Friday, June 10, 2016

It's Time

We've made a decision to move back to the United States.  The time has come for us to move on to the next chapter.  We've served in Costa Rica for a little over 3 years under the leadership of Dr. Carlos Saenz, who we really admire.  He has been very good to us, particularly in the past 6 months.

We've had, and served with, groups from Michigan, West Virginia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Wisconsin, Texas, Florida, Oklahoma, California, Ohio, Iowa, Oregon, Tennessee, Missouri, Washington, and Pennsylvania and it's been a blast. We've really enjoyed working with the teams, meeting new people, and watching lives change right in front of us. We've seen perspective changes (including ours) and people gain an understanding of a culture other than their own. We've been to a ton of different places in Costa Rica, Panama, Nicaragua, Belize, and Honduras.  We've seen some beautiful places and met a lot of great people. We've learned more than we could've imagined. We have had some great conversations and made some awesome connections with people from all over the United States and for that, we are very thankful. We've experienced what it's like to be the outsider, the foreigner, the people who just don't fit in. We've been stared at, judged, given dirty looks, been ignored, been treated like we're stupid, been yelled at, and more. We've been loved, valued, had people be excited to see us, been thanked, been looked up to, made good friends, served the poor and homeless, and more.  We've built big churches and small ones, parsonages, worked at schools, in homes, and in communities. Our son started his own ministry and our kids learned a new language. Our boys went to 4 different schools in 3 years.  We've been blessed with opportunities that most people never have while having support from friends and family.

It's been hard.  At times, it's been strange and scary.  We've been nearly hit by busses, cabs, and cars countless times.  I've learned how to drive like an insane person on amazingly crazy roads with unimaginable hills and turns.  I've learned that I love American Staffordshire Terriers and we got the best dog we've ever had, bar none =)  (Ditka)  We've learned how to take very cold showers (still HATE it), deal with heat and humidity, bugs, spiders, lots of rain, "Tico Time", insane motion sickness, lack of water pressure, lack of water altogether, diesel pollution, power outages, how to cook a lot of rice, do without foods we love, deal with volcanic ash, Chikungunya, and live in a fishbowl.

God has something different for us now and I'm looking forward to that.  We will be moving back at the beginning of August.  We'll live pretty close to our home church and two of our boys will probably walk to school.  We're going to be starting all over and that's scary too!  God's been with us here even when I didn't feel like it, and he'll be with us there too.  We're looking forward to new ministry opportunities and will be transferring James' ministry to the Chicagoland area.  The end of our contract as "missionaries" does not mean that we won't see our new home as mission territory.  It's all a mission field; we often forget or overlook that fact.

So, we're excited.  Our first hurdle was jumped on Wednesday and we'll be leaping over more later.  Thank you for your prayers and support over the last three years; we've needed and appreciate it more than we could ever explain.  We are so thankful for each one of you; your friendship and support is priceless!

We have two more groups before we leave and we're really looking forward to serving with them.  James' ministry will be used during the first group and we're thankful for the opportunity to serve the community of San Pedro de Poás in this way.  We'll post about those after the groups are gone...keep your eyes open for pictures and updates on the groups!

Love,
Kim (and the rest of the LeGrands!)



Sunday, February 28, 2016

Show Love Speak Life

Show Love Speak Life Ministries is something our son, James, began.  After going to a youth event in the States, he felt the need to do something more.  He started the ministry to help those in need in Costa Rica by collecting clothing and shoes to give to those who needed them.  Although he is always on the lookout for needy people, this is his second large event at a church in Costa Rica.  This one was in Heredia, in a Barrio called Fatima.  Our friends, Javier and Heidy, pastor the church.

This event started with inviting the homeless and needy in the area.  Many came.  They received coffee and bread as they arrived and talked until the service started.  About 50 needy people packed the small church, so much so that many of us stood outside during the service.  Extra benches needed to be brought into the church.  Of the 50 that came, 20 of them came forward during the invitation at the end to accept Christ.  It was powerful.

After the service, they were fed. They received chicken and rice, a salad, bread, and some juice.  Then it was time to give them clothes and shoes.  They lined up and the members of the church and other volunteers helped to find them something that would suit them.

