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Monday, July 6

Hold to God's Unchanging Hand

        Good Evening to all our loyal viewers tonight! I know you may be few and far between, but you are mighty warriors if you are up this late anxiously awaiting an update on your loved ones. We started bright and early this morning leaving the hotel about 7:45, which meant there were a lot of people in Denny's at 7:30 hoping they could scarf down their food in time to jump on the bus. We were worried that since it was a Monday morning that the traffic would be much worse than yesterday. Thankfully, it wasn't too bad so we were early for our morning devotional by Cristian. We sang together and Cristian helped us get our minds ready to serve today. He reminded us of Colossians 3:23-24 and how we must do everything with our heart. We are working for God and He will never forget it because our reward is not of this earth, it is in Heaven. The next few days (Today-Thursday to be exact) are going to be a lot of the same things over and over again. With this gospel meeting, we have men's and women's bible classes in the morning from 9-11:30. Next, from 1-4:30, we split up into 3 groups: Painting, VBS, and Door Knocking. Last, we will have a sermon every night at 6:30.

        We have two intelligent workers for the Lord leading our Bible Studies this week: Diane Adams from Florida and Chase Turner from Louisiana. Since I obviously attended the ladies class, I have a lot more information about what was discussed there than in the men's class. The ladies began class with a fun get-to-know-you game where we went around the circle and introduced ourselves, while also remembering the names of all the women who were before you. It really helped us learn all the names! Diane focused on 1 Corinthians 13 and how it pertains to all our relationships, but especially the marriage relationship. We broke down every part of verses 4-7 and dug deep to discuss what it means and how we can put it into practice in our lives. From what I understand, Chase spoke on the Christian family and how a Christian home can be established. Also, we had a group assembling hygiene packs for the orphanage while the classes were in session. Many of the group from Arkansas aided in assembling packs like Sherry McCoy, the Myers family, Meredith Blackburn, Philip and Tabitha Glenn, as well as, some others like Caleb Beggs, and Catherine Hackett -- Just to name a few! They were by no means the only ones, just trying to drop the names I remember for their families.

        After the classes and packs were completed, we had lunch, enjoyed some free time with our brethren, and then loaded the buses at 12:45. The painting and VBS groups all took the same bus to the orphanage, which is only about 10 minutes from the church building. From the stories I heard, it was one of the wildest VBS groups we may have ever had for VBS in Central America. The kids did not sit still, from climbing the walls to playing on skateboards. They were very loud which made it hard to do just about anything, but especially for them to hear the lesson. When there are 90 kids boucing off the walls, it will certainly make things interesting. The team taught the children the story of Joseph and then related it to the Life of Jesus, which is the VBS theme for this week, and it also ties in with our TORCH theme for the summer which is His Life--that is Christ's Life. They also did a really cool activity where the kids made a snack which was the coat of many colors. Since they were not allowed to take pictures of any of the kids, I am not sure if I can find a picture of the final product, but I'll do my best to find one! Also, I was not given any specifics on what was painted; however, I do know something was painted at the orphanage and no news is good news, right?
Around 20 of us went door knocking this afternoon. Being such a small group, we split into pairs with one Spanish speaker to one non-Spanish, and it did not necessarily mean you were with someone who spoke both English and Spanish. Personally, I enjoy experiences like that because it forces you to pay attention. You must listen carefully and do your best to interpret based off of context clues, or just flat out guess. I'm not saying I knew everything that was said by my awesome partners, Daniela and Karla, but I do know I learned a least 5 or 6 new words, and enjoyed all our verbal and non-verbal interactions. They are my friends even if I can't tell you their favorite movie or their last names (trust me, I'm just glad I know one of their 3 or 4 names haha). They also forced Joanna Fussell to step up and use her Spanish skills to door knock with Brandy. She knows a lot more than she lets on and Brandy has her script she can follow for the rest of the week.

         Tonight, we were filled with one of the best meals I believe I have had in Costa Rica EVER: Spaghetti. If my mom is reading this, she's probably thinking something along the lines of "You're kidding, right?" because this girl is not a spaghetti fan. Here's the thing momma: It wasn't made with tomato sauce! Instead these ladies after my own heart made a delicious white sauce with ground beef and topped it with fresh cheese. Now I couldn't tell you what else was in that spaghetti, but I can tell you that if I had as many stomaches as a cow (which is 4 for those of you who are wondering), I would have eaten it 4 times to fill each one.

      Lastly, let's wrap up our day with another lesson from our brother Tim Hines. I really hate trying to give you all a summary of it because I could never be able to do it justice, but I can't end this blog without it because you need to hear it! Tonight Tim preached about The Connection to God we have today. In order for us to be the branches in our congregation that produces fruit, we must be connected to the vine and the vine is life. This comes from the text in John 15:1-16 when Jesus describes Himself as the vine. Christ also introduces to us a condition with the word "IF" in verses 7 and 10. He is not saying that His love is not unconditional, but He is saying that IF we want the reward, there is a condition we must follow: Abide in Him and His words abide in you, and keep His commandments. There may be times when we leave worship services and bible studies and we let go of the hand of God. When we have the hand of God, we cannot think of other things. Just like when you held the hand of that crush you'll never forget the first time. You couldn't think of anything else but that person and your desire to be with them. As soon as holding the hand of God was mentioned, I called to mind the hymns "Hold to God's Unchanging Hand" and "Jesus, Hold My Hand" because my mind is 80% song lyrics. The first is a song about holding to God's hand when all around us is changing because nothing here on earth is permanent. The second is a song which is asking Jesus to hold to our hands because we need Him every hour so He can protect us and hear our pleas.

      I encourage you all to hold to God's unchanging hand, and I can't say it better than the hymn itself:

 "1 Time is filled with swift transition, naught of earth unmoved can stand, build your hopes on things eternal, Hold to God's unchanging hand.
  2 Trust in Him who will not leave you, whatsoever years may bring. If by earthly friends forsaken, still more closely to Him cling.
  3 Covet not this world's vain riches, that so rapidly decay. Seek to gain the heavenly treasures. They will never pass away.
Build your hopes on things eternal. Hold to God's Unchanging Hand."

Dios te bendiga  ---- DEE-OOS TE BEEN-DEGA
(God bless you) ----- My best guess at the pronunciation spelling


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