Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Final Summary

Thank you so much for all your prayers for the Youth Conference that we had last week!

We had a great conference and are currently in process of following-up on all the contacts that were made during the week.

Just to give you an idea of the success, the first week, the new church had 13 people in attendance, after the conference, there were 25.

God is good!

Thank you for your prayers for this conference... we could not have done it without you!

Here is a quick video to summarize the week:

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Paraguay Youth Conference - Day 5

Once again, thank you for your prayers! Today was our Christmas Outreach...

Please watch the video to see how it went.

(I am sorry, the video took a lot of mg to make, so it might pause while watching)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Paraguay Youth Conference - Day 4

Today we had our first outreach into the Park and our regularly scheduled AWANA meeting (at the same time).

Thank you so much for praying - tomorrow we have our Christmas Party Outreach. Please keep praying!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Paraguay Youth Conference - Day 3

Today, I have a special prayer request...

Please watch the video below:

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Paraguay Youth Conference - Day 2

Below is an interview with one of the students at our Youth Conference. (I am sorry that the video quality is not very clear)

Thank you so much for your prayers:

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

1st day of Youth Conference

Below is a quick video of our first day at the Youth Conference... thank you so much for your prayers!

video

Monday, December 08, 2008

A New Youth Conference???

That's right. This week (December 10-15), we are going to host the first Alliance Youth Training Conference in Paraguay!!!

We have 15 students (ages 17-25) registered and excited to come to learn evangelism, apologetics and leadership development. Not only that, but in the evenings we are going to send these students out into the communities surrounding the new church plant (MI Esperanza - My Hope) to meet contacts and share about Jesus.

We are so thrilled to be a part of this conference!

But, we need your help. Would you be willing to pray?

If you can pray specifically for this ministry, whether it be "when you can" or on a specific day(s), would you please leave a comment and let me know. I want to pray for you, while you pray for us :)

Thank you so much for being on the team!

peace!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

On the way to Caacupe!

(BTW - it is pronounced Ca-a-cu-pay so it rhymes)

Below is a video of our family in Caacupe, Paraguay that we taped when we visited the city about 3 months ago (hence the jackets).

Caacupe is a "holy place" for the Paraguayans. In the Basilica, is a statue of the Virgin Mary. Every year hundreds of thousands traverse the countryside - BY FOOT - to lay prayers and petitions before the statue. The road to Caacupe is not an easy stretch of ground, it is very, very hilly and right now it is very, very hot (around 100 degrees). Many have already made the pilgrimage, but on December 8th the roads leading to Caacupe, from as far as 100 miles away, will be crowded with eager and devoted people making pilgrimage to this city. Please pray, that these good people would be safe on the road and that while they are walking, that Jesus would draw them close to Himself!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

This year, we are very thankful!

These are some of the things that we are thankful for:

Peace in Paraguay (A rare commodity in this world)
Candy and Pumpkin Pie (Andrew is really looking forward to them)
Air conditioners and fans (It will be over 100 degrees today)
Internet (So we can talk with our friends and family in the states and all over the world)
Summer vacation (after next week the girls are off until February)
Chipas (this is a Paraguayan bread that Caleb loves - and his favorite new word)

And we are thankful for you! Thank you for your prayers and care for our family. It is our pleasure to serve on the same team with you and your family! May God bless you!

Peace,

John, Lisa, Alison, Megan, Andrew and Caleb

Saturday, November 22, 2008

...it's good to be back

We are back online!!!

Internet has come back into our lives and we are pretty thrilled to be able to catch up with many of you! Thank you for your patience...

Also, feel free to SKYPE us at jlsappia

Peace!!!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Some pics of our life...

Phew!

Ok, so I had the chance to pop on line and I saw that the last blog entry I posted was over a month ago and I was talking about trying to keep up with the blog. Get a life!!!

In reality, not having internet at home has been difficult and we can't tell you how much we miss our friends and family back home. I keep trying to encourage myself by thinking of the missionaries in the past who would leave "life" behind and travel by steamer ship across the ocean. The journey would take months and the mail would take longer. Life, thanks to technology, sure has gotten easier. Well, faster at least!

