Cry Out To Him

December 31, 2011

I don’t know what denomination you are, or what specific beliefs and theology you have about prayer, intercession, etc. Sometimes these types of things can cause so much division and confusion among Christians.

But you know what? I know one thing is true – God hears our prayers. He truly does. And it is powerful.

A friend just sent me this video – it’s two years old, and you might see some stuff you’re not comfortable with or don’t “agree” with.

The thing that really struck me, though, as I watched this, is that this group of Christians devoted an entire hour of intense prayer for two young girls trapped in prostitution in Jaco. I couldn’t help the tears from falling.

We need these prayers.

So desperately.

I wonder if I know these girls? I wonder who they are? I may not know these specific two, but I know many like them – I know it’s happening right here, in this town, down the street from me.

The darkness is heavy.

And prayers like this encourage my heart.

Would you pray with us?

Right now?

For young girls that are being sold this very day, this very night?

Cry out to him on behalf of these children.

Intercession 8/3/09 San Jose, Costa Rica from Exodus Cry on Vimeo.


The Life of an Intern with the Freemans in Jaco

December 26, 2011

Some of you know that part of what we do is have interns, young people who have completed a Children at Risk School, come and work with us for 3 – 6 months at a time. In the last two years we have hosted 10 interns.

These special people have a way of getting inside our hearts and becoming like family to us. The hard part about it is we miss them when they are gone!

Right now we have a special girl with us, Aimee Griffin, who has come to help not only with the ministry, but also with a heart to help our family. She is one busy girl!

Aimee works at La Ola each day, is very active in our church, Iglesia Radical, cooks us dinner, helps keep our house straightened up, makes sure we get a date night and helps keep our family life and ministry running more smoothly.

Can you say BLESSING??? Yes, we are truly blessed. God knew what we needed more than we even did.

Aimee wrote a very touching Christmas reflection on her blog that I want to share with you. It gives you insight into what it means to be an intern here, what life looks like on a daily basis, some of the things our interns are learning and how their lives are forever changed through this experience.

She reflects on her year – coming to Costa Rica, taking the Children at Risk School and starting her internship here in Jaco.

Merry Christmas. I’ll let Aimee say the rest.

Reflection and a Merry Christmas from Jaco

Hey Everyone,

I Just thought I would share another blog and give you all a reflection of my life!

It’s been almost 6 months since I left home. At times it all feels like a dream, sometimes a bad one, but for the most part a really awesome one.

There is so much to be thankful for and so much change in me. I have so much joy in my heart for what the Lord has done in me and where I am. I can’t believe Christmas is right around the corner… 4 days to be exact!

So much has happened it’s hard to explain in words just how I feel and just what is going on in my head. As I sit here tonight I just want to cry because I am not the same person I was 6 months ago.

6 months ago I lived in my own little world and everything was perfect – or if not I pretended it was. I didn’t want to face reality. I didn’t want help.

I was too proud to realize that I was going through the motions and slowing dying. I pretended I was ok and everything else around me was fine too. Honestly I was falling apart.

I was going no where – living my life without a purpose – until 6 months ago when I moved to Costa Rica and my world was shaken and turned upside down. All my comforts were pulled out from under my feet and everyone I knew was no longer with me.

I was stripped of all comforts and I had to fully rely on God and only Him for my strength to get me through.

When I applied for the Children At Risk school, had I fully known what it was going to be like I may not have done it. But because I went in blind-folded, knowing only that I wanted to work with children, I went and stepped out in faith.

As I would sit in class week after week and watch the videos and do the research I honestly felt like I was putting myself through torture.

Every week I would reflect on the week gone by and wonder, “Why I am here? Why am I putting myself through so much pain? Is it worth it? Is there a purpose behind all this?”

I knew God had called me to take the school so I never gave up. I started out strong and wanted to finish strong.

Through many talks and prayers with friends and leaders God gave me the strength to finsh stronger then I started. When I got done I finally knew why I had done the school.

