Friday, July 17, 2009

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Work in thursday

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@ the bowling alley

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Rafting conditions

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Workday 2

Workday 2

Workday 2

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Workday 2

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Day 1: From the talent show and worksite...

Celebrating Community

Some of us worshipped at the Old South Congregational Church in Farmington this morning. The pastor somehow turned the story of the beheading of John the Baptizer into a good sermon. The music was fine (but I did miss Jeffrey), and the folks welcomed us with genuine warmth.

Though this was not a regular feature of their liturgy, at the end of the service this congregation of about one hundred stood in circle and sang, “Let there be peace on earth.” As we sang in unison, we were able to look at one another. Face to face. Person to person.

We enjoyed the gift of community.

It reminded me of a favorite saying of a close friend: “You can’t get to know one another by sitting in rows looking at the back of people’s heads.”

How true.

We can briefly greet the person sitting beside us or behind us in worship. We can join together in praising God. We can all bow our heads together in prayer.

But we really can’t get to know one another, to truly know the joys and triumphs, the trials and tribulations of our brothers and sisters simply by worshipping at the same time in the same place.

We can begin to appreciate and receive the gift of community during worship, but worship alone cannot strengthen our bonds of community.

This morning’s service and this entire mission trip has reminded me how crucial it is for us as Christians to nurture and celebrate our fellowship.

How do we do that? By serving together to build a fence, to spread gavel on a walking path, to put siding on a home, to teach Sunday school, to visit a brother in the hospital or a sister in a time of grief or to sing in our new multi-generational music group.

Nate and the other leaders on our mission trip have done a splendid job in helping us to grow as community.

That might not the most important thing we do in Maine, but it’s pretty close.

Grace and peace,


Sunday, July 12, 2009

Icebreakers on our first night.

Our fearless game leaders.

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Saturday, July 11, 2009

First Reflections from Rev. Patrick V.

Shirts and shorts had been stuffed in a drawer. The beds were made up, and Nathan and I had laid down to read and rest after a long trip to Maine (Before I continue, here’s a question for you: Do any states between New Jersey and Maine offer drivers’ ed.? I doubt it.)

So there we are, sitting quietly and peacefully. I was reviewing the evening’s activities, and my son was engrossed in a book.

Suddenly, the door burst open, and Sarah and Taylor marched in with smiles and laughter. Shocked, they exclaimed, “We’re sorry. We didn’t think anyone was here yet!”

They handed over two orange copies of the week’s itinerary, and we all enjoyed a hearty laugh.

It was the first of what I think will be many surprises, many smiles, and much laughter.

Thank you for your generosity. You made this mission trip possible, and the blessings are already flowing.

Here they come!

Our caravan pulled out of RCCPC this morning with a mission to Maine in mind. Senior High camp ended this morning so we anxiously await their arrival! Pray for a good week and check in often, we will post pictures and reflections so that you will, in some way, join in mission to Maine.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Who would have thought?

We visited a volcano today.

We drove about two hours straight uphill to get there.

Have you ever seen a volcano? Its not like you might expect. In fact, it´s a huge hole in the top of a mountain with a lake of pea soup at the bottom. Mt. Irazu (elevation 10,200 ft.)last erupted in 1963 while President Kennedy was in Costa Rica on a state visit. As dangerous and devastating it can be to be near a volcano when it erupts, the mountain is teeming on all sides with farmers growing potatoes, asparagus, hay and other crops, (as well as their livestock) which thrive in the cool temperatures of the high altitude - to take advantage of the rich soil which comes from the eruptions. These same crops do not fare so well in the tropical clime of Horquetas. (Thanks Tom Ralston for this paragraph!). Who would have thought that a piece of earth like this could do what it does?

In the afternoon we toured CEDCAS (please read the note below written by Lillian Solt, founder of Cedcas). What you have to understand is that this all started with her house. I´m not sure where or when she grasped the vision, but it took hold. She didn´t worry about how it would end, she only knew that God had called her to begin. So she did. Today she toured us around the reception area, the optometry office, the dental and orthodontic stations, and she even let us peak in at a surgical room. At the end of the tour she took us to the little room where instruments and linens are put in machines for sterilization. This room was once meant to be an apartment for when her parents visited. "We could never have imagined this room being used for this. Who would have thought," Lillian smiled,"that God would use this place to do this?"

