The Random Family

November 10th, 2014 1 comment
The Random Family

The Random Family

What exactly do you mean by, “The Random Family?” Good question – I’m so glad you asked! Me explico – Let me explain. We have had 3 people living with us for quite a few months. Because of the dynamics of the group, we have different dinner times, but typically we share breakfast and morning devotions. We are living in community, as Les and I continue to gear up for VAYA, starting in January 2015 (almost here!). Together, we form a very diverse “family.” You see, there is something in us all that longs for family. We have a longing for this that God built into us. And so, Les is the Dad, I am the Mom, we have Tito, Amy and Dayis. We are in a large house, but can frequently be found together in the small office. Additionally, we have a whole host of other people who come to various things at our house; everything from morning devotions, to English tutoring, to mentoring to weekly Vineyard prayer meetings to monthly Vineyard (Viña) Spanish worship nights. We’re not dormitory residents, we’re a family. It’s not always easy, but it is often entertaining!

We are not people from similar backgrounds – you couldn’t get much more diverse. Two of us are Spanish speakers with English as a second language and 3 of us are English speakers, with Spanish as a 2nd language. David, who is the Assistant Pastor now is often found at our house -for worship team music practice, meals, movies and just plain life.

Together, we form a family – it’s just a very “random” family, so named by Amy, a missionary from S. Dakota serving in the Los Anonos community. But because of our language challenges, we often speak Spanglish – the Ticos are trying to improve their English and we Gringos are trying to improve our Spanish. And it can be crazy! So following is a snippet of a recent conversation. I have not changed the names to protect anyone.

I was making Sopa Negra (a yummy black bean soup, served with minced onions, cilantro, grated cheese, Costa Rica sour cream which just tastes better and finally, hard boiled eggs). Que rico! (delicious!)

Diana to Amy, “You can help me peel the eggs, it’s almost ready.” We finished and Amy served first.
Dayis: “No! hay cáscara!
Me: – wait Amy, she thinks there’s shell in your soup. (Note: Amy speaks Spanish, but it just wasn’t registering.)
Dayis: “No! cáscara!”
Me: yes, shell (i.e. eggshell)
Dayis: Diana, do you know what cáscara is?
Me: yes, shell.
David: yes, it’s shelf
Me: no, not shelf, shell.
David: Shelf?
Me: no, David, it’s shell – with an “L.” Shelf is like un estante (shelf in Spanish)
David: oh, shelf?
Me: no! shellllll
David: oh, shell

Yup – I canot tell you how many times a day we have this type of discussion. Tito wasn’t home, but when he is, he joins in as well – even if he’s calling the word out from another room.  The more the merrier!  So, we switch back and forth, from language to language, trying spelling in one language and then the other … charades … whatever works!

It’s funny, we laugh, we get frustrated and when it happens throughout our day, we just get plain tired! We rub against each other, we have presonality conflicts, confrontations, forgiveness and even when angry, we love and care about each other. We’re a random family. Add into that a heaping dose of spiritual warfare that is continual when you serve here as a missionary, as we engage with friends in the community and come against the enemy and sometimes our random family has to combat even crazier things, like the most deadly snake in Costa Rica, which Tito

Deadly Terciopelo Snake

Deadly Terciopelo Snake

found outside our kitchen during weekly Viña (Vineyard) prayer time. The snake, a Terciopelo (a type of fer-de-lance or bothrops asper) is not normally found at our altitude and when it is, it’s by the river … not in someone’s house up a hill!  This was the day after getting stung by a venomous caterpillar (which I’m still reacting to on my leg and fingers),

Spiky Black Venemous Caterpillar

Spiky Black Venemous Caterpillar

while praying in someone’s house in the community. You see, we’d been coming against a spirit of death and a spirit of depression.

Together, we form “The Random Family.”

Please keep praying for us, for our protection, for next steps and for VAYA and for breakthroughs in the community. We really do rely on everyone’s prayers!

As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.

~ Proverbs 27: 17

Need A New Perspective?

