Monday, December 28, 2009

A Memorable Day

Today has been a memorable day in many ways. First of all, today is mine and Charlotte's 18th anniversary! We have had a great life together, and I am looking forward to many more wonderful years! I thank God for the wife He has given me!

Since my parents are here in Costa Rica with us, we all decided to go downtown today and show them the city of San Jose. To get the whole experience, we decided to ride the bus. Well, this turned out to be not such a wise choice, because as we were getting off the bus (at least we think this is where it happened), my dad was robbed by a pick pocket. His wallet was stolen with his credit cards and military ID, and by the time we were able to report it, almost $2000 had been charged on his credit cards. Fortunately, the credit card companies canceled the cards and my parents will not have to pay for the charges. However, I am sorry to say that we have now been affected by crime here in Costa Rica. We try to be very careful in everything we do, but still sometimes things do happen.

Later this afternoon, I learned something new that I am very excited about. I found out that today is "El Dia de Inocentes" - what we would call April Fools Day in the U.S. Those who know me, know that I love to play practical jokes and really look forward to April Fools Day every year. I am excited that now every year on December 28th, I will not only be celebrating my anniversary, but will get to play practical jokes on my friends and family! And what's more - now I have two days of the year to do it! I even managed to play a few jokes today on some of our fellow IMB language student missionaries!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Merry Christmas from Costa Rica!

We have completed our orality training for this week. We studied intensely the book of Acts, and learned how to "tell" the book of Acts in story form. This approach is being used all over the world to tell the stories of the Bible - both from the Old and New Testament, and many are coming to the Lord. However, we want to be sure we are true to the scriptures and never add or take away.

We are now gearing up to celebrate Jesus' birthday! We pray that you are focusing on the true reason that we celebrate Christmas, and that you have a Feliz Navidad (Merry Christmas)!

We also want to thank you for your faithful giving to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. Through this offering, we are able to be here in Costa Rica learning Spanish and ministering here, while preparing to go to Panama City, Panama next year to serve on the Urban Team. This offering allows over 5000 missionaries all over the world to serve through the International Mission Board. Many independent missionaries are forced to regularly leave the field to return to the states to raise support, but because of the giving of Southern Baptists, we are able to focus on the call God has placed on our lives. However, last year the the goal of the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering was not met, and IMB has had to cut the number of missionaries they were able to send to the field. That means there are people who are called, but are not able to go at this time. It is our prayer that the goal will be met this year so that more missionaries can be sent out to tell the story of Jesus - because there are still so many who are untold, waiting to hear. If you haven't given, please consider giving to this offering through any local Southern Baptist Church.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

A Busy (but good) Week!!

We have been very busy over the past several weeks, and this past week has been an exceptionally busy week! We have now completed our second trimester of language school, which means that we are 2/3 of the way finished with language school! What a great feeling!!

We also had a visit from Charlotte's parents - Bob and June Martin! We had a great time showing them San Jose, taking them to our Spanish church, showing them the language school, introducing them to other missionaries, and we even took them on a short trip outside of San Jose to beautiful Manuel Antonio. I think they enjoyed seeing a little of what our lives are like here, and experiencing "life" in Costa Rica! They have now arrived safely back in the U.S. and are at home in Brewton, Alabama.

Now that we are finished with this trimester of language school, all IMB missionaries here in Costa Rica will be having a special conference on "Orality" - which means telling the Bible orally which is useful for sharing with people who do not read or have access to Bibles. This conference will be Monday through Friday of next week.

On Monday, my parents Zed and ReDel Cawthon will be arriving and will be spending Christmas with us. We are looking forward to their visit! It has been so nice to have family here since this will be the first Christmas of our lives to be outside of the U.S.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Language Update from Charlotte

Well, we are past the halfway mark of this trimester, and are so ready for this one to end. We had heard going into this one, that the second trimester was the hardest and most intense out of the three, and I believe it. I have two very hard classes. Thankfully, I have now learned - at least on paper - the 14 verb tenses. That is in my grammar class, and in the conversation class, I have had presentations to present almost everyday! Hopefully, we are making progress, though it's hard to tell sometimes, especially on a day to day basis. But we can look back to when we first got here, and see that we have made a lot of progress. We have actually gotten to the point where we can discuss the sermons on Sunday after church. I would estimate that today I got about 75% of what went on at church, compared to probably 2% when we first got here - so I know we've made progress. Please continue to pray that we will continue to progress. One day - maybe we'll get 100% of the sermon - although I don't know if I get 100% even in when it's in English!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

An Update!

We have had a particularly busy couple of weeks here in Costa Rica. Last week was "Spiritual Emphasis Week" which is basically revival services which they have during every trimester. A group from Tennessee came and did Bible School for the children. In a crazy turn of events, my mother - ReDel Cawthon - was invited to come with the team. The group was from her town but a different church. They also had several other mission projects that they were involved in during the trip. The rest of the team left last Friday, but my mother was able to stay a few extra days. She is actually still here and will be leaving this Friday. She is staying to celebrate my 40th birthday with us!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Movie Night

The movie night went great. I had 41 men show up for "Facing the Giants." I believe that God is working in a powerful way. Many had questions and others had comments about the movie. We are preparing for "rain." (If you have seen the movie you know what I am talking about. If you don't know, then you need to rent and watch "Facing the Giants.") I am working on a video that I will be posting in the next few days.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Please pray....!!!!!

