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12/10/06

Sunday Message

Memories of Costa Rica:


Disaster Relief &
Telling the Good News !

ABOVE: That’s ME, vanderKOK in COSTA RICA


MEMORIES OF COSTA RICA 12/10/06

Go therefore and make disciples of all the


nations, baptizing them in the name of the
Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”

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Matt 28:19
Good Morning My Friends in Christ !
From W. Sierra Madre, it is 7:05 a.m (pst) as I begin composing this
morning’s message, and the sun is rising. It rained last night—a rare
event in southern California—meaning the skies and mountains will be
very clear, also a rare event in southern California. Sierra Madre is
right alongside the foothills where the air sometimes stands still,
so the rain is good for this area, in particular. And I just had a coffee
and a “bear claw” with chocolate on it. I don’t recommend that to the
kids for breakfast but for myself it’s okay for now. I’ll eat more later.
And thanks to those of you who participated in my
communion/Eucharist service on December 7. I appreciate the
sense of solidarity (oneness) from that experience

And I began preparing today’s message yesterday, down at the


Central Library in downtown Los Angeles. It’s a beautiful library
with several floors, a museum (associated with the Getty), escalators,
elevators, underground parking, etc. I only go there on Saturdays and
Sundays because that’s the only time you can park for $1.00 all day.
Normally, to park all day it would cost you from $12 to $20 dollars. So I
go there often on Saturday to prepare the Sunday Message, and
sometimes on Sunday to transmit the Sunday Message.

And thanks to some of you for responding to last week’s


message: “Memories of the Dominican Republic. Should
Missionaries be Allowed to Have Fun: Who Can Separate us
from the Love of Christ?!” Unfortunately, I lost Dwayne Thielke on
that one, apparently that was a little bit too much for him—I went too
far—he’s a missionary in the Philippines who I met when I was there in
1992—when he was living close to the Hogan family. C’mon back
Dwayne. Keep listening.

That was a fun message to prepare and to look back on those


spontaneous good times I had with Barb Wiersma, Steve Brinks, Audrey
Van Oen, and Eric Kooyer, as well as Ray & Gladys Brinks. And
thanks to Steve Brinks two older brothers, Dave & Dan,

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—one of whom I met—and both of whom went to
University of Michigan Law School. One of them now is an
associate professor at the University of Texas, Auburn; and I’m not sure
about the other. I remember visiting with one of them in Lansing, MI
when he was still working at a law firm there.

By the way, my brother, Andrew, also attended the University of


Michigan Law School in Ann Arbor. He was in his last year of law
school when I was beginning my first year of law school at Wayne State
in Detroit. Unlike Andy, I decided, or God decided, that I had a
HIGHER CALLING, and God pulled me out of there like a
man sinking into quicksand. God saved my life. That’s not to say
it’s bad or wrong to be a lawyer, but it’s not for everybody. And
some stick with it even when their conscience is telling them to get out.

Our conscience has a purpose. It’s like the nerves in our body.
If we ignore the signals of pain when our skin is being burned we will
lose our skin or more. If we ignore physical pain signals we risk losing
our physical lives. Likewise, if we ignore spiritual signals we risk losing
our spirituality—our walk with God. Paradoxically, in terms of
spirituality (unlike physical pain) —sometimes “pain” is a good
sign. Albeit in physical conditioning for a long time the notion “no pain,
no gain” was a motto for body builders. Whether that notion was
actually legitimate is arguable. For building bigger muscles, maybe yes,
but in terms of physical health, maybe not. But in terms of spiritually—
pain is sometimes necessary to break out of our
comfortable, but regressive, comfort zones. Unfortunately,
not everybody breaks out of those zones.

And the larger problem is that their regression causes other


systems to be stifled and fail to progress. This is especially
damaging to systems where young people depend upon progress daily
for their own personal growth, such as in our schools, both public &
Christian (or private).

