A God Who Still Multiplies

The week before Christmas I had the privilege of leading a mission trip to San Martin, Costa Rica with a group of 13 individuals to put on a Christmas Outreach to an estimated 1,000 children.  This was a little intimidating for me because the team had never met (except for those who traveled with a loved one).  I was nervous that the team wouldn’t be unified, someone might get left out, etc…

That week we worked with Pastor Warner who has a church of about 80 children that he has fed every Sunday for the past eight years.  He also is one of our Praying Pelican Missions staff members and does the transportation for all of our trips.  Pastor Warner is an amazing man who truly loves Jesus with all of his heart.  His vision for the children of San Martin is huge and God is using him in powerful ways.

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Pastor Warner telling the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000

For our morning staff meeting, Pastor Warner told us that we have a small problem.  He had ordered tons of food for the party on Wednesday, but there was mixup with the hot dog buns.  The 2,400 would not be ready on Wednesday, but on Friday….2 days late!  Pastor Warner was told that it would be “impossible” to get them by Wednesday, but they would try.  We immediately prayed!

Pastor Warner encouraged the team the first morning with the story from Matthew 14 about Jesus multiplying the bread and fish.  We then called the team to pray for a miracle!  We needed bread, a lot of it, in the form of hot dog buns!

Not only did we need hot dog buns, we had no candy, were lacking funds for the party, and our team wasn’t organized at all.  On top of that, a Pastor and some of her congregation were coming from San Jose to help us.  Talk about a language barrier!  How would all of this work?

Something I saw for myself firsthand is the power of God to multiply things!  And it all came down to the final hours, in God’s perfect time.

God multiplied our talents and abilities.  We had to make tons of balloons animals, paint faces, apply temporary tattoos, cook 2,200 hot dogs, as well as make a couple thousand bags of water and tea to pass out.

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Candy sorting and bagging, definitely not enough for 1,350 people!

God multiplied candy.  Literally.  You may be skeptical, and I may have been too if I wasn’t the one who counted the candy bags.  We started with zero bags of candy, we had none to give.  We received a phone call saying to come to a candy shop and get $250 worth of candy!  I was “like a kid in a candy shop” gathering candy as quickly as possible and drooling over it all.  It truly was a miracle.  We went back to the house to put them in little bags.  When it was all packaged up we had 666 bags of candy, so we ate one bringing the total to 665.  That sounds like a lot, but last year they had 800 children, and we knew we needed over 1,000 bags.  One more donation of money came in so we bought some more candy, but it only made about 100 more bags, 765 in total.  It was all we had.

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1,350 people ready for hotdogs, tea, water and candy bags!

The next day 1,350 people showed up!  Did you read that too quickly? 1,350!  And I tell you in complete honesty that we passed out candy bag after candy bag to everyone at the party.  We gave many kids multiple bags even though we could see the candy bags weighing down their pockets already.  You may ask why would God multiply candy since it’s not good for you?  HE LOVES HIS CHILDREN!  If his child asks for a piece of bread, would he give him a rock?  No way!

God supplied 2,200 hot dog buns…ON TIME!  Remember we were told it would be impossible to get them by Wednesday.  Yet, what is impossible with man is possible with God!  When Pastor Warner came to breakfast Wednesday morning he said “we have 2,200 hot dog buns!” and we all joined in his crazy excitement!

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Pastor Warner sorting the 2,200 hot dog buns to get ready for the crowd!

Rewind the story though, did I have doubts???  YES!  I was tempted to go out Tuesday night and buy every piece of bread in Nicoya but something inside me kept saying to hold on to faith!  I’m so glad I didn’t get in God’s way!

All this to say, God is not done multiplying!  He takes the little that we have to offer and He mutliplies it to glorify His Son, Jesus!  In one week I saw Pastor Warner and the amazing team offer the little that they had and God blessed it to bless 1,350 of His children!  Many hands went up to put their faith in Jesus as Pastor Warner preached to the large crowd!  There is no better Christmas present than Salvation!

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Pastor Warner preaching to the crowd!

 

An Adopted Chick

We have two different types of chickens.  I don’t know what they are called, all I know is that they both produce eggs. One is big, the other is small.  One makes little white eggs, the other makes large brown eggs.

Screen Shot 2015-12-07 at 10.57.44 AMOur little hen named Shell (after Grandma Shelley Norman) has been a great mommy and loves to sit on her eggs and protect her baby chicks.

Shell already hatched one clutch of eggs and was on to her second.  This clutch was much larger than the first.  She started sitting on 9 eggs.  In the meantime, a large hen laid 2 more large brown eggs in the same nest.  Shell took them in and accepted them.

