Monday, December 23, 2013

The love of a father

During my summer in Costa Rica, I got to know a family that I love so much. Allan and Laine met each other in Costa Rica, at the time, Laine was living here as a missionary. She has since returned to live in the states, with her daughter Chloe, while she goes to school to become a nurse. They are working on getting a visa for Allan because he is a Tico (Costa Rican) and it is a difficult process. It is really hard on Allan and Laine to live in two different countries. So it is always exciting to spend time together, especially during Christmas! 


I've had the opportunity to watch Allan interact wth Chloe and it is precious. I can't imagine what it must be like to be away from someone you love but your own daughter? I know it is hard on him. But when I see him playing with her, talking to her, and loving her, I began to think. Allan is just a man here on earth and while he may love Laine and Chloe with all of his being, it is still imperfect. What I love about God is that he uses examples in the bible to help us understand him on some small level. How cool is it that countless times God tells us he is our father? When I watch Allan interact with Chloe I am reminded of the infinite love of our Heavenly Father. I love when God reminds me he is never far off. He hasn't abandoned me. His love it is unending and it is perfect. 

Maybe Christmas time is difficult for some of you. This holiday possibly just reminds you how tense your relationships with your family are. But remember, that a great loving God sent his son to take on human flesh. God created us. He knew we had sinned and would never be able to meet his standard of perfection. That same God made a way for us, he had a solution for us. If this holiday is typically a hard reminder of friction and tension, I urge to look up. Where does your help come from? When we look up up we can't focus on ourselves and our problems. We can only look to the one who is our help. 



As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust. (Psalm 103:13, 14)

Growing up

Recently, I have been thinking about the fact that I will be twenty soon. It actually excites me! There is something fun about saying "I'm twenty." Maybe it's just a nice round number. Maybe I just like how it rolls off my tongue. I've been something-teen for so many years, it'll be different but in a good way. I've also been thinking about my future a lot. I am beyond elated to begin my journey to Costa Rica. I can't believe I already leave in five days!!! I'm so blessed an thankful to be able to do this. God has continually been faithful. He has kept my spirits high. Usually I am stressed out about funding but he has given me so much hope and peace. 

It will be weird to be away from my family for Christmas; but I'm looking forward to making new traditions with my awesome roommate Alix! A lot of the staff members are giving different kids Christmas presents this year. We all "adopted" kids we became close with over the summer. I  can't wait to see their reactions! :)




Merry Christmas!!! 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Confessions

Well, it has been a little while since I have taken some time to sit down and write. 

*sigh* 

Where to begin? Lately I have been feeling a little down, and then I will feel good. It goes up and down like a roller coaster.  It is not easy trying to respond to God's call on my life when it is completely opposite of what a typical young adult is doing these days. I definitely think I am doing what God wants me to for the time being. I'm just saying it isn't easy at all. 

Trust me, being a missionary is not a glamorous occupation. Spiritual warfare is increased because we are on the front lines of the battlefield accomplishing kingdom work and the devil despises that. I have been talking to many people, from all walks of life, about my adventure to Costa Rica! And I am so thankful for the amazing support I have received, financial and prayers. 

It is a humbling and slightly awkward thing to ask people for money to live on. But God is abundantly clear all throughout the bible that he will protect and care for his people. His arm is not too short to rescue me. When all I feel like is doing is complaining he is there I remind me that he holds my lot. 

However, I'm just beig honest when it can be discouraging. Reach out to your friends that are on the mission field in another country. Some people might be isolated. Tired, worn out, and hungry to be fed because they are being poured out into others lives. It is exhausting work in the fullest sense of the word. We are brothers and sisters in Christ. Regardless of what walk of life you are currently in, God has sent trials to strengthen you and make you into the man or woman he created you to be. Also, he put you through the ringer so that you will be able to encourage someone who is going through a similar situation. People that live in the United States need encouragement and perspective from those on the missionaries who are serving on the global mission field and vice versa. 

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. (Philippians 2:1, 2)

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Your love is relentless

I can't even begin to tell you how blessed 6:8 is to have the Celebration Medical team here! They are so awesome. The teams leaders are so proactive and helpful. The team is constantly an example of what unity looks like. All of them are of one mind and they work so well together. We have had an incredible turnout wherever we have held the clinics. The first day began with orientation, counting medicine, and coming to church. After church and a quick lunch we opened a clinc in the church for the church members. It was meant to be a low key event an it was, yet we still had a decent amount of people show up.