Spiritual pain is often associated with growth because pain is


often accompanied by leaving our comfort zones. I’ve left so

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many comfort zones behind in my lifetime that I don’t think that much
about the pain anymore. It’s just there, and eventually gets left behind.
But then I might fall into a new comfort zone and I have to make a
decision to get up and go or acquiesce to the local norms. So far I have
kept on going.

One example of leaving my comfort zone was going to Costa


Rica in 1991. That was in the Spring. I had left Wayne State Law
School in November of 1990. I had been there for a few months and had
been living with a roommate by the name of Timothy Maat
from Holland, MI, and a graduate of Dordt College in Sioux
City, Iowa.

I had worked at Pine Rest Christian Psychiatric Hospital for a


year prior. Having been a psychology major and considering graduate
school in psychology I wanted to get psychology experience. Pine Rest
happened to be close by to Calvin College and also happened to be
where my dad had worked as a chaplain for fourteen years until 1984
when we moved to Southern California.

After that year at Pine Rest (a very interesting year) I had been
accepted into law school and was preparing to move to Detroit
when I got a call from this kid named Maat. Or maybe his parents
called, I don’t remember. For me, being done with college I was feeling
like an adult and very independent and was ready to live on my own at
that time—having already checked out housing around Detroit; but the
Maats asked if I wanted a roommate to cut costs, and said they
already had school housing reserved—with need for a roommate for
their son, Timothy.

I wasn’t sure, but Tim was a decent economical factors came into
my mind and I reluctantly agreed to my chagrin later on. fellow
—tall kid, but didn’t even have his own car. He relied upon me for
everything—shopping, etc. I wasn’t used to that sort of closeness,
especially with another fellow (as opposed to a gal) and as law school
began I was already feeling “cooped” up. Suddenly I was around a
kid I didn’t know much about other than that he came from the
Reformed tradition like myself—for 24/7 (i.e. 24 hours a day, seven days

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a week). I should have forked out the extra dough and got my own
apartment.

By the end of October I was at the point of depression—not just the


living arrangement but the study of law was not that compelling to me. I
hit the books every day—going to the library often, and sitting in all the
classes listening to the lectures; but I wasn’t finding any joy there.
Occasionally I played basketball with some of the law students at the
Wayne State gym, including a Polish kid named Galbenski—who
was from Detroit; and Galbenski was a social fellow who showed us
around town—but by the end of October I was getting ready to leave.
And so I finally made the decision to terminate my study of the law.

I got in the car ---my little blue Toyota Celica—and headed back to
Grand Rapids where I had a few things stored. I planned to say
farewell to a few people, including Doug Kosters—and then
head west. I had been living on Kalamazoo Ave for that year prior to
law school with Kevin Vredeveld, Dan Dekam, and Jack Holwerda.

When we moved out, Dave Dejong, an acquaintance from grade school


took over the house with some of his classmates from RBC (Reformed
Bible College). I stopped at that house—said farewell to Dave Dejong &
Steve Korhorn and then I met Doug Kosters over at Pietros for
coffee. Little did I know that it would be the last time I would
see Doug.

Doug related to me that he was having difficulties. He was still studying


to go to seminary. He was living with a few other seminary students.
Prior to that he had told me he had been to Pine Rest for counseling.
Apparently he was depressed. I didn’t realize how depressed he
was. He covered the bill as he often did—apparently feeling like he had
more money than others because he was able to work for his dad who
owned a paint company—whenever he needed cash. And that was it. I
said farewell.

I had known Doug since church nursery—all the way through


high school and a little bit of college. He had not taken the “straight
track” to Calvin College, or through Calvin College. He had gone to

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junior college for a few years to get things straightened out, but seemed
to be finally clarifying his direction, or so I thought.

I headed west and made


it to Denver where I visited with
my Uncle Jay & Aunt Mary—who have lived there most of their
lives. They let me stay overnight and use their car to go skiing. They
thought I might have trouble with my own car in the snow—they
thought it might be too light, and without chains I would have trouble.
That was nice of them. I spent the day skiing.

