Saturday, July 25, 2009

Friday July 24 - Hasta Luego

We say "hasta luego” and “si, proximo ano", what else would you say?

I did not have a handkerchief to bring to the Friday short workday and goodbye service. So I brought a hand towel....not enough. As Merlino mentioned, there was a localized flood in Puntarenas. We finished off a few remaining construction details, purchased some supply line and a toilet lid for the special project, gave away whatever clothes, gifts or personal articles we wanted to offer and then prepared for the service. We had live music, traditional dancing, prayers, thank yous, gifts, awards, and finally a multitude of hugs. We had made so many friends in a short time. We worked, played and taught together all week and it is hard to see it end. We have watched many a child grow up, friendships grow stronger and the love of God is the common thread; the fuel, the glue, or whatever metaphor fits best. As Sonia said earlier, these people are full-of-it and it shows. We will be back because the Fray Casiano church still needs our help and we have a covenant with them.

Thank you all for supporting the ministry of In The Carpenter's Footsteps.

Solo Deo Gloria


Friday, July 24, 2009

Friday July 24 - The Full Armor of God

A Nuestra Familia de Christ Presbyterian:

Ellen Hicks and I decided to do the Bible lessons for this Mission Trip on Ephesians 6:10-17 - The Full Armor of God. For months we prayed and researched material appropriate for the Fray Casiano children. We did encounter a few obstacles, especially with the "Sandals of Peace", but God kept reaffirming us about our lesson theme.

Today we concluded a week of infused, contagious enthusiasm from children (and adults) that we might think don’t have much. In reality, they have it all. These people get it. It is not about what you don’t have, it’s about being content with the blessings the Lord bestows upon us. It’s all about the love.

If I have to pinpoint the highlight of the week, there are two. Last year "Chombo", a rebellious boy, drew some inappropriate signs on my T-shirt when I passed it to be signed by the children. This year I asked him if he realized that what he did was wrong. He answered yes and I told him I thought he owed me an apology, which he didn’t do. Chombo came to all lessons, twice a day, tried to participate and did all the crafts. I kept showing him that I loved him and didn’t bring up the T-shirt issue again. By Thursday all the children had "The Full Armor of God", including Chombo. When I asked him to sign this year’s T-shirt he was surprised. I could hardly hold back the tears as I read it: "forgive me, Alfredo". He no longer goes by his nickname. Again, it’s all about the love.

These are out winners, Rodrigo and Rosangela

My second highlight was also a true blessing. On Monday morning I challenged the older children to try to memorize the daily Scripture from our Bible lessons. I had brought a special gift for the winners; one for a boy and one for a girl. Yesterday afternoon Rodrigo didn’t have any competition. He recited Ephesians 6:10-17 with few errors. It was difficult with the girls. Both Rosangela and Kimberly did an outstanding job. But there could only be one winner. They said that winning didn’t matter, that the important thing is that they were memorizing Scripture. Never mind who won; it’s all about the love.

Today, after the farewell our brothers and sisters from Fray Casiano had for us, I was trying to make a clean escape to the bus as I could no longer hold the tears. Rosangela (yes, she won) intercepted me, hugged me and crying said that no one had ever challenged her to read, memorize and enjoy Scripture the way I had. She promised to maintain her sharpened "Sword of the Spirit" with daily Bible reading. She promised to stay close to the Lord.

Glory be to God

Sonia Carbonell

Friday July 24 - Sewing News and ESL

Costa Rica Sewing News

What an exciting week to find so many women and one teenage boy eager to sew! Once the seven sewing machines were cleaned and oiled, material and sewing notions sorted, women were anxiously waiting to begin sewing projects. Indeed there were many projects constructed, from clothes to purses and chair covers for our bus. Our men constructed a couple of tables for our machines and cutting. By Thursday we could have used 10 or 12 sewing machines as ladies waited patiently for their turns. Accolades go to Martha Ann, Neasta and Kathy for their diligent support of this activity. They were truly a Godsend! Patricia, a church member has the fabric to prepare a large banner for the church. Our sewing week concluded with the women and children participating in a Fashion Show.

Seeing how eager these women were to sew for themselves, their children and each other, I met with Patty, Buddy, Tom and Pastor Carlos with Efren translating. Pastor Carlos agreed to letting the women establish a sewing circle in the church, using the sewing machines on Saturdays and the women would be encouraged to start a sewing/craft business. A $28.00 donation was made to the sewing circle to help the women get started.

