Moving to Colorado for the Summer & Urushiol

It's hard to believe that 9 months ago we first moved to Costa Rica. It's been an incredible journey, filled with more blessings and trials than we ever expected. The friendships we deepened and the new ones we made are without question foundational life relationships. It's amazing how adversity and change creates depth and bonds that will stand time. We have a few things we need to take care of back at home this summer as well as realize the need to have a more sustainable living solution and thus we headed home for the summer 4 weeks ago. Very sorry for the delay - it's always amazing how quickly time goes. Getting everything in order before we left and trying to reintegrate back at home has been a bit of a whirlwind.
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Since we last wrote we had quite a few new adventures, here are a few highlights.

  • Ever since we moved into the shelter house we had been sleeping on two separate twin beds, but our last month there we were able to finally trade them out for a double we could both fit in which was a huge blessing.
  • Megan wrapped up her classes with the women, and I finished leading the When Helping Hurts book with the Seeds of Hope team which was extremely powerful between the worship and teaching time together. That turned into an awesome opportunity where Father allowed us to be bridge builders between Seeds of Hope and Pura Vida Church. As those two ministries work together it's truly amazing to see what God does when believers band together for the Kingdom.
  • I had a bat crawl on my face in the middle of the night and then had to get it out of our room.  3 nights later we had more bats in our room, thankfully not on my face.
  • We probably have 100+ animal stories, but the story they all tell is God's protection over us, not once did we ever get hurt or sick from animals!
  • Our friends Antonio and Anita got married!
  • We went to the other side of the country and I spoke at the www.japerez.org conference in a booth.
  • After about 6 months of drowning almost daily I finally learned how to surf. Still have a long ways to go but to my own MAJOR surprise, surfing is by far my favorite sport now.
  • I surfed some waves big enough to make me say 'uncle' and turn back in pure fear.
  • Dennis asked if I would speak at Church one Sunday which was an incredible learning opportunity AND incredibly humbling. There is a lot I could have done better but I do believe Father put words on my tongue and used it for good.  He was also showing me that He is calling me to so much more - it's scary, humbling, and exciting at the same time.
  • LOTS more - you should come down with us sometime soon :)

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One day we went to check out a sustainable eco village in the mountains of Costa Rica and on our way home Dennis' car broke down in the jungle. During our few hours of trying to get a ride home Megan decided she was hungry and wanted me to open a cashew for her to eat. While doing so, one of our local friends said ever so casually "hey you know thats full of acid" and then acted like nothing mattered despite my hands being covered in this liquid. I figured "acid, hmm, there must be a translation error and she must mean something else... otherwise she would have made a bigger deal about it". Three days went by when I was instantly woke up in the middle of the night ready to cut my skin off with a knife because the itch was so intense. Turns out Cashews have "urushiol" in them which is the same poisonous plant oil that's in poison ivy and poison oak. So that 'acid' was worse than acid in that it lasts 3 plus weeks. And apparently I got the oil in every nook and cranny of my body before we ever got home and three days later every place you would never want to have poison ivy I had... poison ivy. It took us about 12 days to figure out what it was. We first thought it to be fungus but eventually through some help from our MD friend Ven, we made the connection and figured it out. It was a rough 3 weeks as I decided not to take the antibiotics once we figured out what it was (we can have that discussion off line sometime if you want lol) but God really taught me a ton through the experience. I am pretty sure that during the times I was scratching myself, crying and laughing at the same time that Megan thought I finally lost it - but God's grace was enough. Cool testimony about that - every day I woke up and could only hear this thought running through my mind "God's grace is sufficient" - I heard it so much I was starting to get super frustrated but then I would know its truth and believe it was true and have a new perseverance to keep going. Hearing that over and over helped me empathize with others in difficult situations and understand the depths of only having His grace and nothing more. The awesome part of the story is that it turns out God asked my mom to pray "God's grace be sufficient" for me every day even though she didn't know what was going on with me specifically. She was just told to pray "His grace is sufficient". One day I was retelling the story on a weekly podcast I do with some friends and she heard my story and then called me and shared this prayer God told her to pray that she didn't understand at the time why she was to pray it - crazy and awesome. Anyway, moral of this story is that if a Costa Rican casualty says "that's acid" assume its much worse and immediately wash your whole body!

