Friday, August 31, 2007

she strikes again

My mom hates when I say this (I can hear her saying “Don’t speak that over yourself!”), but I am a klutz. There’s no denying it. Let me share just a few examples from the past week. I invested in some schmancy new kitchen knives: Henckel Four Star series. For the last ten years I’ve been using a block I bought at a friend’s garage sale for $5. I think their actual retail price was $20. But they did the trick for someone fresh out of college with no money. I love the new knives, and let me tell you, they’re incredible sharp. They slice through everything, even skin, like butter. I sliced my fingers – twice, thank goodness not badly. Those cuts are healing nicely. So last night I sliced my finger with the letter opener going through the mail. Toledo steel in the shape of a sword from Spain – ironically, a present from my mom.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Live each day

Wow. I was prepared to write a light blog about investing in some great kitchen knives this weekend. However, I got an email that changed everything this morning. My final semester in college, we got a new campus minister for Christian Campus Ministry. Allen & Chrissy have done great work there over the last 11 years. The email told me about two weeks ago they had a motorcycle accident. She was thrown and sustained only a concussion, but he was pinned under the bike. He had a spinal cord injury. There have been issues with his lungs & breathing, but he is starting to get some sensation in his upper body. There is a long road ahead of them.

I have two other friends who are in the midst of health crises as well. Caden, friends’ 4 year old son, is undergoing chemo for a neuroblastoma in his abdomen. And Cory, an old KCYFC friend, undergoes major abdominal surgery tomorrow.

So I pray, pray, pray for these friends and their families. It’s amazing how life changes in an instant. I marvel at the strength they have to walk through each day, even though I know they often don’t feel strong. Each of them has a community of believers standing with them. And it’s a reminder for each of us to live each day such that when we do face crises that we have a firm foundation to stand on.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Happy Birthday

Happy 35th Birthday to my big sister, Sharon!

Friday, August 17, 2007


Excess – n. 1. An amount or quantity beyond what is required; surplus. 2. Intemperance; overindulgence - adj. 1. Being more than what is required.

Last week I ordered a medium Diet Coke at Wendy’s and was shocked at the size of drink I received. What used to be the biggie size is now medium. This set off a mix of emotions and contemplations.

Having been out of the country a lot lately, my biggest culture shock in coming home is the American excess. Large portions of food which lead to large waist lines. Large homes, large vehicles. I feel sickened by the excess and unsatisfied appetite for it that I see in myself and all around me. Where does this American obsession for excess come from?? We have well beyond what is required.

I think of the people in Costa Rica, about the kids we fed that week. They live in shacks thrown together with scrap boards and sheets of metal. For most of them, the food Ronald brings on Wednesdays is the only real meal they get a week. Otherwise they’re scrounging through trash for food. And the woman who does the cooking for them lives in a scrapped together home herself. She gets up at 4 AM to prepare the food and opens her home to the teams that come to serve. I think of the widow’s offering in Mark 12:41-44.

“Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on."”

I am wrestling with this. How can I not live selfishly? How can I give out of all I have? What does that mean? Several years ago I read a commentary that compared SUVs to our lives. Most people buy an SUV to tool around town, to look cool, to keep up with the trend. But they never use it for what it was designed for – off roading, heavy hauling. Many people live their lives that way. They may look cool but never live their lives to the full potential, what they were created to be. I so don’t want that to be me. How do I live my life to be all that God created and called me to be no matter what the circumstance?

Monday, August 13, 2007

Had a good time at the family reunion in Illinois Aug 3-5. Always good to see my aunts and uncles and my dad's cousins and Great Uncle Bob. The Marshall kids and spouses:

I got quality time with JT as he insisted on taking the 8-hour roadtrip in Grandpa’s car rather than with Mommy & Daddy. He does really well, likes looking out the window. We had fun singing and playing. I taught him to say “favorite aunt” – hee.

I have to figure out when to take a trip to see my other nephew, Marshall.

I got the new calculator – I know you’re anxious to hear about it. The HP 33s RPN has a fancy design. It’s incredibly lightweight and has some great functions, but I’m still getting used to it.

