A Testimony - Dr Morgan “Doc”

 An excerpt from the first chapter in the book “A Servants Call” (not yet in print) by Dr. Stephen J. Morgan – most notably referred to as “Doc”.

There comes a point in time in everyone’s life where professionally you are just there. You’ve seen it, you’ve done it, you’ve learned it, and you’ve perfected it! The lord laid a profession on your heart, you’ve replied “Here I am Lord, speak for your servant is listening” and you obey. Well after a Business degree, 10 years working in the world of Finance, a Science degree, a dental degree and 15 years of running a dental practice, I felt like Moses spending those 40 years in the desert after he killed an Egyptian; trained and ready for something more. For God to plug me in to my next adventure – my next calling.

That’s where my life was near the end of 2006, just after my father died. I felt God was calling me for a more personal closeness to Him; my Heavenly Father. It was one of the nagging feelings many of us have had but have a fogginess of how to approach the process. So I did the only thing I remember being taught in this area. I started reading my Bible and praying daily. Specific prayers to my God using my talents in dentistry to further His kingdom. I knew he didn’t need anything from me, not my dental talent (His talent), not my money (His money), not my business sense (His sense), just my obedience. To be an obedient servant who trusts Him with no reservations or hesitations. That’s all, just me; He wanted me. So I began to earnestly pray that winter of 2006, 12 years ago. I wasn’t anxious, I wasn’t nervous, (ok, ok maybe a little), I was patient and prayed daily for the Lord to use me above where I was at in my walk with Him. That he would show me the way I would follow.

 

I must say, it is a little nerve-wracking to pray like this. Being taught both in a Christian home and Christian schools I attended that God was a jealous God, this was NOTsomething to fool around with. I was asking Him to reveal his purpose in me and I knew there was more He wanted from me. I don’t consider myself a brave man; in fact, just the opposite. But if I was going to open myself up to serving Him, then I HADto be ALLIN. Taking a GIANTstep out of my comfort zone was a bit unnerving (maybe a lot!).

Well, I always say God has a sense of humor and I love that about Him! In the spring of 2007 my life as I knew it moved in a direction I wasn’t ready for. Through all my prayers and believing I knew my Lord so well, I expected some increased service time. Maybe with the homeless in Traverse City, MI or maybe sponsoring dental clinics for the poor, or even going to a place like Anvil, Kentucky and offering dental services there. I even started pushing the envelope in those first to areas I mentioned thinking God was waiting for me to act. Oh how shallow my faith can be! Let me tell you the story that led to my 12 years and counting of serving in Costa Rica:

In the spring of 2007 I was doing what I’ve done for years after playing sports, I was coaching sports. This particular year I was coaching my daughter Emily’s high school varsity basketball team. She was a senior and every year seniors went on a mission trip somewhere before graduation. This particular year it happened to be Costa Rica through Pura Vida Missions under Gloria & DeLynn Hoover. Well, I was close to the six seniors, having coached them for a number of years, so they asked collectively if I would come along as a chaperone. I’d say it took as long as it just took me to write chaperone to accept. One of my many tasks was to contact the head missionary (DeLynn) to get a list of all necessary criteria for the trip. In one of our conversations he asked what I did for a living so I said I was a dentist. He very quickly became quite excited, to my bewilderment, and explained they needed dentists in certain areas of Costa Rica in a bad way and just so happened to know of a clinic available if I could bring instruments and supplies. Not knowing what to say, I simply told him I would pray about it and hung up. I had nothing more to say, nor could I. I just sat and cried, literally cried. Could this possibly be God’s answer to my prayers of the last few months, and if so, where in the world was he sending me…me?!

First I needed to look on the map just to see where exactly Costa Rica is, and then the language, and then the weather, and the…the…the – please Lord don’t send me to Africa…AGH!

That same night, I knew I had made a grave, grave error; sin really. Here I had been praying earnestly for Him to branch me into other services for Him and what did I do? Did I leap with joy and excitement? Did I fall on my knees and praise Him? Did I even just smile and say ‘thank you’? Nope. I pulled away; I doubted, I became anxious and excuses began to formulate within. I had failed Him once again. My heart became very heavy, guilt-ridden actually.

Well my night was restless with lots of prayers and tears. As daylight approached, my tears of anguish began to turn into tears of excitement and relief. God had answered my prayers and sent me packing. Was He actually sending me to an area I knew communication would be difficult, almost impossible? Am I to help a group of people I didn’t know or even look like? Would I be accepted? Could I even get my instruments into the country? God are you actually talking to ME??? Who am I to bend God’s ear? He listens and cares about me?

The story continues with a few more twists and turns before my life as I knew it would be change forever. And yes, all this plays into my relationship with Kimi, Raul & Esperanza Mission, and ultimately in my walk with my Lord & Savior Jesus Christ. But alas, I have overextended my word allowance in this blog and have to graciously ask Kimi & Raul if I can continue this adventure story next month. I apologize for my wordiness, but if this causes even one person to look at themselves in regard to their relationship with our Lord and pursue Him, then His work in my life has purpose. For is it good works that God demands of us or is it simply obedience? To obey him…then serve out of gratitude. That’s how I read my Bible.

