Costa Rica Update #6 March 22, 2010

We are home safely! Praise the Lord! It was a fantastic trip and we are truly grateful to be a part of God’s work in Costa Rica. Thanks for being a part of it as well!
 
Most of the day centered around last-minute packing and traveling home. We had a sharing time before breakfast, ate breakfast and then piled into the bus with our bags for the airport, which ended up being more busy than usual. Must be the Spring Break effect as there were many college students and teams at the airport.
 
After a minor glitch on the runway, we had a smooth flight into Newark. However, our bags did not come off very quickly. So, instead of getting in rather early, the team arrived back at Messiah around 3:15 am. Made for a long day and a short night.
 
Again, we praise the Lord for all He did in Costa Rica and for the lives that were impacted, including our own, for His sake. Please be praying for the follow-up that will take place in each place of ministry in Costa Rica. Our partners there are absolutely committed to following up with these kids, but they can still use our prayer!

Costa Rica Update #5 March 22, 2010

Buenas noches!
 
Hard to believe we leave tomorrow morning (Saturday). On some levels, it feels like we just arrived here, but at the same time, feels like we have been here for months. Either way, we leave in the morning and are headed home after a tremendous week of ministry here! We praise the Lord for His faithfulness to us throughout the week.
 
The last night is always bittersweet as we say “Good-bye” to newly found, yet close friends. The Lord richly blessed us the relationships that were formed this week. We served with different churches and ministries, each of which is being used mightily of the Lord. It was so much fun to be together and serve the Lord together. It was the body of Christ at work.
 
We did go to Puntarenas and to the beach today. San Jose is located in the mountains, whereas Puntarenas is on the coast. We left in the morning under cloud cover and cooler weather, only to arrive at the beach in the scorching sun. The water was very warm, but the sand was crazy hot! Unfortunately, some ladies burned the bottoms of their feet so badly they could hardly walk. Others got away with just “redder arms and legs.” We had a great time just hanging out and being refreshed from an intense week.
 
We stopped at the local “WalMart” to pick up some last-minute items for the ride home. We arrived back at our place for dinner around 9 pm and have spent the last few hours debriefing and rehashing the trip. We could never sum up all that the Lord has done, but we can give Him the glory! Thanks for standing with us in prayer throughout this trip. It is not completely over but we do leave Costa Rica in the morning. We are trusting the Lord for our travel home and our entrance back into life at home. Please pray that the things we learned and were challenged with will stick and that the Lord will give us a passion for Him and His Kingdom.
 
As an FYI, the Messiah team will probably not get back to Messiah until 1 am on Saturday night / Sunday morning, so we are trusting the Lord to watch over them as they make the extended journey all the way back to Central PA.


Blessings in Christ,

Chico Schlonecker

Costa Rica Update #4 March 19, 2010

Hard to believe it is Thursday night already. Time has flown, but we have squeezed alot in! Today was our last day of clinics and matches and tomorrow we will be heading to the beach for the day. We are all very much looking forward to some R&R together.
 
We painted all day yesterday at a church up in the mountains. It was another hot one and the team knew that part of the painting was going to happen outside on the street. We painted the tin wall that the church has around its property. Most of the wall was about 10 feet high, but other parts were upwards of 15-18 feet high. Two passes with rollers and brushes and the wall was as good as new. We also cleaned up all the trash around the outside of the property and tried to make it look as good as new. Inside we painted and organized four different classrooms. Behind the church the team “de-nailed” a ton of boards and fought with all of the critters and bugs hidden in the pile of collected “items” from over the years. It was a fantastic day of serving together and worshiping the Lord in a different way. The Pastor and others in the church were so hospitable and accommodating and on several occasions praised the Lord for sending us there. Our prayer is that the church continues to be a beacon of light and a source of hope in Christ in that community!
 
In the late afternoon and early evening we went to a few markets to make some very important purchases. Not everyone likes to barter, but most people like discounts:). Pretty sure everyone got what they were looking for, but if not, it was not for a lack of looking:). The rest of the night included dinner, Team Time and some rare free time.
 