I have season tickets to Music Theatre of Wichita but for obvious reasons missed most of this summer’s season. I let a friend enjoy them. I got to attend the last show of the season last week – Hairspray. Fun. However, I was more excited by a discovery I made when I finally glanced at the tickets when we got to the theatre. I got new seats – Row A front & center in the Balcony! Can’t tell you how thrilled I was. I’ve been trying to get from Row B to Row A for 2 seasons. I’m buying season tickets whether I’m here next summer or not so I can keep the seats.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Costa Rica - Part Dos

This is going to be a long one. I don’t know how to even begin on sharing my Costa Rica experience. It was incredible and exhausting. I had not been able to participate in any of the team meetings leading up to the trip because of my time in France, so I didn’t know how I’d fit in with the team. But it was a fantastic team of 17 people who went – we worked well together and everyone dove right in to the work at hand. I made some good friends - we shared a lot and a lot of laughs.
The main part of our week was spent helping with construction work at the Abraham Project. It’s an amazing ministry to the community around them. They do it all with excellence and amazing vision. I could spend pages telling about it. They have placed themselves in a marginal area to serve the community. They have a daycare. They have a cafeteria for the daycare kids some of whom do not get food at home. The cafeteria is currently also where the church meets. Above the daycare is classrooms where they teach adults life skills so they can get jobs to support their families.

They have 3 children’s homes – 2 are finished and we helped with construction on the third. One home is up and running with Costa Rican house parents with 6 children. These are not technically orphans, but they have been declared abandoned by their parents. Three of the kids are in the process of being adopted by an Italian couple. These kids long for nothing more than to have a family of their own. The house we helped with will be up and running by early 2008. It will take emergency cases when social services needs to remove kids from homes immediately. The Costa Rican government places the kids in the homes. The Abraham Project has a good relationship with the government. The 3rd home is handicap accessible and will be operational once they find a 3rd set of house parents.

We also helped with construction of the multi-purpose building. It will have offices for professionals to come donate services and a large gymnasium. This will be where the church meets and will be for sports programs for teenagers. It rains 70% of the year in Costa Rica, so having an indoor sports facility will be a large service to the community.
I got to help pour concrete for the multi-purpose building foundation. The project hires Tico (what the Costa Ricans call themselves) workers and the mission teams help out.
We were told the work we did last week was 8.5 weeks worth of one Tico laborer. It really encouraged them. We had a good time with our Tico brethren. Ramon promised to have me speaking Spanish in 3 days – not so much. Us “concrete-stadors” had tons of fun. It sounds ridiculous, but it was a blast.
Unfortunately the lye in the concrete mix started burning my hands, so I had to switch jobs partway thru day two. All the wood used at the project is donated by a company in San Jose that ships glass. The wood palates have to be taken apart, nails & staples pulled and treated, planed & stained. We helped pull many nails & staples.
Sunday we attended their church service. Such passion in worship. That night we went to a youth cell group. One of our guys played the guitar and we sang songs in English while they sang along in Spanish. It was an incredible experience – like the Bible says every tongue, tribe & nation will sing praise Him together. Thursday night we got to have a little party at the project with the youth and Tico workers. We also had a chance to play with the kids in the daycare and children’s home. That was so much fun.
Wednesday we helped with Cristo por la Citudad (Christ for the City) - Transformations. Ronald has a feeding ministry to very marginal areas of San Jose. Every week he takes food there and feeds whoever comes. Then later he goes in to build relationships. We took coolers of rice, beans, salad & juice. The first place we went they have run the police out and barricade themselves in. Ronald is allowed in because of all he has done to share love with them. I had to remember to not focus on the serving and look at the kids and adults who came to get food. It was heartbreaking to think that for a lot of them that’s their only meal for the week. Drug dealers, druggies, kids who know no other life. We then stopped and step up on the sidewalk in four other places as well and served until the food was gone. Laughed when one kid ran back to tell his mom yelling something about the gringos coming with food.

Saturday we worked with Ronald again. Went to a squatters camp and had a kids party for about 150 kids. Then fed them and their moms. It was great to see their joy for a few hours of fun.

We had one fun day. Took a catamaran cruise to Isla de Tortuga. Got to go snorkeling and hang out on the beach and get burned to a crisp despite two applications of sunscreen.
I didn’t experience culture shock like I had expected. But I understood what Ronald meant when he said it weighs on their team working in that level of poverty constantly. That was emotionally exhausting. But I think the biggest impact on me over the week was seeing the vision of these ministries being worked out to fulfillment. My heartache grew as the vision I have for my life weighed heavy on me. I long for it to be worked out. It was a confirmation that these things really are my heart’s desire. And while God seems to be opening doors that lead in the opposite direction, I’ll trust that He is working and knows my heart and will continue to work in and through me.
It was a privilege to serve at The Abraham Project and with Transformations. To encourage them in the work they are doing. Costa Rica is a beautiful country but I go away with much more than the scenery – with the people in my heart.