Below Zero

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Since August of 2007 Jacob and I, along with our three children, have dedicated our lives to serving our Lord in Costa Rica.  In these 10 years, God has always supplied for our needs spiritually, emotionally, physically, and financially.  And He has done so through many of you!  Thank you to all of you that have supported us for these 10 years.  You have been just as much a part of the success of our ministries as we have.  For without you all and your support, we would not have been able to be here.

Well, for the first time in these 10 years, our account with Global Outreach International, our sending agency, has gone into negative by close to $500.

We are “below zero!”

So what does this mean for our family and ministry in Costa Rica?  Well, as we have prayed over that question during this past week since we have received our financial statements from Global Outreach, we have decided that we would like to reach out to our friends and family to see if you all would be willing to help us in different ways.  

One way would be to pray for our family, ministry, and God’s guidance and provision for our family.  

Another way would be for you to decide to join us as financial partners.  In order for our family to continue to minster in Costa Rica, we need to gain $2225 in monthly support.  The exciting news is that through my ministry at Sojourn Academy as the principal, ILE has decided to partner with us and support us with $750 per month.  So far, we have also gained around $200 in new supporter through my “90 New Supporters in The Last 90 Days of 2017” challenge I posted on our Facebook page.  That puts us in need of $1275 through new support partners.   If you would like to join us as new financial partners, please Click Here.  

Lastly you can also help us out by sharing this blog or passing along our need with your friends, families, Sunday school classes, churches, small groups, or anyone else you think would like to partner with our family.

We fully trust God to guide and provide for our family.  Even with this financial shortfall, we still feel called to continue to minister here in Costa Rica!  We are excited to see what God has in store for our family and how He is going to work!

Philippians 4:19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

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Independence Day!

Last week we celebrated Costa Rica’s independence here at Sojourn Academy!  It was a beautiful night!  We started with a parade of our youngest preschool children!  Our band this year was comprised of students from our elementary and secondary!  We had an awesome service Thursday night where we gave out prizes for our lantern competition, had a parade through the streets of our students with their lanterns, our staff performed a typical dance, our parents and staff had typical food, and we ended the night with games and sharing!  My guess is that there were over 350 people there!  It was our biggest yet!  I wanted to share some pictures!  My friend and our Secondary English teacher Tia took these pictures!  Thanks Tia!  I hope that you enjoy these pictures!  Thank you to each of you that makes our ministry here in Costa Rica possible!

 

A Letter to the Folks’ Supporters from a Grateful Fellow Missionary

Dear Folk Supporter:

I think every missionary faces the conflict of how to balance the integrity of  ministry with the need to keep supporters informed.  More simply put, missionaries want to dish it, but it might damage the very ministry they are dishing about.  Being a missionary is hard!

I’m about to do something unusual and fairly uncomfortable.  The Folks have ministered to me and I’m about to dispense with any conflict of interest because I’m going to dish it… on myself.  You deserve to know what your missionaries do.  You deserve to know how important their ministry is.  (Shall I slap a nice lawyerly disclaimer in here that this “scoop” is unsolicited though I hope not unwelcomed?)

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I’ve already mentioned that being a missionary is hard.  This is our first “tour” as missionaries.  My husband just retired from the Air Force and ILE/ Sojourn is our first stop along the way to Bolivia.  I never envisioned us as missionaries.  After the Air Force, I always thought my husband would fly for the airlines, as our friends are doing.  I always figured I’d go back to practicing law once we settled.  I’ll spare you my entire backstory, but here I am at language school in Costa Rica.  We have five children and they are attending Sojourn, the school affiliated with our language school.  This year, I’ve been a bit derelict in my parenting duties.  It’s pretty fair to say that this year, for most new missionaries, is incredibly challenging.  Typical parental involvement and participation in, well, parenting suffers a bit.  Okay, more than a bit.  In fact, we’ve taken to calling our children “Spartan children.”  If nothing, they are learning independence this year.

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 (These are not actually our Spartan children, but close enough).

Did I mention that being a missionary is hard?  I can take no credit, but my children have suffered not at all (well maybe a bit over me calling them “Spartan children”).  For our family, Sojourn has been a place of refuge. This year of culture shock and language learning is incredibly challenging for new missionary parents and children.  As the parents struggle to keep their heads above water, the children are often left to navigate these new cultural waters with little guidance.

 Courtenay has been a stable, loving and constant presence in the lives of our children.  Although she works harder and longer than any principal we’ve had previously, she does so not for a salary.  She does so because she is equipping other missionaries and their families to serve.  Serving those who serve often goes unappreciated.  The importance of her job cannot be overstated.  I have experienced first hand how integral her work is in the preparing and sending of literally hundreds of missionaries. I pray that the Lord would raise up the funding they need to continue serving.

