St. Juan Bosco Park of Sonafluca

This past year, a new missionary family that had just joined us in Costa Rica presented us with the idea of joining forces to build a new playground for the little town of Sonafluca, where we were both doing missions. The old playground was in complete disarray. The swings were broken, the wood promised splinters, and really the only ones who used it were bored teenagers looking for a place to hang out. It was regularly trashed, and in the center of town.

We wanted to dedicate this park to Saint John Bosco, which is our parish name, but also is a perfect example of a saint that brought children to Jesus through play! We also wanted to get the blessing of our priest, Padre Mainor. In the meantime, Brad and our mission partner Mark, had scheduled an appointment to meet the bishop so he could put faces to the names of his missionaries now serving in Sonafluca. At this meeting, which included our local missionary friend Pablo, they explained our desire to put up a new park for the kids and dedicate it to San Juan Bosco. Brad even mentioned that it would be really great if the bishop could come to our opening party and bless the park. Pablo joked after they left, that in Costa Rica, that would never happen!

We then met with Padre Mainor and received his blessing, and before we knew it the park project was under way. First we had to tear down the old park and clean up the debris and trash, but then it was exciting to see the new park go up in just three days! Here we are laying the ground with rock after it was built.

Our boys, some locals and a lot of kids helped shovel and pour it on.

Soon the park was almost complete and we decided to meet with Padre Mainor to see if either he or the bishop could come bless the park for our opening party. Not only did he agree to come, but he checked with the bishop on a date that would work for him, and he agreed to come bless the park AND say a mass for Sonafluca at our tiny little chapel! Because the bishop had other bishops from other countries visiting, there ended up being three bishops and five priests for a total of eight in all! Meanwhile, when the locals got word that we were going to have this blessing and a mass said for the park, they put together a huge dinner for all the missionaries and priests. Only God could have taken a little suggestion from a humble missionary in a tiny town of Costa Rica and have blown it up into the holy event that it was!

It was a magical night! Not only was it packed with locals, it made the national news and FB watch, and Pablo was interviewed on behalf of Family Missions Company.

So that is the story of how, on June 8th, God orchestrated a blessing of the new park of Sonafluca with eight priests, a huge party full of kids and families, and a mass at our little town church, followed by a dinner for all the priests and missionaries.

San Juan Bosco, pray for us!

A floor for Loyda

Thanks to our generous benefactors, we were able to provide a floor for our friends Loyda and Jordan, and it is almost complete! Praise the Lord! The other night they were sharing with us some Nicaraguan style tacos with refried black beans, cabbage, cheese, ketchup and Natilla (a kind of Latin American sour cream) and afterwards we prayed together and they told us they wanted to help us in the mission!

These two pictures are what the dirt floor looked like before. It’s hard to tell in the picture, but the floor is very uneven and difficult to keep clean.

The family and their friends worked hard to do it themselves, and they are almost done!

Mission Mamones

Twenty-one baskets of Mamones from Carmen’s family’s land

This cartoon-ish fuzzy looking sweet fruit pictured here is called mamon chino in Costa Rica, or more affectionately, “mamone” and translates in English to “Chinese suckers.” They are one of our family’s favorite tropical fruits. You rip off the peel and there’s a giant seed that’s covered with sweet juicy goodness.

Tis the season for these little wonders, and our friend Carmen has tons of them on some land she owns nearby. Carmen also has a missionary priest friend, Padre Willem, who serves a community about three hours away in the beach city of Puntarenas. He has been a missionary priest for many years and always seeks out the poorest of the poor. Mamones don’t grow where he lives. So this mission was all about harvesting as many mamones as we could, filling our buseta and driving to Puntarenas (twice) to deliver them to Padre, who then had then bagged and sold them in his parish to raise money for the poor.