Humbly - Doc

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A Thanksgiving Update

Tuesday night our family sat down to Thanksgiving dinner.  Thursday we would not all be together, as that is the day that Raul would hike up to the remote village where Esperanza ministers.  

 

Though Thanksgiving is not a Costa Rican holiday, and the foods that we eat on this day in the US are largely, sometimes completely, unknown to Costa Ricans (especially in the indigenous regions), it has become a very special day in our home.  Everyone pitches in for a traditional Thanksgiving meal, complete with the turkey, gravy, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, rolls, and the list goes on.  

 

Also a part of our meal on this special day is a time where each one gives thanks to God.  We ask them to put a little extra thought on what they will say beforehand.  It is always a day of immense gratitude for me, and when I hear the words spoken by each of the [no longer] “children” that are our family, I am overwhelmed.  There are seven young people that have been a part of our family for the last many years, and they are to us like children of our own.  It is often hard for them to give voice to the deepest truths in their lives, especially coming from a place where self-expression is a challenge for most people. The common thread between each of them was gratitude for this family unified not by blood or by law, but by choice, by love.  

 

It has been a strange year for us, and my piece of gratitude is that God has sustained us so faithfully during this time.  As you may know, I was not as much a part of the ministry of Esperanza during 2018 because of some personal health reasons related to my pregnancy.  I was absent for nearly the whole year.  As I have returned home, I have been completely overwhelmed at how much bigger God’s plans are than our own.  He is good, and His faithfulness endures forever.  I was warmly welcomed, receiving visitors from near and far on these first days.  The children that I love so much rushing to our house for a big hug, something I will treasure.  

 

I am so much more aware now than ever, that Esperanza is the Lord’s ministry; not Raul’s or mine.  He has grown it this year in ways that we could not even dream, and being back home has certainly opened my eyes to this fact. That is my gratitude.  My thanksgiving is that I can even be a small part of the work of God in this world, through the ministry of Esperanza. 

 

I am amazed to return home to Shrioles and see my absence filled in many ways.  Many people have stepped up to fill in those gaps.  I look at the ministry of the Children of the Promise and see how first Dina and now Reiny have stepped in to love these children and invest in their lives.  I am encouraged to see Maria, a leader in the sewing ministry, also to have taken up a Bible study three nights each week.  The teens that are a part of it refer to themselves lovingly as Maria’s disciples. 

 

I see even the absence of our four missionaries to Thailand being filled in many ways.  I am amazed that we have been able to send them, though I must admit that I was concerned about their being gone, as they have played huge roles in the leadership of the ministry.  But even so, God is good, and when we give Him our best, He returns it a hundred fold.  No one can out-give God.  He is pleased to give good gifts to His children, and in Him, no sacrifice is ever lost.   

 

I am encouraged to see Melina, who has grown our women’s craft ministry, and with another one of our leaders, Tita, is reaching out to women and families in need even beyond the community of Shiroles.  I am proud to see our “son” Luis, 15, emerge as a leader among his friends and organizing single-handedly a soccer tournament for his age group.  He boldly is reaching out to his friends and sharing Christ with them.  I am encouraged to see so much growth in our relationship in Alto Coen, and since I was home we have hosted dozens of friends from this area.  They made a day-long journey to our dental clinic, and to welcome me back, and I am eager for the opportunity to continue to build those relationships as they come to us.  We can return the hospitality that they have shown us.  I see how much trust has been built between the “Alto Coen family”, as they refer to themselves, and Esperanza.  That is absolutely the work of the Holy Spirit.  

 

Thank you to so many who are a part of the work God is doing here in Costa Rica.  

 

With love,    Kimi

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A Testimony

 

Read below the testimony of what God is doing in Sarah Heyde’s heart as she serves with Esperanza in these summer months. She is a part of the Applied Leadership team from Colombia Bible College.  

 

What an amazing experience it has been so far to live in Shiroles and work alongside the Esperanza ministry. God has been working in so many ways, but I want to focus in on one major lesson He has been teaching me through the people and ministry here.


