Author: schmitzfamilymissions

From mom to missionary

I almost never have to go to the grocery store any more. Either Zach or Elizabeth is usually more than willing to walk to the store a few blocks away to get us odds and ends for dinner, and one particular day I was imploring one of them to do just that so I could get supper ready. They both adamantly did not want to go, and rather than fight it, I procrastinated an hour and asked them again before finally going myself. As I was checking out at the store, I noticed two girls that did not look Costa Rican and heard them speaking in English, which can be a little shocking when you’re not used to hearing it spoken regularly, so I was going to ask them what they were doing in my small town, as tourists never make it this far over from the popular La Fortuna area 45 minutes away. They left the store while I was still in line, and I felt a little bummed to have missed the chance to speak to someone in English. 

I left the store and turned the corner to walk home and there they were standing and talking to a Costa Rican man sitting on a ledge. I stopped and stared at them, “what are you guys doing here?” I asked. The girls whipped around, also not expecting to hear English, and told me they were visiting for a month as missionaries at a farm about an hour away, and were here to pick up items needed for a retreat they were putting on for local moms. Then five more people joined them from across the street and I met the family that started an organization to help at risk youth in their town and surrounding areas. They promptly invited me to join the mom’s retreat they were putting on that Sunday and gave me their business card.

I felt like I was in a dream. I had to go to the store at that exact time to run into this group of people at that exact moment, and what are the odds that they were throwing a mom’s retreat, and that both my two kids adamantly did not want to go to the store that day? To which my oldest joked that his laziness was obviously God’s will that day… ha! I knew I had to go.

The day before the retreat, the lady of the farm asked me if I wouldn’t mind picking up some moms in a town on my way there, so I agreed. I was a little nervous. I’m not the best driver of our little missionary white buseta that seats 12, but also I had never been there, and also three ladies about my age speaking Spanish for an hour while I drove made me feel very nervous that I wouldn’t be able to concentrate to be able to understand them. So, I prayed extra hard that morning and told myself like I’ve done before all the hard things in missions, that all I had to do was pray, show up and smile, and that God would do the rest. I especially prayed for extra understanding of Spanish, and my ability to speak it better.

It was delightful at first to pick up the girls, who smiled so readily and were easy-going. I was able to hold most of the conversation, praise God, but about a mile out from the farm it was raining, and we were on back winding roads with deep puddles. Suddenly everyone yelled stop at the same time (including me in my head), as we all knew we were about to get stuck. We waited until finally the man of the farm came to get us about 30 minutes later, and hooked a chain to my car and pulled us the rest of the way. The ladies could tell I was stressed and were talking me through it, but I could tell they were stressed as well until we finally pulled in to start the retreat an hour late. I was thinking that I was already exhausted and the day had barely begun. However, concentrating on both understanding fast Spanish and driving those back roads made breakfast and coffee all the more enjoyable. Plus, there were six missionary girls to talk to in English and share testimonies with! 

The retreat included praying for healing, and while I was willing to join in the exercises and sharing, I gently felt the Holy Spirit telling me I should just sit back and take it all in. They created a washing feet station and spa station for the moms. When it was time for pedicures, one of the missionaries was worried to cut a lady’s toenails because we were warned that she had diabetes so she couldn’t cut the corners. She looked at me and said, do you want to do it? Sure, I said. I do not like touching feet. I never have, and you might say it’s a family thing that we just don’t like feet touching us. But as I sat down on the floor I thought to myself, these are the feet of Jesus, and I was suddenly incredibly honored to be caring for them. I sat on the floor and lovingly placed her feet on my lap and filed each of her toes into symmetry. I massaged her foot and prayed that God would heal her. Suddenly she looked down at me and declared that I was a “princessa de Dios.” I smiled and told her she is actually a princessa de Dios, but she said it again and then poked her neighbor and told her the same thing. She could sense the love of the Holy Spirit, and it was beautiful. This was my favorite part of the whole day… here I was supposed to be being served as a mother on a retreat, and God allowed me to serve in a way that I could unite with Jesus when he said, I did not come to be served, but to serve (Matthew 20:28). What a gift.

At the end of the retreat, we all were sitting for testimonies and final prayer. One of the women I had picked up that morning, (who had just lost her grandmother who had raised her as an orphaned child just four months ago) stood up and said she had been wrestling with herself about coming today and had decided not to go. She had made up her mind when she then saw me pull up in the car and she knew it was a sign from the Holy Spirit that she should get in the car. She said how much she had needed this day to heal her heart. 