I am very excited about tomorrow night because I am having a special event for the football team I coach - The Jaguares (pronounced "hog war es" in Spanish). During the event, I will be showing the Christian film "Facing the Giants" - in Spanish, of course. Please pray that this event will open doors for sharing the Gospel and possibly for beginning a small group Bible study. The event will begin at 6 pm Costa Rica time which is 7 pm Central Time/8 pm Eastern Time.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Our Team in Panama

A lot has changed since we arrived in Costa Rica. When we arrived, we were expecting to remain in Costa Rica after language school. Now we know that we will be going to Panama to live and work after language school. We will graduate (hopefully!!) from language school on April 23rd of next year and will leave for Panama City, Panama somewhere around May 1st. We have been getting to know our team members pretty well over the last few weeks. They are here with us in language school. They are Tim and Tina Louderback from Thomasville, GA. They are a neat, fun couple and have four children who are intertwined with the ages of our children. If you have a chance, check out their blog at Another couple who will be on our team will be arriving in Costa Rica later this month. They already have a good bit of Spanish and will only spend one trimester in language school. We are looking forward to getting to know them, as well. All three families will leave at the same time to move to Panama! We are getting very excited about what God has ahead. In fact, please begin praying for the people we will minister to in Panama City.

Monday, September 28, 2009

5 months in Costa Rica

As of yesterday, we have now been in Costa Rica for five months! In some ways, it seems like much longer and in other ways it has flown by. We are now almost a month into the second trimester of language school and are having some unique ministry experiences. The Lord has humbled us greatly in our attempt to learn Spanish, but at the same time He gently reminds us that we are still usable in spite of - and possibly because of - our weaknesses. We are constantly being reminded of 2 Corinthians 12: 9 "My [Jesus'] grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness."

Charlotte began leading the Spanish Bible study last Wednesday. It is hard but God is using her. I am still coaching the football team and praying that God will use me with these young men. On this team of approximately 50 men, there are only three Christians. We have also begun working on a church planting project in a nearby neighborhood. We are at the very beginning stages right now and praying that God will open doors to build relationships in this middle to upper class neighborhood. Please pray for all of these areas of ministry. We are very weak - but we serve a mighty God who is more than able!

Last week, I had the opportunity to go with another missionary to a church about two hours away! He preached that night in Spanish, and the best part was two teenage girls accepted Christ! It was great to hear the sinners prayer prayed in Spanish!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Beach 2009

This is our trip to one of the many Beaches in Costa Rica. The video was take the last week of August 2009

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Update from Costa Rica

Well, we started our 2nd Trimester of language school this past week. It already seems that we are speaking so much more than in the first trimester. This trimester has the reputation of being the most difficult of the three, but also the one where your Spanish grows the most. Time will tell if that is an accurate assessment.

We have also had several ministry opportunities to arise. Yesterday, I had one of the best days that I have had in Costa Rica. I was invited to be an assistant coach of an adult American Football team. The team ranges from ages 18-40, and they all need Jesus. I am praying that God will use me to minster to this group of men! There are only 7 American Football teams in Costa Rica, so as you can imagine they have a lot to learn about the sport.

The next thing that God is allowing me to do is mentor a new pastor here in Costa Rica. He is the new pastor of San Pedro Community Fellowship and has never pastored before. God is allowing me to meet with him and teach him from a Biblical perspective what it means to be a pastor. I was also able to preach today at San Pedro Community Fellowship. This is an English speaking congregation.

Charlotte is also becoming involved in a ministry. At our school, there is a weekly Costa Rican Women's Bible Study that meets every Wednesday afternoon. Charlotte has been attending the Bible study for over a month, and the leaders are finishing language school and will be leaving Costa Rica. Charlotte and a fellow IMB missionary will be leading the group beginning in October. This Bible study is done completely in Spanish. Pray for her that God will give her the ability to co-lead this Bible study group.

Oh, and by the way "War Eagle"!! We were able to watch the Alabama game last night on our cable. It's neat to get to watch college football all the way down here in "Futball Country" (Futball is "Soccer" in Costa Rica!)

Friday, August 14, 2009

One Down, Two to Go!

We are now officially 1/3 of the way finished with language school! Yesterday was our last day of school for the first trimester! We are pleased with our progress, but of course the more we learn, the more we realize how much more we need to know. It's hard to believe we have been in Costa Rica for 3 1/2 months. When we think back to what we knew in regard to Spanish when we got here and what we know now, we can definitely see progress. It is only through the Lord's strength that we have progressed at all. Learning a foreign language is not an easy task, but we know that God has called us, and He will equip us!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

A Rough Week, with a Glimpse of Hope (posted by Charlotte)

Well, we knew when we came here, there would be things we would miss and not get to be with people we love during happy and sad times.... Well, this was one of those sad times when I wanted to be with my family, but I was many miles away in Costa Rica. This past Wednesday, my uncle passed away in South Carolina. I longed to be with my family during this time. His daughter and I have been very close since childhood, and I really wanted to be with her and the rest of the family. Please pray for the family of Lester Martin. I have many fond memories of him taking my cousin and me to the beach on so many occasions! He will definitely be missed by many!

On a lighter note.... I understood more of the sermons today than I have during the last three months! I have been so excited and thanking God for my break through! I, by no means, got everything, but I actually heard whole sentences, and even got some of the sermon points, unlike most weeks when I only get a word here and there and can't put any of it together to make sense! Please continue to pray that our language acquisition will continue to increase!