Screen Shot 2015-12-07 at 10.57.36 AM21 days later Shell hatched 9 chicks, and one was from a large brown egg.   From the start, this chick looked different.  We explained to the kids that this chick had a different mother, but Shell adopted it.  Immediately the kids named it ET (abbreviated for Ethiopia).

ET had a rough start.  The other chicks would run around with Shell, and ET just could not keep up with the other chicks.  He was bigger, fatter and had little wobbly legs.  In order to keep him alive, we locked up Shell and the chicks so that he could have a few days to get his act together and gain some strength.

Screen Shot 2015-12-07 at 10.58.11 AM.pngAfter another day, he seemed faster and was able to run around.  Although we often found him sitting down resting while the little chicks ran around.

Within a few days, Shell found someone else’s eggs to sit on and she left the chicks to themselves at night.  The little chicks began to try to jump up to her high nest, but could not reach the top nest, just the low nest. Chubby ET could not even get to the nest.  He could not make the short jump.  Abbi found him and began to cry that he didn’t have anyone to cuddle with. So we made him a little step and then we was able to rejoin the others.

Screen Shot 2015-12-07 at 10.55.41 AMA few more days pass and we find that the little chicks are now flying up higher and can cuddle back in with Shell in the high nest.  Except, of course, chubby little ET.  I started to think about poor ET’s life and how he has already drawn the short stick in life.  My new nightly routine is to go out when it’s dark and pick up little ET and put him back in his nest with his adopted family.

A few nights ago as I lifted up ET and took a moment to hold him, I was reminded of the amazing way that God adopted each of us.  I’m so thankful that God took us in by the precious blood of His Son, Jesus Christ.  He lifted us up when we didn’t deserve it.  He brought us into His family.  He accepted us as His own children, even when we were not faithful to Him.

Screen Shot 2015-12-07 at 10.56.04 AMWe have a Father that wants to lavish His love on us, He protects and provides.  He lifts us up when we are feeling insecure or lonely.  He’s a good Father.  This Christmas season I’m thankful for a God who would send His Son to gain us into His family.

 

 

 

 

5 Month Video & Prayer Requests

We have now been in Costa Rica for 5 months!  Each day we are here is a day to celebrate.  The missionary life is not easy, but we know that it is worth it.  This video sums up our last 5 months in Costa Rica!

PRAYER REQUESTS:

  1. Staff Training Retreat.  This Friday-Saturday (November 13-14) we will be taking 3 old staff and 3 new staff to our first ever staff training retreat.  Please pray that this time would be fruitful and beneficial as we prepare for a record-setting number of short-term missionaries coming in 2016!
  2. Visiting Pastors.  Sunday-Wednesday (November 15-18) we will be visiting about 7 different local pastors and churches on the other side of Costa Rica.  This will entail a lot of driving, so please pray for traveling mercies.  Pray that we can encourage the pastors and collect the right information to be able to help each of these churches by bringing in a short-term missions team.
  3. Our Van.  We have had continued problems with our van, even after having the same problem fixed repeatedly.  Pray that God would sustain and keep our van reliable!

Thank you so much for taking the time to watch the video, read this email, and lift our requests before the One who holds it all together!

Listening Through the “Noise”

It is rainy season here in Liberia, Costa Rica.  That means that nearly every afternoon there will be rain.  Let me describe our house to you.  We have a tin roof with wood beams to support it, and then a very thin ceiling.  Our rains here are not little, they are overwhelming.  So much so that last week I experienced the loudest thunderstorm of my life.  We were even outside digging trenches to divert the flood waters from coming in the house (as well as saving our rabbit from being swept away!)

When it’s raining here, you can’t hear anything!  Imagine tin roof, concrete walls, old terracotta floors (no carpet).  It is LOUD!  It is nearly impossible to watch TV during the rain because the TV doesn’t get loud enough to cover up the noise of the rain.

It’s here that I found a teachable moment in my own life.  Many times we get overwhelmed with life, activities, family, personal things, and even ministry.  It seems like a crescendo of noise growing louder and louder.  We think that we can just turn up the good “noise” louder than the bad “noise” and it will override the bad.  In reality, it just gets more overwhelming than before.

Then the lightning flashes, the thunder shakes the house, the rain pounds and BOOM…the electricity goes out.  The wifi router is fried.  The fans silence.  The music stops.  The only noise is the rain hitting the house and the waterfall effect of rushing water off the house hitting the concrete driveway.

The rain stops and you try to go to bed.  But now, it’s too quiet!  (Laura has trained the entire family to sleep with a fan on for “noise”).