Lastly, we discussed the possibility of offering ESL (English as a Second Language) classes next year and Pastor Carlos readily said he’d like to see ESL offered to adults as well as children.

Jan Conkright

Friday's Happenings

Well, there was flooding in Puntarenas today - mostly tears. It's always hard to say good-bye but we all know it's more like "Seeya' next year!"

It was a great week with good progress on the annex and renewal of friendships. We also built new friendships within In the Carpenter's Footsteps and with our Costa Rican friends.

The Russell Clan made it safely to San Jose with Senior Miguel at the helm and, God willing, we will be back in Atlanta tomorrow evening. Buenas noches!


Thursday July 23 - Ebenezer

From a bag of trash to miniature scissors to pieces of the hardest wood God ever created to beautiful pieces of handmade art - our Ebenezer

As many of you know, each night we have an hour devotional we call "Reflections." Each of the main church groups takes a night and provides a devotional to share. The youth have their own night. We also take time to reflect on the day's events and prepare for the next day. It is valuable time. On the last night, Buddy and Patty do the devotional and we build an Ebenezer. The scripture that introduces the concept of an Ebenezer is 1 Samuel 7:12-14 and it's general meaning is:

An ebenezer is a “stone of help” or a reminder of God’s real, holy presence and divine aid.

And so we built our Ebenezer. Each person brought forth an item that held special meaning to them for the week. Many brought gifts given to them by the children; others brought items from the construction site, the sewing center and from VBS. Each had a story of meaning, some were christened with sweat or tears. It was a joyous and emotional time. It also meant our week was coming to an end and our last day with our friends would be tomorrow.

Vamos con Dios


Thursday July 23 - Special Need Project (day 2)

A throne fit for a king

Today the materials were purchased to complete the roof and septic tank/toilet project. Following a description of the problem at the group reflection meeting last night, more than enough money was collected to buy the materials. We began by laying another course of cement block to prevent the rising seasonal flood waters to submerge and flood the tank. We found the water rises daily within a few feet of the house as well as flooding even higher during the rainy season.

It was good to see the husband of the house not only pitching in to help but taking charge of the bulk of the work. "Ticos" here take pride in their work, but the problem they face is a lack of funds for materials. PVC pipe was laid and a base of wood and concrete was constructed for the toilet. The finished product was "MAGNIFICO." A throne fit for a king Tears of gratitude flooded the eyes of the woman of the house. This project was very gratifying.

John Burkhalter

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Wednesday July 22 - Special Need Project (day 1)

During low tide the water is a few feet from the blue door, at high tide the water surrounding the "toilet" is about 1 foot deep.

One of the married couples that has worked very hard on the church construction and lives nearby. They live on a tidal river and they have no toilet facilities at their home. They are using only a hole in the ground behind their home. When the heavy rains come in the spring and falll, the dirt floor of their home floods from the rising tidal river and this water carries human waste into their home. Also, the tin roof has holes that allow rain to leak onto their beds and other areas of the home's interior.

Low tide, water is about 20' from the back of the house, yes water quality is an issue

Some of our team members have taken up a collection to purchase the materials to (1) complete the septic tank on the property that was started but never finished, (2) install a toilet on an elevated stand, and (3) patch the roof holes. Work on these projects began July 22.

Dick Dubose

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Wednesday July 22 - Shield of Faith

Today started off with a 20 min. bus ride to a nursery where we got 12 patic plants to put in front of the church. It looks much better but we got ate up by ants in the process. Sarah literally had ants in her pants. After planting, we came inside and got mobbed by kids in yellow hats wanting our autograph. We decided to adopt two kids. I want to adopt a 7 year old boy named Mauricio and Sarah wants to adopt a 9 year old girl named Lilibeth. –Emily

Today Efren did a presentation about the importance of sexual transmitted diseases. I took my child Lilibeth, sat her on my lap, and let her watch the presentation. Even though she is 9 years old, I figured it’s never too early for these girls to learn about sexual transmitted diseases. After he was done eith the presentation, he gave the women all my purses that I had when I was little. They were filled with hygiene products to give to the women. I suddenly got really emotional when I saw all of my purses being to good use. The youth was in charge of the reflection tonight and we decided to discuss Proverbs 22:6. I think we did a pretty good job discussing the bible verse and how it relates to what we are teaching the kids and how we are affecting their lives. -Sarah

Tuesday July 21st - Ninos y Concreto

We continue to be blessed, though admittedly sore. Another fruitful day Tuesday with many children showing up for VBS and continued progress in the annex building. Had some light rain that did nothing but cool off some sweaty heads and settled the dust.