This week is our last week of the first trimester. It's a great feeling to know we are almost 1/3 of the way finished with language school! We will have a few days off, and are actually going to work in a trip to the beach for a few days! We are very excited about seeing a little more of Costa Rica and having some time of rest and relaxation!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Our First Visitor in Costa Rica

Well, we've been quite busy lately. We have now had our first guest since arriving in Costa Rica. Sarah Williams - from Marietta, GA- came to visit us for 12 days! Her father, Glenn Williams and I served together at Olive Springs Baptist Church for several years, and Sarah used to babysit our younger children. We really enjoyed having her during this time. She arrived on July 23rd, and left this morning! We packed a lot into the time she was here, and really strived to give her a feel of what our life is really like here in Costa Rica. She went to some of our classes, helped out in the preschool area (Rayitos) which is part of Sojourn Academy where our children go to school - and have been attending their summer camp program this summer. Sarah also was able to join with a mission team from Ohio and go with them on two days to a women's rehabilitation center for unwed mothers who have been on drugs. We showed her around the city of San Jose which included hitting some of our favorite restaurants, and shopping areas, going to the zoo, and going downtown to the Central Market and the Gold Museum. She also went with Charlotte to a Bible Study which is in Spanish and went to church services with us which were in Spanish. She had an opportunity to meet many of the missionaries who are living here in San Jose - some who are in language school and others who are living long term in Costa Rica ministering in the ways that God has called them. She quickly realized that like us - all of the other missionaries are just plain people that God has called to serve him in this capacity. We also worked in some fun while she was here. We went on a canopy tour and whitewater rafting at a place called Pozo Azul. We had a blast doing that! I posted the video a couple of days ago - so take a look at it, if you haven't already!

Sarah has been studying Spanish for the last several years in high school and college. Sarah was able to utilize her Spanish skills and gain confidence in her ability. It will be exciting to see how God uses her talents and abilities for His glory!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Part of Saturday's trip August 1, 2009

Saturday we (cawthons and sarah williams) went on a canopy tour and whitewater rafting. We had a great time.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Please pray for our safety

We have known from the beginning that safety was an issue, and that robberies do occur in the area that we live in. However, last week seemed to be worse than it has been. Thankfully, we have not been directly affected. Last week, there was an American shot in the leg. He was in the park on the same street as our house. The next day, a female student was robbed near the language school. The school was broken into another night. We heard that a Costa Rican woman was robbed another day. Then Friday, we witnessed a robbery. A Costa Rican man's wallet was taken; then three men chased the robber down hitting him twice with a car, and then getting out, beating him up and demanding the wallet back. All of this happened just outside the language school as we stood waiting for a taxi. God sent some fellow students by in a vehicle just as everything began happening. We were with another family and we began pushing the children into the vehicle, and then the adults climbed in, too. We had 13 people in a vehicle that holds 9! We are thankful that God protected us that day, and ask for your continued prayers for our safety.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Spiritual Emphasis Week

This week has been Spiritual Emphasis Week at the language school. The guest preacher has been Dr. Stan May who is a pastor and seminary professor in Memphis, TN. His wife has been with him, also - Iva May. During the morning chapel hour, Dr. May leads the men, and his wife leads the women. We also have a special service each evening in which he preaches. It has been a great week just to focus on the reason we are here, and remind ourselves of the bigger picture. It's easy to get bogged down - and sometimes discouraged - with learning Spanish. Another good part about this week is that we don't have tests or homework in our classes!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

recap of costa rica

Here is another video that John R has put together. It recaps the last 7 weeks in costa rica.

Monday, June 22, 2009

A Turning Point...

This past week has been a turning point for us. We finally feel like we are starting to get to know some of our neighbors and local people. Last week Charlotte and I met two Costa Rican women who live in our neighborhood. They invited us to come to a Bible Study on Friday evening. As it turns out, one of the women was a missionary for two years in the Middle East. At the Bible Study were four Costa Rican women, and Charlotte and me. Thankfully, one of the women spoke very good English and was able to translate for us. It was a very genuine time. They meet every Friday evening, and told us we are welcome to invite others. We are praying for witnessing opportunities and feel that this would be a good place to invite people that we meet.

This past week was also somewhat of a turning point for us at church. We felt that we understood a little more this week than we have before. It may have been because the pastor used a power point which really helped to pick out words and see the scripture references in print. We are also starting to get to know some of the people at church.

Saturday night we actually had a pretty good conversation - mostly in Spanish - with our taxi driver. He had a small Bible in the taxi and we asked if he was a Christian. He affirmed that he was and told us how his life had been changed by Christ!!

Please pray that we will meet more people and have more opportunities to share the TRUTH OF THE GOSPEL!!!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Good news!

We had posted last week about Charlotte's dad having melanoma. Well... he went to the doctor on Friday and was told the cancer was only in the very beginning stage. Out patient surgery was scheduled for today. He had the procedure done today, and will have the stitches removed this Friday. Hopefully, that will be the end of it! We thank you so much for your prayers. We are thankful that all went well. God is good!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

What a great Sunday

We had a great time with fellow missionaries "The Duvalls." We went to a church that meets in a garage, and the service was great. I did get lost in the sermon time. I thought he said John but he said Jonah. Needless to say the sermon did not make much sense to me.

Here is a video of some of the events of the day.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Praise and prayer request

First of all, we got some unexpected news last week... My brother and his wife are expecting a baby in January - on my Dad's birthday! It's kind of funny because his daughters are 18 and soon to be 16! Life will definitely be different! We praise God for this new life that He's created!