Padre Willem and Brad
Padre Willem’s church

A business for Francisco

Francisco surverying the land where he will plant his camote

For many months we have been praying and trying to come up with ideas on ways to help our dear friend Francisco support his wife and five kids. At first we tried to raise enough money to build them or buy them a house, but it was too expensive. Eventually, they were forced to move out of their tiny shack, before any of us could come up with a solution, so a friend of theirs allowed them to move into their little town’s community hall. The only catch was that every time there was a community gathering, they’d have to pack up all their visible things and hide them in a back room where they all sleep.

This had been an upgrade to living in their other house, however they still couldn’t live there for long because Francisco’s farming job was too unstable and they couldn’t afford to pay rent. There weren’t any other options for renting a house in their town, as they were either too expensive or too small for their family.

One day Brad and I went to visit them to pray with them and they told us they actually wanted to stay in the community house but didn’t have the rent money. We also had been asking Francisco what method of farming he thought he could make money on. Little by little, God was pulling everything together.

We had some money donated for building them a house, so we took that and were able to rent this house for his family for one full year! Also, we rented farmland, paid to get it tilled by a tractor, and bought all of the equipment and fertilizer he will need for three harvests of a local vegetable called camote.

Francisco and Pilar are overjoyed they now have a livable situation and a way to earn money for the foreseeable future. Please keep their family in your prayers for three perfect harvests and for excellent sales of their camote!

Francisco’s house

John the Baptist said, “Whoever has two tunics should share with him who has none, and whoever has food should do the same.”

This statement is very simple. I read it and think I am doing it all the time in His mission. However, when I see the needs around me, I think twice.

Francisco and Pilar have 6 kids. If you are following our mission, you will remember them. They are Nicaraguan immigrants who fled from their country to find a better life in Costa Rica. They are living in what us Americans would call a shack, that has one room and an outhouse. For 8 people. No electricity. No washer. No fridge. Certainly not a dryer.

Francisco works very hard as a field worker for a farm owner. He makes a little over $2.00 an hour and his hours are determined by the amount of rain fall. I will do the math for you, $2.00 an hour x 30 hours a week x 4 weeks = $240.00 a month.

As you can imagine, it is very difficult to make ends meet with that amount of income. So they do without almost every “basic” necessity. However, EVERY time we go to visit and pray with them, they hand us platanos, camote, or bananas. I watched helplessly as Pilar handed 5,000 colones (equivalent of appx $8, 4 hours of HARD work) to her daughter to buy us a couple bottles of juice. They are so generous with the little they have.

We have walked with this family for over 3 years and have been constantly amazed at their abundant level of generosity. They do not have 2 cloaks. They do not have an overabundance of food. Yet they give unceasingly. So, I ask myself, am I giving my second cloak? Am I giving enough? Nope.

Francisco recently came to our house and explained the “house” they are living in is being torn down by the owner to build cabinas for rent. They do not have any options to move to. He can afford rent, but further away from the children’s school and his work, and with not much improvement on their living conditions. Transportation costs will certainly be higher.

In desperation he asked me if we would be willing to buy them a house and his family could rent it. I thought and prayed on this for a while. We have no interest in becoming landlords here in Costa Rica. However, can we GIVE from our abundance with no strings attached? Yes, we certainly can. We can help make their life more manageable, not perfect. A concrete floor, a functional bathroom, maybe even electricity.

I have heard the question posed, “is this a true necessity?” or “aren’t they used to living like this?” Because of our American abundance we want to choose where we donate is the best way to spend our money. But can we ask ourselves, If we have two rooms in our house, shouldn’t we share a room with someone who only has one?

So, we humbly are asking you for donations to make this happen. I have scouted the area of Ulima, (where they live) and have found a couple humble options for sale.

We have already raised approximately $3,000. Our goal is to raise an additional $7,000. If you feel called to help, please send donations to the following link: and write Francisco’s House in the comments.

Thank you all and God Bless!


A home for Sarai

Happy Easter and God bless you all! It’s been a while since we’ve written, and our family has many updates to share, but we first wanted to tell you about a special project we are working on.

