Friday, November 19, 2010

Friday Grace Upon Grace in Cartagena

This is the continuation of what I wrote of yesterday about what God is doing in Cartagena and His Colombia Grace Foundation.

We went to meet with the chicken coop property owner this morning. We met with him and his daughter, Maria, at their attorney's home. We met for about 15 minutes while Ramon and the owner, Javier, Maria, Jhorman and their attorney chatted in Spanish. Maria asked us a few questions and then announced that everyone was in agreement and that the deal could proceed. They agreed to start the process today and accomplish as much as possible. Maria also revealed to us that the property was in her name and that she was the actual owner of it. As we stood to leave, THEIR ATTORNEY said that we should pray about the transaction and asked Mike to pray. We came together in the middle of the room and joined hands and Mike prayed that God's grace would be revealed in this transaction and that above all that God would be glorified in this ministry. It seemed amazing to me that we had gone from dealing with a guy and his attorney who had shown themselves to be rather greedy and less than honest, to dealing with owners who wholeheartedly approved of the future ministry on their property and were willing to pray with us about it.

When the others left the room and Mike, Josh , Maria and I were left alone, I began to tell Maria about how we had come to their home the day before with no real intention of buying their property, and how God had changed all three of our minds. She related to us that they had dealt on a sale of the property two months ago and it fell through. I asked her how long she was visiting from Florida and she told us that she had arrived here this Wednesday, and would be leaving next Tuesday. She had planned on making this trip two weeks prior, but for personal reasons had postponed it til now.

We marveled together at the "coincidence" that she just happened to be here when we were. Mike told her that she was welcome to visit the property at anytime. She said that she had wanted to ask if she could do that, but didn't want to be that bold. She proceeded to tell us that her and her husband have a furniture business in Florida, but they have a burden for working with children in some manner. She said that they are seeking God's will for their life and that this deal was part of the answer to their prayers. God showed us yet again that his entire undertaking is not about the property, it is about the hearts of His people. It had never occurred to me that God would bless the lives of the SELLER of the property through this ministry. He see's way further than we do.

We left to begin gathering documents and photocopies and to meet with the government officials that are necessary to complete the transaction. It was already afternoon on Friday and we were skeptical of getting much done this late in the day on Friday. Little did we know that we were in for an amazing day. We went and picked up our attorney and as we were driving downtown, she began singing How Great Thou Art in Spanish. Here we are, riding through a city in a foreign country, singing a hymn, in a foreign language, with our attorney. We met up with Jaimey, our interpreter, and went to the government office to find out about translation of our English documents to Spanish. The lady at this office was a Christian and when Ramon told her about the orphanage, she offered to help us in any way she could. Though it was late Friday, she expedited her part and told Ramon where to go to obtain the official translation.

We went to another government building and met up with Javier and went in to obtain another document. When we went in, the government official rose from his chair and greeted Javier. They were old friends. Again our paperwork was expedited and we were on our way within minutes.

Our attorney called and said that she had everything that she needed and that we were ready to proceed. Ramon left to go to the official translator's office, while we went to an internet cafe to call home and begin the money wire transfer. As we entered the internet cafe, there was a sign above the door that read: Dios es Bueno. God is good in Spanish. We had just been singing that on the sidewalk on the way to the cafe. We were able to contact Sharon and set the wire transfer in motion.

Ramon picked us up and told us that the translation would be very expensive. Usually. When he told the translator about the orphan ministry, she told him that she would take it home with her and do it after work for free. She wanted to be a part of the ministry.

As things stand right now, we will have all of the necessary documents in place a 10:00 am tomorrow(Saturday) and will sign the papers then. The money will be transferred into the owners account at 11:00 Monday and the property will belong to Columbia Grace Foundation. Mike had read that it takes an average of 22 days to complete a property purchase in Colombia. God had move that time frame up to about 2 days.

As we drove home to Pastor Ramon's house the sun was setting over the ocean and it was a beautiful sunset. We decided that God had given us that just as icing on the cake of blessing. We were overwhelmed with joy at the work of His hand. We agreed that we must go up on the roof tonight and sing His praises.

