Costa Rica: Days 4&5!

What can I say, except that this team is doing an outstanding job! They have great attitudes, they are working hard and working well together, and they’re playing hard! I’ve been told multiple times from both several members of the AIM team, as well as those we’re serving with, how wonderful our team is. And I couldn’t agree more!

They’re getting so much done it’s hard to keep up with it all and keep it all straight. But here’s a quick recap of what we’ve done yesterday and today.

Yesterday our teams again went to three different locations, back to serve with YWAM, Conextion, and to the neighborhood by the name of Tirrases. The team at YWAM continued the work we started on Monday, transplant plants on the newly acquired property that will be used for training students from around the world for ministry. The Conextion team spent the day doing some much-needed deep cleaning of space and equipment that the ministry uses in several of their programs. And our third team who went to Tirrases handed out our hand-made fliers for the sports camp we were asked to run on Friday for the children of the neighborhood. Additionally, we were able to spend some time to connecting with some of the children and teens at one of the parks in the neighborhood including sharing the gospel with a few of the teens.

Today, our teams ministered at a local church, a juvenile detention center, and back in Tirrases. The team in Tirrases did more of the same; connecting with the children and teens, passing out flyers for the sports camp Friday. The team that headed to the church were going with Conextion. We helped with some minor construction projects at the church (which used to be a warehouse). And our team that went to the prison ministry were able to play some game with the students and were also able to share the gospel. We were told that there were 16 decisions to accept Christ made today!

Tomorrow is our “fun day”, we’ll be doing some sightseeing, including a zip line tour. But we’ll also be planning and prepping for the sports camp outreach on Friday, as well as partnering with Conextion for the last time to help with an outreach for children at one of the local schools. Please be praying for continued energy, enthusiasm, and boldness for out teams along with receptive hearts of those in attendance! I have a strong feeling God is going to continue to change lives!

 

Because of Christ,

Matt Vince
 
  Tuesday;s team that went to YWAM.
  Tuesday’s team that went to Tirrases. 
  Wednesday’s Team to Tirrases.
Wednesdays team with Conextion.


Costa Rica: Day 3!

 
Our first workday was a resounding success! We divided up into three teams, with one going to serve at the food bank, once servicing with a ministry called Conexion, and the third working with an organization call Youth with a Mission (YWAM).

Our food bank team was able to see how, because of the need here in Costa Rica, the food bank wastes absolutely nothing of the donations they receive. The team worked diligently to help tape packages of beans, rice, flower, sugar, etc. that had a hole or opening (the reason the item was donated to the food bank) so the valuable contents would be retained and kept safe until it could be distributed. Food that isn’t fit for the humans in need is prepped to be used to help feed animals that are in need.

Our second team served with Conextion, a Christian ministry that serves in several locations around the world. They have 7 areas of ministry that they focus on and the original plan was to serve with them in ministering to the children in the local school. However, on Sunday, the teachers here had decided to go on strike, so there were not children in school for us to serve, but that didn’t stop up. We helped to deep clean and sanitized a small, free medical clinic that Conextion runs on Wednesdays and on the weekends. The team moved everything out of the shipping container that houses the clinic, cleaned and sanitized every service, painted the ceiling, and put everything back. In addition to basic medical need, this clinic offers dental services and some other specialty medical services, serving 500 people a week on average.

Our third team (my team) partnered with YWAM, a missions organization that has been around for decades. They have about 7 bases minimum in over 180 countries. The base we served at houses a college that trains students from around the world for ministry. Because the school is growing so fast, they have needed to purchase more property. They were able to acquire over 30 acres directly across the street and have plans to build an entire complex that will be used to train believers from across the globe for ministry. We helped the bases maintenance manager transplant several hundred plants as part of the on going process to prepare the property for a conference they will be hosting for all of YWAM at this new location in the next year.

One of my favorite stories from today was from my group. Before leaving to go to YWAM, Cesar, our translator and long time AIM team member, had us start memorizing John 14:6 in Spanish. He also taught us a song, as well as a great way to share the gospel so that we could be better prepared to share should God open the door. But the best part is that, because this AIM base that we’re serving at is so new (about 6 months), they are still working hard to make more connections with churches and ministries in the community to grow relationships with those that they want to reach, but also for the teams (like ours) who will be coming to serve and share the gospel. So Cesar challenged us to pray specifically that we would make at least one connection with someone that Kevin and Anna, the base leaders, could use moving forward to minister.

Well God answered in a big way! During lunch, we met a man who has been serving here in Costa Rica for 17 years with a ministry called Homes of Hope. They build homes for those in need. But because of his years of serving with this ministry, he has made connections with dozens of local churches and other para church ministries! God is so good! Please be praying with us that this connection will be a profitable one, for both sides, as the Body of Christ continues to unify in the goal of serving those in need and bringing the gospel to all!