It seems that I can’t be content.  Navigating through a new culture, language, life-style brings a lot of “noise,” but where is God in it all?  At times He is in the noise calling for us to come out and separate ourselves from the busy-ness of life.  At times He is whispering in the silence.  God is always here.  Always listening and always ready to speak if only we stop and listen.

So what have I heard lately, not much.  Except this week I was encouraged to have the words rush through my mind over and over “consecrate yourself.”  It took me to Joshua 3:5 where it says:

Joshua told the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do amazing things among you.”

I don’t know what “tomorrow” holds, but I know my job for this season.

Consecrate.  Dedicate.  Purify.  Separate yourself.  Make ready.

What are you hearing through the “noise” of life?  I’m praying that as I remove the “noise” I can draw closer to God than ever before.

Video of Last Week’s Trip

It’s really hard to put into words how amazing last week’s trip was.  We were able to meet with eight different pastors & churches all over Costa Rica.  We heard testimonies of God’s grace, healing miracles, spiritual attacks, lonely times, stories of perseverance and endurance, and most of all…the faithfulness of God!

This week made the last four months all worth it for me.  I count it a joy to be able to call this my “job!’  Praying Pelican Missions is truly connecting the local church on a global level.

Watch this video to see a summary of our week together!

-Video courtesy of Carolina Forest Community Church, Charles Fox-

Power!

power blogTwo weeks ago we had the opportunity to visit a pastor up near the border of Nicaragua.  My favorite part of these meetings is to hear the pastor’s testimonies.  For this one I was on the edge of my seat, although I had already heard part of it.

After being bullied by church kids because his appearance (he was from a poor family), he decided to leave his immediate family, church and God.  He wanted to be somebody and his cousins took him to witch-doctor to help fix all of his problems.  As soon as he met the witch-doctor, the witch-doctor called his name (which no one had told him).  He then began to tell the young boy that there was a problem.  When he was young his mother had dedicated him to the Lord.  Therefore, the witch-doctor had no power over the boy!  Also, the witch-doctor said that his mother had been praying for him.

Read that again!  The witch-doctor had no power over the boy because he was given to God and Mama was praying!

Far too often we forget the power of God!  If the Bible is true (which it is) there is no limit to what God can do in and through our lives!  We give the enemy way too much credit for the bad things in our lives.  Where is the freedom in that kind of living?  We were bought at a price!  God gave his Son to redeem us and put his seal on our lives.

Lets walk in the freedom today that God is big, sovereign, and continually working on behalf of His children!

Here to Serve You?

Recently I was out visiting with a local Costa Rican pastor.  We were getting him all set up for his upcoming team coming from the U.S.  Everything was going fine until the pastor said one thing that really got me thinking.  As we were preparing to leave he said, “we are here to serve you in anyway.”  This defines our Costa Rican pastors!  They are so humble and ready to serve us, but it still made me think.  Have we been putting on the impression that we need the Costa Rican pastors to serve us and our teams?

IIMG_8857t grieved me for a while because we, as Praying Pelican Missions, are not running around trying to find pastors to serve us and make our teams feel good.  That’s the last thing that we want.  Praying Pelican Missions seeks to come alongside of local pastors and churches and serve them.  We want to see the pastor’s vision come to life by bringing in a short-term team to build momentum for the local church.  This is sustainable ministry.

So what now?  Our summer trips have ended and we are busy meeting with pastors to improve the amazing ministry that already exists within our trips.  In the past 4 days we have met with 5 different pastors around Guanacaste.  One pastor of a small church was telling us how she keeps praying for God to send a new pastor, but it keeps getting confirmed that she is the one.  She said it’s hard work, but such a blessing!

Would you pray for us?  Pray that we have creativity in how to encourage our pastors here in Costa Rica!   I was blessed to see that in the simplest form of meeting and showing love through genuine concern, that we can encourage the hearts of these pastors that serve day in and day out.  When I felt like I had nothing to give them, we ended the meetings with prayer.  I know all about emotions and how they can be manufactured, but when you see 2 pastors wiping away tears after praying, you know that God is at work!  Pray that our hearts show through clearly and that the pastors continue to serve and lead their congregations with integrity and new life!

Bringing this home:  Have you thought about how you can serve your pastor?  Pastors are people who have needs, worries, concerns and are in need of encouragement just like you and I!  They are constantly giving and working around the clock.  Don’t wait until Pastor Appreciation Day, appreciate your pastor today!

From Camp Director to Trip Leader

raceHave you ever had a moment in your life where you sit back and think how something that you have done previously prepared you for what you are now doing?  I had that moment a few weeks ago when I led my first trip for Praying Pelican Missions.