I always feel a bit weird taking pictures during times like this because I don't want people to feel exposed or used.  Something that surprised me though, is how many of them wanted their picture taken.  A few of them said something like, "Take my picture, I exist".  It didn't occur to me that these are the people that are often ignored, like they don't exist.  People will pretend they aren't there, cross the street to avoid them, or give them a hard time for being homeless and having nowhere to go.

Taking their picture and talking to them proved that they are here on earth and that they matter.  That really affected me all day.

Here are a few pictures from today:





































Monday, February 22, 2016

Iowa!


Today we said goodbye to our friends from Iowa.  This is the team that we fondly call the "pick axe" team (actually it was a mattock) because of an incident with the tool 2 years ago.  Thankfully, we had no injuries this time, just a virus that went around the team, which kindly included James and Kim.  It was a gift from a passenger on one of the planes.  


This team was full of some very skilled people and they came right at the perfect time.  They weren't people who had just used the tools before, they were experts.  The second floor railing at La Finca is beautiful.  The team truly worked their hearts out.  They installed all of the ceilings in the Sunday school rooms and the first floor of the addition in the front.  They sanded and then primed the entire front of the church, they poured concrete on the inside and sides of the church, installed the top wall between the church and Sunday school hallway, put in a half wall at the end of the hall, and cleaned the rooms to perfection.  On top of this, they took a trip to Barrio Amigos, a poor community nearby that needed help with a major erosion/drainage issue.  They worked alongside the community and members of the La Finca church and got the job done...on what they estimated was a 45-degree slope (maybe more at the top).  They passed out Bibles to the kids that congregated.

                       The hill they'll never forget

Beau, Patrick and Jeff working with concrete

One of the funny things was how much we kept saying, "This never happens!"  The wind was incredible pretty much the entire time the team was in Costa Rica, so much that the day they arrived, a much-loved tree had fallen and destroyed a small structure on the church property.  It was wild wind, so violent that it was very hard to sleep for all the noise it made.  It rained when we went up to La Fortuna and Arenal Volcano, something that shouldn't have happened during this time of year, but did.  Thankfully we were able to do the canopy tour without being rained on.  When we got back we told Mauren, pastor Johnny's wife, about the rain and she said "That never happens!"  It was perfect.



It was a nice mix of members of the team from 2 years ago and some new faces.  We were able to visit the San Isidro church where they worked 2 years ago and they welcomed the team with hugs, kisses, coffee and cake.  The team was able to see the finished fruits of their labor, hear about future ministry plans for the church, and see some old friends.

The Lighthouse Work & Witness team had the opportunity to work alongside the team from La Finca one evening as well.
Not a great photo, but you get the idea.  

This was one of those teams that you truly miss when they leave.  We laughed a lot and they treated us like family. We had great moments of talking and sharing and some pretty horrible, corny jokes. Plus, they brought Butterfingers and beef jerky among many other things =)

    The hallway



It might not look like much, but the wall they installed helps both the Sunday school and the church.  It made a world of difference.  

The La Finca church wouldn't be where it is now without Work & Witness teams.  The sacrifice of time, talent, and money is truly a blessing to the church and community.  God bless each of you that has come on a trip and contributed.  We are so thankful to have you in our lives!  




Famous San Pedro de Poás sunset

Saturday, September 26, 2015

If you're visiting, welcome!  It's been quite a while since I have updated our page...sorry for that.  This week (the week of September 28th), check back and I will have updated it finally.  I'm going to include information on current projects and what we're up to.

Thanks for visiting!  We appreciate your interest and your support.

I was in Oregon for a Work & Witness conference and got to meet some great people and make some contacts and Patrick and I were in Columbus, Ohio for another conference the week after.  It's good to be with people who do the same thing and people who have a passion for what you do.

Thanks again for your interest.  Please check back for an update soon!

Lots of love!
Kim LeGrand

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Thank you!

In 12 days we will be getting on a plane at 5:00am and heading for Costa Rica.  

There are some people that really need to be thanked.  There are some I will mention by name and some will not.  I will miss some names, but if you know us well enough, you know that we are grateful for everything that has been done and given and everyone who took part.  

