Hello and a Happy New Year to you all. Hopefully for most of you, this festive season has been a season of joy and a respite from the past twelve months of dealing with the normal issues of life. God has made it clear to us in the early chapters of Genesis that life outside the Garden would be one of difficulty, the intensity of which would ebb and flow, but never-the-less difficult. Life’s struggles therefore, do not come as a surprise. So at certain times we endeavor to seek comfort and find solace in the midst of struggle as we celebrate together the remembrance of some significant event, maybe a birthday or anniversary. For us Christians, what could be more significant than the celebration of the mind boggling way in which our Savior and Creator chose to make himself known to His creatures in this physical realm? Even as I set here at my desk and write, I am in awe of myself. A thought forms somewhere in my mind, a mind that will live forever, then chemicals in my brain, a brain which is perishing, form an electrical impulse which is transmitted down my arms, to my fingers, which work in unison to push keys on a keyboard. Not only can I push keys, but I can push them in the proper sequence to communicate with understanding the thought that formed in my mind to the mind of a fellow creature. The awe that I experience is that with creatures of such marvelous design, who can imagine the totality of the Creator. There is great solace and joy in remembering and contemplating His advent, as well as the reason for His coming.
Likewise, the New Year is a good occasion to reflect on how compliant to God’s wishes we have been the past year. There is a sense of joy and relief as we seek forgiveness for where we have fallen short of God’s demands; and repentance allows us to not only turn the page on the calendar putting the year behind us but also the sins in which we have engaged. Honest reflection and true repentance can start the new year with anticipation not regret, hope not despair.
Like many of you, for us, 2012 was a year full of challenges and disappointment. To spend time recounting them would be an exercise in futility, except for one thing. For every challenge, for every disappointment, God provided a remedy. It was not always the remedy we would have chosen, but it always resulted in us being allowed to see God’s hand at work and that is key to having a growing faith. Rather than the disappointments, how much better it is to reflect upon all the opportunities to practice our calling. It is good to recall the myriad of opportunities we had to bear witness to our faith in Jesus Christ, to remember those who through that witness accepted the salvation Jesus offers or the joy of shepherding a new disciple in the truths of the Gospel. Let us not forget the faithfulness of God toward those He has adopted into His family.
During the past few months, while we were here in the States, we have had the opportunity to speak to a number of congregations, as well as many of our individual supporters. What a joy it always is to be able to share the Word of God with you or have the opportunity to speak about our efforts in Talamanca on your behalf. Our work in Talamanca is for God’s glory, the building of His kingdom and it is in a very real sense on your behalf. As I have said before, we could do nothing in Talamanca were it not for you and your input.
It may seem as though I talk a lot about finances. It is a reality I cannot escape. Just as I know I cannot save myself from sin, I know I cannot have a presence or do a work in Talamanca myself. I must have your help. I never cease to remind myself that my salvation was very costly and Christ alone paid the price. Our ministry in Talamanca is costly requiring a great deal of funding and someone else must pay that price. We have offered our lives for the evangelizing of Talamanca in response to God’s call, meeting the financial needs of the work falls within the purview of someone else’s calling. We are thankful you are part of that calling. Most of you will never see Talamanca except in a picture posted on our web site, but your presence has been felt there.
If you have been reading our newsletters, you may recall that this time last year we were preparing to take our Cessna 180 to Costa Rica. On the way for an annual inspection before we left, we had an engine failure which resulted in an emergency landing. In God’s providence, we experienced no additional damage to the aircraft as our chief pilot safely negotiated a return to terra firma. Since then, we have made the numerous required repairs and upgrades to the aircraft and it has been returned to airworthy status. We are once again planning and will hopefully make the flight at the end of January. The airplane will never allow us to put into operation the ministry plan we have for a helicopter, but it will make possible ministry that we cannot at the present perform.
December usually brings the end of the rainy season in Costa Rica and I am anxious to return. For the past several months, almost weekly, I get a call from Bribri with a message from one of the jungle Indians who frequently come by our house. The younger men who live in the remote villages will occasionally come out of the jungle to look for temporary work in order to buy essentials such as salt, sugar, pots, etc. They come by our house looking for help or simply to give me news from the villages. Recently, the plea for help with bridges is a reoccurring theme. There are three locations which urgently need help. In each of these locations we have a cable car already present. The cable car is necessary for our bridge construction but require a lot of maintenance if in constant use. My prayer is to be able to finish those bridges in the coming year. One of the things I enjoy about the bridge construction is the opportunity to witness to the Indians in a unique situation.
Another goal for this coming year is to continue to work on the hangar. Though the government uses the hangar when operating on our side of the country, it needs a good deal more work to make it sufficient as an operational base for both the airplane and a helicopter. I pray and continue to believe that God is in the process of providing all that is necessary to put aviation to work in Talamanca for the building of His kingdom. Practically every pilot I know who has expressed interest in coming to Costa Rica to help with the flying responsibility is qualified in both fixed and rotary wing aircraft. There are numerous small churches in Costa Rica who stand ready to participate with discipleship when I have the means to move them rapidly into and out of the jungle villages. Just recently, a Sheriff Department in Florida donated a helicopter rescue basket to us after one of its members saw the video on our web site of a baby being airlifted from a jungle village in a cloth sack. I, and others, have worked a long time, both knowingly and unknowingly, to prepare for the use of aviation in mission in Talamanca. May God soon grant us opportunity to put it to work transporting the ministers of His Gospel to villages throughout Talamanca.
Finally, I need to say thank you, but I do not know how to express the depth of my gratitude. Your generosity in December did a great deal to help reduce the deficits generated during several previous months. I never know how God will choose to meet our needs, both those of our family and those required for our jungle ministry. I never know when He’ll meet those needs, whether ahead of time or at the last possible minute. Regardless of how He does it or when He does it, He always does it through you. For that, I pray His gracious blessings upon you. I pray that in your giving, you experience the joy of what Jesus meant when He said, “It is more blessed to give, then to receive.” I take great joy in my part of the calling to spread the “good news” in Talamanca. My desire is that you might know the same joy, as you participate through giving, to spread that same news.
Happy New Year and may you be accompanied by God’s peace and grace.