Then I went back to Denver, got in my Celica and headed west towards
Los Angeles. I was feeling great to be out of Michigan for a while and
great to have made a critical decision, even though leaving law school
behind was leaving a potentially comfortable career behind. I didn’t
have a plan. I just went. Arriving in Bellflower (where my parents
live) I unpacked a few things and contemplated what I might
do next.

I had graduated with honors from a great college so I had a lot


of options even if law school was not really one of them anymore. I knew
also in the back of my mind that I had a Higher Calling, but seminary
still represented more of a threat and obstacle to me rather than
something inviting and necessary.

I hung around Bellflower for a few months—getting to know some


of the college kids and post-college kids at Bethany Christian Reformed
Church where my grandfather Kok and his wife also attended. This
included John Kortenhoven (Calvin College grad) , Jim
Zoetewey (who had attended but not graduated from Calvin
College), Ron Vandevegte, Judy & Doug Boerigter, Jim Tanis
( Calvin College grad), and several others. A

And they had a fellowship group called “Koinonia” which I


joined. Others from nearby attended Koinonia including a boy named
Joel Slenk—who had also graduated from Calvin College. Later I
would meet his younger brother, Jerome, now a teacher at Ada
Elementary School in Michigan. The Slenks parents had both been

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professors at Calvin College –in the Music Department and Mr Slenk
was best known for conducting the annual Messiah
concert/choir performance at the downtown Civic Auditorium (or DeVos
Hall).

I got to know these kids a little bit and we fellowshipped together for a
while but I was starting to get restless. I needed to do something, to
go somewhere. It was about that time that an earthquake hit
Costa Rica (Spring of 1991) and I was ready to help out. In the
back of my mind I also knew that Barb Wiersma was teaching there in
San Jose, Costa Rica—and thought maybe I would run into her down
there. She was not my girlfriend, but for a while we were a little
more than just social friends. That was back in Grand Rapids—and
prior to that we had first met in Spain—on our semester in Spain with
Calvin College (see the message from a few weeks ago). Barb kept
popping up in the same places as myself. So a relationship had
developed.

But she was definitely thinking marriage at the time and I was
still thinking—finish law school. When I said “wait” she considered
it a “NO” and a rejection of her. She was not thinking clearly—totally at
an emotional level. And that’s what ended our relationship. I thought
she would see things more clearly later on but then she went on to
Costa Rica. By that time I was working at Pine Rest and had
begun a relationship with Kim Kooiker, a local gal who had
graduated recently from Calvin College. I didn’t hear from
Barb again—no letters, no phone calls.

So I’m in Bellflower and I hear about Costa Rica. I knew we had


missionaries there and volunteered to go. They flew me into San
Jose and I was met by the Posts-Tom & Melva—his wife from Belize.
Tom was from Grandville, Michigan, and Melva was from
Belize. Tom had gone into the Peace Corps at the age of 30 and had met
Melva in Belize when she was only fourteen years old.

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They hit it off—and having a relationship with somebody so young in
some countries is not considered unusual. IN fact, Tom decided, at
the age of 30, to marry Melva when she was still
fourteen or fifteen. They apparently got married in Belize and
stayed there for a while. Later Tom became involved with in missions,
supported by the denomination.

ABOVE: I was the CAMERAMAN during DISASTER RELIEF


NEEDS ASSESSMENT
By the time I met Tom & his wife Melva they had three sons
(including David and two others whose names I do not recall) and one
daughter (Rachel) as well as an adopted daughter, Mirtha—or had
taken her in as “god parents.” The oldest son was David and he was in
high school at the time. The Post family was living in San Jose and Tom
was the director for world missions for Central America.

They were nice enough to me—showing me around town and also


organizing disaster relief efforts. We traveled together through the
stricken areas of Costa Rica and navigated through broken roads and
drove through a few shallow rivers where bridges were down. We did a

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“needs assessment” trip and prepared to return with the
supplies needed most—and the ones the denomination could afford
to purchase and donate. IT was a very educational experience for me as
I learned more about doing a needs assessment. I was assigned to be the
cameraman.

