Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Fun Filled Weekends

 With the coming of dry season, the river is low and the days are sunny and warm. We have had guests visit us for three consecutive weekends. Families and their friends are wanting to get out of the house and enjoy the outdoors. Parents are glad to see their kids unplug from technology (internet, television, cell phones, etc.). We have had some interesting discussions about the negative effects of technology on individuals and families. When they are at the Emmanuel Center children, adults and teens find other things to do. The most popular have been swimming, board games and talking around the campfire. It is encouraging to see people connect.

 The church next to our dental clinic has some new families attending and they wanted to start a Sunday school for their children. I (Bridget) was invited to the teacher training. We are using the “Firm Foundations” curriculum for children. New Tribes missionaries developed this material to teach chronologically through the Bible to people of any age and culture. Our lessons began with the Bible, God, angels, and the days of creation.  I am learning along with the children. One new thought for me is that, unlike history books written by people, the Bible has never needed “a revised edition” because God is its author. Archeological finds continue to confirm the truth of God’s Word.

I am teaching the preschool class and have two great helpers. They are invaluable, especially when I need help explaining something in Spanish. Over Valentine’s Day weekend all the kids in the church and some of their friends decorated cookies and made a craft to give their parents and other members of the church. At the end of the Sunday service the kids sang a song about the Bible and gave out their gifts. It was a very memorable day.

The public schools are slowly opening, classes are being divided into small groups, and each group attends every other day. As the directors work out their schedules I am waiting to see if they will invite me to teach English classes this year.       

In April Paul will be going to the US for a routine physical exam. We have a mission team coming at the same time so I will be hosting them at the Center.

We are thankful for the Lord’s grace and strength each day to serve Him and the people he brings across our path.

Bridget and Paul

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

God is still in control!

We are into this Pandemic for almost 9 months but wanted to share this experience with you in case you’re feeling overwhelmed or intimidated by current events.

At the time of the first Gulf War (Desert Shield/Desert Storm) I was assigned to an Aviation Brigade of the infamous 101st Airborne Division. Once we finally got settled in our assigned location in Saudi Arabia I began to feel that my life had just been hijacked because I had almost completed my service to the military! I was due to be discharged in four months (December 1990). Upon discharge we, as a family, were going to join Wycliffe Bible Translators for a career in missions. Bridget and I had been building a relationship with Wycliffe for months as we looked forward to serving an unreached people group that was waiting to hear the Gospel in their own language. We were ready. That was the plan. Famous last words.

During my time in the Gulf region I felt a bit disjointed and needed to sort out things pertaining to my perspective of God’s plan for me and how it was going to work in relation to these historical events. My conclusion? My perspective was way off! What I heard myself thinking was, “The plan God had for me has been derailed and I am being sucked out of His agenda!”

Now, I can hear you thinking how crazy that sounds. Yes! It was crazy! Not so hard to do while I was living in events beyond my control and they seemed to be “large and in charge” because they were constantly in my face. I remember being ashamed and humbly asking the Father for help. He graciously demonstrated to me during my remaining time in the Gulf that He was still in control, that the war was not something He couldn’t handle and He was (and is) very much interested in me and others all the time! And everywhere!

Yes, He has a time-line and an agenda but those things are not our main concern. Think for a minute what the bible says about His agenda (from a Space Shuttle perspective). From Genesis to Revelation we see God desires a sincere relationship with us (mankind) and has provided everything to make that a reality. He has done all the heavy lifting, we just need to wholly embrace His provision. Starting with Jesus Christ.

Big events, whether war or pandemic, inherently bring opportunities to reach out to others effected. Many and various needs and opportunities pop up. People respond as you provide care and encouragement. Don’t let your emotions get the best of you, trust the bible is true and move forward with faith in our Father in Heaven. He’s still in control!

Grace and peace,

Bridget and Paul

Friday, September 4, 2020

My Hero

My handyman hero repairs the dryer.

We hear about military heroes, community heroes, and some people are fascinated with fictional superheroes. So this Labor Day I want to tell you about my hero who is a real handyman. He has no formal training as a mechanic, carpenter, electrician, exterminator, plumber, nor as a techno geek. None the less he functions equally well in all those roles. He is more of a “figure it out as you go along” kind of handyman. He does read car manuals, ask professionals for advice, investigate things online and watch videos.

Picnic table Paul made for the restaurant.

