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August 2021 Newsletter

Gary’s turn this month.

We have seen many, many of you in the past few months! We popped up to Pennsylvania in April to get vaccinated and see the family, and decided we should make the rounds of some of our supporting churches. There were only so many Sundays, so we are sorry we didn’t see all of you: you will be at the top of the list for next time!

For those we did not see: all summer I have been preaching on the Two Great Commandments – to love God and to love our neighbor. My sense has been that while the church always pledges allegiance to those two priorities, we often get diverted into other crusades.

You can watch our missionary update and read my whole sermon HERE (https://openoureyeslord.com/2021/08/01/the-two-greatest-commandments-do-we-really-believe-that-the-bible-got-it-right-luke-1025-42/).

A portion:

People who tell you or even imply by their tone of voice that before doing the First and the Second you need to, that before Loving God with all your being some other box must be checked, to create a political or family or cultural or social environment and THEN we can begin to do Commandment One and Two, is telling Jesus he got it wrong. He or she is like the man who is plowing the field and keeps looking back over his shoulder. It doesn’t matter if you zig left or zag right, you’ll be plowing a crooked row. And the apostles agree on this: look at Romans, 1 Peter, 1 John, and even Revelation: the church of Ephesus was perfect except for this: they had lost their first love; and Jesus said he would snuff out their candle for that one error.

The Good Samaritan

The Good Samaritan demonstrates his love for his neighbor

No, Commandment One, Commandment Two are correctly labeled and in the right  order: Love for God – by developing intimacy with God (which would require a whole series of sermons) – concrete steps to know him intimately, spend time with him, learn his ways; for the first commandment is to love Him with  all your being – can you begin to find and help your neighbor. Love your neighbor as yourself – spend  time with them, learn about them, put yourself in their shoes, and love them as God  does. Jesus did both commandments perfectly, and it sent him to the cross. And both these commandments we do in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and only through the power of the Holy Spirit who teaches us to love.

I realized that not everyone was up to date on my work with Wycliffe Associates. I am the final editor through the entire Old Testament in a new symbol-language Bible for the deaf-and-blind and the deaf illiterate. (My final exam was to translate Jonah 1 into SUN). The SUN Bible New Testament is already available, and the Old Testament will be out as soon as possible. HERE is a full description (https://www.mnnonline.org/news/symbolic-universal-notation-a-new-way-to-reach-the-deaf-and-blind/). And you can take a look here (https://bibleineverylanguage.org/processes/sun/) and you can download a book to see what it looks like (actually, for the deaf-blind, feels like – they read it with their fingers!).

Blessings this month! Gary and Karen

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Christmas 2018

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!

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October 2018 Newsletter

“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.


Our adoptive grandson Sammy is glad to have us back! He is 11 years old now – and he would be in school this week, except for the fact that there is a general strike for the past three weeks.

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

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October 2017 newsletter

Reset time!

It has been a while since we visited our US churches, and we are substantially underfunded in monthly support pledges. So, we are planning a home assignment time back in the US: mainly in Philly area, from there to our friends in New England and elsewhere.

The plan for now is to spend January-April 2018 renewing old contacts and making new ones. If you would like to schedule a visit with us (whether a church group or a family visit), please get in touch with Karen – kshogren@hotmail.com.

Karen is working on a new project that will start early next year, which you’ll hear all about when we are in town. That means that we cannot take off the entire year to do fundraising, and we will have to be efficient in our time use. We will need perhaps 30 new people to pledge $50 a month. Please start to pray now: does God want you to be one of these new donors?

Gary’s Blog This Month
Since we last wrote, we have had earthquakes and killer hurricanes. Gary responded to those Christian leaders who claim to know exactly why these disasters happen. Enjoy “Why Would a Hurricane Hit Houston or Florida, but not, for example, Alabama?”

CLICK HERE to read.

Prayer Requests

  • Karen is busy doing research and holding meetings to explore a new ministry
  • Vikky has only a few more weeks left in her doctoral program, then the board exams in January

Financial needs for 2017
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

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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

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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”

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Shogrens’ Christmas Newsletter – page 1

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Go to Page 2!

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by | 2 Dec 2016 · 10:25 pm

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

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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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