Also, please pray for Charlotte's father - Bob Martin. He got some bad news last week. He had been to the dermatologist who had done a biopsy on a place on his face a couple of weeks ago. Last week they called to tell him it is melanoma. He goes to the surgeon this Friday. This can be a serious type of skin cancer. We are praying that it is still in the early stages and the surgeon will be able to cut it all out. Please pray with us about this. This is one of the things that are hard about being so far from family.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Etc, Etc, Etc...

Last weekend, we decided to rent a car to explore San Jose. You see, we don't have a car while we are in language school and most of the time we walk or take a taxi. Busses are also available, but we haven't done that as much. Without having a vehicle, we have been limited in knowing what is around us, so we rented a car from Friday afternoon to Sunday afternoon. I felt like a 16 year old who had just gotten his driver's license! Friday night, we took off for an area of town called Escazu. We soon discovered a Mexican restaurant called "Tacontento." I guess this would translate to the "Happy Taco"! Now this was no La Parilla (our favorite Mexican restaurant of all time), but we sure did enjoy it.! A lot of people think of Costa Rica as having Mexican food, but this is certainly not the case. Their signature food item is Gallo Pinto - which is rice and black beans - and they pretty much eat it three meals a day.

During our exploration last weekend, we also discovered a store just like Home Depot or Lowe's called Epa. It was fun to go in and feel like we were in one of these hardware stores from the states. We even ran into some fellow students while we we shopping in EPA.

When Sunday afternoon came, we sure hated to see the car go. We had a great time getting out and seeing the city of San Jose.

Today I made a language blunder in my grammar class. A woman in my class was called on and she did a good job. I attempted to give her a compliment, so I said, "Muy grande!" Instead of saying, "very good!," I had actually said, "very big!" - not quite what a woman would consider to be a compliment! Oh well, I have no room for anything except improvement!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Prayer Request for a Friend

I would like to ask everyone to pray for a good friend of mine - Rod Kelley in Marietta, GA. He was in a bad motorcycle accident last week. He had surgery last week on his knee and leg. Now, he is starting physical therapy. Please pray for his recovery and physical therapy.

Also, continue to pray for our family to learn Spanish. There are days that this task seems unattainable, but I know that it is not something that we can do overnight. As everyone says here... "poco a poco" or "little by little." Tomorrow, both Charlotte and I have grammar tests. Please pray that we will do well, but most of all that we will begin to understand and be able to communicate. We are also learning the Romans Road verses in Spanish. Pray that God will give us the ability to memorize these verses that we know so well in English.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Rainy Season is Here....

The rainy season in Costa Rica is from approximately April 15th through approximately December 15th. Since we've been here, it's been sunny and warm almost every morning, and then around late morning the sky gets cloudy and it often rains in the afternoon. Today was the first day that we got caught in a downpour. By the time we got out of our last class, it was raining hard. We live very close to the school - basically just across the street - so we were especially thankful today! Most of the people we know live much further away - and they are just like us in that they don't have a car which makes the rainy season even worse!

By the way, since we've been here, we have learned an interesting fact about umbrellas and the Spanish language. There are actually two words for "umbrella" in Spanish. "Sombrilla" is the word for a woman's umbrella; and "paraguas" is the word for a man's umbrella! I was glad I had my "paraguas" today!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A Funny Story

This past Sunday our lack of language understanding caught up with us. We have been attending the same Spanish church for the past three Sundays - even though we have understood almost nothing of what has gone on. Well, we did know that the pastor was preaching about deacons, but that was about the extent of it. We also heard him say, "...La palabra al Dios" every once in a while which means "the word of God." At the end of the service, everyone began standing up one at a time, but not in unison. We didn't know what the pastor was asking the congregation to do, so we remained seated, until someone behind us said, "You probably should stand up!" When everyone had been dismissed, the associate pastor's wife came up to us, and said in English, "Would you like for me to explain what happened?" Of course, we said, "yes!" Three men had been presented as deacons the previous week. The pastor had asked that if anyone in the congregation did not agree with the lives of these men, they should remain seated; and for everyone else to stand. Of course, it became obvious that we had no idea what was being said; so the pastor had said to the congregation in Spanish, "Apparently this family doesn't understand Spanish, so we won't count them!" Needless to say, we were a little embarrassed by our lack of understanding.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Life in Costa Rica

We have now been in Costa Rica for over two weeks. We are getting settled into our new life and routine. Now, we all go to school everyday. The kids go to Sojourn Academy which is a Christian school that is actually part of the language school. They have normal classes, but also have Spanish classes. Charlotte and I go to the Instituo de Lengua Espanol. We are both learning so much, but the task of learning to communicate in Spanish at times seems monumental. We have three classes - an hour of language, an hour of phonetics, and two hours of grammar. The teachers are all Christians and native speakers. They work hard to help us grasp our new language.

Tasks that we have been good at now have become very difficult due to the language barrier. When we order at a restaurant, we feel like 5 year olds trying to order our food. Even going to the grocery store is a challenge. Not only are the product labels in Spanish, they are packaged much differently, many familiar products are unavailable, and to top it all off they are priced in colones instead of dollars!! Attending church services is also difficult, as we understand very little of what's going on.

Each day gets a little easier as we learn new words and phrases. We look forward to the day when we can understand a Spanish sermon and worship in Spanish, and also share our testimonies in Spanish. Please pray that God will help us to learn the language quickly, so that we can be effective in serving him in a new culture.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

We Have Internet

We have internet. Here is a movie that John Robert put together. We will post thoughts soon.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

No Internet

We still do not have internet. Hope to have it by Monday or Tuesday. We will have video and pictures!