Maria had mentioned that they used to call the property the Nest. Josh suggested that we now name it Nest of Grace. Mike looked nest up in the Spanish dictionary and the word for nest is Nido. So the official name of the property is Nido de Gracia.

I was reminded of the story in the bible of when Jesus was about to enter into Jerusalem and sent some of His disciples to fetch a young colt for Him to ride on. When they went to do that and were asked what they were doing, they said their lord had need of it. They were immediately given permission. These were people that God had in place to fulfill a specific ministry at a specific time, just like he did today. Everywhere we went and everyone we met, were God's people, ready to do a specific task at a specific time, to fulfill God's purpose. From Pastor Ramon to the owners, attorneys, translators and government officials, He had them there and ready.
Praise the glory of His Grace!

Sorry it is so long. We had to proclaim God's wonderful work before we forgot anything.
Rick

Friday Grace In Cartagena

I wanted to tell you about yesterday how God worked. After we looked at the chicken property, none of us had much peace about it. When we realized that Ramon was taking us to meet the owner, we told him that we didn't know if we were interested or not. He was irritated and told us he had already set up the meeting and that we should go. We reluctantly agreed. We all were feeling like we wanted God to lead us but couldn't see how He could change our mind about this property. As we walked into the owners home, we all just wanted to get the meeting over with and go.

As we were talking with them, It struck me that we were dealing with people completely different than the previous owners we had dealt with. The first owner was a voodoo shaman. The second owner was only interested in the money, and was dishonest with us. This family was happy that the property that they had loved for 40 years was to be used for an orphan ministry. They had lowered the price. ( last night we found out that they had lowered $40,000 from their original price!) They showed us hospitality and grace and were very pleasant int heir business discussions.
Their daughter, who is visiting from America, took over the translation and did a great job.

As we left their home, I realized that God had indeed changed my heart about the property. Suddenly all of the positive aspects became prominent in my mind. The extra work of removing the chicken coops seemed insignificant, in light of getting this fresh perspective on the history and the heritage of the property. I realized that while we were looking at the amount of work that it would be, that God was providing us with something far more significant. That the heart of the people that He is using is His priority. He could use any property to fulfill this ministry, but He was showing me that the heart of the previous owners was important to Him. I walked out of their home believing that this was God's plan all along.

When we got home to Ramon's house, we went up on the roof to pray and worship. As I described my feelings, Mike and Josh were nodding in agreement and saying that they had the same exact response. They both described how bummed they were on the ride to the owner's home and that they both thought maybe we should just come home and wait and see what God was doing. When the elevator stuck, it seemed as if we were being thwarted at every turn. They walked into the owner's home feeling like me. Let's get this over with and go home. They both realized that as they left, they were sold on this property. That God had indeed changed their heart, though none of us knew yet what the others were feeling. As we all described our feelings both before and after the meeting with the owners, we realized that it would not be that significant if one of us had changed our mind, but it was not one or even two, but all three of us were describing the exact same feeling and experience. Of having our hearts inexplicably changed, in a matter of minutes, without even being aware it was happening. We all just suddenly realized our mind had been changed, when we felt certain that it would not. Quite the coincidence don't you think? We realized that only God could do this. We thanked Him and had a great time of worship and praise to Him. What a mighty and gracious God we serve. He works in the hearts of men in spite of our short sightedness. When we least expected it, He blessed us and worked in our hearts. When we were focused on the immediate, God revealed the important. Glory to His name.

Even if this deal does not go through, we will praise God for showing us this. he has renewed our confidence in Him yet again and we are in great anticipation of what he is going to do.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Praise Him! Praise Him!

