Monday, February 11, 2019

Teaching English

Hi everyone! 

Hope your new year has started well.  For me, I (Paul) work on writing the correct year (such as on documents e.g. 2019).  It seems I finally “settle in” around Super Bowl time.  Also, around this time our annual ICDI meeting. 

To prepare for the annual meeting we present a review of the previous year in our respective areas of responsibilities and goals for the coming year.  Many of you, I’m sure, have been a part of an annual meeting in one way or another and can relate about the preparation involved.  There are a number of reasons for having annual meetings and I appreciate getting together to share and hear how the kingdom of God is making inroads and changing people lives.  

In some of our newsletters you have heard me share about our vision and purpose as we serve Costa Rica.  One of the aspects of the annual meeting I like the best is how it shows me if I am within the parameters of our mission statement and are resources being used efficiently and effectively towards what we are about? It is our desire to walk lock-step with the Lord and His agenda.  Each of our team presented great reports, but for Bridget and I the one thing that stood out for us was Bridget’s report about English as a second language.  I’m sure you will see what I mean after you read the following summary.
2018 My favorite girls English class.

Highlights from our annual ICDI meeting February 1, 2019:
English Classes – Bridget’s students (kindergarten, elementary, high school, and adult) logged 846 hours in 2018 and new classes are beginning in February.

That is an increase of 442% from 2015 when she began! Not to mention all the preparation that goes with it.

In the last year Bridget has been doing quite a bit of research on teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) programs offered here and in Oregon. Her goal for 2019 is to raise $1800 ($500 of which has already been donated) to attend a TEFL course in Costa Rica in May 2019. This four-week course is accredited and includes 100 academic hours and 6 practicum hours. The graduates work with all ages, and are hired by public and private schools or work as individual tutors. Bridget earned her master’s degree in education in 1984, but getting specific TEFL training will add to her credibility in the education community.  We believe the program here is a good investment and would better equip her to serve her students. (Being a teacher widow, I hope it will also cut down on her preparation time.) We would like to ask you to prayerfully consider helping so Bridget can attend this program.  Having taught for years, she is excited for the opportunity to acquire new tools for her “teaching tool box” and she’d be grateful for any donation you could make.

Here are the ways to donate  and please include a note that it is for “English”.

Walking with the Lord Jesus,
Paul and Bridget

2016 high school students
2017 kindergartners -What's in the bag?
2017 English camp - Bible story time

Monday, December 24, 2018

Christmas 2018

The one song that comes to mind this time of year is José Feliciano’s song “Feliz Navidad”. When I (Paul) was 5, I played that 45 record (defined by Wikipedia as an analog sound storage medium in the form of a flat polyvinyl chloride disc with an inscribed, modulated spiral groove) on my little portable record player. Now that I’m 60, I play it on my computer. At language school it was the only Spanish song I knew.

One of the Christmas customs in Costa Rica is sharing and eating tamales. The ingredients of corn meal, pork, vegetables, and spices are wrapped in a banana leaf that’s been smoked over a fire and cut into squares.

The first Saturday in December we had the privilege of hosting the local senior adults’ group at the Emmanuel Center. Some 30 people gathered in our dining hall for a meal, a time of sharing, and games. For the food, the ladies made ... you guessed it … tamales! I’m always interested in hearing about the changes, folks have seen over the years. Some remember this place, without buildings, just jungle. It is a blessing for me to have people enjoy our facilities and grounds.

A big thank you to all who participated in our “Isuzu Motor Project”. The engine is in and running well! It is a big blessing to have this vehicle for Bridget so she can arrive at her destination with teaching materials and also give students rides. That wasn’t possible when she first started teaching, using a quad (4-wheeler). Quads can be fun but not very practical when it rains. The quad was traded for an Isuzu 4x4 that came with a gasoline engine that ran on propane. After that engine gave up it sat in a shop for a year until the “Isuzu Motor Project”. Again, thank you for your generosity.

Before we wrap things up I want to share a tail wagging story about our newest member to Emmanuel Center...a young female Labrador. Kira (Key-da) spent her first 2 years as a community dog, with no real home, she was often found at the restaurant. After pestering clients for food she was relocated to a distant home. Eventually we were contacted about Kira and asked if we would adopt her. She has been spayed, given distemper and rabies shots, and now has a regimen for fleas and ticks, and a regular dog food diet. We’re working through the usual issues associated with rescue dogs, but like most “Labs” she is smart so with time she is developing into a nice dog.

Lastly, we just want you to know we are very grateful for your faithful long-term support (financial, prayer, correspondence). Throughout our days there are many things that remind us of you. A name, face, group, or congregation come to mind whenever we use a tool, appliance, car, etc. To borrow a line from José Feliciano, “I want to wish you a merry Christmas from the bottom of my heart...” and Bridget does, too.
Paul and Bridget Abbott

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Isuzu Motor

My last newsletter talked mainly about the resources (I received a lot of fun feedback about the fish I raise and give away.) here at the Emmanuel Center and how we use them to benefit people in this region. Bridget and I are often inspired by our hardworking neighbors and are blessed to be part of God’s equation to provide where He directs. The majority of them work in agriculture, with a smaller percentage of folks providing goods and services to the region. Remember my mechanic friend, Greiven, who established a shop here? Much of his work is keeping trucks functioning safely, so people can bring their produce to market. Check the label on your next banana. Greiven has been in business here almost two years and two enthusiastic assistants are often working alongside him. Greiven is a good teacher and mentor. So, I would say, the mechanic shop is a success in relation to our community development efforts.

Another area I would like to mention, that is an important part of what we do, is to provide English as a second language and I will be attaching an “ask”. The learning of a second language is understood and perceived in different ways throughout the world. Here, it means being able to earn a high school diploma and provides more job opportunities for people.