That day I witnessed so many women coming together, sharing in suffering and pain you cannot even imagine. My mission that day was bringing some of these beautiful women together for healing from Jesus. In my mind, I did nothing that day but show up. Nothing that day but pray, nothing that day but smile. And God blessed me by allowing me to share in his love in this way. The owner of the farm asked me to drop off even more women on the way back, and I glanced back and every single seat in my little bus was filled, but I knew I wouldn’t get stuck. When I started dropping off the women, many of them asked to see me again and gave me their numbers. The reason this blew my mind is because I hardly shared anything or said anything all day to these women, but it didn’t matter. I couldn’t believe how much God was glorified in my nothingness. It didn’t matter that I probably sounded like an idiot or was difficult to understand. All that mattered was that I went and allowed myself to be a vessel for the Holy Spirit. Praise God.

Being a kid in missions

Life in missions: 

Hello everyone, my name is Zachary Schmitz, and I am a teenager in missions. If you are in missions, you know it’s difficult, and trust me it’s not easy. There are awkward moments that you don’t want to be in, things your parents want you to do but you don’t want to do it, and so on. But just so you know, you’re not alone in this. God is with you always and he helps you with those awkward moments. And once you really get into it you start to love doing it, and you just feel on fire. But you can also get pulled away from it if you stop to pray and don’t practice loving. And if you’re in that spot (and trust me I’ve been there), don’t forget to stop and ask God for help. And for an example, me not liking to write blogs about missions because I think it will make me “not cool” but really, it’s the coolest thing ever and if they think it’s boring, they’re the ones missing out.

My experience:

Now I am going to tell you a little about my experience during my time in Costa Rica.

So, me and my family (8) have been in Costa Rica for a year and a half and we kind of felt like we weren’t doing much, but we were actually doing quite a lot. We probably changed our neighbors’ lives, by our prayers and praises. 

So, one time I was walking to the store and when I got there, there was this poor man and he seemed sad and lonely. He saw me and lit up, and he started asking me questions, and then he asked me if I would buy a treat for him and (awkward situation right here) I was about to say no when all of the sudden the Holy Spirit moved me to buy him a treat, so I bought him one and he was so thankful he came right up to me and hugged me with tears in his eyes. And so, when you feel the holy spirit moving you don’t ignore it, listen to it for it will make you very happy.

So, I live in a neighborhood with a lot of kids and at first, I really didn’t like them. I thought they were annoying people who just got in my way. But then after 3 months, something changed, I started to hang out with them and so on, so on. They sometimes come and pray the rosary with us. I think it changed their lives by us just being here and now they are my best friends, and we have fun every day. 

Hard times:

So, I’m guessing that you’ve all heard of covid-19 the stupid “virus” that kinda ruined missions.

We’ve been in virtual school for a couple of weeks, and I’ve been really struggling with it. And its double hard because it’s in Spanish. And you know everyone’s like “don’t get close to me you might have covid” and it has really delayed missions throughout the year. But we can always pray for the people we serve in any situation. And in Puerto Rico when we helped clean up a disabled man’s house even though we had to wear masks, at least we made him happy.

Thanks for reading. God bless you all!!

Zachary David Schmitz

Building Projects

This is just a quick blog to share the progress of a couple bigger projects we were helping with while we were stateside.

One of the projects was brought to our attention through another missionary family we served close to in Costa Rica. They attended language school in Guatemala, and became good friends with their language teacher. It turns out she was actively doing ministries herself, although short on funds to adequately serve the most needy around her.

She was raising money for a widowed woman of 10 kids who was in need of a kitchen. This is the kitchen she was cooking in for her large family:

Praise God, through our generous benefactors, we were able to provide the funds to build her a new kitchen. She is so grateful! Here are some pictures to share the progress:

The other project we have posted about before, but was put on hold due to Covid-19, however we partnered with our local church in Florencia and were able to start building a new house for a single woman, Maria, and her seven children. You may remember her current house was in disrepair and dangerous for them to live in. The house is now complete! Here is a picture of her bright and beautiful new home, praise God!

This is what her house looked like before:

Branching out

“And He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

Matthew 4:19

Since being back in the states, we have been reveling in the beautiful family we have around us and appreciating what a gift it is. What a joy it is to be among so many family and friends that believe in Christ and try to love and pray for their neighbors. What a joy it is to see people fighting against hate with love every day.