I wanted to work with children and the harder the case the better. I moved to Jaco 2 days after graduation and, well, ministry started right away!

It took some time to adapt to a different life style. Living at a YWAM base for 3 months I had my schedule planned out for me, which was nice, but moving to Jaco I started real life where I needed to set my own schedule, or so I thought at least. I am not a schedule person, anyways. I go with the flow- that’s how I work and that is how it is here.

My life is all about relationships: building, loving, and just being a friend.

So now it has been almost 3 months of full time ministry. I have loved every minute of it. I never know what will happen! I never know how my day will start or end and that’s ok with me.

I am all about adventure and flexibility. It’s amazing me how even though I am not at all a leader, well, I have kinda had to step up and be one here in this ministry.

Questions are asked and many times no one but me is around to answer them. Living on the ministry property has been a blessing and I won’t trade it for anything.

I never know at what hour someone will call my name at the gate and want something. It’s not like, “Ok ministry is over at 6 pm sharp and starts at 2 pm.” No, ministry here is on-going.

Yes, ramp hours are 2-6, but that doesn’t mean anything when kids are at the gate at 1:15 or before. You can’t just turn them away and say, “It’s not 2 yet.” They have walked across a highway to get here or farther in some cases.

When I asked God to break my heart for what breaks His I didn’t know at first what I was asking or how it would feel. Let me tell you it’s painful, but so worth it.

When I asked God for more love for these children and youth He answered.

I never knew I could have so much love for all of them.

And funny as it may sound, the harder the case of the child or youth, those are the ones I am the closest with! When you ask God for something don’t be surprised when He answers your prayer and how He does.

Before coming here I never know I was interested in working with youth, but the more I do it the more I love it. It’s a challenge, but also a joy.

I live my life for the Lord and to serve others. Through just being a friend and helping people out, that brings me more joy then I could have ever imagined.

I feel like a mom to all of them. I can’t count the times I have fed all of the youth when they all come over for a Sunday afternoon or whenever and they tell me they are hungry. How can I refuse? And as grateful as they are for it, I won’t stop.

Today I sat in ramp ministry watching as the little boys played with each other with the nerf guns and the older ones were just chatting. 2 of the boys are youth that come regularly and are a part of my church and youth group here. They are my friends and we hang out a lot. Another one just comes around sometimes – not as often.

The 2 boys were telling the boy who doesn’t come around as often about me. They were saying how all they have to say is that they are hungry and I feed them.

One of the boys was over on Sunday eating lunch with a little group of kids. We made mini pizzas. It was fun to watch the creativity come out in each one! So, he was telling the other boys about it and just praising me to them!

It was just such a joy to me to know that they truly do appreciate all I do, so much so that they are willing to sit and talk about it to someone else.

Trust me doing this is a gift that can only come from God and I have often wondered why God chose me to do it? Somehow I can see a need and help them out when others might see the same thing and not do anything about it.

Everyday my heart continues to be broken for the needs that Jaco faces and the thought makes me never want to leave. I am thankful for the challenges God has placed in my life and for bringing me to this place.

I am thankful that He allowed me to go through all the pain and torture and brought me to my lowest so I can see the needs others face. Now I can no longer shut my eyes and pretend the world is perfect.

We live in a messed up place. The needs are never ending, but through Christ we can make a difference.

I am willing and thankful to be the hands and feet for Jesus, to leave my own selfish desires behind and focus on what really matters, which is people. All the things in life will pass and only what we do for Christ will count in the end.

Let’s be soul winners. Let’s stop standing around pretending that everything is great. People need help! Yea, we might have our own issues, but when we help others it seems our issues aren’t so bad.

We may not have the fancy things in life like the newest car or the iphone 4, but if you have a bed and a roof over your head you are blessed. Some people don’t have that.

If you have a drawer full of clothes, you are blessed. If you have parents that care for you, are there for you and will do anything for you – you are truly blessed.

Some kids have none of this.

They wander the streets at night hoping to find some little shelter out of the rain and as they sleep on the streets they find a pizza box cover out of the trash to put over their faces to stop some of the rain from hitting them.

