Mission team to Costa Rica
Days 9-10 Tuesday-Wednesday, February 21-22
Everyone pitched in and worked hard to make the project a success. Our team worked well together and we pray that the Lord will now put His blessing on this work so that it may be a blessing to the Los Cuadros congregation. We are reminded of the truth that “Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labour in vain.” (Psalm 127:1)
The only work that remains to finish the addition is mudding and painting. But the building can be used as is by the congregation.
On Tuesday, Pastor Zekveld spoke at a meeting of about 20 Pentecostal pastors on “The Spirit, the Word and the Church” from Acts 2. These pastors are becoming tired of the ‘health and wealth gospel’ that has infiltrated many churches, and they see the damage it is doing to the faith. They are becoming increasingly open to the Reformed faith. On Wednesday Pastor Zekveld spoke again at the grade school and high school assemblies of the local Christian School (CECRE).
On Wednesday night we went back to the Los Cuadros church building and had a pizza party with Pastor Marvin and his family, along with a few members of his congregation who were involved in helping us. It was a great time! We prayed the Lord’s Prayer together in Spanish and English and also sang some familiar songs together in both languages. Pastor Marvin presented our congregation with a plaque of appreciation.
One of the families of the church lives in a tiny apartment above the garage which is attached to the church building. We have made friends with the two children, Carina and Anthony, who live in that home. When they were younger their mother abandoned them and now they have been adopted by an aunt and uncle. It was very enjoyable to have these children around. (You can see the pictures of Carina and Anthony and their house in today’s set of pictures.)
We hope to leave tomorrow morning for the airport and are due to arrive back in Detroit at 11:30 pm. We thank our congregation for your prayers and support for us a team. Let us continue to pray for Pastor Marvin and the ministry of the Los Cuadros congregation.
Day 8 February 20, 2017
We got to the worksite shortly after 7:30 this morning and got a lot of work done upstairs today. The walls are almost closed in and roofing steel has been put on two of the outside walls. Hopefully all the steel will be on and the building closed in by the end of the day tomorrow.
In one of the pictures you will notice a faithful saint, Arturu, who belongs to the congregation and serves as the custodian. He is always eager to clean up after us and faithfully gets our coffee ready morning and afternoon. We appreciate his dedication!
Though we have no pictures of him today, we want to feature Jason. He is a very hard worker and a great blessing to our team. He has the added benefit of being here with his employer who, when he issues orders, Jason jumps. Jason’s mom was looking forward to having him out of the house a few days, and urged him to go to Costa Rica and find something to do. We want to assure her that we’re not letting him sit around.
We have only two more days to go, and still lots of work to do, but we’ve gotten a long ways with the Lord’s blessing and are thankful for how well it’s gone. At the same time, we’re grateful that even though we enjoy doing this work for Christ’s honour, we don’t have to rest in it for our favour with God. Praise Christ for His perfect work which brings us into God’s favour!
Day 7 Sunday, February 19, 2017
This morning all of us went to worship the Lord with the Los Cuadros congregation. There were approximately 15-20 adults there along with 4-5 infants and toddlers. In addition, 24 Sunday School children were present, most of them coming from the community outside the church. The Sunday School children recited their Bible memory verses in the service. The Canadian visitors sang “How Deep the Father’s Love For Us.” The Spanish songs sung in the service were all familiar to us (in English): Great is Thy Faithfulness,” “Seek Ye First,” “Because He Lives,” and the doxology (PH 493). The service was respectful and orderly.
Pastor Marvin preached from Acts 2:38-39, addressing the importance of the family in God’s plan of salvation. Satan tries in many ways to destroy our households but Jesus came to redeem our households. We are called to be faithful in fighting Satan’s attempts to reclaim our households by breaking down our communications and relationships.
After the service we had dinner with the whole congregation in the church building and enjoyed a delightful time of fellowship with our brothers and sisters. The Los Cuadros congregation is thankful to the Providence United Reformed Church for supporting this work on their church building.
Later in the afternoon we went over to the home of Rev. Bill and Aletha Green and enjoyed a meal and fellowship with them.
We wish all of you at home a blessed week as you serve the Lord each day, and we covet your ongoing prayers.
Day 6 Saturday, February 18, 2017
We returned to the worksite this morning and worked until noon, putting up most of the steel beams of the new roof. We also cleaned up the work area downstairs so that it can be used for worship tomorrow.
This afternoon we took a city bus to downtown San Jose and, with a tour guide, walked through some of the shops and parks. We also walked through a large Roman Catholic Church building, an imposing building and beautifully ornate. You really wonder how they were able to build such massive structures 100s of years ago without the benefits of modern technology.
Devotion to images was evident everywhere in the building carved in statues, paintings, and stained glass windows. Most striking were images of Jesus hanging on the cross, and a life-sized model of Jesus’ body lying in coffin. It was a powerful reminder of the importance of the Reformation 500 years ago. God wants His people instructed not through dumb images that cannot speak but by the living preaching of His Word. Thank God that Christ is not in a coffin! He is in heaven, speaking to His people through His Word and by His Spirit.
We enjoyed a meal together in a downtown restaurant and then returned to our temporary home to prepare for the Lord’s Day. We plan to worship tomorrow with the Los Cuadros congregation.
