Friday, September 19, 2008

Whit's new Costa Rica blog

Hi, this is Whit and I wanted to let you know that I have moved to Puerto Viejo and am maintaining a new blog at:

http://whithazelton.blogspot.com/

Thanks for bookmarking it and joining me on this new adventure.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Last Days in Puerto Viejo



Hi this is Whit with the last update from Costa Rica. The team from Calvary Chapel Vero Beach, Florida (Donathan, Rich, Ren, and Jack) arrived on Monday and we have had a great time participating in the ongoing ministry with them. Jack had to leave on Wednesday morning, but it was neat having him with us for a little while. It would take a long post to describe all of the opportunities God opened up for us, but here is a summary through photos!

The night the team arrived, Mike and Melissa babysat for the Cruces and we sent them off on a dinner date (our treat). On Tuesday, we oriented the Florida boys and Barrett gave them a full introduction to the ministry in Puerto Viejo. We also went bodysurfing before Girls' Skate Night. There were only a few girls there this week but they had fun.

On Wednesday we went to Ronnie and Tammie's house in Hone Creek to help them make progress on their new home. Ren and I made a door while Donathan and Rich tackled the frame for a front door. Melissa and Mike refinished some pieces of furniture. It was a great way of showing love to these missionaries.



After the work day, we headed to the skate park and put on a special evening for the youth, with live music from Donathan and Mike, a hamburger cook-out, and the inauguration of the new ping-pong table we donated. Yes...the ping-pong table arrived in time! We capped the night off by taking the long skateboards out on the town with some of the youth. The local boys really love to fly through the section of Puerto Viejo which has paved streets on these skateboards.

On Thursday, we went surfing with Barrett at a beach called Playa Negra. In spite of mainly windy conditions, we had fun and enjoyed some excellent conversations in the water. We were also joined by Andres, one of the local boys.

In the evening Barrett and Amy treated all of us to a sushi dinner at our favorite restaurant as a thank you from Alternative Missions for all we had done. We were very appreciative!

Today we are riding the bus for 5 hours to get back to San Jose, then we all fly out tomorrow! Please pray for safe travel. Thank you for participating in God's work in Puerto Viejo through your prayers.

Monday, June 9, 2008

House Church

Hi, this is Mike. The past couple days we have been focusing on spending quality time with the Cruce family, as part of our mission to refresh and encourage them. Of course, we would do it even if it weren't part of our mission...we love their whole family!

Whit and I have enjoyed spending a lot of time in the water with Barrett and some of the local kids.

It was encouraging to see a local kid named Dexter come back to house church after having being gone for a long time. Barrett talked with him for a while Friday night, so it was great to see him on Sunday. To top it off, he came surfing with us the very next morning. It is so encouraging to see how ministry in Puerto Viejo can break the mold, and relate to people right where they are.

Whit got the opportunity to teach in the house church Sunday night. He spoke from Ephesians 6 and what it means to fight our spiritual battles in prayer, and the importance of putting on the full armor of God. The kids loved the teaching and Whit did an awesome job making the message relevant.
Tonight.... Donathan, Rich, and Ren come in from Florida to join us. Pray for them, as they will have traveled all day to get to Puerto Viejo. They will most likely be tired from the long trip.
Please pray for the youth of Puerto Viejo. There are many traps and snares for them to fall into. Pray that their hearts would be open to hear the truth, and that the truth would sink in and find good soil. So many times the thorns of this town consume them and choke them out. Also pray for the Cruce and McLocklin families would be refreshed and revived to labor for God's Kingdom!
Pura Vida!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Time with the Cruce family


This is Peace. Or at least Peace is the name everyone knows him by. Peace loves to talk about the changes God has done in his life and how he has found hope in Christ. As part of his job, he gives surf lessons to tourists and takes them on tours. We were so encouraged when he told us that he often gets to share the gospel with his customers, and that many of them are open to hearing it. As a local resident in Puerto Viejo, Peace has to put on the armor of God daily in order to stand against the wiles of the devil. Everywhere you turn in Puerto Viejo, you are confronted with drug and alcohol abuse, promiscuity, theft, and many other sins that keep people in bondage. Through Christ and the Cruce family's influence in his life, Peace has come to experience freedom from this bondage.