Today (Thursday) the group went to two schools and ran clinics. The schools this week were not chosen at random but were chosen because of the connection to the churches we are partnering with. Today we also partnered with GOALL Ministries to run the second clinic. It has been our privilege and honor to serve alongside these other ministries and look forward to the body of Christ working together to further His Kingdom. During both clinics the team and the kids mingled well and had lots of time to interact and ask lots of questions; some understandable, some not:).
 
The team played their last match tonight and had their final opportunity this week to share their testimonies with the other team. The ladies have really enjoyed playing, but they have also enjoyed getting to know the other teams. Tonight was no exception. The other team responded really well and because one of the staff members of GOALL is an assistant coach with the team, we are confident there will be follow-up!
 
After dinner we went to a local restaurant and enjoyed the very popular and ever-present dish called the “casado”. This dish consisted of rice, black beans, plantains and either chicken, beef or pork. In addition to these, fries, ice cream and a drink were part of dinner. Nothing like a very typical (aka “cultural”) meal to close out the day!
 
Tomorrow we are headed to the beach to enjoy God’s Creation. We have been blessed with incredible weather during our time here and tomorrow is not supposed to be much different … 97 degrees. We thank the Lord for the opportunity to plant and water seeds here in Costa Rica. For us it has been un gran privilegio!!!
 
Thanks for continuing to plead for us before the Throne of Grace! We need you!


Blessings in Christ,

Chico Schlonecker

Costa Rica Update #3 March 17, 2010

Hard to believe it is Tuesday night and we have only been here for 3 days. The team feels like we have been here for several weeks. It has been very warm, made evident by the red arms, necks and legs. Yes, there is some sunburn on the team, but we are grateful for the heat and dry weather to allow us to run volleyball clinics outside. Yesterday (Monday) morning and this morning we were at a school of 1,500 kids in a marginalized zone. We ran two 80-minute clinics for 210 third graders Monday morning and two 80-minute clinics for 215 sixth graders today. Volleyballs were flying everywhere and there were kids all over the place, but we had a great time loving on the kids for that time, sharing volleyball skills and our personal relationship with Christ. The administration and teachers were very hospitable and even fed us a snack in between clinics. It was a great time with the kids and it was evident that they are often passed over for other schools when it comes time to give attention to kids.
 
Monday afternoon we went up into the mountains and ran a clinic for 18 kids in a foster home. There is ongoing ministry there through another sports ministry here in Costa Rica, so we partnered with them and had a great time with these kids who are being cared for and loved while their families work through personal challenges. It was a long, yet beautiful drive up into the mountains.
 
Monday evening the ladies played UCR (University of Costa Rica) at the UCR campus. They played several friendly sets before sharing testimonies. The team has really enjoyed playing these matches and getting to know fellow volleyball players. There are some very good players and teams here!
 
Tuesday afternoon we went to a women’s detention center where one of our partner churches has weekly Bible studies with the ladies. The ladies from the detention center had their own team and really wanted to match their best with our best. After three sets the teams were mixed up so that the ladies could interact on a different level together. Afterwards two players shared their testimonies and both teams sang songs for each other. Every lady in that detention center has a story, has a need for Jesus, and it broke our hearts to hear some of their stories! We have much to be thankful for … His grace, mercy, forgiveness, love …!!! This was certainly a highlight for our team! Praise the Lord for the opportunity to be there and to share Christ!
 
After the detention center the ladies played another match at UNED, another university across town. There were actually some recognizable faces from Sunday’s match, which was encouraging as it allowed us to interact with familiar faces and continue to build relationships. The ladies played for two hours before the men’s team from UNED took the court, at which time the ladies moved into a classroom and shared two testimonies.
 
We continue to work through “Commitment” according to Acts and have had great discussions as a team. We praise the Lord for opening doors and opening hearts, including our own, these first four days! Thanks for praying for us and for thinking of us as we are here in Costa Rica! Thanks so much for being a part of the team!
 
We are excited about our day tomorrow as we will be cleaning and painting a local church up in the mountains that runs a food kitchen for kids off the street. It is the same place we were at Saturday night for the youth service. The team is really excited to serve in a different way tomorrow!
 


