is it that at this point, after praying for so long for something, we begin to doubt what the Lord is doing?? We began thinking, "Is this really what we should be doing??" "Did God really answer our prayer?" We had to believe that he did indeed! So began our journey that has taken up every spare moment we've had this past year.
So here we are now. In our last 2 wks. in this rental and finishing up the things that absolutely need to be finished before we can move in. Will it be 100% done? Not even close. Will we have what we need to get by until it is. Yes. : )
After making the decision to start building and having some things planned out, we found out I was pregnant with #3. This threw a bit of a wrench into things seeing that we were planning on building a very small 2 bedroom house that would later become a rental while we planned the next phase of building on the property.
Fast forward to today. 8 wks. away from my Dec. 2 due date and can I say this year has brought some emotions I didn't plan on! Bear with me while I expose what this process has brought out in me as a wife and mother expecting another. Like I said before, every spare moment has been spent on this place. Literally every weekend, unless their was something planned that we had to go to or a few spur of the moment Saturdays at the beach because we had to take a break, we're spent working. I can say I've learned how to do a lot of things, because, well no one else was around to do them! Humor me while I list a few: the ratio for mixing concrete, how to lay concrete, how to use a spray gun, make mortar and build cinder block walls, drive 4 wheel drive vehicles (this has come in very useful), build a fire every day for our lunch, tape, apply joint compound, and sand wallboard joints. Sure it was kind of fun, I even told Jeremy one day, "I think I like this! How many girl general contractors are there, I think I could do this!" I'm sure he was just happy I wasn't complaining and just getting the job done. ; )
Besides all this, there are some other things that I've learned or was reminded of. The first thing, I have an amazing husband. I'm not sure how many times I thought or said to someone, "I couldn't do this with anyone but him." He works hard all day, is an amazing dad, and will serve me to no end if I ask him to. I learned that as a team (he and I) we were made for this sort of thing. This process, as terrible and stressful as we could've made it, has been relatively smooth. Maybe it's more our reactions when something did go wrong. Normally it was out of our control so it didn't make any sense worrying about it. The 3rd thing I realized and was reminded of is that we have great kids! Every weekend while mommy and daddy worked they ran around outside, rode bikes, played in the mud, : / and just enjoyed being outdoors and not behind bars. Sure their were meltdowns, but through all of it they have been champs. They love to help where it's needed and like knowing they're needed. We've said time and again that we hope when our kids look back on this time that they would have good memories of building the house with us.
I'd be lying if I said it hasn't been hard. If their weren't moments that I just curled up in a ball and cried my eyes out because I was so physically and emotionally exhausted and couldn't see an end in sight. This has tested my (our) faith and made us fall into His arms when we could do nothing else. At times I just wanted to be done and felt like I was dragging myself up there to work. I wanted to just relax, bake cookies, play games with my kids, instead of constantly thinking of the next thing we have to finish. Then I would be reminded of what we prayed for when searching for this property. A place our kids can be kids. A place we can enjoy each other and enjoy the breathtaking beauty around us. A place we can have friends and staff over to enjoy un-rushed time. So after this reminder I'd see the goal again and pray for strength to get through the day. God's been SO good to us and so patient with my frustrations when I can't see what's ahead.
This process has brought out the best and worst in us, but I think the most important thing to look back on is our response in those situations. I am resting, leaning, pressing into the Father to find the strength to finish the job ahead. Baby won't wait to come when it's convenient. Things won't just "get done" without us there. Life will go one one day at a time and I am so thankful we serve a God who is concerned about the end result and all these adventures and mountains we climb are to bring us to a greater understanding of Him and the great care he has for us.

Friday, August 12, 2011

A Bit of Our Summer

We have had a whirlwind of a summer. Well, it's really been your summer, our winter/rainy season here! There has been a constant flow of teams, most weekends packed with work on our house, school presentations, and mid year vacation for Ella and Judah. We always think life will slow down just around the corner, but if I could peak around the next few corners, it doesn't seem to be the case : ) Thankfully God's grace has been, is, and will be sufficient for all that life brings our way. This video is just a small glimpse of how life's been around these parts. We apparently didn't take too many photos in the last 2 months but please feel free to find us on Facebook and you'll get a better taste of the happenings around here. Many students take lots of photos while here and tag Jeremy/the wood shop in them so you can see some activities that the teams participated in. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The summer's over...