As I read yesterday’s daily readings, on St. Matthew’s feast day, my heart was moved yet again when Jesus said to Matthew, “Follow me,” and he simply “got up and followed him.” He was considered by his people to be a grave sinner, and yet he got up and followed him, no questions asked and no hesitation, simply because he was invited. 

Something my mom always said to me growing up has remained in my mind: To those who have been given much, much is expected. We’ve been stateside near family and friends for almost five months now, and I’ve realized that it has been a time of gathering more love and faith and getting filled up for when we go out again, to spread all that love with whichever ‘Matthew’ we can find. To seek out those who might get up and follow him, if only they were invited, no matter how sick or how lost they are.

“It is not the healthy who need the doctor, but the sick.”

Matthew 9:12

Once again we are feeling called to reach out to the lost, marginalized and sick in person. Our roots run deep, and we believe we are called to branch out, to give much and to spread that love again. We have decided to serve this upcoming year in Puerto Rico, and will return to the mission field at the end of October, if God allows.

Although our hearts want to be back at our mission in Costa Rica right now, their border is not open for us currently, and for personal reasons we need to be able to have access to certain things that Puerto Rico can provide. Meanwhile we will be able to continue practicing our Spanish and serve in missions near another missionary family.

One of our last family pictures in Costa Rica

Leaving and having to say goodbye again is such a big sacrifice, but we keep our gaze on Jesus. He being our ultimate example, left his family when he came to walk the earth to seek out the lost and draw them into his love. There was so much hate and divisiveness in his day, much like today, and he had to counter it with love. We seek to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, allowing God to invite others to follow him through us.

We invite you as well to join us in the great commission. If you’d like to join us on our mission, please follow our blog, add us to your daily prayers, give us your prayer intentions and/or consider contributing monthly to our mission. Let’s be inspired together by the Gospel and let our branches extend to the ends of the earth in whatever way we can! Let’s conquer hate and indifference by spreading love wherever we are.

A few family pictures of us enjoying beautiful Minnesota. God is so good!

Early summertime


Suddenly we are stateside in the midst of this pandemic and these sad and uncertain times, in what seems like a long and early summertime vacation. It was a very difficult, yet necessary decision we made to catch a repatriation flight back to the states so we could work on some physical problems that began to prevent us from doing some of our ministry work. We left so quickly and with such uncertainty of how long we would be gone due to closed borders and so many unknowns, that our hearts were broken as we said goodbye to our Costa Rica friends and family. But God is so good, and through our (hopefully temporary) goodbyes to our Costa Rican friends and family, he allowed us to see some spiritual fruits of our labor there.

I’ll never forget one moment I had in our church in Florencia one Sunday night as I was feeling particularly lonely. I was attending by myself, and when it came time for peace there was no one around me to shake my hand. Sometimes a little thing like this can be the straw that breaks the camels back, and I was fighting back tears. I prayed for hope and out of the corner of my eye, I saw a flash of blond coming toward me.  As I glanced up I saw the only blond girl I ever met in Costa Rica, who was part of our ‘Clase de Ingles’ (English classes) on Fridays, run to me from across the church and not just shake my hand, but gave me a big bear hug. I had never seen her or any of those girls at church before and I was filled with so much hope and love! It felt like Jesus hugged me himself.

About a month before we left another little 12 year old girl in our class told my daughter that she wanted to be a foreign missionary when she grows up. She even went to church with us a few times. Dear family friends of ours told us since we arrived, they’ve had a deeper interest in proclaiming the gospel and serving the poor, and that they realized that the family vocation is indeed a holy calling, and also that another family member of theirs felt called to serve alongside us as missionaries to the poor.

Our kids with our beautiful neighbors

My kid birthday party with my ‘Clase de Ingles’ students. I am so blessed!

I remember praying one time and feeling like God was pointing out to me that my ‘Clase de Ingles’ was more important than we thought it was. God was showing us that if these neighborhood kids were the only reason why we were sent to the little town of Florencia, Costa Rica, that was enough. I feel so blessed by the friendship of these neighbors of ours. We held a back-to-school party with sandwiches and ice cream and praise songs and I even had a “kid” birthday party in March before everything was shut down due to Covid-19, with prayer, songs, cake and a dance party and the whole time I’m thinking this has got to be the silliest ministry there is. But I could feel the Holy Spirit alive and filling in all the gaps of our so-called silly ministries. I realized that we were there with our ‘yes’  and we were living our lives full of as much love as we could possibly muster up, but that the only reason that any of it mattered is because the Holy Spirit was allowed to enter and flow through us.