Really, we want to thank you for your patience. Many of you have still be emailing, writing through Facebook, and even sending gifts to our car fund and packages filled with goodies for our family. And this does not include the times when you are praying for us! We love you all very much and are so thankful that even though we have not been able to connect, you have been "hanging with" our family.

Internet, according to the guy, should be here in two days. Mind you, he said that 2 weeks ago! Appreciate your prayers, we are looking forward to reconnecting with you on a regular basis.

I am going to make a slide show of some random pictures (above) so that you can see a little bit of what has been happening to us! (the pictures are of a new haircut, the new church building, the new house, the new car - all sorts of NEW STUFF... can you say transition overload :)

Peace!

John and Lisa

Get a life!!!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Wow - has it really been a month?

I am so sorry that we have not updated the blog in so long. Not having internet at the house - really slows down our progress on the things that are important. And, keeping this blog updated is very important, so that you know what is happening with our lives... and of course, so that you can be praying! Thanks for your patience. We are still without internet, so I can't promise to do much better, but I will try :)

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR PRAYERS...

As most of you know, our family was hit hard by some virus last week. All of us felt the not-so-fun affects of this virus, but Andrew was the most affected. The poor kid spent two nights in the hospital attached to an IV that was giving him medicine and fluids. In the end, he threw up about 100 times, drank about 5 bags of solution and had five different shots… and he looked really cute shuffling down the hallway in his hospital gown and slippers. We are pleased to say that as of today, we are all virus-free and back to eating more than just Gatorade and unbuttered toast. ☺

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Ouch!!!

Well, we've seen a bunch of Asuncion so far, and now we have one more attraction to add to our list: the emergency room.

Andrew was having a bit too much fun and tripped and fell into the wall and split his head. Fortunately, there wasn't too much blood, but it did require two stitches. Megan went with me (John) to encourage the lad but ended up having to sit on the other side of the curtain as she was freaking out more than he was.

Below are some pictures... not much too look at, just a white line where the medicated ointment was applied. I was going to take pictures of his head while it was still bleeding but I couldn't find the camera. As you can see, it didn't stop him from wrestling with his brother the next day... which didn't make mommy happy :)

Peace!



Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Estamos Aqui en Paraguay

"We are here in Paraguay!"

Thank you so much for praying for our family as we flew here. The flights were long, but uneventful and that is the best way to fly. :)

We do not have internet in our house yet, (probably won't for at least a month) but we are able to check in on our friend's computer.

Appreciate your prayers for our family... please continue to pray as we adjust to our new life.

I will post pictures soon.

We love you all, thank you for being on the team!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Missionary life...

Someone once told us that the life of a Missionary is full of "hi's" and "good-byes."

Although, we haven't been missionaries very long, we certainly can attest to the truth of that statement.

I don't know if it gets any easier, but I can tell you that this part of being a missionary sure hurts.

We have three more days here in Costa Rica and we are saying good-bye to some great friends. It's pretty wild though, in one year we have seen Missionaries leave from here to bring the gospel to the entire Latin American world.

No, it isn't easy saying good-bye, but It has been our privilege to be counted among such amazing people!

Peace!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

OUCH!!!

Today, has been labeled the "Day of Pain."

Today, we get our immunizations for Paraguay. Perhaps a wiser family would have spread them out during the course of this year. But, not us! Oh no, certainly, not us

Today, all of us get our shots. Here is the tally: (In ascending order of pain...)
Alison - 2
Caleb - 3
Megan - 3
Andrew - 3
John - 3
Lisa - 5

Did you catch Lisa's tally? She is the queen of Pain!
(It is probably best that we not tell her I called her that) :)

The good news is after the pain, we all go for ice cream!

Peace!

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Water, water everywhere...

And not a drop to drink!

That is how it has been for the last couple of days. For some reason, we have not had more than 4 hours of running water each day since Wednesday of last week.

The good news is that we do get water for a few hours a day. The down side is we never know when that will be. But, I can assure you, we jump for joy the moment we hear the toilet filling with water.