Tomorrow (day 4) we will again be splitting into three teams, heading back to serve with both Conextion and YWAM. But we will also be sending a team to Tirrases, a community that is in extreme poverty, and one that God has burdened the hearts of the AIM team for. In addition to getting a lay of the land in Tirrases, and meeting people, we’ll begin working on a sports camp style program for the children for Friday, Lord willing!

 

Because of Christ,

Matt Vince
 


Costa Rica: Day 2!

 
 
*I attempted to have this post up last night but due to some technical difficulties with either my computer or the internet connection, I had to wait until this morning.*
 
         Today was a very easy day (and in my opinion a gift from God after what was a very busy week for most of us who were able to serve in Summer Shake-up and a long day yesterday with our traveling). Most we up well before breakfast, no doubt due to the time change (Costa Rica is two hours behind Cleveland) and because everyone was pretty well out by 10 pm our time. I was able to enjoy watching the sunrise from the hammock that PD was kind enough to bring and share. The back of the house faces east, and it made for what felt like a front row seat to God’s daily glory and creation. It was a joy.

            After a breakfast of scrambled eggs and a traditional rice and bean dish called gallo pinto, which I thought was delicious! We finish getting ready for and then traveled to La Vina del Este for church. I found it a real joy experiencing a worship service of our brothers in sisters in Christ. It also helped that I was near a translator during the service, so I was following the sermon fairly well. It centered around our call to show the same mercy that we receive from God to those around us, specifically those who are in need. We were informed that about 20% of families in Costa Rica live in poverty, which means that the average family of five is living off about $183 a month. The church had also created a team to head up their new efforts to be more intentional in reaching out to and helping to meet the needs of those in this community. In addition to praying for this new team and the larger effort that the church is making to reach the poor in the community they acknowledge our team and the work we will be doing this week!             After church we returned to the base for lunch. We then had some time of ice breaker games with the AIM team. They were quite impressed, and possibly a little frightened, over our team’s commitment to and aggressive nature during a game called by many names, but they called it “Chaos”. The gist of the game is that you have one person in the middle and everyone is sitting in chairs in a circle around them. The person in the middle give a statement about themselves that is true (i.e. This is my first trip to Costa Rica), and anyone else for whom the statement is true must switch seats, trying to avoid being in the middle. Our team has played it multiple times before. Our team is also competitive, and they really got into it. Let’s just say there were more than one occasion were our passionate team members showed their tenacity in wanting the last chair. 😊 We had a good time. After some time discussing the importance of prayer, and our need to listen to God’s response, particularly through His word, we spent time in prayer for each other and for God to speak to us this week. It was a fantastic afternoon!             Before dinner, we were able to travel to the local Walmart (yup, Walmart) that is about 4 blocks away and we stocked up on some supplies for a potential ministry opportunity later this week. Many also took the opportunity to stock up a little more on the essentials; snacks, drinks, and treats to enjoy this week. Then we came back together for dinner, a time for some worship and discussing the plans for tomorrow’s work groups.             We are all excited for the work starting tomorrow. Please be praying for us as we had out to serve at three different ministries tomorrow. Pray that we’ll continue to work together well as a team and to tackle our work with the same energy and enthusiasm that we have for our games this afternoon. Also be praying for opportunities to connect with the folks we’ll be serving. For many, it is intimidating to try and talk to a stranger back home, but then add the language and cultural differences, and it could seem impossible. However, we have translators with us AND we serve a God who has a track record of accomplishing the impossible. I am excited to share tomorrow all about how God has answered our prayers!   Because of Christ,

Matt Vince
 
 
The sunrise from the back of the AIM base.
 
A panoramic shot of our back yard.
 
All loaded up and heading to church!
 
Just waiting for church to start. The gentleman standing in the back was our translator.
 
Our time together before playing the ice breaker games.
 
A couple of exotic  fruits we were able to try tonight. Most everyone agrees, the little red fruits were the best.
 
While there has been no shortage of food, and everyone seems to be enjoying it, this is the teams stash of snacks and treats that have been accumulated thus far!


Costa Rica: Day 1!

            Our first day was a huge success as we all made it safely, with no delays and everyone has all their luggage! Our team has done a fantastic job so far. Not many people would handle such a long day of travel’s typical “hurry up and wait” nature, but these students and adults did so with ease. They also have had fantastic attitudes all day long which has been quite a feet considering most everyone has basically been up since around 2 am (most got some naps during our travels, but still). On a positive note, upon reaching our home base I was pleased to see that the temperature here in San Jose was 77 F and felt like 82, but in the CLE it was 95 and felt like 106! So, we have that going for us. 😊

            Tomorrow, we’ll be attending worship at a local church that is home to a couple of the Adventures in Missions (AIM) team members who live here in Costa Rica. We got a quick orientation on the proper way to greet folks here in Costa Rica, as well as some other key considerations that we need to be aware of because of the different culture here in this beautiful country. We’ll also be finalizing our schedule for Monday and some other things for the week.