Friday, May 1, 2009

We have arrived in Costa Rica!

We arrived in Costa Rica on Monday evening (4/27) at 8:30 pm local time. This week has been spent getting settled and attending orientation. We don't have internet at home, but should have it next week. We will write more details next week! Please continue to keep us in your prayers as we experience life in a different culture!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Our last week....

We have been extremely busy over the past week and a half, and have not had good access to the internet. That is why I have not posted in a while. Last week, we went to Brewton, Alabama to visit Charlotte's parents. We also had several speaking engagements while we were in South Alabama. Charlotte spoke to a WMU group at First Baptist Atmore (AL); we both spoke at First Baptist Brewton on Wednesday; and I preached at First Baptist Elba (AL) yesterday morning and Westside Baptist Church in Elba last night. It was great to get to share with so many people about what God is doing in our lives, and to share of our passion to see a lost world won for Christ.

During the time we were gone, we also got to have somewhat of a "mini family reunion" with many of Charlotte's aunts, uncles and cousins in Destin, Florida. Preston met many "new" cousins that day and had a great time playing all day! We all enjoyed catching up and spending time with them.

This week will be a week of goodbyes and packing as we prepare to leave the USA just one week from today - April 27th. Please keep us in your prayers this week. Pray that God will continue to give us a "peace that passes understanding."

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Having a good week...

This past Sunday, I preached at the Hispanic Church of Olive Springs Baptist Church. It was a great day of worship. The Holy Spirit was working, as many responded to be witnesses wherever God leads. I preached through an interpreter this time, but assured them when I come back from Costa Rica I will preach in Spanish! I pray that God will make this a reality!

We are now in White House, TN visiting my parents. We have had a nice, relaxing time here. John Robert will be sharing with the youth tonight about his calling and charging them to be witnesses wherever they are.

We will return to Marietta tomorrow and will be involved with Olive Springs Community Easter Egg Hunt on Saturday. This is a great outreach to the Hispanic community around the church.

This is a week to remember Christ's death, burial and RESURRECTION as we prepare to celebrate Easter this Sunday morning!!!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Countdown is on...

We are now in Marietta, GA. We are staying in a mission home owned by First Baptist Marietta. It is truly a blessing to have this home to stay in over the next few weeks. During this time, we will have this as our home base, but will be traveling to visit both of our families who live in Tennessee and Alabama. We will leave for Costa Rica from Atlanta with five other families on April 27th.

This past Sunday, we went to Olive Springs Baptist Church here in Marietta where I pastored from 2002 through 2006. I preached and they had a special commissioning service for us. It was a special day for our whole family. We saw many people who mean so much to us. During the next few weeks, we will be worshipping with them and helping out where we can.

We are also taking inventory of what we have and what we need for Costa Rica. That's another thing we will be doing over the next few weeks - shopping! We are having to anticipate how much the kids will grow over the next year so that we can purchase the clothing they will need.

Today is April 1st. March was a month of birthdays! Christian turned 11 and John Robert turned 15. It's great to see God working in their lives. Not only are they growing in age, but they are growing spiritually. It's been exciting to see this process! Preston is also learning a lot about serving the Lord, and what it means to be a Christian and a Missionary.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Last day of FPO

We arrived at FPO on January 26th. It's hard to believe that two months have passed so quickly. We have learned so much during our time here, and have met so many wonderful people. Today is our Commissioning Service. It is sure to be an emotional time, as we begin to grasp the huge task that lies ahead. Some of our friends here are leaving for the field tomorrow and Friday. However, we will not leave for Costa Rica until April 27th, due to lack of housing availability at the language school. During the next month, I will be preaching and speaking several times; we will be visiting with family and friends, and getting the necessary items needed to live in CR. Please continue to keep us in your prayers. The kids have done great here with all the changes, and have learned so much in regard to witnessing and sharing their faith. Pray that they will continue to grow spiritually and adapt easily to more changes, and that God will provide friends for them in Costa Rica.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Winding Down

Our time to leave orientation is quickly approaching. It's hard to believe we have been here almost 2 months. This week we have had sessions regarding health issues on the field and maintaining relationships. Thursday we will all travel by bus to Washington D.C. and will have a time of interacting with our people groups. We will be partnering with another family and will attempt to have a witnessing experience.

Friday is our last shot day. It will be great to have that behind us. Incidentally, the last shot clinic did not go well. I don't think I posted about it, but on that particular day Christian was screaming in one room, and John Robert threw up in the main waiting area due to a stomach virus. Hopefully, this last one will go much better.

Next Wednesday there will be a special service as we are all commissioned to go to the field. This is sure to be a bittersweet time for all of us. We have built many friendships here, and many of these friends are going all over the world. Some, we may never see again, or at least no time soon. There are others who will be going to language school with us in Costa Rica, and we look forward to continuing these friendships. However, the goal was not to remain here in Rockville, VA but to be His witnesses in the uttermost parts of the world. These past few weeks have prepared us to do just that. I pray that we will all be found faithful.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Update from Rockville, VA

We have been very busy over the last week. We had fun playing in the snow on Monday, but it was back to our schedule on Tuesday through Saturday. We had sessions on a variety of subjects including Servant Leadership and Language Acquisition, and then we spent three days doing Safety Training. All of these sessions were great in that they are preparing us for our service on the field.