You know Paul said, "Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice." It is easy to rejoice in the good times... when things are going great. But, when things aren't nice... that's usually a different story. But, our little water-crisis has been teaching us to rejoice in these times even.

It's not easy, we would appreciate your prayers that we would be more and more like God wants us to be! Even without water ;)

Peace!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Good Theology

Tonight as we were walking back to school for Spiritual Emphasis Week, Megan was telling Andrew about Jesus.

Aside from being incredibly cool for us to watch, Megan was pretty excited about the chance to tell her brother about her friend, Jesus. In reality, I have no idea what Andrew can understand in his 3 year old way of thinking, but the reality is, Megan knows that she needs to share Jesus with her family and her friends.

Point 1 - Tell people about Jesus! (Matthew 28:18-20)

Then she was talking about how Andrew can follow Christ. She said that if He followed Christ, then he could tell someone else about Jesus and that person could tell someone about Jesus and then that person could tell someone about Jesus.

Point 2 - This is good discipleship - take what you have learned about Jesus, teach it to someone else so that they in turn can teach it to someone else. (II Timothy 2:2)

Then she said... and if you tell someone and they tell someone, etc, then the whole world will hear about Jesus and then Jesus will come back!

Point 3 - When the whole world has heard Jesus will come back! (Matthew 24:14)

So, what does a six year old know? A whole lot! In fact, I'd say (even as a proud father) that she has a good grasp on her faith and how it is all supposed to work.

1) Tell People about Jesus
2) Teach others to tell people about Jesus
3) Bring back the KING!

Way to go Megan... Daddy is proud of you!

Peace!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

"Necesito un Salvador en mi vida!"

For the past 5 months I have been preaching at an alcohol and drug rehabilitation home called the "Casa de Restauracion." My friends, John Pham and Henry Clary (fellow students at the Language school) go there every week to disciple the men there, while I go once a month to preach. Now, the fun part is that I get a chance to preach in spanish... and not always well either :)

La Casa de Restauracion is a six month program and has only a few men who make it through the whole time. Unfortunately, every time I go there is almost an entirely new crop of Men.

On Monday (June 16th), I was preaching from Matthew 14 where Peter walks on the water. My first point was an analogy of the boat of the disciples and our "boat of sin," and how God is calling us to leave our "boat of sin" and come to Christ. I told them that they had the same choice that Peter had, to stay in the boat or to get out and go to Jesus. Then I moved on... for I had 2 other points in my sermon.

As I began to preach the rest of the sermon, God shared His thoughts to me. The conversation went something like this:

"John, is that all you are going to do?"
"Um yeah, that is all I wrote for point 1."
"John, I have more to do..."
"But, I have two more points to make."
"John, make them quick, I have more to do..."

That is just a rough outline of the conversation that went on in my head as I continued to preach through points two and three. Needless to say, I preached quickly and returned to the first point. I told the men that they each had the choice to leave their life of sin and come to Jesus and that this choice was the most important decision they can make. I told the men that Jesus provided for the penalty for their sin by dying on the cross and that he could be their savior. Then I asked the men, if they were ready to come out of the boat and come to Christ to call out, "I need a savior in my life."

... after a few moments of silence, about 6 men called out, "Necesito un Salvador en mi vida!" (I need a Savior in my life)

What followed next was a wonderful prayer time where the men prayed for each other and those who called out prayed for Jesus to clean their lives of their sin.

ALL IN SPANISH!

God is good. I keep thinking of the boy with the fish and the bread (John 6). We bring the little things to God and He makes big things from them. If He can use me, in my broken spanish, He can use anyone!!!

Peace!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

My Dad

Today is Father's Day!

Almost 14 years ago, I stepped from a back room of a church to await my beautiful bride to be with my brothers as my groomsmen and my father, my best-man.

I've worked in Youth Ministry long enough to know that when you are in a group of students all you have to do is mention the word, father, and people start to stare off and the tears begin to come. In a world of broken relationships and pretty cruddy fathers, my dad is a shining example of what a dad should be!