As we started planning to come home for the summer everything came together in Esterillos for us that allowed us to transition away in a very healthy way. Seeds of Hope ended up being ready to move back into the shelter house we were temporarily renting to help them out during transition. We got the entire aquaponics system transferred and moved to PVC. We taught Dennis and Kyle and our friend Hydo how to manage it and run it. We successfully planted plants, fish and bacteria and system was truly doing amazing when we left! Esterillos is slowly gaining a culture of agriculture - we were only one small piece of that but hope that Father allowed us to help plant some seeds and grow them to help create that culture and movement. Hydo is now working for PVC as well as another local running the community garden which is a major milestone is bringing jobs and income into Esterillos through agriculture. There is still much to do and our hope is to continue to spend part of each year in Esterillos fellowshipping with our dear friends and continuing to get behind and help build out the vision we originally went down there with and for.


Watching everything come together at the end was truly like watching a miracle unfold in slow motion - there really is no other way to describe it! I also know that both Megan and I look back and say without question - it was worth it, and we were so blessed to have been able to be part of what God is doing there.

So now we are home looking for a house to move into in the States so that we can have a more sustainable approach to what we have been doing. The hope would be to have a home here and in Esterillos in which we would use both for discipleship and sustainable living while continuing the missions God has for us here and in Esterillos splitting our time each year between the two. We're trusting Him and just following as He leads - so just like before - we aren't quite sure how long we will be home or how long we will be gone next time :)

Blessings!
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Costa Rica Sunset

Passover in Costa Rica

It's incredible how easily documenting our journey gets pushed to the bottom of the list - I apologize for the delay and GREATLY appreciate the healthy nudge and encouragement from a few of you to get back on top of it.

We're thankful for everyone's continual prayer support as well as for praying for Seeds of Hope during their time of transition. While we are still living in the shelter they have decided to no longer continue with the shelter program but rather focus everything into their clubhouse program efforts where they are seeing God move in incredible ways. We believe it was a great decision as well and now the only question for us is how long do we stay in the shelter and where do we go from here. It wouldn't be Costa Rica if we had the answers to those questions or any other questions for that matter.

There is so much to share, we have seen miracles and been part of miracles. It sounds funny to say that so freely but its true. It's much easier to look back and see how YHWH has been 100% faithful to us at every moment in which our only hope was for Him to come through with a miracle. Our nerves are still being strengthened and our roots growing. We are learning this incredible equation: when you put yourself in a situation in which you are completely dependent on God, He is ALWAYS faithful. The quandary is that we still find ourselves putting comforts and controls around ourselves not always living in that place of intimacy and dependence.

Megan's parents came and visited in February which was really great; they are still the ONLY people to come see us since we moved... nudge, nudge ;).
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We then came home for a few weeks for a wedding, parents anniversary, and work... we saw 5 states, lots of friends and family and even some friends from Esterillos who are now living Nashville.
hawaii

We came straight to Costa Rica from there as I was asked to speak to a couple small groups about getting back to how our Creator intended for food to be, aquaponics and gardening at an evangelism conference done by JA Parez and Luis Palau. The conference spends a year beforehand to work with the local churches in that area preparing them and training them on discipleship of new believers as many meet Jesus/Yahushua for the first time there. It was a challenging growth and learning experience in so many ways, but it was beautiful to see latino cultured evangelism and to hopefully have been a part of the good that came from it.

Since January Megan and I have also started teaching in Esterillos. Megan is leading a natural health and nutrition class with the women of Esterillos, and I have been leading the Seeds of Hope staff in studying Biblically based missions and being effective while not hurting through a book study of When Helping Hurts.

While a lot has happened since we last wrote, including that we have officially finished the building of the first aquaponics garden and successfully moved it to Pura Vida Church, I want to spend the rest of the time talking about Passover which is right around the corner. We've been invited by the Creator of the world to His seven annual festivals. One of which is Passover, as the barley just sprouted in Israel and the new moon was sighted last week it's officially New Year, Biblically speaking, and with that Passover is 14 days away from the new year which would be the night of April 13th this year. It's a time for each of us to remember that YHWH is continually redeeming His people, to remember when the spirit of death passed over the Israelites and that the spirit of death has passed over us because Yahushua was our passover lamb. The following day starts The Feast of Unleavened Bread which we can also start preparing for now reflecting on the leaven which represents the sin in our lives and asking YHWH to reveal that to us and show us our blind spots so we can be cleansed from them. It's interesting in that Megan and I are currently on a one month media fast. Right when we got back I felt God calling us to do it and thought "that's a crazy idea... and o hey did you see that parrot over there" but then later that night Megan confirmed the same thing and so we started it. We haven't had TV for almost a decade but the truth is we love to watch movies on our computers and we allow a lot of distractions and sometimes pretty unhealthy content into our minds. We also use it for entertainment, relief, and hanging out. We realized it would be cool to just cleanse our minds for a bit and find new ways to de-stress, hangout, and entertain ourselves. Sometimes we miss it but overall it was perfect timing with Passover and The Feast of Unleavened Bread right around the corner really cleansing our minds and giving us the space to unpack the things Father has for us during this time.

