By Susan and Ben Mendoza
Today we went supply shopping for a fiesta, had an afternoon church service and a dinner with all the families of the church. It was very heart warming to see how dedicated these people are to their church. Some people travel miles everyday to go there and help. Hanging out with the kids—even with the language barrier, Christ shines through our lives and into theirs. When they see the devotion and passion you have for Christ by helping and playing with them, it seems to put that same sparkle of passion in their eyes too. Seeing how positive these kids are in challenging conditions helps us have a better mindset realize how blessed we are and we should appreciate what we have.
One of my (Susan) favorite things we did today was roast marshmallows and make s’mores. It was a real treat for the kids from the church. They were a sticky mess and having the time of their lives. It takes so little to make someone’s day and was a reminder to me to take the time to reach out and smile or lend a helping hand-even showing someone how to make a s’more.
By Clementine and Christiana Garrett
Every day in Costa Rica is a new experience and brings a new adventure. Today we focused on the Vacation Bible School with the kids. It was a real joy to see the pure excitement in their faces as we handed out toys and candy.
The day started with us walking around Los Guido to attract the children. Los Guido is a small village made of tin houses and any materials that can be found. For the first forty minutes or so we just played with the kids. We made balloon animals, sprayed them with silly string, and some of the older kids played soccer. Afterwards, we sat with the kids while the gospel was shared. Our favorite moment of the day was watching the young girl we had been playing with all day pray to Jesus; it allowed us to see the true purpose of our trip and the main reason we came.
Later in the afternoon we headed back to La Finca (which is home to Iglesia Nueva Vida) for a day of fun with nearly 200 kids. Water games, a giant slip-n-slide, and tons of candy, made for a fun afternoon.
We ended the night by attending the running of the bulls and the carnival, which allowed us to participate in an aspect of Costa Rican culture. It was a once in a lifetime experience that allowed us to share in the traditional activities with the Costa Rican people.
Ministry is a process, and today we took another step in the development of sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ in sector 7 of Los Guido. The process for our team started in June this year, when we decided to join the team. Even before our finances were finished or had set a foot in the country; God was working in our lives as well as the lives of the People in Costa Rica. The missionaries have been praying for this section for the past three weeks, that the minds of these people would be open towards the acceptance of the gospel as truth in their life. Today we took another step towards our mission here in Costa Rica; today was the day that we bought and made 85 food bags. After we had finished the last bag, we prayed that they would bless the people who would be receiving them. Please continue to pray with us that God would bless everyone we meet and protect every member of the team during our travels. Susan Mendoza and Dan Schaefer loading the bus with the bags of food we just purchased.
Jacqui and Sarah Hurd
…and on day 9, they rested. Today the team had a day of rest and rejuvenation after our week of service. We left very early (315 am) for the bus trip to Manuel Antonio. We were blessed with perfect weather, albeit a little hot/humid. The team was in awe of the beauty of this place. There was a national Forrest, which contained white-faced monkeys and a variety if animals. The ocean was warm and inviting. The team had time to reflect on the week, while soaking in the beauty of nature around us. With our toes in the sand and our heads in the clouds, we gave thanks for this wonderful week.
To end the day, we went to dinner at the top of the hill, overlooking the ocean/valley below. All the cameras came out as the sun began to set and the sky was filled with pink, red and blue hues. As the bright, orange sun turned into a dot and then disappeared into the ocean, the group erupted in clapping and cheering. It was a great finale to our day.
It is with mixed feelings that we prepare for our journey home. Although anxious to get home to our families, we will all miss the people of Los Guido and La Carpio. To God be the glory, for this amazing week!
By Ben Mendoza / Party Pants
Today, we passed out 60 food bags to the families of Los Guido, Costa Rica. Getting into groups of two, we paired up with members of the Youth Leadership Team; going house-to-house, knocking on doors, and giving food to each of the families all while spreading God’s Word.
As the team shared with them the Good News of Christ, our team would pray for the family and for their well-being. We’d also pass out goodies to the children of the house. Before moving on to the next house, each individual was given an opportunity to make Christ their personal Savior…many received Him. The youth also invited them into the local church, giving them directions as well as noting whether or not they’d like to be discipled.
Directly after, we got to hear the input of the family, from the Youth Team. A good percentage of those we visited accepted Christ into their heart as well as saying they wanted to become part of a discipleship (Bible study) group.
