Author Archives: Gary Shogren

June 2017 Newsletter

Gary in the Mideast!

I (Gary) just got back from a tour along with Oreland Presbyterian, in which we began at Cairo and traced the entire route of the Exodus, through the Sinai, into Jordan, before visiting the main sites in Israel. This was my first time to visit any of these three countries, and I have pictures and memories that will take me months to unravel.

At the site of the Temple of Jerusalem

If I had to condense the trip down to a few striking places:

The “Garden Tomb” – This site might be the tomb where they buried Jesus. But since the evidence for it is very slim, I didn’t think I would enjoy it much. Was I wrong! In fact, the site is owned and run by a group of British Christians Continue reading

February 2017

My (Gary’s) Week as a Missionary

Class Prep! Monday I prepared for my two courses: Exegesis of Revelation (master’s level) and 1 Corinthians (bachelor’s level).

Revelation class! I began our weekly discussion with a question about the value of knowing the history of the seven churches of Asia, and also a point about the Greek of “thus says” in Rev 2:1.

Parenting! Sammy starts his new school year Monday – the school year is February-December –  so I have been warming him up on Math Facts.

New Master’s Degree students! It’s my job to recruit and interview graduate students at ESEPA, and 2-3 new people contacted me this week.

US Politics! Well, no ideological details, but I was in touch with my senators Bob Casey and Pat Toomey this week. Thank the Lord I can write them instantly from here.

1 Corinthians class! From 8-11:15 on Wednesdays. We have about 20 students, a lively group. One assignment is that they do some sort of creative project, which they will then present to the class. One group is going to do a send-up on “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?”

1 Corinthians class

1 Corinthians class

Administrative council meeting! Friday’s 2-hour meeting Continue reading

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Shogrens’ Christmas Newsletter – page 1

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Go to Page 2!

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Shogrens’ 2016 Christmas Letter – page 2

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October 2016 Newsletter

It’s my turn to share! (Gary)

Hats versus Hats

Missionary professors wear many hats. Here are two of mine.

A typical Thursday Night – for 4 hours it’s my class in Advanced Hermeneutics. It’s one of the more strenuous courses at ESEPA, with six of our top students in the master’s program. We talk at length about how best to interpret the Bible and wrestle through issues of semantics, context, contextualization, etc., etc. The students are expected to be self-starters: so student Nani spoke for an hour on how the doctrine of inspiration affects our Bible reading, just for a start. Then Esteban spoke for a while, comparing how the ancient church fathers Clement of Alexandria and John Chrysostom interpreted the Word. They led the discussion for a while, then I jumped in with some teaching on how we need to depend on the Spirit in Bible study: exegesis, linguistics, theologizing, applying the text.

Exhausted yet? Yeah, well, just wait 24 hours!

A typical Friday Night – We go over to see Heather, another American missionary. Her garage is a magnet for kids from the barrio. And while she leads a Bible study for adults, I work with between 5-7 kids, including our Sammy. These are “kinesthetic” learners, which is Greek for lots of noise, motion, running around, games, me shouting: “Ready! Last chance for the bathroom! Line up! Attention! Shout your name!” We are going through the miracles of Jesus, so we are hearing about how he resurrected the son of the widow of Nain, just as they were carrying his body out of the city (Luke 7). I had unhooked and taken over our garden hammock. As a graphic part of the story, the boys took turns hauling the “dead man” around in it; then to top it off I gave them wild rides, spinning each boy airborne in a circle. Then games. And just when the garage seems about to burst, Heather pops in with cookies, along with an ice-cold Diet Coke for the overheated “Grandpa.” She spells me while I go and visit with the adults for a few minutes.

One of my professors, years ago, would teach complex academics during the day, but then every week head out to lead a group of boys at his church. I’ve never forgotten it. The boys’ group is my main ministry in our church and a way I teach the gospel in Costa Rica.

Yes, missionary professors have to avoid distractions; they have to make sure they do the main thing; and they have to do the main thing most of the time. But in the work of the gospel, they will probably wear several hats.

Many blessings! Gary and Karen

August 2016 Newsletter

Being a Missionary in Costa Rica

Proverbs 8:13 says that “To answer before listening – that is folly and shame.” Being a missionary doesn’t mean just moving from one place to another, or even learning a new language. It also means listening and learning how people think and express themselves, and then responding with God’s Word. Our work helping the process of Bible translation with Wycliffe Associates teaches us the same thing, that communicating the gospel in another culture is not a simple process.

What’s it like to live in Costa Rica?

  • If you are a Costa Rican, you call yourself a Tico (men) or Tica (women).
  • For breakfast you probably had “gallo pinto” – black beans with rice – maybe with eggs or “farmer’s cheese.”gallo_pinto-1-a
  • In the morning, you ask your friends “How did the day dawn for you?”
  • When you leave, you say Ciao (like “chow”).
  • When you sing Happy Birthday, it’s the same song sung in Spanish, but after each line you sing “cha-cha-cha.”
  • When someone asks how you are, you say “I’m well, thanks to God.”
  • If you see it’s drizzling outside, you say “It’s doing cat fur”!
  • If someone tries to “kid” you, he is not pulling your leg, but “pulling your hair.”
  • Your wife is not your “better half,” but “my half-orange.”
  • I had a wisdom tooth extracted last week – I learned that in Spanish, it’s a “molar of good judgment.” You leave it, not for the Tooth Fairy, but for “Tooth Mousie Perez.”
  • If truckers or bus drivers are going slow and clogging the highway as a protest, in English it’s a “slowdown.” In Costa Rica it’s a tortuguismo, from the word for turtle. They are “turtling.”
  • The day of the Virgin Mary is August 2; Mother’s Day is August 15.
  • Drop by the Chinese restaurant and you can order an eggroll, or as it’s called, a Chinese Taco.
  • If you think an issue is clear-cut, it’s not black-and-white, but white-and-black.
  • Fall out of an airplane? Hope you have your paracaidas on! (literally a “fall stopper”)images
  • In Costa Rica, the answer to just about any question (How are you? What’s up? How’s the family?) is Pura Vida, literally “Pure Life.” It means something like, “Life is good!”
  • And finally – a Costa Rican holiday is the Anexación del Partido de Nicoya, on July 25. This celebrates the adding of part of our country to Costa Rica, and is celebrated with country dancing. Click HERE to see a video!

Continue reading

Karen’s Mother has passed on to glory

Karen says: Thank you for your prayers in these last 7 weeks. God has answered those prayers in many beautiful ways. On June 28, Mom spent her last moments in her frail earthly body comfortable, peaceful, and surrounded by loved ones. Now she is enjoying eternity with the Lord she served so faithfully.

Contributions may be made to Woodlyn Baptist Church, Woodlyn PA, or Shriners Hospital for Children.

Gary says: Thelma accepted the Lord as a teenage and had walked with him for eight decades. My lasting image of her will be with her sitting in her special rocker, with her Bible and magnifying glass in hand, praying and studying the Scriptures.

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