When we were kids, my father was at everyone one of our games. He would leave work early, travel hours by train, just to meet us in some remote corner of the city and watch us play volleyball... and then sometimes return to work.

When we had no money and the creditors were calling, he was laughing and telling jokes with them on the phone. (It drove my mom nuts).

When we had no idea what to do next he always seemed to know what to do (he probably didn't have a clue, but he always looked like he did.)

When we lost something, broke up with someone, or just got really hurt, he always had a Life-savor candy (usually, Butter rum) for us to eat.

When I read in the Bible that God is our Heavenly Father, it is easy for me. I know that is the hardest reality for some people to understand, but for me that one is a gimme. God rocks, God loves, God is patient, God is kind, because God is like my dad, Jim Sappia.

What scares the pants off of me, is when I see the same look in my kids' eyes that I had in my eyes when I was a kid. Now, I pray... Lord, make me like my dad, so that I can more like you!

Well, Happy Father's Day, Dad! You are still my best-man!

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Waterfall of Peace

Below is a video we took at the LA PAZ Waterfall gardens. Thank you for praying for Costa Rica and for Paraguay! We are so glad that you are on the TEAM! (At the end of the video, are other video options... those are from You-tube and NOT from us)

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

My son...

Tonight I was doing my homework when I heard a faint voice calling my name, it was like listening to Little Lucy Lu who was no more than two... except it was Andrew. He had to go potty and we had a few moments to talk while he sat :). Anyway, no to embarrass the poor kid, but in those few moments we had a great conversation.

It started out like this...
John - "do you know who loves you?"
Andrew - "You do, daddy"
John - "do you know how proud I am of you?"
Andrew - (smile)
John - "do you know that I can't be anymore proud of you than I am right now?
Andrew - (smile), "I'm done daddy, can I go back to sleep?"
John - "Sure, come on... I love you son."
Andrew - "I love you, Daddy."

You know, sometimes I feel like I am living a Hallmark commercial? I can't tell you how much I love my kids. I mean, each of them are amazing. Sometimes, Caleb and I laugh for ten minutes at a time for no reason, he just loves to laugh! Megan, lost both of her front teeth and she can still blow a mean bubble. Today, Alison, did a cartwheel off a balance beam in a gymnastics show at school!!! And Andrew, well, he just loves his daddy!

I used to watch the Amazing Race and other Reality Shows and wish I were on those programs... running in the sand, climbing the mountains, doing cool things... Then I realized the real REALITY... my life is already AMAZING... not because it is always perfect (yeah right), but because God has been good enough to bless me with four wonderful kids and a fantastic bride.

Life is funny isn't it? It passes so quickly and we forget, that which we thought was unforgettable. Tonight, near the potty, I was reminded of the simple things... and the greatest of these is love!

Peace!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

What's shakin...

We were.

On Sunday, we felt the biggest earthquake since we have been here in Costa Rica. In reality, there are earthquakes here all the time, but most are teeny and too small to feel.

But this week you couldn't miss it. First, the dogs barked (which is nothing new around here). Then there was a noise, like an explosion. Then for 2 seconds the house shook like it was hit by a big wrecking ball. Fortunately, nothing was wrecked!

In the end, only Megan woke up concerned about the big noise. As we all know from reports about China and all around the world, earthquakes are not matters to laugh at. Praise God, He has kept us safe once again.

Peace!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Happy Birthday Jim

Today is my (John's) brother Jim's birthday and that got me thinking about the following...

Jesus said that a prophet has no honor in his own town. You see, although Jesus was perfect in every way, even as a child, He still grew up as a little boy in his dad's carpenter shop in Nazareth. I would guess, He skinned his knee and He banged his finger. He grew up with the other boys from Nazareth. And for this reason, when He claimed to be the Messiah, the people of Nazareth did not or could not believe Him. In fact, Jesus marveled two times in His life on earth. Once, He marveled at the Centurion's great faith and the other time at the "lack of faith" of the people from Nazareth.

It was hard for them, after all... He grew up right here and played with our children. We know his parents, how can he be the Messiah?

