Category Archives: seminario

One of Gary’s “Other Ministries”

Let’s label this ministry as: “Hi homeless friend! Would you like some breakfast?”

On Saturday, I (Gary) go to the local grocer and buy a kilo of local farmer’s cheese and a couple of loaves of bread and big bottles of iced tea. Then I make up sandwiches for 20 or 25 people, gather paper cups, 2-3 New Testaments in a simplified version, maybe some clothes.

On the street around 7am, I leave the car in a parking lot and head out with a jammed-full backpack. I take safety precautions, but since I go out early, most of them are still docile after their Saturday night. The street people migrate from one spot to another, so they aren’t necessarily where I last left them. It takes a second for the brain to register, That pile of rags is a man; that cardboard box is someone’s house.

Homeless person in San José, archive photo


(NOTE: I used to take a few pictures with people, but now do not; I wonder whether I would be dehumanizing people more than necessary if I took “here- am-being-generous!” selfies)

Wherever I see a cluster of people I stop and ask, Would you like some breakfast? I used to ask, “Are you hungry?”, but I switched my phrasing Continue reading

Gary’s Blog This Month on “False Teachers”

A huge amount of Gary’s teaching and writing has to do with false doctrine. This is an important topic in the USA, but way more so in Latin America. Here is a short article on how the devil not only robs false teachers, but lures them into eternal loss as well.

Click here to read: “False Teachers: A Bad Road to a Bad End”

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

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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!

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