The Life of Maestra Megan

Adventures in the life of a Costa Rican Missionary

Gaining Ground June 26, 2018

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About a month ago, I had the privilege to be one of the translators for a tactical police training.  A large group of active and retired U.S. law enforcement officers came to Costa Rica as volunteer instructors.  17 Costa Rican officers, representing special forces such as Presidential Police, Federal Investigative Police and SWAT, learned sniper tactics and precision shooting during this week-long course.

I had frequent conversations with some of the prison guards who escort high-risk inmates (did I mention we were on the grounds of a maximum-security prison all week?).  They are a good group of men, dedicated to their job, yet are lacking in the area of precision shooting.

On the second day, one prison guard  in particular was feeling discouraged after he watched some officers shoot, and commented to me, “everyone else is a sniper already…”

This wasn’t true.  The rangemaster himself and many others had never even held a bolt rifle before.

Yet I understood, all too well, his feelings of inadequacy.  We know we aren’t supposed to compare ourselves to others, but it can be hard to keep going when the task in front of us overwhelms.

One amazing aspect of this course was the sheer number of instructors available to give personalized attention throughout the week.  Demonstrating, correcting, repositioning, yelling, running ridges, cleaning rifles, adjusting scopes and partnering with the odd man out…they did whatever it took.

Fifty hours of training under the fiery sun, cheered on by veterans who understood the sacrifice and the hard work.  The instructors shared their personal testimonies with the Costa Rican officers, speaking as often of their failures as of their achievements.

All the officers were tested on the last day.  Just 3 out of 17 officers passed.  (For the record, even a US-trained former Ranger failed.)  The lead instructor wouldn’t budge on the standard.  Yet he was the first to encourage the men to keep working toward the goal.

Failures in life are disappointing to be sure, but they are not necessarily the final result.  Every participant gained something from the tactical training, and the constant correction from their instructors only made them stronger.

Similarly, we don’t have to be constrained by our experience or lack thereof.  And we are not in this alone.  God has positioned others along the way to be coaches, training partners, medics, cheerleaders and evaluators.

When we feel overwhelmed by the challenges in front of us, we must get on with it.  Just keep moving.

You have a crowd of witnesses.

 

When we feel inadequate, we must call upon other resources to help us set our sights on the target.  No excuses.

They are cheering for you.

 

When we feel we’ve reached our limit, we must remember that in a race, only one takes the prize.  Run to win.

The roar is deafening.

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Who gets eternal life? March 12, 2018

Last night it was my turn to lead Sunday School.

We talked about Nicodemus and how his curiosity led him to seek out Jesus and ask more questions.  Jesus told him “Everyone who believes in me may have eternal life, life that lasts forever.”

This didn’t ring true for Nicodemus; surely Jesus didn’t really mean everyone.  After all, some people didn’t know about God at all, others were flagrant law-breakers.

Jesus assured Nicodemus—as he does to you and me—“Everyone.  God loves the world so much and wants everyone to have eternal life.”

 

I asked the kids, what types of people does God love?

Old people?  Yes

Police? Firefighters? Yes

People who steal?  Yes

Bullies? No   (No?  I pause, let them think)

…God loves them but he doesn’t love what they are doing. (Bingo!)

People in wheelchairs?  Yes ….Jesus heals them

People who sleep on the street?  No  (Again, pause, time to think)

…God loves them very much but he doesn’t want them to live on the street because they might get run over!  (Precisely!)

 

We finished with an activity to encourage and love others just as God loves us.  We wrote out the words ETERNAL LIFE on colored papers and decorated them. With only 3 kids, each of us had to work hard to reach the approximately 40 total number of people in church that night.

It was time to head downstairs; the kids were clutching their orange papers and bouncing up and down.  They had instructions to approach everyone, because eternal life is for all who believe in Jesus.  I hadn’t clued in the pastor ahead of time, but he gladly let us jump in during the last few minutes of the service.

Those kids took their task seriously!  They ran around the room several times, handing out ETERNAL LIFE to every person, including the musicians up on stage.  We still had many papers, so we left the sanctuary and went to the nursery, up to the soundbooth, searched out the custodian…leaving no stone unturned.