To our gracious hosts:  We went from staying for two months to four and it will end up being four and a half months.  You did much more for us than I will mention, because you are not the kind of people who want credit for what you do.  There are very few people on this earth like you and we are incredibly blessed to call you friends.  We are beyond grateful and hope we can make an impact on others as you have on us.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!  We will never be able to say it enough and cannot express our thanks for your friendship, prayers, love and generosity.   We look forward to your next trip to see us and we hope it is soon.    

To our neighbor Jeff: I am sure you put up with a whole lot more than I am even aware.  You went from your own bathroom, shared every once in a while, to sharing it with 5 additional people, including 3 not-so-neat boys.  You were ready for them when they came at full speed to jump on you and never were too busy to talk, either.  You heard more than enough scolding, fighting and chaos than you were probably anticipating.  Thank you for putting up with us.  You will soon have your bathroom back and your life will be a little quieter.  I hope someday you can come to visit us in Costa Rica.  We will miss you!

To my closest friends:  I will name you because I can, but you know who you are anyway.   To Peggy, Rhonda, Cindy, Beth and Jen:  I will miss you more than I can express.  All of you are aware what you mean to me.  I have had something I never had (other than in Patrick):  people that I could call on for prayer, to laugh with me, to cry with me, to bring me back to reality and make sure I never felt forgotten.  You are such an incredible blessing to me.  Thank you for being there when I needed someone and thank you for being my friends.  I have needed you more than I can express and you have not let me down.  I love you and it hurts to know how much I will miss being away from you.  Thank you for making me laugh when I didn’t feel like it.  You were sent straight from God and I will never take that for granted.  I expect each of you to make your way down at some point.  I know where you live.  

To those who are housing our things:  Thank you for giving up space in your basement and letting us rummage through our things when we needed to.  From my very missed kitchen equipment to our saved furniture to the Corvair, you’ve taken care of the things we have left and we are so grateful for that.  

To Karli and Nick:  Thanks for taking care of our Ditka.  You made him better and gave him a home when we couldn't.  We love him and are so grateful that you sacrificed time, energy and plants to take care of him.  Thank you so much!
To the Hairs:  Thanks so much for taking care of Maddux for the last 19 months.  We know you are Sox fans and cannot stand his name, but thanks for loving him and taking care of him anyway!  Pat and Jim, we love you both so much!  You have been such a blessing in our lives in so many ways.  

For our church family:  Thank you!  Patrick and I met there when we were 16.  Some of you remember that; others came into our lives later.  Your support, love, generosity and prayers have been immeasurable and sacrificial.  You are our home.  It’s not necessary to have a place that we own to call home because you’ve always been there.  Chicago First Church of the Nazarene is our home and that will not change no matter where “home” is geographically.   We look forward to the trips from C1 that will be coming our way.  We wait expectantly to see each of you.  


In short, thank you!  We have been so blessed by the people that God has put in our path and our lives.  We’ve also been blessed with some awesome Work & Witness groups with whom we still stay in contact and expect to come back to Costa Rica.  We’ve been given this awesome group of friends (I didn’t name all of them and didn’t name any of Patrick’s friends).  We have family members who have been incredibly supportive, encouraging and loving through this.  It’s been difficult, but when family and friends stand by you, it makes it so much easier.  It’s easy to feel forgotten when you’re far away and the people who love us have made sure that they stayed in contact and made sure that we knew we were loved from the moment we left.  For that, we thank you with all our hearts.  It has meant more than we can ever express, especially to me.   We have some pretty awesome people in our lives;   God made sure of it...He's taken care of us.  


-Kim



Saturday, December 6, 2014

Left Field


Most of you will not be expecting this.  We weren’t.  The thought had come into our conversation once or twice, but we were practically positive this wouldn’t happen.



Through a series of changes, which I believe to be attributed only to God, we are actually being sent back to Costa Rica.  The current coordinators are being sent to another country, which leaves a void, one that we have been asked to fill. We will become the Work & Witness coordinators for Costa Rica.  