Through a friend of ours, we were very blessed to meet a beautiful single smiling mother of six named Sarai, who, by all appearances, you’d never guess in a million years what she’s been through. A few years ago Sarai was covertly transferred hours away from a coastal city in Costa Rica to a small city near our mission post to protect her from her violent husband. Her husband was then sentenced to fifty years in prison on accounts of domestic violence. They had been married for 15 years and had six kids together. Sarai lost everything and had to start over. Luckily, her life was re-located near an uncle of hers who happened to live by the popular tourist town of La Fortuna, and she was able to find a job.

Sarai (2nd from the left) standing in their living room with her mother and her six kids

Sadly, even though Sarai found what many would consider a prestigious job as a high-end chef at a FIVE-star hotel, she is only making 1200 colones per hour, which is equivalent to about $2.00 an hour. With the cost of living in said tourist town, being paid this much is barely enough for her to live on if she lived alone. As it stands, she needs to pay bills and feed her family of eight, who all live in a small one-bedroom apartment, with a total of three beds for all of them to share, and no outside space for them to play save a skinny sidewalk leading to the street. Can you imagine? Eight people, including your mother, sharing three beds?

Sara has a dream. She’s dreamed it enough to have found and priced all the bare minimum materials needed to start her own business: baking cakes and other decorated sweets to sell. Sara proudly showed us pictures of her creations on her phone that showcased exquisitely prepared cakes and other baked goods she’s made for the luxury hotel she works at. She would already start selling her baked goods on the side – in addition to working sometimes 14 hours a day – to make ends meet, but her landlord wouldn’t let her connect an oven due to the electricity bill it would incur. 

Now we have the same dream as Sara; not only to eventually help her start her own business, but to first get her family in a house that fits them, and to get her out of survival mode so she can sustain feeding her family on her own. 

God has brought our two families together. I know we are meant to ask for help on behalf of this family. We sometimes struggle greatly with the inequality of the circumstances of life. But instead of dwelling on this, I’m remembering that God loves to use us all when we agree to be used by him, which is, in fact why we are here, Praise God! The Lord hears the cries of the poor.

“The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles.” 

-Psalm 34:17

If you would like to contribute to helping Sarai and her family, please donate on the link below and type in “Sarai’s Family” in the notes. Thank you for partnering with us on mission! Have a very blessed Easter Season.

Pilar’s baby

Beautiful baby Pilar Carmen

We got to partake in a beautiful small ministry this Christmas. Our friends, Francisco and Pilar were having a baby and she was due very close to Christmas. As Pilar’s pregnancy progressed, these friends of ours, who live about a 40-minute drive away from us, began to visit us more, as the nearest hospital is very close to us. They are very poor, and they do not own a car, but they would take the bus to Ciudad Quesada for their appointments, and often times Brad would be their taxi. Many times they would kill time at our house while they waited for appointments, to go to work, or in between school times. Usually when they stop by, we make coffee or breakfast for them, give a drink of water, and try our best to understand their Nicaraguan accent as we continue to make friends with the whole family. 

One evening we had invited their whole family over for dinner and I made tacos. I had asked them what their favorite food to eat was and they stared at me like I was an alien. They answered rice and beans and shrugged. I then realized what a crazy question that must have been for them. It’s not like they get to choose what they want for dinner every night like we do. They don’t have electricity in their one room house, so they go to bed close to sunset and wake up with the sun. The sun sets here around 5:00 pm. They must’ve been very tired when it was after supper, and I was trying to help their teenagers with their English homework. We were trying to rush, using our internet, because they don’t have it. They need to use a neighbor’s house to charge their phones, and if the kids need to study, they need to do it at school. 

One day they had been visiting with us at our house in regard to their Costa Rican visa situation. They both never learned to read or write, and there was a mistake on their residency card that was going to cost a lot of time and money to fix. People have two last names here, and she had gotten hers reversed on her card, so it didn’t match the two last names of her husband. This hurdle led to a bunch of late fees they needed to pay in order to update it, but didn’t have the money to, and we had agreed to pay those fees for them. We’d also been trying to help them get their childrens’ birth certificates from Nicaragua so the family could officially convert to Catholicism, but it’s so complicated we haven’t yet been able to fully help with that.