Costa Rica and a whole lot of missionaries really need the Folks.

It’s as simple as that.

Their ministry has a deep and profound impact in the lives and ministries of so many other missionaries.    Yes, being a missionary is hard, but our brother and sister in Christ, the Folks, have shared our burden.  They have been the hands and feet of Christ to us during an otherwise chaotic year.  In reality, their ministry is two-fold.  Through Jacob’s ministry to Costa Ricans, they have also served people who truly need Christ’s light.

Courtenay has been the guiding, loving, patient and stable person that my children needed.  I’m not proud that I faltered so mightily this year.   Sometimes we are broken before we are built up.  But thanks to her ministry, my children were cared for, ministered to and have thrived.  She has done so much more than educate them.  She has loved them and she has modeled Christ to them.

Jacob has done much the same by evangelizing  and discipling Costa Ricans.  Through the countless bible studies and workshops he leads each week, he tirelessly walks along side new believers in a land that needs transformation.  The Folks serve humbly and selflessly, despite great personal risk.   This selflessness is reflected in their beautiful children as well.

Finally, I want to use this letter to say thank you to you, the Folks’ supporters.  I thank those of you who have sent them, who have prayed for them and who have encouraged and supported them.  You have lifted them up before our Lord and enabled them to be here with us.

So there you have it.  The genuine scoop that I’m sure you would never hear from the Folks because preserving my dignity also matters to them.  But you deserve to know what they do and how invaluable their ministry truly is. If the cost is a bit of my pride, it is a bargain well worth it.

I pray as we head out to begin our own ministry, that we will be blessed with the wisdom and unwavering faith in the Lord’s provision that the Folks so clearly have.  The Lord has blessed us with the Folks’ ministry.  We are better missionaries for it.

Laurie Bremer, a grateful fellow missionary

Please consider supporting the Folks so that they can continue in Costa Rica: http://globaloutreach.org/jacob-and-courtenay-folk

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Courtenay and Laurie ( aka “Fellow Grateful Missionary”)

The Foreign Missionary

The Foreign Missionary by Jacob
       Being a foreign missionary to another country can be very challenging. First of all, one has to leave their country which means your not able to drive down the road to visit you family whenever you feel lonely or just need an encouraging hug. One has to leave friends behind as well and try and make new ones which isn’t always the easiest of things to achieve – when most of the people are very poor and only see you as a possible source of rice or clothes. Being a foreign missionary means that there’s no 401-k package waiting for you back home nor any fringe benefits or Christmas bonus. Being a foreign missionary often means that one has to learn another language like Spanish which they speak here in Costa Rica.
Today I went to a town called Alto de Carmen and after finishing a bible study I set out by foot into the same community to do some evangelizing. With a stick in hand to fight off the many dogs, I started going door to door. I came to a house made of rusty tin and old wood. I was invited in and we sat down and began talking about many things in the bible. After discovering that they are Catholic, we began discussing how Jesus has always existed and wasn’t created by Mary which helped greatly to began opening their eyes. We began looking at passages that show how Jesus created everything and everyone including Mary.
There might be a lot that one has to give up in order to serve the Lord in other countries however, our reward in heaven will be worth the temporary inconveniences. The Folks-Jacob, Courtenay, Benjamin, Lizzie, & Sophia all need your support so we can stay in the field here in Costa Rica. Our funds are very low and we are seeking & trusting the Lord over this matter. However, we need supporters back home in the states to help us carry our crosses and be a part of sharing the gospel to the world. Maybe you can’t give a large amount every month but maybe you can give 10-15 dollars every month. Whatever donation one can give will be a big help so please consider joining forces with the Folks and lets stir up some dust for the Lord.
        Over the years, we have hit financial lows as we have lost donors and as we gained donors we have risen.  God has provided us with large one time donations over the years that have sustained those lows and here we are in our 8th year on the mission field and our 9th year on this journey!  God has been so good.
So as we celebrate these past years and His provision, we are to a point where we need to share where we are and ask you guys to join us in prayer.  With our last financial report from our mission, Global Outreach International, we are down to $200.  We routinely run at least $1,100 short a month and have to use our account with GO that has been funded by large one time donations to make up for that shortfall.  We are now to a point financially that we are praying for God to either provide in a major way financially or for Him to guide us to our next steps as a family to either back to the USA or a new mission abroad.  We have great peace and faith that He will do one or the other.  We ask that you please join us in prayer over this. 
Here is a link to our page on Global Outreach’s website.  We are asking that you please pray and share this with your friends, loved ones and churches.  We have full faith and trust in the Lord as Philippians 4:19 says.We are down to $200 in our Global Outreach account.  If we go into debt with Global, we will have to return to the USA.  Please pray for God’s provision and guidance.  Thank you.