The changes that made the decision a bit easier are a few significant things, some of which I won’t mention, but they helped to push things along.  The assignment does not include Panama this time.  It makes me both very happy and a little sad.  I really liked the time we spent in Panama and especially the people there, but there was one large problem:  School.

Homeschool for all of us was a bust; it just didn’t work.  The curriculum was awesome and the boys learned a lot more than I ever expected (I was floored at how superior it was to public school), but they were lonely and there was WAY too much together time for all of us.  Sometimes we just need a break from each other.  The boys also need social relationships that they will get in school that they did not get while homeschooled.   Months before we decided to leave Costa Rica, we picked out a school that is primarily geared towards missionaries. 

If we were to have groups coming into Panama, it pretty much meant that Patrick would lead the teams solo and I would have to stay behind with the boys so they could go to school.   This was a decision that I was dreading because I did not want to be left behind.  Taking Panama out of the equation lessens the amount of time that we will need to be apart. 

The Bridge.  For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, I will definitely post more about it later.  But, in short, there is a project that we’ve been “in” on from the beginning stages.  It is in an indigenous region in southern Costa Rica.  A rabid river floods, sometimes without warning, cutting off thousands and thousands of people from medical care, schooling, trade and other needs.  Many people have drowned trying to cross and many others have stayed sick because they never know when the river is passable.  A suspension bridge is planned to be built that will allow these people safe access to the other side.  It will also allow evangelistic and medical teams to have year-round access to the people. 

There are also other projects like La Finca (San Pedro de Poas) that we will be able to step into rather easily, since we know the pastors and the church project managers.   It also looks like there will be more projects planned around the city in the central region of Costa Rica which makes it possible for the boys and me to stay involved.  

Questions?  There are many.  No, the boys aren’t happy.  They didn’t have their “normal” parents on the first go-around in Costa Rica (especially me) and they didn’t have many friends.  They were secluded on the seminary campus and they were lonely.  We have promised that this will be different.  There are many reasons for this too, most of which I will not write down.  School is the first reason it will be different and experience on what and whom to trust is the second. 

We spent so much of the first half of our time in Costa Rica inside the seminary; Patrick and I were stir-crazy when we didn’t have groups.   Staying within the walls of the campus was what everyone else did unless they were going to church or grocery shopping.  When we started to leave regularly, taking walks and visiting non-missionary people, it got better for Patrick and me, but the boys were already so miserable, it did not snap them out of it.  Later, youth group helped for James and another positive: this go-around Aidan is old enough to go.

This time we know people too.  I don’t mean people in the seminary or even Costa Ricans, necessarily.   We have a support system of which we were not aware and we have people to talk to and help get us through things.  There have been people we've met in the 6 months or so that, if we were to need anything, we could say the famous...."I gotta guy" phrase.   

Yes, we sold or gave away a lot (again) when we left Costa Rica.  The fun thing about that (other than having to go shopping in the States for stuff) is that it is, indeed, only stuff.  We were able to bless people by selling things really cheaply or giving it away.   You can’t put a price on that.

Yes, we will be fundraising.  It won’t be nearly as much as last time and some of the money will actually be going to different things as well.  We also haven’t settled on a date yet, but it looks like it will be in January.  All in all, it looks like a better situation.

Thanks to God who allowed us to be home longer than we had originally thought for Christmas as well as for Patrick’s, Liam’s and my birthdays.  Yee haw.   


So, that’s that, for now, at least.  If you have questions, call me, email me, send me a message or see me at church. 


Monday, November 3, 2014

Pause

What happens when you’re stuck?  I mean you have been going in a direction for so long, then drastically, you change direction…then you seem to get stuck, or at least, God has hit the PAUSE button on moving to what’s next.  You don’t know where to go, what to do or to whom you should talk.  Every direction that you look feels wrong.  There is not a direction that you turn that seems to have the answers you want or need.   None of the options you see are particularly attractive.  None.

It’s not a matter of patience.  It’s a matter of life.  Not life or death of course, but just the direction of our lives - our lives as individuals and a family unit.  Plus, for goodness’ (and sanity’s) sake, these boys need to get into school and I need to stop being teacher!