In VBS there were 200+ kids during the day. Sonia and Ellen lead them through study that provided them the breastplate of righteousness. On Monday they received the belt of truth. These children need as much protection against temptation as they can get. Chronic unemployment and poverty provide many opportunities for the young adults to stray towards an unhealthy lifestyle. By arming the children, we hope that they hear the message and can ignore that lifestyle when the time comes to make that decision. Our youth are providing the energy necessary to handle this many kids. This is no easy chore, they are relentless in the amount of attention that they want. On Friday I am sure there will be an emotional response.

The sewing center is going great. More tables were constructed to provide space to cut patterns. On Monday, our team of ladies were teaching, on Tuesday the local women were sewing for each other. Hallelujah! Even more glorious will be the fashion show that we will have Friday morning.

On the building front, we had the front sidewalk half-poured by the time we left for the day. The walls were prepped for stucco and applying the rough coat had begun by the time we had left. They were stringing lights as we were leaving. Power was dropped into the building, and the tough business of making the concrete posts "square" has continued. It is hard work chipping away at a twisted concrete post (see below). More concrete block was also installed. The tile for the floor has been delivered and I expect we will be on our knees for the next two days. Mission has a way of doing this. Every day when we leave there are 20 people still working; every day when we arrive they are already there. We are very thankful for each other.

Sorry, I could not figure out how to turn the video 90 deg.

No one from the team has gotten hurt. We had another scaffolding collapse but the young man on it escaped injury. Some scrapes and many, many blisters. Being under roof has kept us from getting seriously toasted by the sun and the occasional breeze blows through giving us new life. I think I know what that is. It does not get any better than this. And all to the glory of God.


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Monday July 20th - Post 3 (wow)

Lunes, Julio 20:

     Although two buses transported our equipment and group from San Jose to Puntarenas, we only have one bus with us at the hotel so it shuttles two groups of us to and from Fray Casiano. It is only about a 10-15 minute trip. The Russell Clan was in the first group headed to Fray Casiano, about 8:30. There were a few kids waiting when we arrived. The first job I had was painting a bonding agent on the inside walls. We used rollers attached to poles so we could cover the walls to the ceiling. Aside from that task, the remainder of my day was spent chipping away concrete that had seeped through forms around the structural support columns in preparation for a hard coat. It was very tedious and painstaking work. I was not the only person performing this task. John Watts, Inger and Dick DuBose spent a little time to all day working on it, as did some of our local ticas y ticos.

     At one point, one of the ticas pointed to her mouth and started chewing. She had remembered that last year, I had handed out gum, so I went to the Russell bag, reached in, and did not disappoint her and her co-workers.

     Occasionally, I walked into the church. The ladies and youth had the community busy. The sewing center was set up and ladies were busy sewing. Kids were at tables working on crafts or in Bible study. There was a big group because the schools are closed due to the swine flu pandemic. So, the normal slow, daily increase in kid population came s a surprise to the group.

     …and maybe a note about dinner at the hotel. The theme was Costa Rica. Every night there is Costa Rican food but there was even more special food for us to try. The waiters and waitresses were dressed in colorful garb. Everyone chowed down before heading to Reflections, led by our Georgia folks.



Monday July 20th - Post 2

Buenas tardes!

Today was our first day at work. It was awesome seeing all of our friends from last year. Nazerath, Oshuay, Vanessa, Ruth and more. Our sewing ladies went straight to work with our brand new sewing machines. For our VBC, Mrs. Ellen and Mrs. Sonia lead the bible verses and we made our belt of truth. It was amazing to see all the kids run around in their newly-made belts. As a youth group, we decided to do some energizers. Although the kids didn’t realize they were supposed to dance too! We danced to Revolution and Funky Town. Tanner Searcy made sure everyone knew he had choreographed the Funky Town dance. In construction news, Inger fell off the scaffolding. Don’t worry though, she surfed it down, like her cousin David did last year. Hasta luego!