I wonder, what with the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead of us, not the least of which being a building project of our own, how is God urging us to move forward? I´m not altogether sure. But I do know that people like us usually stumble upon these answers as we gather and practice prayerful discernment together, as we intentionally invest in the nurturing of our Christ-community, and as we find ourselves caught up with and rejoicing in the current of God´s reaching-out. Then friends, it wont be long before we´ll all step back and say, "who would have thought!"

Many thanks to our friends here in Costa Rica for giving us inspiration, direction, and a new sense of God´s presence. Peace in every step....N

From Lillian Solt, missionary

We praise the Lord for work teams like RCCPC that come to work shoulder to shoulder with the people of Horquetas and in a very tangible way show the love of Jesus. As some say, "there goes Jesus". It is exciting to see people move out of these comfort zones and get personnally involved in the work of CEDCAS in Costa Rica which changes their lives completely, never being the same person again. I represent CEDCAS (which stands for in Spanish), Health Education and Health Care Center). We are committed to providing "whole person health care", meeting the physical, spiritual, emotional and economic needs of our patients. That is why we have the clinic but also work with rural, poor communities developing micro enterprises to help them care for their families.

We praise the Lord for the gift of $7,500 to the ongoing work of Clinic CEDCAS which allows us to reach out year round to the very poor and suffering in our country. An example of our reaching out has been the help we have been able to give to the earthquake victims who lost everything in the 6.2 earthquake on January 8, 2009. We were able to visit one of the shelters with a partner church from Santo Tomas. Along with food, we have donated drugs and a booklet that we have put together to form medical family health kits which are provided to the families in need. This gives them some common drugs which are over the counter and they can care for their own headaches, fevers, skin infections by washing with a bar of antibacterial soap, etc. RCCPC has been present in the relief effort.

Your gifts also make it possible for us to subsidized the clinic costs so that patients from the squatter communities or the rural communties like Horquetas, can access our excellent services at a minimal cost. The ability for us to charge on a sliding scale is due to the gifts from friends like RCCPC who give generously during the year to help us "reach out and touch them with the love of JESUS". We have an excellent staff for which we praise the Lord. We see approximately 700 - 800 patients a month and of these, we subsidize approximately 250 at a cost of $3,000 or $12 a patient. We need your help and prayers as we seek to raise this amount each month. Thank you for all you have done for us and thank you for coming to work with us during these past couple of days.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

From Bob and Ann Jeffery, missionaries

Pastors Carlos Sandí and his wife Isabel enthusiastically and lovingly shepherd a church in Horquetas, a town about 1 ½ hours east of San José, Costa Rica. By God’s grace and through CEDCAS´s help they were able to buy a skating rink and turn it into an exciting, dynamic, spirit-filled, growing church! Last year you helped them build & pour the cement floor of a large classroom and outside it, a sidewalk. That room now has dividers in it, enabling them to make 3 classrooms but also use it as a larger room for other purposes. Last year, CEDCAS brought 3 dentists and assistants and an optometrist. The clinics are held for a day, once a month and we are able to see over 100 people including mothers, children, men and young people.

Pastors Carlos and Isabel have the people organized, with appointments every 15 minutes per dentist and during their waiting time, socializes and, in some cases, counseled with them. Several of them have never been in an Protestant church.

It was gratifying to be able to contribute to these wonderful pastor’s ministry and to know that your work for them has been so useful and rewarding. Thank you very, very much for your help.


First off, I regret the aforementioned black beans. You don´t want or need to know more than that.

I regret not taking in more tranquil moments in my life. Moments like the one I took in at the cascades and waterfalls we visited today. We watched water move. Have you ever really watched the way that water jumps over rocks?

I regret that more of you couldn´t experience the joy that came from a zip down a rainforest canopy. All 20 of us clipped into the harnesses and enjoyed (is that the word?) a peter pan-esque ride over the Costa Rican treetops. Laughs, pictures, screams, and spins...

It is regrettable that more cannot be done for Don Jorge - the man who owns a budding recycling business that we visited today. The business, formerly his tavern, is turning old phone books and newspapers into packing materials for the flower companies that ship to the states and elsewhere. He is also collecting plastics to clean, shred, and sell back to factories that make new plastic containers. His company, a company that held promise when it started a year or so ago, has been hit by the economic crisis and is burdened by an inventory of used plastics that is worth half of what it was when he purchased it.

I regret that we had to say goodbye to Pastor and Isabelle. We will miss them. We took up a collection of about $300 for them, equal to three months of his salary. The gift didn´t make the goodbye any easier.