The Cruce family is constantly opening up its doors to friends from the house church which meets there. People stop by all the time. It is amazing how much hungry teenage surfers can eat, but Barrett and Amy always manage to put something on the table for them. Here we are sharing lunch with them and a few of the guys Barrett has been discipling. On the right is Jose. Jose loves surfing about as much as anyone I have ever met.


Barrett and Amy have two daughters: Maili and Makena. We have grown to love them very much. They are fully of energy and not the least bit shy. Melissa accompanied them to their ballet class and snapped some great photos. Here is one...

Friday, June 6, 2008

Laboring with love

some of the kindergarteners check out their future classroom

Hello from Whit for the team. It's been two days since we said our goodbyes to the team from Arizona. It was great getting to know them and working alongside them. On the last day, one of the adults, Todd, told us that we had made a big impact on him and was clearly moved as he said good bye. Some of the students also expressed that we had helped them to experience God through our attitudes and words, and wanted to maintain communication with us in the future. It was neat when a boy named Evan remarked that all three of us were different because we "always have a Bible verse for everything that happens". We were so thrilled to have helped them focus on God and experience God's presence on their trip.




Yesterday we joined Barrett and AJ, the intern, in helping one of the guys from his home church stack some lumber. In the hot and humid rainforest where he is building some rental properties, lumber decays quickly if it is not properly stored. It was hard work in this climate! While we were working, some monkeys interrupted us with loud shrieking sounds as they swung through the trees. It turned out to be two types: howler and spider monkeys.

Thank you for your comments, emails, and prayers. Please pray that God would renew our energy to serve and that we would remain sensitive to His guidance. The past week has really worn us out physically. We look forward to my frends Dono, Rich, and Ren coming next week also! Please pray for their safety as they travel.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Building a new kindergarten



Yesterday was an exhausting day of work at the elementary school, but it was worth every drop of sweat. Mike and I started putting up the roof on the school with two other guys. We both felt out of our comfort zone...when you're up on a partially built roof, you have to think about every move your body makes, or you risk falling through the thin drywall. Melissa was a great help to those teaching the kids at VBS and cleaning up around the construction site. We could hear her leading the young children in song from a long way away.

One of the things that's so neat about being here is that we have complete access to this public school. The St. Andrews group has been teaching Bible stories in class, such as Jesus feeding the 5,000. Amazing!

Here is our verse for the day:

"But don't act like them. If you want to be great, you must be the servant of all the others. And if you want to be first, you must be everyone's slave. The Son of Man did not come to be a slave master, but a slave who will give his life to rescue many people."
Mark 10:43-45 (CEV)

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Serving with St. Andrews




Hola! This is Whit with a recap of the past couple days. With the 28-person short term mission team from St. Andrews Presbyterian Church here, we have had an exciting and active time. The team consists of a great bunch of high school kids with a handful of adult leaders.
Earlier in the week we helped Barrett out at the girls' skate night and at an all-youth skate night. It was really good to just hang out and observe the local kids in action. They like the attention, and by taking an interest in them, we are helping to build relationships with them. Each one has a different God-given personality. We have been having fun teaching a young boy named Joel to throw the frisbee. He loves it!



Thurs. 5/29 – Orientation and Service project
Mike helped Barrett set up an orientation for the St. Andrews team, then we headed to the elementary school for a half day of work. The school is a few kilometers outside of town, near the edge of a national forest. We ended the day with a nice dinner with the whole team.


Fri. 5/30 Barrett invited me to accompany him on a trip to the port city of Limon, where the family buys its staple foods and gets business done. It was a great look into the daily life of a missionary and I enjoyed the conversations about the ministry, practical aspects of living in Puerto Viejo, and the cultural challenges which exist for an American missionary family in Costa Rica. It really helped me to get a feel for what it might be like for me to live down here as a missionary.