And, as you can see for yourself, there was extensive


damage. Lots of bridges down. Many demolished houses and
buildings. IN some cases the houses had been knocked off their supports
or stilts—which many of them were built upon in the affected areas due
to the annual floods. The stilts kept the houses above the waters
when the floods came.

They actually have to jack up the houses and put blocks and posts under
them. The earthquake knocked them right off their elevating materials
and in one case—a missionary home had fell on top of their own car—a
land rover which they parked underneath their home. It was while we
were helping the missionary family that a landslide covered
one end of a tunnel, blocking our way out for several hours.

Tom had a decent working knowledge of the Spanish language


and was able to understand what the locals were saying better than
some of us. I know Spanish decently but at that time had not used it in a
while and was therefore not very good at comprehension and
translation.

After a while doing needs assessment, we


returned to San Jose
and Kathy Van Til, a missionary’s wife from Grand
Rapids, began putting together supplies. I helped a little but
ended up doing other things, including getting to know San Jose and the
people, along with the help of Mirtha. Mirtha was a nice gal, college
age, but had not yet been to college. Later she went to Calvin
College and got her nursing degree. I do not know where she is today.
She showed me around—and was able to speak both English & Spanish
very fluently.

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Meanwhile, I bumped into Barb Wiersma once and only
once—she was teaching there along with Janet Ludema—another
Calvin College graduate and acquaintance. Janet was staying at the
home of a missionary couple—who were gone for a few
months, and Janet invited me to stay at their home there. I stayed for a
little while but eventually moved back to the Posts house. I socialized
with Janet & Barb but Barb had become another person. She was
no longer somebody I knew—truly knew.

She was not like the person you see in the pictures from the
Dominican Republic or even in Spain. She was a different
person. When I hear of stories of people being “possessed” and how
families have had to pull a loved one of an occult experience, sometimes
forcibly, I think of Barb. She was not acting like somebody I knew.
The sense of familiarity was gone. And the “natural affection” was gone
as well. I had hoped to give her a sense of my affection and concern for
her but she was not listening. She was not receptive. She wasn’t rude
or mean-spirited, just absent—or vacant, as if she had turned off
an emotional part of herself.

Janet, too, was changing. She was still nice to me but was not exactly
the same person I knew from Calvin College. I didn’t know what to
think. It may have been that Janet & Barb had gotten involved
with Costa Rican boys or young men, and that their romantic
or sensual relationships were causing them to change their
outlook and natural affection. It seemed like a loss of their
American loyalties, and I wasn’t sure about their Christian walk
anymore. I can’t say I was a perfect person but I was still walking
in Christ and for Christ. I hoped they still were too.
Nonetheless, with the change of personalities I knew I couldn’t
stay around for very long. I had to make a decision to either return
to the USA or find something meaningful and constructive to do around
Costa Rica. The disaster relief only lasted so long. Kathy Van Till
led the way after the needs assessment and seemed to be doing well on
her own with the help of a few locals. I had done my part in that regard.

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The Post family suggested I look for a job in San Jose
and stay for a while. They even suggested teaching English. That’s
what Janet & Barb were doing. I looked in the Tico Times (the local
newspaper, in English) for possible jobs and came across something
about a need for a tutor/teacher in Drake Bay, which meant nothing to
me. I didn’t know the country that well. Drake Bay, it turned out, was in
a remote area of southern Costa Rica, accessible only by boat. I called
the number and talked to a fellow by the name of Herb
Merchant—an American from Wisconsin, now living in Costa Rica.
He was in his 70’s and married to a younger Tica (female Costa
Rican). They had a few kids together, two of whom, Brian & Adrian,
were now elementary school age and needed a teacher. He said there
was a local school but he wanted better education for them, including
English education.

Later, he offered me the job and after some equivocation about


staying in Costa Rica I finally decided to give it a try. There was
nothing binding me there if it didn’t work out. I took a bus as far as I
could and from there was met by a boat, and taken to Drake
Bay Wilderness (Tourist) Camp (see
http://www.drakebay.com/ ).