September 3rd, 2014 No comments

Do you need a new perspective? We find that we often do! It’s amazing how quickly we can become jaded about what is happening around us. People often  think they’re in “the swing of things” and breathe a sigh of relief (aka – things are going well for me right now) or instead they wonder why so many things go wrong, so many people disappoint them (aka – things are not going well right now). In other words, we fall into the trap of seeing life from our own human perspective. We think good things = blessing and hard things = lack of blessing.  When we fall into this trap, we completely miss God’s perspective.

It seems that as Christians and in our case as full time Christian workers / missionaries, we ought to live all the time with God’s perspective. The truth is, we constantly need to “true-up.” The definition for “true-up” is:

To make something true, equal or correct

Jesus told us in John 14: 6, I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” God’s words, ways and instruction should be our plumb-line. 

Every time we go from one country to another, there is an adjustment period. Language is different, culture is different and at first, our heart is always “stuck” in the place we just came from …. Enter God’s perspective!

Romans 11:  33 tells us, Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out.”

And Proverbs 29: 18 in the Message says, If people can’t see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves; But when they attend to what he reveals, they are most blessed.”

And finally, in Colossians 3: 1-2 we learn,Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth.”

Ahhhh – God’s perspective. Seeing with HIS eyes, hearing with HIS ears, viewing people (both the winners and the sinners, the lost and broken and dying) with HIS heart. We can only do this by grace. For us, we are reminded along with Paul, but one thing I do:forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, “ Philippians 3: 13. After all, this is why we are in Costa Rica in the first place. We’re His disciples and so we say “YES” to Him and this often requires SACRIFICE on our part. And HE is worth it all.

THEN we look at the faces of those we work with and see everyday – and we see HIM at work and we’re blessed to have been invited to join Him in what He is doing.

The DR Song ~ by Latter House – Recorded around 1990 ~ Still True!

Morning Devotional Group (missing Ana, Evelyn, Abigail and Chris)

Morning Devotional Grp (here is Rob Adams doing a documentary on Missio Dei Costa Rica and VAYA, along with Kliber, Diana, Dayis, Yendry, Randall & Les) missing Ana, Evelyn, Abigail and Chris)

Di with Ana, who I tutor each week in English/ Love this girl!

Di with Ana, for weekly tutoring in English – Love her!

Worship on a Sunday Morning following a time of praying and ministering the scriptures

Worship on a Sunday Morning following a time of praying and ministering the scriptures








Jason greets Diana and wants prayer; Pipo greets Les after being absent for months; a visit with precious Lorena.

Jason greets Diana and wants prayer; Pipo greets Les after being absent for months; a visit with precious Lorena.

Palmares -  Our future sons through VAYA

Palmares – Our future sons through VAYA

PS We want to give all the glory and honor to God for each of the many steps in the process of designing, preparing and making legal the vision God placed in our hearts for VAYA, the Vineyard (Viña) Leadership Training school, beginning in January. The Lord answered our prayer for a 12 passenger van for the school. We won a US Embassy auction, gaining an extremely well cared for vehicle at about 1/2 the price and it only has 28,000 miles on it! Thanks to our friend and brother Ronny Ruiz (on our Board of Directors) for helping us open a VAYA bank account. We are thankful for our returning “son” Tito, who is currently living with us after participating in VIDA 220, a discipleship school he attended for 10 months. We are also thankful for our adopted family, which currently includes Dayis from Costa Rica and another missionary Amy. Each person is hand-picked by God to be part of our family and hearts!  We also offer a hue thank you to God for bringing us an assistant for next year’s program – Jessie Morgan is returning!  This has been an amazing, though difficult journey – the undertaking of VAYA … and God is with us every step of the way.


This is all made possible, through God and the generous gifts of all of our supporters!


Strangely Warmed

July 28th, 2014 1 comment

God is full of surprises. People like control and understanding, but God cannot be and will not be put in a box!  This week, we had the incredible blessing of having Rob Adams with us.  He is an amazing Videographer with a heart for God. He is putting together a documentary and trailer for Missio Dei Costa Rica and our upcoming Bible Institute, VAYA, which will start in January 2015. He will return and film the opening of the school.