The next day we were in Verbena all day. It was insane but also really awsome! Once all the patient papers were totaled, I found out we saw 176 people!!! I'm telling you, these people are organized! They have everyone go to a triage station for vitals where they receive their paperwork. Whenever a provider is ready, the next patient is called for treatment. After diagnosis, the patient takes his/her paperwork/perscription to the pharmacy station.

On Tuesday we went to Tiribi. Tuesday was probably the most draining day. We easily saw over 250 people!!! It was much more organized with the flow of care for people but it was a crazy day nonetheless. Again, the unity in the team was mind-blowing. There was not one selfish person in the group. Everyone was helping each other, they'll probably never know how much of a blessing it was for me to see their Christlikeness lived out.

Today the group spilt into two smaller groups. One group went back to verbena to make house calls and check up on people who had been seen Monday. The group I was with went back to Tiribi but we went to Tiribi school. Today was strictly an educational day for the kids. The doctor and nurses couldn't prescribe any medication because they needed written permission from the parents, and the fact that we were able to go to the school was last minute anyway. It was a great day! We went from classroom to classroom talking about how to keep your mind, body, and heart heathy.




















Saturday, November 2, 2013

Kids club

Yesterday was my second day attending the kids club that is held at Igelsia Celebración. This facet of the ministry is run by my super cool, amazing, fun loving, and talented roommate, Alix. She is such a vital part to this ministry and I love watching her interact with these people who she loves dearly.

The typical routine usually follows this pattern: we set up tables and chairs in the church and put games, coloring books, and play dough on the tables. These items are out for kids to play with while we wait for everyone who is coming for the day to arrive. Once we know who will be participating in the club for the day we start off with prayer. All of the kids and volunteers hold hands and go around thanking God for something :) After prayer we sing some songs and then have a bible lesson. Next is English class which is facilitated by Chaz, one of out amazing staff members. Then kids take turns to read aloud for story time. Once that is finished they sit down back at the tables and eat a snack and then play some more while they wait for their parents to pick them up.


Later in the day some of my friends and I had hamburger and movie night. It was really fun! :)


I can't even begin to put into words how incredible it is to be back here. There are so many awesome staff members to be reunited with and many, many, many, amazing friend to see as well. I'm so blessed by these people and the local church here. It is awesome to be able to see how a lot of people younger than me and some my age are a shining light for Jesus in one of the darkest places in Costa Rica. They are an example for me and their encourage my faith.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

I have returned.

Ahhhh! I am so excited to be writing this blog post from Costa Rica! I can't even begin to describe how amazing it is to be back. I have already been reunited with many dear friends. God is so good to me. That is probably my favorite part of my summer internship: relationships. You don't make the kind of relationships I have with people on a one week mission trip. I'm so thankful so these awesome people, ah! I love them so much :)

As is typical for Tico culture, things rarely ever go as planned. But it always makes for a fun adventure, living on the edge right? I landed and got through immigration fairly quickly. I then waited, what seemed like an eternity, for my luggage. As soon as I pulled off my first suitcase I quickly realized that one of the wheels popped off. Normally this wouldn't really be a problem, but I had two checked bags, a duffel bag, and a backpack...for one girl! So I lugged my disheveled self out to wait for my ride.

And I waited. I was asked multiple times if I needed a taxi. I continued to wait. And sweat. "Do you need a taxi?" No, I'm waiting for a friend. A few minutes pass. "Are you sure you don't want to call your friend?" No, thank you! And then finally I saw a bright blonde, blue eyed girl, my awesome roommate Alix! :) HALLELUJAH! Can I get an a praise The Lord?! Apparently what happened in my time away is that a highway got washed away by all the rain and two other bridges collapsed. Which translates to back roads and lots of traffic because everyone has to take the back roads.

Other than the extremely loud and overly gringa woman who kept laughing hysterically on the flight, everything ran smoothly.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Thankful: my cup overflows

Wow.