As the week was going on and I was busy preparing for the next ministry moments,  it hit me how much directing at Hopewell Summer Camps has influenced me in being here in Costa Rica.  As a camp director you care for the staff, problem solve, lead spiritually, care for the campers, be flexible and depend on the Holy Spirit to lead and guide the camp.

Leading a mission trip is much the same.  You’re constantly problem solving, leading staff, loving your team, leading devotional times, praying with participants, preparing for the next time of ministry.  Oh yeah, and getting water, you can’t run out of water!

micThis week, as Hopewell Summer Camps is once again ministering to over 100 children, I’m thankful for the steps that God has brought me through.  The good, the bad, the stretching, and the joys.  Each step has helped me, through the grace of God, to be prepared for this step that I’m now in.

What about you?  Do you see what phase of life you are in?  Can you see how God could be setting you up for the next step?

A Week of “Firsts”

We arrived in Costa Rica on Monday and have already had a lot of “firsts” for us.  Here are just a few of them.

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1.  I, Nate, killed a scorpion and a tarantula…in our house!IMG_7498

2.  I had my first Spanish mishap.  We have a very sweet lady that has been checking daily on our house, and spends 1 hour a day cleaning it.  Apparently I fired her the first day that we were here.  Obviously my Spanish needs a lot of work.  I only meant to tell her that we were done working for the day.  The next day she didn’t come, but our landlord called to ask if I meant to fire her.  Much to our delight, she’s back.

IMG_75353.  Laura tried a new fruit called Mamon Chino.  Actually, we pulled off the side of the road to buy what kind of looked like strawberries.  We ended up buying 1 kilo of this fruit.  When we arrived home, Laura got instructions from a Costa Rican PPM staffer on how to eat it.  Moments after eating a few, Laura’s glands were swollen and her throat began to close up.  After some water and benadryl she was back to normal.  But it was a very scary moment!

4.  I now can pretty confidently drive stick shift.  I still stall out and freak out, but we get where we need to go pretty smoothly now.  Laura took her turn learning today and she’s doing great!IMG_7528

5.  We went to our first Costa Rican waterfall.  Yes, I said first.  Costa Rica has so many beautiful waterfalls, and Llano de Cortes is just 15 minutes from our new home.  The kids loved exploring and swimming.  We even saw monkeys!IMG_7561

I Had a Meltdown

Screen Shot 2015-05-04 at 7.54.41 PMWe have just returned from our house set-up trip in Costa Rica.  We are happy to report that we survived the hottest day of the whole year.  It was rough.  It was hot.  We found relief in seeing Ticos (what Costa Ricans are called) sweating.  We were not alone!  But that wasn’t the meltdown…

Our five days in Costa Rica were filled to the max.  We quickly learned that life moves at a different pace in Costa Rica.  Where we from the U.S. are task oriented, Ticos are more relationship oriented.  We could learn a lot from them, and we hope to! Hours were spent at many stores, getting a bank account, moving things to our home, and maneuvering around Liberia.

In comes the meltdown…I can’t even remember what day it was, but I was riding along with a man who was transporting our things.  On the final ride of the day, the reality of moving our family of seven to Costa Rica hit me.  And it hit me hard.  It wasn’t just a “oh this is going to be hard” kind of thought, it was a gush of fear that overtook me.  Isn’t that just like the devil?

I quickly texted a friend and asked for immediate prayer and then I made the mistake of calling home to check on our kids. I say mistake because that’s when the tear flood-gates opened.  I learned a quick lesson, when on the verge of tears, don’t call Mom!  I quickly was a blubbering mess and she was quick to affirm me.  The phone call didn’t last long, because I knew Laura and our translator Ciri would be back soon and I needed to clean up my mess of a face.  The fear didn’t go away though. Neither did my mess of a face.

How did the meltdown subside?  YOU.  Literally I began to think about the people who have been praying, giving and supporting us in numerous ways.  In a moment’s time, my fears subsided.  I realized that God was not sending us alone, but with a massive team of people who believe in us and who want to see God use us to impact Costa Rica.  I discovered what the real meaning of “partners in ministry.”  THANK YOU so much from the bottom of my heart.  We need you!

I know this is not my last meltdown.  I know the enemy will try to sneak in and look for a chance to pounce on me.  Yet more than ever before, I see the faithfulness of the Lord and His people.  I’m learning that we will not always be comfortable (for sure), but we can be confident of the calling for the day we are in.  Day by day, hour by hour we can stand secure in a loving God who has called us and has a purpose for our lives.