This is someone who can fix a squeaky door, electric car windows and a truck fan (essential equipment in the tropics), a clothes dryer, bread machine and leaky toilets, showers, faucets and radiators. And you should see the furniture he makes! Beginning with a photo or someone’s idea he has made picnic tables, beds, shelves, dining room tables, and a curved corner bench with a matching round table. He also trouble shoots my technical problems with cell phone service, computer viruses, internet connection, and other stuff that seems like magic to me. (I grew up when telephones worked through wires on the street.) Then there are the home improvement projects like extending a roof, building walls, making a door or doorway, keying a lock, fixing a sagging porch, and adding electrical outlets and lights. And I don’t take running water or a hot shower for granted because I know the countless hours he has spent improving the Emmanuel Center’s water system. Sometimes he has to hike to the spring and clean the tank or repair a broken hose, clean filters, replace a pressure gage, or clean or repair a water heater. Since we live in a jungle, he also keeps pests at bay, so I mainly sweep up dead bugs. But when the occasional snake or mouse get inside, he is the one who takes them out. He also investigates those stinky smells coming from the river and cleans the animal carcasses off the rocky shore so I can go swimming.

Cleaning the leaves out of the water tank.

The other thing I appreciate is his preparedness and ingenuity. Maybe that came from being a boy scout or growing up with a single mom. When he replaces the guts of a toilet, he squirrels away all the functioning parts for future use. That is reasonable since it is an hour’s drive to the local hardware store and three hours to something like a Home Depot. When he plans a project, like putting up the wall between our bedroom and office, he buys or has delivered all the parts and pieces ahead of time. Other repairs he has to use what he has in his shop to make something function, like the hose he used to repair the truck fan. In Costa Rica they call that kind of ingenuity “McGivering". Other people benefit from Paul’s abilities, too. He and our neighbors joined forces to put new panels in the bridge near us.

Our dog, Kira, testing the new bridge panels.

To show my appreciation I make banana bread, chocolate cake in a mug or no bake cookies for my handyman hero, Paul. I am so glad the Lord gave me a husband with so many abilities.

Grace and peace, Bridget and Paul

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Projects and Home School

Bridget and Paul
We want to express our heartfelt thanks to everyone who has been praying for us and supporting us financially. Calls and emails have been a big encouragement, as most of the time it is just the two of us working and living at the Emmanuel Center. Last week we were on Skype with our delightful granddaughter, Irely, and she is almost crawling! Technology is just one of the many means God Almighty has used to show His love and care for us. 
Emmanuel Center's new entrance
Costa Rica has been closed to foreign visitors since March so the team from Medford First Baptist was not able to come last month. They did send a generous donation, so Paul has moved ahead on projects at the Emmanuel Center. He started with renovating two guest bathrooms including: reconditioning toilets and plumbing, repainting the walls and refinishing the woodwork. With the help of our neighbors the metal roof was repaired and got a fresh coat of paint, and they also replaced the center’s entrance. Everyone benefited - Paul needed the manpower and the neighbors appreciated the opportunity to earn some cash. Our area has been hit hard economically because our region is not exporting bananas during the pandemic.

Ainsley is a WhatsApp pal.
I, Bridget, have been helping families educate their children at home. It is kind of amazing that I am doing what I love and have years of experience with it! I home schooled our three children and then taught for a couple of years at a public charter school for home school families. As at the charter school, I visit each family once a week for three hours. I mentor the moms and give them tips and teach the children. Of course, I help with English assignments. A few of the students have “WhatsApp pals” (similar to the idea of a pen pal) and are sending and receiving videos in English. They have been really motivated to work on their speaking skills. The kids are also memorizing math facts and learning to read. I even bring books in Spanish from the library at the Emmanuel Center and check them out to the students and moms.

I have had to take a break from teaching for a couple of weeks because a child (We don’t know this family personally.) went to the Children’s Hospital in San Jose and returned with Covid-19. We are staying close to home for a couple of weeks as a precaution for ourselves and the families we work among. If the schools don’t reopen in August hopefully, I will be able to continue helping families studying at home. Paul, on the other hand, has plenty of projects to keep him busy. I think he calls it “job security.”
Granddaughter update - Irely is almost crawling.


Bridget and Paul

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Holy Week 2020

The month of February we went home and visited family and friends in the Pacific Northwest. It was a great time to reconnect and make some memories. Our granddaughter Irely is just precious! We returned to Costa Rica in March just as the coronavirus was spreading around the world.

