April 2015 Newsletter

On Friday, our community San Francisco de Dos Ríos celebrated its annual Passion Play. To my surprise, while “Jesus” hung on the cross (tied in this version, not nailed; see picture below) a literal earthquake shook the ground beneath our feet.

Then over the weekend I listened to Bach’s St. Matthew’s Passion, which reminds us that at Jesus’ death, “the curtain of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom. And the earth was filled with quaking”. The way to God was opened, and the power of the grave was nullified.

All because of a cross.

The Romans regarded “cross” as one of the worst curse-words in their language. Their darkest obscenity was “I in malam maximam crucem!” which roughly translates to “Go and get really badly crucified!” It was a shocking profanity. Yet this curse of Jesus has become for us the way of salvation.

As Bach went on to write: “Ah, Golgotha, hapless Golgotha! The Lord of Glory must wretchedly perish here; the blessing and salvation of the world is placed on the cross like a curse. From the Creator of heaven and earth, earth and air shall be taken away. The guiltless must die here guilty. That strikes deep into my soul! Ah, Golgotha, hapless Golgotha!”

Take away the cross and we might as well dismiss the preachers; call the missionaries back home; tuck the Bible back on the Ancient Literature section of the library; turn Sunday School into playtime. But no! “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” And for those of us who were called to believe in the gospel, “Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God.” (see 1 Cor 1).

We can draw a direct line between the cross of Christ and our work in San Francisco de Dos Ríos. May all God’s children enjoy that same clarity!

(I invite you to read my sermon on the shame of the cross at http://openoureyeslord.com)

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Our colleagues in Costa Rica, CJ and Mary Mihalko!

CJ and Mary just published an article about how the poor might raise tilapia in their backyard. Click HERE to read it!

Why Are Missionaries So Expensive?

Reach Global has just published a great article that explains line by line missionary costs. Enjoy! Click HERE

February 2015 – Long-Term Planning at the Shogren Household!

Two months ago our landlord asked us to leave our house so that he can renovate and sell it. We took that as our cue to think about long term plans.

First, we intend to keep teaching at ESEPA here in San José, as well as online. Gary is full-time, and while Karen is part-time, she has been urged to teach as much as possible in ESEPA’s certificate program. Gary also plans to continue teaching intensive courses in Cuba, plus keep up with his writing. As Karen would say, “Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise”, there’s no reason to leave CR until retirement age.

That was the easy part! ESEPA wants us, we want to stay, there’s every reason to stay and none to leave.

Karen: And more than ever we have a great sense of urgency. When we first came to Costa Rica in 1998, our aim was to work our way out of a job. That meant training new professors for ESEPA and preparing leaders for the Church. We’ve worked hard towards that goal, and seen a lot of beautiful fruit along those lines! But there’s still SO MUCH to do! So Gary is now serving as Academic Dean and focusing more and more on preparing our Master’s degree students to be our present and future professors.

Gary says: “A picture is worth a thousand words”: here is our roster of professors from last term. The 15 people circled in red, we have helped to train during our time here at ESEPA. Ten others are Latin Americans from other institutions.

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But Karen asks: Yes, that’s all fine, but where are we going to live? Well, God has stepped in and we have been offered a wonderful house 2 blocks away, for just a little over $200/month more than we pay now! This dear couple is giving us a BARGAIN the likes of which we never would have even dreamed of. Plus it’s completely and beautifully furnished. We are due to move Valentine’s Day weekend. Pictures to follow!
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Prayer requests for 2015

  • That Sammy will be ready to return to school next week
  • That our move will go well – around Feb 15
  • That God will bring us up to 100% support level

Financial needs for 2015
As we noted last month, the rent on our new house will be a few hundred dollars higher than what we are paying now. In addition our health premiums did in December what they always do, rise.

You can give us a one-time gift or become a partner through our mission’s website at www.worldventure.com and search for “Shogrens”.

Many blessings to you! Gary and Karen Shogren, Missionary Professors to Costa Rica and Beyond

Visit us on http://shogrens.com

Graduation 2014 from Seminario ESEPA

Karen and Gary both marched, since both are now professors at ESEPA. Gary had the addition blessing as academic dean to give out degrees to students.

Gary and Karen grad 2014 a Gary giving diploma 2014

Year-End Update 2014!

Gary. I just finished writing a short commentary on Romans for a Latin American audience; it should be published in Spanish within a few months. Another highlight of 2014 was again serving as Academic Dean of ESEPA: beyond teaching I also mentor and direct the other professors, some of whom are teaching for the first time. The most amazing event of the year was participating in the graduation of our first class of seminary students in [a certain Caribbean island nation] – 20 men and women who in addition to their other ministries are already teaching in local Bible colleges across the island. We praise God for our first harvest of homegrown professors!

Graduation Day!

Graduation Day! Gary is front and center

Karen. Remember how nervous I was nearly 4 years ago when God led me to start teaching at ESEPA? What a joy to look back and see that while I truly have been inadequate to the job of working in people’s hearts, God has kept His promise to use me as His tool. I LOVE teaching God’s Word to women who are hungry to learn! My first lesson to them is always this: “You’re no longer just a student, now you are also a teacher, entrusted to teach this to others.” Over the years I’ve been able to watch them blossom and do just that. Another highlight of my year was when my mom came to visit and became a missionary at 92, helping us run a retreat for missionary kids!

"Profesora" Karen

“Profesora” Karen

Sammy. After 2½ years with us, Sammy has gone from being a child seriously damaged by the effects of abuse, to a boy who can just enjoy being a kid and playing with his friends in Boy Scouts. He is beyond the single-emotion state (anger), and now demonstrates a warm love for us. The best news of all: he clearly has a relationship with Jesus Christ that guides his actions!

Sammy at Scouts

New Partners. For the first time we have WorldVenture missionary partners in Costa Rica! The Foote family and the Mihalkos just finished their year at language school. They are planning to work with Costa Ricans who will go out as missionaries, giving them the training they need to start businesses wherever they land around the globe. What a blessing to build a team with dear friends with whom we can laugh, cry, and above all, stand firm.

Prayer requests for 2015:

  • That Sammy will be ready to return to school for the new year beginning in Feb
  • That Karen’s arthritis will stabilize
  • That we will minister effectively to our WorldVenture team members
  • That God will guide our ministry projects for the coming year
  • That God will supply our financial needs quickly, so that we can dedicate ourselves more fully to our teaching ministries

Financial needs for 2015. We cannot thank you enough for your faithful support! Your ministry to us has freed us up to teach dozens of students and missionary kids this year. We also send a special thank you to those of you who gave towards our recent trips to Cuba and Honduras. We just learned that we will have to move out of the (rent-controlled) house that we have had since 1998, so our expenses will probably rise. That and due to WorldVenture restructuring its accounting system, we have two more requests: we need several hundred dollars more of monthly support, plus we need $3000 to cover this year’s salary shortfall.

¡Feliz Navidad! Gary and Karen

October Update

Gary and Karen have just finished two important trips at the end of September – Karen to teach Missionary Kids in Honduras, and Gary to attend a graduation at the seminary where he occasionally teaches on a “closed” Caribbean island. If you would like to hear the details of Gary’s trip, give us your email address in the Comments section.

We have lost several regular donors and would like to make up for that loss of income before the end of 2014. If you are interested in supporting us for $50 or $100 a month, let us know in the comments section.

In all cases, we will not publish your name and email on this website.

Blessings! Gary