Later, we celebrated the Youth Team members as we took them to the store to buy an article of clothing. It was very humbling and touching to see the smiles on their faces…knowing that we were able to bring them this small piece of joy was a great encouragement. Right after that, we took them for dinner at McDonalds; and even though it doesn’t sound like much, they were incredibly grateful. I even heard one of the Youth Team members say it was only his second time eating out. For me, this was a moment of realization, knowing that I can eat wherever, whatever, whenever I’d like. It reminded me of all that I take for granted.
As an American, I’ve always held the belief that I am blessed beyond measure, my primary gage for that being my station in life, my privileges, and my possession. But this last week has caused me to realize something, it is the “least of these” that our truly rich in Christ. They are free from many of the distraction that fog my everyday life, unconcerned by what people think of them, the way they dress, or where they may live. The teens that make up the Youth Leadership Team of Iglesia Nueva Vida are full of willingness to serve, have the most humble of hearts, and simply shine the pure joy of Christ everywhere they go…
By Dan Schaefer
We spent the day in La Carpio partnering with the youth leaders to distribute school uniforms to students and their families. During our time here, we have learned that Costa Rica has a free educational system, but students must have a school uniform to attend classes. We were also advised that the region of La Carpio is dangerous and heavily influenced by gangs. We began our walk through the city’s dirt streets and alleys locating the families on our list. I think we were all humbled by the living conditions we observed. Thin plywood and rusted aluminum served as the walls and roofs of many of the shacks we saw. Open sewage lines and precarious powerlines ran throughout the passageways we walked. Navigating the area was further complicated by the fact that streets and individual homes were not clearly marked. Around each corner we encountered the friendly and curious faces of the neighborhood kids. Team members shared stickers and candies, as well as some broken Spanish greetings along the way. By the end of the afternoon we had distributed uniforms to 14 families.
The highlight of the afternoon for me was meeting a local Pastor who was eager to find out our interest in La Carpio. He shared that the area was very dangerous and expressed concern for our well-being. I later learned from Mark that few churches or ministries will even consider entering this area. Mark, Bethany, and the youth leaders are determined to change that. Their goal is to share the love of Christ across boundaries both culturally and economically.
By evening we had gathered at La Finca with the youth leaders to share a meal to honor their efforts and hold them up in prayer. These youth leaders have demonstrated a committment to discipleship and service to their community and the surrounding areas. I enjoyed listening to our CBC youth and the local youth discuss their favorite bands, sports, and hobbies. The most entertaining time of the evening was watching the youth leaders swing wildly at a huge pinata anticipating the moment it burst and shed candy and prizes all over the gym floor. What a great night!
By Nick Schaefer
Today, our team had the opportunity to finish up a few work projects at the church in Los Guido. We painted some of the benches that the church uses for their Sunday morning services and finished touching up the new cement that was laid down yesterday. After completing those, we returned back to the mission house to pack the food bags that will be delivered in the city of Los Guido on Thursday. And to top the day off, we spent the evening watching insane people run around in a circle and get trampled on by a crazy bull!
With this being the start of a new year, I have taken the time to reflect on the past year and evaluate where I want to be spiritually for this upcoming year and the years to come. For me, there is no better way to start the year than by actively serving the Lord. I am so blessed that God has given me the opportunity to serve in another country and further His kingdom.
This trip has been a humbling experience for me. Watching the love of Christ shine through the missionaries and children leaders reminds me what being a true follower of Christ really means. They neither complain nor argue, but only share love and kindness to a city that is hurting and in need. I am so thankful to be serving alongside them, and I pray that God will continue to work through our team and the team here in Costa Rica.
By Ron Johnson
It is Monday evening and I hear the sounds of moaning and groaning from a long days work at La Finca (the farm). You all would be so very proud of our team. We started early with a time of prayer and Bible study. Rick led us in a Bible study where we looked at Colossians 3:23 “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord…” That was the motivation we needed as we headed to the ranch to put in a hard days work.
We started by digging fifty feet of trench and then laid a four inch drainage pipe that will help with the erosion problem in front of the church. We then turned our sights to grading and forming thirty feet of sidewalk where I witnessed a blaze of picks and shovels. When it came time to pour the cement (you guessed it) we were the cement mixer. The cement was mixed by hand on the ground and then transferred to the sidewalk area via wheel borrows. Everyone worked amazingly hard and the biggest encouragement for me was the women on hands and knees finishing the concrete.
It was a great day serving the Lord next to people you love.
Wish you all were here.
by Anthony Schuller and Shelley Scarr
Blog // Sunday, December 30
After arriving only 4 days ago, our team has had the opportunity to minister within the community of Los Guido. This community has approximately 40,000 people that is subdivided into 17 sectors. Out of all these multiple sectors, our team has joined the local youth outreach and touched only a portion of one division (Sector 3). When thinking of the expanse of just this one community, the ministry opportunities here in Costa Rica can be quite overwhelming.