Our time is drawing to a close. We will only be here in Rockville (just outside Richmond) for a little over two more weeks. This week we are spending time having Regional Meetings with our colleagues in the MAC Region - Middle America and Caribbean. We are discussing strategies for reaching the lost world to see a Church Planting Movement. Throughout our time here, we have focused on church planting as seen in the book of Acts.

Please continue to keep us in your prayers.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Sickness has hit again.... But we are all well, now!

The fever virus hit Christian on Friday night and lasted until Sunday evening. Preston was struck with the stomach virus on Sunday afternoon. Thankfully, his illness was short lived. But to follow policy, they had to stay in for 24 hours to ensure that they were completely well. They both missed school on Monday. We were all back on track by Tuesday.

Today we have started having sessions on Storying, in which stories of the Bible are told orally. Sometimes this is out of necessity because a population is illiterate, but other times storying seems to work better at getting people's attention as they hear the story told. We will be having sessions on Storying through Friday. We have also been practicing Storying techniques in a smaller group on Tuesday evenings.

Tonight we will be having a dinner with our regional team at the home of our Regional Leader here in Richmond. This should be a good time of gathering together.

Friday, February 20, 2009

The First "Shot Day"

Today was our first day for immunizations. It was not a day that Preston had looked forward to, but everyone did well. Charlotte had to get two shots, I had to get one, and all the children had one each. They were all very brave and did not cry. The whole immunization process went fast. We were in and out in a matter of about 5 minutes. After having shots, we decided it was a great day to go to Krispy Kreme! Between the five of us, we ate 16 doughnuts! It was amazing!

This week has gone by quickly. It's hard to believe that we have been here almost 4 weeks! We are enjoying building friendships, and getting to know so many people who have a heart for seeing the world reached for Christ. This week our sessions have been on doctrine; and training for discipling national Christians and training them to lead others to Christ and start churches, and in turn training them to start new churches and train leaders.

Tomorrow we have plans to go and visit my Aunt and Unlce - Fonceil and David Blake who live about 30 minutes away in Mechanicsville, VA. It should be a great day of rest and relaxation as we enjoy some family time.

Friday, February 13, 2009

A Good Week

This has been a good week in many ways. We have all been well and have been able to attend all the sessions. The weather has been unseasonably warm and has been very enjoyable. The sessions have been inspiring and have challenged us. The sessions have emphasized church planting and we have heard messages relating to the church plants in Acts. We have also heard true stories from missionaries on the field. As we hear what God is doing all over the world, it inspires us to go and tell. It also helps us to realize how at times the work may be slow which could lead to discouragement. Please, please keep us in your prayers. We NEED your prayers. This task that God is leading us to do is not something we can accomplish on our own strength.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Dr. Reverend Most High K Elliot Mullis

Kris Mullis is the new pastor of First Baptist Church Elba. This is something that has been on the top of my prayer list for some time. I believe that Kris will lead this church to do great and wonderful things for the Lord. I am sorry to say that now that Kris is on that side of the Pea River I can no longer be his friend. Oh wait! - I don't live in Enterprise anymore - so I can still be his friend.
Pray that God will bless this church and their new pastor.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

The Week in Review

This week has had its ups and downs. Christian had to miss three days of school this week due to being sick with the flu. Therefore, Charlotte and I had to switch out on going to sessions so one of us could be home with her. She was able to go to school on Thursday and Friday.

Dr. Rankin spoke three days this week on the subject of spiritual warfare. We know that spiritual warfare is very real and we know that Satan will attack us as we strive to serve the Lord as He has called us to do. Dr. Rankin shared a lot of true stories of how some have fallen as Satan has attacked them, but also encouraged us with examples of how so many missionaries have remained true to the Lord in spite of hardships and struggles. We must be constantly put on the armor of the Lord to be on guard against Satan's tactics so that we can stand firm.

Yesterday we had a regional meeting with everyone who will be in the Middle America Region. We will be spending a lot of time with some of these families, as several will also be with us during language school. We have also begun listening to Spanish CD's to become more familiar with hearing the spoken language. We are required to listen to 15 minutes of Spanish per day while we are here.

Today, we basically have the day off as we don't have any meetings to attend. We had planned to go to Washington D.C. today for the day with two other families since we are only an hour and a half away. However, Preston woke up this morning with a fever of 102, so needless to stay we had to cancel our plans. We are all a little disappointed because today is a beautiful day and the temperature is supposed to be in the high 60's which is much warmer than the rest of the week has been. Hopefully, we will have another time to go and sight see in D.C.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Sick Child at FPO

As you have probably figured out by some of our posts, we are living in very close quarters during these two months of FPO. As a result of this, we have seen quite of few sick people - mainly children. This morning, we had a sick child of our own. There are three families living in our building, and each family has at least one sick child, and they all have the same symptoms - sore throat, fever and chills. Christian is the one we have sick. She still had a fever tonight, and the rule is the child has to go 24 hours without fever before going to school. She missed today, and Charlotte stayed home with her. They will have to stay in tomorrow, also. Hopefully, the other children won't get what she's got.