Celebrating the Biblical festivals, as the Bible tells us we are to, as Messiah did Himself, as the first disciples did, as the first 'church' did, and as we will continue to do in Heaven has truly been one of the richest things Megan and I have ever done. It sounds like a ritual or festivity, however its a direct calling and blessing from YHWH. When the Creator of our very existence gives us instructions for our lives and we choose to follow them, He blesses us with richness of life, intimacy and closeness in a way we could never achieve on our own. To conclude, we haven't always celebrated the Biblical festivals of YHWH because we didn't understand them, but now I couldn't recommend it enough, specifically for the fruit it produces and for the reasons I underlined above.


We're Moving

We're moving… but not back to the US. This week we had to move to from our cabina as our landlord decided to move back into her cabina here in Esterillos forcing us to find another place to live. We had been looking for a new place and praying about it for a few weeks, and last minute an opportunity opened up after hitting wall after wall. Recently Seeds of Hope went through some unfortunate changes as the girls in the shelter ended up running away. It was truly devastating as so much progress had been made with the girls. This really paints a picture on the amount of deception and spiritual warfare in the girls lives as they ran from protection back to places of high risk. At this time Seeds of Hope is regrouping and preparing for the possibility of receiving new girls and praying about direction for their future. The house would have been empty and an extra expense during this time of regrouping and rebuilding.

Right around this time, one day during my quiet time I felt like Father put it on my heart that we should move into the shelter home for a period of time. I spoke with Megan about it as it seemed quite bizarre at the time. We ended up thinking it probably wouldn’t work out because new girls would be moving in soon and thus we never brought it up to Seeds of Hope. Then one night during a Shabbat our friend Holly who is the director of Seeds of Hope approached us about possibly living in the shelter home for a period of time during this transition they were going through - confirmations are so amazing and such a blessing. We ended up praying about it and felt like we were supposed to move, and so that Friday we moved in.

I want to clarify when I said “we felt like we were supposed to”. Every step in our journey has been a step of faith, looking back it’s very easy to see the lines that connect the dots. However along our journey during each jump from one dot to the next, it’s full of uncertainty, but we take the info we have and make the best decision we can and then jump - the key is we to keep jumping keep going on the journey. Life’s a journey not a destination - we all know this but how many times have we stopped, plateaued, or delayed to avoid conflict or discomfort? We have found this to be a recurring theme in our lives.

I think God gives us enough information to make the jump but not enough that faith and trust wouldn’t be necessary.

We're operating in more shades of gray than black and white recognizing that if we ever make the wrong leap, Father will correct us and we will be back on the correct path. The key is to be making those jumps, those leaps of faith however great or small they may seem. A lot of times people approach us with an assumption that we are doing the things we are doing because they are written in stone. Thats a deep departure from our reality, decisions would be easy if they were written in stone, actually they wouldn’t be decisions at all would they. Isn’t that a humorous paradox - we expect to always have free will but we want answers to our lives questions already mapped out for us. That would also take away the relational side of seeking YHWH and our Savior Yahushua every day - it would allow us to put a formula on it, it would allow us to become religious.

I think many times in my life I sat in the back row saying ‘well if God told me to do x, y or z I would go and do that too’. However the more time I spend with Yahushua the more I realize it’s more about the journey and learning to take cues and subtle jesters as we dance our way through this life.

I also am convicted by the fact that He has already given us so much clear guidance and instruction for our lives in His Word, it would seem kind of funny for Him to have to write it in stone, since He already did :). I'm not a father yet myself but I can imagine it would only seem ridiculous to give someone written instructions and then have them expect confirmation every time they are encountered with a situation that's relevant to those instructions. Yet too often this is exactly how we treat our decisions in our daily lives, myself included. We expect Father to restate, repeat, and rewrite it out for us when He so clearly already has in His Word.

And so it's with those lessons were trying to learn how to follow and be obedient to His calling through His Spirits leading and His written Word in this great dance with our Creator. Most of the time we probably look like two adult kids jumping off a small cliff with our eyes closed and noses plugged - but it's in looking back at those moments that we see He was there all along and so very alive and active in our lives. That doesn't take away the fact that during those times we get bombarded with tons of doubt, confusion, and worry. But our hope is that we would not become stagnant but rather grow in our faith so that we can go from puckering up before jumping from the side of the pool - to sprinting into a double gainer off the high dive - knowing He is always faithful every time we obey His calling, no matter how dimly lit the light of that calling may be.

