Cindy again - Brian is in the hammock out back. Okay, I am kidding, but there IS a hammock. I am sure when it is not pouring buckets of rain people use it - LOL. Monday (yes, I'm behind -we had a late dinner last night so the blogging was put on the back burner) we went over to a church in a nearby village - CCA, where several of us went to church on Sunday. You know it takes a lot to leave me speechless but ....WOW....... The pastor told us about HIS dramatic transformation from a "believer" In Jesus to a sold-out FOLLOWER of Jesus and the change this has made in his church. They run a drug rehab for men and women, a feeding center, a Christian school with 400 students, and a host of micro-enterprises designed to offer employment and income for the folks in rehab who are rebuilding their lives as well as other people in this needy community. CCA is THE leading employer in the entire town - which, by the way, is the 2nd most violent town in Costa Rica. They have soccer fields, a snack bar, a car wash, a mechanic shop, a dental clinic, a re-sale furniture shop, and a greenhouse. The greenhouse is run by 4 Chinese people who were born again at CCA and offered their skills to the community - how COOL is that??
They also developed the Yellow House project to reclaim their community by offering safe dry housing to the poor residents. The pastor said these are not programs of the church, this IS the church. He also said, which really impacted me, that if they ever run out of money to serve the poor, he will close ALL of the efforts before he will never sacrifice one. If he has to close the feeding center, he will close the church because if he can't buy food for the poor, he can't buy microphones! Wow- what a heart for God's people. We were sooo blessed by this visit. On the way out of town we stopped by the small town of Jasmine to see the community of yellow houses, including the first one built by NLG last summer. The brave and hearty ones from our team trudged up the mountain in the mud to see the village - the rains have washed out the roads and made them impassable. We saw the villagers walking up and down the rugged hill to get to work or school. And by HILL, I mean rugged mountain, slippery with mud, jagged with rocks, very steep. I marvel at their daily life - most of us rarely walk to the mailbox and even our sidewalks are paved!
After an afternoon of meetings with the church partners, we met with everyone involved in the work here in Los Anonos - the muchachos, the mamas, the church workers, the adults involved in the Bible studies and other projects and talked openly and passionately about the needs of this little village. From church planting to micro-enterprise and everything in between, we heard story after story of God's transforming power. One boy and his mom used to sell crack together from their home. Another boy's father roams the street, a homeless drug addict.One woman is a single mom, another a wealthy real estate agent. Another boy is learning the guitar so he can lead worship. A room full of HOPE - that is what we found last night. God is obviously doing a work here, led and advanced through a pack of young boys, most barely 17, 18 years old - teachable, passionate boys who love God with all they have and want to serve Him. We ended a lively evening by standing on the balcony - 25 or so people, from all over the US and right across the river in CR, poor, not-so-poor, Gringos, Ticos, men, women, teenagers, one totally cute baby and some 30-50-somethings,. - stretching out our arms toward the city lights and praying for God's work in this town. Powerful. BIG STUFF. Pray for the folks of Los Anonos, that God will send just what they need to make his name Glorious from the quebrada to the barrio and back again, from the river banks to the mountains, from the shacks with tin roofs to the high rises in the distance. Pray for wisdom that the Americans involved will be wise and effective, not tossing money around and going home after a week but investing in the community as GOD chooses. Off to more meetings - have a great day! Love from Costa Rica!