The weather has been very mild the last couple of days with temps in the 60's. Now the weather has drastically changed, and there is a chance of snow tonight. Tomorrow will be a very cold day! Let's just say, I'm glad God called us to Costa Rica.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Pray for My Friend Kris Mullis

Kris Mullis is one of my best friends. His father found out last week that he has cancer. The doctors say he only has with chemo 18 months to live without chemo 3 months to live. Pray for Kris' father Marvin Mullis as he faces some very scary things.
Kris is also faceing a major change in life and ministry. Kris is a Fedral Prison Chaplain in South Georgia. He is going in view of a call to First Baptist Church Elba in Alabama. This is going to be a great place for Kris to be a pastor again. Elba is only 12 miles from his parents. Pray that both Kris and First Baptist Church Elba will seek God's will.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

We moved into our "triad" on Monday. We live in a three bedroom apartment in a building with three other families, and we all share a common family area. We have 10 kids in our building ranging from 19 months to 14 years! Christian and Preston are enjoying having playmates all the time!

Our first day Preston had to go to the doctor. He has a double ear infection. He is much better and has stopped complaining about his ears and started complaining about having to take the medication

We started our meetings today, and the kids began school. The youth class consists of 7 students, which is the smallest of all the classes. All the children had a good day as they are getting used to their new schedules, new friends, and new teachers. The overall makeup of the population here is 78 couples, 70 singles, and 104 children for a total of 330 people. We know quite a few people already, but are meeting many new people.

We don't have very reliable internet access from our apartment, so we will post as we have opportunity. We can not take pictures because of secreity protection but we will try to keep everyone update.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Update from Mechanicsville, Virginia

We are now in Mechanicsville, Virginia. We arrived yesterday and are staying with my aunt and uncle - Fonceil and David Blake. We are having a great time spending time with them. We have also been able to hang out with my cousins Nicky and Jenny and Jenny's little boy Jack. Tomorrow some more family will be coming to visit who live in various parts of Virginia.

We will be moving into the ILC on Monday and will begin FPO on Wednesday. The IMB is known for all of their acronyms! ILC = International Learning Center; FPO = Field Personnel Orientation; IMB = International Mission Board... And their are many more where these came from!

We have had a little bit of discouragement this week. We have learned that we will be a little later than expected leaving for Costa Rica. We had been told during Appointment Week in Houston that we would be leaving on April 9th; but due to a lack of housing availability at that time, we will now be leaving on April 27th. It's just another lesson in patience, and we are learning to be very flexible. God is in control!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Roanoke Family

Tonight we went to Brambleton Baptist Church in Roanoke, VA. My uncle Tim Spear is the pastor. I had an opportunity to share about our calling and the work that we will be doing in Costa Rica in their evening service. Many of my family members were there: Tim (Uncle), Pat (Aunt), Hannah (Cousin), and Jordan (Cousin) Spear, Noot Kohen (Aunt), Clint Townsend (Cousin), and Heather Myers(Aunt).

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Snow in Charlotte, NC

Nick, Kay, George and Kate Valaoras - Charlotte's cousin Kay and her family.  They live in Charlotte, NC.  When we woke up on Tuesday morning at their house, there was snow!

The group below are friends from Greenville, SC we visited on Monday at Krispy Kreme.  Sammy Clary is on the right. He is a pastor of Stonebridge Church.   We have been friends for more than 15 years.  The couple in the middle are fellow missionaries Michael and Amanda Hodge and kids - Alexis and Jerrett.  They are going to Argentina.   Brain Reese is on the left. He is a pastor at Marathon Church. He is holding his new son Reese.

Glenn, Laura, Sarah, Austin and David Williams

Sunday, January 18, 2009

A Great Day!

Today has been a wonderful day.  We were blessed to be able to share with Paper Mill Road Baptist Church in their morning service.  This is a very loving church with a passion for missions.  I can not say enough positive things about this church and about Glenn and Laura Williams.  They were so kind to us and made us feel so welcome.  Glenn is doing  a great job in leading this congregation.  We had a great time reconnecting with Glenn and Laura and their three children - Sarah, Austin and David.  They are a sweet family and God is using them at Paper Mill Road Baptist Church.  We have a photo to post of their family soon but have not been able to download it.

Tonight we went to First Baptist Woodstock with David and Jessica Bello.  David served with me at Olive Springs, and we went on several mission trips together.  He was the Hispanic Pastor.  It was great to see them and spend time catching up with them.  We also enjoyed FBC Woodstock.  Johnny Hunt is a ball of fire!

This week will be a week of traveling, as we are on our way to Richmond, Virginia.  We will be moving into our apartment at the International Learning Center on January 26th, and will begin orientation on the 28th.  Along the way, we will be stopping to visit with family and friends.  It will be a great week to see some special people, but also very tiring.  Please keep us in your prayers.  Pray for our safety and also pray for our children as we are in the midst of so much change.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Clarification of last blog

For those who don't know what a "naked dog" is - it's a hotdog with nothing on it!  

We're still having fun in Atlanta!  We shopped at Atlantic Station today, and tonight we ate supper with Glenn and Laura Williams and their sons Austin and David.  Now we're heading to the indoor pool for Christian and Preston to swim.

Friday, January 16, 2009

"What'll ya have?"

We are in Atlanta!  We left Brewton this morning to start our next great adventure.  We will be in Atlanta until Monday morning.   We got checked into the hotel around 6:30 and needed to eat so we went to the Varsity for chili dogs.  We got there around 8:30 and ate until 9:30.  IT WAS SOOOO GOOD!  It brought a tear to my eye as I ate! Here is a picture of all of us in our Varsity hats.  For those who may not know as you walk to the counter the workers yell out, "What'll ya have?"  Christian had a "naked dog"!  

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

This and That!