During a conversation over dinner, Mark (founder of CLFCR) discussed with us the issues faced within Los Guido and other slum communities. Unfortunately, each sector is controlled by an individual gang. When inquiring about their interactions with the gangs, we found that Mark has regular encounters with the gang leaders in order to discuss outreach projects and ultimately gain permission to work within each sector. He continued to explain that these relationships with the individual leaders serve as both a challenge and a blessing. Although these meetings are risky, the relationships have enabled safe passage for Mark, his team, and ours.
In reflection of our conversation, Mark has had to risk much in order to follow God’s calling on his life. Even more, the youth leaders within his ministry have also chosen to follow the Lord regardless of the proposed risks. They have chosen the narrow path to follow Jesus instead of getting involved with gangs; to some, this is life threatening.
This afternoon, our team was blessed to have the opportunity to worship with the local church during their Sunday afternoon service. Coincidently, Mark shared a sermon on making sacrifices to follow Christ. His message provoked the question, “What is the most difficult sacrifice that you must lay down in order to follow Jesus?” He gave the examples: health, work, family, and possessions.
While sitting in church, we noticed a bold statement behind the church stage that read, “No soy un admirador de Jesus. Yo soy un seguidor de Jesus.” In our ministry here in Costa Rica and when returning home, we’re faced with this question: are we simply a fan of Christ or are we going to follow him?
Matthew 4:19 reads, “‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will send you out to fish for people.’ At once they left their nets and followed him.”
Now we ask, what do you need to sacrifice in order to follow Jesus?
Chelley y Antony
During our team bible study this morning, Mr. Schaefer shared with us from 1 Corinthians 5. He challenged us to be available during our time here. I think this was a good challenge for us today as we would be in contact with so many kids.
We walked through a part of sector 3 in Los Guido this morning and handed out candy, stickers, and balloons as we invited kids to a VBS we were hosting. We were able to sing and dance with these kids and then sit alongside them as they heard the Gospel. I find it so encouraging to watch our team members get out of their comfort zones and be silly with these kids in order to draw them in to the vacation bible school. The local kids love seeing us Gringos participating in the games, singing, and dancing!
This afternoon, we went back to La Finca and had Kid’s Club. Kid’s Club, which happens every Saturday at La Finca, is a time where kids are invited to La Finca to play water games. This is one of my favorite activities because it involves a giant slip and slide!!! The afternoon is spent playing water games on a giant slip and slide that is covered in soap. One of the first games involved getting all of us Gringos sitting in a circle on the tarp while the kids surrounded us. Let it be known that the directions were being given mostly in Spanish. While us Gringos were frantically trying to figure out what was going on, all the kids were laughing…this made us very nervous! And before we knew it, the kids had dog-piled and drenched us! It was such a great afternoon playing with these kids without feeling the effects of the language barrier.
It was such a blessing seeing so many kids from our VBS at Kid’s Club today! Please be praying that the seed that was planted will continue to grow! So many kids have heard the Gospel over the last two days and I know that God is doing big and mighty things in Los Guido!
By Lindsey Keck
Today marked our first day of street evangelism. We were privileged to host two separate vacation bible schools (VBS) in two separate sectors of Los Guido. Our VBS’s today consisted of the usual “drawing the crowd” which honestly isn’t that hard to do, considering we are a group of gringos with candy, stickers, and balloon animals. We proceeded to hang out with the kids, and assisted in keeping their attention focused on the worship and the gospel, which was being presented in the form of a fill-in-the-blank worksheet. This moment never ceases to amaze me. While doing VBS in the second sector of the day, the previously rowdy and laughing kids became completely silent as they were waiting to hear what the next blank was. The silence and awe of the Gospel continued as the children began to make their Gospel bracelets. The bracelet consisted of five different colored beads to remind them of the Gospel, which they were able to carry with them everywhere, reminding them of the love that God has for them and the special place God can have in their lives.
As we have no one on our team of thirteen that is fluent in Spanish, one would think that this would be a huge barrier, but so far it has not proven to be so. The children here simply desire to be loved and our team has been prepared to do just that. Showing any form of attention is widely accepted. Something as simple as a smile, a laugh, or hearing the poorly spoken phrases we know, light up their entire face in a way that I personally have never seen before.