Another Presidential Election Leads Me to Prayer and Love

 

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My precious friend Mau and me!

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This is the third presidential election for the United States that we have experiences as United States citizens living outside of the USA.  There are certain benefits to not experiencing the election process in the US like not having to listen to all of the news channels constantly trashing both candidates, depending on the leaning of the news channels. The other is experiencing it with a new perspective.  Seeing it through the eyes of those that don’t live in the US, but their countries are effected by the decisions that are made by the US government.

 

Yesterday during the voting, I spent my day in prayer.  Many of my Costa Rican friends were very informed on the two main candidates and wanted to discuss all that was going on.  Honestly, almost everyone that I spoke to had something they didn’t prefer in both candidates.  Last night as I watched the results and President-elect Trump’s speech, I continued to pray.  This morning as I woke up to the reaction to the results, I kept praying.

As I arrived at work, the staff (both from the US and Costa Rica) were all talking about it.  Everyone seemed torn.  It seemed that no matter who won, they were going to feel torn.  No one was angry.   No one was sad.  There was kind of just a neutral feeling of really not knowing how to feel.  However, as people began to come to me and talk about it, one by one we discussed the importance of prayer and leaning on the fact that God is in control.

Daniel 2:21

21 “It is He who changes the times and the seasons;
He removes kings and establishes kings;
He gives wisdom to wise men
And knowledge to men of understanding.”

We need to pray for our leaders!  From local leaders to state leaders to federal leaders.  And not only the leaders of the USA, but the leaders around the world.  That they would seek the wisdom of our Lord.  BUT THAT IS NOT ALL! 

This morning when I returned to my office after I had been out, I found a gift left by one of my friends and coworkers.  Her name is Mau.  She gifted me with the typical Costa Rican plate called gallo pinto.  As a vegetarian, it is my favorite food here!  The note says, “Courtenay: Gracias por bendecir mi vida.  Mau”  Translated it is, “Courtenay:  Thanks for blessing my life.  Mau”

It hit me!  No matter who is in charge of our governments we can be the ones to make America great again and make a positive difference!  And not only America, but our world!  We can love those around us without concern for nationality or religion.  It is not our government’s job to make us love one another.  It is our job!  We CAN make the world great again! 

So that is my prayer!  We don’t need to just pray during the election process!  We will need to continue to pray for all those in leadership, from the workforce to the governments of the world!  I will also encourage all of us to be the difference and love that we want to see in the world!


Pura Vida Y’all 

Some friends of ours have allowed us to design an amazing tshirt to raise funds for our ministry. They then offered to also include coffee mugs and iPhone cases.  All proceeds go to our ministry!  Here’s a link Pura Vida Y’all!  It’s a fun opportunity to have some cool gear and have a reason to share the gospel and the need for missions!  We have combined our southern roots with our calling to Costa Rica. The national saying for Costa Rica is “Pura Vida!”  And of course in the south we say “y’all” all of the time!  Here are some pictures of the products!  If you have other product requests for Pura Vida Y’all, let me know and we’ll see if we can make it happen!  Pura Vida Y’all! 😄🇨🇷🇺🇸

We Have Costa Rican Visas!

So after almost 8 years, we have our Costa Rican visas!!  God is so good!  We have been blessed with my work at Sojourn Academy and the Spanish Language Institute to have been given visas!  Our staff at Sojourn and ILE have worked very hard to make sure that the paperwork all went through!  Miguel and Mimi especially have helped us with this process and made it possible!  We are so thankful!  Here are some pictures from our day!  We waited in one line while Miguel spoke for us.  Then we waited in another line for our pictures to be made!  The TVs in the room had live soccer from the Euro Cup!  We had our pictures made and the guy taking them even allowed us to smile in our pictures!  I have been told that never happens!  We waited some more and even ran into our friend Italo from church as he is in the same process!  And after a bit, we recieved our ID cards!  This is a huge blessing for our family and a confirmation for our family to continue working in Costa Rica!  We are still in need of $550 in monthly donations.  If you would like to support us monthly, please let me know!  You can donate online or through the mail.  You can go directly to our page on our mission agency Global Outreach’s website through this link Jacob and Courtenay.

Enjoy these pictures!  A couple of us waiting in lines and then our smiling faces with our IDs!  Plus one last one with Miguel!  He was a huge help as well as Mimi, but she was not here to get a picture with!  🙂