What to do, what to do?  I know what I would do if given a choice.  I would pick one of two things if they presented themselves:  I would work under the leadership of a particular pastor in the Chicagoland area and be a part of what God’s doing there or I would move to Texas and start over, finding ministry there to dive into.  But, like before, we will go wherever He calls.  

But then, we are rarely given exactly what we think we want.  And there is good reason for that.  We rarely know what is best for us; that’s unless we are in-tune with God.  Sometimes, though, He seems to want to mix things up and keep things under wraps.  He’s unpredictable like that; things are always revealed in His time. 

We know that God sent us to Costa Rica.  After a lot of discussion, soul-searching and some complaining (mostly on my part), we’ve seen some of the reasons why.  After having a small amount of people question our sanity, our calling, our decision-making ability and many other things, we remain intent on following Him.  The call is not the question…only the location.    The call was never the question. 

There are certain things that I believe that many people will not agree.  We’ve heard something along this line: “You will know you are doing the right thing if your family is happy.”  FALSE.  It’s funny, God never told Abraham to move his family, possessions and everything else ONLY if his family was content with it.  You know they probably thought he was a little loopy when he told them that they were leaving and that God would eventually show them where to go.  I don’t know…maybe they didn’t.  But, I know what I would be thinking!   Looking at another example, I just can’t see that Paul was particularly giddy at the thought of beatings, prison, shipwrecks, lack of food, or the other many things he endured.  God never told him that he should endure those things ONLY if it made him happy.  I’d bet many things were the opposite of what we’d consider happy times.  Sure, he had JOY from the Lord, the kind of joy that surpasses all understanding, but I can be pretty sure that he wasn’t looking forward to the hardships and having happy-dance moments.   God's plan is so much bigger than us, individually and collectively.  Our happiness should be a product of being in the center of his plan, not a product of getting what we want or being in a place that is comfortable for us.    

It’s never been about happiness.  Would I like some?  Well, you betcha!  Happy is a state of mind.  But as our pastor said this last Sunday:  Changing the world is never easy.  I’ve never had anyone promise me that it would be a cakewalk (whatever that is - it does sound tasty).  We can have joy in the midst of struggles, setbacks, negativity, attacks, and even in the middle of PAUSE. 

“Changing the world,” you ask?  That seems a bit bold to say.  So many things in our little “world” have changed.  We left, gave away things, sold many other things and pretty much gave up the only life we ever knew.  We had hundreds of people give to help us fund our calling.  We went to a 4 different Latin American countries in 15 months, not being paid and not worrying about it either.  People we know looked at commitment, faith, and their “stuff” differently.  Some members of groups that we led in Costa Rica and Panama went home and took a good look at their lives and what was important.  There were a few whose lives completely turned around because of their experience there.  We got to be a small part of that.  We experienced things we would’ve never dreamed – all within a year and a half.  Some experiences had roaches and tarantulas, some had indigenous people and the Jesus Film.  We got the chance to put a new spin on what people consider the “American Dream”.  

What is the American Dream, anyway?  Another subject for another time. 

So many changes – in people, situations…and of course, in perspectives.  We're just waiting for what comes next.  We've completed, passed the assessment, and still holding for more information.  When we know, we'll let you know too.  

The thing is, all Patrick and I really want to do is to find where God is working and go there.  So, decisions need to be made at some point; I guess it’s not right now.  Decisions will come when opportunities present themselves.  So, hey Opportunities: we’re ready when you are! 

Our friend Brian posted a Joyce Meyer quote today and it fits.  "Patience is not the ability to wait, but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting".  Thanks Breen.  

Until then, I’ll be content singing in my home church, spending time with some pretty awesome friends, working out at CORE in Lemont, packing food for starving children, driving in relaxed Chicago suburb traffic (yes, really), and freezing in Chicago weather…well maybe not the last part.  It wouldn’t be so bad if I could find the winter coats I packed away.

In short, in the end all we really want to hear is,
Well done, good and faithful servant”.  (Portion of Matthew 25:21) 


That would be good enough for me. 