It doesn't all make sense right now but for the time being we are living in the shelter for the next 2 months. It was left in a bit of a mess and with lots of sorrow. We believe that during this time we have been called to do a house cleaning both physically and spiritually. So during our time here we are physically cleaning out the house and preparing it for the next set of girls to come. As well as spiritually cleansing the house by speaking Scripture over it and praying over it daily. You can only image the amount of spiritual warfare these girls are coming out of, it truly is a war and we want to cleans this house of anything that would prevent their healing as well as help create an environment of Shalom for them. So for the next two months we're going to be doing some cleaning. We ask that you would pray with and for us during this time, and we also ask that you would pray for wisdom and direction for the Seeds of Hope team as they gather together to figure out next steps.

I apologize as this is about 4 weeks late - wrote about 90% then let set on the back burner and just finding the time to wrap it up. More to come soon.

Lastly, we had no awesome moving pictures basically just lots of sweat and dirt so instead we leave you with a quick video of some white faced monkeys passing through our backyard.

http://vimeo.com/user10496014/white-faced-monkeys


Breaking New Grounds with Aquaponics - Part III

To read part II click here.
Having community buy-in and most of our major raw resources gathered for the aquaponics system we were finally in a place to begin building. Well, there is nothing like doing construction by yourself in Costa Rica to bring home the slowness of this country. After weeks of late nights and long weekends mapping out, planning, and trying to understand how to leverage the natural surroundings we broke ground on building November 16th (yes this is post is well overdue).

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Because plastic is hard to find and expensive here I decided to build the grow beds out of wood. So in planning like normal I went to figure out where I could contract someone for wood for the project when Dennis told me "you don't need to order it bro, we have everything you need at our house". Like my over analyzing self I asked multiple times if he had the exact things I was looking for, and he always assured me he did. When I got to his house the day I set aside to start building, I asked "where's the wood" he looked around slightly confused then pointed to the pile in the first photo and said "its right there", and then explained if I wanted I could take apart the tower in the second photo... and just like that he was in his truck and off to help out at the school. My internal reaction wasn't the best, but not knowing what else to do I spent most of my day salvaging and deconstructing things to find and create a few usable pieces (third photo). Below is a better depiction of the difference between my daily expectations here and reality lol.

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There was a team of people from San Jose visiting that weekend working on helping at the school and the Leon's new house, and while I was told and thought one of the volunteers from the church could help me frame out the aquaponics grow beds, when I asked for help they simply said "no" and explained they were too busy. Megan was at home painting the aquaponics tank frame with anti-corrosion paint and oil so this thing lasts longer that a few months in this gnarly jungle. So on my own I began framing out the grow beds with my new purposed wood.

While I mentioned we have received buy in I meant it, we have encountered incredible connections and have found that some groups desire and are excited about having this new thing called aquaponics help their community. The thing is while people want it, no one is interested yet in actually bringing it into fruition. So working on my own with no help, and no encouragement or thankfulness I found myself getting frustrated and basically angry... and that's when Father placed a mirror in front of me showing me my inner feelings. It was then He asked me "can you serve Me with joy out of obedience, even if no one encourages you, even if they aren't grateful, even if they don't help, even if.... regardless of your environment and circumstances, can you share my love and serve in joy?". Dang, that's a convicting question and yet so close to the core of Father's heart, just look at Yehushua's life. I'd like to say it was a quick conversation with Father but it looked more like Abraham wrestling with God than a simple yes. I was convicted and am still wrestling with it, like when Peter asked Messiah about the other disciples future when he was told his brutal future... Yehushua simply responded saying in short "what is it to you [Peter], you follow me" (John 21:22). So there I was wrestling with God trying to learn how to worry about myself. Something Father is teaching me is that since He put it on our hearts to be down here were called to be obedient in that regardless of what happens around or to us. Can I keep persevering without encouragement, without others helping, can I simply just serve with a joyful heart and stay focused because Father called us to this months ago.

I can say that starting something from nothing with no buy in, no examples, no anything is much harder than I expected. But the question now is can we stay focused and persevere regardless.

I'm challenged by the book of Nehemiah - Nehemiah had incredible steadfast faith rebuilding the walls in Jerusalem, not only was he taking new paths never walked before, he was being persecuted and his life was threatened in the midst of walking those new paths. Yet he never lost focus of what YHWH called him to do. I highly recommend everyone read that story, its epic to say the least. Read Nehemiah here.

So, can we persevere, can I be obedient, can I stay focused regardless of my circumstances? I would like to say yes we're going to perform with flying colors, but I am realizing this is only the beginning of the journey, and time will tell. Good thing His graces renew every morning and His patience is never ending.