They never know what they will eat or how they will survive or where they will sleep the next night, if they do at all.

They are scared, but because being scared is a form of weakness they don’t show it. Instead they harden themselves to the point where they have no feelings.

They want help but don’t want to ask because that is a sign of weakness. They have to be strong because they have no one else. They beg for their food and money.

It’s truly a sad issue we are faced with and then we sit and complain because we didn’t get the newest outfit or whatever it might be. It’s Christmas time and the normal thing to do is to make out our wishlist.

These kids’ only wish is for a home, a loving place where they don’t have to worry about what will happen next.

I know these are some deep topics but this is my life and what I face daily – children not getting to be children.

So as 2011 comes to a close, please during this Chirstmas season remember to pray for the children all over the world who won’t be getting a Christmas. Remember to especially pray for the children here in Jaco, the ones we work with daily.

They are some tough cases but nothing is impossible with God.

Please remember before you eat your Christmas meal to give thanks for it because there will be children who will not have the privilege of eating that day.

As you sit around with all your family remember to pray for the ones who won’t be doing that, the ones who have no family at all.

As you open your present, make sure to thank the giver and God for it because there will be children who will not be getting that opportunity.

I hope this gives you just an idea of what I have been thinking about and faced with day after day and what I am doing.

This ministry that I am helping with is like none other before. It’s unique and God has blessed me with the opportunity to help out and be of service for His kingdom.

He has given me so many friends to help out with and to just spill love on them everyday, even though I know they can’t give me anything in return.

I pray you all have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

_________________________________________________________

Interested in following along on Aimee’s adventure and helping her stay in Jaco longer? (Yes, please!) Join her facebook group.


Merry Christmas from us!

December 20, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Dear Friends and Family,

As the year 2011 draws to a close, with a fresh new year waiting on the horizon, we reflect on all that has come and gone – the good times and the hard ones too, opportunities for growth and renewal, and stretching, testing times.

Blessings abound. 

Every which way we turn we see the marvelous, active hand of God – orchestrating, conducting, healing, guiding. In all things He is loving, gracious and ever kind.

We look ahead with anticipation – expectation – of what is to come. Wondering what surprises this new year has for us. But before we dive head first, heart and soul into 2012, we want to take some time to bring closure to 2011.

What lessons have we learned that we will bring with us into 2012? What promises have we seen come to fulfillment that will add to our faith and hope for the new year? How are we different now than we were a year ago? How did we handle the challenges we faced this year – did we embrace them as a time for personal growth or shrink back in fear and discouragement? And how can we improve?

It’s often through times of reflection and introspection that the things we’ve learned sink down and take root in our lives. And without it, these hard earned treasures of knowledge and truth, gained in the squeezing, testing times, can be swept away. Pausing to reflect, ponder and give thanks gives roots to what we’ve gained this year, so we can watch what we’ve learned begin to grow and take shape in our lives and character in the years that follow.

Our goal in all things is simple, really. We just want to be more like Jesus.

2011 ~ The Year in Review

New Project

If we could sum up the year with a phrase it would be this, “Good Things Come to Those Who Wait.” Very, very good things. And “Dreams Really Do Come True!”

We started out the year with a trip to Tijuana, Mexico to teach in the Children at Risk School. While there we spent several weeks in California visiting friends and family. (JOY!)

We arrived back in Costa Rica and were blessed with a three week visit from the Women and Children’s Advocacy Centre (WCAC). And when we say blessed we mean tears-falling-down-your-cheeks, heart-filled-with-new-hope, lives-with-fresh-vision, encouraged, supported, loved and understood kind of blessed! By the time they left we had a proposal written for a project we wanted to start and we were ready to present it to the board of the former Christian Surfers’ Property.

And then the process began. 

It was harder than we thought, but God has purposes in all things, even though we can’t always see it at the time and we feel confused and discouraged. His ways are not our ways! They are so high above, sometimes we just have to hold on tight and go along for the ride.