Blessings in Christ,

Chico Schlonecker

Costa Rica Update #2 March 15, 2010

One of the best parts of the trip is always the worship service in one of the partnering churches. This morning we were at CED, which is one of Push The Rock’s main partnering churches in Costa Rica. We have developed a fantastic relationship over the past 4 years!

We were grateful for the opportunity to sleep in before heading over to the church for breakfast. They fed us like kings as we had fruit, gallo pinto (rice and beans) and cheese, and pancakes. It was not so much the food, which was excellent, that blessed us, but the wonderful hospitality they demonstrated to us. The Pastor shared a bit of his personal testimony and more about the ministry of the church during breakfast. During the service we spent the first hour in praise and worship through songs, after which the team sang two songs, both in English and Spanish. The church really loved and appreciated that!!! Then two team members shared how God has been at work in their lives and how God is presently working in their lives. In the sermon the Pastor focused on keeping our minds pure, and what that looks like. Each one of us was greatly challenged, yet encouraged by our time together in the house of the Lord!

After the service we headed to the mall for lunch with a number of people from church. The mall looked like any other mall we have been to, but it was great to mingle with the people and get to know them better. Some opted for rice and beans and more typical food, while others found Pizza Hut, Quiznos and Subway. We truly live in a global economy!

We went straight to the National Gymnasium right after lunch for our match against the champions for the “High School” division of Central America. Interestingly enough, a number of them were absent because there was a beach volleyball tournament going on today. So they supplemented the team with some top division players. Needless to say, the team ended up being VERY good. We played for close to two hours with them and enjoyed a time of fellowship and sharing testimonies afterwards. They seemed to be very receptive and enjoyed leafing through the sports NT they were given. We may never know if our words or actions impacted them in some way, but we are confident that the Word of the Lord never goes out and comes back void. We are praying that each of those ladies will begin to read through these Bibles and find ONE TRUE GOD!

We had a couple of hours before dinner, so we went to another mall and walked around and enjoyed coffee and ice cream. It was nice to relax and hang out as a team before the hectic week of clinics begin. But we are super excited about going into schools and having an open door to share the Gospel. Please pray that the Holy Spirit would begin working in their hearts even now.

We returned home for dinner and our study of Commitment through Acts. Tonight we took a look at Saul’s conversion experience to Paul on the road to Damascus and the aftershocks of that transformation. What a great reminder of God’s saving grace in our lives!

Speaking of aftershocks, there was a tremor here last night around 11 pm. They have been having quite a few of them lately, and the latest one hit last night. We have an early morning and a long day tomorrow, but we are thrilled to be a part of what the Lord is doing in Costa Rica! As you go about your Monday, thanks for praying for us!


Blessings in Christ,

Chico Schlonecker

Costa Rica Update #1 March 15, 2010

Buenos Dias! It is Sunday morning and we Praise the Lord for another day that the Lord has made! We have so much to be thankful for today … sun is shining brightly, we got some sleep, we are safely in Costa Rica, we are headed to church shortly for the morning and we have a busy day in front of us.

Thanks so much for praying for us! The team started the journey at 1:30 am Saturday morning in PA, and after a windy and wet ride to the airport and a quick 5-hour jaunt to San Jose, we were greeted by members of the church at the airport. All of our luggage arrived and we made it to the place we are staying in time for lunch. It has been very hot here as of late (dry season here), but yesterday was much cooler and it eventually poured last night.

We spent a wonderful evening at a youth service in one of the bedroom communities of San Jose. Two of the team members shared their testimonies and the team sang a few songs. It was a great time of praising the Lord together and fellowshipping with other believers. It was very encouraging to see the number of youth that came out on a Saturday night for a 2-hour service.

Dinner, Team Time (team devotions) and then bed. We are studying “Commitment” through the book of Acts.

Today we are headed to church, then lunch with the church at a local mall, then a match with the Central American volleyball champions of the 17-18 year-old division. Should be a wonderful day!

Please be praying for a few things with us:
(1) Team unity (PTR team and our local church partners)
(2) Boldness in sharing the Gospel
(3) Interaction with the volleyball team today
(4) Several ladies are battling stomach issues … please be praying for the health of the team
(5) That in all things, God would get the glory!

Thanks for praying and more updates to follow.


Blessings in Christ,

Chico Schlonecker