We have been discipling alongside this family, and I can echo (from what so many other missionaries have said) that we have learned far more from their pure faith and simple joy than they from us. On that day they were visiting us, Pilar was very pregnant and I took note that she had walked from the school, about a half mile away. Francisco had gone to play soccer with Brad and the boys. Do you want to rest in my bed? I asked her. She gratefully took me up on it and I brought her back to my room, put the fan on and closed the door behind me. I can’t describe the way I felt… like I had just heard the verse “whatever you do to the least of these you do for me.” Not that I think she’s the least, but that I think she’s the most. That I think she is Jesus. I was just thinking about how I was complaining that we had outgrown our house and were tripping over each other. I imagined what it was like for her to go from her small, dark hut where she shares a room with the whole family, to taking a nap in a window-fresh, fan-sounded cozy-bedded room with the door shut for privacy. And a completely finished (although not pretty by American standards) bathroom. A second one at that! Our house must’ve felt luxurious to her. I felt so silly for complaining. Foolish and silly. 

Pilar didn’t have any baby things and I knew she didn’t have enough money to buy anything for her baby, so we wanted to bless her.  When I reached out to family and friends, I was amazed at the generosity of all who donated! We were able to buy her all the things on the baby list and more! She was very gracious and humble to receive the items. But I was very struck by how simple her life seemed. I know we think we need all of these baby things in the US, but she is proof that in reality, all we need is warmth, shelter, food and love. 

When we went to drop off the items, she was sitting there, holding adoringly her precious new baby in her arms, in her simple house with zero clutter, and I thought how similar it must have been like for the Holy Family, and it was such a joy to witness this blessed family in this way, so close to when baby Jesus was born.

The best Christmas party

Every now and then, God spontaneously works something out better than you could plan it. In this case, we were planning a Christmas party for eleven poor children and their single mothers who’d heard very little about Jesus, never had visited a church, and never had celebrated a Christmas before. We were throwing this party with some local friends and their family, however we ran out of time to work out the details of who would do what. God ended up orchestrating a party I will never forget.

We’d loosly planned to sing songs, read the Christmas story from the bible, give gifts and have a pizza and ice-cream party (pizza is expensive here, and these families had never had it before, so this was a special treat). Thanks to the donations of many of our family and friends from far away (thank you so much!), we were able to throw a party for these kids that I’m pretty sure blessed us more than them.

We had everything packed for the party and were ready to head off, when Brad ran into our friend Gerardo. Gerardo is alone a lot of the time and always asking us for things, and although I know he is in need, I believe this is his way of asking for love. Brad invited him to come along, and even though it is a 40-minute drive away, he came! 

Miraculously, without talking, here is how the party worked out: Zach and I led the group singing Away in a Manger in English and Silent Night in Spanish. Gerardo’s voice is something else, and he took over as the lead singer. We then handed him our guitar and he played more Christmas songs. After this, Brad led us in prayer and he and a few others read the Christmas story out of the children’s bible in Spanish. All of this took place at our friend Anna’s house, who decorated and arranged the gifts ahead of time.

Then our friend Eliomar had prepared a reflection that included two gifts, one wrapped like garbage and scribbled on, and the other wrapped beautifully with glittery ribbon. He asked two kid volunteers which one they wanted, and they both chose the beautiful one. He gave them the gifts and asked them to open them. Inside the beautiful one was nasty old fruit peels and garbage. Inside the scribbled package was chocolate and candy. He asked again which present they wanted. Everyone laughed, and Eliomar explained that the son of God came as an insignificant looking baby, born in a poor stable, and laid in a manger and didn’t look like much, but that the best and most beautiful things come from the inside, and often come in humble packages. In contrast, the beautiful present looks so admirable on the outside, like so many material wonders in our world; so many that we get attached to, such as comfort, beauty, expensive tastes, etc., but on the inside, these things are shallow and ugly, and you can’t take them with you when you die.