Well it's been a wild one. Full of teams, construction, rain, and some incredible surfing (one day of it at least.) Things were really moving with the teams and really in transition with the tico students. The summer was full of amazing conversations with the north american students about life and everything under the sun... Bottom line that God was continuing to point out... How can we glorify Him more through our lives? It was really made clear to me this summer as we studied first John, that it's all for His glory. We as Christians get so wrapped up in church or theology or just "what we should do" that we forget why we were created... To glorify God! To worship and fellowship with Him! A lot of times we do really well at playing church, even praying for people and doing what we're supposed to do. However, many times we forget that it's really all for God's glory! I want to Glorify God at all times. Sometimes even in my prayers to him I'm seeking to glorify myself or the church. I want to build myself a platform in the community, all good things... But God says if I lift him up and glorify Him then He'll draw men unto himself... Wow! I'm tired of trying to glorify myself and what I do. I want to glorify Him!
So I mentioned that we're in the middle of some transitions. Obviously our family is Building a house and expecting a baby... Need I say more about that?... In the shop we're transitioning to some older students and focusing more on teaching woodworking as a skill not a hobby. On the 16th of august we'll be starting the new classes but we don't know yet who will be involved. I only know one student, Alexander, who I may have mentioned before. Alex is about 34 years old and has been an addict for the last several years of his life. Since we opened the shop I've had the opportunity to build quite a relationship with him. He's a believer with an incredible knowledge of the bible but lacks the community and the self-control to stay clean. This last week he came running to me as I was leaving and told me a very sad story which almost moved me to tears.
Alex, about a week ago smoked some crack... He knew it was sin but couldn't fight off the cravings. He spent about two days hiding out because he didn't want his landlord to know that he had fallen. (The landlord is also the owner of the shop and has given Alex a room for free and just has Alex clean to repay him) For the last six months or so Alex has gone off and on to a small church down the road so as he came down off the drugs he wanted to go to the morning prayer meeting and repent. After the meeting he went forward to ask the pastor a question and the paster said, "get out of here, you're not a sheep, you're a goat!" Alex being very angry told him that if he was a true pastor he would have left the 99 to come after the one... And then he stormed out.
It's about three blocks from the church to my shop and Alex said he knew he just had to get to me. He had ¢600 colones in his pocket ($1.20) and as he passed his drug dealer he knew he could buy one rock to smoke for ¢500 but he stayed strong. Just as I was leaving he came up to the gate and told me what had happened. I spent about forty minutes with him telling him that God hadn't forgotten him and that the pastors words were not godly at all. He felt better after listening to the scripture that I could ramble off from memory and knew that what was done to him was not of God...
As I drove away I was thinking, "our churches don't always glorify God!" Obvious, I know. But in that moment I realized that a lot of times even in the midst of prayer meetings and Church fellowship... In preaching and teaching even in our giving, we're glorifying the organization of the church more than God... Is God glorified when I give to the church cause i have to? or if it's an obligation? NO!! He's glorified when my heart is to give of whatever I have to love others because He loves them too. Is God glorified when someone is healed? Sometimes it's the place that's glorified... It's a "hot spot of the healing"... Why does God take back seat? Is God glorified in our meetings when the message is to "do" more for him? I He glorified when we bring people in and get them to attend regularly? All of these things are good but it's our hearts that will glorify God through the acts... If we aren't glorifying Him it's just another philanthropist organization. We are set apart from just good deeds by the glory that is given to God. Religion that God our father accepts as pure and faultless is this; to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. It's not just Charity work. It's giving the glory to God... If we take the credit for the first part we've been polluted by the pride of the world. It's when we seek to glorify God in it that people can see Him through us.
So anyways, I'm committed to walk with Alexander for the next season. I'm committed to seeing God be glorified by how I live and how we walk together. Sorry I went so long on that. It's really something that God is pounding in me right now.
One last thing, and it's kinda funny coming after all that I said before. We are really needing to raise our support level to continue on here. We have never been over 85% funded since we came and have been losing some support over the last few months. I want to be really bold and ask you all to consider helping us to glorify God here by giving financially. It's obviously not an obligation and I know that times are hard but we are looking for God to come through for us financially. We have 350 emails that we send letters out to every so often... If each one would commit to give from an average of $1o a month we would be fully funded. Maybe all you can give is $5 a month. Well if there are 10 people in the same boat that's significant for us! We are needing to see God come through for us in a big way here really soon and I pray that you might be part of his provision for us. Above all else Glorify God!! Whether in giving or prayer let your heart seek his glory over everything else.
Blessings on you all,
Jeremy for Erin, Ella, Judah, and Baby J.