Back row: Our son-in-law Patrick McMurchy, Bridget, our son Lance. Front row: Our daughters Joy McMurchy and Kelly Testerman, Paul and Kelly’s daughter Irely.
There are more than 450 cases of coronavirus and 2 deaths so far in Costa Rica. March 17 they closed the schools so Bridget’s not teaching English for now. There was a driving restriction at night except for essential services. This week a total travel restriction will be in place 24 hours a day. This is significant because Easter week is April 5-12 and the time everyone goes on vacation to the beach or mountains. The government is asking everyone to stay at home as much as possible to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Stores are still open and well stocked, but there are limits on how much each family can buy (example: 6 bags of flour). They also limit the number of people who can enter and shop at one time. When you are ready to leave you keep 2 yards between yourself and the next person in the check-out line. In Costa Rica the nutrition department has a free breakfast and lunch program in the schools. The cooks are giving that food directly to the families to cook at home. It is a blessing to the parents who are not working.

The US embassy in Costa Rica sends us regular updates about the driving restrictions, notifying us that airlines have discontinued flights until May, and that any foreigner with Costa Rican residency leaving the country at this time will forfeit their residency status. Not sure when things will get back to normal here. We are not planning to return to the US, but are staying put and taking care of the mission center. We are content and in good health trusting the God to guide us and provide for all our needs.

As we start into Holy Week we want to thank the Lord for His graciousness to us personally. As young adults God showed us we were lost and condemned to death. He helped us believe that Jesus’ death on the cross and His resurrection from the dead were the only way we could be saved. As we confessed our sin to God He forgave us. We turned away from the evil but also the good we tried to do to win God’s favor. Jesus traded us our sin nature for His right standing with God. We were both baptized and have followed the Lord Jesus Christ ever since. We are not perfect but each day as we read the Bible we look to the Holy Spirit to teach us to walk with the Lord. We have always found Him faithful and true.

Grace and peace,
Paul and Bridget

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Trip to the Pacific Northwest

We were in the Pacific Northwest to meet our new granddaughter Irely May.  It was such a blessing!

Much of our time was spent with Irely while our daughter Kelly was at work. We did see all three of our kids, Paul's sister and niece, five of Bridget's siblings and a few other friends.  One weekend we went to Medford and were able to connect with supporters and give an update on our ministry to the folks at the First Baptist Church.  We also met with Pastor Jeff Breitler and the team that is planning to come help us in Costa Rica in June 2020.

So many people prayed and gave so we could visit our family and meet our granddaughter.  We want to thank you and let you know how much we appreciate you. It was God's perfect timing for us to make this trip before all the travel restrictions started and for that we give Him thanks.
Grace and peace, Paul and Bridget

Monday, December 9, 2019

Highlights from 2019

Irely Mae is our precious granddaughter.

2019 has been a great year for us!  We are both in good health and enjoying our work in Costa Rica.  In addition, our first grandchild, Irely Mae, was born Thanksgiving Day to our daughter Kelly.  We are saving our pennies for a trip to visit them and the rest of our family in 2020.  
Irely with our daughter, Kelly.

More highlights from 2019:

We both received our permanent residency cards for Costa Rica this year.  We are still citizens of the US. It just makes living in Costa Rica easier with residency cards.

Bridget teaching English.
Bridget attended a course in Costa Rica in May and earned her TEFL (teaching English as a foreign language) certificate. Her students are benefiting from her training.

This year the English students logged over 1600 hours in class. That is 10 times the number of hours English students logged in 2015 when Bridget started her first class. 

Reading the Bible in her students’ mother tongue is a regular part of Bridget’s English classes. This year we purposed to read the Bible with our neighbors and visitors and to discuss with them their understanding of God and His principles.  This is the means God used to help Bridget understand she needed Jesus as her Savior and Lord. She was raised Catholic and through studying the Bible she became a Christian as a young adult.

Ready for a picnic lunch on the porch!
My (Paul’s) projects around the mission center have included a new handrail and gate to the river front, fresh paint on all metal roofs, varnish on the exterior of the two main buildings, a picnic table on the front porch, re-plumbing the outside toilet, and regular maintenance. We are both thankful for our employees who work alongside us to keep everything in shape.

The farm at the mission center is flourishing and I have blessed families with coffee, limes, mandarin oranges, caimito (similar to plums), bananas, plantain, yucca and tilapia.

That's a poinsettia blooming behind us and we're standing!
This year we kept track of those who have come through the mission center.  We had 85 overnight visitors for 68 nights and there were 196 day-use visitors to picnic and swim on 18 days. Our most recent visitors were a family out for a drive. The grandmother used to live in this region but had not been here since the mission center was built. She said it was like coming to a park. 

We want to thank the Lord for giving us all we need to live and work in Costa Rica.  We appreciate your interest in our ministry, your prayers, your financial support, your emails, and your words of encouragement. 

Have a blessed Christmas and New Year!
Paul and Bridget