And, there were still papers leftover.  Samantha held several in her hand, alternately staring at them, and scanning the room for anyone who had been overlooked. The boys were still running around asking people if they got one…

I didn’t expect this level of commitment, and I didn’t quite know how to console them when they came back and reported that yes, everyone there had received a note, but we still had extras.  (I was just going tuck the extras back into my bag, no worries)

 

This morning I wondered if God might not feel the same way as these kids.  God loves everyone, in the whole world, and deliberately prepared a gift for us—not just for a select few, but a generous amount large enough to reach every individual. 

Many people have already believed that Jesus is the Son of God, the way, the truth, the LIFE.

And yet, there are still more orange papers, unclaimed.  

 

The Bible is full of word pictures that illustrate God’s desire:

The Lord’s eyes scan the whole world to find those whose hearts are committed to him and to strengthen them. 2 Chronicles 16:9

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.  Psalm 34:18

Jesus said, “Everyone who drinks this water will get thirsty again and again. Anyone who drinks the water I give will never thirst—not ever. The water I give will be an artesian spring within, gushing fountains of endless life.” John 4:14

He will swallow up death forever!  The Sovereign Lord will wipe away all tears.  He will remove forever all insults and mockery against his land and people.  Isaiah 25:8

You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever. Psalm 16:11

Like my enthusiastic kids, God is running around, intentionally pressing LIFE into the hands of those who want more.  It’s yours for the taking; dare to believe.

 

On the outside looking in December 24, 2016

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Are you ready? February 6, 2016

It is one thing to follow God’s way of service if you are regarded as a hero, but quite another thing if the road marked out for you by God requires becoming a “doormat” under other people’s feet. God’s purpose may be to teach you to say, “I know how to be abased…” (Philippians 4:12). Are you ready to be sacrificed like that? Are you ready to be less than a mere drop in the bucket— to be so totally insignificant that no one remembers you even if they think of those you served?

my utmost  Gulp.  It feels like I am blindsided every time I open up this year’s devotional, My Utmost for His Highest.  Oswald Chambers, how could you know?  Especially since you died a hundred years ago.

 

I am a missionary, in my 10th year of working with many unwanted, unloved, and disadvantaged children and families in a slum outside San Jose, Costa Rica.  People look at me and tell me “you do amazing work” all the time.  It’s easy to let such comments go to my head.

 

I also struggle–as a single woman in a foreign land–with a sense of belonging.  Most of the time I feel like I definitely don’t fit in, or that others don’t allow a place for me in their world.  So, being noticed gives me a somewhat fleeting significance.

 

This is not what God wants for me.  He does not want me to turn heads, receive accolades, or to be remembered over a lifetime. He wants me to serve him… rejoicing even as I am entirely used up.  (Philippians 2:17)

 

I guarantee I am not going to get this right most days, but I am ready for a change this year.  Here’s my subsequent conversation with God….borrow it if you’d like.  I know He would like to hear from you.

 

 

“Father God, forgive me.  You know how self-centered I am, and how much I want to be noticed by others and told “well done.” Change me, Lord, from the inside out.  Teach me the way of your suffering servant.  Teach me to pour myself out to YOU, not to others around me.  Fill me with joy, whatever menial task I face, and most especially when no one takes notice of me.  Make me willing to be utterly forgettable, if it means that you receive the glory.”

 

February 10, 2015

A new year for all the students in our Sunday Bible school

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CFCI education building in Carpio, San Jose, Costa Rica

 

Costa Rica has the highest literacy rate in Central America, and tourist guides frequently boast of its free education for all…yet nothing here is truly free, and there are thousands of impoverished families who are at this moment choosing to educate or feed their children.

Free education for all—but you must send your children in approved uniform and footwear.  They will not be accepted otherwise.  Free education–but the list of supplies is staggering… It fills an entire page—from preschool on up, parents are required to provide the supplies, and generic brand items are often rejected.  Not only do children have to purchase notebooks, pencils, markers, scissors, etc., they are to bring to school toilet paper, toothpaste, whiteboard markers, masking tape, paper towels etc. for the classroom.  And 150 colones each week (= 25 cents) for photocopies.  Plus monthly fees.  And the initial registration fee (that schools are not supposed to charge but do).  The transportation costs are enormous ($20-$30 month) when you realize that many families in Carpio are living on a few dollars a month…so parents are forced to send their child to the overcrowded local Finca La Caja for 2.5 hours of schooling per day—no English, art, music, computers, physical education or any other extras.