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

In Three Weeks


In less than three weeks we will spend our last night, at least for a long while, in Costa Rica.  It has been 15 months of learning, difficulty, giving things up, meeting new people, tears, learning a new language, making new friends and many other things.  We have led groups from Pennsylvania, Iowa, Chicago, West Virginia, Green Bay (with Indiana and Colorado), Michigan, and Washington also helping with the ONU Women’s Soccer Team, and groups from Missouri and Oklahoma (in Honduras).  We have been to Costa Rica, Panama, Nicaragua and Honduras.  Now that we have led our final group here, we have a lot of work to do.  We, again, have things to sell and give away.  We will spend the next 3 weeks deciding which of our things fit into each category.  This time, hopefully, we will not have to say goodbye to our dog.  We plan on bringing Ditka with us.  He will soon meet Maddux.




We were able to end our time serving with Work & Witness in Costa Rica by starting a new project with a team from Spokane, Washington. We began building a new building for the church called Los Angeles in Guadalupe Alto in San Jose.  We had some incredible rain, especially on our last workday.  It would rain really hard, we’d rest, and then the rain would rest, so we’d start again.  This pattern happened a few times, until finally we decided it was time to quit.  We decided to walk back in the rain.  The streets and walkways had become rivers, so much that I thought it would be best to hold on to Liam as we crossed some sidestreets so he wouldn’t be swept away.  We had to make a decision: to be irritated by the inconvenience or to laugh at the hilarity of it all.  For most, the second was chosen.  The team from Spokane was introduced to Costa Rican rainy season.  As James said, it was a perfect end to the trip.  We laughed and ran and got absolutely soaking wet.  We were hit by huge waves of water created by passing cars.   Umbrellas and ponchos were of no help.  It was a monsoon.  It was hilarious and a ton of fun.  I don’t think I’ve laughed that hard in Costa Rica since my friends Peggy and Rhonda were here in October.  My friends, I am ready to laugh like that again in a few weeks.  I love and miss you.

The ministry time with this team was a bit heartbreaking to me.  We went to a school that we have been to before.  This time we had an opportunity to talk to a few of the teachers while a few of the kids immediately attached themselves to members of the team.  One boy, in particular, sat in the lap of Ray, a gentleman from Spokane.  I don’t think it would have been possible to remove him if we had tried.  This little one was starved for attention.  We learned that many of these children were orphaned or abandoned by their parents.  Some of them didn’t look very healthy to me.  We sang songs about Jesus, made crafts, had puppet shows and colored.  None of that really mattered.  The only thing most of these kids needed was love.  The teachers do their best at the school.  I was heartbroken at the sight of it, but happy that we had at least a small opportunity to show them a little love.   It just feels so wrong to see kids like this.  It happens all over the world and I’ll never get used to it. 

The little boy that 
wouldn't leave 
Ray's side 











One of the little girls
 at the school





So, it is coming to an end.  In some ways it seems like we have been here forever.  In others, it seems a little shorter than that.  It will be 15 months.  What we thought might be long-term, is ending.  We are moving on, hopefully to where the Lord is leading us.  I anticipate more building, more change, more tears and more adjustment.  Along with these, however, I hope comes a lot more ministry, more building, stronger relationships, more interaction with local people and a lot more smiling. 

To my missionary friends who are in transition like we are: we love you and are excited to see what God has in store for you.  You are awesome.  Our mutual friends talked so highly of you before we met.  They compared our family with yours.  I only hope that we might come close to measuring up to you someday.  You are an inspiration.

2 Corinthians 5:13-14a, 16a-17
 
13If we are “out of our mind,” as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all...
16So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view... 17Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
 In terms of our time here: The old has gone, indeed.  We await the new.  Call us “out of our minds”…I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Well, maybe add chopped salad from Portillos. 


Some pictures:
Arenal Volcano, where we took the group for tourism



 
 Teaching "P" how to bend rebar

I guess this is one of my two jobs on worksites:  I bend rebar and I shovel



Another little girl from the school.
Aidan, cutting rebar.
Patrick (orange hat) and I (black shirt), along with the team, helping to carry blocks down the hill


The worksite


James, working on the wall
     


Compliments of L.M.
Compliments of L.M. 

Believe it or not, these are bug bites.  We were attacked at Arenal Volcano.  The bugs really liked "V's" legs....


Thanks for reading!