I am so blessed. I am always blessed but, ya know, do you ever have those moments when you are just SO aware that you are blessed? Those are sweet moments. Moments where you ponder on every good thing you have. For some time your mind is not preoccupied with soley yourself and all your woes. Material blessings are important because some many people love without so much that I have an take for granted. However lately I've been thinking about the intangible gifts in my life. Friendship, love, peace, freedom. The lord's goodness. You can't even quantify that. Like whoa.

The steadfast love of the Lord? Yeah, it never ends.

Today I'm resting in that. I'm so grateful for all God has given me, I can't even begin to count all the ways he cares for me. What can I say? My cup overflows.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

30 in 30!

Hello friends! Happy October! I am probably the only one who isn't experiencing fall weather; Florida never has been good at getting cold! But believe me, people still enjoy their pumpkin spice latte's.

On a different note, October is a really exciting month for me! This month I am trying to raise my support so I can go back to Costa Rica for one year. If I get 30 people to join with me at giving $20 a month I can go back! My goal is to get 30 people on 30 days, during the whole month ofnoctober I will be pushing for supporters. :)


If you would like to donate you can click through to te link below: http://www.68ministries.org/6-8-staff-missionary-support/lacey-neikirk/

The frat option is for a one time donation  and the second is for monthly support. Oh, and all I these donations are tax deductible!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Ser y Estar

Earlier today I was humming along to my favorite song in Spanish, Gracias by Hillsong. The very first line is "Gracias por ser bueno." (Which means thank you for being good.) In Spanish, there are two verbs that one could use when wanting to say "to be." The two verbs are Ser and Estar. The easiest way to describe which one means what is that you use Ser when you are talking about permant things.(I.e i am short/tall) Whereas with Estar is used when you describe things that are changing like emotions or where you are (Estoy en mi casa, I am in my house. Or Estoy feliz, I am happy.) Where you are and how you feel always changes.

While I was singing along with the song, it hit me that God doesn't change. He is always good whether or not I am. In English we just have to be. I am happy. God is good.  I thought it was super interesting that something as simple as a verb could remind me of God's steadfastness.



Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever. (Psalm 136:1)

Friday, August 30, 2013

Times of refreshing



I recently started reading through the book of Acts in the bible. I don't know why, but I'd been wanting to re-read through that book. The other day I read chapter three and I've been meditating on two particular verses. In verses 19-20 it says this: "Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus." The phrase that I have been pondering on is "times of refreshing may come from the presence of The Lord." 

Why do I chose stupid earthly things to take up my time and be consumed by? There is nothing that is as satisfying as the Lord's presence. Isn't that a cool image though? Times of refreshing. What do you think of when you hear that? I think of a lot of different things. The feeling you get after a good nap, a meaningful talk with a friend, the feeling you get after jumping in cool and refreshing water.

One of the greatest things about God is when he makes a promise, you know he will be good to his word. He promises that when we draw near to him, he will indeed draw near to us. So come close beloved. He beckons to us with time of refreshing in his presence, what do you have to lose?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The summer has come to a close

{Cody playing soccer in San Martin.}

{Alix and a few church members squished in the back of a car on the way back from a feeding center.}

{Dan (black shirt) telling a team about the Cafetal on a prayer walk.}


It is hard to believe that I have already been back in the states for almost one week. 

Where did the summer go?! Some days were harder and longer than others, but before I knew it was having to say "see you later" to so many friends I had made. I feel so blessed to have spent my summer in both learning and leading roles. I was challenged and encouraged in my faith. I met many people all over the  United States. It was incredible to watch the manifestation of the body of Christ being demonstrated practically, every single day. I'm so thankful to have gotten to know each an everyone of our staff and interns. You guys are amazing!!! It was a lot harder to leave than I thought it would be. Though, I will have these memories in my heart forever.

 It is hard to forget a place that has made such an impact on me. It's funny how that works. I know that God worked through me while I was in Alajuelita, but I also know that he placed people in my life specifically to convicted and uplift me. It is easy to have a mindset to go in and change people's lives. However, on my own, I can not accomplish anything. But with God all things are possible. He is the reason people change. He is the reason they start longing for him. Jesus is the only one who can call a prostitute out of the darkness she is trapped in; it is only through his saving power that a deadbeat drug addict dad will return to his family and be the man God created him to be. Jesus is the sustainer of all life. He is the reason that even when the child gets run over by a car the child will still live. 