When we went to language school last year we had only been here for about a month or so, and while we were here we prayed outside and I played guitar and we sang out praise every day. One thing I wasn’t aware of was how noise bounces off the sides of the mountain and spreads. Our friends told us that when we left for school, some neighbors were asking where the missionaries went because they didn’t hear us singing each day. We had no idea that just sitting in our yard and being faithful to our family prayer time, that was all the Holy Spirit would need to spread the love of God.

We have been struggling with not being there right now, continuing our mission in person. Thanks to financial contributions by so many of you, we were about to get to work on building a house for a single mother of six kids in need, and for trying to help another family have electricity. Everything was put on hold there until the coronavirus is no longer a threat. Although things may be put on hold for us physically right now, we know God can still work through us and our prayers despite our weaknesses and wherever we may find ourselves to be.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness,” (2 Corinth. 12:9) is a verse that has shouted very loudly in my heart throughout this calling, for we are very weak human beings, in body and spirit, and we mess up a lot, and yet our little mustard-seed-size faith was multiplied through our efforts in order to glorify a great and mighty God.

We very much desire to always be in the center of God’s will, so we will enter into a time of discernment while we are back to determine whether we will go back to Costa Rica to continue our service, or if God is calling us to serve elsewhere. Please pray for us as we discern. We are constantly praying for the health and peace of all of our family and friends wherever you are in the world. May God bless you all abundantly.

Gathering delicious guanabanas (sour sop fruit) from a tree in our yard

What we do now

Palms from our very own coconut tree.  Zach made the cross and attached it to two of our doors.

With the pandemic, our family has been working at making our home a more apparent domestic church. We’ve set up an altar in our house dedicated to celebrating mass via the internet and still get dressed up for church on Sundays (although now we don’t have to wear shoes). Our family is still doing praise and worship every day, and it really helps remind us to focus on rejoicing in both the good and hard times. It is very sad and difficult to not have Jesus in the Eucharist each week, but we are saying a Rosary and Divine Mercy Chaplet every day for our world, which helps. It also helps that we are noticing God more in the beauty of nature around us. The birds, iguanas, lizards, cicadas and crickets seem louder without any outings and outside ministry to do. For me, being stuck at home has been a beautiful reminder of how important the vocation and #1 ministry that serving our family is.

Benny, Aaron and Kateri in front of our home altar, where we watch mass.

As for ministries during this time, apart from a deeper focus on praying for those we serve, we have dropped off bags of food for friends, are both giving food to and buying food from those who stop by, and are sharing our fruit in our yard. We are working on creating more ministries soon, such as making homemade rosaries for our neighbors and having a FaceTime prayer group with our Clase de Ingles (English Class) kids. Sometimes, though, I think God would have us know that prayer is the most powerful ministry of all.

A friend of mine shared a vision she had of a missionary family inside a house praying, and light shining out of the doors and windows through the darkness. I take comfort in this image, as it exemplifies how by prayer we can still be a light shining on a lamp stand as we shelter-in-place, and Christ can use us even when it seems like we are hiding under a bushel.

We take great comfort in knowing that the apostles spent the first Easter hiding in a room, fearful and waiting to see if what Jesus said was true; that he was going to rise from the dead. We are drawing closer to God as we focus on the true meaning of the resurrection without the distractions (albeit blessings) of material comforts and traditions.

Watching the Jesus of Nazareth movie, a tradition we do during Holy Week each year.

An Exchange of Love

walking to pick beans with Pilar’s family

Our family is starting to make friends with a Nicaraguan family in a nearby small town called Ulima. They are a kind couple with five beautiful kids. The three oldest girls are all in the 8th grade at their high school in our town of Florencia, because when they first came here from Nicaragua, they had been unable to attend school, and therefore didn’t know how to read and write. The two youngest are at the local grade school in their town. Their house is mostly a dirt floor outside. They all sleep in a tiny one-room house that is stuffed with two sets of bunkbeds, a matrimonial size bed and a sink with a short counter. Their mother wanted to offer me some food or coffee, but she had none to offer, and this was a source of stress for her. The other times we’d gone to visit them they were able to give us some vegetables from their garden, sugar cane to chew on, a coffee cup, a pitcher and any other kind of gift she could find in her house. Her generosity, which is such a part of her culture, is incredible to me. We are always unexpected when we show up, which makes her hospitality and generosity shine through all the more. She immediately gets up and offers me the best (and only real) chair there, which is a simple typical Costa Rican rebar style rocking chair with a blanketed pad. Her and her daughters love to visit with little Kateri and laugh at my bad Spanish. While we were there, the first thing we noticed, because it was dark out, was that they had no electricity. No lights to sit outside by (the only place to hang out) except the lights of their phone. When we drove up they were sitting outside in the dark. We hadn’t realized in our daytime visits before that this meant there was no light, no fridge and no stove. The men talked about if it were possible to get the electrical company to provide their house with electricity, while I chased the kids around as I tried to talk with my new friend. We ended the visit in beautiful prayer and song.

