Monday, February 27, 2006

Freedom in the Spirit

So yesterday I had a very interesting experience. Two couples, four people, came down to CFCI Costa Rica to pray for the ministries and missionaries. They set up times for missionaries to be able to come and get prayer. I wasn't sure if I was going to go, but my GIRLFRIEND ( below) encouraged me! So what did I do, but sign up!

Remembering my faith heritage-- presbyterian, baptist, covenant-- I was definately a little, um, nervous about having some more pentecostal peeps praying for me. I've just never experienced that! But I was able to get to know them a little bit first and they're wonderfully down to earth people, who die laughing about casting out demons and seeing people fly across the room! They were very pastoral in their prayers and asked what I wanted prayer over. Two things: my calling, that it would continue to form and be clear; and my relationship with VerĂ³nica.

They prayed for about 30 minutes, or so. Shared some "words" they received and prayed them over me, one of which was a pastoral calling. Then they brought VerĂ³nica back in and prayed for the both of us. It was all very edifying and an overall joyful experience.

Reflection: I'm presbyterian and so none of this is in my faith background, but I also grew up in Tulsa, home of Oral Roberts University and Billy Joe Daugherty, with his Victory Christian Center. I don't doubt that God works in these ways and I know that I have a deficient theology of the Holy Spirit and all that He can do. Is there such thing as a baptism of the Holy Spirit that is separate to Baptism? I wouldn't argue that point, but these two couples would. Are tongues important? Sure, but look at the placement of 1 Corinthians 13, as Paul talks about the giftings of the Spirit. Slain in the Spirit? I don't know. I would probably argue though that it is more related to our inability to stand before such a strong Spirit of the Lord, rather than being struck down. I thought about this as I fell back on the couch after standing in prayer. I was guided back, trusting their hands on me that I wouldn't crash against the floor (and the couch was lower than I remembered it!). Was there lightning bolts of the Spirit passing through them to me as they would come back and touch my head? Maybe, but for me it was more of a shock, to that of being barely asleep and someone touching you.

Does this negate their ministry and giftings? No. As I said before, it was joyful and edifying. I think God has a strong ministry for them, but it's not something that everyone has been gifted for. Each of us have our own giftings that God has bestowed on us according to His plan for us and how He's going to use us. I would argue that the most important thing for us to continually seek is His presence. To find ourselves at His throne seeking His grace on our lives. To continue to take up our Cross daily-- sometimes hourly-- and knowing that we are not our own, that we were bought with a price, we are to be living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God, our spiritual act of worship.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The Buzz

Man! News travels fast, huh? And well, I promised a few people that I would be posting this news on the web.

Well, I did something yesterday that I haven't done in nearly 5 years. You might want to sit down... I went on a second date. Yep. How do I say this... it was good.

Ah, so the story you ask.

Well for ever since I got here back in July, I've been going to the CFCI office devotional on Thurdays. People come and go. But sometime this past fall, Veronica started going. We talked here and there, but it was nothing. Then this past Thursday I, jokingly, asked why she never calls me? Well by the end of the conversation I walked home with her number. Friday a group of people were going to go to the Jazz Cafe, so I called her up to see if she wanted to go. She couldn't, but we ended up talking for 20 minutes. We decided on Sunday. Sunday we decided on The Pink Panther and just hanging out.

I got to the mall pretty early, so I went ahead and bought the tickets, walked around and checked out some Diesels. I sat down around 5 and waited. Throughout my sitting, a lot of cute girls walked by, but then out of the crowds Veronica appeared and I was, at that moment, struck with her beauty and presence. We grabbed a quick snack before the movie and just talked-- about everything. I paid for the bill, partly cause I wanted too, but also cause I didn't hear the cashier well enough to split it anyway. The movie was hilarious. And the cultural moves were shut down. (I still don't know how to get a girl to take your hand when you've clearly put it on the armrest to be taken!) We ended up going back to her house-- she lives at home still-- and had a great time with her family. I felt really comfortable there, plus I knew her mom from Renacer. We looked at pictures, played pool and just talked.

Monday she called me half way through the day and told me she wouldn't call me that night, because she would get home late and it would be rude to call my house that late. Okay, no worries. When I was heading up to bed, though, I decided that I wanted to call her. The first words out of her mouth were, "OH, I'm so glad you called." We talked and talked. No games were played. We both made it clear that we like each other and by the time we finished talking it had been more than 2 hours. I had taken no notice.

Tuesday we saw each other at a seminar that CFCI was holding. I thought she had something to do, because she told me she was probably going to leave early, but turned out that was only if she was bored! We kinda looked at each other at the end of the time and said, "So, what are we going to do now?" I said let's just go back to my house and hang out, but she said she had a better idea. So we went over to the University of CR, where I studied 4 years earlier, and where she's finishing up soon, before pursuing a Masters in Education in the States. We went to her favorite cafe and again talked, trying to discover who this other person is and why were so comfortable around each other. Our lives and our dreams match up amazingly, something that only God could have put together. How much do we share about how we're feeling? How much do we still try to guard each other's hearts? Where is that fine balance?

