Saturday, May 10, 2014

Three Special Moms

Her children arise and call her blessed;
Her husband also, and he praises her:
"Many women do noble things, but
You surpass them all"  Proverbs 31:28

I would like to dedicate this featured article from Mission Frontiers magazine to Juanita, Griselda, and Yolanda. May their praise and worship to the Living God permeate every mountain top.

Making Room for Music and Dance by Laura Macias

Friday, April 11, 2014

Call upon him while he is near

Victor’s voice over the phone was more subdued than usual. “Our friend, Marvin, won’t be reporting to work today. He passed away last night; he had a heart attack,” said our watchman with a somber tone.  Apparently his wife found him unresponsive in their small home and called his boss right away. Marvin was only fifty-three years old.  I asked Victor if Marvin was a follower of Christ and he went on to tell me Marvin’s struggle with alcohol.  “I don’t believe he was but I do know he was an alcoholic,” replied Victor.

The Nicaraguan national was a likeable guard who always greeted you every morning and bid you a warm, Vaya con Dios, at anytime of the day.  He stood at the corner of our block and did his job faithfully for twelve hours, six days a week.

Unfortunately, he was one watchman I did not give an audio Bible to.  Last month, I wrote about having the privilege of passing audio Bibles to various neighborhood watchmen. For some reason, he was one guard I missed. After hearing the devastating news, I felt terrible. Why had I missed giving him an audio Bible?

Like most days that followed, I went for an early morning stroll around the neighborhood and bumped into a young watchman I had never seen before. He introduced himself as Elmer and said he was filling in for a guard on vacation.  With the sudden death of Marvin on my mind, I asked Elmer if he had heard of the watchman who had passed away recently. His remark surprised me. “Yes, all the guards are talking about it. The news of his death frightened me,” confessed the guard.  He continued sharing about his fears and the brevity of life, which weighed heavy on his heart.  “Elmer, have you considered going to church and talking to a pastor about your fears?”  I asked, hesitating a negative response or better yet, rejection.  He shared his own faith walk and even admitted to veering off from the faith that once was his “first love.” Before we ended our conversation that early morning hour, I asked him if he was interested in talking to a dear pastor I knew in the area. Elmer expressed his desire to do so and I am happy to share that both the pastor and Elmer have talked. Although I don’t know if Elmer’s fears have dissipated, I am grateful God used Marvin’s death to stir me to reach out to Elmer.  Furthermore, God also used Marvin’s death to remind Elmer of his current spiritual condition and the peace that can be his as he seeks restoration with our Heavenly Father.

-Seek the Lord while He may be found; call upon him while he is near.
       Isaiah 55:6

Marvin and Tony - 2013

Friday, February 14, 2014

A loving remark….

In the last twelve months, Tony and I have gotten to know many of “los guachis” or neighborhood watchmen during our daily strolls. No matter where you live in the city, you’ll see a watchman patrolling neighborhood streets.  Although Costa Rica is a fairly peaceful country, petty crimes, mugging, and shoplifting are prevalent in the greater metropolitan cities.  These watchmen typically earn minimum wage and work close to 12 hours a day.

One of the highlights for Tony and I has been in getting to know these men who guard our local streets.  At times we have bought them a cold soft drink, served them a light meal, or just talked about whatever is on their mind.  The time we’ve invested recently opened up an opportunity to loan them a few Spanish audio Bibles.  After listening to the content on the solar powered tool, I will ask them a few questions about the functionality of the device. In addition, I will ask them which Bible story they liked most and what impressed them the most from the stories. Some of the guards really enjoyed having the Bible on audio and some politely returned it after only listening a few hours.  Despite the different responses, I am glad they gave me an occasion from which to share the Word of God right where they work.

One guard in particular came up to me this week and said something that really struck me. “You and Tony are really special to me. You are always together and I bet you really care for one another,” said Victor with a grin. Somewhere between listening to the parables of Jesus and our leisurely nighttime walk, Victor had been watching us.  Without us noticing, our Christian witness had ministered to him.  My reply to the guard was simple, “Yes, you are right. We care for each other. But we are not perfect, just perfect for each other.” And with that response, Victor laughed and shook our hands and told us how pleased he was to call us his friends.

Today, my thoughts turn toward 1 Corinthians 13,  “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs."

May the LOVE of God dwell richly in our hearts on this Valentine's Day.

Tony and I posing with Victor on a warm afternoon
Quintero standing by his guardhouse with the audio Bible by his side
Another watchman ready to assume his 12 hour shift 

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Promises Fulfilled

On this last day of 2013, I am reminded of the Scripture verse, “Not one of all of the Lord’s good promises to the house of Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.” (Joshua 21:45, NIV) I can only bring thanks to the Lord for the many promises he has fulfilled in our lives this year. We, like you, experienced many peaks and valleys throughout 2013. However, the Lord was with us at every step and we have continued to trust Him in all circumstances.

As we look to 2014, we are confident that our Heavenly Father knows the future and will be faithful as He has been in the past to bring about His purposes.

May the Lord continue to shape us and mold us as we look to Him to fulfill all His promises in the New Year.

Greetings from San Jose, Costa Rica

Friday, November 15, 2013

Random Photo Album-Year 1 in Costa Rica

It's hard to believe it's been 12 months since we begin serving overseas with MAF in San Jose, Costa Rica. In order to celebrate this special occasion, we wanted to share this light-hearted video with our friends and loved ones. 

Thank you so much for making this first year such a blessed one.

Tony and Laura

Sunday, September 29, 2013

A Notable Surprise

The second half of year one serving overseas has brought about many wonderful surprises. One of those surprises has come in the form of training nationals to expand the work of Bible storytelling among those in our region that have little or no access to the Word of God.

The Lord has brought to our ministry, three talented people with different backgrounds and expertise. These new members are from Colombia, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica.  One member is single and the other two are a married couple. Two of the three teach Sunday school and the third is a nondenominational pastor. Each of them has been a blessing in my life as they have given me new filters in which to teach in Latin America.  They have impressed upon me the need to make our oral inductive Bible study training as fun and interactive as possible.  “As Latinos, we learn best when we are laughing and participating together,” said my colleague, Tatiana. “We also don’t like to be rushed or hurried when gaining new understanding; going fast in life is just not our thing “ added Rita to the discussion on contextualized learning styles. Pastor Elgin has been a pillar of strength to our team as he leads us in prayer for those we will minister to through the inspired Word of God.

Our expanding team will travel to a remote area of Costa Rica in mid-October to teach 30 indigenous church leaders from 3 different Central American countries how to disciple their church communities through Bible stories. Please pray that the presence of the Holy Spirit will manifest itself  with power and might during our time together.

My desire is that the four of us will not only grow in our service to the Lord but in our service to each other.

Dear brothers and sisters, we can’t help but thank God for you, because your faith is flourishing and your love for one another is growing.      2 Thessalonians 1:3
Pastor Elgin Estrada, Rita Estrada, Laura Macias, and Tatiana Noriega
The Estradas in front of our MAF-Learning Technologies office
Our youngest but most talented member, Tatiana.