Category Archives: Costa Rica

February 2016 Newsletter

From Karen: January 15 – Gary was there when they finished the Bible!

[Note: When we teach ESEPA students how to study the Bible using the Inductive Method, one of the most important principles we must communicate is that in order to understand a sentence correctly, it must be read IN CONTEXT. I hope now you see why that is important; the title of this article could signify a lot of different things, depending on the context. Continue reading to find the context you need to know in order to understand what that title means!]

Last year Gary connected with Wycliffe Associates, who invited him to be part of a unique project: writing a guide for how to translate the whole Bible, verse by verse. The final goal would be to translate that instruction manual into 50 trade languages of the world (French, Hindi, Russian, Cantonese, etc.) and freely distribute it worldwide, along with open source Bible translations . Then, members of many new people groups will immediately be able to start translating the Bible into new tongues and dialects. This would truly jump-start spreading the gospel! (Read the story here – https://unfoldingword.org/)

Gary has enjoyed the project immensely, and it has been a great fit for his gifts and skills. It has also been an excellent opportunity for him to put a new layer on his biblical language abilities: learning to think from the perspective of a non-English Bible reader. He has worked on these Translation Notes for Acts, Romans, 1 Corinthians, Revelation, Deuteronomy, Lamentations, 1 Chronicles. Here is a page he worked on for Rev 13:3-4 –

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Hundreds of people and dozens of committees were working toward a January 15 deadline. After some work on 1 Chronicles, Gary thought he had completed his part. Until the unexpected email on Jan 14, asking if he could finish the very end of Ecclesiastes by the next day! Fortunately, he was able to put aside other work and dedicate himself to this last job. When he pushed the send button late that night, he was submitting the draft of the last Translation Notes for the entire Bible, which now go on to another level of experts. But on this level at least, he was the one who “finished the Bible” for this project!

Late-breaking news – Gary has just been recruited to work on the next level, so it looks like he will be working with Wycliffe Associates in 2016.

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Prayer requests for 2016

  • For Ben and Steph Shogren, who are expecting their first baby in March! Steph suffers from acute diabetes and the pregnancy is high risk
  • For Sammy, as he begins 2nd grade on Feb 8
  • For Karen: next week she begins taking classes in counseling; and for her health (sciatic nerve)
  • That God will bring us up to 100% support level

Financial needs for 2016

Our support level now stands around 89%.

Thanks so much to everyone who gave a one-time gift over the last two months, you were very generous and it helped us to close the year well.

You can give us a one-time gift or become a partner through our mission’s website HERE.

Many blessings to you! Gary and Karen Shogren

Christmas and Year-End Summary, 2015

Picture1Gary

Gary served as Academic Dean for the last two years, managing the teaching faculty of ESEPA. His term has just come to an end; from now on he can concentrate more on teaching and writing. This gives him the chance to enjoy his new home office – his “Tower”, hidden away on the 3rd floor of the new house.

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His new project in ESEPA is a master’s degree that he has been dreaming about: Masters in Pastoral Leadership. This will be our first degree aimed specifically at the person who is already an experienced pastor or church leader.

This year Gary was also working with Wycliffe Associates on an exciting project, helping write a new Bible translation manual. When finished, this will be translated into all 50 trade languages, and freely distributed in order to speed up Bible translation into new languages. It’s been a great opportunity to use his Greek and Hebrew training, as well as learn some new technical translation skills. He also served as interim pastor for an English-language congregation over the summer.

His two theology blogs now get about 15,000 hits a month. He has written particularly about the phenomenon of people setting dates for 2015 or 2016 for the Second Coming. See: http://www.openoureyeslord.com

Karen

Picture4This year has included some more “firsts” for Karen. Her teaching load at ESEPA has expanded to include 4 different sections of 3 courses, which is about 50 students per course. Definitely a record! This is also the first year she has traveled to teach in church satellite campuses. Since Sammy is just finishing first grade, it has been interesting to learn how to be a parent in the Costa Rican public education system!

Fortunately there were some familiar things: she taught the teen missionary kids again at the annual Honduras retreat, and enjoyed a blast from the past as interim pastor’s wife for several months.

There were big events too. We moved into a beautiful new rental house which was just built for entertaining. Karen suspects God has special plans ahead in that area! (Extra thanks go to Cel & Andy, who chose to spend a romantic Valentine’s Day in sunny Costa Rica moving heavy stuff and cleaning bathrooms!) In May it was wonderful to celebrate Vikky’s graduation from Arcadia University. She is now enjoying her first year in the Doctorate of Physical Therapy at Arcadia. The year’s last big event is still on the way: Ben and Stephanie are expecting our first grandson’s arrival in early March!

Sammy

Our godson Sammy is growing in every way! First grade has been a huge success, thanks to God’s provision of a wise and caring teacher. Sammy loves learning new things, so we give him every possible opportunity to do so! Drawing is still his favorite hobby, but he has enjoyed a year of pottery lessons and Boy Scouts too.

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Thank you so much for your faithful support!

Your financial help continues to free us up to teach seminary students and missionary kids. We are honored to serve God on your behalf!

