Sunday, April 12, 2015

Update on US Embassy Grant Project in La Carpio

Hi friends!  I'm so excited to share with you an update about the US Embassy grant project in La Carpio.  As you might have read last year, I helped the organization ReNuevos (which I have been working with for 3 years now in the slum community of La Carpio) apply for a grant from a fund at the US Embassy.  The program provides funding to organizations that work to reduce violence and drug trafficking in Costa Rica.  We proposed a project entitled "Transforming Futures:  Vocational training, education, and life skills preparation fro the entire family" that would provide funds to hire new staff, expand our vocational programs, and renovate current buildings to provide expanded space for childcare, a bakery, offices, and classrooms, among other things.  We were awarded $175, 000 in October of last year and after a few hiccups, started the hiring and construction processes in December.

Three months later we have:
-Finished the construction projects and have a new early childhood learning center space, psychologist's office and consultation room, a bakery, updated sewing workshop, updated computer lab, new office and meeting spaces
-Hired the following new staff:  psychologist, early childhood learning center director, administrative assistant, computer instructor, bakery instructor, and carpentry instructor
-Started a new bakery program and will be starting the new carpentry program shortly.  The computer and sewing programs have added new participants and expanded class times.

It's amazing to see the physical (and intangible) transformation in this ministry.  We have grown not only in square feet, but in numbers of youth and young adults served, as well as in our capacity to meet their needs in a holistic way.  For me, it has been a real life miracle!  When the organization asked me to help them apply for the grant, I basically told them they were crazy!  I didn't think there was any chance we would actually get the grant (given the rigorous application process and lack of connections with the embassy).  I also strongly advised that if we did by some SLIM chance get the grant, we wouldn't be prepared to handle the finances and reporting processes required.  Doesn't God just like to show up and prove us wrong??

It has been a long, hard 6 months.  We've made a lot of mistakes and learned a lot.  The leaders of the organization have grown and have a better understanding of the administrative and organizational structures required to sustain a project of this size and scope.  And there is still so much more to learn!  But it has been a walk of faith, and I am so blessed and proud to have been a part of it.

I will continue to assist with the reporting and evaluation of the project from the US (if anyone wants to sponsor once or twice yearly visits to Costa Rica to check in on the progress, please let me know ;) But I just wanted to share this success with you all, because it is your success, too.  Praise God for doing infinitely more than we could ever dream or imagine!

"Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!  Amen."  -Ephesians 3:20-21

Amen indeed!

Newly remodeled Early Childhood Learning Center that provides 
educational childcare for children of single teen moms in our programs

New office and meeting space, which was desperately needed to house our growing staff

New bakery that will teach 30+ young women (and men!) a year pastry 
and baking arts, as well as how to start and run their own business

Newly remodeled computer lab (still installing the computers!) that will 
provide space for beginner and advanced classes, 
as well as classes on computer maintenance

One of the two ministry buildings where an entire third floor was 
added to house additional office spaces, computer lab and bakery

Be checking for more blog updates and pictures on Facebook of the ongoing transformation in ministry and lives through this project in La Carpio!  

Thursday, February 26, 2015

PuraVida Costa Rica Update and BIG ANNOUNCEMENT

Here's a link to my January/February 2015 PuraVida Costa Rica newsletter!  Inside you will find an update on camps in January with FundaVida and La Carpio, including links to my photo albums.  Also included is a BIG ANNOUNCEMENT about what's to come in 2015.  I hope you enjoy the updates and as always I'm happy to hear from you at  Happy reading!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

End of Year Wrap Up 2014 and BIG REQUEST!!!

Hello all!  I hope you are enjoying this holiday season!  Take a quick minute to check out my end of year update with VIDEO NEWSLETTER!  It's a four-minute overview of ministry this year in Costa Rica!

The newsletter also includes a BIG REQUEST to help send 75 kids to camp in January!  This year there is a funding shortfall and these kids won't have the life changing opportunity to go to a week of camp without your help!  I have seen this experience begin a transformation process drawing kids out of a lifestyle of drug and alcohol use, dropping out of school, and other bad decisions and into the life God has planned for them!

Will you join me in sending 75 kids to camp?!  
You can make a donation by clicking this LINK and emailing me at to be sure that 100% of your gift goes toward sending a kid to camp.

Check out our progress below…

Monday, August 18, 2014

4th Anniversary in Costa Rica

This month marks four years in Costa Rica!  WOW!  I remember four months into my time here…the "honeymoon" stage was ending.  Walking kilometers in the rain was no longer glamorous.  I wasn't sure I would EVER speak Spanish well.  I didn't feel like I fit in anywhere and I wasn't sure what I really had to offer teens here.

What a difference four years makes!  I still hate walking kilometers in the rain.  I have days I feel out of place and unprepared to handle the big, heartbreaking issues these teens face daily.  And I'm about to experience my biggest challenge in Spanish yet (see below).  And I'm so incredibly BLESSED!  The past four years have been a roller coaster of experiences and emotions, and I honestly wouldn't trade a single minute.  

I'm not the same girl who stepped on a plane August 2010 wide-eyed, passionate and hopeful.  Many days I am somber confronting the realities of ministry and life in the slums/inner-city San Jose.  I am much more cautious, the idealism has been worn down by being robbed/assaulted four times, passing through spiritual/emotional battles I thought I might not live to tell about, and discouragement and disappointment in ministry I never imagined experiencing.  

In every single moment I have found God to be more REAL and more FAITHFUL than I could have ever dreamed.  There was a worship conference at my church here a couple of weeks ago and a band from the US called "Loud Harp" came down.  I fell in love with their music and this line from one of their songs is on repeat in my heart:  "The nearness of You is my only good." God is nearer to me each day, each minute here.  And it is the only GOOD I know.  

So this weekend as I face one of the biggest challenges yet in Spanish since I moved down here--leading three workshops (6 hours!) at a retreat for over 50 missionaries who are part of the organization Christ for the City that oversees the project I work with in La Carpio--I know that it is just one more opportunity to see God move in amazing ways, to prove himself even more REAL, FAITHFUL and so GOOD.  

Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart.
But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold.  
When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant;
Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel and afterward you will take me into glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail, 
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.  
But as for me, it is good to be near God. 
I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge;
I will tell of all your deeds.
-Psalm 73


Pura Vida Newsletter: June/July 2014 Update!

Check out this newsletter from June/July to find out what fist fights and soccer have to do with kids stepping into the life God has planned for them since the beginning of the world![UNIQID]

Monday, May 19, 2014

Pura Vida Costa Rica Newsletter: March-April 2014

Better late than never they say!  Click on the link below to check out what's been going on down here in Costa Rica in March and April, includes highlights and when I'll be coming to Indiana to visit this summer!