And yet, still, I regret the black beans. You don´t need or want to know more.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Daniel´s Day

Last year a young boy named Daniel worked at the church with us. He is from Horquetas. He speaks no english. He has a developmental disability.


We were awake with the dawn again this morning. Breakfast consisted of rice and black beans. I´m beginning to think it is the same batch of rice and black beans that we had on Monday. But, whatever...I´m still eating it. I hope I don´t regret it.

The majority of the concrete was poured yesterday, so we were left to work on the top layer today. Of course this meant that we would be doing it all by hand. The cement mixer was gone. I love that cement mixer. I miss it. A lot.

We were able to mix the cement by hand sifting sand through handmade sifter. It was basically chicken wire nailed to a few boards. It held up pretty well. It is amazing what you can get done here...even with just a little. We added cemento (spanish word for cement...seriously) and agua (as opposed to aqua, which can be the color of agua....ironic, eh?) and mixed it with platas (shovels, not plates). Luis, our handy foreman used a trowel, some rebar, and an old, knotty board to make the floor smooth. I wonder if they will ice skate on it?

Some of our members spent some time painting and did a wonderful job turning the fence aqua (as opposed to aqua, which is water...).

Another crew worked to turn the parking lot gravelly with the leftover piura (i have no idea if that is spelled right...or even if it is the right word...but that´s what i´ve been calling it all week.....somebody google it for me!).

The afternoon was spent finishing up the cemento and playing with the ninos. Lots of fun and sweat.

At the very end of the day Lillian, our missionary friend, sat us all down in a circle with Pastor Don Carlos (Saint Carlos) and his wife Isabelle. We shared the different ways that we were touched by his ministry this week. One person said,"it felt like I was coming home". Another said, "it was wonderful to see the progress you have made on the rooms we worked on last year". Pastor made a few comments as well, thanking us for our gracious giving and assuring us that the work we have done will multiply as they work in mission. Isabelle had a tearful goodbye. She was overwhelmed with love for the group....and it was reciprocal.

Then Daniel got to speak.

I´m not sure if I´ve heard him say more than a few words consecutively, until that moment. Most times he would just look the other way when you tried to talk with him. Language can be a huge barrier....

He told us about how much he loved Don Carlos and Isabelle. How they are like parents to him. He told us how much he loved us. How we are like his brothers and sisters. He told us that he was very sad to see us go. He told us that he loved us.

It was a very moving moment. Very moving.

Often times we cut people off when they are trying to speak. Especially if we are not sure what they are going to say. The missionaries, Pastor, and Isabelle...along with us...watched, waited, and listened. Then we were moved.

Few experiences will resonate so powerfully for this one will. For a moment we were truly listening. God, I think, was clearly speaking. Love is in the air....and we heard from a young boy, a boy that had a day.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The day began....

The day began at 3 am.

Not for me...or any of the other members of our group.

The day began at 3 am for 20 men from the Horquetas congregation. They gathered together at the church and prayed for us from 3 to 5 am and then went off to work.

I was rudely awakened by a dog at 5 am...barking outside my window...but i rolled over and went back to sleep. At about that time many of the men headed off in buses to work in banana farms over an hour away.

So the day began at 3 am.

We arrived at the church, our worksite, at about 8 or maybe it was 830 and worked very hard all morning. From the pictures you can see just how much cement was put down. Many of our team worked at scraping and painting a metal fence. I believe it will all look beautiful when it is done. The kitchen that we will have paid for will be used to serve food to the young, old, and impoverished of the community. It is quite a ministry.

Pastor Don Carlos is a great man. I will tell you more about him someday. He works very hard to help the people of this community to live well. Yesterday we watched him hand out baby chicks to families here. 11 chicks each. They were to keep 10 chicks for themselves and sell 1 chick and use the money as a tithe to the church.

This afternoon we spent a few hours with children from the community. Crafts and soccer (football) were the order of the day. We were challenged by the disconnect in language, but the kids smiled so widely. It was beautiful to be with them.

Tomorrow will look a lot like today. We will work at the cement in the morning...putting on a finer top coat (this will involve sifting sand by hand!), more painting, and more time spent with the kids in the afternoon. Thanks for your support and prayer as we move forward. I assure you, with every effort we look to serve another in Christ´s way and with every moment we awaken even more fully to the holiness of life!