Breaking New Grounds with Aquaponics - Part II

To read part I of how we are breaking new grounds in Aquaponics click here.
Since then we also connected with an organization called Seeds of Hope which by Father's incredible timing just moved it's headquarters to little ol Esterillos, below is only the tip of the iceberg, you will hear much more about them in the future. Seeds of Hope is similar to iEmpathize in that they rescue and prevent child sex exploitation and sex trafficking, which is unfortunately big tourist and local business here... just like America and the rest of the world. You should read the Seeds of Hope story on the site as this does no justice. In a quick summary we are encouraged by, our other new friends and founders, Chris and Penny's faith and action... they didn't wait they just jumped in. On a vacation trip a couple years ago they discovered trafficking was a problem here, they were not ok with that and decided they were going to do something about it, and in less than a year they had sold everything, moved here, started Seeds of Hope. And already to our testimony they are doing incredible, truly incredible work. We first heard about Seeds of Hope through Dan and Chloe and have been able to get involved via another couple Isaac and Megan (some of our new incredible friends) who are down here being the hands and feet of Seeds of Hope. We randomly met Isaac and Megan at an ice cream shop but it has been so evident that Father had intended for us to meet from the beginning. The incredible thing about this connection is that through Isaac and Megan we discovered Seeds of Hope has been wanting to do aquaponics they just didn't know how to AND as mentioned they just moved into our backyard. Because of that we are going to also build an aquaponics farm at the safehouse for Seeds of Hope! Since then we have been able to connect much more and spend time with the girls in the safehouse. There's nothing like hanging out with children who have been rescued from their parents tying them to beds, pimping them out, and having things done to them that are so horrific the word evil feels like a compliment compared to the depth and darkness that has happened. When I think about how offensive this is, I am reminded that if I am that hurt and disgusted by this, how much more is their true Father in heaven... and thus the need for His people to get off the sidelines like our new friends and get in the game; peoples lives are at stake. As we learn story after story and hang out with the girls I'm challenged, encouraged and radically shaping my perspective. Hang out with a child who has been trafficked and all the sudden your worst problems seem like blessings. The most incredible part is that the kids are amazing and we learn so much from them, they're survivors, and more than that they're heros.

Uno Mas Garden
Uno Mas Garden
Uno Mas Garden
Uno Mas Garden

We're still working in the garden with Uno Mas each week and during the weekends we focus on making progress in aquaponics. One weekend we traveled all throughout the countries largest cities picking up unique equipment, there's nothing like traveling for an entire day to just get a water pump or growing baskets. Last weekend we spend the entire Saturday finding and securing a water bin that will serve as the first fish tank. We have effectively traveled over about 40% of the country thus far to scrape together the initial pieces to the aquaponics puzzle. It's in these trips we are reminded of the overabundance back at home we too often took for granted. But week by week and day by day we chip away at this project. It's much slower than anticipated, but we are learning, stretching and growing. After 7 weeks here we now have discovered the need, shared the vision, have partial buy-in, have desire from the community, and the initial hardware and parts to get started.

Weeks of research and one day to get one item for Aquaponics
Weeks of research and one day to get one item for Aquaponics
And if you're asking yourself if we were that happy, Yes we were rather excited about it.
And if you're asking yourself if we were that happy, Yes we were rather excited about it.
Finally found our fish tank in a recycling yard
Finally found our fish tank in a recycling yard
Did we mention it was hot?
Did we mention it was hot?
Our awesome friend who found out we were helping a school and gave us a discount.
Our new friend who found out we were helping a school and church and gave us a discount.
The Hefe keeping things in order
The Hefe ("Boss" for all the english folks) keeping things in order

To find out how our first days of construction have gone click here to see part 3 of 3.


Breaking New Grounds with Aquaponics - Part I

Despite Costa Rica being a place of lush rain forest and bright green jungles there is a dramatic gap in healthy and sustainable food. Most of the food available throughout the country, and especially Esterillos where we are, is equivalent to what you would find in a remote gas station/mechanic shop somewhere in the middle of Nebraska, but worse. The food is highly processed, full of chemicals, stale, genetically modified, sprayed with pesticides, and rotting. We knew this was a problem when originally felt called to help establish a sustainable healthy food source in this community, it's just much worse than we anticipated. Part of the problem is a mixture of poverty and lack of knowledge - if the farmers here lose a crop they could lose everything, and no one has shown them that these farming practices they have adopted from their western friends are bad. The consumers aren't creating demand for anything different either, because... after all if its on the shelves in the store it must not be bad for you right.