Now, the reality is too many people have a different kind of problem. After telling everyone that they have a "relationship with Christ," their family members are the ones who don't believe it the most. Why?

Not so much because of the simple fact that they grew up and played in our house, but because of the WAY they live after they come to Christ. I can't tell you how many people have complained, "my son/daughter/husband/wife/etc says they are Christians, but with the way they act... who can believe them?"

You want to now how you are doing with your walk with Christ? Ask you parents, your wife, your children. Our families are the real testing grounds of our faith. And that is Just something to think about!

By the way... Based on my brother Jim's life... I know that Christ is real! My brother has always showed me that! No, he isn't perfect, but he was always true to what God called him to do. Thank you, Jim for being the genuine article. I love you and...

Happy Birthday!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Ultimate Gift

Tonight is pizza-movie night. We started this tradition about two years ago and it continues today. (I expect we will have pizza-movie night in Paraguay, although I do think the pizza will not be quite as good). Usually, we choose a kid's movie and have a good time laughing and hanging out with the kids.

Tonight we watched a movie called, "The Ultimate Gift." If you have seen it, then you know it can be quite a tear jerker. If you haven't seen the movie, it might be worth looking into. (Btw - I no longer officially recommend movies after a Tommy Boy fiasco many years ago - I won't go into that... but, thanks Stuart Jones!)

Anyway, without giving away too much of the plot, it boils down to a story about a rich guy who has to find himself by working hard and enduring problems. In the end he becomes richer but, in many ways other than money. (oops, there goes the plot)
It is funny, his whole life he had things handed to him, but it was only through pain did he really know what it is like to be RICH.

My mom once asked me if I (John) have come to a place in my life where I am truly thankful for all the things that have happened in my life (good and bad) because that is what made me into the person that I am? Good question, huh?

Side note - the indians (er, Native Americans) were famous for many things, one of which was not wasting anything. In fact, history tells us that the Indians used every part of the Buffalo. Every square inch. In contrast, the Settlers killed the buffalo, by the thousands, only to skin the hide and leave the carcass to rot in the rising sun. This lovely image has a point.

God uses everything. He uses everything in our lives... every square inch! The good, the bad and well, you know. God is the one who originated the recycling program! In fact, I have found that it is the worst times in our lives that God uses best. I don't necessarily like it, but I can't escape it. With God nothing is unusable.

So, now I ask you the same question that I have been wrestling with for the past 15 years. Have you come to the place where you are thankful for all the things in your life because that is what has made you into the person that you are?

And maybe to follow that up, have you asked God to show you how He has used those good, bad and ugly times?

Not a bad thing to do, if you have some time and a good hanky. ;)

PS... Tomorrow is Mother's Day... Thank you Mom for always challenging me! I love you

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Ox Cart racing, anyone?

One of the customs here in Costa Rica are painted Ox Carts. This past week we had some great friends visit us (Thank you, Rett, Becky and Jeanne, for the good times!

One day, we went to the La Paz Waterfall Gardens, and Lisa and Rett were able to ride on one of these beautiful devices. Below, our valient Lisa takes us on a journey, at break-neck speeds, in the painted ox cart.


Saturday, April 19, 2008

Parque De Diversiones (Park of Fun!)

Click on the arrow in the movie and 
see Lisa's introduction to our pictures. 

Thank you for your friendship! We appreciate you.



Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Hike to the Cross

Today, Megan and John climbed to one of most beautiful vantage points of San Jose. We have the video below so that you can experience what we are experiencing here in Costa Rica!

PS. Today, April 12th is John's father's birthday. Happy Birthday Dad/Papa. We love you very much!

Sunday, April 06, 2008

The Cows are Taking Over

About 150 painted cows have been scattered throughout downtown San Jose. We spent the afternoon on Saturday wandering around, with thousands of others, enjoying the "cow parade." (Gary Larson would have loved it!)

Enjoy the pictures... welcome to Costa Rica...

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Weekend in Paradise!

Well, it was time to renew our visas once again, and that means leaving Costa Rica for 72 hours. Our first plan was to take an 8-hour bus ride to Nicaragua, but when we found out there wasn't any more room, we were left with only one option: Fly!

