International Ministries

San Joaquin - March 2015

March 22, 2015 Journal
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Dear Friends,

In the heart of tourist country, at the foot of  the Arenal volcano, I encountered grinding poverty and stories of God’s grace. I was visiting the missions of my church to offer training and encouragement. It’s a beautiful 4-hour drive through rolling mountains covered with coffee plantations, roving cattle, quaint villages, and plantations of pineapple and sugar cane. In these four little mission churches along the side of a gravel road, God is doing mighty things.


Arenal volcano


God brings light and new life

The picturesque pineapple and sugar cane fields are maintained by backbreaking work at starvation wages. The huge corporations fire their workers after 3 months to avoid paying benefits. But options are limited for the local people, many of whom have no more than a few years of schooling. Ester was one of these. She lives in a tiny rustic house, caring for her elderly father. She was never able to finish high school because she couldn’t afford the bus fare or the textbooks. But her dream is to become a nurse. I was moved by her story and offered to help her. It’s been a difficult journey. When I met with her on this trip, I discovered that she been forced to halt her studies to accompany her father in the hospital for 3 months, living with the help of her extended family. With tears she asked me if I was still willing to help her, now that her father is stabilized. Who could say no to this dream?




Ester comes from a family that has experienced the transforming love of God. Her mother grew up in a dysfunctional home that left scars in all the children, but their faith gave them resilience and hope. Both her aunt and her uncle serve churches in the region. Saturday night I stayed with her aunt Gerarda and uncle Leandro. As we sat in the dark (the electricity had gone out), Gerarda told me how she had left home at 14 because the situation was so unbearable. Even at that age she had a strong faith and believed that God would open doors for her. She went in to the big city and got a job as a maid. She recalled how the lady of the house would take her daughters and the two maids out for fried chicken--she would order chicken for her daughters and when they were done, pass the bones over to the maids. After 4 months of mistreatment, God intervened and sent her an angel: a woman who “hired” her, but essentially adopted her as another daughter, sent her to school, taught her basic skills, and encouraged her to become someone. She grew in her faith, married and she and Leandro became pastors. Leandro sells snacks on the buses and Gerarda has a tiny store to supplement their meager pastoral salary. Gerarda’s special ministry has been with Nicaraguan transients, who need a safe haven, a chance to pull their lives and family together, and a touch of the gracious, forgiving, loving arms of God. She know a lot about that God!


The mother church in San José has accompanied these congregations for many years, and is deeply committed to providing scholarships for the children to study. We have seen the fruits: both high school and university graduates, with good-paying jobs and able to help their families. Gerarda and Leandro’s daughter was “adopted” by a family in the church in San José so that she could complete her university studies. She is now a teacher and she and her husband just adopted two troubled orphan boys. Out of darkness, God brings light and new life.



2015 Matching Gift Opportunity April 15 to June 15
Please consider a special gift toward my support during this time. Some generous supporters of International Ministries have offered to match any gifts to missionaries during this 2 month period. This does not apply to regular monthly donations, but to any new gifts or over-and-above pledges. Both individuals and churches can contribute, as long as the donation is clearly marked for the Matching Fund Drive.





Ruth Mooney

Prayer requests:

For Ester, as she continues her studies again,  toward her dream of becoming a nurse

For Gerarda and Leandro, in their ministries

The mission churches supported by the church in San José

Financial support for Ruth's ministry in Costa Rica, along with the Matching Fund opportunity April 15 to June 15