Looking Ahead – Prayer requests for 2016

  • That Stephanie’s Type 1 Diabetes will stabilize during the rest of her pregnancy
  • For a safe delivery for mom and baby
  • That Karen’s arthritis will improve
  • That God will give us wisdom as we confront new challenges
  • That God will clearly guide our path
  • That God will supply our current month’s shortfall of $1500/month quickly without having to return for an early home assignment

Merry Christmas to all! Gary and Karen

 

Prayer requests for October 2015

  • For Ben and Steph Shogren, who are expecting their first baby! Steph suffers from acute diabetes and the pregnancy is high risk
  • For Cuba! Both Karen and Gary have been invited to teach, and we need to squeeze the trip into a very busy schedule
  • For Gary, as he works on his 1 Corinthians project for Wycliffe, and also on Revelation this week in Orlando
  • For Karen, as she has many classes to prepare; and for Karen and her team as they give a conference in Honduras in October, for Missionary Kids
  • That God will bring us up to 100% support level. We are currently at about 89%

October Newsletter – A Video Report from Gary!

This week is a busy one for me – I spoke twice at a Christian school Wednesday; then this weekend I have a two-part conference on the same theme: “Can We Trust the New Testament? or Have they changed it throughout the years?” I am showing pictures of New Testament manuscripts and arguing that the text of the New Testament has been marvelously preserved. Here I am testing my material to middle school students.

Gary teaching at Middle School - VIDEO

Gary teaching at Middle School – VIDEO

And here is my Tuesday night class on the General Epistles. These are my advanced Master’s degree students, and they have already taken two years of Greek, usually more. They also happen to be terrific Christian people. In this class, we study the Greek text of Hebrews-Jude, and we also learn how to decipher ancient manuscripts. Let’s begin with Nani, who was assigned two pages of handwritten Greek. Click the manuscript!

General Epistles class - Nani shares

General Epistles class; Nani shares- VIDEO

And here I am, helping to draw some conclusions: it was a text that dealt with skin diseases (!); it was in Greek; it was written on papyrus; and it used a set of symbols that Christian copyists used but Jewish ones did not. Click on it!

General Epistles class - Gary sums up what we know about this manuscript

General Epistles class; Gary sums up what we know about this manuscript – VIDEO

Our conclusion? They were two pages from Leviticus in the Greek version (called the Septuagint), and they had been hand-copied by a Christian in the very early church. (At the beginning of the video clip, by the way, I am pointing here and there and using the word “tape”, which is the same in Spanish as in English – I was complaining that someone had used Scotch tape to hold the pieces together!).

Now why, you may be asking, was it necessary to put hours of time into deciphering and translating this and two other ancient documents?

It’s because the students on the Master’s level are preparing to be teachers, writers, thinkers, conference speakers. And it happens that the Enemy is attacking the authority of the New Testament from several directions: Self-proclaimed scholars make their own new “versions”. University students hear that the Bible has been changed beyond recognition across the centuries. Many question whether the New Testament has authority over our personal ethics.

Latin America needs all sorts of leaders – including those few individuals who have the intellectual depth to explain the New Testament on a technical level. These students will have an impact on how the church proclaims the New Testament over many decades.

Blessings, Gary and Karen

August 2015 Newsletter

 

This Month We Hear from Karen!

We are gearing up for a very busy fall of ministry! In addition to the usual ESEPA work, Gary has several conferences to speak at – one on the complex topic of homosexuality in the Bible, another on the topic “Can We Trust in the New Testament?” He will also take trips to Orlando to work on the Wycliffe Associates project, where he will serve as a consultant for translating Hebrews (September) and Revelation (October). In addition, he will be heading the online team on the translation notes for 1 Corinthians. (For information on his Wycliffe work, take a look at the June newsletter on this website).

I (Karen) am working on a new course to teach this fall at ESEPA, as well as writing textbooks in time for the two counseling courses I teach In Oct/Nov.

Karen in Aston

I am also writing the curriculum for my annual Honduras Missionary Kid retreat in October. We will focus on God’s instructions to renew our mind, and we expect that it will be a VERY practical series of lessons for all of us!

Please pray for me, Karen, about these projects – I find it very difficult to concentrate on writing, and it’s doubly difficult that the final product has to be in Spanish for most of them. I have so much to finish in a short period of time, I ask that God will give me supernatural clarity of thought, plus the supernatural ability to sit still long enough to get those thoughts onto paper!

Blessings, Karen and Gary

PRAISE AND PRAYER

  • PRAISE that Sammy is still doing well in school, Scouts, and art class
  • For Gary, as he organizes and launches his 1 Corinthians project, beginning on August 12
  • For Karen, as she has many classes to prepare
  • That God will bring us up to 100% support level

Financial needs for 2015
Our support level now stands around 92%.
You can give us a one-time gift or become a partner through our mission’s website HERE.

Gary’s Blog this Month
Read from Gary’s ongoing sermon series on 1 Thessalonians. This time it is how Paul evangelized and gave us a pattern to follow – he worked day and night.
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