Bridget is a talented teacher who really loves what she does and is in her “sweet spot” as far as her gifting is concerned. She spends a lot of time preparing for her classes so that the students, Latino or Indigenous (Cabecar), learn proper English and also the Bible. The Bible has good grammar! Right?Bridget’s opportunities to teach out here have grown to the point where she could literally teach every day of the week. We are grateful for the wisdom and guidance the Lord provides for this.

Now, here is the “ask” I mentioned earlier:
There is a four wheel drive Isuzu that our association (APROE) owns. It is in Greiven’s shop with a blown gas engine that is not serviceable. It had a lot of miles on it! The rest of the car is in good shape. I would like to install a diesel engine so that Bridget would have a vehicle to use as she travels to the four communities where she holds classes. Our director thought this would be a good use for the Isuzu and our organization would continue to cover the cost of the maintenance and Costa Rica’s licensing and registration requirements.

The price of a diesel for the Isuzu is three thousand dollars ($3000.00). I would help Greiven install it to keep the labor costs down. Isuzu diesels are considered among the best in the world and this install would be a good investment, serve many miles/kilometers, and is good stewardship of our resources. We would ask you to pray about helping with the cost of a motor for this vehicle and if directed then make a generous donation towards the “Isuzu motor”. A check can be mailed to ICDI, P.O. Box 1045

Helotes, TX 78023 or funds can be donated online to the “area of most need” with a memo for “Isuzu motor”.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Farming and Fishing

Greetings from the interior of Costa Rica! The rainy season has arrived with sunny mornings that transition mid-day into something quite a bit wetter. This month I (Paul) want to tell you about the farm at our mission center and next time I will explain about the facilities and the events we have hosted. It is exciting for me to see how our little farm is responding to the rain this year. Even though much of the land is very steep it produces banana, plantain, coffee, and yucca. There are also a variety of citrus trees – mandarin, orange, lemon, grapefruit and a sweet lemon tree. This last one I think is an acquired taste. I have one caimito (kie-mee-toe) tree with purple fruit that resembles a plum.

 The flavor is excellent and our visitors like to pick the fruit and take a bag of them home to enjoy. The juice from the caimito is like glue so there’s a certain technique to eating one, but it is no problem for the locals. One of them showed me that the leaf of the caimito tree is more effective than soap and water to remove the stickiness from lips and fingers. I have a new farm worker and he’s from this region and an experienced farmer. I am blessed to have such a knowledgeable helper to teach me the finer points about what grows here. Years ago, I took a Master Gardner course from the OSU Extension and it’s interesting to now be farming in the tropics. God has got a sense of humor! It’s a lot of work, so I depend on the Lord for the increase.

Providence, for sure, is one of God’s specialties. I think I wanted to explain a little about the above because the produce from the farm is something we can share with our neighbors as needs arise. Bridget and I have been at the mission center 3 1/2 years now and we have seen how difficult it is to make a living for both the indigenous and non-indigenous families in this area. There isn’t a lot of financial margin in their lives and it doesn't take much of an unfavorable event (a small coffee harvest, an illness in the family, etc.) and, what might have been gained is suddenly depleted. A large extended family can pitch in and help at a time like this, and so can we.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention the tilapia fish that I raise on the farm. Honestly, I don’t eat much fish so our friends are surprised to see our fish ponds. The center is on river-front property and not long ago three little girls and a boy came down to the river to fish with some line and a hook. They were a little disheartened when they saw that the river was high and too dangerous to go fishing. So, not wanting them to go away empty handed I got out my new casting net and we went fishing. At first, they thought this gringo was a little loco when I waded into my tilapia pond. But it didn’t take long before we were working together. They were squealing, giggling and yelling, “PULL! PULL!” They were so excited to each have a big fish. A 4-pound fish is pretty exciting and will fill a plate! 

Watching the children help each other pull in a net of wiggly fish reminded me of the fisherman Jesus made into his disciples. It started to rain and they began to organize their bounty. But before they trooped off I got a hug. My day was complete.

I’ll end by saying just how grateful I am for your support that allows us to be here to have an opportunity to point others to our Lord and Savior.

Jesus is the hero!
Paul and Bridget

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

The Resurrection of Jesus

Recently in our morning devotions we read Apostle Paul’s letters to the Corinthians. We were struck by how clear he made the gospel and the implications of Jesus resurrection from the dead. Some highlights from 1 Corinthians chapter 15:

The good news is that Christ died for our sins, that after he was buried, he was raised on the third day, and he appeared to many of his followers, including Paul. Through Adam all men die, and death and sin have power over everyone.  But all who believe in Christ will be made alive in Him. Stop sinning! Share your knowledge of God. Because flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, at the last trumpet your mortal bodies will put on immorality. Thank God that Jesus’s resurrection makes all this possible.

We believe this also and by God’s grace we want to share this good news with others.

Saturday English class.
Thanks for praying for my (Bridget’s) English classes. Currently I’m teaching four classes and an additional four will start the first week in April, when school vacation is over. 

Car inspection

Enough repairs were completed on our truck that it passed the Costa Rican car inspection and Paul could drive it home from San Jose.  Our neighbor Greiven will be making more repairs, but for now we can drive it to town for supplies and to my English classes.

The new roof is on the Emmanuel Community Development Center! Paul is pleased with the work the men did and thankful we had good weather every day of the project.

Last week Paul was able to use his Cabécar to talk to some of the other customers at Greiven’s mechanic shop.  We also gave our first presentation to our Cabécar language teacher. We used the vocabulary we learned to tell about some family photos.  Paul breezed through his presentation, but our tutor made lots of corrections on my presentation.  We appreciate your prayers as we continue to learn Cabécar.

Serving Jesus, 
who is risen!
Paul & Bridget