Herb had started the camp with his wife, and tourists came from all
over to see the nearby rainforest, go fishing, explore, and relax. Nearby
was Corcovado National Park (see
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corcovado_National_Park )—well known
by biologists, zoologists, professors, etc as a preserved Rain Forest
ecosystem—with lots of wildlife and nature to observe and study,
including the Scarlet Macaws and Toucans that frequently flew
overhead. But also a variety of other species—lots of monkeys,
including Howler monkeys, and the 3-Toed Sloth,the
giant ant-eater (evidence of which we saw but did not actually see
the animal itself) among other things. It was an eye-opening experience
for me. There were no cars here. No roads. People walked, rode
horses, or traveled by small boats.

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My real reason for going to Costa Rica was “religious.”
IN addition to the disaster relief—or more so than the disaster relief was
the evangelistic fervor within me. I carried Christian tracts and
was ready to speak about Jesus at a moments notice. I wanted
to tell the Good News. I would have been ready to start a church
there in the Osa Peninsula where Drake Bay was—had the opportunity
arisen. But I was now a teacher for Brian & Adrian and did
that for several months—every morning from 8 to 1 with a break
for lunch, four days a week. In my spare time I went swimming,
fishing, horseback riding, and helped the tourists, as I got to
know the area myself. I hung out with some of the locals and they
showed me around as well.

Every morning Melanie & her assistants would make a good


breakfast, and later they would make an even better lunch. I
didn’t get paid too much—it was not financially lucrative, but it
was a good experience and I had enough to make ends meet. Melanie
was much younger than Herb—and it was not an uncommon situation.
Some Costa Ricans (or maybe Central Americans in general)
apparently yearn to marry Americans—even if they are much older. It’s
a practical decision more than love at first sight, to be honest; to better
themselves.

So I stayed around Drake Bay Wilderness Camp until mid –


August. I did a little bit of evangelism, and a lot of teaching, as well as
exploring. Lots of wildlife—the monkeys and the birds especially, but
also the Blue Morpho butterflies (see
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morpho_butterfly ) –and a few
more dangerous elements—scorpions & deadly snakes, among other
things. Fortunately, I didn’t get afflicted by any of these predators.

And I happened to be there at the right time ! In July (July


11 ?) there was a Total Solar Eclipse in the middle of the day—and
we were able to observe it—the clouds parted at just the right time and

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we had our special spectacles ready—and it turned dark as
night—or almost—for several minutes. Wow! What an experience !

Being so close to nature and exposed to the elements


also awakens one’s spiritual appreciation. The beauty of
God’s creation was no more obvious than here in the
rainforest. And our dependence upon each other was also heightened.
Sometimes you would just jump in a boat without really asking as much
as simply depending—they would later jump in your boat for a taxi
ride. And with the rainy season from September to December or
thereabouts –it’s like “winter” in the Midwest or East coast—it can
rain anytime, anywhere, and sometimes torrentially. I was gone
before the real rainy season but did experience some of the rainy days
prior to leaving.

And the trip broadened my horizons—more experience as a


missionary or with missionaries and more experience in a
different culture. Each experience has valuable effects on me and on
others. My interaction with other people, other cultures, other
languages strengthens me IN CHRIST, and I believe that others
interactions with me strengthens them—sometimes in Christ other
times just in general—giving them broader horizons as well.

It struck me that part of what I do as a substitute teacher is also the


“interactional” experience—as much as, or sometimes more so than the
obvious teaching element (i.e. “What is 2 + 2?” , “What is a noun?”, )
The interaction with others IN CHRIST, and with me IN
CHRIST has a “ripple effect”—even if, sometimes Jesus is not
always mentioned verbally. Sometimes it is just the spontaneous
interaction alone that has effects.