Eliomar presenting the gifts for his story

This reflection was so beautiful, some of us were teary-eyed. The kids were loving it! After the pizza party, Elizabeth and her friend, Mary Paz handed out the gifts as they called each name. Each kid had three gifts and a little party favor bag of candy. The excitement was palpable. Then they all had ice cream and ran around outside playing soccer, tried on their new dresses and shoes, and played with their toy cars. It was the best Christmas party I’d ever been to. Praise God!

Pilar’s baby

Our dear friends Pilar and Francisco are having a baby any day now, and like Mary and Joseph, they have nowhere to lay their baby’s head. This family does not have any baby items, nor do they have electricity or running water in their one room house. They could greatly use our help!

Please donate to provide items such as:

A crib, a crib mattress, crib sheets, crib mosquito netting, a rocking chair, alcohol, gauze and chamomile tea for healing the baby’s navel, diapers, wipes, baby girl clothes, battery operated flashlight and solar charger. Our goal is to raise about $500 for these items, and we will try to find them from outlets and used stores here in the nearest city, Ciudad Quesada.

Thank you and God bless your Advent season as we anticipate the arrival of the Christ child!

Crib/mattress: $200 Sheets: $20 Netting: $20 Rocking Chair: $200 Misc.: Clothes, diapers, wipes, navel healing, flashlight, solar charger: $100

To donate: and write “Pilar’s Baby” in the comments.

Jesus is coming!

Where we live, the majority of those who need the most material help are Nicaraguan immigrants. Many of these people cross the Costa Rican border in order to seek a better life, however they are held back in many ways. What holds them back is their inability to obtain work, their papers and ultimately residency, thus leading to further obstacles, such as graduating from high school, getting religious sacraments or the most urgent medical needs. Combine these issues with the culturally accepted reality of the broken family, and you have a lot of single mothers raising kids alone, working full time jobs and yet unable to do much else.

Some dear Costa Rican friends of ours brought us to meet three families who live in such a way. Three mothers live close to each other as they lean on one another’s support in raising a collective 11 kids. They are working full-time to support their children. We were told that these children have never been to church, and don’t know anything about Jesus. We were also informed that they have never had a Christmas gift. 

Some of the kids listening to testimonies from Brad and one of our friends

Coincidently (as we like to say when God arranges something good!), a fellow missionary from FMC who was visiting us, happened to bring along a stack of children’s bibles in Spanish that a former missionary had left behind. Quite obviously these books were meant for beginning the beautiful task of catechizing eleven little souls as we anticipate the coming of baby Jesus at Christmas!

In the past few weeks, Romans 10:14 was one of the daily readings. “But how can they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how can they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone to preach?” It seems this reading was just in time to affirm this task. And in verse 15: “And how can people preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring the good news!”’

Help us bring the good news with your beautiful feet this Christmas! We want to bring the joy and love of Jesus to these families with gifts and a feast. A feast that is very often a daily meal for us, but unheard of for these families. Please help us purchase food and a Christmas gift for each of these children and their mothers. We are trying to give 14 people a gift valued at $20, and have a Christmas dinner for an estimated total of $400.

To donate, click on our donation link:

and write “Christmas gifts” in the comments. God bless you all and may your Advent season be full of the peace, love and joy of Christ!

Kateri making a new friend

(In the pictures shown, we are hanging out with our new friends near a kind neighbor’s unrented home and yard. They live in poor housing with muddy floors directly behind the property. There is a rich neighbor on one side who gets upset when they see these kids passing by, as they do not want them anywhere near them. I was once told by a director of FMC that often it’s hardest to be poor when you’re living in nearby pockets by the more well-off, because you are even more isolated, and with less support. Please pray for these families, and us as we attempt to form a relationship built around God.)