I wouldn't trade the experience and memories from this summer for anything. I'm so thankful for the people I met and the friendships I made. I can't wait to get back.




{the wonderful 6:8 staff}

{this is the worship band from church and me}

{haha these are my crazy brothers: Byron, Jerry, and Justin}







Thursday, July 18, 2013

And we raised our goldfish


     For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. (1 Corinthians 12:14-20, 27 ESV)

God has been showing me the importance of his body, his church, his people. I love being a small vessel because the smaller Lacey is, the bigger her God is. I'm amazed that God includes crazy sinners in his plan; but I love that He does. I love watching his people work together. I enjoy watching my brothers and sisters in Christ be encouraged and uplifted in their native tongue. Even though I don't always know what is being said, or understand what is going on, it makes my heart happy just knowing they are getting fed the word of God.

Feeding Centers:

Iglesia Celebración has one feeding center three times a week for homeless men and women on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I very much enjoy participating in the feeding center because it is a huge way to show respect to people who never get any. Homeless people in Costa Rica are treated worse than the stray dogs around here. The ministry has known of people getting shooed off porches, sprayed with gasoline, and set on fire. We like to take this time to honor and respect these people in any way possible. Don Miguel, Pastor Miguel's father, is in charge of the feeding center. He will lead the men and women in a few songs and a short message before anyone is served food. Once we serve the food and they eat it, we clean up the church. As special treat, the past few weeks, we have been able to pray over multiple people who linger after the feeding center. 

The other feeding center Iglesia Celebración is a part of is a feeding center in Verbena. Now this feeding center is different from the homeless feeding center because it is a mobile feeding center. We transport the food to this barrio. This is one of the most dangerous barrios we go into, the police don't even go in down to Verbena. God always goes before us, though! Check out this video to get a glimpse of all the feeding centers 6:8 Ministries helps out. There is a feeding center everyday of the week except Tuesday. 

http://vimeo.com/67151635


Homeless feeding center


Verbena



Verbena

In general, I love attending the Sunday morning service! It is a beautiful time of worship through song and hearing the bible preached. It is fun to see the people from the barrios at church, as well. Whenever it is needed, I help on the serve team at church. The serve team greets people and takes offering. On wednesday's I help my friend, Enrique, with the kids during the mid-week small groups. I absolutely love it! This kid is all of 11 or 12 years old and he plans a little lesson, maybe a craft, or sometimes just coloring, but i enjoy all of it! :)

 A few weeks ago, on Sunday, we had communion. It was definitely a very special Sunday. The team that had come down, from New York, had graciously blessed the worship team with new instruments. On that Sunday. The church was especially full. On that Sunday. God's presence was so near, dear, and particularly sweet to me. On that Sunday. It was a beautiful sight to behold. I just stood amazed. Thankful for God's son, his people, and his blessings. And to top it off, we had communion. I took my goldfish and my little cup of grape juice and, collectively, corporately, we thanked God for his precious son. 

Serving alongside my brothers and sisters, laughing, hugging, crying, and playing fuels me. I simply love playing a small role in God's huge kingdom. The people of Iglesia Celebración are more of a blessing to me than they will ever know.



Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Transformation: Lagunilla

This week my home church youth group, from Cross Creek Church, is here! It has been a crazy, amazing week. We've been doing a lot of kids ministry in barrios, but we have particularly focused on one barrio the past few days. The area is called Lagunilla, which means little lagoon. This barrio is the closest barrio to the local church, Iglesia Celebración. It has been neat to build relationships with the people of Lagunilla, one, because several of them already go to the church. The second reason is because the barrio is so close to the church we can invite more people to check out the church! 

Cross creek's goal this week was to give the park in Lagunilla a make-over. It has been such a humbling and exciting experience to be a part of. Humbling because playing at a park seems so simple, but it makes a difference! On day one in the barrio, there were a lot of on-lookers, wondering what all the gringos were doing in the park. As the afternoon wore on, more and more people came to do some of their own investigating. It is humbling to see how a little bit of touch-ups to a local playground can bring SO much joy to the neighborhood kids. Several times during the week, there were anxious kids who wanted to play...we had to tell them a few times to wait because there was fresh paint! The exciting part of this week was today. We had the dedication of the park today. There were kids, moms, sisters, brothers, and dads all over the place!!! There was so much laughter to be heard floating through the air, coloring books filled, chalk art everywhere, jump rope, tag, four-square, basketball, and soccer. 