If Herb was a Christian he didn’t talk about it. Like a lot of


Americans his age they believe “talk is cheap” and so
you didn’t get a lot out of him. His talk was his tourist camp—
that was his “trophy.” He had worked in construction back in Wisconsin
for most of his life, and apparently had a daughter back in Wisconsin as

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well. She came and visited once—she was in her late teens at the
time, and she was pregnant, not married. I don’t know what Herb
had in mind but he seemed to be trying to engineer something
between her and myself. And she was a nice enough gal but
nothing happened between us. She returned to Wisconsin and I
don’t know what happened to her.

Today, I pray for Herb & Melanie. Melanie, especially, was a


sweet-spirited lady. Herb was a businessman, making business
decisions. Sometimes he pulled out a handgun to scare the wild
dogs away from the area. These were skinny dogs—apparently
without homes and he didn’t like them. So he would shoot up in the air
to try to scare them. At least he didn’t shoot at them.

I returned to the United States around the end of August and


planned to begin attending Calvin Seminary. More about that
later. By the way, I’ve told you about it before, but back to the months
between leaving law school and going to Costa Rica—in December 1990
Doug Kosters commit suicide. I was at the parents home in Bellflower
when I got a call from Dave Dejong who was crying—he said to
me ‘Doug killed himself, Doug killed himself.”

For those of you who do not know –Doug shot himself in the head with a
shot gun in the basement of the home he was living at—his roommates
were Calvin Seminary students. I flew back for the funeral, helped
carry the casket to the grave, and shared the moments with some
friends and the Koster family. Even Lisa Korf ( the queen of our
high school class, 1985) showed up. But a lot of people didn’t. I
would have liked to see more people from school and church present at
the funeral. This is in memory of Doug—a great kid.

AND NOW LET US BEGIN


THE FORMAL WORSHIP SERVICE:

Prayer: Dear God, Thank you for this day! The birds are
chirping. I hear some parrots flying overhead. Your

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Presence is real. You are the Great Provider and the
Guide. Your Holy Spirit in our lives is what leads us,
indwells us, gives us the words & thoughts each and every
day to create peace—Christian peace, not fake peace.
Help us be bearers of Your Will, not ours, Oh Lord.
Thank You. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.
Song: Rock of Ages
http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/r/o/rockages.htm

Song: Send the Fire


http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/s/e/sendfire.htm

Scripture: Matt 28:19-20


Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son
and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all
things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with
you always, even to the end of the age." Amen.
And the story above is a lot of my message for today. I just
began writing spontaneously this morning and let the story tell itself.
There are no embellishments above. What I tell you is what I
observed, empirically—with my own spiritual interpretation included.
And every time I tell the story, clarification occurs. I remember
things I didn’t remember before. I see things I didn’t see before. And I
hope you tell the story too—tell your story and tell my story. Our
stories together are God’s story, and as we tell them,
something happens. God’s grace is infused into our stories and
we BECOME ONE.

You identify with parts of my story and I identify with


parts of your story and we BECOME ONE. Not all at once,

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and never completely. WE retain some of our own personal identity and
our own story but some of what we say, tell, and do, overlaps, and we
become more compassionate individuals. We broaden our
horizons and the small world we live in becomes a little bigger, and
bigger. TALK IS NOT CHEAP ! Not in this regard.

Jesus told us to “Go” and that’s what we must continue


to do. If we don’t “GO” we “go back”, or regress. And that is not
tolerable. We must learn from the past and apply that to the future to
make it better, for the KINGDOM OF GOD ! WE must never lose hope.
WE must always TRUST GOD. His
PROVIDENCE reigns.
Going to Costa Rica in 1991 was a risk. I had never been there
before. I didn’t know if I would be received with graciousness and a
spirit of hospitality, but I was and I
thank the people of
Costa Rica (The Ticos and the Ticas) and say
“Pura Vida” (which means “Pure Life” in English
and is their motto ). We can all live the pure life—everywhere
—not just in Costa Rica. But you have to be willing to “GO” and the
“pure life” should not be thought of in “racial” language. A lot of racism
is thought of as “pure” but it is the exact opposite of it. Every time we
“go” and tell the story we broaden our horizons and others horizons are
broadened likewise.