            Thank you to all who have been sharing out updates on Facebook, and for the dozens + who have told us they are praying for us. We’ll need it. There is much to do here as this new base for AIM. Lots of new road to help them start and strengthen. I’m excited to share how the Lord works in and through this amazing team this week!

Time to sign off. It’s just after 8:30 pm here (we’re two hours behind Cleveland). I need to post this and get some much needed sleep!

 

Because of Christ,

Matt Vince
 
Bright eyed and bushy tailed, even at 5am!
 
 
Waiting for our bus to take us to the AIM base.
 
Our orientation at the AIM base!


And We’re Off To Chicago!

 
 
Our Team of 16 students and 7 adults headed out on our exciting week long adventure of serving in Chicago! Our drive was mostly uneventful, aside from a few short bouts of some semi-heavy rain and getting held up momentarily by another driver who didn’t realize they were in the EZPass only lane. 😀
 
We arrived without incident and right on time to Dunamis Life Church, where we had to have set a record for unloading as we needed to quickly move the vehicles so that we didn’t hold up a fundraising event they were in the middle of. Once we parked we were able to meet our hosts and hear a little about the church and their ministries here.
 
We then got the sleeping areas set, and took a tour of the large building that the ministry owns. After a delicious dinner, we reviewed our schedule for the week and for tomorrow.
 
Finally, we were challenged with whether we were willing to be pliable clay in the hands of our Heavenly Father this week, or if we were going to be hard lumps who refused to allow God to mold us in to the vessels that He wanted to use to impact others.
 
Thank you to those who are and have already been lifting us up in prayer. God has been good so far, and I’m confident that He is going to do great things in and through us this week. We hit the ground running tomorrow with work projects around the church AND sending part of the team to serve at a senior center across the street. There is MUCH to be done here! Thankfully, lights out is very soon!
 
Until tomorrow…
 
 
Nothing like a little Micky D’s at Chipotle…? 🙂
 
Our host church for the week!
 
Getting all settled into our diggs.


Washington DC Day 5

Today was a powerful day of commitments for our students. We spent significant time processing our experiences this week, with the goal of making several commitments for the coming school year. These commitments included:
  1. Making time in our daily schedules to connect with God in prayer and Bible reading
  2. Surround ourselves with Godly influences who will help us live for Christ and proclaim the Gospel
  3. Share the Gospel regularly, to a specific list of friends and family that we came up with.
Additionally, we spent time strategizing specific ways we can be more Gospel advancing as a youth ministry in the coming year. It was exciting to see our students set God-sized goals with practical steps and built in accountability. Please pray for them as they seek to share Christ boldly in the coming year.
 
Tomorrow we’re heading back home. But first, we’re going to visit Arlington National Cemetery and enjoy some free time walking around the National Mall. 
 
Just a reminder – pickup is at planned for around 10:30 pm on Saturday, July 28. (We’re targeting a 10:00 pm arrival, with time to unpack and clean the vehicles.) If we’re off from that target significantly (more than 15 minutes) we’ll do our best to notify families in advance.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


Washington DC Day 4

Today’s focus was SHARE. While we’ve been sharing the good news of Jesus Christ in various ways throughout the week, today had a special SHARE focus. We spent significant time in the blocks surrounding our nation’s capital intentionally encountering people with the goal of sharing the gospel.


Washington DC Day 3

Let’s be honest – you came for he pictures… So here you go. You’ll have to stick around and read about our day to see the rest.
 
 
Yesterday (Tuesday) was our PRAYER day, with a focus on praying for the people of DC, praying for our unsaved family and friends, and looking for opportunities to pray for people we observe and encounter.
 
Today (Wednesday) was our CARE day, with a focus on identifying and meeting needs, showing Christ’s love and care in practical ways. In order to accomplish this, we partnered with a community center in a challenged community to help them put on a family outreach. This center is run by a partnership of Christian organizations and churches that want to impact their community for Christ. Our students were involved in running various aspects of this outreach including: soccer, basketball, various crafts and other games/activities. The end of our CARE experience was a community meal where hundreds were fed. It was so inspiring to see our youth serving, outside of their comfort zones in some case. I didn’t hear a single complaint, even during a torrential downpour where we all got soaked.
 
We appreciate your continued prayers. Please pray for:
  • Several students who are exhausted or struggling from the heat and activity
  • That we would look for an make opportunities to share Christ with others
  • That we would listen for what God wants to teach us through these experiences

 
 


Washington DC Day 2

Today stared early, with a short, but interesting drive to our ministry host site. Various parts of major roads were closed or coned off because of significant storms and rain throughout the the night. We were a bit concerned that these storms, predicted throughout the day, would impact our ability to be out in the city. Praise God that He held off most of the rain, aside from some sprinkles in the afternoon.


Washington DC Day 1

And we’re off. Thanks so much for your encouragement and strong support.Today we are traveling to DC, settling into our hotel, and having orientation.