Today, as I hunted for remaining necklaces to give to a kid who shouted “Gringa!” to get my attention; as we stopped to throw candy to a family who was out of reach and pass out stickers to kids walking home; as I sat down and used my girl skills to help some young boys make their bracelets; as I shared smiles with children that I had no other contact with, I realized that on this trip we, as a group, will rely solely on our actions and not our words to show God’s love. God always has a plan, and He has provided a way for all of us to express His love for others without the necessity of words. Please pray that we use this way of communication to the full extent that God wills us.
Please also pray for the remaining days of this trip; we have just gotten started and God has so much more prepared for this place. As a team, we have already begun to feel our energy drain, but we are eager to do more. For me personally, please pray that the camera I carry each day, documenting the trip, would not become an excuse or a barrier that I hide behind; hindering me from showing God’s love. Please pray that it would become a tool used by God to reach out to the people of Costa Rica.
By Joshua Hager
After nearly fourteen hours of travel, our team arrived at San Juan International Airport, boarded a bus, and made the thirty-minute drive to Curridabat, Costa Rica; our home for the next ten days.
Community Bible Church has a long history with the Christian Light Foundation (CLF) and Iglesia Nueva Vida de Los Guido (The New Life Church of Los Guido). This history helps tell of God’s story in Costa Rica; so, like always, I’ll take a brief moment to recap some of what we’ve witnessed.
In 2007, a team from our church, which I was blessed to be part of, walked slowly around a piece of farm land (La Finca) that contained nothing more than a dilapidated barn, praying that God would deliver this land into the hands of the missionaries and church. By 2008, God showed His faithfulness and the land was purchased. Our new team prayed, with outstretched arms, that God would allow for a church building to be built where the people of Los Guido could come and worship God in spirit and in truth. We returned in 2009, and with God once again pouring out His faithfulness, their house of worship stood in place of that old barn. Where animals used to eat, sleep and poop, the people of God now worshiped! In 2010, at the request of Mark Kuzdas, the founder of CLF Costa Rica, our teams began praying even greater prayers, asking God for even bigger things! As we stood in a circle on a sloped hill, Mark shared that God had given him the vision and passion to build a massive feeding and tutoring center; something of Ark-like proportions for communities like Los Guido. As we stood there in prayer, hands linked with one another, God already began orchestrating His plan to fulfill this vision. The following year, when our team arrived at La Finca, we were greeted by the sight of a gigantic building. I have to admit, I didn’t really believe it would happen. But God did it! He provided over a quarter of a million dollars, numerous additional necessities, and the building was completed. In March of 2012, hundreds upon hundreds of children began being fed through this feeding center. Now, La Finca has become a beacon of love, hope, and charity within the community of Los Guido.
With every year comes new opportunities to be used by God and this year is no different. Just hours after our arrival, our team headed to a local grocery store and packed six shopping carts FULL of food! Later this week: oil, salt, sugar, rice, beans, tuna, crackers, hot sauce, coffee, and other household staples will be packed into bags and delivered door-to-door in some of the poorest areas of this beautiful country. The food bags, provided by the generosity of God’s people, will feed a family of 5 for nearly a week. I look forward to reporting the encouraging stories that will inevitably come from the delivery of this food! I am confident that God has appointed us specific families with specific needs that will be truly blessed by this small gift.
Tomorrow, our team will head to Los Guido to begin several days of street evangelism. PRAY that God would fill us with a supernatural energy as we deliver the Good News of Jesus Christ. PRAY that God will be glorified and that many would come to know Him.
We love you all and I personally thank you for your words of encouragement, financial support, and prayers.
To date, CBC has sent 18 teams, traveled nearly 60,000 miles, and raised over $185,000 for our Global Outreach Campaigns. Thousands have heard the Good News, been fed physically and spiritually, and come to know Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. We look forward to what God has in store for us in 2012 and beyond.
Over the past 6 years, CBC has been building a relationship with the people of Costa Rica. To date, we have sent six teams to serve alongside missionaries Mark and Meg Kuzdas and the Christian Light Foundation. Since being in Costa Rica, the Kuzdas family has helped plant three churches and countless discipleship groups. Most recently, God has allowed them to build a feeding and tutoring center located in the heart of a small town known for it’s poverty and gang violence. Our teams assist with these local ministries in a variety of ways; including work projects, outreach events, Vacation Bible Schools, and much, much more. We have also had the opportunity to assist in a number of social projects within the communities of Los Guido, La Carpio and Tejarcillos; places where the need is vast and the pain is real. These social projects have included the distribution of school supplies, food, and other necessity items. This is in addition to offering practical assistance, such as home repairs and haircuts, all in the name of Jesus Christ! We are excited to be a part of what God is doing in Costa Rica!