The couple who came to Costa Rica from Grandville, Michigan


—their horizons were broadened, even though they did not
particularly like me. My bias against Grandville was slightly changed
just because of my interaction with this elderly couple who had the
gumption to get up and come to Costa Rica from the tiny, very
conservative (or seemingly so) village of Grandville, MI. (I LOVE
YOU GRANDVILLE !).

They were willing to do something—even though they knew no English


nor knew nothing about Costa Rica. They just knew that people needed

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help and that they had missionaries there. What they were not willing to
do, however, was speak Spanish or become assimilated to the culture.
Barb & Janet were willing to do so, more than others. They even went
so far as to have Costa Rican boyfriends. How far should we go as
missionaries and Christians in terms of compromising our
cultural norms and outlook? That’s a missiological question.

And I pray for my enlarged community—the people I met in


Costa Rica—Herb & Melanie, and for my former friends Barb
Wiersma and Janet Ludema, and for the Posts—Tom & Melva
and their children. It’s not easy for missionary kids to grow up
abroad—and have a dual sense of identity (and sometimes
more than that) —part American, part Costa Rican (or Belize, or
wherever)—it really makes one identify with simply being
“Christian” –-without a nation of one’s own. Perhaps somewhat
like the Jewish people feel—the difference being that we have a
Savior even if we do not have a home or homeland. Pray for
our missionaries and their children.

And keep the Brinks family in mind as well. Ray & Gladys
are now retired and living in Falsmouth, Michigan—a nice home
alongside a river there. Ray loves to go fishing, in addition to
being a fisher of men for so many years. I’m sure he’s a
“fisher of men” at heart still. And Steve is teaching elementary
school in Grand Rapids at Alexander Elementary School. His two
brothers as I mentioned have law careers, one at University of Texas,
Austin. Keep them in mind.

Sometimes kids react with hostility to their Christian


upbringing in the homes of missionaries or the homes of
pastors. My own father was a Christian pastor. His father was a
Christian pastor. It’s not always perfect peace & bliss in
these homes. And not all parishioners truly care about the pastor or
their kids. Some parishioners use the pastor & their

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family in a utilitarian manner. Nobody should “use”
anybody in a utilitarian manner.

Let’s respect each other in a wholistic manner, truly


respecting and acknowledging the gifts each has being
made in the Imago Deo (Image of God). Let’s respect gifts
more than anything else. Don’t deny people’s gifts for self-
serving reasons.

Some cultures are better at recognizing and acknowledging


gifts than others. In our culture sometimes the person with the Ph.D.
says “I
don’t care what your gifts are, I have the Ph.D,
and you don’t.” Don’t do that. That’s not Christian.
That’s not the meaning of the Kingdom and the Body of Christ. If
that’s all you amount to—go work in secular society. The
Christian society is (or should be) different. And so we
GO and we interact with others and we tell the
Good News verbally or in body language. We give
gifts. We leave the Spirit –the fruits of which are “love, joy,
peace, patience, kindness, goodness,
gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.
Against such things there is no law.”
(Galatians 5. 22-23)
Prayer: Dear God, I’ve told a little bit more about my story today.
And my story is Your Story. And YOUR STORY is everybody’s
story. Let those who read my story read it with a spirit of
graciousness and kindness. And let them tell their story so that
we may all come to know each other a little bit better. And let us
not be afraid to get up and “GO.” We have a purpose here on

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earth, God—You have given it to us! Let us BELIEVE and
TRUST. And them simply GO !

And that’s the end of my message today. Please browse


the photo-essay. And I hope the photos upload properly
—they don’t always do so. Always look at the bottom
for attachments as well. And as we near Christmas my
friends I encourage you to find new ways to spread the
Spirit to people, far and near. Be creative. Take risks.
Song: All Things Praise Thee
http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/a/t/atpraiset.htm

Song: The Way of the Cross Leads Home


http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/w/a/waycross.htm
VanderKOK
TAGS: COSTA RICA, MEMORIES,
EARTHQUAKE, DISASTER RELIEF, TOM
POST, MIRTHA,

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