The next day I was taking my prayer time in the back of our house when Elizabeth came running to me saying there were a bunch of high school girls here to see me. I was confused, as most of the kids that we know in our neighborhood are grade-school aged, but I assumed maybe they were trying to sell something for their school. I was also feeling drained of energy and compassion that day, so I prayed for Jesus to sustain me, and to do the serving for me. Sometimes you just don’t know what to expect when people come calling. When I came up front, I realized they were the daughters of my friend whom we visited the night before. Their school had unexpectedly ended early that day and they didn’t have a ride back to their house in Ulima (about a half-hour drive) until 4:15. It was only around 1:00 and I had just put Kateri to bed for a nap, so I offered them a ride. On the way back I was talking with their 18-year-old daughter about school and she mentioned that if they didn’t have certain school supplies by Monday, they would be docked points off their grade. In addition, without the appropriate supplies, their only chance to study is while they are at school (as they can’t take, for example, the school’s scientific calculators home with them). What’s worse is that even if they had the appropriate school supplies, how could they study once it gets dark out? So not only do they get docked points for not having things like the proper shoes or calculators or colored pencils, in addition they can’t possibly study the amount they need to properly learn the material and get good grades. How this highlighted for me the flawless opportunity I had growing up where I grew up, and the ease of life that I take for granted because I never knew any different.

Shelling beans with Pilar’s family, which was a gift for us during a visit

When we got to her house, I asked her to make a list of the supplies they needed. Her mother graciously placed an entire bag of vegetables from her yard in my car while I was watching her daughter write down the measly list that would cost them greatly. Colored pencils, 2 scientific calculators, 2 pairs of black school shoes and three recorders.

I felt unbelievably honored and humbled to be able to be used by God to purchase these supplies for this family. I took Elizabeth and walked to the stores in our small town, gathering the items. When we got home it was such a joy to carefully place the gifts in a bag with some pretty little holy necklaces and rosaries. I didn’t get to give them the bag directly because some friends of ours were driving out that way to visit their parents with our van, so I had them deliver the bag of supplies, but this was such a great reminder that the gifts were actually from God, and I was just the medium. I heard they were so joyful and excited to receive them.

If school hadn’t unexpectedly ended early that day, with nowhere else for these girls to go, I never would’ve known what they needed, and wouldn’t have been able to provide the supplies for them. And God’s timing is so perfect in his care for them, as they needed the supplies by that very next Monday.

These two days, and this family, was such a gift of joy for me. The witness of their generosity, love and hospitality did so much more in my life than anything I could have ever given to them, and I’m so grateful to be a part of it. What a beautiful exchange of love. Praise God.

Kateri, Benny and their pet piglet


A Year in Review

Our kids on an evening walk with some neighbor friends

It has been a year since we first packed up our van with most of our remaining belongings and made the trek to Louisiana to embark on this missionary journey. It has been a beautiful year filled with many blessings and challenges, and despite not yet being fluent in Spanish (although our children have already surpassed us), we have been able to make true friends with the poor.

Here is an update on our missionary journey so far in the little city that God has called us to serve here in Florencia, San Carlos, Costa Rica.

Many people come to our house to sell hand-picked fruit, sweet bread or cheese, and we try to support them, as we know jobs are hard to come by here. We hired a friend of ours to help us in our house a few days a week while her husband was out of work. It has been a big blessing to us, as it takes a lot more effort to manage a home here, and she also has been teaching us Spanish as we work side-by-side throughout the day.

We always try to help people in the moment who need food, money, diapers, etc. We have also been doing one-on-one bible studies with some friends and neighbors who stop over. All of these encounters are building true friendships and are so edifying in the faith as we pray with those in need.

