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August 2019 Newsletter

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!

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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!

Here is Gary’s homily from the wedding.

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Current Prayer Requests

Praise and Prayer

  • Karen is busy doing research and holding meetings to explore a new ministry
  • We have several new donors!
  • Someone just pledged us money to buy a dependable car for Costa Rica!
  • Dr. Vikky just started her first job in physical therapy!

And PRAY that we will be able to return to Costa Rica by the end of May!

Financial needs for 2018

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

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NEW FACEBOOK PAGE!

Our main news is that we will be closing down this website and moving everything to a new Facebook page.

On Facebook, simply search for the name SHOGRENS IN COSTA RICA.

You can also receive our bimonthly newsletter, just send us a message and you will get the next one in February.

Many blessings! Gary

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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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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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Gary’s new (very part-time) ministry – June 2015 Newsletter

What if you had to learn, let’s say, Romanian if you wanted to read the Bible?

Gary says: I have long admired the work of Bible translators, as they do the hard work of taking the Scriptures to the 1.3 billion who do not have the whole Word of God in their own – not in someone else’s – language.

I have just been offered a chance to lend a hand to this process (visit https://unfoldingword.org/). I am now working some hours a week to write a handbook that will help translators around the world. It’s called Door 43, named after Colossians 4:3 – “pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word” (Now, wasn’t that easier than read it in Romanian? “Rugaţi-vă totodată şi pentru noi, ca Dumnezeu să ne deschidă o uşă pentru Cuvânt”).

This handbook will then be translated into 50 languages that are used all around the world. And from those 50 “Portal Languages” (e.g., English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Mandarin Chinese, Russian, Vietnamese, etc.) it will be possible to translate the Bible into every single language and dialect in the world. In theory, 100% coverage.

To give an example, we know that in Mexico people speak Spanish, right? But did you know that the government recognizes 68 other indigenous languages? That means that plenty of people cannot hear or read the Bible in their first language, and the Bible forever remains a “foreign” book.

So what will happen is this: Christian leaders in Mexico who speak both languages will use an app on their tablets, and bit by bit translate the Bible from Spanish into their own local dialect.

It is amazing that in the 21st century, people in remote areas, without electricity or telephones can start translating the Bibles into their own languages, using kits that donors have supplied (click here).

Wycliffe Associates just tried an experiment: they set up 13 native speakers in a remote area of Asia – and working in 12-hour shifts, they were able to translate half the New Testament in just a month.

We have nine people on our committee, and we are working on Acts. Our task is to go carefully over the text, and to write Translation Notes that will help people in the field to render the Bible accurately. For example, in Acts 16:31, Paul says “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, and your house.” We have a note about the word “house” – we remind translators that it doesn’t mean the physical building where people live, but rather the people who lived with the Philippian jailor – his extended family, workers, and servants. Now no-one will make the mistake of having the Bible say that “your hut can be born-again”!

Here are two notes that I wrote for Acts 20:7 – On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul spoke to the believers. He was planning to leave the next days, so he kept speaking until midnight. 8 There were many lamps in the upper room where we had come together.

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This project will run for 3-5 years, and has the potential of reaching every language on earth, and within a much abbreviated period of time. In fact, they will be flying me to their center in Orlando on June 20, where I will work with a team to write the Romans material in just a week.

Everything we do as missionaries to Costa Rica is aimed toward one goal: “Y este evangelio del reino se predicará en todo el mundo como testimonio a todas las naciones, y entonces vendrá el fin.” – Oops! That’s the Spanish of Matthew 24:14. Better say it in English! “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”

Please pray for this new open door! Blessings this month, Gary and Karen

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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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