My mind was at ease and my heart was full. There was so much love present. 










Victor, faithful, hard-working victor! :)




Casting the vision for the mural 



Finished, new basketball hoop.

Sarah, working on the mural.



Before:
After:

After




Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Held

This is what it means to be held
how it feels when the sacred is torn from your life
and you survive
this is what it is to be loved and to know
that the promise was when everything fell
we'd be held.

Out of nowhere, this song has been stuck in my head. The line "this is what it means to be held" randomly would form on my lips. God was whispering truth to me about what he is teaching me; and I didn't even realize it right away. Holding all these kids is how I am the hands and feet of Christ. It doesn't seem like much, but it means the world to these kids. Taking time to hug, kiss, tickle, and play with these children is not "just" loving on them. It might appear to be "simple" but it is profound. The love I get to show them is from my daddy, Jesus. It is an honor and a privilege to love the Naomi's, the Juniors, and the Sophia's of Alajuelita.

When home is not a safe place to be or Dad isn't around, the few hours I spend in these various barrios, makes a difference in the lives of these people. There is supernatural peace, protection, love, community, and joy. A lot. A lot, a lot, a lot, of the kids that I am holding, chasing, or coloring with are abused. Physically. Mentally. Emotionally. And, for a few hours at a time there is a safe, loving environment for these children to actually be kids.

Because:

Jesus' perfect love casts out fear. 


This lovely lady, in the orange jacket, who was sitting in my lap coloring wasn't really paying attention to what she was doing. As I watched her color, I noticed she was just scribbling and observing all the playing going on around her. This young lady was fully capable of being OCD about staying in the lines on her coloring page...a lot of the kids here are. :)  Alix verbalized what I was thinking. "Look, she doesn't even care about what she's coloring. She just wants to be held."





Naomi playing peek-a-boo.




This is my little friend from church. Last Sunday, she wanted to cling to my neck. All morning. I loved every second of it!! Who know's what home life is like? Who know's when the last time she got a hug? A kiss? Who cares. I know that I had the opportunity to love on her, squeeze her tightly, and, by simply holding her, bring a smile to her face. 



This beauty doesn't know her name. A staff member asked her what her name is and she replied "Gorda" which means fat or fatty. The staff member, who thought that she was joking, pressed further and asked, "no really, what is your name?" Her friend with her, agreed with the little girls statement "yes it is gorda." This little girl, probably about four years old, doesn't even know her name. She doesn't know that she is beloved, precious, and special in the eyes of God. How amazing is it that I get to love on the least of these? It's flippin' awesome!!! And oh so rewarding. 

I challenge you with this, how are you loving those around you? Men, women, and children, everywhere are hurting and in need of Jesus. 


Thursday, June 13, 2013

Dios es Poderoso

The past few weeks have been extremely hectic, and we are only at the beginning of an amazing summer! Over the next couple of posts I'd like to share about the different areas that 6:8 Ministries serves in. I've been blessed and completely blown away by God. I keep telling teams that my favorite part of being down here is knowing I don't leave after one week. Serving here for a longer time has just given me a glimpse of the bigger kingdom that God is building. I love serving Jesus here or anywhere. That is what I've been processing a lot lately. I hope and pray that the teams will use this experience as a springboard for change back in the states. 

This is my buddy, Manuel Antonio from the Verbena barrio.

Playing in Alajuelinda.


We're all riding in the patrol on the way home from the mobile feeding center in Verbena, which occurs every Saturday. 

Rosa and her family attend the local church here. She is such sweet, smiley girl.

I went up to the crosses with a team recently. The view was incredible!

Manuel Antonio, Naomi, and Kyle coloring in Verbena.







Friday, May 31, 2013

One week.

I can't believe it. I've already been in Costa Rica for over one week! I've really enjoyed living in Costa and becoming familiar with my surroundings. Since Saturday we've had a team here, from Mississippi. They have been building a house for one of our team house cooks daughter. We've also been going into neighborhoods (barrios) to love on kiddos. 


Unloading construction supplies 


Allison in beast mode

Alajuelinda playground

Vancleave Mississippi team on the plot of land where they are going to build the house.
My view from my apartment