Eryn Russell & Corinne Watts

Monday July 20th - First Day

We are off to a good start for our 2009 Mission to Costa Rica.  Sonia Carbonell and I met with the minister’s wife, Rut, and Dunia, the coordinator for youth programs at the Church Sunday after worship.  They gave us the news.  The kids are out of school all week because of influenza.  Once Sonia and I got over the shock we began to brace ourselves for the fact that we would not have 50 children for each session – morning and afternoon like we normally do when the children are in school.  We would have all of the children all of the time!  We had prepared 200 foam crosses for the name tags and about 3 pm we had run out.  That gives you an idea of the number of children we had today for our first day.  I can only believe that God is going to see us through this.  You know how we love a challenge!  Today the lesson was on the belt of truth, because as Christians we have to start everything with a firm foundation, the truth of God’s word, or anything we build will not last.  Tomorrow we will be teaching the breastplate or righteousness – each child will get a Tshirt with “Guard your heart” scripture to decorate and keep,  I can hardly wait. Boy am I glad we brought plenty of Tshirts.



Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sunday July 19th - Worship

The Church Office and Sunday School Rooms - it has a new roof!

Hola familia:
Well, our first full day in this beautiful country, filled with beautiful and very warm people, began with morning worship at our community church in Fray Casiano. My family was in the first shuttle that left the hotel. When we arrived, it was apparent that the roof had been installed on the church annex so that was one task we would not need to complete. The windows and doors still need to be installed and Pastor Carlos would like the floors tiled so there is plenty of work to do.

Our new friends from Fray Casiano

Soon people started arriving and there were so many hugs and kisses! Even people I did not recognize greeted me with much love. I could see the excitement in Brianna’s and Eryn’s eyes as their little “buddies” arrived.

Not long after Ricardo shuttled the second half of our group to the church, morning worship began. Miss Sonia and Efren translated much of the worship for us. Unfortunately, with less than ideal acoustics and a location near a very welcome fan, along with the fact that my hearing is not as sharp as it used to be, I missed much of the service. but it didn’t matter. You could easily feel the spirit moving amongst us. Again, I was blessed to have worship with my fellow Americans, and children of God. I very much look forward to rolling up my sleeves in the morning and sweating a little. Solo Deo gloria!


Saturday, July 18, 2009

Saturday July 18th - Arrival

Hola Familia de Christ Presbyterian:

Your missionaries arrived safely in San Jose at midday today and are now in Puntarenas at the hotel. Today went very well, on the whole. We did have a late start out of Tallahassee with a mechanical malfunction that kept us at the gate for awhile. But we made it fine to Atlanta where we met up with the missionaries from the GA churches. It was good seeing the Burkhalters again. God was definitely with us today in San Jose where we were wisked through baggage checkout without having to have our bags opened. Nuestro amigo y hermano en Jesucristo, Ricardo collected us at the San Jose airport and has ferried us to Puntarenas. Costa Rica is a beautiful country.

Our group is a wonderful mix of young and um..not so young and experienced and inexperienced. Many of us have been on a Carpenters Footstep’s mission but on different trips, others this a first time experience. So with God’s help we are building a new team, with experience and energy. We have much to do in Fray Casiano. Tomorrow morning we will be heading to church there to share worship. We cannot wait to gather together with music and praise.

Continue to pray for us. More blogs will be forthcoming from Corinne, Merlin, Eryn and maybe we can find a few others.

PS: Yes, that is Efren with the Transformers backpack.


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

July 7 - Preparing for Mission

As the In The Carpenters Footsteps mission team prepares for their trip to Costa Rica, we are reminded of why we are going and what we want to leave with the people of Fray Casiano. Here is our prayer and theme for our trip.


Heavenly Father, Your warrior prepares for battle.  Today I claim victory over satan by putting on The Whole Armor of  God!

I put on the girdle of truth!  May I stand firm in the truth of Your Word so I will not be a victim of satan's lies.

I put on the breastplate of righteousness!  May it guard my heart from evil, so I will remain pure and holy, protected under the blood of Jesus Christ.

I put on the shoes of peace!  May I stand firm in the Good News of the Gospel so Your peace will shine through me and be a light to all I encounter.

I take the shield of faith!  May I be ready for satan's fiery darts of doubt, denial, and deceit so I will not be vulnerable to spiritual defeat.

I put on the helmet of salvation!  May I keep my mind focused on Your so satan will not have a stronghold on my thoughts.

I take the sword of the Spirit!  May the two-edged sword of Your word be ready in my hands so I can expose the tempting words of satan.

By faith Your warrior has put on The Whole Armor of God!

I am prepared to live this day in spiritual victory!