The interesting thing, is that we have never had someone offer to do this for us and we really didn’t know anyone to ask … but this year, while struggling to put together some basic videos for VAYA, I asked God to please send someone to do this for us. It was one of those heart-felt prayers sent to heaven in a moment of frustration – both sincere and with little expectation of the answer God sent us. Truly, God does so much more that we could ever expect.

 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.  Ephesians 3: 20-21

So God answered this missionary’s heart and sent us Rob.  He then proceeded to orchestrate the week and what we could capture on film  Here are some screen grabs that give you a taste of what is to come. We don’t know in what ways God will use the documentary Rob is making, but He will receive all the glory for what’s to come.

I want to close by saying that having someone follow you around with a movie camera and often wearing a microphone can be a bit disconcerting. Yet Rob was always sensitive and inconspicuous, capturing the moment and revealing the heart. In so doing, and by capturing all of this “background” material for VAYA he gave us fresh insight as to what we do on a daily basis. Our eyes were opened and we were incredibly blessed.

Below, is a collage of Les changing strings on his guitar (he still breaks them every week) and as it was pouring rain during this week’s Sunday service it was crazy.  So God gave me a metaphor as soon as I saw this photo.  God restores the music in our souls and hearts, he replaces the broken things in our lives and He gives us a new song… it’s up to us to sing it!  And when we do, entering into God’s presence, experiencing the wonderful AND the weird (thank you Becky), we will find ourselves saying, with John Wesley, “I felt myself strangely warmed.”

And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”  Revelation 21: 5

A glimpse of Friday morning prayer and worship

A glimpse of Friday AM prayer & worship

A lifetime of changing broken strings

A lifetime of changing broken strings

A quick look at Los Mangos

A quick look driving through Los Mangos

Devotion prayer July 22, 2014 at the Morris's

Devotions & prayer at the Morris’s July 22, 2014

Future leader when God captures his heart

Future leader when God captures his heart

Les visits Carmen and invites

Les visits Carmen and invites her to the church and celebration of the pastor

Praying on the wall over the community - part of the devotional time at our house every T-W-Th

Praying on the wall over the community – part of the devotional time at our house every T-W-Th

Palmares -  meeting 3 VAYA students Maklin, Charly, Luismi - AMAZING time in God's presence!

Palmares – we meet VAYA students Maklin, Charly, Luismi – AMAZING time in God’s presence!

Jason greets Diana and wants prayer; Pipo greets Les after being absent for months; a visit with precious Lorena.

Jason wants prayer; Pipo hugs Les after being absent for months; a visit with precious Lorena.

View from the church and nearby

View from our “outdoors” church and nearby – highlighting contrasts in Los Anonos



Even There Your Hand Will Lead Me

June 5th, 2014 No comments

Monkey GIF

I saw this video and thought of the following verses.

Psalm 137: 7-10

Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, Even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will lay hold of me.

What a marvelous and comforting thought! To know that absolutely everywhere God’s presence is with us and He will lead us and lay hold of us.

Les and I are continuing to work on VAYA, the Bible institute that will start in our home in January 2015. It continues to be a daunting task, starting a new Bible School to prepare leaders … in another culture and in another language.  In other words, it is a God-sized task! And would we want it any other way? Absolutely not! After all, what can Les and Di do that has any lasting Kingdom value? The answer is so simple – nothing apart from God. And so, in this we rest.

Meanwhile, we are continuing to develop relationships with pastors in Costa Rica, Central America and the US.  Daily we are talking to people in all of these places. Weekly we are visiting pastors and pushing the ball forward.

We have great support from Carlos Chacon (the Director of the Vineyard Federation in Central America), Elmer Rojas (in charge of church planting and a member of VAYA’s official Board) and other pastors in Costa Rica and a few other countries as well. We currently have 3-4 students whose pastors want to send them and we’re still looking for 2 Spanish speaking students.

The hurdle we are facing is having the students complete the paperwork; jumping off the cliff, so to speak. Culturally, to stop working or delay more education is very difficult. What will your Mom do if you stop contributing finances to her? Will you have the perseverance to go on to University if you take 9 months to do Bible School? There is always a cost to discipleship. And God is ALWAYS faithful.