This free education available to all….often costs $200 per child to start of the academic year.  Parents must choose: food, or school. Or, “with 5 children under 11 years old, which ones can we afford to send this year?” Some children take off their uniforms and shoes at noon and pass them to siblings who then get dressed to go their afternoon learning…

Christ For the City programs offer hope in the midst of such injustice.  Tutoring classes in reading, writing, math and English are held twice a week, to coach elementary school children in reading, writing and mathematics.  (The $1 monthly fee is waived if families are unable to pay.)   Kids clubs, sports programs and craft times are held at no cost.  The clinic offers medical attention to all for $4 a visit, including medications. A recent medical fair provided free health care for over 450 patients.  Adults are learning sewing, carpentry and baking skills to generate future income. Licensed psychologists offer free counseling.  Young men and women are studying to complete their high school diploma at Life Institute, more Bible studies are springing up, I could go on and on!

The Bible tells us that “those who delight in the law of the Lord are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. “  Praise the Lord, who continues to prosper the Christ For the City programs in La Carpio.  I also thank you for your continued prayers and support.

If you’d like to invest in this important ministry, you can donate online at https://christforthecityinternational.cloverdonations.com/missionary/ and look for my name,  or mail to the address below.  Feel free to contact me with any questions—I would love to share more about specific needs!

 

Please send your check written to “Christ For the City International” (make a note that it is for “Megan Crow”)
CFCI
PO Box 390395
Omaha, NE 68139 USA

 

 

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A little fun in the midst of a school day

 

 

 

Go into the world…….. December 31, 2014

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I just got a New Years greeting from missionaries in Papua New Guinea….soon they will be rolling in from friends in Russia, Egypt, Spain……..More than 500,000 people have left their own comfort zone in order to bring love, mercy and salvation to another country.  Please remember them in your prayers today and into the new year.  I also challenge you to show your support for these servants by giving financially to their project or mission.  

Full-time service implies great sacrifice.  These ordinary people have obeyed the call of an extraordinary God, and stepped out in faith to work where few have gone before, yet most missionaries only receive half of the funds they need to live on.   Think of someone you know overseas…maybe they are fighting for clean water, education, health care, job training, church planting, university outreach.  Won’t you step up and join them in that work?  Your $25–$50–$100 a month will surely extend their ministry by one more year. 

 

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WE LOVE ENGLISH! December 8, 2014

We hosted an English Night to end the school year and celebrate with the families.  50 students were present that night (out of 70 total), and the benches were packed with mothers, fathers, grandparents and siblings.    For most parents, it was the first time they were watching their children speak in English!

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I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart!  The kids sang this and many of their other favorite songs.  They did such a fantastic job, I am convinced they could’ve done it without the teachers and cue cards.

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Rachel is my quietest 2nd grader, but she was quick to offer to read her presentation in front of all the parents.

These 3rd graders memorized their presentation in English!

These 3rd graders memorized their presentation in English!

Arwing's pronunciation was perfect!

Arwing’s pronunciation was perfect!

Tayler and Edgar are top 6th grade students.  If they work hard, they will be bilingual in the future.

Tayler and Edgar are top 6th grade students. If they work hard, they will be bilingual in the future.

Can you feel the love tonight?  I asked the students to give me a hug before they left.  I meant they could come up one by one.  Instead, they all surrounded me at once!!

Even better, was when the parents lined up and each one took a moment to thank me personally for working with their son or daughter, and to assure me their student would be signed up next year.  I pray that these parent-teacher relationships continue to strengthen over time. IMG_3433

To ensure continued success with English in Carpio, we need investors like you!  Would you like to sponsor a promising young student?

Just $5 a month will open up the future for these kids! You can donate online at https://christforthecityinternational.cloverdonations.com/missionary/    (specify for Megan Crow)

 

 
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