Praise Him! Praise God for His provision and guidance! As you may know part of our team was able to take a trip down to Cartagena this past month. While there, we determined that the property that we were hoping to buy was not the property God desired for us. We looked at many different properties while there and were drawn to a certain piece. This property is 8 acres and is fully fenced. It has many types of fruit trees and other crops already growing on it and is fenced into separate areas for animals. God is so awesome in His sovereignty! Not only does this property have a food source and areas for animals but it also has a house, electricity, water cisterns and irrigation pumps. We are excited about this property and all it has to offer, as it fits perfectly with the vision God has given us for ministry! While in Colombia, we were able to negotiate a price with the land owner and have reached a verbal agreement. We are presently waiting on some paper work in Colombia and preparing to make the purchase. Please pray with us through this process! We are excited to see God moving as he leads us in this ministry! There will be more to tell and we hope to get a newsletter out soon, hopefully with another update on the progress of the property. Praise Him!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Wait...wait...and wait some more!

Many of you are wondering what is going on with the foundation. Well, we are in waiting mode. God doesn't always answer right away and this seems to be one of those times. We made the offer on the property and are very excited about it. The man owning the property has been on vacation and we have yet to get ahold of him. Our realtor is going to try again this week. It's been a month and it seems like his vacation should be over by now! Anyway, in the meantime we wait and continue on with things at home. Setting up quickbooks, paperwork for the nonprofit, paperwork for the bank, work, homeschooling and dreaming of the time to come when we will be able to begin to work in Colombia, serving God by helping orphans and widows while hopefully showing the glory of God to those we meet along the way. Thank you for your prayers and keep them coming!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Offer

Many of you know, as we shared in our last newsletter, the property that we found in Colombia on our March vision trip was sold to someone else. At least that's what we thought. Last Friday, it came to our attention that the property had never sold and was still available. Through much prayer over the weekend and God's subsequent confirming answer, we made an offer on the property! In fact we offered every penny that Colombia Grace Foundation has available. The interesting part about this offer, is that it is far below the current asking price of the property, and in fact we know of at least two other recent offers on the property that exceeded our offer by a significant amount. One of those offers was rejected outright, and the other fell through for some other reason. We firmly believe that God has directed us to this property and we are waiting expectantly to see His provision! Upon submitting the offer, our real-estate attorney told us that it will be a miracle if the offer is accepted. AMEN, we desire nothing less! May it be accepted and may all the glory and praise be to God alone! Please join us in praying expectantly as we wait on the Lord!

Psalm 32:8-9

Thursday, August 5, 2010

2 Corinthians 3:5 Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant...

Monday, August 2, 2010

What's going on...

So just a quick briefing for anyone interested in what we are doing and where we are going. Mike and Stacy Riffle and Josh and Julie Harpole are planning to move down to Cartagena Colombia to start and oversee a facility for "at risk children" and widows. A general term that we often use is an orphanage, however it will not be exclusively for orphans, but abused abandoned, neglected, exploited, etc, as well as approx. 10 widows who will have their needs met as well as help with the needs of the children. With this in mind, our goal is to purchase real estate that will be able to facilitate 75 to 80 people with the potential to grow crops and raise livestock. This is very brief so if you are interested in more specific details, we would be happy to fill you in!

We are officially Colombia Grace Foundation according to the state of Oregon and the IRS, however we are still working on completing all the necessary paperwork to finish the corporation establishment, and application for a 501c3 (tax deductible) status.

We both have our houses on the market and are praying for God to sell them in His perfect time and trust that He will do just that, because, He is bigger than a struggling economy!

At this time we are unsure of when we will leave, but when we do, there will likely be a year or so of a transition period for us to learn the culture, language, and operating details.

Specific prayer requests:
That we would keep Christ the focal point of all we do
Protection of our family unit
Wisdom to carry out His plan for our lives
Selling of our homes and belongings
His provisions spiritually, physically, mentally, monitarily
Thank you so much for your prayers!!! Please feel free to e-mail us with any questions, insight, concerns or prayer requests at colombiagracefoundation@hotmail.com

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Welcome Alexander James Riffle

We are excited to announce the birth of Alexander James Riffle!! Praise be to God for a wonderful addition to our family. We are all excited and thankful for a precious baby boy born July 29th, weighing in at 8 pounds 2 oz. Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them...Psalms 127:3-5.