By April we had two interns from the Tijuana Children at Risk School and were ready to start work on the property that is now called “La Ola.”

This is where the joy starts coming in strong. 

As we shaped the children’s program and set our goals for what we hoped to accomplish we quickly began to see that THIS IS REALLY FUN! And it’s something our whole family can be a part of. In fact we relied heavily on input from Kai, our 8 year old son, and used a lot of his ideas to start with. Who better to know what kids want and need than a kid, right?

We learned pretty early on in this missionary journey that building relationships is the best part of ministry. Though it might take longer and it’s harder to measure results, it’s where you see the most fruit and lasting change. We remember the very wise words of our dear friend Janna Moats, “Jesus does not call us to start ministries, he calls us to relationship with people.” And so, we designed a relational ministry, where the primary goal of all we do is build relationships.

So much joy to be found down this path. We can close our eyes at night and see the faces of these children. Our hearts have never felt so full. We’ve never found such joy in anything we’ve ever done before.

Yes, we were definitely on the right track. Things were starting to flow and settle into a steady rhythm. We had to pinch ourselves sometimes just to remember that this wasn’t all some amazing dream.

KoaThat is, until July 25. That’s the day our world got shaken and turned upside down. Everything seemed to shatter to pieces around us. That was the day Koa died and was brought back to life. Many encouraged us to rejoice at the miracle God did but somehow our emotions didn’t follow that advice. Instead we were broken and tormented by flash-backs of that traumatic day. It took much longer than you would expect to recover and return to some sense of normalcy.

But again, we see His hand. He’s never content to leave us where we are. He works to redeem what the enemy intends for evil – to work all things together for good. And so, even in the recovery from this trauma His purposes began to take shape.

He put his magnifying glass on our marriage relationship. He wants us to experience something deeper, He wants us to face things we’ve been avoiding. He wants to use this arena of family, children and marriage to shape us to be more like Him.

Oh, it’s painful. It’s hard. It’s not easy. But when we see glimpses of the kind of love He has in mind, it is worth every excruciating, tear-soaked moment.

And so, this is where we are as 2011 is ending. It will be marked forever as the year our dreams came true and we almost lost it all. The year we began an amazing work on an amazing property but God knew we needed a much greater depth of character, a greater capacity for love and a more unified family unit if we were going to see His purposes come to pass in this town and through this project.

Because this type of work takes everything you’ve got. There’s no clock-in, clock-out. When your goal is relationship you are “on” 24-7. It’s all about living and being the type of person that points people to Jesus – in all that you do, to be a reflection of Him, an example of His love. And these children – this town – so desperately needs this love.

So we won’t give up. We’ll press on even when it’s hard and surely 2012 will be a year beyond what we can even imagine.

Thanks for reading and reflecting on the year with us. We hope you get a chance to do the same and we hope you’ll share with us some of your highs and lows, too.

Because behind the scenes in this whole story is another character – YOU. Your prayers, encouragement, and financial support upheld us through the hard ties, battled for us in the dark times, and without you none of the amazing things (lives touched, children reached, project started, etc.) would have happened either. You are so very  much a part of this and we don’t even know how to begin to express our thankfulness. We’re undeserving. We’re humbled. We don’t tell you enough personally and individually how much you mean to us.

So Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and all that good stuff!

We love you so very much.

From our hearts,

Scott, Leslie, Kai, Ezra, Jude and (as the kids here call him), “El Milagro” – The Miracle, Koa


Too Much Emotion

December 20, 2011

I just want to quickly share a little story that is sticking with me. A brief moment in time, but so touching, so telling. So many questions left unanswered.

A teenage boy living on the streets played with a train set for hours

We’ve made contact with a little group of wandering street kids. They’ve run away from social services and are sleeping on the streets. This is a very dangerous situation – I won’t get into all the details, except to say that they’ve been coming to our program. These tough, street smart kids come in and we see their guard come down. They feel safe and they play like small children.