I arrived back just in time to help finish off the day's work at the school where Mike and Melissa worked all morning. Mike had been framing the wooden roof of a new building at the school and Melissa helped build a retaining edge made of cement and stone around the school's playground and supervised the painting of the teacher's house. At the end of the day, everyone was really tired--but in a good way--from the hard day of work in hot and humid weather. Skateboarding at youth night wore out those who still had a little energy left! We capped the day off with a pizza party at the skate park.



Sat. 5/31 – Day Off: Canopy Tour
Today we joined the St. Andrews group in their canopy tour. It was a high-flying adrenaline experience through the heart of a prime piece of Costa Rican rainforest. The pictures tell the story for you. I felt it allowed us to bond a little more with the high schoolers. Later in the day, over dinner, a couple of the girls opened up to us about some of their struggles and how the trip has helped them to see that they don't have to be influenced by their friends at school to do things they know are wrong. Some of them admitted they have been making decisions they regret, but want to get back on the right path. It was so satisfying to see them listen to Melissa. She shared that her classmates in high school respected her more for standing up for what she believed in.




God has been so good to us and has provided great opportunities to reach out to the people in this town and to point the high schoolers from Arizona more towards God.
Please pray that God would continue to work in the hearts of the high schoolers and show them that they can live for something more than the “American Dream” of a comfortable life. There is so much more to live for! Perhaps this trip will be a turning point for some of them.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Divine Appointment


Last night right after the rain cleared, we headed out from the skatepark to get some dinner. We stopped at a small Italian restaurant to have some pizza. We noticed a young man having a beer by himself, so we invited him to join us for dinner. We had an amazing conversation and discovered that he was traveling for 5 months throughout Mexico and Central America. His name was Gilly. He was from Israel and served in the Israeli army for 4 years. He shared with us many amazing stories from his adventures and his life. The conversation shifted to us and why we were here in Puerto Viejo. We shared our love of Jesus with him and explained that we were here just to help out with the work that God is doing in the Costa Rica. He was very open to what we were sharing and asked a lot of questions about Jesus. We felt the presence of the Holy Spirit as we talked for more than 2 hours. We ended the night with a game of cards in the restaurant and headed off to our cabinas. It was great to meet a new friend and share the love of God with him. Please pray for Gilly and for the Holy Spirit to continue to work on his heart.

So long for now and God bless you.

Mike

Monday, May 26, 2008

Rain, Rain, Rain


Hola, This is Whit. It's been raining so much since we've been in Costa Rica that it's been a challenge to interact with the local population. When it rains here, it really rains hard, leaving huge puddles on the dirt road that runs through town. However, we've been enjoying great conversations with several locals and tourists here. As ambassadors for Christ, we hope to spread joy, a friendly smile, and a caring heart towards all whom we meet. Unfortunately, people often have misconceptions about what it means to be a Christian. This can partly be blamed on Christians misrepresenting Christ. Barrett told us a story about a young man in town who recently decided to follow Jesus. When Barrett told a friend about his decision, her first response was: "So, is he going to cut his hair now?" This shows a focus on outward appearances rather than on a change that takes place in a person's heart.

Today Barrett gave us an orientation to the local culture and to Alernative Missions' vision to reach the forgotten people of Puerto Viejo. Coming from American Christian backgrounds, we have much to adjust to and it's important that we do not rush to judgments about the people we encounter or the situations we observe. We really look forward to helping Barrett and the others here as they face so many obstacles in discipleship. The tendency of so many to be apathetic, the prevalence of drugs, broken relationships and selfish living make it difficult to see real change in peoples' lives in the short term.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

At home in Puerto Viejo

Hi. This is Whit for the team. We arrived with no problems and have been blessed in many ways since arriving. Since pictures are worth a thousand words, here are a few pics to tell the story of our first two days in Costa Rica. My brother Dan and his girlfriend Rochelle drove all afternoon with us to Puerto Viejo and stayed one night.

We have been familiarizing ourselves with the local culture and environment while looking for opportunities to build relationships with people we meet here. The team from St. Andrews doesn't arrive for a few days.



We were successful in purchasing a ping-pong table for the youth ministry.


