This has been a week of going to the YMCA to work out and swim with the kids, spending time with Charlotte's family, and getting Flu shots. While it has been relaxing for the most part, we are anxious to get to Richmond and begin FPO (Field Personnel Orientation).

Brewton has a YMCA and we have been blessed by being able to have a guest membership during our time here. The kids have enjoyed swimming, and I have been needing to get back into an exercise routine.

Monday morning, Charlotte's uncle from Andalusia, AL called and wanted to come visit. We all met at the Pizza Hut and had a very enjoyable lunch. Roy and Sybil Weaver came from Andalusia, and Charlotte's other uncle - Lawrence Weaver who lives in Brewton came. It was a great time to see family that we don't get to see very often.

We had been putting off getting our Flu shots, but were told we all needed to have one before arriving in Richmond. The last thing they want there is a Flu epedimic! The nurse at the health department did a great job! We could hardly even feel the needle! I hope it's that easy in Richmond! While in Richmond, we will all have to get shots almost every Friday. Preston has really been dreading this part of going to Costa Rica.

We will be leaving Brewton on Friday morning and will spend the weekend in Atlanta. I will be preaching at Paper Mill Road Baptist Church in Marietta. We are looking forward to spending time with Glenn and Laura Williams and their family. Glenn is the pastor of the church and we served together at Olive Springs Baptist Church in Marietta.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

A Weekend of Friends

Over the last several days we have been visiting and reconnecting with friends and family.  We went to lunch with Jeff and Jeanine Fields of Friday and had a great time catching up with them.    We also were able to spend some time with Charlotte's aunt - Flossie Martin.  She stopped by Charlotte's parents home to visit and brought a delicious homemade blueberry pie!  Saturday we spent some time with Holly and Parrish Dalrymple and their boys, and also got to see Doug and Ann Dalrymple.  It was a great time fellowshipping with them.  

Somewhat unexpectedly, we were able to see Kris and Shana Mullis and their family of three girls.  Kris is a very close friend of mine.  I was with Kris when he accepted Christ and had the joy of baptizing him.  I have seen him grow in spiritual maturity.  He surrendered to the ministry several years ago, and God has been using Kris and his family in a great way.  Presently, Kris is a Chaplin with the Bureau of Federal Prisons in Jessup, Georgia.

Today, I preached at Pleasant Hill Baptist Church in Bluff Springs, Florida - about 45 minutes from Pensacola, Florida.  This is the church that Charlotte's mother - June Martin - plays the piano for.  We had a great time getting to know this sweet congregation.

After church this morning, we drove down to Pensacola.  We went by Sharon and Steve Register's home.  I have known the Registers for many years. They are good friends of my parents, and have always extended their love for us.  They even attended Charlotte and my wedding 17 years ago.  We had fun catching up with them, and then went to their church with them at Olive Baptist Church.  Ted Traylor is the pastor at Olive.  He is a godly man, which is evident in talking with him and hearing him preach.  I had the privilege of sharing briefly with the congregation at Olive about how God is leading our family to Costa Rica.

After the service, I met a young woman who is from Costa Rica.  Her name is Susana Mendoza-Kepner.  She shared with me that her father and grandfather are pastors in Costa Rica.  I hope to be able to meet these men when I arrive in Costa Rica.

Tonight I got a call from a good friend of mine who is currently going through the process to be an IMB missionary.  Please pray for Kenny and Lesley Vines.  God is leading them to serve in Zambia.  Pray for them as they are trying to sell their home in difficult economic times. 

The time is drawing near for us to go to Richmond.  It's hard to believe that the time is here.  We will begin our two months of orientation on January 26th.  

Thank you so much for all the prayers that have been lifted up for us.  This means more to us than you could ever know.  We also appreciate the comments that have been left on the blog.  These are very encouraging to us. 

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Just a Day at the Beach

Yesterday, we all went to Pensacola, FL.  It was more than just a day at the beach.  Christian has been sick for the past several days. We went down to the Baptist Hospital walk-in clinic.  I thought they would have seen her for free because we are Southern Baptist Missionaries (yeah right!).  They think she has a bladder infection.  After a war of trying to get her to take her medicine, she is doing better.  
We had to excite the others in going to take Christian by telling them we were going to the beach.  At the end of the day, we went to the beach for about an hour.  It was 72 degrees and the water was cold.  We did not swim - even though Preston sure wanted to.  
While going and coming to Pensacola all we ate was fast food.  I think I ate enough french fries to fill a small horse.  The problem is now l feel like a large horse.  
Please pray for me as I try to get in contact with the Costa Rican Consulate. I have been trying for 3 weeks with no results.  We need our visas so that we can live in Costa Rica. 

Friday, January 2, 2009

Greetings from Brewton, Alabama

We have now left White House, Tennessee and are in Brewton, Alabama where Charlotte's parents live. We will be here for over two weeks until we leave for Richmond. On the drive down to Brewton we stopped by Birmingham to visit some good friends of ours - Stephen and Donna Stair and their two children Caroline (age 10) and Sarah Beth (age 7). Charlotte and Donna have been friends since the first grade and went all through high school together. It was great to spend some time with them. The kids all enjoyed playing together, too.

2009 is sure to be a year of changes, challenges and adeventure as we embark on our journey to Costa Rica. Yesterday we talked about how much things have changed since this time last year. God has been with us every step of the way, and He is sure to be with us during 2009 and beyond.

From our family to yours - we hope and pray 2009 is a year of growing closer to God and experiencing Him as never before.