We’ve been praying and trying to figure out what we can do for them. They run away when placed in an orphanage, and they run from their home. Legally, we cannot provide them a place to sleep without permission from the government. But what we can provide is friendship and love and hopefully build some trust and gain some influence in their lives. Maybe encourage them to choose a better path. So that’s what we’ve been doing.

The youngest one is 12, but he looks about 8. He comes into our home and we can clearly see that he loves to be with our family. I was walking into the kitchen and passed by this tough little boy and he reached up and gave me the biggest hug. I stood there in the middle of the room just hugging him. And he didn’t let go. So I didn’t either. I swayed a little bit and rubbed his back. He just stood there hanging on. I could feel the tears springing up in my eyes as I hugged this little boy, determined not to let go until he did. He finally released and smiled up at me.

I tried to act calm as I walked into the kitchen. Aimee, an intern who’s helping our family was there and we made eye contact. Her eyes were teary as well. “That’s just too much emotion right there,” Aimee said. I felt overwhelmed by it too.

Pray for these boys, please. There is not an easy solution here. But we will keep seeking until God makes it clear what we are to do. In the meantime, we’ll keep loving them, hugging them and hoping that these small things will somehow make an impact.


November Update

December 14, 2011

In case you missed it, here is our news from November:

November Update


Oxytocin and Children, The impact of Oxytocin on children’s behavior

December 9, 2011

Remember in my post, We long to trust and be trusted, I wrote about the children receiving a spike of oxytocin? Well, listen to this:

All behavior arises from stress. To eliminate negative behavior you must strive to trigger the oxytocin response in your child. It is the experience of the love hormone which helps the body ultimately to calm stress thereby decreasing or eliminating negative behavior.

Looks like oxytocin is more than just a pleasant feeling, but is very important in helping children decrease stress and improve behavior! Watch this video to learn more about how oxytocin impacts children’s behavior:


The Happiest Moment of My Life

December 5, 2011

Being a family in missions can be tricky. It’s constantly adjusting and finding that place of flow, so our children don’t feel like they’re just along for the ride. The goal is really for our children to feel very much a part of ministry – to act truly as a family in missions – together.

With the work we’re doing at La Ola, our kids truly do get a chance to share in ministry with us. In fact, there are moments that I notice they are just as vital to the ministry as Scott and I are.

For instance, I watched Jude yesterday, bouncing on our trampoline with a homeless street boy – he was making him laugh so hard, bringing so much joy.

When kids arrive at La Ola one of their first questions is, “Where is Kai?” If he’s not there, he’s truly missed. Or sitting together with another mom while our babies play on a blanket together – it’s such a bonding experience to both have small children playing together.

I mentioned in the previous post about the skate contest we hosted last month. I want to share a little story about something that happened during the event that touched my son’s heart.

In addition to a skate contest, there was also a raffle going on and kids were winning different prizes – hats, decks, t-shirts and more.

Well, there is one boy that comes to our program who has some special needs. He doesn’t understand how to relate to others socially, he’s demanding, he doesn’t have friends. He’s the one that gets picked on the most. Other kids throw rocks at him. Even adults laugh at him. He’s despised and one of the most at-risk kids in Jaco. We do our best to  talk with him to help him regulate his emotions so he can be successful while at the program. Our children know him very well and have seen often how gets treated.

Well, during the night, this boy won a prize in the raffle. He won one of the BEST prizes – a SKATEBOARD. Oh my. He just didn’t even know what to do. I don’t think he’s ever won anything like that in his life. He was so overjoyed, he couldn’t stop smiling. It was one of the most incredible moments of the night.

After it was all over and I was tucking Kai into bed that night. He looked at me and said:

“I don’t know why, but when D got his skateboard it felt like the happiest moment of my life.”

He shook his head, “I don’t know,” he paused, “It felt like inside my heart was just going crazy!”

Oh! It just took my breath away. Kai is living through this and experiencing these things, taking it all in. I am thankful that his sensitive heart was touched. That he recognized what an amazing moment that was and shared with me how it made him feel.