P.S. Id you want to talk about the financials email me or leave a comment on this post. We're an open book and wont be offended by any questions :)

Monday, July 11, 2011

really quick

So just a quick post because we haven't been very consistent this year. We're still pluggin' along at the house. The celling is in and almost done, the bathroom is close, the doors and windows are on and it looks like our move in date will be the end of August... Hopefully. The kids are doing great! Ella and Judah continue to surprise us with their spanish and are doing great in school. Erin is now 5 months along with our 2nd boy, baby J for now. I'm burning the candle at both ends in full swing at the shop with students from the US and also working on the house as much as is humanly possible. We keep saying it's just a season... Oh Lord I hope so! One thing is for sure, God is great in the midst of it all. He never fails us even when we totally forget about him. He is all that's keeping me going.
So I'll leave you with some photos of my guys in class C. They just finished their medicine cabinets and seem SUPER excited! It's really great to be able to send them home with something that they can really be proud of. This week they start the same project but in reverse. (they're starting with the door to practice their measurements) Should be fun! Be praying with us as we're looking to make a simi-major change at the shop and start 1 or 2 more classes like class C with some older guys from Los Guido. A few of them have been in prison and have no options left so what we offer could really make a huge impact in their life. Please pray with me for safety and wisdom as we dive in to this newish project.
Here's the pictures of the guys as promised... Blessings and thanks for reading.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Is one worth it?

So it's been a little over a year since we opened the shop. We've had around 80 kids come through and have had to change things a few times to accommodate them... It looks like we're gearing up for another change here in August. The fact is that the younger kids are losing interest. I have a few kids that keep coming but the days of 45 kids lining up to get in are long gone. The local school has started a soccer team, there's a pastor who's hosting games and giving out candy (the games I can compete with but the candy sends him over the top:)) My class B all went to high school and now have no time to come... It seems like we're in need of a change.
Well before I tell you about the changes I'll tell you about the good things that are happening! My class C, the apprenticeship program, is going really well! I have four guys that are fairly consistent and have learned all of the machines in the shop. We spent approximately 2 hours per machine in the classroom learning about safety and how the machine works and then another hour of hands on "heavily supervised" practice. The guys are all pretty confident with the machines and are actually learning a good skill. Their first "solo project" was actually a test. They were required to go to there house and find a spot to put a medicine cabinet. They had to measure it and then do a 3d drawing to scale before actually building it... It's been almost a three weeks and one of my guys (Daniel) has actually finished. :) They're all turning out pretty good they're just behind because they got suspended for lying. :( Now they're back and at it again! Sorry I don't have pictures... There might be some on my facebook page.
Another thing that has happened is that we have met a bunch of guys who hang out next to the tutoring center and they can't get work. Some of them have been in jail, others can't get experience. The idea we're tossing around now is to expand our apprenticeship program with these guys and cut back the class for the younger kids. It's another change but I think it's for the best. I'm actually pretty excited about the change. While the younger class is beneficial I think it's more like a place to hang out... With these older guys and my class C it's an opportunity to really impact their lives by giving them a safe place to learn and real life skills that they can hopefully use in the future. Be praying with me as I start to write up a program that will be sufficient to teach them all that I can and also for a way to build relationships with them and eventually share Jesus with them openly.
Oh! One more development is that we are starting the accreditation process for the program as well. There is a government run Tech school that may be able to validate our program so the guys leave with an actual certificate that's backed by the government!! Pray with us for this opportunity as well because it is really amazing that it could even be possible!!!
In other news We now have 2 pinball tables in the shop! One was created by 2 students from the San Francisco area in Ca (pictured below) And the other has been a collaboration of many people who have come through the shop this last few weeks.
The other event just happened today! We had a guy come to our gate and needed a door trimmed... I usually don't do any work for the people of the community because it's just a gray area with the money, where does it go, we're a school not a business etc... However, today only Daniel could come and I thought, "poor guy, he can't cut his door cause he doesn't have the tools, I can't do it... but... Daniel could!" So I had Daniel talk to the guy and explained to him what could happen trimming a hollow door. The guy said if he ruined it he wouldn't make us buy him a new one and so I said ok! It was a great time where I got to teach Daniel not only how to cut a door but (which he hasn't done) but also how to come up with a fee and how to value his work and how to make sure your customer is happy. We cut the door together and I walked him through it step by step... Then we charged they guy ¢4000 colones ($8). It was great to see the wheels in Daniels head start turning... He just made almost half a days wages for 20 min of work! (min wage is $1.50) so here he is below with his door, nice and cut, waiting for the guy to come back and get it. For me it was great to see how we can be a service to the community with what we do and help the kids that we work with at the same time. Lets pray for more of that.