Once a month we have been visiting the orphanage in La Fortuna, making friends and playing with the kids, where, sadly most come from abusive situations. Where the orphanage is set is like so many tourist areas, where what we see in the charming downtown is a stark contrast to the poor living in shacks not even a block away. It has been a gift to spend time with the children there.

Brad and the boys will play catch or soccer while the littlest kids yell out “muchacha” and “muchacho” at us to try to get our attention. Some of the older girls love to show off their taekwondo moves and to color with Elizabeth. Rachael brings her guitar to play songs for the kids to sing with, and they have a lot of fun strumming on it.

Our family was assigned a holy hour with adoration and a communion service in the little town of San Rafael, about a half hour away from here. We will soon be training to be eucharistic ministers and will eventually be leading it. Our priest here is in charge of about 15 pueblos where a lot of people can’t get to mass very easily. We will be inviting people to come to this service, and we pray that God will move the hearts of the people of San Rafael!

There is a lot of interest in learning English here as it provides more job opportunities in nearby bigger cities. We host a class once a week where we talk in English and pray together. I really think the kids are drawn to the solidarity of friendship and faith that these evenings provide. A common problem here is that so many families are broken and left without a father. Our hope is that these meetings will draw them closer to their real father; one that will never leave them.

We are working on adding a room to a house for a poor single woman named Anya, and her two children, who currently picks and sells limes for a living (they are extremely cheap here, around 5-10 cents a lime). The three of them are living in a tiny, neat little 2-room house, and all of them sleep in the same room. We are trying to raise money to provide them with an additional bedroom. The construction is estimated to be around $1500. If you would like to help financially with this project, please let us know!

Anya and her kids

There is another single woman who has three children and lives in a tiny wooden “hut” tucked into a side of the mountain in a nearby pueblo. Her floor boards dangerously don’t meet evenly, she does not have any light, and when it rains it leaks all over the house because of the condition of her sheet metal roof. We are looking into helping her repair her floor and roof, however it is a tricky situation because she may be taking her house structure and selling it for food and other things. Please pray for this woman to overcome whatever is at the root of her troubles.

Please pray for our neighbors, the kids at the orphanage, for the girls at the end of our road that sometimes don’t get to eat dinner, for the men who want to provide for their families, but can’t find work, for an increase in morality, purity and modesty and for the reparation of the family here in Costa Rica. Please pray for the poor that live in steel metal shacks so close to us with rain dripping in their roofs, for the children who don’t have shoes to wear, and for those whose budget is so tight that they can’t afford real butter. But mostly, please pray for those here who don’t know Jesus and his infallible love for them.

Mother Teresa was quoted saying “A sacrifice to be real must cost, must hurt, and must empty ourselves. Give yourself fully to God. He will use you to accomplish great things on the condition that you believe much more in His LOVE than in your weakness.”

Jesus says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” -2 Corinth. 12:9

The sacrifice that it is being here, away from family and friends and land and language can feel overwhelming at times. We are constantly challenged to give even more for God while continuously being faced with so many needs around us. That is why every time I think of this verse, that His power is made perfect in weakness, I can rest easy. We may be one tiny ripple in this ocean of need, but if that’s all God needs to move mountains, then we can do that. And then, like St. Paul, we can boast gladly of our weaknesses so that the power of God can rest in us.

Please pray that we never lose sight of  His LOVE, and his work here in Costa Rica.

Zach, Elizabeth and Aaron praying at our chapel in San Rafael



Making Friends

Making Friends

I listened to a FMC podcast the other day about how so much of being a missionary is just making friends with people one at a time. One cup of coffee at a time. One smile at a time. This is actually one of the things they said would be hard for Americans; to slow down the pace of life and just be with people. So much of this requires us to just be present in the moment and present to the Holy Spirit. If you have resources, you can help anybody. If you go into missions with money to give away for food, shelter, medicine, etc., it is obviously a noble thing. But what happens if you were to suddenly be gone? If one day the same person you’d been helping showed up at your door for some medicine or food they needed, and you weren’t there, or were unable to give it to them?

But if you bring them Jesus, it is the gift that keeps on giving. God will hear you when you call upon him and he will help you. I know this to be true in the sense of my own suffering and loneliness, because at times when I’ve felt it, when I call upon God, I can immediately feel his presence fill up the void. This is my favorite part of my job: bringing prayer into everything we do. This is the part of missions that is lasting, and will never be lacking, even if/after we’re gone.