In trying to learn from past moments of overzealousness, one of our main focus' for this season was to approach our mission here with flexibility and openness to whatever Father's plan was for us down here, even if it looked completely different than what we originally thought.  This is why our response to the question "how long are you going to be down there?" has been vague. We've recognized that He placed this vision for sustainable food in Esterillos on our hearts BUT we understand that one, He can change that plan at anytime, and two we are faulty people and could have misunderstood. It's through that lense that we find we are truly dependent on Him daily to understand what our direction is knowing it could change at any moment. One of initial goals is to get buy in from the community first before anything else. That hurdle is raised due to lack of desire for agriculture, lack of education on health food sources, no previous knowledge of aquaponics, and language barriers. Honestly, I was never sure we would ever get over that first hurdle, but to our surprise, Father has not changed the plans and we have seen and been able to be part of getting small pockets of people bought into and excited about the possibility of aquaponics in Esterillos, HalleluYah.

We usually try to come down every six months to support in whatever way is needed, it was during our planning for our next trip that we felt like Father called us to move here instead of come on a short term mission. The main reasons being that if this were to be successful we needed to:

  • Understand that we have been blessed to be a blessing
  • Operate on His timeline
  • Fulfill a current need in the community
  • Get community buy
  • Find locals to own and champion it
  • Be here long enough to build, train, and establish systems to ensure its self sustainability.

So it's with those priorities in mind that we have headed into this community, and Father has been so good in bridging those connections, stretching us more than we ever imagined, and truly showing us there is a deep need here for what we came to do.

We spent a lot of time researching aquaponics in Costa Rica before we came and found 4 groups that were supposedly doing aquaponics down here that we had hoped to connect with. Interestingly enough, we have connected with all 4 groups and not one of them actually completed the project nor is actually doing aquaponics - so it because of those circumstances that we are breaking new ground here in Costa Rica.

As usual each of these paragraphs below deserve their own blog post but I find it challenging to keep on top of everything while being down here. So in a quick summary below are some of our adventures in breaking new ground in agriculture and aquaponics in Costa Rica.

One of our first adventures started with us connecting with another couple Dan and Chloe who are here full time doing ministry work in Esterillos, and they have quickly become some of our new friends as they also have a passions for the Kingdom, agriculture, and Esterillos. It was only after a short time we connected in a deep way and next thing you knew we were talking about leaving for the southern part of Costa Rica together to go visit a remote self sustaining community we both had wanted to visit because it was doing permaculture and supposedly aquaponics as well. We decided to leave at 5 AM the two days later, and like most Costa Rica trips it would have seemed off it we could have simply hopped on the road and headed south. After going through 4 jumper cables (no joke, apparently the jungle isn't only deadly, it eats jumper cables too) we finally jumped Dan's truck, and piled in to head to the Osa Peninsula.

In the backseat alone was 2 kids in car seats, Megan, Antonio, and myself,and yes we should have taken a picture because it was awesome. We went to learn more about permaculture and aquaponics. Osa Mountain Village is a self sustaining remote community deep in the jungle of the Osa Peninsula, the goal is to turn every piece of landscape into food. They have a few permaculture and agriculture guru's on staff and so for two days we learned as much as we could, and while they had hoped to start aquaponics we discovered they never have. We also go to hike 20 minutes into the mountains (we were already off the map, so this was Bear Grylls crazy intense rain forest territory and hiked up to a beautiful waterfall, enjoyed Fathers creation and drank water right off the rocks.

Megan and I took a bus back north, got stranded because of a late bus, rented a car, picked up some swedish hitchhikers, and realized that wasn't our typical Sunday morning to Monday night back home.

Click here to read part two of our continued adventures of Costa Rica and Aquaponics.


The First Few Weeks in Costa Rica

Without hesitation I can say that up to this point our journey has been a two parallel path of seeing Father provide through unique and miraculous ways we never imagined; and being more challenged in all areas of our life than we ever expected. Due to not so hot travel arrangements it took us two days and no sleep to get here. Once we arrived our good friends dropped us off in front of our house in typical Costa Rican fashion, waved goodbye and said "we'll see you around"… and that was it. Megan and I found ourselves hitting a wall of reality we didn't quite expect.

One thing we have found is that maybe we weren't as resilient as we thought. We have been in some pretty intense situations in our lives and our travels around the world, yet one thing held different this journey, there was no 'going home' anchor date to hang onto. It's a whole different mental and physical hurdle to overcome when there is no defined 'end date'. More importantly, what about those who have never even had any date to hang onto their entire lives, in situations much worse than ours? How beautiful it will be when Father restores all back to new and the least of these will be first, that's the Kingdom we yearn for.