So, what did we do? We prayed and God answered. Thanks to Ed and Wendy Mastellone and their amazing family we spent a weekend in El Salvador with Julia, Wendy's sister-in-law. Already having a special place in our hearts for El Salvador (since John has been down there 3 other times on Mission's trips) we were excited for the opportunity to return. However, we had no idea just how awesome God's blessing was going to be!

It didn't take us too long, after arriving, to realize that we were in for a very incredible weekend. The house where we stayed had 5 bedrooms, a swimming pool, lots of relaxing lawn chairs, and through the back gate, the Pacific Ocean.

So, thank you Dino, Julia, Ed and Wendy! We had a great time!

Check out the pictures:

Friday, March 21, 2008

Semana Santa (Holy Week)

Tonight our family went to a neighboring area called, Desamperados. Desamperados means deserted or abandoned in spanish. In fact, when translated to spanish, Desamperado appears in Jesus's words from the cross, "My God, My God why have you forsaken me."

Today is Holy Friday. Holy (or Good) Friday is a big deal in Costa Rica and most of the Spanish world. In San Jose, everything shuts down and even the buses and taxis stop running. Throughout the city, there are two processionals during this day. First in the morning to reenact Jesus going to the cross. Most processions are small and only statues are carried through the streets. Some, however, are very elaborate, including many actors and fake blood. It can be very "real."

The second processional, comes later in the day when Jesus is taken down from the cross and carried through the street to be buried in the tomb. This is the processional that we saw in Desamperados and that is on the video below.

As you watch the video, notice the large amount of people gathered to watch and walk in this processional. As you do, I want you to realize that there are many people in Costa Rica who genuinely love Jesus Christ. But, I also want you to pray, for many of these people mourning do not know the life-giving reality of Jesus Christ. Many only know the death of Good Friday and have missed out on the LIFE of resurrection Sunday. Please pray that many here in Costa Rica, AND IN PARAGUAY, would come to know Jesus Christ as the Savior for their sins and the LORD who reigns over their lives.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Scenes from Costa Rica

This is why people say Costa Rica is so beautiful!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Breaking Through...
















Hello there...

Tonight I was thinking about Jesus' resurrection. As I was thinking about that I was thinking about a struggle that I have been having over something. It is one of those things in life that you just seem to struggle with. You know those things?

Well, I was thinking about both of those realities, my struggle, and the vast amount of power it must take to raise someone from the dead. I mean, think about it. Jesus was dead. Beaten, hair pulled out, mashed to a bloody pulp, stabbed, smacked, punched, pierced, battered and bleeding everywhere. And then in three days... he was alive! Walking, talking, eating... ALIVE!

Imagine the rumble of the earth as the power of God broke forth upon the land of the dead. Imagine the coming of our Lord, to place his nail-pierced foot once more on our earth. Imagine the angels watching in wonder... the long silence of the weekend shattered by the awesomeness of the reality that the SON was back... Imagine the power that must take.

And as I was thinking upon such things... I heard a quiet voice in my heart. John... don't you think, if I can exert enough power to raise again from the ash heap of death... That I can exert enough power to get you through this struggle in your life?

Of course, the answer is YES! Yes, God you can do it. Yes God you can do it!!!

Don't look now, but I think there is some rumbling in my heart... I wonder what God will do?!?

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Getting Started



Hello there...

The new elder plugged in the overhead projector and the pastor said, "well, we have finally stepping into the 1980's."  The elder shot back, "but, Pastor, we are living in 2008."  

"Well," the Pastor shot back, "Let's not get ahead of ourselves."

Lisa and I figured it was a good time to start our blog.  Thanks to the help of a great friend (John Pham) we are up an running.  I trust that one day, this site might be somewhat full of pictures and fun... but alas... let's not get ahead of ourselves.  For now, we are content that we are even here.

So, Thank you for visiting... Thank you for being on the team!

Peace,

John and Lisa Sappia (and Ali, Megan, Andrew and Caleb)