Luke 14: 25-33

25 A large crowd was following Jesus. He turned around and said to them, 26 “If you want to be my disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. 27 And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple.

28 “But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? 29 Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you.30 They would say, ‘There’s the person who started that building and couldn’t afford to finish it!’

31 “Or what king would go to war against another king without first sitting down with his counselors to discuss whether his army of 10,000 could defeat the 20,000 soldiers marching against him? 32 And if he can’t, he will send a delegation to discuss terms of peace while the enemy is still far away. 33 So you cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you own.

It was hard when Jesus said these things. Many turned away. It is still hard today!  Please join us in praying that those who are feeling God tug at their hearts to be a part of VAYA, will respond with a strong “YES,” and experience God’s grace, as they pursue His calling.

 (Old song – great words)


A Season of Contemplation

March 14th, 2014 No comments

Ash WedStarting with Ash Wednesday and throughout Lent is a traditional time of contemplation, when churches the world over intentionally make their focus our need for repentance; a time when we pause to reflect upon the scripture “to dust you are, and to dust you will return”, and our need for a savior. It is a time of renewal. Liturgical churches often burn the palms from the previous year and use those to make ashes. In many traditions, the ashes are used to make a cross on your forehead. Whether Lent is part of your tradition or not, repentance and renewal are “always in season.” Theses are things that we as Christians need to have in our DNA – after all, we are HIS living letters. We reflect HIM.

In the BCP (Book of Common Prayer) The Collect reads:

Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing you have made and forgive the sins of all who are penitent: Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Romans 8:22-25 says:

 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

In the song Brokenness Aside by All Sons and Daughters we remember that we are all sinners in need of a Savior.

The crucifixion and the resurrection are intertwined. Perhaps we can bring some of this contemplation into our day-to-day lives year round, along with the celebration of newness of life. I think we’ll listen to Gungor’s Beautiful Things too … 

Heart of Worship

February 27th, 2014 1 comment


It’s been awhile since we’ve updated the blog, but we’re still hard at work. We’re preparing for the launch

of VAYA, the Vineyard Bible Institute in Costa Rica, which will start January 24, 2015! It has been stressful, exciting and an ongoing lesson on keeping our eyes on Jesus.  Looking on our prayer page, we see a number of prayers we asked everyone to be praying with us this last Fall and they’ve been answered. God is good!  We are more convinced than ever that we are on the right track. Yes – it’s risk; yes, there’s sacrifice involved; and yes it is costly – on many different levels … BUT it is also good.  We understand that VAYA has the potential to train the next generation of Vineyard leaders (although it’s not limited to Vineyard). We understand that God is doing more than we can see or understand, and so we’re fixing our eyes on Him!

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, Eph. 3: 20

We keep looking forward, and taking the risk. We keep investing our lives – our time, our effort, our heart and even our money.  We’ve been talking to some Vineyard pastors in TX and they’ve been very supportive and excited about what we’re doing. It’s been an uphill struggle and if it were not for the word spoken in our hearts from God, we would have been tempted many times to give up and turn back. Every piece of printed material was hard to get done, shipments of materials we’ve relied upon have been lost in the mail, our house in NH is minus 1 tenant and our New England driveway almost impossible to drive down due to the weather conditions, making it difficult to even show the apartment, let alone rent it. This week the deck of our house fell off the back of the house, collapsing from the snow and ice onto our garden tractor and the 2 air conditioning units. Things like these never seem to let up and are emotionally, spiritually and even physically draining. And it’s times like these (basically almost all the time) that we find our hearts being anchored on Hebrews 11: 1:

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

It’s because we remember that the One we serve is the Author and Finisher of our faith – it’s not about our great plans or grand ideas. It’s all about Him – His plans and His ways and even His timing. And we know we do not see and cannot see the whole picture.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. Isaiah 55: 8-9, 11

Heart of Worship

While here in TX, we were incredibly blessed to have someone gift us with tickets back to Costa Rica. It’s also been a very
refreshing time as we’ve gone back to basics. We’ve been reading John Wimber articles and listening to his teachings and found them to be so refreshing and encouraging.  Just before we came back to the states this time, Rodney LaFrance had a word about a very old song, The heart of worship, which ties right in.