We can't believe its already been almost 3 weeks. From one perspective it feels like its been a couple of months based on the amount of learning and stretching we have gone through, and on another perspective I cannot believe it's taken us three weeks to find a quick break to be able to type this up. While we don't see it being like this forever, we have found that these first days have been overtaken striving to meet our basic survival needs - literally. It seems as though every day is some new hurdle between having no water (today is the first day in 3 days and its amazing how many things depend on water like a toilet, sink, food, shower, etc.), finding food, finding transportation, acquiring basic housing items like sheets or forks, getting internet, etc... and figuring out how to live down here, we are finding it hard to balance basic needs, works, being involved in the community, and finding time for our marriage. The most trying thing is that each time it seems like we figure something out - per say water, or a cooking source, that thing breaks and we're back to square one. We are seeing that steep growth curve slow down a bit but wow, these past weeks have been stretching. It's interesting how much more challenging and real James 2 and Romans 5 are to us now. They always seemed like powerful words, but "being exalted" and "considering it pure joy" are things we are finding we have a lot of room to grow in.

Romans 5:3-6
And not only this, but we also exult in pressures, knowing that pressure works endurance; and endurance, approvedness; and approvedness, expectation. And expectation does not disappoint, because the love of Elohim has been poured out in our hearts by the Set-apart Spirit which was given to us. For when we were still weak, Messiah in due time died for the wicked.

James 1:2-4
My brothers, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the proving of your belief works endurance. And let endurance have a perfect work, so that you be perfect and complete, lacking in naught.

But I couldn't say all that without saying that Father has been more than sufficient. Every time we feel like we are going to break it's as though he provides some pressure relief valve with intimate gestures that say "I'm here" or "I love you" or literal miracles in which we can only praise His name and be struck in awe.

One thing we have always loved about serving in places like this is gaining eternal and world perspective. Understanding how much we take for granite, over consume, and are self absorbed at home. This trip has done no less than amplify our perspective more than we ever imaged… and again what about those in which much worse is their life? We are so blessed, it almost feels childish sharing our mild struggles down here just thinking about others. Hence how much more I recognize I have to grow… it feels like we're swimming up stream barely keeping our heads above water and then I think about 1/6th of the planet in slums [A, B], millions - literally millions of children abused through sex slavery [C, D], ~25K people a day dying of starvation [E, F], and then I get a hindsight view that Im floating on the lazy river drinking a Starbucks worrying about my toes getting wet. I truly cannot imagine what it would be like to be in any one of their shoes, or rather bare feet.

One large differentiator that we have found is that it's very hard to escape reality here as in many other places in the world. At home its so easy to escape the climate, problems, confrontation, headaches, back pain, stress, responsibilities, and so much more. We have so many things that offer escapes from reality between climate control, access to almost anything the planet offers (can you imagine growing up in a village and eating the same 30 things for a lifetime?), pain medication, alcohol, drugs, coffee shops, movies, tv, personal space, restaurants, fads & trends, sports, and on and on. Now none of those things are inherently bad per say, but when you look at how easy it is for us to avoid our current reality it's a bit shocking. Here we have found a different story, when it's hot (and it's always hot, no windows just holes in the wall baking on the equator ensures it stays hot)… we're hot, when we don't feel good… we just don't feel good, when we want to run away… there's no where to go, when we aren't getting along… we're all we have, when we want something whether food, entrainment, distractions… it either doesn't exist or we have no way of getting it or to it, etc. I do not share that so you will feel for us, but rather to share one of our larger unexpected eye openers, realizing how much we lived inside an almost never ending distraction of reality, it was always slightly modified to our comfort or distraction. Maybe that's why most of the world is suffering from material poverty but western culture deeply suffers from poverty of community.

I feel like every day holds enough story, miracles, trials, and adventure in themselves to write a 10 page blog daily so it's hard figuring out where to begin.

We made a deal to rent a car for short trips that wouldn't start, and then literally after praying over the car it started and has run ever since… this is known as the silver bullet, lightening struck a pole 50 feet from us in a crazy storm with sparks and all, had a small herd of brahman cattle in our back yard, due to lack of resources gathered a ton of coconuts and made our own milk, oil, water, and flour out of them, went through a small flood, ate an entire meal out of wild food in the jungle, been completely freaked out by the jungle, found raw local milk, killed so many bugs our consciences are getting to us, learning daily that things take longer (one example: went to the only organic farmers market in CR - left at 6AM thought we would be back by noon to only get home at 10:30PM), composting using backache, about 100 plants seedlings started, first spouts already showing, started a garden, had head trauma with a concrete wall, caught a wave, missed a wave, cried, laughed, broke our most valuable food supplements, waved at some monkeys, and have been so blessed by your prayers.

We're making great progress on getting buy in from the community on sustainable agriculture and aquaponics so that is moving forward well. Tomorrow we might get to go visit one of the largest food forests and aquaponics places in Costa Rica.

