We are WorldVenture missionaries to Costa Rica. Gary is professor of New Testament at Seminario ESEPA and is a blogger and author. Karen teaches at ESEPA and also specializes in sexual abuse and the church. They have four adult children who live in the USA, and a foster child, Sammy, who lives with them in Costa Rica.
WE LIVE IN 100 HOUSES!
“I assure you that everyone who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or property, for my sake and for the Good News, will receive now in return a hundred times as many houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and property – along with persecution.” Mark 10:29-30
9pm on a recent summer evening, I (Karen) found myself making an unexpected call to my friend Cel: “Um, so, I’m on a plane which will arrive in Philly in about 4 hours, and, uh, I need a place to sleep tonight. If Nancy picks me up at the airport, can she drop me off at your house so I can sleep on your couch?” The logistics of delayed flights and missing car keys had shattered my original well-laid plan, and I was in the middle of a string of urgent phone calls and texts hoping to come up with a new one before my flight took off. In spite of sounding understandably confused, Cel replied without hesitation: “Of course! But not on the couch, the guest room is empty, so you’ll be up there.”
As I smiled gratefully, the above verses came to mind. I thought back to 21 years ago when I clung to those verses while we were trying to sell our beloved Quakertown farmhouse before moving to Costa Rica. They had comforted me then even though it didn’t make sense. A hundred times as many houses now? In a few weeks I wasn’t even going to own ONE house. But now, many nights in many guest rooms later I could guess that Jesus probably was talking about something we now describe using the phrase “mi casa es su casa” (Spanish for “my house is your house”). I started counting in my head: Cel’s, Steve’s, Karen’s, Sharon’s, Betty’s, Geni’s, Vikky’s… Yes, there probably ARE literally a hundred homes where I know I would be welcomed on short notice and treated like family! Where I already HAVE spent many wonderful nights sharing old memories and making new ones.
I think this is a prime example of how God’s beautiful promises to his children are fulfilled in wonderful ways, going way beyond mere provision: also bringing love and joy and community. Don’t wait for your plans to go awry to take some time to look at your own life and identify the extraordinary ways God has fulfilled his promises to you and your family. Thank him for what he has already done, and trust that he will continue to do more than you can ask or think.
To all the hundreds of you who have housed us and fed us and loved on us over the years, there are no words to adequately express our gratitude. We love to accept your generous hospitality and to return it whenever we can mostly because we love you and love to be with you! And when you have days where you feel as though you are not making a difference in the world, please remember that to us (and surely many others) you have been and continue to be the hands of God. Karen
FAMILY NEWS: Vikky married Chris Pierdomenico on June 29!
Chris and Vikky got married in a beautiful June wedding! Karen and friends handled the details of the wedding and reception, Gary gave away the bride and performed the wedding! We had a large group, that included many old friends, people who flew in from all over, family, including Tim from Albuquerque. All the kids together again!
A super special thank you to friends and family who went WAY out of their way to help prepare, serve, and clean up the wedding celebration: Sharon and Cassie, Juli, Laura & Michael, Joann & Vince, Steph, Tim, Cel and Karen. We could not have done it without your help!
A church burns: in Paris? No, in Costa Rica
One of the first things we learned about missionaries, is that Missionaries are concerned with other Christian workers and try to support them practically and in prayer! So, this month we speak on behalf of others.
FIRST – Two days before the Notre Dame fire, there was a shocking tragedy here: a fire that destroyed homes and partly ruined the church Dios Proveerá (God will Provide) in La Carpio, a large nearby precario (shantytown).
ESEPA Seminary’s director says: “All the nine people who lived there died because of this fire. Two of them were members of the Dios Proveerá church, which is pastored by one of our students and her husband. The church facilities were also damaged. You can see more in the following video [subtitled in English]: http://youtube.com/watch?v=IVl6bgcbV7o&yt:cc=on. The damage is so great that it is not possible for the church to cover all the costs. As a seminary we would like to ask you for your collaboration and to encourage you to organize an offering in your local church for this sister church. Individual donations are also very welcome. You can deposit your donation using the following link: ESEPA Agape Fund. In the comment section you should mention “ESEPA/La Carpio”.
If you want to donate using a check you should use project number 65420, description “ESEPA/La Carpio” and the following address:
United World Mission
PO Box 602002
Charlotte, NC 28260-2002
SECOND Two of our dear missionary friends are preparing to move north to Honduras; like us, they will be involved in pastoral training. They just posted: “Please be in prayer for Honduras. There is a lot of rioting going on and it’s not civil. We’ve seen numerous videos and heard from missionaries there about burning buildings, including a fire at the US Embassy, gas bombs being released in the streets (not by the police), roads being shut down, the airport was shut down yesterday.”