I'll divulge some more information about her. Veronica Gutierrez is 22 years old and has grown up in Costa Rica her whole life. She spent a month or so in Virgina when she was 15. She gave her life to Christ when she was 12. She has brown hair and brown eyes (I'll get a picture up soon). She makes me laugh even when I've only had 4 hours sleep. She challenges me in my faith. She's worried about me, because I'm trying to grow a beard with a long goatee in the style of Charlie Hall, but knows I won't be growing my hair out. She wants to go to grad school in the States and isn't sure she is going to return to Costa Rica afterwards. She's flippin' awesome.


Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Almost "Coming alive"

Right now I'm frustrated. I've been typing out my post about my team that I led nearly 3 weeks ago now and I have been trying to post up some pictures too. Through all of it, the pictures won't post how I want them to and the sweet story that I had about my time with the team is lost. Some where in cyber space I guess. Being as vast as actual space, at least digitally, recovery ain't happen-en, as we like to say in the Southern half of the Estados. So I'll write some other fleeting thoughts as I begin to reconstruct my last near-post to satisfy your desirous pleas for information of my life.

Second change of subject: (I'll leave the juicy stuff for later in the week.) I was able to have a day of "recovery" if you can call it that between dropping the Troyers off at the airport and going on another mission trip. It was an internal one, with as many ticos as gringos. We went to the Guaymis on the Osa Penisula in southern Costa Rica. I can say this about the trip-- it was the worst mission trip I've ever been on. I'll qualify that statement. Mission trips are good (period) They have this quality of building relationships between the team and those whom you are serving. This is good. They are a proclamation of the Gospel, in word and action. This is good. So naturally the mission trip was a good thing. But in all the mission trips I've been on I found this to be the worst. "Why?" I read on your forrowed brow.

A couple of reasons.

It wasn't organized. Now I'm in Latin America, so I naturally use that term loosely-- but it still wasn't organized. The call was placed a day in advance to alert the peoples that we were coming. This resulted in a few complications. The worst being that we weren't able to trek into the Reserve to spend the night there, so that we would be ready in the morning. Of course God works all things to His good, right, so it wasn't a huge blow out, but it caused a headache for a couple of hours.

The second reason was I just got off of being the "lead" of an awesome mission trip. How, what? Okay. I organized the whole 13 days of the previous trip I was on, I took on a lot of responsibility. And God sustained me through it and allowed everything to be awesome to His glory. But this trip I was a participant, I have no problems with this, except I was treated as a child by one of the leaders. There was a drill sergent attitude present in this individual. For ease, we'll call this person, um, Smith. I spent the night at Smith's house, cause we were to leave at 4 am. I figured 30 seconds to put on my shirt, shoes and socks-- in that order, it was 4 am. Then 2 minutes for the brushing of the toothes, plus another minute to repack my bag and get down stairs. Now that's like 3 and half minutes. So I decide I'll get up at 3:55. I have some spare moments, if needed. The bus actually got there at 3:57. I've put my shirt on and then I get "THE BUS IS HERE. EVERYBODY GO. COME ON..." I was being treated like a child. That's cool if I deserve it, but at this moment I didn't. Unfortunately, it didn't end once in the van/bus and for the next 11 hours traveling south, the drill sargent drove from the backseat for me and was overtly abrasive. We worked great together on Saturday when we were ministering, but then on the way home it was the same thing. I was amazed.

Well, enough venting. And I do thank you for that. The mission part of the trip was pretty cool. Saturday morning we loaded up an old Land Rover and piled in to head the short trek into the Reserve. I became a pharmacist for the day, when I wasn't scouting the area for the team I'm taking there in June. I filled baggies with drugs that I have no idea what they do! It was great. I'm excited about the team that I'll be leading there. We'll have a lot of work to do, but it'll be great. The experience gave me a picture for what we'll be able to do, plus a connection to the people.

Here's some more pics:

Some Guaymis waiting medical attention.

The group.

I'm pharmacy-ing. Is that a word?

This is Sarai. She probably keep me sane the for the weekend. She's eight and her mom goes to the church that we slept at. Her brother, Nataniel, her and I played for hours Friday night and then this picture was taken when she came to church on Sunday. I was going to bring her back to San Jose with me, but there wasn't enough room in my bag!

Quieter Moments

I had to post this very much in the moment.

I have been blessed with a lot of wonderful friends in my life and each of them have their own special qualities that endear me to them, but today in the wee hours of the morning, when I should already be tucked away sleeping, I found myself on Mr. Rude's blog entitled Practice Resurrection.

While Josh and I have had an interesting friendship, I'd say he's one of my very closest friends at Seminary. I say interesting because we're kind of opposites. For example: Josh's idea of the perfect New Year's Eve is sitting in a snow bank in Minnesota alone looking at God's starry creation and hearing the faintest "beep-beep" as his Timex notes the passing of another hour, while my idea of a great New Year would be having all my friends over with lots of great food and beverage celebrating with a big countdown and noisemakers to ring in the New Year. Slightly different.

But I think this is also why Josh has enriched my life. He calls me to things which I am not normally drawn. He gives me a fresh perspective. I see Josh as a quiet wisdom. He has taught me, more than anyone else at the Seminary, the importance of the quiet. The power that God rushes in during the quieter moments. Something that I know I need more of.