The way in which I have seen God at work in my life here in Shiroles, is that He has been teaching me the value of living day-by-day. I have seen this come up a lot here, either in the way I have seen people live or the things the say. Raul has mentioned it a few times, and it always gives me a lot to think about because it is not usually how I look at things. I am very much future-oriented, and not always in a good way - I can often worry too much about what lies ahead, and not pay attention to what is right in front of me. One specific thing that Raul mentioned that had really stuck with me is that we only have today - yesterday is gone and tomorrow is not even here, all we have is right now. So, how are you going to use this day to be a blessing? Thinking about this, I have realized how much my worries and concerns can get in the way of me being a blessing today. If my mind is focused on the future, that means it is not focused on the present. Maybe that seems obvious, but I can so often unintentionally do this. I can be focused on something up ahead - whether it be a task, deadline, an event, or any other concern - and I completely miss out on ways I can be a blessing right now. It is not as if I should never think about and plan for things to come, but when my head is always in a worried state, I become blind to what is right in front of me. After all, I do not even know if tomorrow will ever get here! It's really all about trusting God to provide for my needs, for both today and the days to come. Jesus teaches us to pray "give us today our daily bread," not, "give us all we need for the next few weeks (or months) right now." No, it's about trusting in God on a daily basis that He will provide you with what you need and give you the tools and strength you need to be a blessing to others. I see this lived out so faithfully in the people here at Esperanza. Whether it be the children's ministry, or visiting with the elderly, or helping out people in the village with different work projects - they are faithful to their task and always find a way to be a blessing to those who come across their paths. I am so inspired by how they keep on giving of their time, energy, and resources, and then give beyond that. There is always room for someone at the table, always space for one more person to join in an activity, and always enough strength to bless one more individual. They give and give, and I can only see this coming out of the immense love they have for God and his children, and the trust they put in Him to provide for their daily needs. That is something I want to take with me back home: to know that God has given me what I need for today, and because of that I can be a blessing to others. I do not need to concern myself with how He will provide in the future, for today is the day He has given me to be a blessing to others. I really do only have this day - will I use it to focus on things that have not happened, or to focus on what is right in front of my eyes? If I have learned one thing in my life, it is that you never know how profoundly your actions could impact others. So, I want to use this day to be a blessing to others, to the fullest capacity I can, in the way God has made me to do so. The ministry and people here have already taught me so much about this, and I am excited to learn more over the next few weeks!

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3rd Annual Children of the Promise Trip

We truly had an amazing weekend with the children who were able to make the trip to San José this past weekend. Of the 20 we invited, not one missed out on this experience. Though there are more than 20 involved in our Children of the Promise ministry, we are only able to bring those who have been participating the most in the course of the last year. 

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we were thrilled to have this cutie along, who had not travelled in years past because of her age, but her perfect attendance for years made us feel like she had definitely earned her spot. 

 

Our days were packed with fun - first we headed to the Costa Rican Children’s Museum - a first time for us all!   

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SO MUCH to explore there, we only got to see about a forth of it!  But the kids loved learning about Ancient Egypt, electricity, architecture, and “shopping” in the supermarket!  

 

From there we headed to the house of a friend of Esperanza who invited us all over for the afternoon - the kids had a blast playing soccer, eating hot dogs, chocolate cake, s’mores over the campfire, and especially the piñata!  We were so grateful for the generous invitation!   

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Day 2 we headed to the pools and had a great morning playing in the water and were so grateful to finally feel the heat of the sun!!

 

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That evening we tried something new - we headed over to the new trampoline park!  The kids absolutely LOVED jumping and playing to their hearts content 💗

 

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Day 3 we spent at the Amusement Park and after that, it’s safe to say these kids were tuckered out!  

 

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THANK YOU to our friends at Lil Lambs who made this possible a third year!  We have no words to express our gratitude!  But these smiles should speak volumes!   

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Centenary Team Fall 2017

Post Contributed by Richard Grier 

Arriving in the beautiful rain forest of Shiroles, Costa Rica is always refreshing…especially when you bring 3 ten and eleven year old girls that are full of life, wonder and love with you! Our team of 9 arrived in early October to serve alongside the leaders of Esperanza for the week. While we had some things planned, we were prepared for anything God brought our way. Our crew came prepared to teach the women and children how to weave on a loom. We saw many beautiful creations (along with some half-finished-due-to-frustration looms). In addition to weaving, the women and young girls from KY got to share about their personal journeys with God and encourage the women and children from the area in different ways.

 

 

Three of our leaders spent 4 nights training 16 Tico leaders to hopefully begin an IAM3RD soccer league in the area. (IAM3RD is a sports ministry based out of Centenary UM Church that is now in 4 countries and has over 4500 participants in Central KY.) Each afternoon following the training, we invited local children to come and participate in a two hour clinic, which included a devotion, physical training, soccer skills training and games. The number of children grew each day until we finished the last day with 48. By the 3rd day of clinics, the local leaders were running the show (in spite of the lightning storm nearby). It was so powerful to watch the leaders plan the next day with their group of coaches and then execute the plan to perfection. They shared responsibilities throughout the two hour clinic and all the children were very engaged. We can’t wait to see what God does with this league in the near future.

 

Our crew also got to hike up to Kimi and Raul’s new “retreat lodge and farm” (fancy name for a 150 sq. ft. room with all kinds of planted vegetation and fruit overlooking the rain forest and mountains. While the hike was fairly straight up, the destination and its view made it all worth it.

 

For some of us, we have been to Shiroles multiple times so it is great to deepen old relationships, encourage othersand just spend time sharing God’s love. The time spent there is always renewing for us as well. For everyone, we witnessed one of the closest models of the Acts 2 church that a person can find - disciples making disciples that serve one another and their community while digging into God’s Word together. They serve the orphans, the widows, the elderly, the least, the last and the lost. They send people out to minister to those around Costa Rica and the world. Most of what they have is shared in common and there seems to be a deep trust in the Esperanza community. We jumped in with some manual labor, home visits with food and prayer, and great times of worship as a community of believers and friends.

 

Until next time…

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