May the Lord bless our congregation at Providence tomorrow, equipping Rev. Vellenga to preach the Word, and opening our hearts and minds to Sthe message Christ has for us.
Day 5 February 17, 2017
In the pics today please take note of 1) the story behind Nathan’s phobia, 2) the wonderful symbol of the cross on the Los Cuadros church building that overshadows the neighbourhood, 3) the tin shanty- town that makes up much of the Los Cuadros section of San Jose, and 4) the advances made today on the second storey of the church building.
We give thanks for another very good day in the building project. The crew members are working together very well (though if Dave and Jacob are not careful Mr. Bork is going to beat the tar out of both of them). We have been spared of injury thus far only three bandaids have been applied this far, and all to the same person. All the posts are up on the second floor, along with the main beams and most of the studs.
Bert Bork began the week by saying, “Everyday comes with a surprise.” That was an understatement at first when there was a surprise at least every hour. But as the week continues, things are running much more smoothly and there have been only one or two surprises per day.
In some ways it was a very sad day. The drug deals across the street were in full swing and the smell of marijuana was all around us. People’s lives are completely empty and they are trying to fill it with a pleasure god that can only destroy them. This is a great incentive to carry on with the work of creating more space for worship and teaching.
Thank you for your prayers for us. May the Lord provide for each one of you as you offer up the witness of a godly life in Christ Jesus.
Day 4 February 16, 2017
The day started a little late because our driver’s van had a flat tire. Our team was at the work site by 9:00. It was another day of hard work and substantial progress, with the major project being making and setting up stairs to the second storey. Because of termites, wood is not used for building here, so everything has to be constructed with steel and welded together. Some of the electrical work was done today also.
Rev. Zekveld was scheduled to speak at a pastors’ conference today but because of traffic congestion they were late and the event was cancelled.
Saying of the day (contributed by George Bork): My parents were so poor they couldn’t even pay attention.
Pastor Marvin’s two sons, Harvin and Robert, drove us home after work. We invited them to join us for supper and devotions. It was a joy to get to know these two young men a little better. Robert relayed some of the struggles his father had to go through earlier on in his ministry in Los Cuadros. For a while the neighborhood really fought against having a church in the area. The house and the church were broken into and all their valuables stolen. They set his car on fire and destroyed it. One time they crucified a cat on the sidewalk across from the church doors to greet incoming worshipers. But by God’s grace this has changed. The neighbors now respect Pastor Marvin and appreciate the church. The church has offered sanctuary to many battered and abused people. In recent years Pastor Marvin has been asked to conduct several funerals for murder victims.
We give thanks for this congregation’s Christian witness in a needy neighborhood.
Day 3 Wednesday, Feb. 15, 17
After getting their bearings yesterday, the men came to work with vigor for their task and made a lot of progress. The job assigned to us is to lift the roof of ½ of the church building of the Los Cuadros congregation, and add a second floor. After putting in steel posts yesterday to support the second storey, beams were cut and welded on the posts today. The men took off the old roof and put down a floor of concrete board in its place. They needed to get this done in one day because the church could not afford leaving an open hole for the night. In this area of high crime it would be too risky. They left for the job site at 7:30 this morning and came home shortly before 6:00 pm.
The only serious issue so far is Nathan’s arachnophobia. He is receiving treatments for this in the form of brotherly mockery.
The pastor was away today leading two assemblies one at the elementary school and one at the high school on the subject of “The Life of the Church.” Tomorrow he is scheduled to teach at a pastors’ meeting (about 3 hours away) on “The Spirit, the Word, and the Church.”
We are staying at the new school building where our team last year did a lot of work. Construction crews are here everyday now and they hope to have the building completed by the end of the year when the new school year starts.
We give thanks for the congregation at Los Cuadros a bright light shining in a very dark place. Pastor Marvin, who serves there, is a faithful servant of Christ. Please pray for him and his congregation.
The team was up early after a good nights rest. Breakfast was served at 6:30 a.m. Time was taken for devotions and prayer. Re. Marvin and his bus arrived at 7:30 to take us to the Los Cuadros church. Time was taken to discuss all of the work that was to be done in order for the second floor to be installed. Before noon holes were being dug, posts were being welded and concrete was being mixed by hand. By 5 o'clock all of the supports for the second floor were cemented into the the holes. There was a feeling of accomplishment amongst the team. We arrived back at the school at 6 o'clock - supper was waiting for us. After supper we enjoyed a time of singing. Time was taken for devotions and prayer. A few games of 7's and we were off to bed. We are working in a tough neighbourhood - pray that the Lord will use the little Los Cuadros church to transform lives here in Costa Rica.
The team came together at the church at 1:30 on Monday morning. Rev. Vellenga led us in opening devotions. At 2 o'clock we were off to the airport. We flew out of Detroit at 6:45 - a stopover in Fort Lauderdale and then off to San Jose, Costa Rica. The team arrived at their new home for 10 days at 5 o'clock in the afternoon. Supper was ready for us when we arrived. After supper we enjoyed a time of singing. Time was taken for devotions and prayer. A few games were played -everyone was tired so we retired for the evening. Pray that our God will use us well here in Costa Rica.