Do It All In The Name Of The Lord Jesus

January 22nd, 2014 No comments


And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3: 17

The year 2014 is well underway and we haven’t posted a blog. Sometimes it’s because of lack of time – just too busy and other times it’s because trying to boil down a day-to-day life as missionaries in Costa Rica just doesn’tseem to be easy, when you sit down to do it!

Today was a “get a lot done day,” as many of our days need to be.


The day began at 6:00 AM. Well, it actually begins to get lighter out our window at about 4:45 AM, but we officially got UP at 6:00 to go for a walk / run. It’s been awhile (before Christmas vacation) since we’ve done this, so it wasn’t really what we were feeling like doing, but we were glad that we went.  This is also an important part of my (Diana’s) prayer time, which I typically do in Spanish.

Returned to the house, took care of the animals, got breakfast ready and welcomed Randall Randall(from Los Anonos) for a time of devotions and prayer for the community. Then Les, who is mentoring Randall, spent time with him.

photo (2)

Probably looks a bit like everybody’s day!  But 1 thing that has been different for us is how many things we do by-hand down here.  It’s just the way it is.  It takes a lot more time, but it typically saves money.  So I got 3 loads of wash done hung and waiting to fold the last load – not dry yet. Using the dryer even 1 time a week sky rockets our electric bill!

Car battery was dying, so Les called Dante and took the car in and had it replaced. Price wasn’t too bad, but about 25% more than at home. But we feel much safer now!  Then to the post ofice to mail birthday and anniversary cards to the states (late again!). Les is preparing for tonight’s Small Group – we’re still working our way through Passport. It’s been really good, although at 1 day per week, it’s taking a long time.  At the same time, I have been working on a presentation for fund raising.and hung outside on the line to dry (haven’t hung clothes out since I was a stay-at-home-Mom, until we came here). So far we’ve washed dishes 4 times today, in cold water of course!  The sink is small too (yes, that really is just one pot in the sink!). Since there’s not much work space in the kitchen, dishes are a constant. Just ask our assistant Lindsay! Time to make a big batch of oatmeal mushroom burgers, which are really yummy, so we can have them on hand in the freezer for quick meals.  Also time to use our pressure cooker to cook up a bunch of black beans and freeze them. DEFINITELY cheaper than canned.  Swept lots of floors! where are Jessie, Shannon and Lindsay when I need them?!

Last night I designed and wrote a marriage certificate for a couple that is getting married this Saturday. They had a civil service 16 years ago, but it’s very important to them to commit their marriage to God.  So it’s not really a renewal of vows, but a commitment to God.  I’m waiting for feedback on anything I need to change on the design or content.

Administrative and organizational things are a continual challenge. As we prepare for VAYA, we had to find ways to store all the materials and T-shirts. Temporarily in plastic bins in one of the bedrooms. At least out from under foot for awhile.  Les is sorting receipts so they can be scanned and we can track what we spend and where we spend it.

I’m in the middle of cooking Sopa Negra (a black bean soup) for dinner – since I had all of that lovely broth from the pressure cooker. Dinner will be in about 2 hours, followed by a walk down through Los Anonos for tonight’s Small Group. We’ll get home, walking back up what we fondly refer to as Mt. Everest, around 9:00 PM.

The rest of this week –  more of the same plus calling several churches in the states.  Also a visit to the dentist for both of us (an all day process, due to the wait). Then, a 4 hour + process of going to immigration.  It looks like they may be ready for us to sign papers for our “Religious Residency.”

Col 3 17

So what does a day really loo like? Wonderful spiritual devotions with people who are just learning about the importance of this, great Bible Studies with people hungry to know more of God, opportunities whenever we walk through the community and everything is interspersed with mundane family and household things, administrative things and fund raising things. Did I mention that it’s all in Spanish?!  And today, got brought to mind this verse, “And WHATEVER you do, in word or deed, do EVERYTHING in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3: 17.  Amen