Melissa sampling granadilla, an exotic fruit














Melissa, Rochelle, and Dan



Two-toed Sloth!



Barrett and his daughter Makena bike through Puerto Viejo
Click on the photo album for more photos!

Friday, May 23, 2008

DEPARTURE DAY!

Hello everyone, Mike here. The day has finally arrived. We are traveling all day starting at 6:30am leaving San Diego headed for LAX. We will arrive in San Jose, Costa Rica later this evening. Please pray for travel mercies. We have the honor of delivering some supplies to a YWAM missionary once we arrive in San Jose. We are so honored to be apart of His work. Pray that we would be a witness of His love as we interact with airport staff, flight attendants, passengers, and the local Costa Rican people. So long for now.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

T minus 2

Scene at the waterfront in nearby Limon, Costa Rica

Well the day of our depature is rapidly approaching and we have some exciting reports to share!

In lieu of a graduation gift, my parents offered to purchase a ping-pong table in my name to donate to the ministry in Puerto Viejo! We now we have the adventure of trying to find a suitable table in San Jose and getting it transported to Puerto Viejo.

Several friends were generous in donating movies and surf movies for the missionaries and their ministry. We would especially like to thank Jared Reed and Mike Doyle at Walking on Water for their contributions!

Another exciting development is that my brother Dan and his girlfriend Rochelle will be picking us up in San Jose and driving us in the long trip to the Caribbean coast on Friday. I expect they will stay in the area for a couple days. We had been concerned about getting our luggage on the (crowded) public buses and keeping it safe from thieves during the trip, but now that problem is solved, and we get to spend time with my brother who has been living in Costa Rica since December.
- Whit for the team

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Ten days until we leave!

First a praise report: Barrett (the missionary) was diligent in searching out housing options for us in Puerto Viejo, and God provided two cabinas (small self-contained cabins) for us, each with their own kitchen, at a very reasonable price! This means Melissa will have one to herself and Mike and I will share one. There may also be a third one available for Dono, Rich, and Ren when they join us for the last week. God is faithful to provide.

One thing that I am having fun looking into is the possibility of acquiring or building a ping-pong table to donate to the ministry. Mike and I both love the game, and would enjoy teaching kids how to play and leaving them with all the necessary equipment. It would be a great thing for the non-skaters especially.

This week, please pray for God to provide ministry supplies to take with us when we leave next week. Melissa has contacted a number of surf shops to ask if they would like to donate anything for the youth in Costa Rica. We are also looking to bless the missionaries and ministry with some good clean movies, some surf and skate movies for the skate park, and some music for the skate park. We have already purchased ping-pong rackets, balls, and nets. Thanks!
- Whit for the team

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Trip Dates!

It's official, we have our plane tickets and we leave in less than three weeks!
We depart from LAX on Friday, May 23 and return Saturday, June 14.
Please pray for our housing. We know God will provide, but we hope to be near the skatepark/mission base so that we can be fully available to the AM staff. Also, we hope to be in a place that will allow for great times of fellowship. A kitchen would also be nice and would allow us to save on food cost!

A few of the things we have planned (tentatively):

Vacation Bible School - with St. Andrews Presbyterian church (Tucson, AZ)
Home renovation project for a local school teacher - with St. Andrews
Skate park outreach
Sports ministry (soccer, surfing, ultimate frisbee, ping pong??...)
Worship nights
Community cook-out
Movie night(s)

Please keep us in prayer as we continue to plan the details of this trip. Above all, pray that God would be glorified in every aspect of this trip.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

WELCOME

Thanks for checking out our blog. We are really excited for you to be a part of our planning and departure to Puerto Viejo. We expect only wondrous things from the Lord during this trip. We are excited to share stories, praise reports, successes, changed lives and other great things with you through this mighty work of God. Through your prayers, we hope to reach lives with God's amazing and extravagant love. We will attempt to keep updating our blog both before and during our time in Costa Rica, so be sure to check back and see just what God is doing. We anticipate answered prayers and amazing stories of His goodness.

Grace and Peace,
Team Costa Rica

Alternative Missions Video