So if it was all just for Daniel would it be worth it? I think so!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Big developments make for a really busy life!

Well it's been a while since we've updated anyone with any information. Needless to say we've been super busy with life here. Sorry that it's been so long since we've updated you all but I hope you'll understand here in a second.
After we came back from our Christmas vacation in California we got right to work. The first week back we hosted a small team of men from Visalia who came to help us get the tutoring center remolded. The trip was great and everything turned out wonderfully. Next I helped Dustin move the Photo site into the shop. We made my storage space into a classroom and made a small hall type space into a darkroom. Now we have two sites right next to each other and things are going great.Feb was the beginning of school for Ella and Judah and I started classes again at the shop. It's been a little slow but we're getting back in the groove. Also Judah turned 4 on the 13th!! had a lot of fun at his Batman party. The week after that we hosted the women's trip which was also a ton of fun.
So now for the big news and probably the thing that's taking most of the time. This last year Erin and I started to feel very restless in our house that we're renting. After having someone break in, other things get stolen through the gate, and a TON of things breaking we started asking God for somewhere new. I started a fast and began believing God for a place of our own. Every day I'd look online for houses to rent or buy and I'd try to take new roads home every afternoon in order to find something... and then we did!! I sent an email to a lady about a large plot of land up in the hills about 10 minutes from our current house because the price of the land was about 1/4 the price of anything I'd seen. She didn't get back to me so I called her. It was probably about the fifth time that I left a message that she actually called me back to tell me that she'd sold the land... But her sister had one right next to it and she wanted to sell too! It was just days before we left for Christmas that I went up and walked through it with the owner... It was pure Jungle on a 45 degree slope... Not really what we wanted but we were willing to think about it. While walking around on the lot the owner (Ricardo) kept offering me fruit and I kept telling him no... He finally asked me why I wouldn't eat and so I told him I was fasting and praying for a new place to live... It turns out that they are Christian also and really wanted to help us out!
So now, in order to save time... cause I know most people don't want all the details, I'll summarize it all for you. They had a different lot and wanted $40 per square meter... Not happening. He said they'd give us a deal... Through an email while we were in Ca he said $13 per mtr!!! We said OK!! We asked some supporters for a loan and they said yes!! We agreed but then found out they meant 13,000 colones ($26).... No go.... They lowered it to $20 and we said yes again...
So we are now in the process of buying a plot of land that is about 11,000 sq ft. We have some great new Christian friends who will be our neighbors. We live outside the city in the mountains.We have sloths and toucans on our property. We will save over $100 a month paying a loan rather than rent and we'll have something to show for it in the end. We started building the house yesterday and the walls and floor should be done by Saturday. We now have another story to tell about Gods faithfulness and how he answers prayer...
So there you go. That's about as short as I could make it. I work everyday till 4 and then go up to the lot and work... Erin is still being mom but now without my help. She's already packing boxes getting things ready to store. Oh yeah... the house is only going to be 625sq ft... So we
have to store a lot of stuff away until phase 2... We'll let you know about that later. So it doesn't really suffice to say we're really busy! Please pray for us. We are trying to get all of this done without having to take time off so that the shop doesn't suffer. Also starting tomorrow I will be camping out up there to make sure that no one steals anything. Pray for our stress levels and that God will continue to show his provision through this process. Pray also that everything goes smoothly so that we can finish before the rain hits... If the rain comes we may have to wait until november to finish:( Thank you all so much! We appreciate your support, both financially and in prayer. Know that you are one of the ways that God is able to bless us and the people we work with here. Blessings,
Jeremy for Erin, Ella, and Judah