We have visited the orphanage a few times since being back from Mexico, and have been trying to make friends with the kids there. It’s a difficult thing to do because of their unknown situation. Here are these precious little children of God, that, for whatever reason are left without their parents and being raised without a mother or father. It is heartbreaking. I worry about what they’ll think of our complete and happy family coming to visit them and leaving all together. I worry that our presence will make them sadder. I worry that they’ll be always wondering if one day we are going to adopt one of them, and so they need to be on their best behavior.

“The Lord hears the cry of the poor.” -Psalm 34

All of these things made me try to talk myself out of us visiting. Especially when the last time we were there, a sweet little girl I’d been playing with asked if she could come with us. When I left that day I was daydreaming about buying a huge house and adopting all the kids in the orphanage and recruiting volunteers to help me love and care for them all.

Since that is not very realistic at the moment, I asked God, “what could we possibly do by visiting these kids?” And then I thought, every family should have other family and friends to visit with and to love even though they do not live with them. My family could become friends with these kids that make up such a beautiful family on their own, and we could bring them Jesus, who will never ever leave them. If they know this, and have witness of how to call upon his name, they will never feel alone.

“But Jesus said, “let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to me, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” -Matthew 19:14

We have also tried out a few English/prayer classes with the local kids in the neighborhood. They are interested in learning English because it gives them a step up on getting a good job when they grow up. They also need purpose, as there no real place for them to hang out. Our house has been a hang out place with our tree house and tire swing, and, of course the numerous kids that happen to be in our family.

This helped our kids make friends prior to entering the public school, which is about 3 blocks away from our house. They are loving school and picking up Spanish (and friends) quickly.

Another ministry we have begun doing is a Thursday night Holy Hour in a nearby pueblo called San Rafael, as one of our first priest-assigned ministries. We are excited to grow relationships with the people in this town.

I do not know what God has planned for the future for these kids, for our family, for our ministries. We plug away each day working on our Spanish and making friends, and being “Spirit-led missionaries,” which basically means praying with those who God sends, and trying to help in whatever way we can.

It can be overwhelming at times to think about how many souls in the world need not only to be taken care of spiritually, but physically. As Jesus said, the poor will always be us. But just like that story about throwing one starfish back into the ocean at a time, one by one, it makes a difference for that one. And by making friends, one by one, it makes a difference for that person.

We wanted to share some pictures of our family life as well. May God bless you and light the way ahead. Thank you to each of you for all your prayers and support! We could not be here without you.

Missions from Zach’s Eyes

Missions from Zach’s Eyes

Spanish School in Guadalajara

Hey guys! Mexico is not what I expected. Every Sunday there are poor people begging outside the church that we go to. Then we decided to offer to buy lunch for them. There is one lady that likes to eat hotdogs with us. It was great. We also give them money. We also prayed with two ladies.

Every day we walk to school. When we get there we walk down a block to get fresh squeezed orange juice. Then we head up to class and learn. Learning Spanish is very tiring, but it is worth it because we are serving God’s people.

Costa Rica

We have a pretty small house in Costa Rica. There are three bedrooms and two bathrooms and a kitchen/living room, and an average sized backyard and front yard. We also have good friends. Sometimes we go over to Pablo and Yalile’s house and eat. They have three dogs, one he dog sits.

Then our other friends the Rojas, they have two kids and two dogs. They are very willing to help us out. Like one time they brought us to the hots springs and another time they brought us swimming.

Prayer Time Reflection

“Take what is yours and go. What if I wish to give this last one the same as you? Or am I not free to do as I wish with my own money? Are you envious because I am generous? Thus, the last shall be first and the first shall be last.” -Matthew 20: 14-16

My brother Aaron… sometimes I just don’t like him very much because he’s always copying me with everything. But today, God spoke to me through this verse:

“They brought the ass and the colt and laid their cloaks over them, and he sat upon them. The very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and strewed them on the road.” -Matthew 21:7-9

I realized that he was copying me because he likes me. Whenever Aaron said something that other people liked, I looked at him meanly because I didn’t like when Aaron stole my attention. But I didn’t realize that every time I looked at him mean like that, it was like a dagger in his heart.

These bible verses teach me that I should be nicer to my brother and lay down palm branches for him by being nicer to him. Praise God.


I’m sorry I don’t have pictures of Guadalajara because our phone got stolen and our pictures where on it. But that’s a whole different story.