PLEASE PRAY FOR OUR FRIENDS, and consider donating to Dios Proveerá.
Karen just flew up to Pennsylvania, to help Vikky prepare for the big wedding! The date is June 29 and we hope to share some pictures of Vik and Chris shortly!
Gary turned in his book, Iceberg Ahead! When God’s Servants Crash into Cold, Hard Reality to his translator. Kerigma Publications in Mexico plans to publish it! If you want to read a copy, let us know!
Thanks so much for putting us on the field! Blessings, Gary and Karen
“Gary is in the classroom again!”
After a year of furlough, teaching online, and writing, Gary is back where he feels most at home, in the classroom. This term he is offering Ruth & Esther face-to-face! Some students study it in the Spanish Bible, while three advanced students are studying the books in Hebrew and Greek.
He is still working on his notes on 1-2 Timothy for Wycliffe Associates. 1 Timothy should be done in a few weeks; plus, he just finished an article on the Theology of Romans for a collection in Spanish.
ESEPA graduation is tonight, and three of Gary’s long-term students are finally graduating with their degrees, Masters in Biblical Exegesis.
Sammy starts 5th grade next week!
The teachers went out on strike in September, so he has been at home for many months. The strike was settle, we’re happy to report!
Karen is working away on her new project, with local people doing research, and Karen heading to Colorado in a few days for a conference.
Vikky and Chris are counting down to their June wedding!
Gary gave a full conference to new missionaries at the Spanish Language Institute, in October. The whole conference available here!
Praise and Prayer
- PRAISE that Gary has found a publisher for the Spanish version of his book (aka The Iceberg Project); PRAY that an English publisher also comes through!
- PRAISE that we are back in Costa Rica!
- PRAY for Karen, who has a long year of planning and study in 2019
Many blessings to you! Gary and Karen Shogren
Click Christmas Newsletter 2018 to get the pictures!
Celebrating Home Assignment 2018
We want to thank YOU for a truly amazing home assignment this year! Most of you were able to share your precious time with us, generously opening your hearts, homes, and church. We treasure the hours spent laughing, catching up on family news, sharing, and brainstorming together with you! There are too many church and individuals to name, but you know who you are, and be assured that our time with you was sheer joy for us!
In addition to visiting current supporters, we were able to make new friends, visit new churches, and find new supporters. Welcome to our team! You join a loving and faithful group of brothers and sisters in Christ that spans from New Hampshire to Ohio. We also spent considerable time preparing ourselves for the term ahead, studying, networking, and researching.
We had originally planned to be in the US from January through April but, as he usually does, God had other plans! After sliding through a few self-imposed deadlines, Gary was able to return to Costa Rica on August 19, and Karen followed shortly after. (It was a few months later than we expected, but still 4 months short of the typical one-year furlough).
Thanks for letting us spend time with your churches!
Thank you for the opportunity to serve you!
Thank you for taking such good care of us!
Special thanks to Karen’s brother John for giving us a home all these months!
“We are Back in Costa Rica!”
The rumors are true: Gary returned late August, and Karen a few weeks later! This means that we are now starting our 21st year of ministry in Central America.
Gary is teaching three courses and working away on his new commentary on 1-2 Timothy for Wycliffe Associates. It will be part of a 2-volume work that will be “open-source,” that is, free for anyone to use, download, translate. It is designed to help those who are translating the Bible into the 2700 languages that have none.
Karen just spent time in Honduras, where she was giving her regular conference to Missionary Kids.
Thanks so much for helping us to return to the field, ready to go!
Gary is Teaching and Preaching in Spanish again!
Last week I spoke at a tiny local church that is run by our friend Ana Rita. You can get some jumpy video of the service by going to YouTube and entering this address https://youtu.be/LDGg7KPJq6E
Praise and Prayer
- Pray for Gary to find a publisher for his new book
- Praise that we have several new donors!
- And PRAISE that we are back in Costa Rica!
Many blessings to you! Gary and Karen Shogren
Our times in the US (besides short visits) are a funny thing: they happen every 3-4 years; they can go as long as 12 months; their start date is always iffy; and the finish date is the most unpredictable of all!
We now have been in Lancaster Country, Pennsylvania, since January, and our hope is to return for the next semester at ESEPA in September.
Since arriving in the States, we have logged many miles through Pennsylvania and three tours through New England.
We have spoken to about 20 church meetings and many small groups Continue reading