We're praying daily for direction and balance so we can live out whatever it is He is calling us to here, if you would pray with us for that we would be deeply grateful.

Until next time… Pura Vida,

(PS - this was written 3 days ago but our electricity was out for a couple of days ;) hence the further delay)

We're really slacking on pictures and updates we know - we'll work on it :) for the time being here are a few:

Scavenging our first meal day 1
Scavenging our first meal day 1
Did I mention it's hot here
Did I mention it's hot here
Overcoming the mighty coco
Overcoming the mighty coco
I'm dwarfed by her beauty
I'm dwarfed by her beauty
Sprouted Coconut Apple
Sprouted Coconut Apple
Livin
Livin
Some of our coconut milk
Some of our coconut milk
Colorado pride
Colorado pride
Brahman Cows
Brahman Cows
The one and only Silver Bullet
The one and only Silver Bullet
Su Casa
Su Casa
Planting
Planting


A. Connexion Mosaico Urban Slum Stats
B. U.N. Habitat, The Challenge of Slums – Global Report on Human Settlements
C. iEmpathize.org Kids
D. Slavery Map
E. World Food Programme Stats
F. Wikipedia - Starvation


Moving to Costa Rica For a Bit

This news will probably surprise you as much as it surprised us. For more than a year We have been praying about what we should do next, and up until 2 weeks ago we thought we were supposed to move into a house in Denver where we could serve our neighbors in Denver more effectively. However two weeks ago Father provided multiple confirmations and we believe we are supposed to move to Costa Rica for a bit to serve our friends at Pura Vida Church and the community there of which we have been supporting and serving for the last 3 1/2 years, also the place we became engaged.

We probably have as many questions as you do ;)... currently we aren't sure how long we will be there we just got a one way ticket, are packing our stuff away, and going to be praying daily for guidance from the Set Apart Spirit as to what we should be doing each day and how long we should be there. Some people have already said "why Costa Rica and why not your neighbors locally, there's tons of need locally"... the answer is we thought we were going to continue locally but at the end of the day we do believe we were called there and are most interested in being obedient. Looking back we have seen how our path has turned to blessings when being obedient, and to strife when we chose our own way regardless of how or why it might seem like the better option, larger need, prideful way.

How you can help:

What we deeply need is prayer... we know that without prayer we will be less fruitful and maybe fruitless - despite pulling away from our community and support system here, we also recognize that our fleshly desires of comfort (unfortunately) will take a bit to shed off and that could add a little more pressure on a new marriage. So if you could specifically be praying for protection spiritually and physically, courage to live out our spiritual convictions, and the ability to recognize and hear the Spirit daily we would be more than blessed!

What we are doing:

While we had quite a few confirmations about going down there to do three things specifically: 1. help our friends who lost most of their house 2 months ago to a 7.6 scale earthquake, 2. build out a self-sustaining aquaponics agricultural system, and 3. be an encouragement to the village and the believers who are permanently down there. However, we recognize that Father's plans for us may change, and the villages needs may change so we are trying to be open to whatever that may end up becoming. Our goal is really to just move down there, live our lives as a member of the community (we're both blessed in that we can work remotely), and hopefully be a reflection of Messiah to those around us - we will be the first to tell you this will be our biggest area of growth as we have lots of humbling refining that we will be working on for the rest of our lives.
Esterillos-2010
Our dear friends Travis and Charisa have been down there for a year and will be coming home, you can learn more about their journey here, and all about Pura Vida Church here. You can follow us by subscribing in the form below, we wont spam you and we'll be sure to keep it interesting. We feel incredibly blessed to be able to do this as Father's provision has been incredible; the more we think about how much we have been blessed living here the more we are convinced this is the right thing to do... and the more we remember what our Messiah Yahushua did for us on the cross the more we recognize we have a long way to go - He did this so we could share the Good News with others.

Blessings!

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PuraVida Church

The Leon family and Pura Vida church have a deep tie in our story.  Esterillos is not only the place we became engaged, but also the first place Megan ever visited outside the country, and both Kenn and Megans first mission trip was to Estrillos Costa Rica.  Not only has the villiage and community captured both of our hearts, but the relational values and minstry the Leon family exhibit aligns perfectly with what we both believe is the true meaning of ministry and our purpose on this planet.  Below is a bit more about PuraVida Church and the Leon Family.Read more


dennis-leon

Pura Vida Church's Core Values with Dennis Leon

We got the opportunity to sit down with Dennis Leon the Pastor of Pura Vida Church in Esterillos, Costa Rica. In the video Dennis speaks about the founding core values they hold themselves to; and takes a look at what it looks to live in community and do relational based ministry.

https://vimeo.com/39812842